(Source: The Stars and Stripes, June 13, 1919.)
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The first bird we never suspected until we found that he was running around in line of duty with his hifalutin' friends of the Peace Conference wearing the mourning band and black cap-stripe of a Third Looey. However, he hastily assured us that he didn't think the durn commish would ever come through (which it durn near didn't, worse luck), and was excused to go back to his corner and write more salacious "shorts" for the front page. But when the second, Cumming, began to have growing pains and started sewing on braid and things and buying baby pins, we prepared for the worst, sent for the doctor, and went around on tiptoe outside the screen that shrouded his labors.
They arrived just about the same time - 2nd Loots Baukhage and Cumming, for the former was able to conceal his distress much better than the latter. At first we were going to take them gently by the back of the neck and drown them, for we had more looeys hanging around than we could use; but they looked so young and so helpless and all that we finally relented and decided to keep them till the old sheet quit. That we have; and now they are thoroughly office broke and play very prettily with our little buck privates.
So much for the men and officers who did help shape the policy of the doughboys' paper and did have their work appear. There are others, who will he named later. Our object now is to deal with the officers, men and civilians who did not shape its policy much as some of them wanted to.
But They Didn't
It's a long yarn. Perhaps we cannot do better than to cite the case of a certain lieutenant colonel who took
himself very seriously. This one, attached to G.H.Q. in a department having work but remotely allied to that we were doing,
took it upon himself some time after the armistice to send us a letter somewhat as follows:
After the first explosion of "Where does he get that stuff?" the then somewhat violent buck-private-managing-editor got the lieutenant colonel's boss on the 'phone. The fact that the man at the other end of the wire had silver stars on his scapulae made no difference to our buck. At the conclusion of their little talk, the lieutenant colonel's boss took his charge gently by the hand, led him out behind the headquarters caserne, and quietly told him that a Boche named Gutenberg discovered the art of printing in Sixteen-something-or-other; and that It had later been perfected by a bleedin' Tommy named Caxton; that a wild Irishman named Edmund Burke, whose speech he must have read some time in high school, once uttered some poignant remarks about the Fourth Estate, and that, to conclude with this was the year 19 of the twentieth century -- together with some elucidating remarks upon the law of gravitation and the square of the hypothenuse. The story must have got around (yet we've never printed it until now), for after that we were able to work our own sweet will practically unruffled.
A Threat and Its Sequel
We could tell another story, too, if we wanted to - and we do. A certain high civilian dignitary of our Government, newly arrived In France, decided to send a call through our columns to any and of the bright young men in the A.E.F. who, after being demobilized, would like to work for his department. A buck private was sent down to interview him, sized the story up for what it was worth, and prepared to say good-bye.
"Now, see here," said the Great Man, in substance, "if you don't play that up just as I told you, and don't put it on the front page. I'll see General Pershing in Chaumont on Saturday and I'll have you court-martialed and fired-out of the Army" -- that being the Great Man's Idea of condign punishment.
The buck grinned, said "Yes, sir," like a nice little boy, and went away. He wrote three paragraphs on his interview, which was later cut down to two by an elderly, ferocious and type-thrifty New England copy-reader -- and buried away on Page 2. About a week after that an emissary of the Federal --------- Board called up most abjectly and said: "Please don't run any more stories about our work here and our desire to get help. Since you printed that first one we have been so swamped with applications that our office force has been unable to handle them."
Yet one more: One day we learned that the A.P.M. was out hot after the AWOL's, and went round to his office to confirm it. He didn't want us to print the story at all, especially as to what would happen to them if they didn't pull the prodigal son stuff. We finally wheedled him into releasing the yarn, and forthwith printed it. Within five days after publication of that story, 80 per cent of the AWOL's In the A.E.F. had returned to their outfits.
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