Saturday, February 28, 2015

Behind Every Great Man Is...A Woman With A Blooming Idiot of a Husband?

Behind Every Great Man: Forgotten Women Behind the World's Famous and Infamous by Marlene Wagman-Geller was touted as about the women who helped 'propel' their husbands 'to the top'.

I was all for reading about gals like, say, Dolley Madison and Abigail Adams, but who had been forgotten by the historians. (Likely because they were too busy writing about the men.) 28 women nearly forgotten! Including Alma Hitchcock and Emma Wedgewood Darwin!

Wagman-Geller is very entertaining. You laugh out loud, you grind your teeth. But I felt really bad about laughing at these women, many of whom suffered great indignities and suffering because of the love for 'their man,' some of whom are candidates for the Worst Husband of the Millennium Award.

Each woman's biographical sketch consists of a few pages; Mrs Stephen Hawking has 10 pages plus photos. One could find out most of this information Goggling around online. (Of course, you would not have Wagman-Geller's lively narrative.) If you want brief biographies with attitude, this is the book for you.

The author is not above using the women's peccadilloes for laughs, or to arouse one's distaste. Some of these gals were outrageous and some plain evil. Those who were badly used by their husbands deserved a more respectful treatment.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley for a fair and unbiased review.

Behind Every Great Man
Marlene Wagman-Geller
Sourcebooks
ISBN: 9781492603054
$16.99
Publication Date: March 1, 2015


Friday, February 27, 2015

Great Lakes Heritage Quilters 2015 Show

Today my friend and I went to see the Great lakes Heritage Quilters quilt show held at King's Court Castle, Canterbury Village near Auburn, MI. It was an impressive show and a great venue. The show runs Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 from 10 am to 5 pm.
Great hall of King's Court Castle
The quilts were very diverse, with Modern and traditional quilts.
Wonky Logs by Kathleen Joseph

Ghosts by Ruth Montalvo
Modern Mystery by Sue Chase
Bingo by Carol Fulton
Fireworks by Letty Abraham
Peony Star by Sue Chase
detail Peony Star
detail H is for Henry by Carol Fulton

detail Juxtaposition by Jackie Compton; vintage blocks
Cacao Plant and Mint by Ruth McCormick
detail Cacao  Plant and Mint
 
Tim's Gas Station by Nancy Osterman

 

Janeen's Quilt by Joyce Harlan

 detail The Event Quilt by Rebecca Magnus

The Event Quilt has a vintage signature block in center
Little Woman III by Rebecca Magnus
 I made one Little Woman quilt. This lady made three--for her granddaughters. Lucky girls!
Beth at Piano, Little Woman III
The lighting was iffy and some of my photos didn't come out well. There were 176 quilts, and these represent only a few.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Post-Apocalypse in Northern Michigan: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I was snooping around NPR's "Stateside" website and came across a story about Station Eleven, the Great Michigan Read choice for 2015-2016. The book was up for the 2014 National Book Award and was on the 2014 Top 10 lists for Time magazine, the Washington Post, and Amazon. I went online and found it for $5.99 on iTunes Books and read it in two sittings.

The book is set in Northern Michigan twenty years fifteen years after a flu pandemic ends civilization. The flu hit hard, bringing death within hours. Mass extinction ended all communication, the power grid, order.

People left large cities where resources were scarce and violence prevailed. The struggle to survive those first years included hard choices. Tattoos of knives designate kills.

Those who remembered 'life before' tell stories of everyday miracles: switches that brought light or heat or cool air, devices that allowed one to talk to people anywhere in the world, a screen that gave 'immortality' to actors. Children are made upset, or marvel, at such tales and adults debate the wisdom of memory keeping.

The night before of the 'end of the world', famous film actor Arthur died on stage whiles playing King Lear in Toronto. He had skyrocketed to fame, gone through three wives, and was weary.
"He'd spent his entire life chasing after something, money or fame or immortality or all of the above."
Eight year old child actor Kirsten Raymonde liked to hang around Arthur. He gave her unpublished comic books created by an ex-wife. After Arthur's death Kirsten's handler gives her a paperweight meant for Arthur, returned from the same ex-wife. These become the girl's totems, and Arthur her obsession.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is part of The Traveling Symphony, wandering minstrels--musicians and theater actors-- who perform King Lear and orchestral pieces in small communities along the northern Lake Huron and Lake Michigan coasts. When the flu hit they had been performing in Toronto, Ontario.Their motto, taken from an episode of Star Trek:Voyager, is "Survival is insufficient."

As the troop wanders Kirsten searches for old magazines articles about Arthur, and even finds an unauthorized biography. She later comes across his only son, unaware of his identity, in a tragic moment of unfulfilled possibilities.
Raymonde: What I mean to say is, the more you remember the more you've lost.
Diallo: But you remember some things...
Raymonde: But so little. My memories from before the collapse seem like dreams now."
When the flu closed the airports a plane headed for Toronto was diverted to Severn Airport along Lake Michigan. It becomes a small city of survivors and the home of The Museum of Civilization, a rumored and legendary place run by Arthur's friend Clark. When troop members disappear the Symphony heads for the agreed upon meeting place, going further south than they have ever ventured, to Severn Airport and the Museum.

Mentioned are Traverse City, Mackinaw City, "New" Petoskey, East Jordan, and the National Forest (likely Huron-Manistee), places we Michiganders know well. Several characters started out in Toronto and followed the lakes and rivers into Michigan. In 2010 the author was on a book tour in Petoskey and Traverse City and decided it was the perfect backdrop for this novel.

The book is beautifully written. I am intrigued by all the layers and will read it again, knowing I missed so much with one read.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WWII Letters from The Pacific Recall the Grand Blanc, MI Buick Tank Plant

During WWII my father-in-law Herman Bekofske worked in the Grand Blanc, MI Buick "tank plant". Legally blind in one eye and supporting a wife and two boys, he was not called for service. But many of his friends at the plant were. One was Ed Lambert.

Pvt. Edward J. Lambert 36929398
661 Repl. Co., 133rd Repl. Bn
1st Repl. Depot (Prov.)
A.P.O. 238, 40 Postmaster
San Francisco, Calif.
Saturday, June 16, 1945

Dear Herman,
     I am now somewhere on Luzon Island in the Philippines. Yours was the first letter I received here and I was very glad to get it. I am glad you didn't have to go to the Army. It is not so bad but its certainly not like home. I am glad to hear Roy's brother is all right. I wrote to Roy a sort time ago. I asked at that time how his brother came out.
     I received a letter from Jack the day after I received yours. he says things are slowing down at the Tank Plant. I hope this won't mean Jack Irving will have to go to the Army.
     I am glad to hear your wife and the boys are OK. You ought to have a couple of pretty fine fellows there before long.
     We play euchre here, but since I had to teach most of the fellows I play with how to play it it is still pretty slow going.
     By the way we have some rain out here too.
     I have been into Manila. While there I bought some Jap occupation currency from some little Phlip [sic] kids at a cigarette per bill. This money is worthless now the Americans have taken over, but it makes nice souvenirs.
     I am send along one of these bills. The money here runs as follows: one, five, ten, twenty and fifty centavos, then one, two, five, etc. pesos.
     This money is (American issue which is good that is) exchange for ours at a ration of two to one. One centavo is worth one half an American penny; one pesos is worth fifty cents, etc.
     I am running a little late on time and I want to try to answer Jack's letter so will close for now.
Sincerely,
Ed
P.S. I don't expect to see M. K. Lemon, but you never can tell.

Wednesday, June 19, 1945
Dear Herman,
     Received your swell letter of May 31st yesterday. I was a little worried how I was going to answer it. At present we have more time to ourselves than at any time since I have been in the Army. I don't think this situation will last for long though. The thing of it is I was completely out of air-mail stamps. They are pretty hard to get here at present. Fortunately I received a letter from my father with air-mail stamps enclosed. I am glad to be able to say my father seems to be doing pretty well at present. i fell pretty bad about the situation at home at times but there is damn little I can do about it except hope this thing won't last to [sic] long.
     I received your V-mail letter OK. Thanks for writing. The answer to the V-mail letter is already on the way to you. I hadn't written you before that because I didn't know how you had come out with the Army. I am sorry to hear about Don Neirgarth. It is to bad he got caught just two moths before he was thirty. I do remember him very well. Some friends of mine up North have the same name. I though Don might be related to them, but it turned out he wasn't.
     Its nice to know your boys are coming along so well, and congratulations on your fifth wedding anniversary. Don't start feeling to old. here are fellows over her who could call you son and be about right.
     So you are in the cattle raising business now. The nearest thing we have o cows here that I have seen are water buffalo. Man, are they ugly looking creatures. Well you should be doing better than hot dogs this winter. By the way we had steak for dinner the day I received your letter. I would still like to be back there eating hot dogs though. You might tell Red Cooper I haven't got any steaks for breakfast out this man's Army yet.
     I have only seen seven movies since I was home on fourlough [sic]. This isn't to bad an average expected I had seen all except one before. Then to I had to stand through most of them and for about an hour and a half before they started in order to have a place where I could see, and I still enjoyed them.
     I am sorry to say I didn't get out of camp during the very short time I was on the West Coast.
     I am still here on Luzon in the Philippine. The weather for the most part has been a lot better than we expect for which we are thankful. It still seems a funny to know I have actually seen Corregidor [sic], Batan [sic], Manila, and am half a world away from home.
     Things are pretty good here where I am at present. We get good chow, and enough cigarettes. Out beer ration never seems to be enough, though I suppose that's natural enough.
     I haven't put on any excess weight and do not want to.
     I hope you and Bill are having a better time with the obsolete stock on the M-4 than we did on the T-70.
     Glad to hear you are still interesting in going into business for yourself. That's the life being your own boss.
     We are going to have to fallout for chow in a few minutes so will close for now. Tell your wife I said hello and congratulations on putting up with you for five years. I hope you have a nice vacation and catch plenty of fish.
Sincerely,
Ed

July 26, 1945
Dear "Uncle" Herm,
     I have to start out this letter by apologizing for not having answered your last two letters (June 28th and July 3rd) until now. I really appreciate your writing very much, but I don't have much spare time any more. In fact damn little. Then to I must admit I goofed off some by going to a couple of shows on my free nights last week. One was a U.S.O. show. It was "Oklahoma." They didn't have anyone playing in it I knew, but it was a swell show. Also it was very nice to see some blondes again (women of course.) The other show was a G.d. Musical Review. It was also pretty good.
     There seem to be quite a lot of fellows leaving the Tank Pant, but that is to be expected I suppose.
     About smoking. We are issued six packs a week. The way I am going now they don't last.
     Fortunately I still have a reserve I purchased on the boat. I immagine [sic] the cigarette situation is not very hood at home.
     Nobody here plays euchre. It is all poker and pinochle. So far I haven't had the money to play either and don't think I would be to much interested if I did.
It's to bad about Bartlett being called up at this late date but I suppose it is to be expected. The fellow who have been over here two or three years are anxious to get home (can you blame them.) Now they have their chance with the point system but we will need replacements for them and there are quite a few of them.
     I am sorry to hear Bill isn't making out very well. I immagine this would make a lot of exra work for you if it weren't for things slowing down. It seems funny to hear you tell about an inventory that you had plenty of time for. Things just aren't what they used to be.
     So Red Copper's brother is on his way over here. I can immagine just about how much he likes that. Tell Mr. Copper that we are getting steaks but not for breakfast and I beginning to believe that was just so much boloney[sic].
     George Carol is out at the tank plant now. Well I have run into a fellow from Flint who has been over here twenty-seven months. His name is Walters (sorry I afraid I an't think of his first name at the moment) and he knows Mr. Carol and quite a few others I know or have heard of. Walters is my age and graduated from Central the same time I did from Northern. We've spent quite a bit of time talking together. The old home town has changed a lot since he left it.
     I am glad to hear my letters are coming through in good time. Yours do.
     I am going to finish this letter on some Japanese stationary that one of the fellows gave. I thought it might prove interesting.
     I am going to have to close if I want to get this off tonight. Thanks very much for the stamps. With yours and what my father sent me I am pretty well fixed for stamps now.
     I hope you will be able to make this [missing part] I hope to get time to write yo a decent letter in [missing] near future.
     By the way it is hot over here and its supposed to be winter season. Give your wife and kiddies my best wishes.

Pfc Edward Lambert 369929398
191 Ord. Depot Co, APO 503
c/o PM, San Francisco, Calif.
5 October, 1945, Japan

Dear Herm,
     Well I am now in Japan. I am sorry I haven't written you more often, but we were very busy equipping the Division that last month on Luzon. The ordinance may be a good deal during combat but during the rest periods while the rest of the division is taking life easy ordinance is working its ass of getting them ready for the next move. For a while we thought this was going to be a combat move. Fortunately it wan't. But the need for occupation troops was immediate. Do our preparations were cut short. I don't think I got eight hours sleep the last three days we were on Luzon. Since I reach Japan sinus has had me feeling pretty lo most of the time. It seems to rain a lot here and is quite cool. It is raining now.
     We have been moving around quite a bit. As you probably noticed by address I am in a different company. The 43rd Division went home. At least the men in it with more than 70 points did. The rest of us were transferred to other outfits. While still with the 43rd Division our ordinance outfit moved three times after arriving in Japan. The last place we were at wasn't so hot, but we worked like the devil getting set up. When we finally had everything under control and the place pretty livable we were ordered out. The 97th Division (from Europe via the States) came in and took over everything.
     This outfit I am with now is an Ordinance Supply Depot. At present we are set up in an ex-Jap truck factory just off the docks at Yokohama.
     I am running a little short of time. So will close for now. I hope you, the wife, and kids are coming along find. Thanks for writing. I will try and write again shortly and give you a few details about Japan. I will say here the damage done by bombs in the Tokoyo-Yokohama area was terrific. Everyone was supprised [sic] more than supprised-amazed. It will be nice to see a city or town again that hasn't been damaged by those bombs or shell fire.
Sincerely,
Ed

28 October, '45-Japan
Dear Herm,
My last communication from Japan. I will tell you all about the place when I see you. I am on my way home. Ed.
+++++
Edward J Lambert was born on January 1, 1920 and died January 21, 1971. He enlisted in the Army on September 22, 1941 in Detroit, MI. He had four years of high school and worked as a machinist. He was 67" high and weighed 170 pounds. Ed was in the Branch Immaterial as a Warrant officer.

He appears in the 1930 Flint, MI census as seven years old living with parents Burt, 55 years old, a machinist in the auto factory, and Kitty, 45 years old. The 1940 Flint, MI census shows Burt working in bearings at the Chevrolet plant and Edward, age 17, was a metallurgist in the Buick plant. Kitty does not appear.

In 1945 the Flint City Directory shows Ed was a clerk, and in 1947 he was listed as an office worker.
+++++
My son, a WWII buff from age eight, (and who blogs about vintage genre fiction at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed and Creased) wrote this about the tanks produced at the Buick "tank" factory:

"When the United States entered World War II production of most civilian goods stopped and the country became the "Arsenal of Democracy." Automakers like Buick immediately switched over to building trucks and tanks for the war effort, and its Grand Blanc Plant is still sometimes called the Buick Tank Plant due to the sheer number of armored vehicles it produced. 

Two of those would be the M-4 and T-70 that Ed mentions in his letter. The M-4 is the ubiquitous Sherman Medium Tank, the mainstay of the Allied forces fighting in North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe. It carried a 75mm low-velocity main gun and had 3 inches of armor plate at its thickest, and its 400-horsepower engine could carry it up to 30 miles per hour. It entered service in 1942, and over the course of the war over 42,000 were built, the design continually being upgraded. The T-70 was actually a tank destroyer, an early prototype of what in 1944 entered mass-production as the M18 Hellcat; some of the T-70 prototypes saw service in Italy, and 2,500 M-18s were used in Europe. The Hellcat carried a high-velocity, long-barreled 76mm (3-inch) main gun, designed for penetrating thick armor (though its effectiveness against heavy German panzers is questioned by historians); its armor plate was only an inch thick, but that reduced weight and allowed it to reach a road speed of 57 mph.

It may sound like semantic nitpicking, but there is a reason historians and tank buffs clarify that the M-18 Hellcat was not a tank but a tank destroyer. US Army doctrine in the '30s was based around World War I-type tactics, where tanks were slow breakthrough vehicles used to penetrate an enemy's defensive line, designed to plod along supporting the infantry, carrying lower-velocity main guns designed not to pierce enemy tank armor but to pin down enemy infantry and blow up fortifications. (Early models of the M-4 is a perfect example of this, with its tall silhouette, under-powered gun, and slow speed; if your tank goes faster than 30 mph, it may outrun the infantry it supports.) In fact, tanks weren't supposed to fight tanks at all, that's what the tank destroyers were for. Tank destroyers carried high-velocity,long-barreled anti-tank guns loaded with armor-piercing rounds; they were as lightly armored as possible, designed to rush forward and respond to breakthroughs of enemy armor, or to quickly flank enemy tanks and fire at the weaker armor at their sides and rear. Unfortunately for the Hellcat, the doctrine didn't take into consideration Italian mud or French hedgerows, which negated its greatest asset (speed) and helped highlight the inefficiencies of its armor."

For more information:
The M-4/M-24 Sherman tank power trains:
http://www.buickheritagealliance.org/ww2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_Sherman

T-70 a tank destroyer "gun motor carriage"/ M-18 Hellcat:
http://www.trucktrend.com/roadtests/ultimate/163_1404_1944_buick_m18_hellcat_tank_destroyer_first_drive/
http://www.wwiivehicles.com/united-states/vehicle/tank-destroyers/m18-gun-motor-carriage.asp

The Flint MI auto plants during WWII:
http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/01/from_tanks_to_cars_a_history_o.html
US Auto Industry during WWII
http://usautoindustryworldwartwo.com/General%20Motors/buick.htm
http://usautoindustryworldwartwo.com/General%20Motors/chevrolet.htm
http://usautoindustryworldwartwo.com/Fisher%20Body/fisherbodydatabase.htm

For information about Luzon, the largest island in the Philipines, the 43rd Division, and the places Ed mentioned seeing go to:
http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/luzon/72-28.htm
http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/cbtchron/cc/043id.htm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-jtMBZrO0c
+++++
People mentioned in Ed's letters include:
  • Don Neirgarth, who in 1938 was a supervisor in the Fisher Body Plant, and in 1954 was an insurance agent. 
  • Jack Irving who was born in 1916 in Flint, MI, the son of I. L. and Delphine Irving. In 1942 Jack was married to Mildred and was a factory worker in an auto factory.
  • M. K. Lemon, or Kenneth Lemon, who in 1938 was a bellman at the Flint Hotel at 602 E. Knickerbocker Ave. His father was Frank C. Lemon who in 1938 worked as an inspector in the Chevrolet plant and was married to Augusta. In 1942 Kenneth was a machine operator in Flint MI.
  • George Carol who in 1940 was 32 years old and worked as a production checker in the auto body Mann factory, and was married to Dorothea B.; they had a son Robert G., two years old.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Keeping Busy

On Sarurday I attended a local chapter of a decorative painting group. We did this snowman on a chalk board. I have to finish it still--it's supposed to have snowflakes on it. We decided it should read GO AWAY SNOW since we are pretty tired of winter, snow, and single digit cold.

I am sewing my Austen Album Sampler blocks together! I had to order more fabric for the sashing and borders.

 I got a free book, Sue Reich's Quiltings, Frolics, and Bees. I do surveys for a group that has books as a choice for rewards.
I am also ready to applique another Love Entwined border!

And started Pumpkin Pie from Bunny Hill patterns.

Sadly our Suki has an abscessed tooth and will have dental surgery. Poor girl.



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quilting with Doilies

Repurposing, upcycling, or recycling vintage textiles is always interesting to me. Barbara Polston's new book Quilting With Doilies offers inspiration, techniques, and projects for using vintage doilies in quilts. I have used them in my fabric 'collages' along with other vintage textiles. I love the ideas in this book!

Polston reviews the different kinds of doilies, their benefits, best uses, and how to deal with the 'cons' of each. She offers advice on shopping for doilies and for cleaning vintage ones.

Then there are 9 chapters of techniques for doily projects with patterns! A supply list is given for each project.

Painting on fabric, double-tabbed edge finish, using silk in quilting, doilies as quilt labels, Broderie Perse, blanket stitch hints, adding words--these are just some techniques from the first few projects!

The book is such a wealth of information I went online and pre-ordered it right away.

Five patterns are included to make Christmas stockings, a tooth fairy pillow, a journal cover, a table runner, a baby quilt, and a patriotic wall hanging.

I love the detailed step-by-step photos. Tips are transferable to other types of projects.

I have a nice collection of doilies stashed away and with Polston's book as inspiration I can't wait to PLAY!

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Quilting with Doilies: Inspiration, Techniques, Projects
by Barbara Polston
Schiffer Publishing
publication February, 2015
ISBN: 97807646996
$16.99 softcover
80 pages, 137 color photos

About Barbara Polston:

Barbara Polston has been quilting for 20 years. She enjoys showing her quilts and has won numerous awards, including Best of Show, Best Miniature, and Best Amateur Machine Quilting. She enjoys teaching her techniques and talking about her quilts in lectures that often evoke both laughter and tears. Barbara is the Editor of The Quilting Quarterly, the Journal of The National Quilting Association. Prior to that, she was a Contributing Editor for American Quilter, the magazine of the American Quilter’s Society. Barbara has served on the Boards of Directors of Arizona Quilters Guild, The National Quilting Association, and The Association of Pacific West Quilters. Additionally, she was Founder of Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame, served as its first President, and was honored with induction September 2013. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

Baby Face: Sheet Music Cuties

Eight months after moving I am finally getting around to organizing my sheet music. But I can't resist sharing some of the great covers. It's bitter cold out and we all need something to warm our hearts, so here are some sweet faces from yesteryear.
Can you believe this kid grew up to be Uncle Fester? Jackie Coogan got his start with Charlie Chaplin in The Kid.
Coogan as Uncle Fester

Shirley Temple graced the cover of this song from Captain January. "Come along and follow me to the bottom of the sea, We'll join in the jamboree at the Codfish Ball! Lobsters dancing in a row, Shuffle off to Buffalo, Jelly fish sway to and fro at the Codfish Ball!" See Shirley and Buddy Ebsen dancing and singing at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpqt3zgdYUw
You have to be real old to remember Baby Peggy. She was in the first Captain January film in 1924--before sound.

Boys predominate these sentimental songs.
Bobby Sabatino was 10 years old when he had this hit song. He had a voice as you can hear here. I can't find anything else about him.
Al Jolson sang Dirty Hands and Dirty Faces in the 1923 Winter Garden "Bombo." I really think the boy looks like Coogan. "Dirty hands, dirty faces, Little Devil they say, but tome he's an angel of joy." Jolson appeared in black face as a slave serving Christopher Columbus. Other songs in the review included April Showers, California Here I Come, and Toot Toot Tootsie. How this song figured into the story I have no idea!
1934 song from a dad to his son includes "Little man you're crying, I know why you're blue, Someone took your kiddy car away; Better go to sleep now, Little man you've had a busy day. Johnny won your marbles, Tell you what we'll do, Dad'll get you new ones right away." If only life's loses were all so easy to replace!
Gus Kahn is one of my favorite lyricists to collect. This 1928 cover has Paul Whiteman Jr. as "Little Boy Blue Jeans." "Where are you Little pal of long ago? Springtime's here, but we're so far apart. Wish you knew that today I miss yo so, All day long your tender song rings in my heart. Each little whippoorwill misses you, little boy blue jeans. Daisies on the hill sigh for my little boy blue jeans. Here, where we wandered a long time ago, Pine trees are whispering of you, Telling the skies how they love you. Shadows are falling, I'm calling you, little boy blue jeans."
In 1929 Benny Merhoff was the "king of the big band" according to this obituary but it was Eddie Arnold's rendition that is remembered. "He's all the world to me, He climbs upon my knee To me he'll always be, That Little Boy Of Mine."
Mom put my hair in pig tails when I was a girl. This 1939 song by Sammy Cahn was inspired by "Myra", the cutie in the photo. "The prettiest child drives the little boys wild, if you ask them they'll all declare, it's the girl, it's the girl with the pigtails in her hair."
I had the pigtails. I didn't have the little boys.

I still have ribbons from my childhood. (You an see some in the photo above!) This 1949 song was popular when I was a girl when The Kingston Trio recorded it. Its a beautiful song. Hearing his daughter pray for scarlet ribbons her dad searches but is unable to find some. "Just before the dawn was breaking I peeked in and on her bed in gay profusion lying there, lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair. If I live to be two hundred I will never know from where came those lovely scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair."


Monday, February 16, 2015

"Brother it sure is hell"- Letters From WWII

The 5th Division, from it's landing in Normandy on July 9, 1944 to the last Division Headquarters in Vishofen, Germany, had traveled 2,049 miles and had been engaged major campaigns including Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, Adrennes-Alsac, and Central Europe.(from https://sites.google.com/site/fifthidhrs/home/history)

My father-in-law Herman Bekofske kept letters and postcards from friends who served in WWII.

Two letters were from PFC Robert Stanley Morris. In his letter dated June 12, 1945 Bob stated that he had worked at the Fisher Body Plant in Flint, MI as a foreman and a steel dispatcher. (After the death of her husband, Herman's mother worked at the plant. She supported the sit down strike and she was a proud member of the union.)

I have transcribed the letters as they were written.

April 7, 1945
Germany 
Hello Herman--
Today I received a letter from you with the heading of Hello Robert Stanley I like that very much especially the Stanley part, cute says I. 
I need not say how much I enjoyed this letter of yours being the first in almost two years that we have written one another. I usually say in my letters please excuse the writing as I am sitting in a fox hole but I guess it is me that is to blame and not the fox hole as right now we have just taken this town, that is yesterday, and I am sitting at a very large desk in one of the best hotels in Germany writing this letter to you- see it must be me and my sensibility, huh. 
Oh yes by the way it may be doesn't sound so exciting to you but last night I slept in a very good bed with clean sheets for the first time since I have been over seas almost a year and believe me I really did sleep. (Quote) (alone of course). 
Your Joe Hubie joke stunk- since I have been over here I have heard some very good ones but I don't think it would be very nice to put on paper so we will have to save them till I get home again. (Home what the hell is that) 
No, Herman I haven't lost my sense of humor, if we didn't laugh over here I do believe we would all go nuts and I do mean nuts- this is one hell of a war--people over here in Europe are starving not only in France and Luxembourg but here in Germany. But in England they do fairly good- it is a shame to see these people fight for a crust of bread
I see you have received your 1-A and Herman if you can, stay out of this damn Army at least try to get into the Navy- people that have not been on the front lines do not know what Hell it is and brother it sure is hell. 
You will never know the feeling when we walk up a hill to take a position or a town and you can see the damn Germans looking down your throat- you get weak all over and the skin creeps up your spine then things start popping and the first thing you know it is all over and you try to remember what you have done and simply can't. At night you are so tired that you try to sleep but so help me you simply can't for thinking o hell what a war.
We get all the wisky [sic] we want to drink over here in Germany that is one think that these people have. Well my friend I must close for now. Will write again soon
your friend Bob 
PS Say hello to Snider for me also Jack. Thank you. 
June 12, 1945
Germany Annsdorf 
Hello my friend:
Well will wonders never cease. I received a very good two page letter from you that you wrote on May the 29th very good to says I -as you know the War is over here in Germany. This Germany stinks believe me altho parts of it is very pretty. 
This letter of yours is very newsy Herman old Boy. I did and am really enjoying it I am glad to hear you didn't make the Army don't feel bad about that is one exam in your life that you are glad you didn't pass I'll bet- and I am glad for you and your wife 
So you cannot picture me in a fox hole huh Well old Boy who in the Hell wants to picture anything in a fox hole with those damn 88s and flying box cars and screaming meanies going over and I might say not all of them going over- all a man can think of is digging deeper -I have scratched up more dirt here in Germany, Luxembourg-France and Czech. than there is in the United States and I want you to believe most of it I was digging like a dog with my paws and you know what a dog digs a hole for- Well I dug them for protection but when the things became hot the boys and I dug the holes for the same purpose-sounds funny huh- it is funny by gosh -But by God it is the truth and now I laugh at the things I have done 
We reached a small town in Germany just after we crossed the Rhine River and we took the town Plus about 200 Germans just when everything was nice and quiet the Jerries came over with about twenty planes and straffed [sic] us but get this I was so damned scared that I stuck my head in a corner of a building took my steel helmet of and put it over my backside -can you picture that -but then a man does a lot of funny things at times like that 
I have been very fortunate while I have been here with the third Army fifth Div, the Germans called us the red Devils you see we wear or an insignia a red Diamond -well as I was saying I have been very fortunate of the hundred fellows that came in with me there are only two left besides me -I have thanked my lucky stars a thousand times that I liked hunting so well for years, these Jerries and pheasants are about the same target they both jump and hollar about the same only the pheasants jump higher-Oh well now the war is over in Germany I am wondering if the Japs jump now, all I want to do now is to get home for a few days before finding out if they jump or not. 
You mentioned about German Wiskey [sic] well Herman I have sampled plenty of it and about those Wolf Holes you talked about I sure as hell didn't want any Dutch Gal in a hole that was only three or four inches deep I had a hard enough time taking care of myself let alone any lady else anyway I was always to [sic] scared. 
You mentioned about Jokes yes the ones I have heard over here are Gems I will pour a few into your ears when I get home and your joke I thought was really cute and so did a lot of the fellows all in all this letter of yours is a dilly. Keep it up old Boy and I hope this but of scratching doesn't take as long as the other one to get to you. I am also writing a letter to Jack this evening I a glad to hear about Gary He is one of my favorite boys you mentioned about me being an ex steel dispatcher by all means Herman don't forget I am also an ex foreman of the Great Fisher Body my my how I chatter on Well I will close for now 
With lots of luck
your friend as always
Bob
+++++
A family tree on Ancestry.com shows a Robert Stanley Morris born 2/16/1907 and died 4/20/1985.

On July 8, 1929 Robert entered the US at Detroit from Canada. He was 19 years old and living in Windsor, Canada; he was born in Walthamstow, England, and worked as a Bookkeeper. He was going to his Aunt Mrs. Carl Carlson of Flint, MI. It was his first entry into the US, passage paid by himself. The document also says that on January 28,1919 he entered Halifax, Nova Scotia, under the "British Quota."

The 1930 Census in Flint, MI shows he was working as a taxi cab driver, living with his parents Henry and Mae Whiting; Henry worked for the electric company.

The 1940 Census shows he was a steel dispatcher in Flint, MI, with three years of college, living with his wife Ethel M. and their daughter Sandra J. who was 2 years old. In a 1941 city directory he was listed as steel dispatcher in Flint.

His mother was Mae Fitzgerald born 10/9/1888 in India and died 6/19/1964 in Port Huron. She was the second wife of Henry William Whiting born 2/14/1885 in London, Ontario, Canada and died in 1950. Henry worked for Consumers Power and they lived in Flint, Lansing Grand Ledge, and Port Huron MI.
+++++

The Red Devils
Notes: On September 25 there were 1400 Red Devils killed taking Moselle. With the surrender of Japan the Red Devils were deactivated on September 20, 1946.

To read about the Third Army Fifth Division, The Red Devils:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5th_Infantry_Division_%28United_States%29
http://www.combatreels.com/5th_infantry_division_europe_dvd.cfm

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Land of Enchantment by Liza Wieland


A moving and beautifully constructed novel, Land of Enchantment explores the relationship between art and life, mothers and daughters, women and men. After I had finished the book, I turned back to the beginning to study how the author developed the story and its themes. It's that kind of novel.

Brigid Long Night's language is color and form. After the tragic deaths of her Navajo/German parents she is employed by Georgia O'Keefe. New Yorker Julian Granger visits O'Keefe he and Brigid have a brief affair. Father Edgardo helps Brigid find a home for her baby and Brigid goes to New York City to start an art career that culminates in an installation at the World Trade Center.

Sasha Hernandez has lost her adoptive parents. She knows her mother is the famous artist Brigid Schulman. A film student in New York City, she captured the falling bodies from the World Trade Center on 9-11. She meets Rodney, a psychologist whose friend Henry Diamond has been searching for information about his sister Nancy who jumped from a collapsing building.

Wieland's book comes at the story from multiple viewpoints, utilizing first person and third person narratives, weaving the characters together in a complex interrelated web.

At times I was so moved I shuddered and turned away and inward, remembering that day, those images, the shock and resulting disassociation.

Art is compulsion for these characters: Brigid the painter, Sasha the film student, Nancy Diamond the playwright, Henry Diamond artist. It is how they process life.

I was greatly impressed by this book.

"We have art in order not to die of the truth." Frederich Nietzsche

Syracuse Press through NetGalley provided me the e-book for a fair and unbiased review.

Land of Enchantment
Liza Wieland
Syracuse University Press
Publication Date March 15, 2015
ISBN: 9780815610465
$24.95 hard bound





Thursday, February 12, 2015

Show Boat Hanky

I have long wanted this vintage handkerchief. Finally got one!


http://www.broadwaymusicalhome.com/shows/showboat.htm
http://www.npr.org/2014/06/05/319095991/1936-show-boat-a-multiracial-musical-melodrama-now-out-on-dvd
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh9WayN7R-s