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The Rio Grande rattler. ([McAllen], Hidalgo County, Tex.) 1916-1917, January 05, 1918, Image 9

Image and text provided by New York State Military History Museum

Persistent link: http://www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn87030234/1918-01-05/ed-1/seq-9/


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_____________ THE WADSWORTH GAS ATTACK a n d RIO GRANDE RATTLER ______________ 7 THE IDEAS OF ETHELBURT JELLYBACK, PRIVATE D ear E d ito r : It’s the little things in life th a t count. Don’t you know? And nothing so exasper­ ates me, since I have joined the arm y , as the barriers th a t are placed in one’s way to prevent one’s keeping up w ith society. Of course, I speak of society w ith a big S— the set to which I belong on the avenue. Of course, by avenue I m ean F ifth Avenue. Nov/ there was Mrs. H a tton-H iggins’ New Y ear’s party, for example. H e r week-end parties, by the way, are alw ays delightful. I had planned upon going to her house party over the holidays, and Mrs. H atton- H iggins herself, by letter and telegram , had repeatedly sought my counsel in arranging all the little details—the centerpiece for the dinner table, and the proportions by which the butler should m ake the claret cup. He is Denied a Furlough. Then, all of a sudden, like a bolt from the blue, or the sound of reveille in the morning, I was told th a t a furlough had been denied m e—me of all persons, Ethel- burt Jellyback, of the well-known fam ily of th a t nam e! I was told th a t an order from W ashington had lim ited all furloughs to a sm a ll percentage of enlisted men. “W ho made th a t order?” I demanded. “The S e c retary of W a r,” they told me. “Did he know th a t P rivate E thelburt Jellyback had applied for a furlough? Did lie know th a t Mrs. H a tton-H iggins’ house- party w a ited upon my coming? Did he know V. On the Social Hardships of Army Life th a t w ithout me the butler would probably bungle the punch? W as he aw a re th a t a dance had been arranged especially for me, in honor of my having offered my life to­ w ards helping m ake the world safe for dem o c racy?” Ah, those questions were sticklers! They couldn’t answ e r them . And, after having raced to the telegraph office to w ire dear Mrs. H atton-H iggins th a t the butler would have to be left to his own devices, I m ade th r e a ts of m u tiny and desertion. E thelburt is Not a R e g u lar! “You’re in the arm y now,” the first ser­ geant told me. “W h y don’t you be a regu­ lar soldier?” “S ir!” I replied w ith Jellyback pride, “I am superior to the regular soldier. My culture, my training, my position in society, all lift me above that, thank H eaven and my lineal descent. The trifiling technicali­ ties of discipline should never apply to me. How absurd!” I was gradually w o rking m yself up into a heat over this outrage, and it was a jolly good thing, too, for we get too little of it here in this land called the Sunny South. “F ir s t they took my leather puttees from me,” I w e n t on hotly. “Then they deprived me of my sheepskin coat. Then of my silk hat cord. W hy, I’ll look ju s t like any other p r iv a te! And me a Jellyback! But I’ll th w a rt some of their discipline. I still have my pink silk pajam as. By day I shall conceal them am o n g my equipm e n t; by night I shall wrap them about me over a pair of flannel pajam a s, like the drapery of a royal couch, and lie down to slum b er, sw eetly confident th a t I still am the scion of one of our first fam ilies—providing, of course, th a t Jim M ugrums, in the next cot, doesn’t snore.” M aking the World Safe for Himself. A fter I had ended this declaration of in­ dependence, the first sergeant said he’d see th a t New Y e a r’s w o u ldn’t be a dull day for me. It w a sn’t. He detailed me to the incinerator. Oh, how little do the officers who are running this w a r realize th a t social con­ veniences, such as furloughs and two-tone color dancing pumps, are necessary to a nature such as mine. Before I can m ake the world safe for dem o cracy I m u st first make m y self safe. How keenly I felt the hardships of disci­ pline, w h ich m a k e s it im p o ssible for the officers to mingle w ith us privates in a so­ cial way. Of course, my sym p athies are more w ith the officers than the men, for the officers, poor fellows, m u s t alw ays eat and converse w ith one another. W h a t a bore! I have draw n up plans for the rem edying of some of these evils, and one plan contains the days on which furloughs should be granted, including the birthdays of Lincoln, W ashington, St. Patricks, St. V alentine, and May-day, E a ster, and the Ides of March. But, of course, I can not put through such a program myself, because, strangely enough, I am still a private. The first sergeant re ­ minded me th a t Napoleon had said th a t there was a m a rshal’s baton in every knap­ sack. He Couldn’t Find His Baton. H e a ring this, I m ade a careful inventory of all my luggage, but now h ere did I dis­ cover the m a rshal’s baton. I thought th a t perhaps I hadn’t been equipped w ith the regulation knapsack. I w ent to the supply sergeant. One alw ays does, you know. “W ill you give me my issue of a m a rshal’s baton?” I asked Mm. He looked a t me askance. I had seen th a t blank look on his face before. I knew th a t it m e a n t: “I haven’t any on hand ju s t now, but they’ll be here next week.” And I am still w ithout m y m a rshal’s baton. I think th a t as soon as the govern­ m e n t concludes its investigation of the shortage in m achine guns and rifles th a t it should undertake an investigation into the lack of baton equipm ent. America, I believe, is the home of the brave and the land of the inquiry. ETH E L B U R T JELLYBACK, Private. ■ — C. D.

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