Returning from the Great War

Upon initial exploration of my grandfather's war locker I've discovered several items from prior to World War II. I discussed this with my dad and he believes these may be from family members on my grandmother's side of the family. I'll need to explore further but this won't keep me from writing about them.

One of the small books near the top of my grandfather’s World War II locker is titled Where Do We Go From Here? This is the Real Dope. The back cover makes me feel awkward in this day and age but I have to remember that this was written for the men returning from war and it was a different time.

The title of the booklet seemed appropriate not only for me as I transition from my employer of 19 years but for the country as a whole. While I’m at a place where I can and need to start thinking about where I go from here, I don’t think the country is yet. As a whole we’re just starting to enter the scary phase of this pandemic and we need to get through it and understand where we are personally, psychologically and economically before we can make educated guesses as to next steps. But "Where do we go from here?" is a question we’re all going to need to ask ourselves in the near future if we aren’t already asking it.

The book is a fascinating glimpse into the questions a soldier returning from home might have and what the government put in place or was trying to put into place to address the uncertainty.

“It is meant to be your “Handy Andy.” It was prepared especially for you, by direction of Col. Arthur Woods, Assistant to the Secretary of War. Its single purpose is to bring you in the simplest, quickest, and most accurate form the things which every man who has served in The Great War must know to put him in touch again with God’s Country.

Some of the topics included are; getting discharged, financial support, disability, purchasing land and finding a job. The finding a job section has some direct advice, some of which seems appropriate now for the country as a whole. It's also contrary to my choice to leave my job.

“The best advice that can be given to any man leaving the military establishment at this time is to get in touch with his old employer at the earliest possible moment. Industry in the United States is in a state of flux. There have been many dislocations as a result of reversing the machinery which was going at full tilt in one direction on a war schedule, and sending it full tilt in an opposite direction on a peace programme."

To the man whose college or university life has been broken by the war there are but two words to say: Get back. Don’t let a Gypsy heel, or the smell of wood fires, or the call of a winding road lead you astray until you’ve finished college. There’ll be time enough when that’s done to go Gypsying. After the Civil War, and even after the fracas of ‘98 there were ever so many who thought it was too late to go back. Talk to them about it. They’ll tell you it was the mistake of their lives.

Life expectancy in the US in 1925 was 57 years. Today it’s roughly 79. That’s an increase of 24 years. If there was time for Gypsying later in life in 1925 then there’s definitely time today for me as 40 year old with half my leaf ahead of me. The problem is that our timeline hasn't been promised to us. The odds may be with me but it isn’t guaranteed and I’m tired of waiting. I wonder if in a couple years my decision to leave my previous employer now was the biggest mistake of my life or the best decision I ever made. Like most things the reality will probably be somewhere in between.