This blog is a companion to the Database of Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Godsons and Godmothers

From the Thuillier collection of glass plate negatives.  AWM P10550.128


What he terms "one of the few really beautiful, things to which this
war has given birth" is the subject of a descriptive article by M. Arno
Dosch-Fleurot, in the "New York Herald." In the course of it he.
says: —

It was discovered a year or so ago that many of the soldiers who had
been given permission to go home were in the unfortunate position of
having no homes. Many were from the invaded provinces, and leave of
absence simply added to their tortured thoughts. Others were from
the colonies. So, out of beginnings which, are rather obscure, has grown
up this national idea of godsons and godmothers. To go to a railroad
station to meet a strange hero from the front,- of whom one knows no-
thing except that he writes a nice letter - it is an adventure. It means,
also, that men and women meet on a basis of friendship which would
not ordinarily occur.

I know a woman who has ten godsons. It keeps her busy sending
them things to the front and entertaining them when they are on leave.
She is a very good-looking woman, too, with a husband to whom she is
devoted. I asked her if she were not afraid of some of these godsons
falling in love with her.

"I should be hurt," she replied, "if they did not all love me."
"But that is not what I mean," I said. "It is not always what they mean
either", she replied, "but I manage them."

Of course, the idea ha's been abused. The term has become elastic,
and the complete propriety of the arrangement has proved useful to co-
ver arrangements not always so proper. But such is the lack of prudery
in the French people, that it has made no difference to the real god-
mothers, who go about cheering up the lonely without any fear their ac-
tions will be misconstrued. As the idea has spread there has
arisen a problem of how to bring together would-be godmothers and
godsons. Mostly it is taken care of through improvised clubs organised
to give stray soldiers a feeling of home. Women desirous of being
godmothers contribute usually a dollar a month for each godson, and
write them letters and entertain them when on leave. Many who would
not be likely to go to such institutions receive godmothers through
friends or comrades in arms.

At the front the soldiers are always offering cigars "received from
my godmother," or are about to '' write to my godmother," so those
who have none become envious, and the idea has caught on. Many,
failing in other ways to find godmothers, advertise for them. Naturally,
these advertisements are not always serious, but a good many are.

GODSONS AND GODMOTHERS. (1917, March 30). The Romsey Examiner, p1

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