Monday, June 13, 2011

Rev. Rickard's complimentary copy of "Good-by to G.I."

Tucked inside this copy of 1945's "Good-by to G.I." by Maxwell Droke was the above card, which is addressed to Rev. Harry C. Rickard. It states, in part:
  • "We hope that it will prove to be a very helpful book."
  • "We very much desire to have the Chaplains see this book and so are sending you this copy which you will please accept with our compliments. If you have any opinions about it, we will be glad to have them."
The book, which sold for $1, is a guide for American soldiers returning home from World War II. Here's an excerpt from the dust jacket:
"Home, Mr. Veteran, is what you have been dreaming of these many months. But somehow home when you get there isn't quite like your dreams. Your new start in civilian life seems almost as bewildering as the first days of military life. You need some basic training again, and here is the guidebook that smooths your way through it."
The book's chapter titles include "How to Get Acquainted with Your Family and Friends," "The ONLY Girl - or How to Awaken from a Dandy Dream Without Losing Love," "The Old Job - or a New Opportunity," "Your Handicap - Face It and Forget It!" and "It's YOUR Country - from Now On."

Author Droke (1896-1957)1, pictured at left, was a veteran of World War I and the son of a Methodist minister. During World War II, he edited The Messenger, a paper that Protestant churches sent monthly to "nearly a quarter of a million of their members in the armed forces."2

In the chapter "The School Bell and the Cash Register," Droke discusses the G.I. Bill and makes a interesting comparision of the returning veterans of World War I and World War II:
"In one respect at least you men who are coming out of World War II have it all over the group to which I belonged a generation ago. If you can qualify under certain very liberal regulations - and a majority of you can - you may pick up your educational program just about where it was so rudely interrupted, and your Uncle Samuel will pay all expenses, including an allowance for spending money. To be entirely fair in the matter, however, we should point out that this liberal educational provision of the current G.I. Bill of Rights would have been quite impracticable back in 1918-19. It would not have met the situation for two primary reasons: (1) the average soldier was considerably older3, and (2) he lacked the foundational structure to absorb additional education.

"Education was not, I regret to say, too highly regarded by the rank and file of the armed forces in my day."
And who was the Rev. Harry C. Rickard, who received this complimentary copy of "Good-by to G.I."?

For one thing, he was an author, just like Droke. In 1954, he published "Hospital Chaplain (Europe 1944-1947)," which is now a hard-to-find volume.

And the work of Rickard and his wife live on through a bequest to the Virginia United Methodist Foundation that is described in the the September 2007 edition of the foundation's newsletter:
A bequest of $894,000 has been received by the Virginia United Methodist Foundation to assist the work of the Foundation and five other United Methodist causes. The bequest comes from the estate of Mrs. Reba C. Rickard, the wife of a deceased former chaplain and clergy member of the Virginia Conference, the Reverend Harry C. Rickard. ...

“This is a wonderful example of a couple who believed profoundly in the connectional work of the church and left a major portion of their estate to assist these causes,” said Jim Bergdoll, president of the Conference Foundation in announcing this gift. The funds received in the bequest will establish the Harry C. and Reba C. Rickard Endowment Fund in the Virginia United Methodist Foundation.

Chaplain Rickard was a member of the Virginia Conference for 42 years but served in the chaplaincy of the US Army for 20 years. He and Mrs. Rickard retired in Strasburg following his last appointment at Greenville-Mint Spring in the Staunton District. He died in 1999. Mrs. Rickard was in a nursing home in Woodstock at the time of her death in April 2006. She had worked in the area of Christian education and was active in various church work. During retirement, she and Mr. Rickard had been associated with Strasburg United Methodist Church and were supportive of that church through the years.
I think that Droke, the World War I veteran who worked to help World War II veterans, and Rickard, who ministered to soldiers during the 1940s and remained active in ministry for decades afterward, would like that they remain linked in history through this 66-year-old complimentary copy of "Good-by to G.I."

1. Here's a link to the best bibliography I could find of Droke's works.
2. The source for the Droke's biographical information is the dust jacket of "Good-by to G.I."
3. This is Droke's footnote at that spot in the text: "The minimum draft age in World War I was 20; it is now 18."

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Maj./Rev. Harry Rickard was my great Uncle, he was married to my Grandmother's sister Reba Cousins. I have several copies of Hospital Chaplin but would love to see this other book or better yet the book that was his. Feel free to reach out to me at if this can be arranged. Reba passed away in Woodstock at the same nursing home as my grandmother, Skyline was the name and Harry Applegate was the executor of their estate.