Silver Bay in 1918 — Boxing on the way to war work

Bob Liggett lasted three rounds, the maximum duration, in a boxing match against “big Jim Stuart” — “well known in the annals of the ring” — in the featured bout of a boxing and wrestling demonstration on the athletic field at Silver Bay Association.

“Jim’s long arms were everywhere, but Bob stood up well and when the gong sounded for the fourth time, the referee announced that the bout was a draw, that in fact all the bouts were a draw,” The Lake George Mirror reported on Aug. 31, 1918. ”The crowd laughed and went down to congratulate the fighters.”

Liggett and Stuart would soon be grappling with a bigger challenge, that of boosting the morale and nurturing the spiritual lives of military men abroad.

The two were among the men studying at Silver Bay to enter war work during World War I.

The training had begun July 31, as part of the annual conference for Y.M.C.A. secretaries.

“Some of the war work men will be leaving in two or three weeks for the battle front in France and Italy, or will go to Russia,” the Mirror reported on Aug. 3, 1918.

“Every day some of the war work men are leaving Silver Bay, as telegrams or letters call them to New York for immediate overseas duty,” the Mirror reported on Aug. 17. “As fast as the men go, others take their places. Every boat brings a new group of men to train for Y.M.C.A. work.”

Others stayed after the conference to continue training until Sept. 15.

About 200 of the 500 men that attended the conference were preparing for war work.

“Daily military drill, so popular a feature in 1917,will be continued with expert leadership,” the Mirror reported. “Classes in French and Italian will be held every day.”

Dr. Philip Churchman, head of the French department at Clark University, instructed about 125 students in French, and Professor H.S. Shaw of the University of Toronto, instructed about 40 students in Italian.

Flags of the allied nations were displayed in the auditorium, with the Siberian flag added in mid-August, when allied troops invaded the Russian Maritime provinces.

Army Lt.Col. Connell of Fort Ethan Allen lectured for three days on methods of warfare, military organization and etiquette.

A “patriotic tennis tournament” was held at Silver Bay, in which the $1 entry fee was donated to the Y.M.C.A. War Department Commission on Training Affairs,” the Mirror reported on Aug. 24.

In early September, Silver Bay employees gathered at the dock and joined a group of war workers departing via steamboat in singing, “Here we go, we’re off for Berlin Town. We’ll turn old Bill and his Army upside down. And when the Allies make the Kaiser shed his crown. they’ll be a hot time in the old town that night,” the Mirror reported on Sept. 7.

“Each one who goes is speeded by a gradually dwindling throng.”

Click here to read my most recent previous Silver Bay history post.

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY