Sunday, November 11, 2012

OUR DOUGHBOY - JOSEPH T. BUTLER, SR.

 

Last year I wanted the picture above of my father-in-law for Armistice, Remembrance, Veterans Day, but it was in New Roads. Now I have a scan to use today at the proper time, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the 94th anniversary of the end of bloody World War I.

 

Joe's papers show that he was not discharged until many months after the armistice was signed. As you see, Joe was one of the fortunate ones, as he did not engage in even a skirmish or an expedition. He brought home a French sword, which was given him by a Frenchwoman of his acquaintance. The sword belonged to her deceased husband. I'm sure she was a very nice lady, so no 'Madame from Armientières, parley voo' here. Besides, the two were single at the time.

 

Joe's occupation is listed as farmer on the papers, and his home community was tiny Butler, Louisiana, which disappeared from the map, if it was ever on the map. Once the older folks died off, and the youngsters migrated away, the community was no more.


Joe competed in The Inter-Allied Games, which were...
...a one-off multi-sport event held from June 22nd - July 6th 1919 at the newly constructed Pershing Stadium just outside Paris, France following the end of the First World War. The forum for the games, Pershing Stadium, had been built near the Bois de Vincennes by the U.S. Military in cooperation with the YMCA. The event was only open to participation by military personnel who were currently serving or had formerly served in the armed forces during the War. 18 Nations participated in the proceedings which included, among others, track & field events, swimming, baseball, football, rugby, basketball, tennis, boxing, horse riding events, pistol and rifle marksmanship, and wrestling. Following the conclusion of the games, Pershing Stadium was presented as a gift to the people of France from the United States of America. The area, still known as Le Stade Pershing, continues to be used as an open air recreation park to this day.
After the war, Joe attended Louisiana State University and won letters in several sports. He was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982. It was only right. When he competed in the early 1920s, athletes received no help or scholarships. They even had to buy their own uniforms.


 
Joe was musical, too, and played the violin, the guitar, and the banjo. He loved the old country hymns and went to the Baptist church for choir practice on Wednesdays, but he didn't go to church on Sundays. He liked the singing but not the sermons. Joe and Grandpère both say Joe's mother preached frequently to her husband and children, and he'd had enough. We still have some of her letters, and they are quite like sermons.

When he graduated from LSU, Joe took a job as a teacher/coach at the high school in New Roads, LA, met Laura Janis, married, and settled there for the rest of his life. His teaching career ended when his principal wanted him to wear a tie, and he refused. He then took up welding, opened his own shop, and worked as a welder for the rest of his working life. Come hell or high water, Joe took a nap after lunch from which he was not to be disturbed.

8 comments:

  1. chere Mimi:
    my own Welsh grandfather, Aubrey Edward Davies was also a soldier in the First World War. incredibly, when he was seriously wounded (Ypres?) my grandmother, his young wife Harriet left her two very young sons in the care of her own mother and yet off with a number of other Welsh wives for France, at their own expense to nurse my grandfather back to health and bring him home. Which she did successfully.

    Our Nana Harriet was quite an incredible person in her own right too- known within the local Welsh community as Mam Davies. It was she, who after my Granddad Ted had survived his second mine disaster with a pice of coal embedded in the top of his head for the rest of his life, Nana decided she was not going to see the same life for her three sons and brought her family of eight to Canada.

    Giants who walked this earth, and i was truly blessed to know and love both of these grandparents. Nana had a wonderfully rich contralto voice, and all her off-spring also sang so growing up meant family gatherings around the piano singing hymns and carols in four part harmony.

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    1. Cher David, thank you for your lovely story.

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  2. Wonderful stories, yours and David's ... please keep telling them whenever possible! It is too easy today to get caught up in meaningless trivia and forget that what "we" think of as difficult today bears little or no resemblance to real work and risk ... our grandparents knew and I suspect "our" whining would make them laugh.

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    1. How Joe found the time to attend classes, do the assignments and study, work at a paying job, and play several sports while he was at LSU is beyond me. I love doing post like this one, but they take time.

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  3. And then there were those that did not come home. My own direct ancestors all did but some cousins and brothers did not: Cecil who re-enlisted at the age of 50 in 1914 and killed in July 1916 during the battle of the Somme. A great aunt's brother-in-law killed fighting for the Austrians (my great aunt married a Hungarian). Great, great uncle Felix killed in 1917 at age 40; his widow had a minor peak in the Canadian Rockies named after him (she had been in the group that had made the first ascent of it in 1910).

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    1. Yes, Erp, many who did not come home...more lost over there than over here. I posted the video of June Taber's "The Green Fields of France" on Facebook. I should post a version of the song here, too.

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