Jubilation in Durham, North Carolina, on news of victory in WWI
Burt remembers being medically cleared to fight in World War I after this third examination. Afterward, he quit his job, planning to carouse until the army called, but the war ended before his number came up. He remembers the jubilation that gripped Durham when news of the Entente victory reached town.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Thomas Burt, February 6, 1979. Interview H-0194-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- GLENN HINSON:
When the war started, where were you working?
- THOMAS BURT:
When the war started, I was out here in the country. I hadn't
been to Durham when the war started. I went to Durham the time the war
was goin' on. I registered out here in the country up at
Gorman's store. Then I went to Durham. It was so long before
they called me to be examined, I done even forgot about I'd
registered. Finally, they called me. I went and was examined three
different times. The first two times, they turned me down. Then they
called me back again to be examined the third time. I went up there and
was examined Sunday morning at 10:00. There was a soldier doctor there
that examined me that time. They got two of them, a soldier doctor and
another doctor that'd been there all the
time—civilian doctor. They run me all
over that courthouse! Up and down that great long hall, I run all down
yonder and run back. They slapped that thing on me and those things
After a while, that old soldier doctor told me,
"Well, I'm gonna hurt your feelings, I reckon.
I'll tell you, boy, the only thing between you and France is
water." [laughter] He said,
"Just listen out any time. Just look out for your call any
time." He said, "They need mens over there. You just
listen out." So I quit work, and just walked up and down the
streets and out here in the country and out home. I say, "Well,
I'm-a quit and come and go in the army now." I
walked up and down the streets in Durham, all over Durham
playin' guitar, drinkin', kickin' up
and havin' fun. I'll never forget it. Friday
mornin' about 9:30 or 10:00, I ain't never heard
so many horns, car horns, all the factory horns, bells, and everything.
I didn't know what the devil had happened. Come to find out
the army had signed. You know I was a happy boy! Folks were
runnin' and jumpin' in Durham. What in the world
was the matter with these folks, Lord, if that place weren't
in the works! There was many a poor woman's son went over
there and didn't come back—got killed.
I'd got to the place where I didn't care. So many
of the boys I knowed had gone, and I just got to the place where I
didn't care—I wanted to go too. To tell you the
truth, I just worried and worried till I got to the place where I
didn't care if I did go, but I was glad to hear them whistles
that morning—Yes I was. Them folks celebrated in Durham. All
night Friday night, Saturday, they was a-hoopin' and
a-hollerin'. Big old factory horns
blowin', car horns, bells ringin', fire wagons and
all runnin' up and down the street. Back in them days, they
had horses pull the fire wagons. It had drove all over town. It was a
time in Durham! I don't reckon there's never been
a time in Durham like that before and since. Yes, I was a glad boy I
didn't have to go.