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Charles and Olive Part I of A Short Romance.
Charles Arthur Hayes was born in the pioneer town of Rosalia Washington. His family had moved from Missouri and before 1900 would end up in the little town of Clovis California. Charles, his sister Inez, and their mother would spend most of the rest of thier lives in this railway hub between lumber, grain, and the cities that needed it.
Not much is known about Charles between the year of his birth in 1895 and his late teen years. As with all stories there is often more to learn about someone with what is left behind than from the individuals themselves. We do know from the picture that they must have traveled back to Missouri to visit family and take pictures. We know from Federal Census where he lived and with whom. And from there the story unfolds.
The Early 1900's
The world must have been new and exciting for a young man in the early 1900's. For example: New York becomes the first state to require Automobile liscense plates - 1901, Orville Wright flys the the first documented heavier than air craft at Kitty Hawk - 1903, The San Francisco Earthquake and Fire - 1906, a long distance radio transmission is sent from the Eiffel Tower for the first time - 1907, and the first aviation meet takes place in Los Angeles California - 1910. In 1910 Charles would have been a boy of 15, ready for change and ready for the world. The early 1900's were full of adventure, fantasy and excitement. The Ottoman Empire still existed, One can only imagine the contrast in feeling the excitement of the world and history around you and the feeling of monotony for the daily chores of a young man isloated on a farm in a very small community.
And so Charles does what many young men do. He finds a way out and history finds Charles. The type of history that always looks better from the outside looking in. World War One. In 1914 Germany declares war and after 3 very bloody years on June 25 1917 the first American troups land in France. Charles is in the first set of troups to arrive and some of the last to leave.
The Big Red One
In February of 1917 Charles enlists in the Army. We can only imagine a young 23 year old looking for opportunity and adventure in a one horse town. Fresno California at that time was a very small place and Clovis even smaller. The Big Red One refers to the large number 1 in red on a shield background. It is the symbol of the American Expeditionary Force or AEF. These boys and men were the first American groups to land in France and the last to go home. Charles enlists in Fresno California and is accepted into service at Fort Logan Colorado and is soon on his way to France.
Photo Journal of the War
There are two types of people that come back from war. Survivors and the not survivors. Heros and patrons, support crew, etc. War changes people and is most often refered to in terms of things like post traumatic stress disorder. Very little was discussed about the war when Charles returned, but he did return. He brought with him a large photo journal of the war. Perhaps as a honorary award, perhaps as a gift, perhaps as a way to share the horror of war without having to discuss the truth of war. Below are a few pages from that journal. The journal was completed by the US Signal Corps. The Signal Corps like many support troups had an important function. They were the recorders, the communicators, and yes the forward observers. Often times there is a struggle in war to identify the good to replace the bad. Good has to be found to counterweight the great hardship and ugliness found everywhere during war. The first page below is the dedication page of the book. It is one of the most inspiring.
Part II - Olive in about a week.