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The Rio Grande rattler. ([McAllen], Hidalgo County, Tex.) 1916-1917, May 04, 1918, Image 9

Image and text provided by New York State Military History Museum

Persistent link: http://www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn87030234/1918-05-04/ed-1/seq-9/

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GAS ATTACK 7 THE IDEAS OF ETHELBURT JELLYBACK, PRIVATE, XXII. Going northward on my furlough, I was aggrieved not a little by the conduc­ tor, who handed me in change, several of the d irt­ iest, most yellow-looking bills I ever con­ fronted. I protested. The conductor astounded me by his reply: “They shoot so much crap in the South,” he explained, “tossing the money and the dice on the dusty ground that I ain’t seen a clean, fresh dollar bill since the snow went away.” How quaint, I thought. Also, how crude! But there were m any quaint incidents which I encountered on my journey to New York. One of them was the trial through which I passed in m aking connections a t Washington. I had eight minutes to catch that train known as the Congressional Limited. What, with the pushing crowds in the big station, I became frantic. I dashed through a multi­ colored sea of uniforms toward the ticket office. I had four minutes left. I flung my­ self toward the Pullman ticket office. An­ other mob. I saw that if I w aited my turn at the window I would miss the Congres­ sional Limited. So, getting out of line and breath, I dashed to the train-gate. The ticket puncher refused to let me pass with­ out a parlor-car ticket. I dashed back to the ticket window. Two m inutes left! I reached the window after jockeying around a fidgetty woman who fluttered about like the nervous energy of a misspent life. “Oh!” I cried, “how I would like to skull- drag h e r!” That phrase, “skull-drag,” is one of the latest bits of slang. It smacks of the primi­ tive, and harks back to the days when brave men hauled the fair sex about by the hair of their head. The Fever of Traveling. The ticket agent told me he could sell no more parlor-car tickets because the diagram had gone to the train. “There’s another train at four seven on track fifteen,” he said. “But I don’t want it,” I retorted. “I dis­ tinctly desire the four o’clock train on track seventeen.” There was half a minute left! I ran hack to the gate. The ticket-puncher again re­ fused to let me pass to track seventeen, so, my ingenuity taxed to its utmost, I scurried through the gate to track fifteen and, once inside, I ran slyly over to track seven­ teen and hoarded the train I wanted. The Pullman conductor said he’d let me sit in the smoker. I got in. The engine puffed. The train proceeded. I perspired. All of which brought me to the amazing conclusion that it’s harder to get into the Congressional Limited than it is into Con­ gress! . . . Several hours later—New York! What On Catching a Train, and Going to Gas School joy, what exhilaration, in the humming streets and teeming canyons. What pleas­ ant days were spent in Fifth Avenue! I had best not dwell upon them ; I would be the envy of all my fellow soldiers. Suffice to say that I returned to camp when my leave was ended. He Goes to Gas School. I was at once sent to the gas school. My first lesson consisted in learning how to ad just on my countenance that contrivance of rubber and cloth known as a gas mask. Of course, there is a manual of the gas mask. In the army there is a manual for everything. But I don’t particularly fancy the present manual of the gas mask, by which you put the mask on by the numbers, and so I have devised a manual of my own. It follows: One, you stroll leisurely across the drill ground, enjoying the view and breathing God’s pure air. Two, some crude officer hollers: “Gas shell!” Three, everybody grabs for his gas mask and gets his hands all mixed up w ith the tube and straps. Four, you get your mask on and look a t the fel­ low next to you, who looks like a face in a nightmare. Five, your m ask smells like the inside of a dentist’s office. Six, it tastes worse. Seven, the instructor tells you you’ve got it on wrong! Dickie Darling and I got into a heated argument over the appearance of the mask. Our disagreement reached the point where we confronted each other belligerently. I shook my index finger in D ickie’s goggle. Mugrums, the Peacemaker. “I insist that it looks like a gargoyle of the period of Louis XIV/’ declared Dickie violently. “No, of the period of Louis XV! ” I cried. “Aw, quit yer fightin,’ ” said Mugrums. “Split the difference an’ m ake it Louie the fourteenth an’ a half.” Mugrums had been so impressed by the pictured horrors of being gassed that he said he was going to keep his mask on until the war is over. “And are you going to purchase a safety suit?” I asked. “W hat’s that?” “It is a suit of rubber, I believe, which prevents exposure and keeps you afloat in the event a submarine should torpedo your vessel.” “Where do they issue ’em, E th elburt?” “They are not an issue. They may be rented for fifteen dollars.” Mugrums let out a cry. “W hat? Me pay fifteen dollars to keep from drowning when the family’s got ten thousand insurance on me? That’s no way for me to act.” “Then what would be the proper way for the heir apparent to the Mug­ rums’ fortune to behave?” “I dunno whether I get- cha or not, but I know that the Mugrums family has planned to use my insurance in a season a t Palm Beach.” The instructor came up. He had all he could do to get Mugrums to remove his mask. The crude fellow was for keeping it on until, as he said, it rotted off. “W hat would you do, Ethelburt, if the enemy started one of them there gas at­ tacks at you and you didn’t have your mask on?” “I would tell them to go back, that I was not as yet ready to fight.” “Yes, and then people would be looking at you and calling you the 'remains.’ ” ETHELBURT JELLYBACK, Private. —C. D. 2,200 NEW MEN. Recruits Arrived from Camp Upton to Fill Up Division. The Division has been filled to full strength by the addition of 2,200 men, trans­ ferred from the National Army camp at Camp Upton, Yaphank, L. I., N. Y. When they arrived here, most of the m en had been in service two weeks. A detail of com­ missioned and non-commissioned officers from the various units in the Division has been detailed to the work of drilling the new men into shape. When they have ad­ vanced far enough in their drilling, they will be assigned to the various regiments which need filling up. They were first camped near the Base Hospital. The Division, by reorganization, was brought up to full war strength but it lost many good men through w holesale transfers to the mechanic regiment at Camp H ancock and the French speaking regiment a t Camp Greene and by individual transfers to many other branches of the service. CORRESPONDENT RAE LEAVES. Bruce Rae, efficient and popular corre­ spondent for the New York Times at Camp Wadsworth for the past eight months, has returned to New York to resume his rep- ortorial duties on the city staff. He made many friends in the New York Division, who will miss him. COL. NORTON LEAVES SERVICE. Col. F rank H. Norton, of the 106th Infan­ try, has been discharged from the service because of physical disability. Lieut. Col. William Taylor of the 108th Infantry, who was commandant of the Officers’ T raining School has been transferred to the 106th Infantry.

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