Letter February 10, 1920 from David Eichel to Parents




Letter February 10, 1920 from David Eichel to Parents




WWI conscientious objection / objectors


Eichel, David


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.






Feb. 10, 1920 Letter [2] by David Eichel, Fort Douglas, Utah Dear Folks:- There has been nothing stirring, since Juluis [sic] left. Apparently the new policy seems to be to let us die of neglect, and while the slight is intolerable, I don’t know but it is just as well as showering us with customary military attentions. What is more there does not seem to be a likelihood that we shall succumb to the dreadful calm. Since Juluis [sic] left, I have managed to work according to schedule. I pass practically all morning at the typewriter; the first part of the afternoon – that is until count – at bookkeeping and accountancy; the rest of the time, generally, in reading, sometimes in letter-writing. In this way time actually flies. If this continues, I’ll be home before I know it.

But with such a state of affairs, it is readily seen that it is practically impossible to write a letter of any length, unless of course I speak of various unimportant things we are doing here, and of that, I can only speak in a limited way, since most of it will appear incomprehensible, except of course to one who has actually been with us. I therefore reserve such matter for my letter to Juluis [sic].

I feel I must now register a complaint. You seem to have neglected me entirely. I haven’t had a letter from you now for an unusual long period. I hope with Juluis’ [sic] homecoming Will and Phil, even Rose and Abe, won’t feel that they are no longer required to write to me; but that Juluis [sic] alone can take care of all the correspondence to me. I still want to hear from you, besides hearing from Juluis [sic]. No doubt the burden of the correspondence will devolve upon him, he being in a position to judge what is of interest to me, and what is not. What is more he can see things with an eye accustomed to other circumstances, hence with an unusual perspective and an enthusiasm arising from novelty. Thus for a time his letters will be of great interest to me. But that should not be made the occasion for general neglect at the hand of the others.

Since Juluis [sic] left our theatrical society gave two performances of a Lowe’s circuit calibre. One was a kind of musical comedy act—with some very bad singing and some fairly decent declaiming. This was given the Saturday after Juluis [sic] left. On the whole it was better than what we expected. I shall explain it at greater length to Juluis [sic]. The second performance which was given last Sunday, was hardly as successful. The cast was badly chosen; some of them just gave their lines in monotonous voice and without a semblance of realizing that they were expected to act.

I am really feeling tip-top. With the repeated disquieting reports reaching us of the raging of the “Flu” on the outside, we may consider ourselves remarkably lucky. Thus far we have not had a single case. In Salt Lake City, the “Flu” has been unusually active. There was a terrible dearth of available nurses and caretakers for those smitten with the disease. The health-commisioner [sic] issued urgent pleas for volunteers. About forty of the boys, I was not among them, signed a letter which was addressed to the health commissioner, the commandant of the post, and the secretary of War, wherein they volunteered to act in the capacity of care-takers and nurses during the present crisis. On the very day when the need for volunteers appeared most urgent, when the health commissioner had issued another call for volunteers, on that day the boys were informed that their services were not required, or perhaps,

to come closer to the exact tenor of the reply, their offer was not entertained favorably. During the war, criminals were released from jails in order to aid in the noble task of forcing Democracy on Germany, but C.O’s are not permitted to nurse needy civilians. But then I have always said that C.O’s are far more dangerous to society than the worst of criminals.

Well I know of nothing more that might interest you. My fondest regards to you all.


Dear Juluis [sic]:- I received your card from Chicago, and yesterday I received your first letter from New York. We knew that you would not be able to get in touch with Erling, since we learned from him, the day after you left, that he was wintering in Canada. Did you have better success with Ann Burness? We also knew that you would not be able to get in touch with Bloch’s Brother, since he left for New York the day before you reached Chicago, to take charge of One of the Fox Film studios. I was pleasantly surprised at the mention of some of the people who were so eager to see you at your return. I had entirely discounted them; I had actually believed that they had completely forgotten us. It is encouraging to learn that more people are thinking of you, than you yourself imagine.

I received a card from Robbie. He was called to Manassas Va., to attend a funeral. Whenever I receive a card from him postmarked Manassas, I immediately conclude that he’s there to attend either a wedding or a funeral, which is practically the same thing. You will tell Robbie, as well as others who write me that I shall answer their letters as soon as an opportunity offers.

Horatio Floyed Bemish, is now frequently seen walking with Lord Agustus. In fact he has almost replaced you, as my companion in walks. The intimacy, aside from the salutary effect it has of raising Bemish from the Middle Class strata of society, because of his association with the High Nobility, is in a measure quite instructive to me, since he imparts to me a Middle Class viewpoint, Bemish being a man of extensive experience in circles wherin [sic] you or I have never moved. When I am not with Bemish, I am either with Roderick or Henry, so that between the three I am given no opportunity to miss you.

The cabaret show which took place the Saturday after you left, was in a measure better than what we had expected, John Shmidt was supposed to be a regular dandy, with a charming female, in the person of Minnick, as a companion. Julius Katz was to take the part of a type of cabaret dancer, with the plump and ludicrous and awkward dancing partner, who makes an ideal for an appache [sic] dance. Doty was an ordinary bar-room souse, and was by far the most interesting and effective character in the play. He really acted. Doty, Schmidt, and Katz delivered recitations, Minnick and Schmidt sang, Schmidt on two occasion, on both of which he started his song an octave or more two high, so that his voice seem to fail him entirely. We all know that he could do better. Katz and Kaplan who was Katz’s lady gave a dance, to which some took kindly and others did not. Katz then surprised us with a buck and wing dance, wherin [sic] he did fairly well. I almost forgot to say that Locosale was the café prop

-prietor. After it was all over Katz explained to the crowd what else he could have done, had he so desired, and when once Katz begins telling of all his unsuspected capabilities and accomplishments, you know that there is no actor on the face of the globe, who is his equal.

The other play was Mrs. Prims’ Boarders. Mrs. Prim (Hennesy) an Irish proprietress, is experiencing difficulty in making her boarders pay their rent. Among her impecunious boarders, is a young artist (Franklin) who has left wealthy parents in Virginia, all for the noble pursuit of art. With him is his loyal darky Sam (Colonna) who is determined to stick to his master thru thick and thin, although he pleads with him to return to Virginia, where his rich father would always welcome him. The other boarder in similary [sic] straightened circumstances, is a German music professor (Schmidt), who contrives to bring the artist a buyer for some of his paintings. The buyer (Sterenstein) is in fact the disguised attorney of the artist’s father, who has assumed the disguise in order to be of aid to the artist. All ends very happily. The whole thing, in my opinion at least, is stupid and inane, and hardly worth the effort. And it was poorly played too. The artist played without art; he simply uttered so many words. The professor and possibly, the darky, were the only redeeming features of the play. The others merely recited lines and seemed to be in an awful hurry to be done with it. Roderick says, considering the utter stupidity of the play, it is perhaps a good thing that it was badly played; for if it were well played its inherent stupidity would have been the more remarkable.

For this week we are promised an entertainment, gotten up by Minnick. Steiner, Wilson, Dempsey, Moser and Minnick are to be the artists, I’ll be greatly surprised if it gets beyond a rehearsel [sic] or two.

We have begun rehearsing for “Androcles and the Lion”. We haven’t gotten very far tho. Moore is very anxious to put on “Black ell”. We are also considering another one act play of Shaw’s, “the Man of Destiny”. The great difficulty, is to obtain a Napoleon. This being a historical character, it is necessary to get someone who will actually resemble the man of Destiny.

I didn’t quite understand whether or not Phil, Sam, and Willie met you at the train, or whether they simply waited till 2 A.M. and then left without you. I am being called for rehearsel [sic] now so I’ll end this rather abruptly. Let’s know in your next letter just how you made your trip, how you mannaged [sic] your baggage, etc. A good many of us are interested in this. Please give my kindest regards to all.


P.S. I am enclosing a half-dozen of pictures of General Pershing. Distribute them as you see fit.

P.S. Jacob Schneider has asked me to add a few words. He would like you to call on Mrs. Bertha Mailey and ask her whether the ten books sent him were

intended for certain individuals, and if so ask her to please give the names either to you or write them to Schneider herself. There are some who have somehow received the impression that certain of these volumes were intended for them – and a word from her will go a long way towards keeping the earth from ceasing to rotate on its axis.

Feb. 13, 1920 This letter has returned to me this morning for one cent postage. I cannot understand just what or just how that happens.

I received your letter of Feb. 5 contains money order of $25.00 and your card of the 7th. I will write my reply on the regular letter day.

Sam Sterenstein wishes you to subscribe for him for “Soviet Russia” for 3 months. He is transfering [sic] the subscription fee of $1.25 to my account. He wishes the subscription to begin with the Feb. 7th copy.

Ben Breger left on 15 day furlough yesterday & Kriewa received an immediate.



Eichel, David, “Letter February 10, 1920 from David Eichel to Parents,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed December 5, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/76.

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