Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WORLD WAR ONE Started 100 Years Ago Today--Here's a First-Hand Account of Life "Over Here"

I just finished The Harding Affair by James Robenalt, and the book goes into great detail about World War I, just before Harding became president. Wilson was president then, and took his time to decide to declare war on Germany.

Prior to this, I read a book I'd wanted to read for ages: The President's Daughter, about the (alleged) child Harding has with his mistress, Nan Britton. Of course there, no proof. After Harding died, the mistress, Nan Britton, wrote this memoir.

Then I got intrigued with Harding, his presidency the times, so I read The Harding Affair. It discusses his affair with Carrie Phillips, who may have been a German spy during WWI (she was sympathetic to the Germans) but when reading last night, I read about the attack on Black Tom Island in Jersey City, across from Liberty Island, by the Germans in retaliation for the blockades, and to destroy munitions stored there, in 1916. I never heard of this. It caused a huge explosion, people were thrown from their beds, I looked it up online & saw pictures of it--it did look like a war zone after the attack. Google Black Tom Island explosion and see the photos.

I learned a lot about WWI in this book, which I've never studied in depth. The Germans decided any boats that entered the waters around Britain would be sunk, even ocean liners, and this went on for a while before they finally backed down and promised not to sink any civilian boats, but it happened a few more times.

So this book isn't just about Harding and his girlfriend. Very readable book, it's educational AND entertaining.

On July 29, Harding's love letters were released by the Lib. of Congress. They were sealed for 50 years.

This is from my dear friend Angela Rosati, who will be 85 years young (and she IS young) soon. Angela is a beautiful lady inside and out. She's also a romance author. Angela writes delightful, adorable historical romances set in 'the good old days' of the 40s, 50s and 60s in and around Queens, NY, where she grew up.

See DID I KILL MR. RIGHT? here on Amazon
See WANTED:HUSBAND here on Amazon

 Several of Angela's relatives served in WWI and she gave this fascinating account:

"I know very little about Harding. All that good stuff was edited from our school books and if they'd left it in, we would have been smarter students! EmojiI never heard of the Black Tom Is. bombing. According to what we were taught, no country every came close to bombing any part of the American territory. Now the truth comes out!! We weren't taught that Woodrow Wilson, who is now called a progressive, was anything but a patriotic American. Talk about suppressing news! mother's oldest brother, Vincenzo, never returned. I put that in my book. Her second oldest brother, Mario, was called. My grandmother went with him, begging them to spare her son, telling them about her oldest son. They took Mario, who went to the Austrian Campaign, very tough fighting there. I remember seeing the scars of at least 2 bullet wounds in his upper arms.

My father, who was a vet of the Italo-Turkish War, 1912, was called. That's when he met his first whores. He came to America, worked for the rich Rushmores, in their upstate home, Goshen, NY. He was called in 1914. Mr. Rushmore told my father not to return to Italy, but my father said if he didn't return his family would be in trouble. So, he went back and was sent to the Austrian Campaign. He never met Uncle Mario. My father was lucky, he rec'd a bullet wound that just grazed him above his upper lip; a little blood. His friend, from Bari, said, "Russ, I'm afraid to die." Instantly, he received a bullet to the head. Papa said, blood, bone and brains all over. My father didn't talk too much about the war and neither did Uncle Mario. 
One Christmas, my grandchildren gave me a book on the Italian Campaign in WW!. It was brutal because the Italians, at that time, spoke dialect. They barely understood each other, let alone their officers.  They were ill equipped, had little training, and The Austrians were the first to use hand grenades. The poor illiterate, ignorant Italians didn't know what was what. Too many were killed or wounded. The stuffed shirt officers just kept sending the poor bastards up the same hill. 

My father spent 2 1/2 years there. I have his papers. He received a medal with a document signed by Benito Mussolini, in 1926! Uncle Mario received medals also.

I have a pocket book, price 60 cents, THE UNITED STATES IN WORLD WAR 1, 142 pp. I will start to read it! 

My father had a latticini (dairy) store in Astoria , 1937, which he kept open until late at night, which was the custom. Once another Italian immigrant, had a sort of push cart, left it in the street and entered our store. He recognized my father from the war! He said my father shared his bread with him. That was my father; a tough red head, but a softy!

In those days, the returning soldiers were close mouthed, suffered inside. But they went to work!"

1 comment:

  1. How fascinating, Angela! So much history in Italy and for your family. I'm so glad you took the time to share your story so that our children and grandchildren can pass them on. May God Bless you!