Wednesday, June 30, 2010

J.C. Benko, 631 Aero Squadron (WWI)

The inscription I'm posting today was found in a copy of Drill Regulations for Signal Troops 1917, Military Publishing Company, NY. War Department, Document no. 606, Office of the Adjutant General (H.P. McCain).

Of Course, the Adjutant General's name caught my attention and I had to research H.P. McCain. Turns out Henry Pinckney McCain was a distant uncle of John McCain (U. S. Senator, Arizona). H.P. McCain set up the World War I draft and became known as the father of Selective Service.

Inside the front cover is the brief inscription: J.C. Benko, 631 Aero Sqdn.

Of Mr. Benko, I can find nothing. I could almost say the same for his phantom-like 631st Aero Squadron. A Wikipedia page produced a clue about the squadron's origins:
(Note war declared 6-April-1917)
In January 1918 a new numbering scheme for aero squadrons was set up. Numbers 1-399 would be for Aero Service Squadrons (AS). 400-599 Aero Construction Squadrons (ACS), 600-799 Aero Supply Squadrons and 800-1099 Aero Repair Squadrons.
So the 631st was an Aero Supply Squadron. And Mr. Benko must have gotten hold of this book in 1918 after the numbering scheme went into effect.

A note to World War I historians who might be searching for the 631st: I found the following information about this squadron on a genealogy forum:
The 631st was redesignated from the 46th Aero Squadron in Feb 1918. It served at Garden City NY until demobilization in 1919. There was another 46th Aero Squadron that maintained that designation in Texas. The 631st was an Aero Supply squadron. There was a lot of reorganization and redesignation of units as the aero corps expanded which is why there are two units designated the 46th.
A follow-up post on this forum adds anecdotal information about a relative having served in the 631st and where they served in France when deployed there during the war.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Flapper doodles

This English text book belonged to a teenage girl in 1925, who seemed more interested in art than in her English lessons.

Then again, check out the subtitle of the book (Projects in Expression) and maybe she was doing just as the subtitle suggested. The young artist here is assumed to be Anna Grace Caughron from Manhattan, Kansas. That's the name written at the front and back of the book.

I call these drawings flapper doodles because the women portrayed look like the young girls of that era who were called flappers. The drawings are pretty elegant for doodles, but I'll stick with doodles because obviously the young lady in a long-ago English class was doodling in her book while she should have been paying attention to her lesson. Or maybe she was multitasking.

Her doodles are quite good, actually, and capture pretty accurately the style of the flapper girl of the Roaring Twenties. In case you're wondering what a flapper is, or was, check out the girls in this video. Their parents must have been horrified!

As young Anna Grace could have been only 16 or so in 1925, I doubt she ever got the chance to live the flapper lifestyle, which was out of vogue several years later, and may never have been in vogue in Manhattan, Kansas. I always associated that style with that other Manhattan on the east coast.

But that was the style of the day for young women and it must have fired the imagination of a Midwestern teenage girl struggling through her English and writing lessons. And she wouldn't be the last to create her own projects of expression to exchange classroom drudgery for artistic fantasy.

That long forgotten artwork of hers now lives on within the confines of cyberspace. And I'd like to think that young Anna Grace would have been one flattered flapper-wannabe.