Canteen Worker Goes the Extra Mile for a Wounded Yank


[By United Press]

Mainz, Jan. 28. Manna from on high is the only staple comparable to the ice cream which was assembled in a place which had neither ice nor ice cream components, all for a wounded American soldier whose fevered mind dwelt continuously on that favorite throat cooling dish of his native land.

A young woman canteen worker of the Y.M.C.A. wrought the miracle with the aid of the wounded soldier’s buddies, after the boy had confided that he had only one wish in the world, for a dish of old-fashioned vanilla ice cream. He was in the emergency ward of an obscure hospital, far from city comforts such as freezers or ice, and he admitted “I guess I’m a nut, but I lay awake nights thinking how good it would taste I know I can’t get it up here.”

The Y.M.C.A. canteen woman knew he couldn’t, too, as she turned away. Condensed mild she had in her canteen, and sugar she could get from the army commissary, but there wasn’t any ice, and there weren’t any eggs. She tried to put the thought away from her in the rush of work back at her canteen, but the young soldier’s wistful face lingered before her.

“Think it will freeze tonight, boys?” she asked some of the Yanks who came into the canteen. She told them the story of hte boy who wanted just one thing, a plate of old-fashioned, home-made ice cream. “I think I’ll put some water outside tonight, and see if it will freeze, though that won’t be much good without eggs for the cream,” she finished.

“That will be all right, we’ll tend to the eggs, half a dozen of the boys assured her. And they did. Two of them walked over 20 miles that night from one village to another, making almost house-to-house canvass for eggs, and coming back, tired but triumphant with them at dawn. It had been a crisp, winter night, and the water that the Y.M.C.A. worker had put outside had frozen solid in its bucket. She made a rich custard, and the boys froze it for her by turning a smaller bucket around and around inside a larger one full of cracked ice. Then she carried it  to the boy in the emergency ward. He lay rather paler and quieter than he had been the day before, but his smile was just as quick.

“Ice cream? No!” he said. “Don’t wake me up, I’m dreaming.”
He couldn’t eat a great deal of it, after all, only a few spoonfuls, but it seemed to satisfy him completely.

“It tastes just like that I used to freeze for Mother on Sundays,” he said. “Maybe you wouldn’t mind writing a letter to Mother for me? Tell her — Oh, well, just tell her I had some ice-cream.”

Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin) Jan 28, 1919

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2 Responses to “Canteen Worker Goes the Extra Mile for a Wounded Yank”

  1. From Soldier’s Mother to Canteen Worker « YesterYear Once More Says:

    […] Canteen Worker Goes the Extra Mile for a Wounded Yank […]

  2. WWI: Snapshots and Snippets « YesterYear Once More Says:

    […] Canteen Worker Goes the Extra Mile for a Wounded Yank […]

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