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War Birds: 1917

War Birds: 1917

"1917. Camp Meade, Maryland, winter views." An eerie double exposure of the camp mess from the Harris & Ewing archive of glass negatives. View full size.


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KP....Not a bad thing here

Judging by the snow and icicles, this would have been one time slaving over a hot stove or sink on KP duty would have actually been enjoyable. "I need some volunteers for KP this morning." "Me, Sarge, pick me! Me!"

Re the question about rank, WW1 Army chevrons were strips of wool sewn on a slightly darker wool background, often with the branch-of-service insignia beneath (looks like this one has a crescent moon, insignia of the old Army Subsistence Department -- check out some of the ration crates in the photo as well), indicating this guy would have been a mess sergeant.

Old Is New Again

We saw at this year's Bonnaroo that the trash bins were arranged in a somewhat similar fashion. "Landfill," "Compost" and "Recycle" were the categories on signs above each color-coded barrel. They even had attendants ("trash talkers", in blue shirts below) making sure people knew what went where and they also were there to dig out mislaid items as needed.

Ministry of Silly Cooks

These guys look like they stepped out of a Monty Python skit -- I want to believe that in the next photo of the series, they start doing the turkey-slapping dance.

Germs? We don't need no stinking germ theory here!

If the enemy didn't get you, salmonella could. Granted, the snow indicates nature is providing a deep freeze to store those birds in. And they will be cooked before they are served. But between those filthy aprons and all those juices seeping into the wood crates -- yecch. No wonder they called where they ate a mess.

Eastern shore tomatoes

The Eastern Shore still grows a lot of tomatoes, but mostly farther south than in those days. If you drive down US 13 between Salisbury, Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel you'll see fields and fields of them. Of course, shipment from there to the western shore is quite a bit easier these days with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Annapolis and the Bay Bridge-Tunnel near Norfolk.

A toast, and hearty round of applause

For Stanton Square, who tireless fingers have immeasurably enriched the Shorpy commentarium. It's easy to take all this typing and research for granted.

Corn-Fattened Turkeys

Given the snow on the ground, it's possible this scene relates to Thanksgiving dinner preparations. 40,000 pounds of turkey would be about 3000 birds - a tad more then the carcasses displayed for this photo.

The crates of tomatoes are from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I make out the printing to be "Zekin Brand Tomatoes, packed by Chas. Webster, East New Market, MD." If correct, "Zekin Brand Tomatoes" have disappeared leaving little historical documentation.

Washington Post, Nov 29, 1917

Big Dinners at Meade

40,000 Pounds of Roast Turkey
Make Men Cancel Passes.

For the thousands of boys who will remain in camp over Thanksgiving, army cooks are preparing dinners as good as banquets. A glimpse at the menu, at the cakes, mince pies and roast turkey in the company kitchens, has caused many soldiers to cancel their applications for passes. A consignment of 40,000 pounds of corn-fattened turkeys reached the quartermaster's department yesterday, and the work of roasting birds was undertaken at once.

The snow today balked the plans for a review of the entire division by Secretary Baker and Gen. Biddle, acting chief of staff. The snow also halted most of the regular drills, and lectures were given indoors instead. Twenty-five per cent of the troops here, about 5,000 soldiers, have been given permission to go home for thanksgiving, and they began to leave camp shortly after noon. All the railroads ran special trains. The passes expire 6 p.m. Friday.

And in regard to recycling:

Washington Post, Sep 22, 1917

Hogs to be Raised at Camps

Waste from Kitchen Will be Saved;
Other Economies Planned.

Economy of every sort is to be rigidly practiced at Camp Meade and the other draft cantonments now getting into their stride for the gigantic task of training the new national armies.

At several of the cantonments it is planned to raise hogs on the waste from the kitchens. Lieut. Col. J. Austin Ellison, of the quartermaster corps, has estimated that left-overs from the plates of 12 men will provide a hog with food sufficient to enable him to gain an average of a pound a day. Wherever possible nearby farm produce will be used by the cantonments, thus conserving canned goods and relieving transportation congestion.

Testing 123

Comments should be working again. Deleted a crucial chunk of code by mistake!

Hitler's Mustache?

Looks more like a young Chef Boyardee to me. Note his body language. He does not wish to be there. Wonder if he already knew there would be a great future in ravioli.

Shadowy figure

I'm interested in the shadow or bleed through figure on this image. What causes that sort of effect, double exposure?

[As noted in the caption. - Dave]


The guy in uniform (who fails completely at looking tough) is a sergeant of some sort, but what type? I was in the military, and I never saw a sergeant with four chevrons up and no rockers beneathk, although upon examination it seems that the bottom chevron is a little smaller than the top three. Could this smaller chevron be a hashmark denoting four years of service? These days such hashmarks are sewn on the lower sleeves separate from the rank insignia.

[This looks like three stripes on a darker background. - Dave]


Awesome use of poultry!~

Turkey Salute

It seems turkeys were popular in Army decorating circles. I like the Hitler wannabe on the top step. Ahead of his time.


I'm tickled to see how they have the waste items separated out. I was aware that this was a common practice, but seeing it in a photo is wonderful.

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