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Ambulance Depot: 1917

Ambulance Depot: 1917

1917. Washington, D.C. "Red Cross emergency ambulance station garage, 16th Street," conveniently next door to F.P. Jacobs, "electric horse-dog clipper." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative, Library of Congress. View full size.


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Now, there's a sight.....

Something not seen in many photos here on Shorpy are the gnarly new tires of the Red Cross ambulance. Compare those to the tires of the car at the pump. And the man next to the ambulance isn't exactly stealthy about giving those women the googly-eye, is he!

Thank God for Mr. Jacobs

The only thing scarier than an electric horse-dog is an unclipped electric horse-dog.

There's Something About a Girl in a Uniform

Although American women's fashions were often very flattering in this period (see the woman in a tailored suit by the car at far left), the bunchy one-size-fits-most coat dress uniforms supplied to these volunteer drivers look like they were consciously designed to hide any attractive figures that the wearers might have possessed. Take away the leather belts and they would look a lot like the "Mother Hubbards" that Hawaiian missionaries forced onto their converts. Please don't get me wrong: many of the women who earned these uniforms have stated how proud they were to wear them, and cost was a factor as well as "morality." But these shmattas are proof that everyone had to sacrifice something extra for the war effort.

Women Drivers

I didn't realize, upon first viewing this photo, that the women standing around comprised the primary corps of drivers for this enterprise: a collection of hardy, resourceful, (and progressive!) women - not the stereotypical avocation I think of for women of their time. (Though it appears to be reserved for men to pump the gasoline.)

The Red Cross motor pool was located at 16th and M streets NW.

Woman Drivers Busy

American Red Cross Motor Corps Rushed with Work.

These are busy days for the Red Cross motor corps, and the work days are "long, much longer that those of the average toiler. At present the principal work of the motor corps is among the war workers stricken with influenza. On thursday the corps took eighteen cases to the hospitals in their ambulances. In addition to this emergency work the corps takes the home service workers of the Red Cross on their missions among the families of the soldiers and drives convalescent soldiers about for airings and to amusements. The corps takes the women workers to the canteens before daylight and brings along the day's provision.

So insistent has the call of duty become of late that every night four or more members sleep on cots in the garage, ready for emergency calls. The War and Navy department are utilizing the services of the corps constantly, and it is at the beck and call of any department in need of help.

Here is an instance that occurred a few days ago, and illustrates the efficiency of the woman's motor corps. A doctor found a girl war worker suffering from influenza. She was living in a rooming house, three flights up. He phones to the garage of the American Red Cross motor corps, and in a few minutes an ambulance drove to the door. The driver, in Red Cross uniform, ascended the stairs with the woman stretcher bearer, and after the patient had been placed on the stretcher, an attempt was made to carry her down. The winding stairway prevented this, and so the driver took the sufferer upon her back, carried her downstairs and into the ambulance.

It was all in the day's work, and the volunteers who man the motor corps of the local Red Cross have done that "day's work" ever since Mrs. J. Borden Harriman organized the corps in April 1917.

There are many things the members of the corps do in strong contrast to their lives prior to the war. Most of them are of independent means - all have given their time and cars to the service for humanity. Last winter they began the day's work before 5 in the morning, and often were not done until midnight.

The motor corps has about 45 members, and has its garage at Sixteenth and M streets. There are six ambulances and a runabout, ready for instant use. In addition, each member has given to use of her private car unreservedly, and each member drives her car, no matter what the hour or weather.

The work is in charge or Mrs. David Fairchild, daughter of Graham Bell, who ranks as captain. her staff consists of the following: First lieutenants, Mrs. Wolfe, Mrs. C.B. Wheeler, Mrs. Maud Howell Smith, Miss Florence Clarke, Mrs. Francis Mix and Miss Katherine Whitmarsh; quartermaster, Mrs. Judah Sears; adjutant, Mrs. Hayes; recruiting officer, Mrs. Edgar Sisson.

There is still a great need of additional members and cars. Those desiring to join should call up Mrs. Sisson. North 9722. The telephone number of the garage, in case of need, is Franklin 1572. The garage is open day night and day, in the corps wishes it known that any needing ambulance need not hesitate to phone.

Washington Post, Oct 16, 1918

Peter Lorre

Seems a bit agitated.

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