Connections with the Phonograph


By Willa Cather ©1922, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.


By Doug Boilesen, 2022

Each book selected by Friends of the Phonograph in Phonographia's Library of PhonoLiterature has at least one phonograph in its story.

One of Ours by Willa Cather has several phonographs but many more phonograph connections (primarily songs which became popular phonograph records during World War I) with its discography (playlist) larger than any other book in the PhonoLiterature Library.

These connections are also historically noteworthy because World War I music was an important part of the "messaging" which supported the Allies at home and in the trenches. As Neil Harris and Teri Edelstein wrote in En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I, the production of unending messages "with a consumerist orientation" was for the most part "to bolster morale, arouse indignation, ridicule the enemy, glorify heroic traditions, add some needed humor, and satisfy the need for diversion during the long agonies of war." (1)

Organized by subjects, each section of this page starts with text from One of Ours.

Strings in the following subjects include endpoints which are phonographs, phonograph records, sheet music and other phonograph related connections.


Connections with the Phonograph

Subjects include the following:

"Bidding the eagles of the West fly on . . .", Mechanical Devices, the Phonograph, Dislike of Phonograph Music, Dull without the Phonograph on Winter Evenings, Phonograph Monologues, David Hochstein, Neutrality, Edith Cavell, the Lusitania, the United States's Entry into the War, Submarine Warfare, His Master's Voice, Battle of the Marne, Claude Prepares for France, Camp Dix, "Good-bye Broadway, Hello France," "Statue of Liberty," "Over There," Claude's Ship Arrives in France, General Pershing, Trench Warfare, "Home, Sweet Home," Aeroplanes and Victor Morse, Support for the Troops, the Bugle, A Mother's loss, Armistice, Good-Bye France, "Everybody's Happy Now," Summary and Discography.



All records on this page can be played (see Instructions for listening to records), however, this page is not optimized for small screens. If you are using an iPad see iPad Back Button for related information.


"Bidding the eagles of the West fly on . . ."


"One of Ours is the intimate story of a young man's life. Claude Wheeler's stormy youth, his enigmatic marriage, and the final adventure which releases the baffled energy of the boy's nature..."

Excerpt from cover of the 1922 novel written by Alfred E. Knopf, publisher of One of Ours.


Mechanical Devices

The first reference to the phonograph in One of Ours is not specific but sets the context of Ralph's acquisitions of mechanical contraptions and his upcoming purchase of "another music machine." There is an on-going debate between Ralph and his mother, Mrs. Wheeler, who admits that she is "old-fashioned" and struggles to use any of the devices Ralph has purchased for her home, seeing them also as a waste of money.

It starts with the cream separator.

"Now, Mother," said Ralph good-humouredly, as he emptied the syrup pitcher over his cakes, "you're prejudiced. Nobody ever thinks of skimming milk now-a-days. Every up-to-date farmer uses a separator."

Mrs. Wheeler's pale eyes twinkled. "Mahailey and I will never be quite up-to-date, Ralph. We're old-fashioned, and I don't know but you'd better let us be. I could see the advantage of a separator if we milked half-a-dozen cows. It's a very ingenious machine. But it's a great deal more work to scald it and fit it together than it was to take care of the milk in the old way."

"It won't be when you get used to it," Ralph assured her. He was the chief mechanic of the Wheeler farm, and when the farm implements and the automobiles did not give him enough to do, he went to town and bought machines for the house. As soon as Mahailey got used to a washing-machine or a churn, Ralph, to keep up with the bristling march of events, brought home a still newer one. The mechanical dish-washer she had never been able to use, and patent flat-irons and oil-stoves drove her wild. (pp. 32-33)


More examples follow of "mechanical toys" and "mysterious objects" purchased by Ralph.

The cellar was cemented, cool and dry, with deep closets for canned fruit and flour and groceries, bins for coal and cobs, and a dark-room full of photographer's apparatus. Claude took his place at the carpenter's bench under one of the square windows. Mysterious objects stood about him in the grey twilight; electric batteries, old bicycles and typewriters, a machine for making cement fence-posts, a vulcanizer, a stereopticon with a broken lens. The mechanical toys Ralph could not operate successfully, as well as those he had got tired of, were stored away here. If they were left in the barn, Mr. Wheeler saw them too often, and sometimes, when they happened to be in his way, he made sarcastic comments. Claude had begged his mother to let him pile this lumber into a wagon and dump it into some washout hole along the creek; but Mrs. Wheeler said he must not think of such a thing, as it would hurt Ralph's feelings very much. Nearly every time Claude went into the cellar, he made a desperate resolve to clear the place out some day, reflecting bitterly that the money this wreckage cost would have put a boy through college decently. (p. 35)

The language of "mechanical" is also seen multiple times in relation to mechanical actions and state-of-minds. See One of Ours Endnote "Mechanical" for examples.



The Phonograph

"The latest make, put out under the name of a great American inventor."

The phonograph is first identified in One of Ours with Ralph purchasing another music machine, "the latest make, put out under the name of a great American inventor."

The next few weeks were busy ones on the farm. Before the wheat harvest was over, Nat Wheeler packed his leather trunk, put on his "store clothes," and set off to take Tom Wested back to Maine. During his absence Ralph began to outfit for life in Yucca county. Ralph liked being a great man with the Frankfort merchants, and he had never before had such an opportunity as this. He bought a new shot gun, saddles, bridles, boots, long and short storm coats, a set of furniture for his own room, a fireless cooker, another music machine, and had them shipped to Colorado. His mother, who did not like phonograph music, and detested phonograph monologues, begged him to take the machine at home, but he assured her that she would be dull without it on winter evenings. He wanted one of the latest make, put out under the name of a great American inventor. (p. 103)

The latest phonograph made "under the name of a great American inventor" was, of course, a Thomas A. Edison Phonograph. The Edison signature was a feature of Edison's marketing along with the phrase "Genuine Edison Phonograph." (1A)

This 1900 Cosmopolitan ad includes Edison's picture with his signature below it and the Edison phonograph ad tag line: "None genuine without this Thomas A. Edison Trade Mark " (signature).


Cosmopolitan magazine, December 1900


Ralph is beginning to "outfit for life in Yucca county" when he purchases a new Edison phonograph so the time period is probably between 1906 and 1908.(1AA) The Edison Home or Edison Triumph Phonograph would be good possibilities for the model of the machine Ralph purchased. (1B). For more about the phonograph industry's timeline and cylinder vs. disc machines see (1C). See (1D) regarding The Willa Cather Scholarly Edition's One of Ours Explanatory Note 103.

As the "great American inventor" and President of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., Edison's phonograph company would continue through the teens and into the twenties to be one of the big three in the U.S. phonograph industry. What Edison did and said was a common item in the popular press. When Edison published "Messages" to his Dealers from 1917-1919 in the trade magazine The Talking Machine World the "Wizard" was offering his perspectives on the war, business and the importance of music which are themselves interesting pieces of war-time popular culture.



Mrs. Wheeler "did not like phonograph music"

His mother, who did not like phonograph music, and detested phonograph monologues...(p. 103)

The phonograph had its detractors in its early years but circa 1907 the fact that Mrs. Wheeler "did not like phonograph music" was a minority opinion and in contrast to the many consumers who were interested in the growing catalogs of phonograph music and recorded entertainment: bands, orchestras, instrumental, musical groups and performing artists; solos by accordian, banjo, bagpipe, bells, church chimes, clarinet, cornet, dulcimer, flute, harp, mandolin, oboe, organ, piccolo, piano, piccolo, trombone, trumpet, violin, violoncello, whistling, xylophone and zither; and its monologue records, also known as descriptive, vaudeville, recitation, sketch and "dialect" records. (1E)

John Philip Sousa, who was well-known for his band and military march music and who also made records, famously wrote what he didn't like about player pianos and phonographs in a 1906 magazine article titled "The Menace of Mechanical Music." Sousa railed against the phonograph and its damage to America's musical future, warning that "mechanical music was sweeping across the country" and was becoming a “substitute for human skill, intelligence and soul.”

"Then what of the national throat? Will it not weaken?" (1F)

"Will the infant be put to sleep by machinery" asked Sousa. (1G)


"The Menace of Mechanical Music" by John Philip Sousa, Appleton's Magazine, September 1906



Mrs. Wheeler "detested phonograph monologues."

His mother, who did not like phonograph music, and detested phonograph monologues...(p. 103)

The "monologue" records which Mrs. Wheeler detested were also known as descriptive, vaudeville, recitation, sketch and "dialect" records and were first heard on the nickel-in-the-slot phonographs in the 1890's. Some of these early monologues and songs contained bawdy and risque content. In 1891 Russell Hunting began making one of the most famous monologue record series of its time featuring his Irish character, "Michael Casey." But Hunting's recording career was interrupted when he was arrested on June 24,1896 for making and distributing obscene records. In the case, "widely reported in the press," Hunting was "sentenced to three months in prison for violating the same obscenity laws that governed written literature and visual images." (2). While in jail Hunting also lost the monopoly over his Casey series but he would continue making records and nearly twenty-five years later was still making "Casey" records with his "descriptive" Pathe World War I record titled "Casey Home From The Front".

In the first decade of 20th century Harlan and Stanley had their "Rube Series" of records (Disclaimer); Len Spencer had his so called "colorful dialogues" involving numerous ethnicities; William F. Denny had what Edison advertised as "his great monologue" entitled "A Matrimonial Chat." Billy Golden and Joe Hughes' vaudeville sketch about the Mexican Expedition (a.k.a. the Pancho Villa Expedition) titled "Jimmy Triggers Return from Mexico." Cal Stewart, known as the "Yankee Story Teller," became famous in his role as Uncle Josh Weathersby and his Edison record titled Uncle Josh and the Lightning Rod Agent is an example of his New England humor.

Columbia, Victor and other talking machine companies besides Edison made "monologue" records and performers like all of the above recorded for multiple companies. Edison therefore wasn't alone in making monologue records, however, the following 1908 Edison ad for "Broadway Vaudeville" featuring entertainment by Uncle Josh shows popular culture that is probably a closer fit for a Nebraska homestead than the opera stages promoted by Victor and Columbia.

No record, however, was welcomed in Mrs. Wheeler's Nebraska home, and especially any phonograph monologue.


The Edison Phonograph Monthly showing what Edison was using for their August 1908 national advertisements.


In contrast to the phonograph monologues and recitations, a variety of music and opera was offered to its listeners presenting "The whole show" and "The Stage of the World." "A single evening with the Graphophone offers thousands of dollars in professional services." Its scientific improvements, said a 1906 Columbia ad, "have resulted in reproducing the exact human tone quality and volume of the original."


"Ring Up the Graphophone Curtain in Your Home, and the Whole World of Entertainment Appears!" 1906



"Verdi's Masterpiece, "Il Trovatore", complete, from the opening chorus to the finale of the last act...of the La Scala Theatre, Milan, Italy." Munsey's, Victor Talking Machine Co., 1906


"dull without it on winter evenings."

Ralph is buying another phonograph for his new home and his mother doesn't want him to leave the old one with her.

His mother...begged him to take the machine at home, but he assured her that she would be dull without it on winter evenings. (p. 103)


The phonograph, as it became a consumer product in the mid-1890's, started to increase its phonograph advertising and this included repeatedly promoting it as the “finest entertainer in the world,” "always ready to entertain," and the clear answer for how to spend your evenings (especially in the long, cold, dark, shivery evenings"):


Top section of 1899 broadside advertisement.

See Evenings in Any Season are Never Dull with a Phonograph for advertising examples of the phonograph as the unmatched entertainer for any evening.

See "Antique Phonograph, Gadgets, Gizmos & Gimmicks" for a novelty trade card depicting "a dull evening at home," circa 1908. By holding the card to the light a Zon-O-Phone magically appears as the "Ideal Home Entertainer - it drives dull care away." (2A)


"singing snarl of a phonograph."

The next reference to the phonograph was less than complimentary regarding listening to the "singing snarl of a phonograph."

That evening Claude was sitting on the windmill platform, down by the barn, after a hard day's work ploughing for winter wheat. He was solacing himself with his pipe. No matter how much she loved him, or how sorry she felt for him, his mother could never bring herself to tell him he might smoke in the house. Lights were shining from the upstairs rooms on the hill, and through the open windows sounded the singing snarl of a phonograph. (p. 110)


"before the days of Victrolas."

The Victrola was introduced by the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1906. Its popularity would make it a generic term for early phonographs and talking machines, especially for machines with their horn enclosed within its cabinet. Edison's "Phonograph" was also a trade-marked name that in the U.S. would become a generic term for record players. See Phonographia's PhonoAds Pre-1900 for more details about the early marketing of the phonograph as a home entertainment machine prior to the introduction of the Victrola.

Claude decided he would go to the Yoeders' today, and to the Dawsons' tomorrow. He didn't like to think there might be hard feeling toward him in a house where he had had so many good times, and where he had often found a refuge when things were dull at home. The Yoeder boys had a music-box long before the days of Victrolas, and a magic lantern, and the old grandmother made wonderful shadow-pictures on a sheet, and told stories about them. She used to turn the map of Europe upside down on the kitchen table and showed the children how, in this position, it looked like a Jungfrau; and recited a long German rhyme which told how Spain was the maiden's head, the Pyrenees her lace ruff, Germany her heart and bosom, England and Italy were two arms, and Russia, though it looked so big, was only a hoopskirt. This rhyme would probably be condemned as dangerous propaganda now! (p. 340)


The 1907 Victor-Victrola the Sixteenth 1907-1921 (Courtesy of WorthPoint) See End Notes 'Victrolas' for more details.


"music-machines poured out jazz tunes and strident Sousa marches"

"From every doorway music-machines poured out jazz tunes and strident Sousa marches. The noise was stupefying."

The sidewalks were crowded with chairs and little tables, at which marines and soldiers sat drinking sirops and cognac and coffee. From every doorway music-machines poured out jazz tunes and strident Sousa marches. The noise was stupefying. Out in the middle of the street a band of bareheaded girls, hardy and tough looking, were following a string of awkward Americans, running into them, elbowing them, asking for treats, crying, "You dance me Fausse-trot, Sammie?" (p. 437)


"Jazz, Fox-Trot" ("You dance me Fausse-trot, Sammie?")


Original Jazz, Fox-Trot " The Kaiser's Got the Blues," by Waldron, F. D., published by Frank D. Waldron, Tacoma, 1918 (Courtesy Library of Congress)



"noise of the phonograph"

The violin and recording artist David Gerhardt (who was largely based on the concert violinist David Hochstein) kept his concentration despite the talk and noise of the phonograph. (2AA)

Claude knew that David particularly detested Captain Owens of the Engineers, and wondered that he could go on working with such concentration, when snatches of the Captain's lecture kept breaking through the confusion of casual talk and the noise of the phonograph. Owens, as he walked up and down, cast furtive glances at Gerhardt. He had got wind of the fact that there was something out of the ordinary about him. (p. 488)


David Hochstein and the powers of the phonograph

The phonograph's powers to capture and share music anywhere and anytime exemplifies the unique attributes of the phonograph and its records. The "anywhere" allows music to be shared no matter where someone is located. The "anytime" removes restrictions both for when one can listen but also as for whether or not the performer is even alive. As the Victor ad of 1918 stated "Jenny Lind is only a memory, but the voice of Melba can never die."

Phonograph records preserved the art of violinist David Hochstein, the prototype for Lieutenant David Gerhardt, so that his art could potentially be shared with anyone at anytime. If Claude's mother could hear Gerhardt's records Claude believed that "it will sort of bring the whole thing closer to her, don't you see?"


David Hochstein (Courtesy Rochester Public Library) and G.P. Cather in Nebraska National Guard, 1916 (Illustration 14, One of Ours, Willa Cather Scholarly Edition, 2006, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln)


The men kept the phonograph going; as soon as one record buzzed out, somebody put in another. Once, when a new tune began, Claude saw David look up from his paper with a curious expression. He listened for a moment with a half-contemptuous smile, then frowned and began sketching in his map again. Something about his momentary glance of recognition made Claude wonder whether he had particular associations with the air,—melancholy, but beautiful, Claude thought. He got up and went over to change the record himself this time. He took out the disk, and holding it up to the light, read the inscription: "Meditation from Thaïs—Violin solo—David Gerhardt."

When they were going back along the communication trench in the rain, wading single file, Claude broke the silence abruptly. "That was one of your records they played tonight, that violin solo, wasn't it?"

"Sounded like it. Now we go to the right. I always get lost here."

"Are there many of your records?"

"Quite a number. Why do you ask?"

"I'd like to write my mother. She's fond of good music. She'll get your records, and it will sort of bring the whole thing closer to her, don't you see?"

"All right, Claude," said David good-naturedly. "She will find them in the catalogue, with my picture in uniform alongside. I had a lot made before I went out to Camp Dix. My own mother gets a little income from them. Here we are, at home." As he struck a match two black shadows jumped from the table and disappeared behind the blankets. "Plenty of them around these wet nights. Get one? Don't squash him in there. Here's the sack."

Gerhardt held open the mouth of a gunny sack, and Claude thrust the squirming corner of his blanket into it and vigorously trampled whatever fell to the bottom. "Where do you suppose the other is?"

"He'll join us later. I don't mind the rats half so much as I do Barclay Owens. What a sight he would be with his clothes off! Turn in; I'll go the rounds." Gerhardt splashed out along the submerged duckboard. Claude took off his shoes and cooled his feet in the muddy water. He wished he could ever get David to talk about his profession, and wondered what he looked like on a concert platform, playing his violin. (pp. 488-490)


"She will find them in the catalogue, with my picture in uniform alongside."

David Hochstein has two selections and his photograph in the 1917 Emerson Records catalog: Fritz Kreisler's "Liebesleid" and "Waltz in A Major" by Brahms.

Listen to David Hochstein play Fritz Kreisler's "Liebesleid" courtesy of


"Waltz in A Major," Violin Solo by David Hochstein, 1916



No record catalog has been located with Hochstein in uniform, however, Albert Spalding, a famous violinist who recorded for Edison also served in France in the United States Air Corps and there is one for him. Spalding received much publicity for his service and there are concert publicity photographs with Spalding in uniform. See Albert Spalding, Edison artist and violinist in France who later made a Victor record of Hochstein's arrangement of Brahms Waltz in A Major.



1917 Emerson Record Catalog, p. 10 (Courtesy Internet Archive)


The Neutrality of the United States

"The United States remained neutral at the beginning of the war. Americans were divided in support, although the majority were sympathetic to the Allies. Many contributed to relief efforts; others volunteered as ambulance drivers or nurses, or even as pilots and soldiers. Most, however, agreed with President Woodrow Wilson’s commitment to keeping the U.S. out of the fighting." (1)

THE TUG OF PEACE - satirical cartoon of pacifist and industrialist Henry Ford's attempt to initiate a peace process among the belligerents during of WWI. Punch, December 15, 1915 (PM-1036)



The Neutrality March by Mike Bernard, publisher Chas. K. Harris, New York, 1915. (Courtesy The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music, The Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University) Midi version of The Neutrality March can be heard on YouTube.

There was no record released for The Neutrality March but in 1915 Bert Williams sang "I'm Neutral" since neutrality was President Wilson's official position and a much discussed topic in the United States.



"I'm Neutral" sung by Bert Williams Columbia Grafonola Record A1817, 1915 (Courtesy David Giovannoni Collection

"There ain't no use in talking, folks are all up in the air...but I'm Neutral, I am and is and shall remain just neutral..." Bert Williams

"Based on President Woodrow Wilson's isolation stance in the early years of the first World War, "I'm Neutral" playfully represents the challenge of remaining neutral. The protagonist finds himself, as did most of Williams's characters, in unfortunate circumstances. Faced with acquaintances of different ethnic backgrounds who are biased about the war in Europe, he tries not to get involved. In the agitated spirt of the environment, however, he is attacked. The second verse situates him amid a fighting husband and wife." (Ann Ommen Van der Merwe, The Ziegfield Follies: A History in Song)

The lyrics begin with "there ain't no use in talkin" but "somebody hocked the Kaiser and I don't know the reason why."

"There ain't no use in talking, folks are all up in the air, From what I can hear them saying seems like fightin everywhere, I went down to the bulletin board the other night, just to see what I could see, and before I knew it there was several hundred men all surrounding me, somebody hocked the Kaiser and I don't know the reason why, but a Frenchman took a swing at me and dug a trench right in my eye A Russian saw my color and he yelled "kill the Turk!" then the alley's all got in the range and started in the works... But I'm Neutral, I am and is and shall remain just Neutral.."


"When the Kaiser is in Hock," by John Peach Gilroy, Asplund & Leaf Music Printers, Seattle, 1917 (Courtesy Library of Congress)


The song "I Didn't Raise My Boy to be a Soldier" was promoted as a "sensational anti-war song hit." It would be recorded on several labels in 1915, among them by Morton Harvey for Victor Records; the Peerless Quartette recorded on January 6, 1915 for Columbia Records; Helen Clark recorded on February 15, 1915 for Edison Records; a Medley One-Step version by Jaudas' Society Orchestra recorded on May 11, 1915 for Edison records. Each can be heard courtesy of David Giovannoni.


Sheet music and record label courtesy of Giovanonni-Sheram Collection.


Listen to Morton Harvey, Victor Records 17716-A (Courtesy of and David Giovanonni).



The United States remained neutral even after Edith Cavell's execution and the sinking of the Lusitania

"On 7 May 1915 a German submarine torpedoed and sank the British passenger liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. Of 1,257 passengers, 1,198 died, among them 128 Americans. President Wilson declared the sinking illegal and inhumane and asserted that it represented a violation of "sacred human rights." The Lusitania became a focus of both American and German propaganda....Most Americans, though angered at the incident, called for negotiations with Germany. In February 1916 Germany officially apologized to the United States and offered an indemnity." One of Ours, Willa Cather Scholarly Edition, ibid, Explanatory Note No. 293.

"Don't let me forget to give you an article about the execution of that English nurse." "Edith Cavell? I've read about it," he answered listlessly. "It's nothing to be surprised at. If they could sink the Lusitania, they could shoot an English nurse, certainly." (p. 286)


Edith Cavell


"The Bravest Heart of All - A Tribute to Edith Cavell," by Lamb and Clique, Published by Frank K. Root & Co., Chicago, 1915 (Courtesy Northern Illinois University Digital Library, Lee Schreiner Sheet Music Collection)


Leonard looked him over. "Good Lord, Claude, you ain't the only fellow around here that wears pants! What for? Well, I'll tell you what for," he held up three large red fingers threateningly; "Belgium, the Lusitania, Edith Cavell. That dirt's got under my skin. I'll get my corn planted, and then Father'll look after Susie till I come back."

Claude took a long breath. "Well, Leonard, you fooled me. I believed all this chaff you've been giving me about not caring who chewed up who."

And no more do I care," Leonard protested, "not a damn! But there's a limit. I've been ready to go since the Lusitania. I don't get any satisfaction out of my place any more. Susie feels the same way." (pp. 316-317).


The Lusitania

When the Lusitania Went Down by Charles McCarron and Nat. Vincent, Publisher Leo Feitst, New York, 1915. (Courtesy The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music)


"When the Lusitania Went Down" Sung by Herbert Stuart, Columbia Record No. A1772, double-sided disc recorded May 20, 1915 (Courtesy and Internet Archive)



(Sheet Music and record courtesy of Giovannoni-Sheram Collection and



"Let's All Be Americans Now" by Berlin, Leslie and Meyer; Published by Waterson, Berlin and Snyder, New York, 1917 (Courtesy Duke University Libraries - David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


When the record "Let's All Be Americans Now" was recorded on February 28, 1917 the United States had not yet declared war. One of the lyrics of the song included the possibility that "England or France may have your sympathy, -- or Germany." But "now is the time" "Let's all be Americans Now."

"Now there's trouble in the air, War is talked of ev'ry where,...We're not looking for any kind of war, but if we fight we must

It's up to you! What will you do? England or France may have your sympathy, -- or Germany

But you'll agree that, now is the time, To fall in line...You swore that you would, so be true to your vow, Let's all be Americans Now."


"Let's All Be Americans Now" performed by Adolph J. Hahl (Arthur Hall), Edison Domestic series 3201, 4-minute Edison Blue Amberol Record, recorded February 28, 1917 (Courtesy of )


On February 1, 1917 Germany returned to its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. On April 6, 1917 the United States declared war on Germany.

When war on Germany was declared by the United States the phonograph industry responded with support, patriotism, and related songs and thematic promotional material. Claude and his band of new brothers had a few thoughts about the Kaiser:

If they talked about the war, or the enemy they were getting ready to fight, it was usually in a facetious tone; they were going to "can the Kaiser," or to make the Crown Prince work for a living. Claude loved the men he trained with,—wouldn't choose to live in any better company. (p. 333)


Wanting to "make the Crown Prince work for a living" was also expressed as wanting the Kaiser to be in hock or "Hock the Kaiser" (as Bert Williams sang in his record "I'm Neutral" when he said "there ain't no use in talkin" but "somebody hocked the Kaiser and I don't know the reason why."


"Can" the Kaiser and other messages to the Kaiser

This motion toy phonograph attachment featured Uncle Sam booting, kicking, and "canning" Kaiser Bill who is running away carrying his U-Boat "Pretzel."

The National Toy Co., “Play with any Lively or Patriotic Record.” The Talking Machine World, May 1917


Watch Uncle Sam "boot" Kaiser Bill to Sousa's "Under the Double Eagle March" (30 second extract courtesy of CURIOSITYPHONO)




"Can the Kaiser" by Adkins & Fennell, Published by Adkins-Fennell Music Co., Kansas City, MO, 1917 (Courtesy Library of Congress)



"They're on their way to Kan the Kaiser" by Pyle and Thomas. Published by Thomas & O'Connell Music Pub. Co., New York City, 1917 (Courtesy The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music)



"Can the Kaiser, Yankees" by Tom Williams, Published by Tom Williams, Philadelphia, PA, 1917 (Courtesy Library of Congress)


Nipper and "His Master's Voice" were adapted into war-time parodies and propoganda.


Postcard circa 1917 (PM-2048)



Postcard circa 1914 (PM-0414)



Postcard circa 1916 (PM-0356)



THE DACHSHUND: "I thought you were only a contemptible little talking machine."

(Source: The Bystander, October 7, 1914, Mary Evans Picture Library)



Political Cartoon published in 1916 regarding Flemish newspaper purchased by Germany during World War I (6A)



"His Master's Voice," April 20, 1918, US National Archives, Berryman Political Cartoon Collection


The Montreal Daily Star, October 15, 1918 as reprinted in The Talking Machine World, November 15, 1918 depicting in a cartoon the recent correspondence between President Wilson and the German Government regarding an armistice.


The Talking Machine World, May 1917



"We're All Going Calling on the Kaiser" by Caddigan and Brennan, publisher Leo. Feist, Inc. New York (Courtesy of Giovannoni-Sheram Collection



"We're All Going Calling on the Kaiser" sung by Arthur Fields and Peerless Quartette, Columbia Record A2569, Recorded May 13, 1918 (Courtesy of




Investigation of pro-German propaganda using phonograph records

"Canned Propaganda," The Talking Machine World, March 15, 1918





The Talking Machine World, June 15, 1918 (Click image to see full ad)


Cover of Trade Journal The Voice of the Victor, October 1918.


"Songs Across the Sea" and the "the music of liberty." The Ladies' Home Journal for January, 1919



Submarine Warfare

There are a number of references to the German submarine threat and its impact on the war starting with Germany's resumption of "unrestricted submarine warfare."

...indeed, until the announcement that Germany would resume unrestricted submarine warfare made every one look questioningly at his neighbour. (p. 304)


German submarine crew playing music and listening to gramophone, postcard ca. 1915 (PM-0675)


Germany's announcement of unrestricted warfare on all ships would be a major impetus for the United States to finally enter the war. Once war was declared on Germany the former neutrality and even support of Germany by Americans vanished and the many of the German immigrants in Nebraska who were former friends and neighbors were transformed into potential informants or saboteurs. Literally reflecting this change of heart, names of cities and businesses were changed. Historian Jim McKee summarizes some of these changes in Nebraska as follows:

Lincoln's German-American Bank became Continental National Bank, Schmidts became Smiths, Gov. Charles Dietrich's German National Bank of Hastings became the Nebraska National Bank, while the town of Berlin became Otoe and Germantown in Seward County was renamed Garland for Ray Garland, who was killed in France in 1918. (4)

McKee then notes that "in the hasty renaming of Berlin, it was probably not even named in honor of the German city but for E.D. Berlin, a local farmer.


This 1918 era photo shows a Lincoln parade with its obvious anti-German sentiments illustrated in the "To hell with the the bier-like wagon saying, "Liberty Day." Jim McKee, The Lincoln Journal, June 27, 2010 (Photo courtesy of Kent Remenga).


Submarine Warfare (Continued)


Description from the Edison record sleeve of Edison Record No. 50490, Submarine Attack (Courtesy of


Submarine Attack by Theodore Morse performed by Premier Quartet and Company, Edison Diamond Disc Re-Creation Record No. 50490 (Courtesy of


"The Submarine Attack Somewhere at Sea" Sung by Peerless Quartette, Columbia Grafonola A2626, Recorded February 27, 1918 (Courtesy Library of Congress)


"Good Bye Kaiser Bill" by J. L. Waldorf, Published by J. L. Waldorf,, Centerburg, OH 1918 (Courtesy Library of Congress)


Additional references to German submarines in One of Ours.

"Here's one naval authority who says the Germans are turning out submarines at the rate of three a day. They probably didn't spring this on us until they had enough built to keep the ocean clean." (p. 306)


A second witness had heard Oberlies say he hoped the German submarines would sink a few troopships; that would frighten the Americans and teach them to stay at home and mind their own business. (p. 321)


Claude's mother was extremely anxious about Claude and the other soldiers being able to safely cross the ocean because of the German submarines.

"I hardly see how we can bear the anxiety when our transports begin to sail," she said thoughtfully. "If they can once get you all over there, I am not afraid; I believe our boys are as good as any in the world. But with submarines reported off our own coast, I wonder how the Government can get our men across safely. The thought of transports going down with thousands of young men on board is something so terrible—" she put her hands quickly her eyes. (pp. 341-342)


"Absolutely. The British are depending on their aircraft designers to do just that, if everything else fails. Of course, nobody knows yet how effective the submarines will be in our case." (p. 343)


"Lieutenant, I wish you'd explain Lieutenant Fanning to me. He seems very immature. He's been telling me about a submarine destroyer he's invented, but it looks to me like foolishness."(p. 365)


In popular culture one of the three World War I patriotic "Talking Books" put out in June 1919 by the Talking Book Corporation was "Submarine Attack."


The Talking Machine World, June 15, 1919

The Talking Book Corporation was one of the companies owned by Victor Hugo Emerson who was the founder of the Emerson Phonograph Company and Emerson Records. Violinist David Hochstein recorded for Emerson Records.


Submarine Attack - A "Talking" Book

Submarine Attack A "Talking" Book made by The Talking Book Corporation, Emerson Records, 1919 (FP1286)


The book is opened and the book's page with the record on it is placed on the phonograph's platter. Listen to SUBMARINE ATTACK on this record.


The Talking Book Corporation, Emerson Records, 1919 (Video courtesy of Bruce Victrolaman Young)


Submarine Attack A "Talking" Book (back cover)


Submarine Attack a "Talking" Book page 2 (FP1286A)



We'll knock that little "U-boat" high and dry, words by Alice D. Elfreth, Music by Al. Franz, Published by Alice D. Elfreth,Philadelphia, Pa., 1917, monographic. (Courtesy Library of Congress)



The Marne

The Allied success at the First Battle of the Marne in 1914 saved Paris from being taken by the Germans. Marne is referenced throughout the book for its strategic victory but also for its lasting memory as its name "had come to have the purity of an abstract idea" and everyone in France seemed to have a connection to it.

Claude squirmed, as he always did when his mother touched upon certain subjects. "Well, you see, I can't forget that the Germans are praying, too. And I guess they are just naturally more pious than the French." Taking up the book he began once more: "In the low ground again, at the narrowest part of the great loop of the Marne," etc. (p. 230)


"The French have stopped falling back, Claude. They are standing at the Marne. There is a great battle going on. The papers say it may decide the war. It is so near Paris that some of the army went out in taxi-cabs." (p. 231)


It was curious, he reflected, lying wide awake in the dark: four days ago the seat of government had been moved to Bordeaux,—with the effect that Paris seemed suddenly to have become the capital, not of France, but of the world! He knew he was not the only farmer boy who wished himself tonight beside the Marne. The fact that the river had a pronounceable name, with a hard Western "r" standing like a keystone in the middle of it, somehow gave one's imagination a firmer hold on the situation. Lying still and thinking fast, Claude felt that even he could clear the bar of French "politeness"—so much more terrifying than German bullets—and slip unnoticed into that outnumbered army. One's manners wouldn't matter on the Marne tonight, the night of the eighth of September, 1914. There was nothing on earth he would so gladly be as an atom in that wall of flesh and blood that rose and melted and rose again before the city which had meant so much through all the centuries—but had never meant so much before. Its name had come to have the purity of an abstract idea. In great sleepy continents, in land-locked harvest towns, in the little islands of the sea, for four days men watched that name as they might stand out at night to watch a comet, or to see a star fall. (pp. 232-233)


As she went about these tasks, she prayed constantly. She had not prayed so long and fervently since the battle of the Marne. (p. 249)


Yet here they were. And in this massing and movement of men there was nothing mean or common; he was sure of that. It was, from first to last, unforeseen, almost incredible. Four years ago, when the French were holding the Marne, the wisest men in the world had not conceived of this as possible; they had reckoned with every fortuity but this. Out of these stones can my Father raise up seed unto Abraham. (p. 377)


Something was released that had been struggling for a long while, he told himself. He had been due in France since the first battle of the Marne; he had followed false leads and lost precious time and seen misery enough, but he was on the right road at last, and nothing could stop him. (p. 412)


And her father? He was dead; mort è la Marne, en quatorze. "At the Marne?" Claude repeated, glancing in perplexity at the nursing baby. (p. 476)


When Owens was in college he had never shown the least interest in classical studies, but now it was as if he were giving birth to Caesar. The war came along, and stopped the work on his dam. It also drove other ideas into his exclusively engineering brains. He rushed home to Kansas to explain the war to his countrymen. He travelled about the West, demonstrating exactly what had happened at the first battle of the Marne, until he had a chance to enlist.

In the Battalion, Owens was called "Julius Caesar," and the men never knew whether he was explaining the Roman general's operations in Spain, or Joffre's at the Marne, he jumped so from one to the other. Everything was in the foreground with him; centuries made no difference. Nothing existed until Barclay Owens found out about it. (pp. 486-487)


Claude thought he would stroll about to look at the town a little. It had been taken by the Germans in the autumn of 1914, after their retreat from the Marne, and they had held it until about a year ago, when it was retaken by the English and the Chasseurs d'Alpins . They had been able to reduce it and to drive the Germans out, only by battering it down with artillery; not one building remained standing. (p. 500)


He told her about his mother and his father and Mahailey; what life was like there in summer and winter and autumn—what it had been like in that fateful summer when the Hun was moving always toward Paris, and on those three days when the French were standing at the Marne; how his mother and father waited for him to bring the news at night, and how the very cornfields seemed to hold their breath.

Mademoiselle Olive sank back wearily in her chair. Claude looked up and saw tears sparkling in her brilliant eyes. "And I myself," she murmured, "did not know of the Marne until days afterward, though my father and brother were both there! I was far off in Brittany, and the trains did not run. (p. 513)


Stereoview card published 1919. Ruins of Marne Bridge. After the Germans were defeated on the Marne in 1914 they blew up this bridge in their "hasty retreat to hamper the pursuing French."



The Battle of the Marne - A "Talking" Book, by V. H. Emerson and the Talking Book Corporation, 1917 (FP1480)



The Battle of the Marne - A "Talking" Book, by V. H. Emerson and the Talking Book Corporation, 1917 (FP1480)



The Battle of the Marne - A "Talking" Book, by V. H. Emerson and the Talking Book Corporation, 1917 (FP1480)

"Let us listen to the Story! Let us sing the Marseillaise!"



La Mareillaise by Etienne Drian in Gazette du bon ton: Arts, modes & frivolités. Paris: Lucien Vogel, Summer 1915. La Marseillaise illustration and the following text are from En Guerre, French Illustrators and World War I by Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein, University of Chicago Library, 2014, p. 102)

An editorial in the Gazette du bon ton in the summer of 1915 declared "that because France has just escaped the greatest peril and is proceeding toward certain victory, the magazine could be published." The authors then noted that "most of the illustrations contain no hint of war." However, a series by Etienne Drian did: "Fashionably dressed women engage in patriotic activities: arranging a tricolor bouquet, reading the war news, following a battle map, or listening to the Marseillaise."


"La Marseillaise" (de Lisle) {In English}, performed by Thomas Chalmers, Edison Concert series 28289, 4-minute Edison Blue Amberol Record, recorded May 21, 1917 (Courtesy



"The Marseillaise is worth a million men to France."

Edison Message No. 26, The Talking Machine World, September 15, 1918



Battle of the Marne War Song

"They Shall Not Pass (Battle of the Marne War Song)" Sheet music contributor names Schasberger, Otto C. (composer) Muchmore, Henry E. (lyricist) Published by Music Printing Co., New York, 1918 (Courtesy Library of Congress)


"Battle of the Marne March" by J. Luxton, published by Church, Paxson, & Co., New York, 1916 (Courtesy Smithsonian Libraries)



"Battle of the Marne March" by J. Luxton on 4-minute Edison Amberola Record No. 3018 performed by Sodero's Band (as New York Military Band) Cesare Sodero, director, recorded April 20, 1916 (Courtesy



"Battle of the Marne" Descriptive by J. Luxton played by the New York Military Band on Edison Diamond Disc Record 50422, 1917 and available on Internet Archive.


"The Battle of the Marne" performed by Russell Hunting, Elocutionist, on Pathe 12" Record No. 35067, double-sided disc (Courtesy of




"We stopped them at the Marne," performed by Premier Quartet , Edison Domestic series 3525, 4-minute Edison Blue Amberol Record, recorded April 23, 1918 (Courtesy of



"Spirit of France March" by E. T. Paull, Published by E. T. Paull Music Co., New York, 1919

Foch's Message to Joffre at the Battle of the Marne: "My right wing is retreating. My left wing is broken, I am attacking with the center." (Courtesy The University of South Carolina and the Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection)


Claude Prepares for France

Claude had studied French in school and thought he knew it well enough to even be able to slip into their army to help save Paris if he would have been in France at the time. And when he did enlist and finished his basic training and was going home before shipping off to France he would continue to study his French. Most of the American doughboys didn't know French. The French phrase book "made up of sentences chosen for their usefulness to soldiers" was one solution.

"I surely never wore anything else in the month of July," Claude admitted. "When I find myself riding along in a train, in the middle of harvest, trying to learn French verbs, then I know the world is turned upside down, for a fact!" The old man pressed a cigar upon him and began to question him. Like the hero of the "Odyssey" upon his homeward journey, Claude had often to tell what his country was, and who were the parents that begot him. He was constantly interrupted in his perusal of a French phrase book (made up of sentences chosen for their usefulness to soldiers,—such as, "Non, jamais je ne regarde les femmes") by the questions of curious strangers. (pp. 326-327)


The phonograph industry offered another way "for the use of Army Men in France besides a French phrase book:" French language courses, e.g., Cortina's Phone-Method, Victor's French Record Course, and others.


The Talking Machine World, August 1917, p. 111


"Victor French Course in Demand - Represents a Timely Contribution to the War Needs of the Country From the Talking Machine Trade — Being Strongly Featured," headline of article in The Talking Machine World, January 1918, p. 68


Original Poster (24.75" X 37") Courtesy of Heritage Auctions ©2018




When Yankee Doodle Learns to "Parlez Vous Francais," by Hart & Nelson, A.J. Stasny Music Co., New York, 1917


When Yankee Doodle Learns to "Parlez Vous Francais," sung by Arthur Fields, 4-minute Edison Amberola Record No. 3447, Recorded on December 4, 1917 (Courtesy




Camp Dix, New Jersey

Gerhardt rolled over on his back and put his hands under his head. "Oh, this affair is too big for exceptions; it's universal. If you happened to be born twenty-six years ago, you couldn't escape. If this war didn't kill you in one way, it would in another." He told Claude he had trained at Camp Dix, and had come over eight months ago in a regimental band, but he hated the work he had to do and got transferred to the infantry. (p. 466)


David Gerhardt trained at Camp Dix and played in regimental band.


Listening to the Victrola at Camp Dix, New Jersey

"In Camp or Trench, on transport or battleship...the Victrola is the unflagging, and often the only source of music and entertainment." The Talking Machine World, July 15, 1918



Dutch Officers listening to the phonograph. RPPC ca.1915 (PM-0369) The Netherlands remained neutral throughout World War I.




Life in the U. S. Army Cantonment. Postcard ca.1918 (PM-0368)


Gathering Around the Phonograph. Postcard ca.1919 (PM-0357)


"The Victrola is in active service doing its musical duty..bringing joy to the hearts of the soldier and sailor boys in camp." The Ladies' Home Journal, November 1918 (PM-2138)


"Good Bye Broadway, Hello France"


The National Geographic Magazine, February 1918


As Claude and the troops stood on the deck of their ship leaving the port of New York City Claude saw its profile in the mist and there was disappointment as the tall buildings "looked unsubstantial and illusionary' and no one knew what buildings they were even looking at. They didn't get their day in the city and now they were leaving for Paris and had "never so much as walked up Broadway."

By seven o'clock all the troops were aboard, and the men were allowed on deck. For the first time Claude saw the profile of New York City, rising thin and grey against an opal-coloured morning sky. The day had come on hot and misty. The sun, though it was now high, was a red ball, streaked across with purple clouds. The tall buildings, of which he had heard so much, looked unsubstantial and illusionary,—mere shadows of grey and pink and blue that might dissolve with the mist and fade away in it. (p. 361)

They agreed it was a shame they could not have had a day in New York before they sailed away from it, and that they would feel foolish in Paris when they had to admit they had never so much as walked up Broadway. (p. 361)


"Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France" by Reisner and Davis, Music by Baskette, Published by Leo. Feist, Inc., New York 1917 (Courtesy of


"Good Bye Broadway, Hello France" Sung by Peerless Quartette, Columbia Record A2333, Recorded on July 16, 1917 in New York City. (Courtesy Library of Congress)




"Good Bye Broadway, Hello France" Sung by Arthur Fields. Edison Domestic Series 3321, 4-minute celluoid cylinder, recorded July 17, 1917 (also dubbed on Edison Diamond Disc Record). (Courtesy of




"Departure of the American Troops for France" by Prince's Band and Columbia Male Quartette Record A2354 (Courtesy of and the Internet Archive)


"Departure of the First U.S. Troops for France" by Russell Hunting, Pathé 20125 (Courtesy of


"When Alexander Takes His Ragtime Band to France," by Bryan, Hess & Leslie, Published by Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., 1918 (Giovannoni-Sheram Collection)


"When Alexander Takes His Ragtime Band To France" by Marion Harris, Victor Record No. 18486-A, 1918 (Courtesy of


The Statue of Liberty

Claude and the troops stood on the deck of their ship leaving New York City and "sliding down toward the point and getting their "first glimpse of the Bartholdi statue:"

"There she is!" "Hello, old girl!" "Good-bye, sweetheart!"

The swarm surged to starboard. They shouted and gesticulated to the image they were all looking for,—so much nearer than they had expected to see her, clad in green folds, with the mist streaming up like smoke behind. For nearly every one of those twenty-five hundred boys, as for Claude, it was their first glimpse of the Bartholdi statue. Though she was such a definite image in their minds, they had not imagined her in her setting of sea and sky, with the shipping of the world coming and going at her feet, and the moving cloud-masses behind her. Post-card pictures had given them no idea of the energy of her large gesture, or how her heaviness becomes light among the vapourish elements. "France gave her to us," they kept saying, as they saluted her. (p. 362)


"L-i-b-e-r-t-y" by Ted S. Barron, published by Metropolis Music Co., New York, 1916 (Courtesy Duke University Libraries)



"L-i-b-e-r-t-y" by Henry Burr, Rex 10" Record No. 5377-A, produced 1914-1917 (Courtesy of



The Talking Machine World, November 1917



"Over There"

Claude and the troops standing on the deck of their ship leaving the port of New York City:

Before Claude had got over his first thrill, the Kansas band in the bow began playing "Over There." Two thousand voices took it up, booming out over the water the gay, indomitable resolution of that jaunty air. (p. 363)

"Over There" by Enrico Caruso, Victor Record 87294, recorded on July 11, 1918 (Courtesy of



(Courtesy of



"OVER THERE" U.S. Navy Recruitment Poster by Albert Sterner 1917. Sailor being sent to battle by a symbolic female figure with sword, possibly Liberty. (Library of Congress)



The Voyage of the Anchises - "Long, Long Ago"

That evening Claude was on deck, almost alone; there was a concert down in the ward room. To the west heavy clouds had come up, moving so low that they flapped over the water like a black washing hanging on the line. p. 376

The music sounded well from below. Four Swedish boys from the Scandinavian settlement at Lindsborg, Kansas, were singing "Long, Long Ago." Claude listened from a sheltered spot in the stern. What were they, and what was he, doing here on the Atlantic? p. 376

"Long, Long Ago": This nostalgic English popular song was written by Thomas Harnes Bayly and was first published as "The Long Ago" in 1833. (Explanatory Note 376, One of Ours Scholarly Edition)


"Long, Long Ago" Irish Ballad by Mr. Frank S. Maszziotti, Piccolo, 7" Disc Zon-o-phone Record 9097 (pre-1903)


"Long, Long Ago" by Frieda Hempel, Recorded 12/31/1917, New York, Edison 82550 10-in. (UCSB Library, DAHR)


The Voyage of the Anchises - "Annie Laurie"

Downstairs the men began singing "Annie Laurie." Where were those summer evenings when he used to sit dumb by the windmill, wondering what to do with his life? p. 377

"Annie Laurie": This popular nineteenth-century song by Lady John Dunlop Scott was based on a poem by William Douglas. The verses express the sadness of lost love, as the speaker has discovered that Annie has married another man. (Explanatory Note 377, One of Ours Scholarly Edition)


"Annie Laurie" sheet music cover, unknown date (Courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art)



"Annie Laurie" sung by Louise Homer, Victor Red Seal Record 87206, Recorded 5/27/1914 Camden, New Jersey ( (Label Courtesy Stanford Libraries)


"They All Sang Annie Laurie," Words by J. Will Callahan, Music by F. Henri Klickmann, Publisher Frank K. Root & Co., New York, 1915



Claude's Ship Arrives in France

Something caught his eye through the porthole,—a great grey shoulder of land standing up in the pink light of dawn, powerful and strangely still after the distressing instability of the sea. Pale trees and long, low fortifications . . . close grey buildings with red roofs . . . little sailboats bounding seaward . . . up on the cliff a gloomy fortress. He had always thought of his destination as a country shattered and desolated,—"bleeding France"; but he had never seen anything that looked so strong, so self-sufficient, so fixed from the first foundation, as the coast that rose before him. It was like a pillar of eternity. The ocean lay submissive at its feet, and over it was the great meekness of early morning. (p. 422)


The Talking Machine World, October 1917

"Arrival of the American Troops in France" by Prince's Band and Columbia Male Quartette Record A2354 (Courtesy of and the Internet Archive)

"The Americans Come!" by Reinald Werrenrath, Victor Record 45157-A, Recorded October 28, 1918 (Courtesy of


Visit BritishPathé to watch Arrival of American Troops In France 1917 - ©PATHE



Barricade in Streets of Eclusiers, France. Stereoview card 1918 (PM-1886)


"Roses of Picardy"

With Victor and Claude having dinner at the Grand Hotel in Dieppe, France, and with Victor heading out to Verdun the next day, Victor is gloomy when answering about when he'll next see Maisie in London, and starts whistling "Roses of Picardy."

God knows," Victor answered gloomily. He looked up at the ceiling and began to whistle softly an engaging air. "Do you know that? It's something Maisie often plays; 'Roses of Picardy.' You won't know what a woman can be till you meet her, Wheeler." (p. 436)


"Roses of Picardy "Sung by John McCormack, Victrola Red Seal Record 748-A, Recorded April 16, 1919 (Courtesy DAHR and Library of Congress)


General John J. Pershing

General Pershing was the U.S. Army general who commanded the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Europe during World War I.

Years ago, when General Pershing, then a handsome young Lieutenant with a slender waist and yellow moustaches, was stationed as Commandant at the University of Nebraska, Walter Scott was an officer in a company of cadets the Lieutenant took about to military tournaments. The Pershing Rifles, they were called, and they won prizes wherever they went. After his graduation, Scott settled down to running a hardware business in a thriving Nebraska town, and sold gas ranges and garden hose for twenty years. About the time Pershing was sent to the Mexican Border, Scott began to think there might eventually be something in the wind, and that he would better get into training. He went down to Texas with the National Guard. He had come to France with the First Division, and had won his promotions by solid, soldierly qualities. (p. 453)


General Pershing Decorating Officers of 89th Div., Treves, Germany. Stereoview card 1918 (PM-1883)



Hear the words from General John J. Pershing "From the Battlefields of France," The Columbia Graphophone Co., 1918 (Courtesy of



Edison Message No. 29, The Talking Machine World, October 15, 1918


"A PERSHING PATRIOT!" Buy War Savings Stamps, poster by R.H. Sommer, Illinois Litho. Co., 1918 (Library of Congress)



British troops in World War I from "They Shall Not Grow Old" by Peter Jackson (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures, ©2018)


One of John Philip Sousa's fears in his 1906 article "The Menace of Mechanical Music" was that military music would be replaced by phonograph records:

Shall we not expect that when the nation once more sounds its call to arms and the gallant regiment marches forth, there will be no majestic drum major, no serried ranks of sonorous trombones, no glittering array of brass, no rolling of drums? In their stead will be a huge phonograph, mounted on a 100 H. P. automobile, grinding out "The Girl I left Behind Me," "Dixie," and "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

"The Menace of Mechanical Music" by John Philip Sousa, Appleton's Magazine, September 1906




"General Pershing March" played by Victor Band, Record 18607-A, Recorded on August 5, 1919 (Courtesy of


Respectfully Dedicated to General John J. Pershing

"Hats off to the Red White and Blue," Words by Chester R. Hovery. Music by Ralph F. Beegan. Publisher Jerome H. Remick & Co., Detroit, 1918 (Source: The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music)


In the Trenches and No Man's Land

FOUR o'clock . . . a summer dawn . . . his first morning in the trenches. Claude had just been along the line to see that the gun teams were in position. This hour, when the light was changing, was a favourite time for attack. He had come in late last night, and had everything to learn...

That dull stretch of grey and green was No Man's Land. Those low, zigzag mounds, like giant molehills protected by wire hurdles, were the Hun trenches; five or six lines of them. He could easily follow the communication trenches without a glass...

Their own trenches, from the other side, must look quite as dead. Life was a secret, these days....

It all took place in utter darkness. Just as B Company slid down an incline into the shallow rear trenches, the country was lit for a moment by two star shells, there was a rattling of machine guns, German Maxims,—a sporadic crackle that was not followed up. Filing along the communication trenches, they listened anxiously; artillery fire would have made it bad for the other men who were marching to the rear. But nothing happened. They had a quiet night, and this morning, here they were! (pp.478-479)


"The Rose of No Man's Land" by Jack Caddigan and James A. Brennan. Published by Jack Mendelsohn Music Co., Boston, 1918 (Courtesy The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music)



"The Rose of No Man's Land" by Moonlight Trio, Edison Domestic Series 3677, 4-minute celluoid cylinder, recorded October 11, 1918 (Courtesy of




"The Midnight Attack," Played by Prince's Band, Columbia Record A1339, Recorded April 16, 1913 (Courtesy Library of Congress)




"The Boys in Khaki are in the Trenches," The Talking Machine World, July 1917



"Caruso is singing in the trenches"

“Caruso is singing in the trenches of France tonight…Thousands of miles from home in a land torn by battle, our boys yet listen to the spiritual voice of Art. Through the Victrola, the mightiest arts in all the world sing to them the hymn of victory, cheer them with their wit and laughter, comfort and inspire them.” Victrola ad, The Theatre Magazine, November 1918 (PM-1944)

Listen to Enrico Caruso singing "Over There."

Listen to Alma Gluck singing "Home, Sweet Home."

Listen to John McCormack singing "Roses of Picardy."


The Wizardry of the Aeolian-Vocalian Phonograph can "summon his very presence" from the fields of France, Aeolian-Vocalion 1917



Watch Trailer for "They Shall Not Grow Old" by Peter Jackson for a haunting time travel experience to World War I (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures, ©2018)



"His Master's Voice" 12" 78 RPM record by the Gramophone Co., Ltd., 1918

This record from ValueYourMusic website was submitted by Allen Koenigsberg who also cautioned that "there may be some controversy over the circumstances of this recording."

The record is said to be the actual recording of gas shell bombardment by the Royal Garrison Artillery, 9th October 1918, preparatory to the British Troops entering Lille and "the only authentic sounds of the First World War."

"This record was made by HMV’s top Recording Engineer, Will Gaisberg, outside Lille in France on 9th October 1918 and rushed back to England for issue, but by the time it saw release the Armistice had been signed and, consequently, sales were very poor." (ValueYourMusic.)

According to The Church of the Epiphany, "by the time the recording was completed, the war was over. Gaisberg had been slightly gassed during the expedition, and fell victim to the flu pandemic and tragically died a month later" on 5 November 1918.


Aeroplanes and Victor Morse

Claude said he had a friend in the air service up there; did they happen to know anything about Victor Morse?

Morse, the American ace? Hadn't he heard? Why, that got into the London papers. Morse was shot down inside the Hun line three weeks ago. It was a brilliant affair. He was chased by eight Boche planes, brought down three of them, put the rest to flight, and was making for base, when they turned and got him. His machine came down in flames and he jumped, fell a thousand feet or more.

"Then I suppose he never got his leave?" Claude asked.

They didn't know. He got a fine citation. (p. 493)


French Fliers Ready for Action On the Battle Line. Stereoview card 1918 (PM-1892)


A multiple-degrees of separation connection with the phonograph and air service personnel in the US military is made with Scientific American's February 20, 1915 cover illustration and story "The Phonograph Leaves the Air Scout's Hands Unhampered." A phonograph is pictured with the observer in the aeroplane looking through his binoculars with one hand while the other hand is writing down information and the phonograph ready for dictation.

The Phonograph Aids the Aeroplane Air Scouts, Scientific American (PM-2064)


The article inside, titled "Mechanical Aids for Air Scouts," explains "in carrying out scouting observations with military aeroplanes it is essential that there be two men in the machine, namely, a pilot whose sole duty it is to operate and steer the craft, and an observer who can devote undivided attention to scanning the ground below him and making sketches of fortified works, the disposition of the enemy's guns, the movements of their troops, and the like...If the observer is to make sketches of the ground over which he is flying, he will be some much occupied, probably, as to not to have time to jot down notes...a phonograph is now provided, with a speaking tube running to the observer's mouth, so that he may talk into the machine at any time during the flight and thus make a record of his observations..."


Scientific American (PM-2064)



Support for the Troops

"In camp or trench, on transport or battleship, in hospital, church and cantonment...the Victrola is enlisted in the War for Democracy." "Every Victrola in the service of Uncle Sam is a source of actual war strength." Victrola Ad, The Talking Machine World, July 15, 1918


“A Church Service On The Battlefield"

Russell Hunting performed this descriptive record for Pathé Frères Phonograph Co. of a church service for United Kingdom troops on the battlefield with Rock of Ages, a prayer and then a bugle call in response to an imminent attack.

"A Church Service On the Battlefield," Pathé Record 35067 is Side B of "The Battle of the Marne," 1917 (Courtesy of



Record Bulletins for January 1918

The Talking Machine World, December 1917 Pathe Record (Composer is John Greenleaf Whittier)


The Talking Machine World, January 15, 1918


The Talking Machine World, January 15, 1918


The Talking Machine World, January 15, 1918



"They All Sang Annie Laurie," Words by J. Will Callahan, Music by F. Henri Klickmann, Publisher Frank K. Root & Co., New York, 1915


The Talking Machine World, March 15, 1918



"Victrolas and Victor Records are day and night advancing the cause of freedom on the battlefields of the entire world...Every Victor Record at the front is a winged messenger of victory..."


The Talking Machine World, July 15, 1918


"Do Your Little "Bitty Bit" (Right Now!)" by F. Belohlavek and C.C. Perkins. Music by Edmund Braham. The Frances-Clifford Music Publishing Co., Chicago, 1917. (Source: The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music)


LISTEN: Do Your Little "Bitty Bit," by Joe Remington, Pathe Freres 78rpm Record No, 20422, 1918 (Source: Internet Archive).



Soldier's bayonet used as needle to play message on the record: "It says the folks at home hav'nt forgotten us."

When I Hear That Phonograph Play, M. Witmark & Sons, New York 1918

James Francis Driscoll collection of American sheet music



Making a record as a message to you who will remain, French newspaper, 1916 (PM-2080)


"The talking machine is undoubtedly the greatest comfort to the men in the camps, as it is to the men in the trenches at the front." (7B)

The Talking Machine World, January 15, 1918


Note the following sheet music and the contrasting American opinions exemplified by the American anti-war song of 1915 "I Didn't Raise My Boy to be a Soldier" to this 1918 "I'm Glad to be the Mother of a Soldier Boy." This morphying was suggested to me by Allen Koenigsberg with his example of the 1917 song "I'm glad I raised my boy to be a soldier!" (poem and copyright by Wm. F.J. Smith ; music by R.A. Browne, 1917, monographic, (Library of Congress).

"I'm Glad to be the Mother of a Soldier Boy," by Bronner and Bowers, Frederick V. Bowers, Inc. Music Publishers, New York, 1918. (Courtesy The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music, The Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University).



The Bugle

In the First World War "the introduction of telegraphs, field telephones and wireless" resulted in the bugle being used less for communicating field instructions than in previous wars (see below for an example of a World War I "trench" bugle which also speaks for itself how different this war was in defining the battlefield). Bugle calls, of course, were part of daily military life in camps (e.g., Reveille, Assembly, Mess calls, Recall, Taps) and for ceremonies such as funerals. (8)

All the garden flowers and bead wreaths in Beaufort had been carried out and put on the American graves. When the squad fired over them and the bugle sounded, the girls and their mothers wept. Poor Willy Katz, for instance, could never have had such a funeral in South Omaha. (p. 574)

The World War One 'descriptive' record “A Church Service On The Battlefield" by Russell Hunting included a bugle call in response to an imminent attack.


Sheet music by Irving Berlin, published by Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, New York (1918). Courtesy Music Division, The New York Public Library

LISTEN to "Oh! How I Hate to get up in the morning" by Arthur Fields, Edison 4-minute celluloid cylinder, Record No. 3639, recorded July 16, 1918 (Courtesy


G. P. Cather, the prototype for Claude Wheeler, played the bugle and his family donated G.P.'s bugle to the Willa Cather Foundation. The Collection's on-line information about G.P. Cather's bugle includes the following:

J.W. Pepper brass bugle, circa 1904. Grosvenor P. Cather performed with several bands during his time at Grand Island College, and he was the bugler of the College Cadets drill team. The bugle, though showing its age, was a cherished Cather family heirloom. A crude “C” can be seen in the brass near the mouthpiece."

"G. P.'s family was under the impression he took the bugle to Texas on the Mexican Expedition." (9)

Credits: OBJ-335-001. Charlotte Shaw and Kenneth Smith Collection. Willa Cather Foundation Collections and Archives at the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, NE.


This brass military bugle (below) is from the Minnesota Historical Society and is an example of the M1894 bugle in B flat, or "Trench" bugle used during World War I. (10)


There are a number of phonograph records made demonstrating military bugle calls or with the bugle call as part of a descriptive record or song.

U.S. Army bugle calls (No. 1) by S. W. Smith (U.S.N.) & Bugle Squad, Edison 4-minute celluloid cylinder No. 3331, recorded August 1, 1917 (Courtesy

U.S. Army bugle calls (No. 2) by S. W. Smith (U.S.N.) & Bugle Squad, Edison 4-minute celluloid cylinder No. 3332, recorded August 1, 1917 (Courtesy



A Soldier's Day (The Way Army Bugle Calls Sound To the Boys) by Geoffrey O'Hara, Victor 10" double-sided disc, Date April 18, 1918, Record No. 18451 (Courtesy


Home, Sweet Home

When they walked back across the square, over the crackling leaves, the dance was breaking up. Oscar was playing "Home, Sweet Home," for the last waltz. " (p. 580)


"Home Sweet Home" sung by Alma Gluck, Victor Red Seal 74251, 1911 (Courtesy of



"Home, Sweet Home," on the Gramophone. Postcard 1906 (PM-0669)



"Home, Sweet Home The World Over," November 1912 Edison Phonograph Monthly, 4-minute Edison Blue Amberol Record No. 1600 (Courtesy

This pre-war recording of "Home, Sweet Home" includes Germany, soon to be in conflict with the other Home, Sweet Home examples on this record (e.g., Spain, Italy, Scotland, Ireland and the USA).


"Home, Sweet Home" postcard ca. 1916 (PM-1612)


"Oh, I expect he's found some shoulder to cry on. Do you realize, Claude, you and I are the only men in the Company who haven't got engaged? Some of the married men have got engaged twice. (p. 580)


"You'll Have to Put Him to Sleep with the Marseillaise and Wake Him Up with a Oo-La-La," Sterling and Von Tilzer, Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing, New York, 1918 (Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection, Johns Hopkins).

LISTEN to "You'll Have to Put Him to Sleep..." sung by Arthur Fields, Edison 10" Diamond Disc Record No. 50501, February 1919 (Courtesy David Giovannoni Collection).



It's a good thing we're pulling out, or we'd have banns and a bunch of christenings to look after." "All the same," murmured Claude, "I like the women of this country, as far as I've seen them." While they sat smoking in silence, his mind went back to the quiet scene he bad watched on the steps of that other church, on his first night in France; the country girl in the moonlight, bending over her sick soldier. (p. 580)


"I'm Crazy Over Every Girl In France," Sung by Avon Comedy Four, Columbia Record No. A2399, Recorded December 13, 1917 (Courtesy


When they walked back across the square, over the crackling leaves, the dance was breaking up. Oscar was playing "Home, Sweet Home," for the last waltz. "

Le dernier baiser ," said David. "Well, tomorrow we'll be gone, and the chances are we won't come back this way." (p. 580)


"Take me Back to Dear Old Blighty" postcard circa 1917 (PM-0354)


"Take me Back to Dear Old Blighty" by Arthur Fields, Emerson Record No. 934, 9" double-side disc, March 1918 (Courtesy


Back home in America the silent moving picture drama "The Claws of the Hun" starring Charles Ray was at movie theaters. The plot is "an American munitions manufacturer and his son become ensnarled with enemy agents from Germany during the First World War." (IMDB).

"The Claws of the Hun," Lobby card, Paramount Pictures, 1918

"I'm Giving You to Uncle Sam" Lyric by Thos. H. Ince, Music by Victor Schertzinger, Frank J. Hart Southern Californa Music Company, Los Angeles, 1918. Sheet music source: University of South Carolina Library - Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection. Note the US Capitol Building in the background.

The sheet music for "I'm Giving You to Uncle Sam" notes that it's the theme of this movie. This was a silent movie so the "theme" here means the World War I setting and what's at stake if secrets are given to the Germans (and not this being the theme song).



Columbia Grafonola, January 1919 - Visualizing with Songs Across the Sea (PM-0845)

The Columbia Grafonola's war-time task: To provide inspiring, patriotic melodies and "cheer and sustain the patriotic men and women who work and wait and save and serve."


A Mother's Loss


Photograph of American machine gun troops in "Great Cantigny Advance" (11)

G. P. Cather died in action at Cantigny (12)



"If I'm Not at the Roll Call Kiss Mother Good-bye for Me." By George Boyden, published by Leo. Feist, New York, 1918



"If I'm Not at the Roll Call (Kiss Mother Good-bye for Me)" by George Boyden, performed by Campbell and Burr, Columbia A2641, 1918 (Courtesy Internet Archive)



"If I'm Not at the Roll Call Kiss Mother Good-bye for Me" by Harvey Hindermeyer (as Harvey Wilson). Edison Domestic Series No. 3630, 4-minute celluloid cylinder recorded August 6, 1918 (Courtesy of



"Break the News to Mother"

Mrs. Wheeler got the word of his death one afternoon in the sitting-room, the room in which he had bade her good-bye. She was reading when the telephone rang.

"Is this the Wheeler farm? This is the telegraph office at Frankfort. We have a message from the War Department,—" the voice hesitated. "Isn't Mr. Wheeler there?"

"No, but you can read the message to me."

Mrs. Wheeler said, "Thank you," and hung up the receiver. She felt her way softly to her chair. She had an hour alone, when there was nothing but him in the room,—but him and the map there, which was the end of his road. Somewhere among those perplexing names, he had found his place.

Claude's letters kept coming for weeks afterward; then came the letters from his comrades and his Colonel to tell her all. (p.603)


"Break the News to Mother" is a war song first released in 1897 and popular during the Spanish–American War. (See Phonographia's PhonoMultimedia "Break the News to Mother" magic lantern presentation accompanied by 1904 cylinder recording of J.W. Myers singing "Break the News to Mother.")



"Break the News to Mother" was re-released during World War I with various companies recording it including Edison's 4-Minute Blue Amberol Record "Break the News to Mother" Record No. 34366 sung by George Ballard and Chorus (released February, 1918); the 1917 Victor Record No. 18358-A by Shannon Four; and Columbia Grafonola's July 1917 release of Record No. A2436 by Henry Burr and Columbia Stellar Quartette.


"Break the News to Mother" sheet music by Chas. K. Harris, published by Chas. K. Harris, 1917 (Courtesy The Internet Archive)



"Break the News to Mother," Victor Record No. 18358-A by Shannon Four, 1917 (Courtesy Internet Archive)



"Break the News to Mother" by George Wilton Ballard, Edison Domestic Series No. 3436, 4-minute celluloid cylinder recorded November 20, 1917 (Courtesy of



"When You Break the News to Mother Tell Her Our Side is On Top" sheet music by Marie Robinson, published by Delmar Music Co., Chicago, 1919 (Courtesy Library of Congress)




The Armistice - The Fighting Ends: At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918


Recorded Sound - The Moment the Guns Fell Silent, Ending World War I

An exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in London uses seismic data collected during the war to recreate the moment the Armistice went into effect. Read the Smithsonian Magazine article by Jason Daley (November 9, 2018) for more details about how the sound of the last minutes of battle was recreated in a way that allows "visitors to both hear and feel the moment the Armistice went into effect and the guns fell silent."

To listen to the interpretation of the Armistice moment, visit Imperial War Museum - WW1 Armistice Interpretation (Sound Installation) by Coda to Coda.


(Courtesy Imperial War Museum and Smithsonian Magazine)



Okeh Records Victory Music, The Talking Machine World, December 15, 1918




Good-Bye France


Sheet music "Good-Bye France (You'll Never Be Forgotten by the U.S.A.) by Irving Berlin, published by Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., New York, 1918 (Courtesy Internet Archive)



"Good-Bye France," by Nora Bayes, Columbia Record A2678, 10" disc, Recorded on November 15, 1918 (Courtesy




"Casey Home From The Front" by Russell Hunting, Double Sided Disc 12" - Pathe Record 30308 (Courtesy (Disclaimer)




Peace and "A new era of record prosperity opens before you."


"Everybody's Happy Now" by James Kendis, James Brockman, and Nat Vincent; Kendis Brockman Music Co., New York, 1918. (Courtesy Library of Congress)



"Everybody's Happy Now" sung by Ben Linn, Emerson Phonograph Co., No. 7452, 1918 (Courtesy of



Emerson Records, The Talking Machine World, December 15, 1918


The American phonograph industry had actually done very well between 1914 and 1919 and had experienced a "tremendous boom in sales."(5) War related songs and patriotic selections were numerous in the United States during World War I and they would continue to be popular after the war ended.

One page (below) from a 1918 catalog by F. K. Babson, a major phonograph and record distributor for Edison, shows just a few of those offerings.


F. K. Babson catalog ca. 1918 (Courtesy "Edison Blue Amberol Recordings Vol II" by Ron Dethlefson, APM Press, New York, 1981 p.157



A Phonograph Shop, January 1919


A customer in January 1919 who entered a shop that sold Victor Records just after the war ended saw signage about the newest records released such as this The JANUARY Victor Records are here.

To listen to those Victor records and see their sheet music connections (including many World War I songs), visit Phonographia's New Victor Records January 1919.





"Pershing for President" by Arthur Fields, Lyric Record 5135-A, circa 1919 (Courtesy of




One of Ours includes popular culture details for the time period of a boy growing up on a Nebraska ranch until he went to France to fight in World War I, "the war to end war." (6B)

The extracted examples of its ephemera and popular culture are insignificant compared to the implosion of Europe and the devastation created by World War I. "The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was around 40 million. There were 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded." (7). "More than a third of German males born between 1892 and 1895 died in the course of the war." (7A)

The one hundredth anniversary of its publication One of Ours is a reminder that stories can be enduring and multi-layered with its popular culture displayed in the midst of perennial themes such as human journeys, love, war and mortality. Two examples of such stories are separated by three thousand years: Achilles in the Trojan War as told in Homer's The Illiad and Willa Cather's Claude Wheeler in One of Ours. One is a story of a soldier's wrath; the other of a young man's naivete who grew up to not regret a moment with his comrades in World War I.

During the1923 controversary about Cather receiving the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours there was some "scathing" criticism related to Cather's depiction of some battle scenes. However, Alex Ross wrote in his 2020 New Yorker article "Willa Cather’s Quietly Shattering War Novel," that this criticism did not understand Cather's "nuanced, ambivalent portrait of the soldier spirit" and Cather's demotion of "the war experience in favor of a longer view."

Ross addressed the negative reviews related to Cather's depiction of war scenes with his explanation of Cather's "longer view."

One of Ours,” Willa Cather’s novel of youth, the prairie, influenza, and war, was one of the author’s greatest successes, winning her the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. It also elicited some of the most scathing criticism of her career. Edmund Wilson called the novel a “pretty flat failure.” H. L. Mencken said that its scenes of the First World War were “fought out, not in France, but on a Hollywood movie-lot.” Ernest Hemingway wrote, to Wilson, “Wasn’t that last scene in the lines wonderful? Do you know where it came from? The battle scene in Birth of a Nation. I identified episode after episode, Catherized. Poor woman she had to get her war experience somewhere.”

"The author herself wondered whether she had fallen short in the culminating battlefield scenes, in which a naïve young Nebraskan named Claude Wheeler goes to his death."

"What may have irritated Cather’s contemporaries was not the inaccuracy of her military scenes—and there are a few howlers to be found—but the way that she demotes the war experience in favor of a longer view. From the outset of the book, she tracks the spread of a male disease of pride and fear."

Celebrated antiwar novels by the likes of Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Ford Madox Ford, and Erich Maria Remarque were unambiguously blunt in showing the brutality of the war and the duplicity of its rhetoric. Cather was more reserved, to the point that many readers thought she still believed in the “Great Crusade.”

One can understand how this nuanced, ambivalent portrait of the soldier spirit failed to satisfy radical-minded readers of the period. Claude learns nothing; he is a fool, albeit a holy kind of fool. The war is simply the setting for the last act of his rambling drama. But one can also guess that Cather’s keen-eyed, skeptical exploration of American masculinity went over the heads of the male-dominated literary community of her time. (Alex Ross, July 7, 2020, The New Yorker).

The masculine culture of winners and losers was not limited to the literary community or to war. The advertising language of consumerism used during World I by the Victor Talking Machine Company included their phrase “Victor Supremacy” which promoted the supremacy of their Victrola as a musical "instrument" and the supremacy of Victor's recording artists as the "World's Greatest Artists." 

Those ads were also suggesting a triumph over the impermanence of sound. Victor's "singers and instrumentalists" were said to be having their art perpetuated by the Victor "for all time" with voices that "can never die." If Shakespeare or Puck had seen ads promoting the immortality of humans in the context of war they would probably have annotated it with "What Fools These Mortals Be!"



The phonograph did clearly alter the human conception of ephemeral sound and recorded artistic works can live for generations.

But did that mean sound and recording artists were now immortal?

In France, when David explains to Claude why he's never been sorry to be in the war he also expresses his belief in immortality when he says to Claude:

I've sometimes wondered whether the young men of our time had to die to bring a new idea into the world . . . something Olympian. I'd like to know. I think I shall know. Since I've been over here this time, I've come to believe in immortality. (p. 539)

The phonograph advertising themes of Immortality" and "voices that can never die" also relate to the phonograph ads anticipating war-time victory with messaging like "by these men we shall conquer!" The "moral and spiritual man can measure" would make the "world safe for Democracy." "The music the men have to enjoy" must not be underestimated for the weight it will "throw into the final balance of success."



Postcard circa 1919 (PM-0360)


"The moral and spirtual forces that will carry us on to victory no man can measure." The Talking Machine World, July 15, 1918


Victor ad in Life Magazine, March 28, 1918 (PM-2008)

Victor Supremacy

Voices that "can never die."

Voices that will live "for all time."

Voices that "will be heard in centuries to come."

Voices that "will flow forever in undiminished beauty."

Practically every great singer and instrumentalist recording for Victor of this generation will have their art perpetuated "for all time."


The art of the greatest artists cannot die "as long as there are ears to hear, their Victor Records" and "the Victrola makes them immortal." The National Geographic, 1918


Marshall Dodge said at the 1979 WYNC Storytelling Festival "a story is what holds us together, and what is left when we leave."

But is any sound or story truly immortal?

The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are each carrying a Golden Record with its story of humans on earth and that record has the possibility of lasting longer than humans on earth. As Carl Sagan noted, however, that record will only be played "if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space". (6)

If the Golden Record lives beyond humans on earth and plays its stories billions of miles from Earth then that would be as immortal as a human story could ever be.

For the rest of us immortality is relative since time is relative. Each passing moment of the present becomes the past. Time is a constant companion, until it isn't.

I also believe what Emily St John Mandel wrote in her novel Station Eleven that "survival is not sufficient." Art and stories can go beyond generations if they are preserved and shared.

With Claude Wheeler's last breath he withdrew from our time and our sight.

Willa Cather, however, left us his story and with it generations can remember Claude Wheeler as a human being of planet Earth who lived in a time and place and was "One of Ours."