Friday, November 21, 2014

Don't Ignore Our Soldiers, 1917

“Knitting for the Kaiser” by Caroline Tecknor of the Vigilantes, from the Watauga Democrat, November 22, 1917

Now there is a big drive on to secure sweaters for our boys in camp, and for those going off to France. Our soldiers, who are going to stand between us and the guns, are cold. The Red Cross is calling for a million helmets and sweaters, and thousands of devoted women are working overtime to try to fill this great demand. Wool is expensive, some of our women are going without the things they want, yes need, in order that they may buy it. Some of our women would gladly knit if they could buy the necessary wool but they have not the money. And in the meantime, there are thousands of women able bodied and well to do, knitting pro-German sweaters for themselves. Knitting for Germany!

A few days since I visited the worsted counters of several of our big department stores to get some wool to finish up a soldier’s sweater. Before those counters I found that women were lined up three deep purchasing wool and needles. I looked at them with satisfaction; our women were certainly awake to the needs of our “boys.”

And then! I suddenly discovered that they were buying pale greens, and pinks, and blues; only one woman in a dozen was calling for the gray or khaki.

There were scraps of conversation which greeted my astonished ears: “I am going to make yellow trimmed in white!” “Nell, you look sweet in green.” “I’ve got a pattern that fits like a glove.” “I’ve made me a red one, and a blue, and now I am going to make a black.”

I turned away in wonder. I couldn’t at first understand. They were well dressed, well fed and seemingly intelligent and well intentioned.

What was the explanation? There must be some sufficient reason.

Suddenly, all in an instant, the answer was flashed upon me. “They are knitting for Germany! They are making sweaters for the Kaiser! I’m glad none of my friends are doing it! If you know any one who is, just tell her that Mary Murphy, Red Cross commissioner in Paris, has cabled: “We need at once 1,500,000 sweaters, 1,500,000 mufflers, 1,500,000 pairs of socks, 1,500,000 wristlets—they must come before cold weather. Every one here looks to America. We urge you on behalf of our soldiers and those of our allies who suffer in their frozen trenches, and also on behalf of thousands of French and Belgian refugees. Begin shipping at once.”

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