0:00

´╗┐Interview

[The Stars and Stripes Forever marching song plays for approximately 25 seconds]

GASSER: So it was 1917, and American men were called to war. I am at the home of a gentleman by the name of Albert Ehert, who was a seaman in World War I. Hello, Albert, hello.

EHERT: Hello.

GASSER: Where were you, Albert, when you first heard about the war?

1:00

EHERT: I was in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I was in high school.

GASSER: Did you enlist in the Navy?

EHERT: Yes, I enlisted in the Navy.

GASSER: How did your mother feel about that?

EHERT: My mother figured that after I enlisted in the Navy, she'd never see me alive again. I enlisted in the Navy on April the 19th in 1917.

GASSER: Where did you go then, Albert?

EHERT: To Great Lakes [Naval Station, Great Lakes, Illinois].

GASSER: Great Lakes, and did you have a training period?

EHERT: Yeah, from there I went down to Norfolk, Virginia.

GASSER: And what did you do in Norfolk?

2:00

EHERT: I waited at Norfolk at Newport News, Virginia.

GASSER: Just to get aboard the ship?

EHERT: Just to get aboard the ship; and when we did get aboard, it rained cats and dogs.

GASSER: It rained [laughs] cats and dogs? That's a lot of rain. Albert, do you remember the name of the ship?

EHERT: I do.

GASSER: What was the name of the ship?

EHERT: Kearsage, USS Kearsage [battleship].

GASSER: And where was the ship going?

EHERT: Where was it going? Just patrolling.

GASSER: Patrolling the American coast or the European coast?

EHERT: A United States ship.

GASSER: It was a United States ship; were there any other men you knew on this ship?

3:00

EHERT: No, I didn't know anybody aboard ship.

GASSER: Then it was a different experience, wasn't it? Can you remember some of the things that happened on the ship? Did you have good food?

EHERT: Well, the food was always good.

GASSER: Do you remember what you had to eat?

EHERT: Beans.

GASSER: Beans, beans, beans, [laughs] lots of beans; that's good old navy beans. What were your duties on the ship?

EHERT: Once in a while there was a little rock and little [unintelligible] mixed in.

GASSER: A little what?

EHERT: A little rock. Stones, you know.

GASSER: Oh, [laughs] you're just joking, right?

EHERT: What?

GASSER: You're joking?

EHERT: Yeah. Holiday meals were always very--

GASSER: Special?

EHERT: We had good food.

GASSER: What were your duties on the ship? What work did you have to do on the ship?

4:00

EHERT: Signaling.

GASSER: Can you tell us a little bit about that? I wouldn't know how to signal. How did you do that? All right, I see then. You had to signal by hand--

EHERT: By hand or light.

GASSER: What other ships saw you, the American ships, other American ships or other?

EHERT: American ships [unintelligible].

GASSER: Where did your ship go?

EHERT: To Boston first, then from Boston it went down to Guantanamo Bay.

GASSER: Cuba. Mmhmm. Then where did you go?

5:00

EHERT: Well, then a couple of trips with troops on them.

GASSER: To Europe?

EHERT: They had a battleship--there was one that was ever--

GASSER: Did you have guns on your battleship?

EHERT: Oh, yes.

GASSER: Did you have to fire the guns?

EHERT: Did what?

GASSER: Did you have to fire the guns?

EHERT: No.

GASSER: Certain people were trained to do that, and you were trained to signal.

EHERT: Yeah.

GASSER: So then you end in Europe, and you said you went to France.

EHERT: Yeah.

GASSER: Can you tell me about France?

EHERT: I was in Brest mostly.

GASSER: How did you like France?

EHERT: I liked it all right. I think the French national anthem is a beautiful song.

6:00

GASSER: Oh, beautiful. Sing the French national anthem.

EHERT: I know but one line.

GASSER: That's beautiful--sing it.

EHERT: [Ehert sings a line of La Marseillaise, French anthem]

GASSER: Oh, you liked the French kids, too, did you? Did you like French children?

EHERT: The French children were wonderful. They keep hollering at you, "Chocolat, chocolat, chocolat." They keep hollering like that until they got some chocolate candy.

GASSER: That was kind of fun, wasn't it? Albert, how long did you stay in France?

7:00

EHERT: We had ten day leave.

GASSER: Then you didn't actually see any battle going on in France, did you? Did you see anything of the war in France?

EHERT: Colonel Roosevelt, one of Teddy Roosevelt's boys, and his men were down in Belleau Woods.

GASSER: Did he get killed?

EHERT: Yeah.

GASSER: And you all heard about that? Did you see anything else, or hear anything else?

EHERT: Where's the tree standing?

GASSER: In France?

EHERT: Yeah.

GASSER: Which city was that?

EHERT: With all their troops.

GASSER: Where were you when you heard the war was over?

EHERT: One day at Brest, and Brest, that's in France.

8:00

GASSER: How did you feel about that? Was that a happy time?

EHERT: Happy, I guess so.

GASSER: Did you celebrate?

EHERT: Oh, yes.

GASSER: How did you hear the news?

EHERT: By megaphone.

GASSER: Albert, how was your homecoming?

EHERT: There was no such thing as a homecoming.

GASSER: Why not? What happened?

EHERT: You were in the service, and you didn't get a discharge.

GASSER: You had to stay in until things were really settled and taken care of. Eventually you got home, didn't you? Were your people glad when you eventually got home?

EHERT: Oh, yeah, yeah.

GASSER: Albert, I am glad you got home well, too. It was really wonderful to be 9:00here with you.

EHERT: I enjoyed this, too.

GASSER: Wonderful, thank you, Albert. Many people in Prairie du Sac [Wisconsin] remember Albert Ehert as being a very fine postmaster for many years. It is interesting, too, how people are stationed overseas during a time of war. And even though it's a very sad, traumatic time, there is something about the countries people are stationed in that they become attracted to; there is a nostalgia. They learn to love the people, the food, the country they're in, and even the national anthem. So we'll share with Albert Ehert the nostalgia he has for France. [La Marseillaise, the French national anthem is played for 10:00approximately two minutes]

[End of Interview]

11:00

0:00 - Introductory Music

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Partial Transcript: [The Stars and Stripes Forever marching song plays for approximately 25 seconds]

Segment Synopsis: This segment contains a brief snippet of The Stars and Stripes Forever.

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0:29 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Interviewer: So it was 1917, and American men were called to war.

Segment Synopsis: This segment includes the introduction to Ehert, how he first heard about the war and came to be involved in the Navy.

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1:42 - Deployment

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Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Where did you go then, Albert?

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Ehert describes his deployment aboard the USS Kearsage.

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3:07 - Life aboard the USS Kearsage

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Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Then it was a different experience, wasn't it?

Segment Synopsis: Ehert briefly describes what life was like aboard the USS Kearsage including what the food was like, and his duties.

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4:41 - The trip to Europe

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Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Where did your ship go?

Segment Synopsis: Ehert recounts the trip to Europe.

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5:38 - Time in France

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Partial Transcript: Interviewer: So then you end in Europe, and you said you went to France.

Segment Synopsis: Ehert discusses some of the experiences he had in France, as well as the various things he enjoyed about France.

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7:55 - End of the War

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Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Where were you when you heard the war was over?

Segment Synopsis: Ehert tells the interviewer where he was when he heard about the war's conclusion. Ehert also briefly discusses his reception back home.

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8:58 - Concluding remarks

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Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Albert, I am glad you got home well, too.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer speaks briefly about Ehert's life after the war, and mentions how people develop nostalgic feelings for place they may have traveled to during times of war.

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9:52 - Concluding music

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Partial Transcript: [La Marseillaise, the French national anthem is played for approximately two minutes]

Segment Synopsis: The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, is played for approximately two minutes, concluding the interview.

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