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I acquired this fob recently. It looked interesting and the tag on it said "Military" watch fob.
Can anyone shed some light on what this fob represents?
There is the obvious train car, with a horse and rider inside, and some words on the car. I have enlarged the words, but can't quite make out what they are.
There is also a person standing in the foreground looking at the railcar. This person could be in a military uniform.
Any help would be appreciated.
My French is pretty rusty, but I think "HOMME & CHEVAS" means "man and horse". Perhaps this relates to French cavalry?
The Hommes and Chevas are men and horses. During World War One, the French boxcars had, if I remember my history correctly, "40 Hommes et 8 Chevas" painted on the sides: This boxcar good for 40 men and 8 horses. Our US soldiers during World War One had memories of this, and there were "40 and 8" societies around the country afterwards. Perhaps this fob was for former French railway workers or guards??
Hope this helps,
I don`t know anything about the history of this particular fob, but I see fobs or replicas of it quite often on ebay.
After Peter's excellent comment I would agree that the fob must read:
(with the parenthetical portions worn off)
After chatting in the CAT/Real Time area of IHC185 with Tom Seymour and Stephen Russell about this fob, I did a little google searching and came up with this very interesting information.
Peter L. Belmonte nailed this one on the head.
Here are a couple of great links to support his statement.
La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux
Directory of 40 & 8 Web Sites
(excerpt from website)
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE GOT BACK HOME
First of all you must understand the mind set of the Doughboy.Under all of the hardships they faced,some times it was a hoot.The first thing they ran into was a bit of droll French humor known as a Voiture or box-car. The narrow guage railroads of France had box-cars that carried half the capacity of American ones and these were used to transport the soldiers and horses to and from the fighting fronts.
It was funny to see forty full- sized Americans padded out with full packs and rifles, riding in one of those pint sized box-cars---even the horses laughed. It was so miserable in those box-cars that the men in them had to laugh to keep from crying, and when they started laughing at their own tough situation,they wern't so miserable any more.
When they returned home,the laugh was still on them because it was funny to see them trying to outfit themselves in civilian clothes with the meager amount of "discharge pay"--$60.00.Their job had been filled by those who stayed at home and some even had the nerve to try and get their old girls back. What a laugh! No jobs, no clothes and no girls and there wasn't much they could do about it except lean up against a lamp post and laugh at themselves like they had learned to do in the box-cars of La Belle,France.
You see, there was no American Legion during World War 1. Therfore there was no one to fight for the rights of the men who were away fighting the war. There were no job guarantees, G.I. Bill, no terminal leave pay---- There was nothing for the veterans,
The American Legion was formed and began its long fight for fair treatment of our veterans and their families and needing a place to blow of steam, a place where they could laugh at their troubles, the young legionnaries remembered the close brotherhood of the box-cars and decided to reproduce it as an inner organization of chosen Legion comrades.
A group of Legionnaires got together in Philadelphia in 1920 and organized "Voiture#1 of La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux" or Box-car #1 of the Society of 40 men and 8 horses. They went to the Legion Department Convention that year in Allentown,Pa where the Society was formed on a national basis. at the National Convention in Cleveland,in 1920, Legionnaires from all over the country were "wrecked" into the Box-Car Brotherhood and went back home to form their own "Voitures" in their home towns.
"Wrecks" as the Forty and Eight call their initiation ceremonies,have the reputation of being both "Strenuous and entertaining" and their meetings,comedy parades and stunts gave the Forty and Eight the name of "The playground of the Legion".The spirit of fun has always predominated in the Forty and Eight. There is always a laugh,and often as not,it is on you. When you get the "Horse laugh" in the Forty and Eight. you have to be able to laugh right back.
These Voitures are similar to a NAWCC Chapter in that they are all assigned a number. Tom's watch fob has a space on the back for inscription of that number.
I hope you enjoy reading and discovering more about the "The Society of Forty Men and 8 Horses" as I have.
Isn't the internet a great way to learn about things which seemingly baffle us?
At an antique store today my eye caught this drawing on the corner of a membership card.
This is the backup for what Phil has come up with. It puts the drawing with the organization. Too bad the numbers don't match, but I guess that is asking a bit much!
IHC Life Member
Tom here is another medal from a convention it is inscribed:
DEPT. OF INDIANA 40/8
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