Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘WWI history’

Since this is the week of Memorial Day, I thought I would share something about a veteran from my husband’s side of the family. His paternal grandfather, Isidore Scheshko, was born 24 December 1889 in Tiraspol, Moldova, but ended up serving the United States army in WWI (and survived the war).

Six days before his 24th birthday, Isidore arrived in New York City, planning to become an American citizen.

Four years later, on 23 November 1917, he joined the U.S. Army and two months later was sent overseas for 13 months. His discharge information states that he was not wounded.

What the paperwork doesn’t say is that he was gassed during WWI–something that happened to a great many soldiers during that war. After that, he had a bad stutter. The only person he could speak to without stuttering was his wife, my husband’s grandmother, Celia. Since the long-term effects of mustard gas don’t appear to include neurological problems, I am speculating that maybe PTSD caused the stuttering.

My husband says that Isidore was also in the Czar’s army before he immigrated to the U.S. I think he’s a hero for joining up again so soon after coming to this country. After all, he was trying to support himself and learn English and he had a girlfriend (yes, Celia).

Not sure what army uniform this is: any ideas? Note that X on his right sleeve and the bars on the bottom of his left sleeve. Why do his legs appear to be “wrapped” with fabric?

We have a couple of postcards he sent to Celia while he was away. Here is one from 8 September 1918.

Then two months later:

Notice that he spells Celia’s name Sealie. And his own first name without the E at the end. The fine print legible underneath Isidore’s handwriting is the printed card itself, not postmark information. I don’t know where he was when this was sent, but it was in the middle of the period where he was “overseas.” It might seem surprising that after only four years in the United States, Isidore could write so well in English, but we do believe he wrote these cards himself. From the first card to the second, he apparently learned that it’s “I before E except after C.”

There is no way to tell from these upbeat notes to “Sealie” that Isidore had been gassed or had, in fact, seen any “action.”

Get a load of that fur hat in the photo on the left! It looks like the coat collar might also be fur. Do you think that is a uniform of the Russian army?

Isidore’s trade as a young man in America was a house painter, and when I think of the fumes he dealt with after he had gone through the gas in the war, it makes me wonder how he lived until 1953. But he didn’t stay a painter; within a few years, he and Celia owned a candy store in Sutton Place in Manhattan where his daughter (my husband’s aunt) went to school for a time with Anderson Cooper’s mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. That didn’t make him rich, but he didn’t suffer by coming to the United States, other than what he went through in the war.

Read Full Post »