Gardiner, Glen
Correspondence of, Glen Gardiner, future industrial management author, written while serving as a World War One radio operator, 1915-1919

Group of 12 letters, totaling 145 pages, (no envelopes), dated 30 May 1915 to 27 April 1919.

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Gardiner, a young man from Wisconsin, writes describing his experiences during World War One in lengthy detailed letters. He had a penchant for mischievous behavior which seems somewhat at odds with the course of his later life.

Description of Correspondence


                  All of the letters were written by Glenn Gardiner to: "Dear Home Folks." The letters were sent from: Madison, WI (2); Cambridge, MA (3); Chicago, IL (2); Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (2); Basseterre, St. Kitts (1), New York, NY (1); and 1 letter with no location mentioned, but likely Chicago.  The last four letters were written while serving on the battleship U.S.S. North Dakota while on a tour of the West Indies, and at port in New York City. One letter is written in the year 1915, one in 1917, six in 1918, and four in 1919. Two of the letters are typed, the others are handwritten, in ink, in a legible hand. Two letters are tanned, and brittle at edges, otherwise good, there is one incomplete letter, which lacks at least one page.


                 The correspondence spans four years and covers Gardiner's time at training camps and during his deployment. The letters are addressed to "Dear Home Folks," presumably his parents and siblings. At first, he writes about the nightly after training mischief he and his fellow soldiers get into, including rushing the Orpheum Opera House, taking a police officer's night stick, and blocking street cars. His following letters describe his admiration for Boston, particularly Longfellow's home, and the "bluebloods" of the city. He writes of the tiring daily schedule of classes and military education, instruction in "confidential code work," radio communications, and other topics.


          The correspondence from Guantanamo Bay and St. Kitts contain detailed observations on the soldiers' daily life and routines, unusual events, as well as descriptions of the local people, some of which were not quite complimentary. The last letter is dated 27 April 1919 in New York, where he is still waiting for his discharge from military service.


Sample Quotations:

   While at the University of Wisconsin, it appears that Gardiner was in some sort of military training program at the university, and he also describes campus life and activities with his fellow students:

"Madison, Wis., Sun. May 30th, 1915.

Dear Home Folks:

    Although it hardly seems possible, a whole week has passed by since I was home. My first exam comes next Saturday. I am a tired man today. Yesterday morning we marched nearly all forenoon in the rain, and when we weren't marching, we were standing at attention, which is just as bad as marching, if not worse. We got thru with the inspection just at noon. We had to report again at 1:00 P.M. to start on the march to the field of our sham battle. We were each furnished with forty blank cartridges. I was in the attacking army, and we had to cross a marsh about a mile and a half wide under fire of the enemy. There was about six inches of water all over the marsh, and the ground under it was so soft that we sank almost to our knees at every step. It sure was an awful job to get across, because we had to keep out of sight in the grass all the way across. We finally got across, however, and dislodged the enemy...After supper the Frosh began to celebrate. You see last night was the time when the freshmen had their big bonfire and burned their green caps. We swiped wood all over town. A bunch of us went over behind a motorcycle shop on University Avenue and got six motorcycle crates. We each carried one of them. You know perhaps that it was no light job. Just as we got around the corner the proprietor came tearing down the street after us. Now if you will believe me, we had some race. He was bow-legged and we were pretty well loaded down, so it made a pretty good race. By the time we got to the lower campus, where the fire was blazing, the villain was almost upon us. But we beat it right up to the fire and heaved them on, and then mixed in the crowd. The fire was so hot that he couldn't get near it, so he went off defeated. We also had the honor of committing to the flames the last out door privy in the city of Madison. I don't think there is another one left in town. After the bonfire we went down town and rushed the Orpheum Opera House. There were four or five policemen at the doors, but we mushed them out of sight. They succeeded in arresting a couple of students and started off for jail with them, but about two or three hundred fellows took after them and got the prisoners away from them, and also one of the cop's billy-clubs. We all came back in a bunch from the show, and we stopped every street car that came along. This is a very easy thing to do if you know how. There is a rope which hangs down behind the car that is fastened to the pulley that runs along the wire and makes the connection. Just as the car goes by someone jumps and give this rope a jerk and breaks the connection and the conductor as to get out the climb up on the top of the car to fix it. Just as soon as he gets it fixed and starts out again someone pulls the rope again and stops the car. We held every car up this way until a policeman came to the rescue....                                                                          Very sincerely, Glenn."

"Madison, Wis., April 29, 1917,

Dear Home Folks:

      I guess you will think that I had forgotten your address or that I had died, but the fact of the matter is, that I have never been so busy in all my life as I have been during the past week. My course in Intensive Military Training is certainly intensive in every sense of the word. I have six different courses in the class work for the course. My classes begin at seven o'clock in the morning and continue until noon. As soon as I have finished my dinner I have to hurry and change my clothes for the afternoon drill which begins at one o'clock and continues until five-thirty. Then I have to change my clothes again and clean up for supper. As soon as I swallow my supper I have to get to work to prepare for the classes of the next forenoon, and they are certainly nothing easy to prepare for. Military science is of such a nature that you must absolutely memorize details with such a degree of thoroughness that you do not have to stop to think to recall them. They must be studied until they come as second nature to you. After an evening of intensive study of this kind the bed certainly is a welcome change...In the afternoon drill period we spend the first three quarters of an hour doing callisthenic work on the lower campus. This consists of performing a number of physical exercises with our rifles. It certainly is putting us in fine condition. Then we march out to Camp Randall and drill until about 5:15 without a minute's rest and then march back to the Armory. On Saturday's we have no class work but the whole day is spent in drilling. Yesterday they marched us about seven miles out into the country and pitched a camp and did guard and outpost duty, and then came back to town double quick time. It certainly is no pastime for an invalid. I am surprised that the drilling has not tired me more than it has, but the fact that I am in good physical condition on account of my athletic work has helped me a lot....                                                                                             Glenn"

                  By May of 1918, he travels to Harvard University for radio school:

"Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass., General Delivery, Fri. 8:30 p.m. May 17, 1918.

Dear Home Folks,

     Well, my first week in Boston is nearly over and a mighty interesting week it certainly has been. Boston is a wonderful place. I don't believe I ever saw such a beautiful city. The city is full of great, old elm trees, and they are thickly leaved out now, and the grass is green everywhere...

     The radio school is quite an institution. I haven't started in to classes yet and I don't know whether or not I'll start next week, or the week after. There are about four thousand naval radio men here. All our classes are held in Harvard buildings. About half of the fellows are quartered in Harvard dormitories, - the rest get rooms in private houses around Cambridge. All of the fellows would like to get into outside companies, that is, in private houses, but they only allow part of the fellows to room out. The fellows who room out are drawn by lot. I sure hope I get out. It will give me much better opportunities for study, and it will be just like getting back to school again. There are all kinds of advantages in living out....You know it got so I long to be by myself. I don't feel that I have much in common with most of these fellows. They are not all of the highest moral type that I like to associate with any more than I have to, so I'd like to get a couple of clean fellows and get off by ourselves while we have the chance.

     ...I won't start school until next week now. I was anxious to start school tomorrow because the time drags so when you get on one of these lazy detail jobs. But then, I should worry. I have 17 weeks of school ahead of me whenever I do start, and this is a pretty nice place to be stationed..."

                Gardiner complains that the moral character among sailors is not up to his standards, yet in one letter he writes the following:

"Saturday, 3:45 p.m. June 8, '18.

Dear Home Folks,

     ...That reminds me that Ma asked about the 'chow' here. The chow is a little better than what we got at the Lakes. The government let a contract to some man to feed us. We eat cafeteria style. That is, we pass right thru the kitchen and grab our own plate, coffee, silverware, and dessert, and go and sit down. After eating we scrap our own dishes and put them on the pile as we pass out. A bunch of niggers do all the dirty work..."

         Later in the same letter he describes witnessing the first ever mail delivery by airplane to Boston:

"…Thursday was my birthday and I received twenty one pieces of mail that day. I got all your cards. Eleanor sent me a fine box of candy and other eats. So it was quite a mail day for me. Thursday afternoon I was in my room and I heard one awful din. I looked out and saw an airplane passing overhead about 2,000 feet up in the air. I learned by the evening papers that it had brought mail from New York to Boston. It was the first mail delivery by air plane in the history of old Boston. Some day when the airships are as thick as flies, I suppose it will be quite a thing to say that I saw the first airship to deliver mail in Boston in June 1918 (on my 22d birthday)..."

      In March of 1919, Gardiner finds himself in Cuba, and a sailor on board the USS North Dakota. As war loomed, the Atlantic Fleet began intensive training to prepare for a possible American entrance into the conflict. The North Dakota was conducting gunnery training in Chesapeake Bay when the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Unlike her sister-ship Delaware, North Dakota remained in American waters for the duration of the war, and did not see action. She was based out of York River, Virginia and New York City, and was tasked with training gunners and engine room personnel for the rapidly expanding wartime fleet. Admiral Hugh Rodman requested that North Dakota remain behind because he did not trust the reliability of her engines. In 1917, her engines were replaced with new geared turbines, and new fire control equipment was installed. On 13 November 1919, North Dakota left Norfolk, carrying the remains of the Italian Ambassador to the United States. The ship stopped in Athens, Constantinople, Valencia, and Gibraltar while cruising the Mediterranean Sea. She thereafter returned to the United States, and participated in fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean in the spring of 1920.

"Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Sunday, 11:45 p.m., Mar. 16, 1919.

Dear Home Folks,

     ...Saturday night was a night of nights. The North Dakota staged a big 'house talent' minstrel show and invited twelve hundred men and officers from other ships in the fleet. A stage was built on the port side of the weather deck aft. It was decorated up with flags, and tropical vegetation. It looked like a regular stage in an honest to goodness theatre. They even had foot lights and spot lights.  I wish you could have seen the audience when the show started. Every inch of the deck in range of the stage was packed with benches. Of course the officers and their guests occupied the foreground in their easy chairs. The gun turrets were covered with gobs. Everywhere that a bird could perch, a gob was clinging. I laid on my belly over one of the twelve inch guns, and all my friends were on top of me, I guess. At any rate it felt as though my stomach would shape itself like the pod of a tree toad when you rest above five pounds of pressure on his back. The show was pretty good. It commenced at 8:00 and ran until 9:45. Then there was half an hour intermission, during which time the guests were served refreshments. Each gob rated a cigar, a package of cigarettes, a chicken sandwich, or minced ham sandwich, fruit salad, cake with frosting, and lime-ade. The officers dined in their apartments, and a good share of them got so 'polluted' that they didn't return to the deck to see the rest of the show, which started again at 10:15 and lasted until 12:00. Then the crew had their eats. We rated the same chow as our guests. I trade my cigar for a bunk of cake and my cigarettes for two glasses of lime-ade 'A good time was had by all' as the West Porter jotter would say. It was the biggest blow out that has been staged down here. The North Dakota is a live wire and all the sailors know it..."

     After Cuba, the North Dakota pays a visit to St. Kitts. Gardiner writes a 26 page letter to his family back home about his adventures at St. Kitts, some of which were rather raucous:

"Basseterre, St. Kitts, British West Indies, Sunday, 8:30 A.M. March 23, 1919.

Dear Folks Home,

     Another week has passed, and I believe, as a whole it has been as interesting and enjoyable a week as I have spent in the Navy. I'm sure that yesterday's experience ashore on this strange island was the most fascinating I have ever had. The week has disappeared like no time. March will be gone before I will be able to realize that it ever came...How I have appreciated this opportunity to see these tropical peoples and the way they live! It has been the most valuable education opportunity of my life. It was very well to look at the pictures in the old geography, but there's nothing like seeing the real articles.”

     Gardiner then goes on to write about the entrance of the North Dakota into the port of Basseterre at St. Kitt's, explaining how majestic the entire scenery was, and then describes the welcoming party:

" …We dropped anchor about a mile from the beach. We had hardly come to anchor before a rowboat came alongside our gang way. In the 'stern sheets' (back seat) handling the rudder sat a rather distinguished looking old nigger with gray wood and big iron bowed glasses. Two grand 'dames' occupied the seat of honor, while two ugly specimens of the tropical buck nigger propelled the boat by means of long oars. It was an interesting crew. Evidently the old gent in the stern sheets was some city official, for he came aboard with a great cumbersome old register, yellow with age. The two damsels followed him. The sailors standing around the deck winked at them, but of course the dignity of the situation would hardly permit them to return the compliment. One of them wore a scarlet and white and orange colored waist and by the waist I recognized her later in the day when I was ashore. I could tell a rather interesting story about the circumstances which attended my observations of her at the latter occasion. Suffice to say, she had lost a good deal of the serene aloofness which she had manifested earlier in the day.”

                 He later recounts his adventures in the town of Basseterre describing the natives of the island:

    "…Yesterday was my day off watch, so I rated liberty and at 10:00 A.M. I shoved off with the first liberty party. Basseterre, the town we went to, has a population of about 6,000 people, and oh, such people, and such a town. Of course the streets are narrow and dirty. I saw no white women and very few white men, possibly a dozen all day. The language spoken is English but they speak it with such strange intonation that you would never recognize it as English unless you listen very closely. They speak with a sort of whining tone, which seems to be typical of these tropical people.  These niggers are filthy dirty.  Clothes are not at all plentiful, and sound clothes are a curiosity. They just gather a bundle of rags around themselves. I don't see how they keep them on. If they took them off I don't see how they could ever get them on again.  We asked a woman who was particularly ragged how she got those rags on and off. She said for half pence she'd show us. A sailor threw her six pence, and in a jiffy she stripped naked right on the street, did some kind of a fantastic dance and climbed back into her clothes. A policeman remonstrated with her, quoting something from the Bible about the sin of showing ones nakedness…"

                        He continues writing about the drunkenness of the U.S. sailors and their "vile" actions:

    " … I never heard such a cursing as she gave him, and we have some vile language in the Navy. I could tell you of a hundred such scenes that I witnessed during the day, most of them even more disgusting than this one. I thought that moral conditions could be no worse than I saw them in Santiago de Cuba, but this place makes Santiago seem like a Sunday school. The saloons are wide open, and filled with women begging drinks. Begging is a practice made by everyone. If I had given every kid and wench, and old man a penny that asked me for one yesterday, I'd be ten years paying off my debt. The whiskey they sell is vile stuff, and it puts a fellow drunk in no time. Nearly all the sailors got drunk, and by the middle of the afternoon they sure were painting the town red. They smashed up two or three saloons. They'd stand in front of the bar and throw bottles at the bottles on the shelves. They just simply wrecked the joints. Believe me, the barkeeps sure did 'skedaddle.' It got so bad that the native men kept out of sight. The women stuck around, and the sailors sure raised cane with them. They chased them up and down the streets like runaway pigs in a corn field, and they'd pull the clothes off them when they caught them. You can't imagine what depths of indecency a man will stoop to when he's drunk. I was actually ashamed and mortified for being a member of such a gang. I'm surprised that the officers will allow liberty to men who haven't manhood enough to respect their nationality and uniform. I could see the hate in the eyes of these people, and I didn't blame them. A sailor alone would have risked his life. A big nigger pulled a wicked looking stiletto in one of the 'free for alls' but before he could use it some sailor put him out of commission. A regular riot took place in front of one saloon and bricks were very much in evidence. It's a wonder that no one was killed. I stood on the side-lines and watched the excitement. Of course a thousand comical things happened, because some men are actually funny when they get drunk….

                       The rest of the letter contains further descriptions of the place and people:

"…There were no restaurants in the town. Egg sandwiches were sold in the saloons, but everything was so filthy that I couldn't find the courage to do my stomach the injustice. So I bought three coconuts for a shilling and made a meal monkey fashion. The women have a style of headdress that interested me. They all wear headkerchiefs and believe me, they sure are gay colored pieces of finery. Whether a woman has any other clothes, or not, she generally manages to have a dazzling headkerchief. I bought a typical specimen and had an old woman teach me how to tie it. I'm going to bring it home with me as a souvenir of St. Kitts for Eleanor. I don't know whether she'll wear it or not. I'll bet I could find 'janes' in Norfolk, Virginia who would. It sure would appeal to any nigger. All the people go barefoot. And oh, such feet! They are as broad as they are long and the women's ankles are in most cases as big around as their legs at the knees. Their legs are just like a stove pipe from the knees down. Most all of them have no front teeth. They're a hideous looking people..."

Glen Gardiner (1896-1962)

   Glenn Gardiner – one time Vice-president of the Forstmann Woolen Company of Passaic, New Jersey, was not only prominent in the woolen industry as a leading executive in a great textile mill but he also won national recognition as one of the outstanding contemporary authors in the field of industrial management, human relations in industry, industrial psychology, industrial economics and foremanship.

   Gardiner was born at Edgerton, Wisconsin, on 6 June 1896, the son of William F. and Louise (Thompson) Gardiner. His father was born at New York City on 19 July 1856, and established himself in life as a farmer, retiring when he was about sixty-five years of age. He died in 1943 at eighty-seven. Gardiner's mother, Louise Thompson, was born at Janesville, Wisconsin, on May 15, 1862. She passed away on 9 November 1924.

   Glenn Gardiner left the University of Wisconsin in his senior year, during the period of the First World War, during which he served in the United States Navy for twenty-two months as a radio operator assigned to convoy duty in the Atlantic. The correspondence here shows him on the battleship U.S.S. North Dakota, visiting the West Indies and at port in New York City. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in absentia. Upon the cessation of hostilities, Gardiner returned to the University of Wisconsin for postgraduate study and obtained his Master of Arts degree from that institution. Then concealing his degrees because he desired practical experience, he entered a brick factory as a “pitman,” a laborer’s job which he shortly gave over to work in succession as a power riveter in an auto trailer plant, and as a moulder’s helper, moulder, and moulder foreman in a malleable iron foundry.


    The foundry where he was working was taken over by the Samson Tractor Division of the General Motors Corporation and Gardiner was transferred to the main plant of the tractor works at Janesville, Wisconsin, as labor manager, a position which he held for four years, he was then promoted to similar offices in the Chevrolet Motor Company and the Fisher body corporation, divisions of General Motors. His next promotion came when his capable services won recognition and he was transferred to the Pontiac Motor Car Company of General Motors as assistant works manager, a position in which he was particularly charged with the responsibility of developing better foremanship and with the interpretation of management’s policies, cost facts, quality standards, methods’ improvement and production requirements to the supervisory organization.

    After other positions, included work as general manager of the Manufacturers Foundation, his growing reputation, created in part by his industrial writings, brought him into the organization of the Forstmann Woolen Company as a managing executive. He joined this company in 1928, and continued there for many years. Gardiner had also been the author and supervisor of the University of Wisconsin's Extension Courses in “Foremanship” and “Factory Management,” and he also served similarly at Columbia University in that institution’s home study course in “Modern Foremanship.”

    Beginning in 1926, he was the editor of “Management Information,” a weekly bulletin for department heads, supervisors and foremen, which was read by thousands upon thousands of American industrial executives and employees and published by the Elliott Service Company, publishers of outstanding educational and training materials for industry – Gardiner also became a director of the company.

   Glenn Gardiner’s writings on the subject of foremanship were more widely read by practical foremen, supervisors and executives than those of any other writer in America in his day. Practical men secured inspiration and guidance from them because Gardiner's was no theoretical approach to the industrial subjects about which he wrote, instead, he drew upon a rich experience which began in the ranks of manual labor and enlarged with his promotion through the successive steps of foremanship, superintendency and general management. He knew from personal experience the “backache of labor” as well as the “headaches of management.” In the Forstmann Woolen Company, with its yarn spinning mills, weaving mills, finishing mills, and dye plants employing some three thousand persons at Passaic, Clifton and Garfield, New Jersey, his managerial activities and responsibilities supplied him with a great laboratory for his writings on subjects of interest to his readers.

   More than thirty books came from Gardiner's prolific pen, including a ten-volume work on “Business Management,” an eight-volume work titled “Foreman’s Management Library,” and a two-volume work entitled “Conducting Foremen’s Meetings.” Others of his widely read books were: “Management in the Factory,” “Practical Foremanship,” “Practical Office Supervision,” “Foremanship,” “Job Counselor’s Manual,” and “How to Handle Grievances.”

    In addition to his books, Gardiner for years was featured in such magazines as “Factory,” “Foreman’s Magazine,” “Nation’s Business,” “Industrial Psychology,” “The Industrial Executive,” “Forbes” and “Personnel Journal.” In addition to his writing, Gardiner was a forceful speaker, and was much sought after at management conferences, foremen’s clubs, safety conferences, personnel association meetings and businessmen’s organizational gatherings, especially wherever a clear analysis of current industrial problems was demanded.

     For several years he was chairman of the famous annual conference on Human Relations in Industry at Silver Bay on Lake George, and was also a vice-president of the American management Association, in charge of the production division. During the World War Two years he was a district director, training-within-industry service, War Manpower Commission, for the State of New Jersey. He was also head hearings officer, National War labor Board. He was also past president of the Passaic Rotary Club, a member of Fulton Lodge, No. 69, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of Edgerton, Wisconsin, and a member of the Edgerton Chapter, Royal Arch Masons.

      Glenn Gardiner married Eleanor Kraemer [Sept. 24, 1921] of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the daughter of Conrad Kraemer. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner had at least two sons. Gardiner died on 6 August 1962, in New Jersey.

- Prominent Families of New Jersey: In Two Volumes; Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000. Volume 1, pp. 666-667, by William Starr Myers.