Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer's Search for Meaning in the Great Depression

Plennie Lawrence Wingo is not a household name, although he went to great lengths endeavoring to achieve fame.

A string of bad luck had hit Plennie, thanks to the Depression. Nearly penniless, he hit on an idea. People were doing all kinds of crazy things to break records in a quest for fame. With fame comes money. It seemed as if everything that could be done had been done. one had walked around the world backward.

Plennie became obsessed. Every day for six months he practiced walking backward. He bought a map and sunglasses with mirrors to see behind him. He was given a cane. He put on his steel heeled shoes and a suit and tucked a notebook in his pocket, and in 1931 he left Texas, walking backward down Main Street on his way toward Dallas. He had picture postcards of himself to sell for income and hoped to find a commercial sponsor.

The Man Who Walked Backward by Ben Montgomery is Plennie's story, which is entertaining and interesting. He meets with great generosity and falls victim to scammers. He is a dreamer and a go-getter, fated to hit brick walls. He is harassed by cops and jailed in a foreign land. An affable man, he made friends who offered him shelter and meals and sometimes cash.

As readers travel with Plennie, we experience the misery and poverty of the Depression. We learn the story of America's growth through the history of the places he passed through, and how we used up and destroyed our vast riches.

Famous events and people are mentioned: the destruction of the buffalo as part of Native American genocide; the destruction of the prairie; towns that boom and bust; lynching and the Klan; Bonnie and Clyde and Al Capone; the kidnapping of Charles Lindberg's baby; the rise of Hoovervilles and the Dust Bowl; the growth of the beer industry and Prohibition.

And we travel with Plennie to Germany to experience the rise of Hitler, and across Europe to Turkey. It is unsettling how 1931 America is so familiar: ecological disaster, the destruction of the working class, the rise of a man who knew how to work the crowd, "tailoring his speeches to his audiences" and promising to make Germany great again. "People loved him. those who didn't were scared of those who did."

I found the book fascinating.

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

THE MAN WHO WALKED BACKWARD: An American Dreamer's Search for Meaning in the Great Depression
Little, Brown Spark
by Ben Montgomery
On Sale: September 18, 2018
Price: $14.99 / $18.99 (CDN)
ISBN-13: 9780316438049

Saturday, September 29, 2018

WWI Sheet Music: Memories of France

My collection of vintage sheet music from a hundred years ago includes many songs written about WWI. Today I am sharing songs set in France--in particular songs about women. It is hard to consider the horrors of war that lurks behind these sentimental songs.

Memories of France by Al Dubin and J. Russet Robinson, 1928 has this dedication: 
"To our pals in the American Legion 
We dedicate this refrain
If it makes but one of you  happy
It was not written in vain."

Like a lot of little bubbles
I can blow away my troubles
Dreaming of my romance

With a pretty little daughter
Of a land across the water
I dream that I'm back in France

Someone whispers to me
"I love you, my cherie"
In my memories of France

And we stroll once again
By the old River Seine
In my memories of France

And I see her still placing roses
Where many an old pal reposes
And we laugh and we cry
Then a kiss, then goodbye
In my memories of France

And I see her still placing roses
Where many an old pal reposes
And we laugh and we cry
Then a kiss, then goodbye
In my memories of France

The back cover of the sheet music features this Recitation:
The war has long been forgotten,
And it's best that we should forget,--
It's an old story now, but still, somehow,
There are dreams that linger yet.

It's not the dream of the battle
And it's not the shot and the shell,--
It's the mem'ry of a doughboy in love
And a sweet little Mademoiselle,

You can blot out the mem'ry of bullets
When the years roll by like this,
But you can't erase a beautiful face
And the mem'ry of a kiss.

You ca even forgive the enemy,--
Forgive them as time goes by,
But a long as you live you'll enver forgive
Yourself,--For saying goodboye.

Maybe she was'nt your sweetheart,--
You considered her only a toy,
But when God made her kind, He had in mind
A homesick soldier boy:

She would laugh, she would cry,
Then a kiss, then "goodbye,"
In my memories of France.
Somewhere in France is the Lily by Jos. E. Howard and Philander Johnson, 1917, sung by Howard, has a fantastic cover by Starmer. The image of the French 'lily' is central, but the bombs bursting in air and men in trenches remind this is a war song. Listen to Henry Burr sing it here. It has a definite martial sound.
One day as morning shed its glow 
Across the eastern sky 
A boy and girl in accents low in a garden said “Goodbye!” 
She said “Remember as you stray, 
When each must do his share,
The flowers blooming here today 
Are emblems over there!”

Somewhere in France is the Lily, 
Close by the English Rose; 
Somewhere in France is a sweetheart, 
Facing the battle’s chance, 
For the flow’r of our youth fights for freedom and truth
Somewhere in France

Each morning in that garden fair, 
Where sweetest perfumes dwell, 
The lassie whispers low a pray’r 
For the flowr’s she loves so well. 
And over there as night draws near,
Amid the shot and flame, 
Unto the flag he holds so dear,
A soldier breathes her name.
Not all the women that soldiers met in France were love interests.

Written as a tribute to the Red Cross nurses, Rose of No Man's Land by Jack Caddigan and James A. Brennan, 1917, features an illustration is of a Red Cross nurse looking into a ray of light. This Patriotic War Edition that was printed on smaller paper to help the war effort. Hear it sung by Henty Burr here along with WWI photos.
I've seen some beautiful flowers
Grow in life's garden fair
I've spent some wonderful hours
Lost in their fragrance rare
But I have found another
Wondrous beyond compare....

There's a rose that grows in no-man's land
And it's wonderful to see
Though its sprayed with tears, it will live for years
In my garden of memory

It's the one red rose the soldier knows
It's the work of the Master's hand
'Neath the War's great curse stands a Red Cross nurse
She's the rose of no-man's land

Out in the heavenly splendor 
Down to the trail of woe
God in his mercy has sent her
Fearing the World below
We call her Rose of Heaven
We've longed to love her so....

There's a rose that grows in no-man's land
And it's wonderful to see
Though its sprayed with tears, it will live for years
In my garden of memory

It's the one red rose the soldier knows
It's the work of the Master's hand
'Neath the War's great curse stands a Red Cross nurse
She's the rose of no-man's land

And He'd Say "Oo-La-La Wee-Wee" by Harry Ruby and George Jessell, 1919, has a marvelous cover illustration by Barbelle. This is a comedy song.  Hear it sung by Billy Murray here.

Willie Earl met a sweet young girl one day in France,
Her naughty little glance, put Willie in a trance; 
Willie Earl couldn't understand her talk you see,
He only knew two words in French
That he learned in the trench,
They were "oo-la-la" and "wee-wee."
They would spoon beneath the moon above
It was fun to hear them making love.

She'd say "compronay voo, papa?"
and he'd say "oo-la-la! wee-wee"
She'd smile and whisper "mercy bacoo"
He'd answer "I don't mind if I do"
She'd say if you be my papa" then I will be your macherie
She'd pinch his cheek and say "you keskasay:
He'd say "Not now, dear, but later I may;"
Then she'd say "compronay voo, papa?"
and he'd say "oo-la-la! wee-wee."

Willie Earl said, "this little girl is meant for me,
No more I'll cross to the sea,
I'll stay in Gay Paree.
Ev'ry day you would hear him say to his babee,
"Your talk I do not know, but I,
Will manage to get by, with my "oo-la-la" and "wee-wee"
Ev'ry ev'ning Willie would rehearse
Instead of getting better he got worse

She'd say "compronay voo, papa?" 
and he'd say "oo-la-la! wee-wee"
She'd say "come see" and then roll her eyes,
He'd answer, "baby you'd be surprised."
Each ev'ning they would promenade,
upon zeboulevarde you see;
One day at lunch she said "cafe voola" 
He said "my dear, don't forget where you are;" 
Then she'd say "compronay voo, papa?" 
and he'd say "oo-la-la! wee-wee."
Oh! Frenchy by Sam Ehrlich and Con Conrad, 1918, illustrated by EE Walton, switches the love story around. A nurse falls in love with a French soldier because of his accent.
Rosie Green was a village queen, 
Who enlisted as a nurse 
She waited for a chance 
And left for France with an Ambulance, 
Rosie Green met a chap named 
Jean, a soldier from Paree, 
When he said, “Parlevous my pet” 
She said, “I will but not just yet,” 
When he’d speak in French to her, 
She’d answer lovingly, “Oh!”

Frenchy, Oh Frenchy, Frenchy, 
Although your language is so new to me, 
When you say, “Oui oiu, la la” 
“We” means you and me, la la- 
Oh! Frenchy, Oh Frenchy, Frenchy, 
You’ve won my love with your bravery, 
March on, March on, with any girl you see, 
But when you la la la la la, 
Oh, Frenchy save you la la la’s for me. 
Oh! me

Rosie Green married Soldier Jean when his furlough time arrived, 
She said, “Go pack your grip 
We’ll take a trip on a big steam ship,” 
Rosie Green took her soldier Jean down home somewhere in Maine, 
They say her rural Pa and Ma, 
Refused to do that oo la la, 
But when she’s alone with him you’ll hear the same refrain, 
Oh! (chorus)
Joan of Arc represented national pride to the French soldiers who carried her image into battle.

Joan of Arc They Are Calling You by Alfred Bryan, Willie Weston, and Jack Wells, illustrated by Barbelle, calls on the Maid of Orleans to harken to her country in her time of need. The lyrics are in English and French. Hear Henry Burr sing it here.
While you are sleeping, 
Your France is weeping,
Wake from your dreams, Maid of France.
Her heart is bleeding;
Are you unheeding?
Come with the flame in your glance;
Through the Gates of Heaven, with your sword in hand,
Come your legions to command.

Joan of Arc, Joan of Arc,
Do your eyes, from the skies, see the foe?
Don't you see the drooping Fleurdelis?
Can't you hear the tears of Normandy?
Joan of Arc, Joan of Arc,
Let your spirit guide us through;
Come lead your France to victory;
Joan of Arc, they are calling you. Joan of you.

Alsace is sighing,
Lorraine is crying,
Their mother, France, looks to you.
Her sons at Verdun;
Bearing the burden,
Pray for your coming anew;
At the Gates of Heaven, do they bar your way?
Souls that passed through yesterday.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent was my book club's September book. We had a great hour-long discussion.

I immensely enjoyed the book. Set in 1829-1830 in Iceland, I felt transported to a distant land where nothing was familiar. Windows held fishskin panes and women gathered moss to boil, the names were unpronounceable and exotic, the landscape gray and harsh. Kent's attention to detail permeated the novel. 

Historical documents offered the skeleton upon which Kent imagined her story of the last execution in Iceland in 1830. After Agnes was convicted of murdering her lover, she spent time jailed in a dark cell. When she is released, she is transported to a distant and inhospitable area to be housed with a family while waiting out her time. Agnes is unwanted and feared, treated like a servant. A priest is sent to help her repent and save her soul. He elicits her story, a heartbreaking tale of neglect, poverty, and abuse. In reaching for love, Agnes is betrayed, but she did not murder her love for revenge. 

We do stereotype people and draw away and judge people. But when we hear their stories we can have compassion and understanding. The family that housed Agnes undergo that transformation and it is marvelous to watch.

Agnes and her mother and other servants in the story are powerless pawns in the hands of their male employers. Their alternative is to be unsheltered and unfed in the cruel ice and snow. For all its otherworldliness in time and space, Agnes's story is all too familiar: A neglected and abandoned child is lured by the prospect of love into an abusive relationship.

When I read Kent's second book The Good People, which I very much enjoyed, I read many reviewers who raved over Burial Rites. Read my review of The Good People here.

from the publisher:

Inspired by a true story, Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites was shortlisted for The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, The Guardian First Book Award and The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards.

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover.

Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn't she?

Based on actual events, Burial Rites is a moving novel about the truths we claim to know and the ways in which we interpret what we’re told. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, in which every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

See photos of Iceland and learn about the upcoming movie here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Quilters Showcase 2018

This past Saturday I attended the 6th Annual Quilters Showcase, presented by The Stitching Well of Bay City, MI and held at the Frankenmuth Credit Union Event Center in Birch Run, MI.

200 quilts and 30 vendors kept us busy for over two hours.

Here are some of my favorite quilts from the show.

The Story: Finding Home After the War by Ginny George tells a heartbreaking family story.

In the center of the quilt is a block with this story:

Finding Home After the War
Sisters taking a wrong turn find themselves in the Korean War
The year was June, 1950
Struggling to hide in the villages and people until the times would change until the War ended in 1953
How to find their way back to the South would lead to difficult time
Many obstacles along the way, block by block, until they reached
Water to sail to safer
Ground only to find the bridges to cross
Would family be there?
Would the soldier that helped them be there?

I love color and this house quilt made me smile. Village by Joan Quinn, quilted by Judy Becker has such wonky trees and animal surprises among the houses.

This prize-winning original quilt is so adorable, and those eyes just glow with love. Eyes of Innocence by Carol Cote of Ontario was a real crowd pleaser.
My weekly quilt group loves hexies and I loved this great hexie scrap quilt. Over the Rainbow was made by Regina Smith and quilted by Sandy Kipp.

Ombre Overload by Norm Jacobs and quilted by Jack Bennett really caught my eye with the wonderful use of color.

Pat Sloan's Splendid Sampler show up at many shows, including this example by Sue Nolff, quilted by Karen's Quilting.

The most gorgeous crazy quilting is found on My Crazy Days by Ericka Joerke. Look at these details. It's crazy good!

A 1910 crazy quilt was made by Kathryn Barnes Hodge's grandfather includes pieces of his Civil War uniform.

'Ewe'-Uniquely Baltimore by Barbie Brooks, quilted by Beckie Binder, is made of wool. She embellished a pattern by Petals and Blooms. It is amazing.

Another wool quilt is this wonderful Pomegranate by Brett Johnson. The populatrity of wool quilts was reflected by all the vendors selling wool kits.
 I love Jacobean inspired design, like Delectable Pathways by Linda Britton.

I would like to share so many more quilts but I hope you enjoyed seeing these.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Hitler was collecting countries like stamps. How long before he had the full set? Transcription by Kate Atkinson
I was swept into Transcription, enthralled with Kate Atkinson's atmospheric and witty writing, the recreation of England during the rise of Hitler, and the espionage ring with its vivid characters and uncertain alliances.

The novel opens in 1950 with twenty-eight-year-old Juliet working in post-war London for the BBC.
"There was a better life somewhere, Juliet supposed, if only she could be bothered to find it." Transcription by Kate Atkinson
Julie fingers her necklace of pearls, which she admits she took off a dead woman who was heavier to lift than she looked. We learn that Julie tells lies to strangers. She sees a man she used to know by two names, who tells her "I think you have confused me with someone else." And in a local cafe, a strange man observes her "in a way that was extremely disconcerting." Julie reflects on her time with MI5 during the war ten years previous, when she was a transcriptionist typing recordings of traitorous conversations.

Juliet's life working for MI5 alternates between boredom and mystery. She is never completely filled in on the operations, merely does as she is told. She drifts along with whatever comes, even into a mock engagement with a coworker who shows no physical interest in her. She is given a fake identity as part of a sting operation. She is a natural liar and playactor.

The future of England at stake, with Fascists sympathizers and Communist sympathizers and loyal royalists endeavoring for the prize.
This England, is it worth fighting for? Transcription by Kate Atkinson
The novel ends with unexpected turns of events. 

"It was all such a waste of breath. War and peace. Peace and war. It would go on forever without end." Transcription by Kate Atkinson

I am so happy to have finally read Atkinson. I can't wait to get a hold of her previous books.

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

by Kate Atkinson
Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date 25 Sep 2018
ISBN 9780316176637
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mini Reviews: Renowned British Women

Imagining Shakespeare's Wife considers how we have used Anne Hathaway as a lens for understanding William Shakespeare.

I read halfway through Imagining Shakespeare's Wife and elected to not finish it. 

The research is amazing and the author covers every imaginable aspect of Anne Hathaway, from the scanty historical records to the many ways she has been portrayed over time. 

This scholarly work will be of interest to serious researchers but is not for the general reader. 

I sincerely thank the publisher for allowing me access to the book.

Imagining Shakespeare's Wife: The Afterlife of Anne Hathaway
by Katherine West Scheil
Cambridge University Press
Pub Date 24 Sep 2018 
ISBN 9781108241724
PRICE $24.99 (USD)

For those who are very interested in everything Royal, and especially Queen Elizabeth, this book focusing on her childhood and younger years will satisfy. How the princess was raised, the people in her early life and their stories, and more than I ever wanted to know is presented. 

It is a bit overwhelming to me, such minute detail! I am more into Queen Victoria than the modern royals, although I have watched The Crown and such. And the book opens with Elizabeth learning of her father's death, just like in The Crown.

It was interesting to learn how Elizabeth was raised and the values she inherited.  

I received a free ebook from Thistle Publishing.

Jane Dismore
Thistle Publishing
Publication July 2018

Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich

When I read the opening pages of Sarah Stonich's novel Laurentian Divide was I quite taken by the people in Hatchet Inlet.

"The topic over at Pavola's was death," the novel begins, not the weekly sort occurring at the Senior Cedars or the tragic kind after two local girls were killed in a "drunken swerve", but the "theoretical"--Rauri Paar has not shown up in town since the spring ice break. The customers at Pavola's are concerned and postulating the various ways Rauri may have kicked the bucket.

We meet Pete and his father Alpo, and sisters Laurie and Sissy who run the cafe, and various locals, most all with Finnish names and demonstrating their independent and stubborn heritage. Pete gratefully thinks, "I've never known a Finn to do things the easy way. Thank God, I'm half Irish. Thanks, Mom."

Sissy runs the cafe and is engaged to the widower Alpo, twenty years her senior. Early onset Alzheimers runs in Sissy's family, so their risk is mutual. Pete lost his wife and children to his alcoholism but is seven months sober. His backstory is heartbreaking, hinting at a shattered childhood that Alpo is unaware of.

Rauri wandered into town decades ago after the war and took up his isolated residence. When the land became a preserve he won a lifetime right to live there. If he leaves for over two months, he loses his protection and land. He had to be on the island. Someone should go check on him. It takes three hours and several portages to reach Rauri's home, not a trip for the fainthearted.

The Laurentian Divide in Minnesota is a continental divide which determines which direction and to what sea water flows. It seems an apt symbol. Love requited or unrequited, careers, sobriety or escape, community or isolation--the decisions the characters make determine if they are swept into the killing frigid Arctic or swim into the warmth of Equatorial waters.

But as Sissy remembers,"Cathy says life isn't something that happens to you--how you choose to react to what happens is life."

I received a free ebook from Bookish First in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The town and characters appeared in Stonich's previous book Vacationland.

The Laurentian Divide
Sarah Stonich
University of Minnesota Press
ISBN 9781517905620

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Surrendering My Ordination: Standing Up for Gay and Lesbian Inclusivity in the United Methodist Church

In 2017, Philip J. Wogaman surrendered his ordination after serving for 60 years as a United Methodist Church (UMC) pastor and educator. This book is his apology--a reasoned argument in justification of his action.

When Wogaman saw an outstanding candidate for ordination denied a hearing because she was married to another woman he could no longer "remain inside the association of clergy when someone like her must remain outside and even be stigmatized."

Over my husband's entire career as an ordained UMC minister, spanning from 1972 when he was a seminary student to his retirement in 2014, the UMC has struggled to agree on key social issues.

My husband was in seminary when the first Social Principles was created by the UMC church. It included the statement that "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" were excluded from candidacy for ordination. Homosexuality was described as "incompatible with Christian teaching." A friend left seminary knowing his sexual orientation meant he would not be accepted for ordination.

The world has changed in its understanding of human sexuality--even Wogaman admits his understanding has grown. But the UMC, unlike other mainline denominations, remains entrenched in excluding homosexuals. (And yet there is nothing in the principles regarding other sexual orientations such as bisexual or transgender persons!)

There is no reference to the specific teaching the principle is based on, so it appears to represent the kind of societal prejudice that influenced church polity to segregate African Americans.

Wogaman considers the theological, ethical, and pastoral meaning of ordination and describes the high standards of qualifying for ordination in the UMC.

Ordination candidates are asked a series of questions including if they are "going on to perfection"--which Wogaman understands as 'perfection in love.' Pastoral ministry is essentially comforting the afflicted, being present in times of need, reminding that God and his people care. Ordination makes one a representative of the entire church, called to love and care in the name of the church, the hands and heart of Jesus and God in action. Pastoral ministry as spiritual leadership brings God's love to the individual and to the entire community.

Wogaman identifies racism as heresy and condemns the construction of barriers to God as collective sin. For example, barring women from ordination was based on cultural bias and not a theological principle.

He affirms that God's creation is inherently good and that all human life is a gift from God and that we are all equal in value. He identifies sin as putting one's self-interest first, self-centeredness instead of God-centeredness. But grace is always there to be claimed, not earned and never denied.

"...being secure in God's love, we can act not out of fear but out of love. We are free to be what God intends us to be. We are not slaves to divine or human law but free and responsible human beings who can act lovingly and creatively."

The church is a human institution and clergy are flawed human beings. Consequently, decisions made by the institution must be challenged when legalism is protected and are not grounded in the law of love.

Biblical literalism and proof-texting (the quotation of scripture out of context) leads to bad theology and bad church law.

"...we are driven, in our uses of Scripture and tradition, to distinguish those aspects of the writing that are basic to our faith from other aspects that are limited by cultural views and historical conditions."

A story about John Wesley who founded the movement called Methodism patterns disobedience to human law in light of the call to share God's love.

Wesley was an Anglican priest who went to the people, preaching in the fields. A Bishop told Wesley he was not commissioned to preach in his diocese. Wesley "replied that he must preach 'the gospel wherever I am in the habitable world,'" a "priest of the Church Universal." Would he break the law? And Wesley replied, "Shall I obey God or man?"

The book is like a crash-course in Christian theology: grace vs legalism; the Book of Discipline wielded as law and limiting the outreach of God's grace and love; spiritual piety being manifested in love of neighbor and a passion for justice; free will; sin; the heresy of excluding groups as outside of God's love.

In the second part, Wogaman shares his personal journey and what led him to his decision, including the theological, ethical, and pastoral considerations.

A life-long United Methodist, Wogaman earned his Ph.D. degree in social ethics, taught at seminaries, became a Social Justice activist, and served as pastor at Foundry UMC where he was the pastor to President Clinton. He was elected to the General Conference four times, part of the world-wide group that sets the agenda and standards for the denomination.

In 2017 the Judicial Council had to rule if Karen J. Oliveto's election to bishop by the Western Jurisdiction was legal considering she was in a same-gender marriage. The church law that excludes "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" as clergy created a "don't ask, don't tell" environment and unless a pastor admitted they were a "practicing homosexual" involved with "physical acts" it was assumed the pastor was in compliance with church law. In 2017 the Judicial Council declared that being in a same-gender marriage was an admission of being a "practicing homosexual." Read my review of her book Together at the Table here.

Wogaman was alarmed by the reiteration of the undefined clause, "incompatible with Christian teaching." He knew it was time for action and not just talk.
"...I must acknowledge that there are times when pastoral responsibility must preempt church law..."
Finally, Wogaman addresses "A Way Forward" considering the divided church options and shares the 2019 General Conference proposal for resolving the issue.

Wogaman's book was an interesting read. I was thankful that I audited seminary courses and could keep up with the theological arguments. I saw one reviewer comment they were disappointed in a lack of scriptural arguments, but I disagree. Wogaman does not 'proof text' but shows a deep understanding of scripture.

As a clergy wife, I did not shrink from answering questions on homosexuality, even writing a response to a local newspaper editorial. My husband's ministry was focused on the pastoral, but as a lectionary preacher, he raised up the importance of social piety and the law of love. His favorite scripture was Micah 6:8--"And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

What is just and kind? I think of our seminary friend who dropped out. We did not know then the reason behind his decision. We three spent many evenings together, drinking teas and listening to records. He was sad, we knew, but not the real reason. The church he loved had made it clear he was excluded, rejected, anathema.

In 2019 the denomination has a decision to make. The UMC is a worldwide organization and some countries will reject inclusion of homosexuals as clergy. Will the split finally be realized? Can we agree to disagree, and build on the pivotal beliefs of our faith and move forward together?

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

Surrendering My Ordination
J. Philip Wogaman
Westminster/John Knox Press
ISBN 9780664264178
PRICE $15.00 (USD)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Vintage Sheet Music: Romance Under the Trees

Decades before the WWII hit song Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me, trees figured in courtship songs. Gardens and orchards and the great outdoors were places where lovers could coo in sweet privacy. Love and Gardens have associated with love since Adam and Eve.

Is There Still Room For Me Neath the Old Apple Tree by Edgar Leslie, Lew Brown and Maurie Abrahams, 1915, has a man telephoning his sweetheart back home. The recording even includes a ringing phone! Hear a Victor recording performed by the Peerless Quartet here.

Hello there long distance, please don't make me wait in vain
I asked you to connect me with a homestead down in Maine
I hate to hold the wire, don't get mad if I complain
I long to hear my sweetheart's voice again
Oh, hello dear, yes, this is me, I'm many miles away
I'm lonesome and I just called up to say

Is there still room for me
'Neath the old apple tree
Where there once was a bench for two
Oh, that bench wasn't long
And you know it wasn't strong
When I sat there with you

I've got fare back to Maine
And I'll jump on a train
If your heart beats as fond and as true
Is there still room for me
'Neath the old apple tree
If there is I'll come back to you

Listen operator, what's the matter with this phone
It seems to me you never had a sweetheart of your own
You say there's wire trouble and you've got the numbers mixed
Well, hurry up and get the wires fixed
Is that you dear? Yes I can hear, they cut us off somehow
I'm waiting and I want your answer now

Is there still room for me
'Neath the old apple tree
Where there once was a bench for two
Oh, that bench wasn't long
And you know it wasn't strong
When I sat there with you

I've got fare back to Maine
And I'll jump on a train
If your heart beats as fond and as true
Is there still room for me
'Neath the old apple tree
If there is I'll come back to you
After their hit In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree, Williams & Van Alstyne gave us Neath the Old Cherry Tree Sweet Marie by Williams & Van Alstyne, 1907, performed by Josephine Gassman,  Hear it here.

Gassman (1882-1962) was a "coon shouter" who performed "coon songs" with African American children, the act known as Josephine Gassman and her Pickaninnies. They toured from 1898 to 1906 across America and the world, playing the Orpheum with Will Rogers. One notice mentioned the "pickanninies" antics and their cake walk as well received. Acts with female singers and African American children were popular and included Louise Dresser and her Picks.
The drowsy robin to his mate was calling,
The sun was slowly sinking in the West,
The creeping shadows to the East were falling,
'was then I felt a throb within my breast,
For it was with you I used to wander,
And court you in the good old fashioned way,
But now I sit alone at night and ponder,
And wonder if we'll meet another day.

'Neath the old cherry tree, sweet Marie,
Where you first gave your heart, love, to me,
Not a word did you say,
But as you turned away 
I could see, sweet Marie, I could see,
Though your lips were as still and as red
As the cherries that hung over head,
Both your eyes told me well,
What your lips dared not tell,
'Neath the old cherry tree, sweet Marie.

In loneliness I turn the picture over,
And in my mind I see you painted there,
As fresh tonight as were the stems of clover
I wove in to the tangle of your hair
Perhaps another sits beneath the tree, dear,
Perhaps you're telling him you love him too,
Or maybe you have saved a thought of me, dear,
And dreamed I might again be there with you. (chorus)
The hit song Take Me Back to the Garden of Love by E. Ray Goetz and Nat. Osborne, 1911, performed by Cario Portello, says his sweetheart's love is a garden in itself. Hear it sung by Walter Von Brunt here.

Sweet thoughts of first love are filling me,
With joy but once we feel;
While thoughts of fear are thrilling me,
Its joy may prove unreal.
Often ‘twould seem love is luring me,
To find that you’re untrue;
To have, you reassure me,
In hope I long for you.

Take me back to your Garden of Love, dear,
Once again let me bloom in your heart,
Take me back to the beautiful spring time,
Where sunshine and love never part.
To the rose in my heart that is dying,
You are just like the dew from above,
I need you, I want you, I love you,
Take me back to your Garden of Love.

If in your heart you regret me not,
Renew each vow to me;
Just like a sweet forget-me-not,
Once more each word will be.
If in your dreams you could understand,
Your love’s a fragrant bow’r;
Your heart’s my key to wonderland,
Come claim this fading flow’r. (chorus)
Continuing the fruit tree theme, here is When It's Apple Blossom Time in Normandie by Mellor Gifford and Trevor, 1912, sung by Kathleen Clifford, Hear an instrumental recording here and a vocal recording here.

On a farm in Normandy,
There resided Rose Marie,
She was the pride of the country side,
Fair as a maid could be.

Came a lover bold one day,
When a most persuasive lay,
Tho’ she was grieving, when he was leaving,
He consol’d her in this way.


When it’s apple blossom time in Normandy!
I want to be in Normandy,
By that dear old wishing well,
With you, Marie!

When it’s apple blossom time in Normandy,
I’m coming back to woo,
And the spring will bring a wedding ring,
Little sweetheart to you!

Said Marie “It’s clear to me,
Tho’ sincere you seem to be,
I am afraid of the promise made;
You may not come back to me.

By the wishing well today,
I shall wish that you will stay”
Said he despairing, “Love, I’m declaring,
I’m in earnest, when I say. (chorus)

Apple blossom time soon came,
Rose Marie then chang’d her name,
For with the spring he had brought the ring,
His loving bride to claim.

By the wishing well they stray,
Happiness is theirs today,
‘Mid blossoms falling, he is recalling,
What he fondly used to say. (chorus)
Another Andrew B. Stirling and Harry Von Tilzer hit was Under the Yum Yum Tree, 1910. Hear an Edison recording here by Collins & Harlan, complete with a spoken interlude of stereotyped African Americans. Even in these love songs, racism was a sad source of humor.

There's a place to go where the breezes blow
And the hum of the bumble bee
As he buzzes by 'Neath a tinted sky
Is a sweet honeyed melody
Take your sweet heart true to this place with you
There's a spot where no one can see,
You can lovey, lovey, love
With your dovey, dovey, dove
Under the Yum Yum tree.

Under the Yum Yum tree
That's the Yummiest place to be
When you take your baby by the hand
There'll be something doing down in Yum Yum land;
That is the place to play,
With your honey, and kiss all day,
When you're all by your lonely,
You and your only Yum! Yum! 
Yummy Yummy Yum under the Yum Yum tree.

Yum Yum tree just grew, in the land of "Coo"
It was planted by old King "Spoon"
Even birds that fly, in it's branches high,
Sing a soft little loving tune,
Cupid and his band haunt that goo goo land
And a dart in your heart there'll be
If you spoony, spoony spoon
'Neath the moony, moony, moon,
Under the Yum Yum tree. (chorus)
There may not be a tree mentioned, but there is a garden in When it's Ringtime in Springtime Then I'll Bring a Ring to You by Wm. Tracey and Ernest Breuer, performed by Bonita of Bonita and Lew Hern, 1917. I can find nothing about this song. 

Pauline De Landes (b. 1886)  married Lew Hern (b. 1882 in Poland, d. 1965) and between 1904 and 1914 they performed together in vaudeville.
Dearie, Springtime is falling 
I hear you calling too,
Sunshine and flow'rs,
Brighten the hours,
I'll soon be spending with you.

When its ringtime in Springtime,
And the birds in the trees hum sweet melodies of love,
To a lonesome heart I'll be returning,
If that little spark of love's still burning,
Yearning, in the gloaming,
oh, my darling Love Ties we'll renew,
When it's ringtime in Springtime
Then I'll bring a ring to you.

Dearie, I know you're lonesome
I'm getting lonesome too,
Don't worry dear 
Soon you will hear,
Wedding bells ringing for you. (chorus)
The Garden of Beauty Waltzes by Carl Loveland (the pseudonym of Harry L Lincoln) is a piano solo published in 1913. I liked the segue from trees to garden, and had to share this lovely cover. Not the man waiting on the other side of the pond.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hard Cider

At age fifty-four, Abbie Rose decides its time to follow her long-held dream: to produce hard apple cider on the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan where her family has vacationed for over twenty years.

Situated on Lake Michigan's sand dunes, the family cottage had been their escape from the high-pressure life of Ann Arbor, Michigan where Abbie taught and her husband Steve had a law practice. With a windfall of money, Abbie has purchased a farmhouse and outbuildings and is ready to learn the skills needed--business and professional--to create a quality product.

Abbie's dream is not Steve's dream. He not only has no interest in her plan, he thinks it is a bad decision. He likes Ann Arbor life.

Their marriage has been challenged before. First, battling infertility and through failed treatments and in-vitro fertilization and grappling with the decision of surrogacy vs. adoption. And secondly, when their house burned down right after Abbie finally gave birth to a son after adopting two other boys.

As Abbie forges ahead with her plans, living Up North while Steve stays in the city, her attention is further divided by her boys' personal problems and challenges. Then a young woman, Julia, arrives in Northport whose secret will bring further turmoil and tension in Abbie's life and marriage.

Barbara Stark-Nemon's novel Hard Cider has a distinct Michigan flavor, reflecting her life in Ann Arbor and Northport.

Apples from the trees in my backyard
Michigan ranks as the second or third state in apple production and has more farm and fruit stands than any other state.

And where there are apples, there is apple cider!

Hard Apple Cider is a leader in the craft brew industry, especially in Michigan. Michigan is already fifth in the nation for its number of breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs.

So, Steve's objections aside, Abbie is onto something. And she needs the challenge and she needs to at least try and make her lifetime dream come true.

Readers who are not interested in Michigan and our apples will find their interest perk up when Julia comes on the scene. Abbie must juggle the needs of her sons and husband and the secret she discovers while holding fast to her dream.

Fans of women's fiction will enjoy Hard Cider.

Oh, and there is knitting.

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

Hard Cider: A Novel
by Barbara Stark-Nemon
She Writes Press
Pub Date 18 Sep 2018
PRICE $16.95 (USD)
ISBN 9781631524752

My one complaint is: Abbie, you must be CRAZY to love to walk along the Lake Michigan beach in WINTER. I did that for ten minutes ONCE in October and that was brutal! At least in winter, perhaps you don't get sand in your nose.
Lake Michigan at Pentwater during Hurricane Sandy
Winter in Pentwater is not for the faint-hearted. Which is why we only lasted one winter...
The bars were at least open.

We had to dig the mailbox out every day.
Perhaps Abbie benefited because Northport is on the 'sunrise side' of the Leelanau Peninsula...and protected from the Lake Michigan gales that assaulted our house.

So, I'll give Abbie the benefit of doubt regarding her sanity for leaving Ann Arbor to go Up North in winter.

Except.. the driving on the west side of Michigan downstate can also be brutal...
Christmas Day, 2013 driving from Lake Michigan to Grand Rapids...