Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Friday, April 7, 2017

E-Mail on Mexico and WWI and more

This morning I sent my daughter, Lavinia,  an e-mail about our family and World War I.  Here is a copy of it:
Good morning Lavinia!  I wanted to share a little family history that merges with world history and I didn't feel like trying to fit it into a text.  Unlike Donald Trump, I am not as succinct as a tweet - I am more like Marcel Proust!  

Anyhow, I have a copy of a photo of your Grandmom Wright's adoptive father, whom I called Grandpop Lyons.  He wa a sweet, mild mannered man, kind to children and animals and he and I spent meaningful time in the side garden at the Lyons house on 10th Street when I was a child growing  up in Philadelphia.  He would go out there to smoke his home-rolled,  and I would keep him company as did the Irish setter, King

In the photo he is in uniform before a tent in a desert and it is 1917.  America has just entered World War I.  This month is the centennial of our entry in World War I.  Grandpop Lyons is on the border of Mexico, and I never understood what Mexico had to do with World War I.  After all, it was in Europe, right?  

But a year ago I took a 6 week night course in World War I, all these brilliant young men from prestigious colleges, had been invited to give lectures, each did an hour on some aspect of the war that they were experts on.  

In April of 1917, Great Britain had broken the the German code for messages between Germany and its ally Japan.  They broke the code on the Zimmerman telegram to Mexico in which the German foreign minister, Zimmerman, offered Mexico a deal  If Mexico joined Germany and Japan, they would give Mexico several border states, which I think included Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. (not sure about the states on offer.)

So the U.S., outraged, mobilized and sent troops to the Mexican border, and one of them was my Grandfather Lyons, and your Great Grandfather.  Just imagine, a young skinny Irish postman in the desert on the Mexican border waiting for the War.  But Mexico wisely declined the offer.  

Love you, Mom
To blog post readers:
I also wanted to add a note about April 6th, yesterday.  Merle Haggard, one of country music's greats, was born on April 6 and died on April 6!  I was thinking about him yesterday because I had incorrectly attributed "King of the Road" to him.  It was actually written by Roger Miller.  

Merle was most famous for "Okie from Muskogee" - and the reason I was thinking of "King of the Road" was that I had met an elderly man in the parking lot at my gym yesterday, who was living in a camper van and traveling around.  I didn't stay out to talk long as it was drizzling and I had a gym work-out to get to, and he was getting back into the driver's seat of his van, but we talked a little about living on the road.  He told me he had outfitted the van for camping himself.  I told him I had lived in a van for a year in 1969.    

Another note:  Some time back, a few years, there was an Atlantic article about retired people choosing, in some cases, being forced, in some cases, to live on the road in campers, and living in RV parks or free camps around the country, sometimes doing seasonal work, for example before Christmas for amazon.com.  I wish I had talked to the King of the Road a little longer and gotten his story.  

My dad had bought a camper and wanted to travel around but by the time they got their new house built, they had entered a period of declining healthy, especially my mother, and weren't up to the rigors of it.  I think they made, tops half a dozen trips in the camper, and it sat in the yard and rotted until my father died and the family gave it away to whoever would come up on the hill and haul it off.  

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