I hope everyone’s autumn has been good. These first ten days of November have been busy, thus the lack of posts here.
Readers may recall when I posted just after Memorial Day that I sent a proposal to an academic press regarding “Incorporating New York,” my book project about Civil War Era New City. I heard back earlier this week from the editor asking for the full manuscript. I sent it in this past Thursday. We shall see what happens. I have also been putting the final touches on a talk and interview I will be doing tomorrow for Armistice Day at All Souls Church in Manhattan. It all came about quickly when I got asked to do it a few weeks back. There is a nice bit of serendipity in the thing because All Souls plays a significant role in my history of Civil War Era New York. As Kramer would say, my worlds are colliding. The concert begins at 5:00 pm with my talk and interview an hour before that.
The image we see above was taken in Seward Park on the Lower East Side 100 years ago today. It is the dedication of the J.W.B. Canteen Hut sponsored by the Jewish Welfare Board. Attorney, reformer, and American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the early years of the Wilson Administration Abram L. Elkus oversaw the proceedings. Present also was banker and philanthropist Jacob H. Schiff. Organizers knew that the war was about to end, though they certainly were not aware that it would be the following day. Schiff told the crowd we see here “Now that the war is ending happily for everybody . . . war work organizations will for many months need our support more than ever, our soldiers and sailors will demand more attention when the grim business of battle is over and the guns have ceased. When the boys come back we want them to feel that we did what we could for them.”
The J.W.B. Canteen did its part; in just the next two months alone the site served over 8000 meals to returning servicemen. The Seward Park canteen continued its work for much of 1919 as men continued coming from Europe en route home.
(image/Records of the National Jewish Welfare Board, Center for Jewish History)