Not long ago I came upon a mystery packet of photos and documents, including this 1918 photo. It’s 8 inches high, probably 4 foot long (ish), packed in a roll, and fragile. I was afraid to unroll the whole thing lest I damage it. It was, of course, in my basement. Here’s a detail:
With this photo were two High School yearbooks from Kansas City MO, 1916 and 1920. At first I couldn’t imagine how these things came to be in a box with my stuff, then I found names on some accompanying documents and realized they were papers that belonged to the people who lived in my Kansas City house before I did. I bought the house from their estate.
We came to Georgia in a corporate move. I can only think that when the company sent movers to pack up the house, they were able to find some cubbyhole I never happened to run across when I lived there.
I’m sorry the photo has been rolled up and stored for decades, first in one house, then another, in what to photographs is likely a hostile environment. Still it’s an interesting picture, with the geometry of its composition — all those crossed legs on the front row — and its poignant glimpse into preparation for a long-ago war that caused such devastation. Here’s a look at a larger portion of the photo:
Something else occurred in the fall of 1918 that may have threatened some of these soldiers. The “Spanish Flu” epidemic of 1918 started that October, a deadly pandemic that killed more people than the war did. According to the article I’ve linked to below, the S.A.T.C barracks were used as makeshift hospitals.
This is as far as I unrolled the picture:
My house’s former owners were Leonard and Elsie Rehard. I see on their marriage certificate that she was Elsie V. Walker. I don’t think they had children, but I don’t know for certain. There is an Elsie Walker as a Senior in the 1920 yearbook that was stored along with this photo. I didn’t see Mr Rehard in either book, but there were a couple of Walker boys. Perhaps Elsie had a brother among the soldiers.
I emailed the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka about the photo (they took Bob’s yearbooks), and I’m happy to say they wanted it. I’ve already mailed it out and it should arrive soon. I’ll save the yearbooks for another post, but here’s a teaser…
So glad the war is over — What do you think? Handsome, yes?
More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity