Letters Home: Marion Owens Plays for the President

The Skidmore News had printed news from Marion Owens before, but page 1 of the January 9, 1919 edition brought news of a brush with fame:

Played for the President

Two letters from Marion Owens, a navy musician at Brest, France, were recently received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Owens and in them he expresses the desire that he may soon be sent home, but he thinks he stands but little chance of getting back before sometime next summer.

Marion is a member of the band that played when President and Mrs. Wilson arrived at Brest, and he said it was sure a big day for France, when President Wilson, the French president, General Pershing, Admiral Mayo and many other big men met.

The band master was so fortunate as to receive a flower from the hand of Mrs. Wilson.  The depot was filled with flowers and rugs, and the road from dock to railway station was lined with French and American soldiers.  It was a great sight and Marion counts it one of the big days in the world’s history.  He expresses himself as being very glad to be there, and having a part when the people of France were “just wild” over the coming of America’s president.

He writes of them having a lot of war orphans to dinner with them when each man has to care for a baby during the visit.  Imagine “Brother,” if you can, caring for a baby, but then he must make good as he says the babies like to come when they get a good dinner and some trinket to carry home with them.