YWCA Dances Relieve Stress For Signal Corps Girls - 1918
World War 1 Soldiers Dance with YMCA Hostesses, 29 August 1918. National Archives & Records Administration. GGA Image ID # 19bc83025f
Touch of Gayety At Roanne Takes Thoughts From War’s Horrors.
When the great army of Signal Corps girls was bring recruited In New York and throughout the country, one of the warnings given to applicants was that there would be no parties and dances for workers, and "party dresses" wore taboo In packing overseas kits.
Stories of the courage and bravery of these Signal Corps girls have been coming by almost every cable; stories of how these girls worked long hours under unusual strain, and of their loyally to duty. But it has been only recently that America has had an inkling of the parties that have afforded recreation and relief from the strain of Signal Corps work and made ;t possible for the Signal Corps girls to endure the long hours at the switchboard.
The parties were YWCA parties, and in spite of the "no party" clause in signal Corps recruiting literature, the recreation proved such a benefit to the workers that it was highly commended by Signal Corps authorities.
Miss Esther Sleight, of ML Vernon, NY, a YWCA secretary at Roanne, tells of the festivity of some of these parties:
The girls of the Signal Corps often bring their soldier friends and some of the prettiest parties I have ever attended were hurriedly thrown together in the odd times that these busy girls could spare. We usually had long tablee with many candles. The glittering lights through the trees at the other end of the island, with people darting to and fro or dancing on the grass, looked like a fairy ace no. After most of the suppers the crowds gathered on the bank of the river and sang old camp songs or made roaring bonfires and told and sang songs.
"During our French days on the island In August, the W. A. A. C’a came, in great numbers, and many American soldiers too. One W. A. A. C. came in one day when we were having breakfast under the trees and wanted to know whether it would be possible to bring her brother, who was on leave from the front. She was so happy to share with him the place that hail been home to her and later in the day, her friend came with another Tommy, and these four had a regular English tea party which was a birthday party for one of the boys.
Guests of Many Tongues
"There were English, Americans and French at our parties, and we could not always talk together. One Sunday I remember a little French refugee girl brought her violin to our tiny cottage, and we went down to the river hank where she played to us in a language we could all understand. She told her sorrows and her hopes In the tones of her violin, and the Signal Corps girls all contributed to help take care of her.
"We didn't wait for the boys to come back wounded before we gave them entertainment—Instead we had partied for them before they went away, and the Signal Corps girls always helped us. We joined with the YMCA women in giving a glorious party for 200 enlisted men who were en route through our island. A group on crutches came over from the hospital. Some of the soldiers brought their band Instruments, and we had gay music. There were candles on the piano, and a bonfire over by the river where one of our YWCA secretaries successfully made a bntch of doughnuts over an open fire."
"YWCA Dances Relieve Terrible Strain For Signal Corps Girls," in The Courier-Journal, Lousiville, Kentucky, Sunday, 24 November 1918, p. 23.