Looking Back to WWI in 1918: Letter from local soldier, snapshots of local support
Excerpts from the Paso Robles Leader, Friday, October 11, 1918:
Letter from Ben Kiler from Camp Fremont, Sept 5, 1918
T.F.B. Excelsior Lodge No. 126
Mr. L. Hawley Sec.
Dear Sir and Brother:
It is with great pleasure that I announce the arrival of your letter of Sept 4th in which I find enclosed a smilage book.
I want to thank the lodge for this present and remembrance so appropriate for a soldier’s use, and to say that upon opening the letter, a contagion struck me that won’t wear off, its “Smile! Smile! Smile!” I will continue to do so, to the last check in remembrance of the T.F. Brotherhood.
There have been a number of Paso Robles acquaintances here to see me. The Spargo boy who has just gone to Siberia; also the youngest Givens boy is just two rows of tents from my company. Expect the new draft will hit a number of those who I am acquainted with and I welcome them to Camp Fremont (if they should be so fortunate as to be sent here) in the new American game to get the “KAISER,” it is sure a great game, and after taking the firs pill, which consists of being entrained, landed in camp, physical examination, (being handled by number something new) getting used to camp life and mess kit, getting over the soreness from upsetting exercising muscles you ain’t got and getting used to things in general which of course is all new!
I have been transferred into the kitchen, a very appropriate place for one with such an enormous appetite as I have had since coming here. They have decided to make me a cook and it looks like I have drawn the short straw.
Well Lew as there are several other letters to do to-night, will close for this time hoping this finds you O.K. as it leaves me. I am ever your friend and Brother
Benj. F. Kiler
Saturday Night Pandemonium Reigned
“Saturday was a very quiet day everyone was getting ready for a very quiet Sunday, expecting to be ready for a grand rush to go over the top during the coming week, showing the Kaiser and all his sympathizers that Germany would be shortly left in the maelstrom of the great rush of bond sales; but even if the people of Paso Robles and other places were awakened and spent gasoline freely and made a loud noise and showed their joy, the news of the following day did not follow up to the great point expected of the Germans laying down their war weapons etc. and giving up and quitting. Not so!”
Loosen Up, Turtle
“The Fourth Liberty Loan is the first item on the program of national war finance since the announcement of our intention to put five million men in France and finish the war next year.”
This advertisement, encouraging locals to purchase Liberty Bonds was donated by BELL’s Big Department Store.
Historical Note: WWI ended on Nov 11, 1918, one month after this edition of the Paso Robles Leader was published.
Read previous Looking Back articles
- Looking Back to 1932: Bearcats battle Santa Barbara for division title
- Looking Back to 1956: Teamsters picket Nacimiento Dam
- Looking Back: Judge aims to naturalize 4000 new citizens, state hospital hosts open house
- Looking Back to 1931: Fatal accident results in lawsuit, man to parachute into town
- Looking Back to 1940: Whooping cough postpones well baby conference
Thank you to sponsors of Looking Back
Paso Robles Pioneer Museum – Come take a real look back into local Paso Robles history. Open Thursday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 2010 Riverside Ave., Paso Robles, CA 93446, www.pasoroblespioneermuseum.org (805) 239-4556.
Estrella Warbird Museum is an aviation museum dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aircraft, vehicles, and memorabilia. Woodland Auto Display is also open. Hours: Thursday through Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. 4251 Dry Creek Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446, ewarbirds.org, (805) 227-0440.
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