When the Army takes your mother’s side

In one of those “One Hundred Years Ago” columns newspapers sometimes run, SorryWatch came across an interesting 1917 account of a soldier, Thomas J. Ryan, whose mother was having a hard time letting go.

Ryan was stationed at the Presidio Army Base in San Francisco. Reportedly he “was always getting into trouble” and “his mother was always getting him out of it.” How? Maybe the Army listened to mothers more then?

Photo: Louis Adolphe Humbert de Molard. “Louis Dodier as a prisoner, 1847.” Public domain.

Thanks, MOM.

Ryan got into trouble again. They tossed him in the guardhouse. His mother wrote to him, pleading with him to straighten up and fly right.

He wrote right back, “You mind your own business. I never want to hear from you again.”

Oh yeah? Sez you, Sonny. Watch this!

Private Ryan’s forceful mother wrote to the post adjutant, Captain E.E. McMorland, and told him all about it. (Helicopter much?)

McMorland had Ryan brought to him, and ordered, “You write a letter to your mother and apologize for what you said.”

But according to the 1917 newspaper, “The man took the position that if he wanted to break his mother’s heart it was nobody’s business but his own.” He would not write any such letter of apology.

So they flung him in solitary.

We don’t know anything else about this Ryan family, but we’re against forcing adults to apologize. We can’t say whether Private Ryan was justified in trying to cut off communication with his mother, but given how interfering she sounds, maybe he was.

But it wasn’t the Army’s business.

That’s where the story ends. No follow-up is given. The Presidio hasn’t been an active military installation since 1994, when it was transferred to the Park Service. Surely if an incredibly elderly Ryan was still languishing in solitary, someone would have noticed.

Dunno, though. Sounds like a stubborn guy.

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