On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – THURSDAY, MAY 31, 1917
Paul Borda Kurtz of this city has been promoted to the rank of adjutant major in section No. 18 of the American ambulance corps in France. This new section has been assigned a particularly dangerous mission involving driving heavy ammunition trucks to the front lines. Mr. Kurtz’s home is at 507 West Manheim Street, Germantown. He is 23 years old, a member of the Germantown Cricket Club and a graduate of Harvard. He left school in 1915 to go to France but returned after several months to finish his studies. He then returned to France and recently wrote to his father, William that he wished to become and aviator and see real action. [EDITORS NOTE: In July of 1917 Paul Borda Kurtz would fulfill his dream of becoming an aviator when he joined the American 94th Aero Squadron as a First Lieutenant. Unfortunately he would be killed near Toul on May 22, 1918. For his service in the ambulance corps France awarded him the Croix de Guerre. He is buried in the St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France.]
And more college men are preparing to join Mr. Kurtz. The men of Bucknell University will form 2 ambulance units for service in France. Sixty students have already signed up for the medical officers’ reserve corps with more expected next week. The University will lose almost 200 students when these men leave.
In Washington, D.C. Representative John Burnett, Democrat of Alabama and chairman of the Immigration Committee has severely rebuked Secretary of Labor William Wilson on his interpretation of the immigration law which is allowing untold numbers of Mexican farm laborers to enter the country. Representative Burnett asserts Secretary Wilson has intentionally misread the law and exceeded his authority. Mr. Burnett also stated he would vigorously oppose any attempt to ignore the plain language of the law so as to allow “Asiatic coolie labor” to also enter the country.
Also in Washington, a suggestion was made to the Senate to help fund the war with a tax on dogs. The idea was proposed in a letter from Mr. A.F. Bonney of Iowa and read into the record by Vice President Marshall. The proposal is that owners of male dogs be taxed $5.00 and female dogs $25.00. In response Senator Stone of Missouri suggested that instead of taxing the dogs it might be of more service to the country to turn them into sausage to help feed the population while assisting with food conservation. Since the matter of feeding the nation in time of war was brought up, the Vice President referred the matter to the Committee on Agriculture.
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