World War II Memories, Three Young 18-Year-Old Men

Writer’s note:  I have never been able to edit my writing successfully or that of any one else.  I have read and reread this blog and have done my best to correct errors.

Jim Valentine, My high school classmate, Class of 1944

I have a friend, Jim Valentine, from my middle and high school years.  We face time often via phone line and computer. This has replaced our phone calls.   Jim served in WW II  as a turret gunner on what I thought was one of the big bombers.  Most of the men who were in the air force and flew many hours suffered severe hearing loss in their elderly years.  Jim can no longer hear well enough to talk on the phone.  To any one who is having a similar problem, I recommend face time calls.  Looking at someone, seeing the expressions, and, without realizing it, doing a great deal of lip reading, has once again made my  communication with my dear old friend viable again.

We began talking a few days ago during our face time conversation about his air force experiences.  In those days, young men finishing high school were immediately called into service.  Jim, age 18, was given 15 days after his graduation before leaving for service in the US Air Force.  There was basic training and then gunnery school, all of which took 3 months.  Then he was off to an Air Force base in Scotland along the North Sea.  When I asked him about his missions, I found out, for the first time,  that his squadron was part of operations under the OSS – today know as the CIA.  He said he first had to undergo Commando Training, indicating he found it  very difficult,  saying  “I never wanted to undergo anything like that again!”  He attributed his playing high school football as helping him get through it.  He did fly in big planes, but carrying men, not bombs, to be dropped wherever they were needed.  Jim call them “partisans”    He still does not care to discuss the details of the commando training  or the missions. He just shakes his head.

Wesley Smith (Ike), High school friend, Class 1943

Jim’s best friend as well as a good friend of mine was Wes (Ike) Smith who also left very soon after his high school graduation.   Wes also went into the US Air Force as a waist gunner, and was stationed somewhere in England.  He flew many bombing missions over Europe.  About eight years ago we three planned to attend together a high school reunion.  We had a marvelous time, laughing and going over many funny memories of our teenage years!!  Then Wes told the  story of his WWII air force experience, which ended his years in England.  During a bombing mission Wes’s plane was hit.  Damaged the plane limped back to England,.  Once over friendly territory, the gunners took off their jump suits and settled down for the short trip home, when one of them noticed a fire.  Wes rushed up to tell the officers in the front of the plane, only to find that they had all jumped, giving no notice to the crew in the back.  No time to put on jump suits.  They simply strapped on parachutes and bailed out, fortunately landing with no injuries.

The next day in another plane this same crew, officers and noncoms left for another mission.   Two of the original crew were not along for this mission:   Wes who due to rotation was off duty, and the Captain who  was in the hospital with a broken leg suffered when he parachuted the day before, deserting his men.  This plane was shot down with no survivors.  I cannot imagine the emotional stress finding out all your friends and fellow crew members are dead and you are one of two crew members still alive.  The Captain from his hospital bed sent word that he would like  Wes to come talk to him.  I ask Wes, “Did you go?”    “Hell no!,” was his emphatic reply.  Wes did not like to discuss his missions in general and he gave no details  about the fact that he flew no more missions.  He was returned to the States to serve in some capacity until the end of the war.

These are just two men among thousands and thousands who went, not gladly, but willingly.  They gave up their youth to fight to preserve our freedom. Men who carried scars all their lives.  But they came home and resumed  their lives as responsible, contributing citizens.

Bobby Smith (no relation to Wes Smith)

But not all did.  Not all could.   At a Christmas party a few months after the war’s end,  I remember vividly coming into a room and finding a friend, Bobby Smith,  sobbing and sobbing.  He had been a prisoner of war for several years and had been very badly treated.  I wish I had been more mature to have said something.    I just went to find his brother or parents, who were giving the party.  Bobby was only one of  oh so many who fought and returned and then tragically lost the battle to reintegrate into society.  He killed himself a few months later.

I wonder, often,  if  the baby boomers or the millennial ever give thought to the fact that  freedom is not, and has never been, free.  It has been paid for over and over by the blood of many courageous men and women throughout the history of this country.

Wandering Thoughts This Past Week – My Working Days, NBC in NYC,1948-55

Gardening.  Last week in a belated endeavor to help Jeannie and Lisle get our yard ready for a food truck party on our lawn this coming Friday, I decided to do some pruning of dead bushes, and pull weeds.  Every so often I make the mistake of forgetting my age and this was one of the times.  Did get almost all the job done.  But – “for every action there is a reaction.”  Oh so true.  My hands, and particularly my fingers, are so sore that I am having trouble  typing some five days later….and, the pain in my lower back is slowly subsiding.  So much for the words said many years ago by a major athlete, baseball I think,” Age is only mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”  I didn’t mind, and it does matter!

Barbara Bush.  I had the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady of several occasions.     The first time was in Greenwich, CT.   George Bush, who was in the oil business in Texas, and  his wife Barbara were visiting his parents.  The Jeffery brothers went to the same Greenwich school as the Bush men.  Some old school friends had a party to which I went with your Dad.  I remember speaking quite some time with Mrs. Bush, probably because   she nor I had attended the school, nor were we from Greenwich.  As I remember most of the guests had school connections.

While we were living in Cali, Vice President Bush and his wife, Barbara, came to Colombia.  Because of  your Dad’s business position, we were invited to a reception at the US Embassy in Bogotá.  Security was very strict.   We came with our driver/body guard, who had to leave us quite a distance from the Embassy.  Before we began our long walk, ID’s were requested.  I had left all of mine in the hotel, being told to bring only a very small purse and assuming Scott’s ID would work for both of us.  The only ID I had was, for some strange reason, my Club Campestre card.  After much wrangling they finally let us through the check point.  At this point, as is usual in Bogota, it began to drizzle.  In high heels, walking on slippery cobble stone streets,  I muttered not too graciously, “If George Bush was not an old friend of your’s, I would refuse to go any further.”  Going  through the reception line,  Scott  reached Vice President Bush, and said, “Welcome to Colombia, Mr. Vice President .” to which Vice President Bush started to laugh and said, “Scotty, what are you doing here?” They had not seen each other in years.  Amazing memory.  At this reception, Barbara Bush delighted and charmed everyone with her open, friendly, warm attitude. NO, she did not remember me from that party some 20 years earlier, not did I mention it to her.

The last time was after we returned to the States, and then President Bush and Mrs. Bush were in Jacksonville for a fund-raiser for son, Jeb, who was running for Governor of FL.  Once again he remembered Scott.  Jeannie was with us and I will let her tell her story. of his comments to her.  Mrs. Bush was graciously and valiantly standing by his side as photos were taken with each guest.  I do not know how she did it so well  all those years. I did not talk to her this time.   I could only think, “What a great wife and mother.!”

Sawgrass Member/Guest Tennis Tournament.  Had a wonderful time Friday  afternoon and Saturday.  Jeannie invited Vicky Koele Bryan to be her guest.  Inge Koele, Vicky’s mother came with her to join me in cheering our daughters on.   Staci Marbut Manis also  came to watch.  All three women attended the Colegio Bolivar in Cali, Colombia, and Inge was one of the best teachers we had at the school .  We spent as much time reminiscing as we did watching tennis.  Jeannie, Vicky, and Staci gave a rousing rendition of the Bolivar Anthem before play began.  Amazing they could still remember the words.  Such fun and what wonderful memories.

 

My first job. NBC,  after finishing Virginia Intermont College, Indiana University, and  finally  The Katherine Gibbs School in New York City.

Katherine Gibbs was basically a secretarial school, but it really was much more than that.  Professors from Colombia and NYU were brought in to lecture on various business subjects, which gave us a better understanding of the business world, and encouraged us to think about being something more than a secretary some day.  Also, graduating from this school really was a guarantee to getting a secretarial job.  We were able to skip the secretarial pool.

When I began at NBC, 1948, radio was still the major producer of shows. Yes, my dear children and grandchildren…..back in the dark ages.  Not everyone had a TV set, but those that did, only received shows for about 3 hours in the early evening hours.  The screen size was three or six inches, and black and white only.

I worked for one of the executives in the Radio Recording department.  Some shows were recorded  to be played later.  Some were recordings of live shows.  All recordings were archived, just as today all TV shows are saved in some digital form.

The most challenging part of my job was filing.   I lived in fear the first weeks of my job was that I would be fired for losing some important paper.  I came in several weekends to acquaint myself with the files.

I cannot remember my succession of jobs.  I do remember when I first was moved to work for Dick Pack, head of local programming.  That, and all subsequent jobs were challenging and interesting, with a parade of unusual people, almost of all of whom I have lost contact, but many of whom I shall always remember.  Mr. Pack was very talented, and unique.  I always carried my steno pad with me as he would pass me in the hallway and say, “Pat, take a memo.”  He was the originator of the Tonight show.

Some highlights I remember.  Thanks to Dick Pack, I was able to watch one of the first transmissions of TV in color.  When the peacock tail unfurled, I literally gasped it was so beautiful.  Also, I worked on the crew for two presidential  elections.  The one I remember was when Truman beat Dewey.  I was working some sort of phone over which I received results which I wrote down and someone took to the announcers.  I remember H V Kaltenborn broadcasting that Dewey was winning, and I was sitting at my tiny information post thinking, “I don’t think so.?”  We were finally sent home in the wee hours of the morning.  When I came back to work at 9 am, people were still at work.  What an  upset!

Bobbi and I have often talked about the challenges of being a woman in the entertainment field at that time.  Neither of us remember being harassed in a sexual  manner.  We have had many a good laugh these past years thinking about quite a few men who very possibly might be worried in the current ambience of “me too,” etc.  There were some men with whom we were careful never to encourage.  One man would frequently ask us to his apartment for dinner, and we just laughed as we said no.  One would come into my office and say, “Aha, I have you cornered.”  I never sat still to find out if he was serious and I could move faster than he.  But neither of us can remember the kind of overt sexual threats we are hearing about today.

I worked from 1948 to the end of 1955.  Bobbi worked quite a few years more.  Then left with the Howdy Doody crew to form their own company.  Enid stayed much longer. She became a TV director and indicated harassment.  I always thought it was more aptly described as  discrimination because she was a woman,  in a mainly male-oriented job, and had  to fight her way up the ranks.

Certainly there was resistance, even perhaps open harassment,  against some women in certain jobs.  Bobbi was an accomplished production assistant, but was passed over by an inept man, just because they wanted a man in the job.  Some years later he was fired.

In publicity, I had good mentoring from my former boss, Dick Pack.  I never drank with the boys at the bar.  Entertaining the editors and columnists of the various NYC newspapers was essential to get the publicity coverage my boss wanted.  I always planned to do so for lunch or with the editor and his wife for dinner and theatre.  One entertainment editor did not like the heavy luncheons nor the booze,  so I suggested he get tickets to one of the hit movies, and I would bring a really good lunch.  We would meet at the theatre, watch the movie at lunch time.

What Bobbie and I remember is that we loved going to work.  We would get up in the morning and look forward to the day.  It was fun!  There were always lots of laughs.  Bobbi one day found some fake money in packs.  She took a trolley and rolled it down the hall, shouting, “Pay Day,” and throwing the money through the office doors.   One of the publicity guys would dance from desk to desk on Friday nights when we discussed where to go eat.  I doubt if any of this would be accepted today.  I felt we were paid OK.  I could afford a nice apartment in Manhattan, could eat in good restaurants., enjoy the good life in NYC.

My first apartment right out of Katherine Gibbs was a summer rental in an area called Hell’s Kitchen. We rented a furnished “railroad ” apartment.   I think the name came from the long hallway with bedrooms off the hallway.  This was not one of the better areas of NYC.  I am trying to remember my roommates , but there were four of us.  Today this area is an expensive area in which to live.  This was a summer rental.  Our landlord and his wife went someplace every summer. It was an experience to know him.  He told some very entertaining tales of his life growing up in this neighborhood.  What an education for this small-town Midwest girl.

In the fall, three of us rented a much smaller apartment on West 57th Street between 9th and 10th.  Any further west and we would have been in the river.  Still not a top neighborhood  It was very small, with only one bedroom.  But, we were “moving on up.”  The bedroom was really small, but we managed to squeeze in one single bed and one bunk bed.

Final stop.   I lived in a really attractive building in mid-Manhattan on Third Avenue  with a garden in the center and doors off the garden leading to various stores.  There was also a delightful  restaurant  in the building where for some reason college students would meet and sing.  Loved to hear them.  We assumed they had all been in singing groups in college .  The really plus part was that I could walk to and from work!

When I think of the problems my grandchildren have today living in NYC, I can only think,”How fortunate I was!”  Life is so much more expensive today!  All but one grandchild live in Brooklyn and take the long subway ride into Manhattan every day.

But there are always pros and cons in everything.  Living in NYC today is still exhilarating!  Much to do and see and experience .  The job market seems to be something else.  I do not sense the joy from them that I felt in the workplace.  I could be wrong.  Certainly women today are better educated than we were,  more sure of themselves and what they can do.   The can aspire for better jobs and certainly have many more opportunities are available to them.    Each generation  has to, and will, make their own way.

 

CHAPEL SERVICE BESIDE THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

Sawgrass Chapel, a Special Blessing

Slept well last night, which is not always true at my advanced age.   Thus, I was  up at 6 am with lots  of time to get ready for our 7:30 Sawgrass Chapel service.

Sawgrass Chapel was the main factor in our deciding to moving to this area.  In 1986 we were in the US looking for a retirement location.  We started in south Florida, looking at several possible places before arriving in north Florida.  We had been told about Sawgrass Country Club by a young man from Jacksonville who was in Cali that year working for a US firm as part of his studies for his MBA in international business.  When we came to Ponte Vedra, his father and step-mother invited us to Sawgrass Chapel.  Upon leaving the service, Scott said to me, “These are the kind of people we want to live among.”  The next day we bought a house in the Sawgrass Country Club area.

Sawgrass Chapel is unique in many ways.  It was founded  in the early 1980’s by a bible study group of about 10 people who wanted to have a sunrise service before going on to their regular church.  The leader was a retired Navy Captain, Bill Lewis, who would conduct the service.  Word spread,  attendance grew, and this quickly evolved into  primary worship for many people.  One of the members played the guitar, and a few hymns were sung after which prayers were offered and Bill would give a sermon.  If someone wanted to give a donation, a box was on a table  where  money could be left.   (The money is collected for charity and it is impressive how much is collected in that box when there is no pressure to give. ) The format is till the same today, over 30 years later.

About the time we arrived,  Capt. John Dolaghan, Navy Chaplin, retired to Sawgrass.  These two Navy men had know each other in the service, and Bill invited John to share in the preaching.  John Dolaghan is an outstanding, inspired preacher.  When we arrived and began attending,  the attendance was around 40 at the most.  Today the attendance is always at least 200 and usually more.  On church holidays, the place is overflowing. Knowledge of our Chapel is by word of mouth only.  An email is sent out to members if the service must be held inside the club house due to inclement weather.

Service has always been held at our Sawgrass Beach Club in an open-air pavilion on the Atlantic Ocean. No one gets up at 6 am for a church service every Sunday unless you really want to be here.  All the set-up is done by volunteers from the chapel members.  Today we have three pastors, and all of them excellent preachers.  Two of them have a job during the week.  The third is a retired business man.  The service was founded to be Christian ecumenical and still is today.  There is a bit more organization than at the very beginning, but not much.  Our pastors are  now paid a small stipend as is the guitarist.  A small group of members, meet at times to discuss the charities to whom our collection money is to go. One member serves as treasure in that he makes sure tax receipts are mailed the end of each year for donations.   Other volunteer members are in charge of our sound system. There is no overhead.  The building belongs to the Club, which generously also provides coffee and sets up the chairs for us.

I love attending Sawgrass Chapel.   We are in the midst of God’s creation.   The sun rises. The pelican and seagulls fly over.  One can hear the lapping of the waves below or the crashing of same depending on the weather.  There is a sense of being in God’s cathedral.  Very special to me is that Jeannie and her husband Lisle usually come with me. Our hymn singing is lead by a man playing a guitar and the congregation sings in spontaneous harmony.  Wonderful!  Magnificent!  No wonder so many people attend every Sunday  Each one of our Pastors are excellent preachers.  Today’s sermon was on the fact that our faith is displayed through our good works.  I always leave Chapel with a sense of being very glad that I came, “for here we met with the Lord”

An extra bonus, a delightful breakfast is served at the club house, a few steps away.  Many of the members gather there afterwards.

 

 

LOSING A FRIEND – PLAN FOR OLD AGE APRIL 9, 2018

Mom and Friends.jpgA few weeks ago I lost a very good friend of over 50 years.   This is not an unusual occurrence when one reaches the ninth decade of life.  However, the loss of this friend has been very troubling.  I find myself daily grieving for the sad end of the  life of this smart, accomplished, interesting woman. (Center in group above at her house party)

She died late February  in a nursing home.   She had dementia and had had in Aug, 2017, a stroke, but  the cause of death was the return of  a virulent cancer which metastasized rapidly.  As far as I know none of her friends or family, except a nephew who flew in from Seattle, visited her at the hospital.  None  were at her bedside when she died,  except a woman, who I shall call Mary,  who had power of attorney,  was executor of my friend’s estate, and a beneficiary.    She was buried without the Jewish burial rites, (her request I am told by Mary) in Brooklyn in a plot she had purchased, and again with no one there to mourn her passing, except the aforementioned Mary.

It deeply  hurts me to think of her so isolated from acquaintances, friends, family, all of which over the years she had many.  And yet so alone at the end of her life.  And as I ask myself, “Where were all these people over the past few years, months, days?,” I have to ask myself, “Where were you?”

My friend had never married.  However she had been highly successful in the TV world and was well-known in the entertainment world.  She had been active in various organizations during her career and after retirement.   She traveled extensively.  She was smart, accomplished and caring.  She was responsible for getting six of us, who at one time worked at NBC, together on several occasions for a four-day house party at her Hampton home.  Of this group, there are now only two living. What a wonderful times we had, lying  by the pool, laughing about old times, drinking wine and cooking delicious food.  She visited  my family when I lived in South America.  She visited me and my daughter and her husband  every spring for 15 years,  volunteering at The Players golf  tournament.  I frequently visited her in NYC as I  had children for many years in the area.  She also made several trips to New England to visit my family in MA and our former NBC colleague in NH.

Her last visit to us was 2012.  During this visit, she became confused when returning one day from the golf course to our home.  She called and I drove to get her.  We then discussed that perhaps she should be thinking about the future.  However, there were no more such incidents and she was not interested.  After that visit our contacts were limited to phone calls.  As the years went on, she often commented on having trouble with memory, but so did all my peers.  I wish I had  taken the time to stop by NYC on my  annual trip to Boston, but each time there seemed to be an excuse.

Even more so, I really feel guilty I did not go see her in March of last year. My daughter with her daughter and grandson went to see my friend.   My daughter called that morning to let my friend know they were coming to take her to lunch.  When they arrived, they had to bang and bang on her apartment door as she did not answer her phone.  She finally opened her door, in a daze ,wondering why someone was banging on her door.  She had forgotten.  They did go to lunch and had a lovely time.  Photos were taken and I was appalled at how sick my friend looked. I thought of going, but did not.   I deeply regret this apathy, laziness.  I was concerned but did nothing about it.

I do not know if a visit from me at that time would have made any difference.  But at least I would not have  lost my last chance to see my dear friend when we could still  have had a nice visit.  I called her many  times over the next months, but no answer.  I was too busy to follow up, until around Christmas when I became concerned.  Finally in Jan. I was able to reach Mary’s husband who told me the state of my friend’s health.  Immediately called her at the hospital, but any chance of meaningful conversation was gone.  She kept asking me “Get me out of her!!”  There was nothing I could do.  Too little, too late.

But with this blog, I can write comments which will I hope help anyone who reads this to be sure this does not happen to them, a friend or family member.

 

  1. Watch out for denial!! for yourself as well as family members and friends.  I spoke to my friend ,when she was last here in 2012, about her losing her way home, but she was in complete denial.  I pleaded with her to begin thinking about a retirement community near her nephew or near her cousins, and to do so while she was mentally capable of making her own decisions.
  2. Plan for worst, although hope for best.    Think ahead and have an idea of what, where, and how you want to spend your elderly years.  Plans can always be changed, but have some plans.  Do not leave this to the last.
  3. Make a will  – Everyone should have a will.  No one knows what tomorrow will bring.  In my case, I wanted everyone in the family to have a copy of the will.  They were informed in advance what would be in the will, in case there was some objection. My husband and I made of list of special objects and to whom they were to go….this ended with a note asking that there be  no arguments, because the most important thing in life is the love and support of a united caring family.   As my children know, when I downsized to my apartment, attached to my daughter’s house, I gave all the special items to the designated families .  I enjoy very much seeing the furniture pieces in their home and the women wearing the jewelry.  Glad to have lived to see this.
  4. Do not make material possessions your God, clinging to each dime as a life-giving item.  My friend worked hard and she made a great deal of money, but I never felt she enjoyed it.  She worked hard and  scraped and saved and then when she was old and had no children to leave it to, she continued to take the cheap flights at 5 am, carry her luggage onto a subway, etc. etc. I do not pretend to know  why?  I only know it is sad. Within the bounds of common sense and good financial planning, enjoy life,
  5. Do not allow yourself to become isolated.  This is easy to happen.  Friends will die, move always, or mentally will be gone.  Visit your sick friends, reach out for new friends, keep in touch with old friends and family with phone, face time, text. Learn something new. That is what I a doing with this blog. Have  people over to visit if just for a bowl of soup, cup of tea, wine or cheese.  Go to church!!!  Participate in social clubs, such as book clubs, bible study, etc.  Get out and socialize!   EXERCISE!  Good for soul and body. Do not lose your sense of humor
  6. Emergency telephone number.  If you know anyone who is alone, be sure to  have an emergency telephone number for them.  If you suspect something is wrong, then you can call the emergency contact and discuss your concern. Suggest you check to be sure this contact  is a  younger person.

 

 

 

 

Easter 2018, Where did 62 years go?

 

April 4, 2018 – Getting my thoughts for today’s blog organized

My best thoughts come at night or  in the morning when I am not completely asleep nor completely awake.  I wish I could record these thoughts at that moment for once awake and getting started with the affairs of the day,  these well-expressed thoughts are for the most part forgotten.   I invite comments on content or writing style.  This morning a good friend and peer of mine in age commented that I was talking too much about being old.  Since this is about life after 90, that seems to me to be difficult to change, but  I intend  to write about other things also.

Easter Sunday

This was a beautiful day here is Ponte Vedra.  Jeanne, Lisle, and Alex joined me at Easter Chapel celebration which was held 7:30 am  at the club pavilion on the beach.  With the waves crashing on shore and the pelicans and  sea gulls flying over, this is a marvelous site in which to praise God, especially on the day of His resurrection.  The sermon was  particularly well given, stressing the joyful and  triumphant aspect of this very holy day,  and ending with the pastor raising his arms and crying our, “He is risen!  To which the congregation called back, the age-old reply, “He is risen indeed!”

Breakfast

Back to our house, to have breakfast with the rest of the Easter weekend guests, Lisle’s sister, husband and two children.  It was great to have them here as always.  After breakfast they left to attend Easter services at the Cathedral in St. Augustine and continue on home in Tampa.

Easter Dinner

Lisle and his brother, Alex, did most of the cooking and did their usual outstanding job.  The rack of lamb was cooked to perfection.  We were joined by our long-time friends, the Powells.

All in all, a truly lovely Easter Sunday!

Early to bed, and as I was falling asleep, I wondered, “Where have all the years gone?!”

Scott and I were married in Jan. 25, 1956 in Panama in the Canal Zone.   A few days later when we arrived in Cali after our honeymoon in Boquete, Panama, we were wonderfully welcomed by the executives of Colgate Palmolive Colombia with a beautiful party at the San Fernando Club. This photo taken that night at the party.

Mom Dad young and Formal

Scan 5

July., 1957,  I am holding my precious first child, Jeanne Ann Jeffery, called Jeannie by the family.  It seems like yesterday-

Name today is Jeannie Jeffery Pilcher.  She is the mother of  a son and daughter  and grandmother of one grandson

Today our family numbers 24 when we are all together .  I think I have counted everyone.

IMG_4851

This photo,  taken March 31, 2018,  the day before Easter,  is of Jeannie’s grandson, my great grandson, 17 months old, Oscar, busy and very focused as he  participates in his first Easter egg hunt

I am still puzzling how the 62 years went by so fast.  I urge every one to cherish each day, relish each experience, good or bad, for lessons are to be learned from each, for the days are gone in a flash.

Personal Thoughts, Holy Week, Two excellent movies about WW II

Trying  to better organize my thoughts for writing a blog.

I am finding writing a blog more complicated than I thought.  Be patient with me, few readers that I have, while I am able to master this new activity.

Last week was complicated with my getting a cold, due to forgetting my age and doing far too  much on Tuesday.  Over the years it has been proven that if I get too tired I will very possibly contact a cold, leading to bronchitis and at times pneumonia.  This is genetic, but with the advancing years, has become more frequent.  One of the most difficult emotions in these so-called “golden years,” is that of facing reality.  This reality check covers all aspects of life and more so the older one gets.  I will write about this another day.  A close friend of mine died a few weeks ago, and is a sad example about not facing reality.  I am very blessed with children, all of whom loving support me, but thankfully also give me a reality check when needed.  One example:  Just before my 90th birthday party, which was a complete surprise, Lisle kept saying over and over “Fourth of July is coming and we are doing our annual brunch, plus dinner and fireworks at the Club .  Do not overdo and get sick!”  I am so glad he did.

Thus Holy Week was spent being very careful, pacing myself, and keeping my annoying cold to just that, a cold, so that I could enjoy visiting family and Easter Sunday service and dinner.   On the positive side, I took time to write many emails and letters and make many long-neglected calls.  In addition, downloaded and watched two outstanding films on my computer – “The Darkest Hour” and “Dunkirk.”

Good Friday is to me a very sacred observance . Due my cold,  for the first time in at least 30 years, I was unable to attend.  As a form of observation,  I took time around noon to read my bible and do a  study on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.   This reminded me of the horror, brutality, and sorrow of the crucification suffered by Jesus.  I have always felt, at least for me, it is important to observe Good Friday to truly appreciate the triumphant joy of Easter Sunday.

Comments and reaction on “Darkest Hour,” and “Dunkirk,” both movies about WWII

The Darkest Hour, portraying Sir Winston Churchill, during the early days of  WWII, was beautifully done.  The script stayed close to historical accuracy.  The portrayal of Churchill, a man for his  time and his mission, who in spite of his flaws, rose to the challenge, with determination, courage, strong leadership,and a inspired way with words,  His thrilling speech “We will fight on the beaches,…..We will NEVER give  up,”  brought the UK together to withstand what seemed like imminent defeat.  Grandson Chris and I many years ago took a tour through the underground command  center from which the Brits managed the war. It was a impressive visit which reminded me and taught young Chris about the courage, tenacity of the British people .  There is a book written about the Women’s Institute telling how women from all socio-economic groups, especially from the rural areas, were a big factor in saving England.  Remaking their mindset and setting to work in mens jobs, they produced food, for their island country, when it was impossible to import.  The TV series Home Fires was based on this. I found this book awesome.  What these women, some whom had seldom left their farms, accomplished is nothing short of miraculous!!! The name of the book is ‘Home Fires:  The Story of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War,” written by Julie Summers. Once the US joined in the fight in  Europe , Mrs. Roosevelt became interested in the Women’s Institute.

I was always interested in news and remember this time well.  On our side of the Atlantic was a United States divided on whether to get into this war or not.   Many thousands of  Yanks just a generation earlier had died in Europe defeating the army of the German Kaiser.

Will inject some family history here.  My father in WW I was a Lt. in the  US Army Dental Corp and my uncle, serving in the Army Medical Corps, ended his surgical career with a hand wound.  Your paternal grandfather also served in WW I. I do not know in what capacity. I do know that after the WW I he was active in helping write the NRA and during WWII he served as a member of  some war time committee . My father tried to enlist in WWII  but was turned down for active duty to his age and/or health.

Churchill was a master politician and worked with president Franklin D Roosevelt, to get help, but Pres. Rooselvelt’s hands were tied with anti-war sentiment and legislation.  Finally a way was found to help with a “Lend Lease Agreement” to get supplies to  a beleaguered England.     I believe the supplies were shipped by a brave Merchant Marine and the highly competent German submarines prowled the seas to destroy as many of these ships as possible.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ended any vacillation on the part of  US citizens.  We Went To War!!

Dunkirk  was about the 400,000 plus Allied soldiers stranded on the beach at Dunkirk as the invading German armies closed in for the kill.  It is an emotional movie.  I remember this incident so well listening to the radio as news came in about this amazing feat. Churchill refused to surrender and calling Britain a seafaring nation, he appealed to owners of all small craft, personal or otherwise, 50 to 100 feet, to cross the channel and bring these men home.  The courage of these boat owners as they faced strafing from German planes, will always be legend in the history of Britain.  I need to also mention are bravery of the RAF who fought off the strafing German planes, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.  I have forgotten the number of boats who answered the call, but it was huge.  Miraculously they brought back around 300,000 men, saving, literally, the British army, to fight again.  These brave small-boat owners made more than one trip and not all returned.  Paul Gallico wrote a  beautiful small story, “The Snow Goose,” about this invasion.

 This is already too long.  Easter Sunday – will write about this tomorrow –

 

 

 

Sunday, March 25, 2018 – Palm Sunday, Family Visit, World War II Comments

Palm Sunday

Up early today for 7:30 am Chapel, my beloved church since moving to Ponte Vedra in 1986.     When we first came to Ponte Vedra looking for a retirement community, friends invited us to Chapel service, held, except for bad weather, in a pavilion on the beach.  We were so impressed that Scott said after the service, “These are the kind of people we want to live among.”  The next day we bought a house here, and I still count my blessings for this decision.

Today’s sermon on Palm Sunday was excellent, stressing the happenings of Holy Week. a week of events that changed the world.  I always remember my granddaughter on Palm Sunday.  At that time, a small pre-school child, she would come to Chapel with us along with her mother.  One Palm Sunday at the end of the sermon this precocious, loving, caring little girl pulled my head down and whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry, Grandmother.  He’s alive again on Sunday.”  At that early age she had captured the essence of the message of Easter.  We serve a loving, living God..

Family Visit – one week of fun activities and loving memories!

My son and his family were visiting here all last week.  Two of my  other children live in this area.  One I live with in a separate apartment attached to their house and the other a short 30 minutes away.  We had a wonderful, joyful week of daily getting together in one house or another or at the Club..  Lots of laughs, sharing of past events and planning future ones.  I am very blessed to have a family who cherishes each other, supports each other, values each other.

Memories from WW II

Some of the family members asked me what it was like as a teenager during World War II.

I was 15 that infamous day  Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  I had gone to the afternoon movie with a friend, a favorite pastime in the small Midwest town in Indiana where I lived.  As we came out of the movie, we were told of this event by people standing around in the streets stunned at what had happened.  My uncle and aunt were visiting that day.  Their son was in the Navy serving on a ship at Pearl Harbor.  I rushed home to find a very upset, frantic family.  My uncle had called someone in Washington but could get no news.  My cousin survived that day and served the Navy the entire war.    This cousin was so inept with a gun, that my uncle refused to take him hunting.  Also he had flunked out of college.  His angry father refused to support him so he had joined the Navy.  However, during this crisis at Pearl Harbor, he displayed such qualities that he was given a field commission.  I saw him many years later when I visited Seattle.  He had built a successful business dealing with boats, which his sons had taken over after his retirement.   He did comment that as a result of his war experiences he battled a drinking problem, which he finally got under control.

After Pearl Harbor, life rapidly changed.  In some ways, never to be the same.  War was declared and the nation went on wartime status.  The  drafting of all able bodied men 18  and over began. U S industry began immediately retooling, gearing up, to build the necessary weapons, tanks, etc.  If a man wanted a choice of what service to be in, he volunteered.  The next day recruiting offices were besieged by men volunteering to serve and save their country.  Your paternal grandfather was among this group.  He became a Navy pilot. A friend of mine wrote a book about his experiences in WWII titled “We Went Willingly.”

Shortly rationing of food, gasoline , etc. began.  When I went to college in Sept, 1944, I had to take my ration books with me.

It is difficult to put into words the  effect of this Dec., 1941, event.  It touched every aspect of our lives and oh so rapidly.

Japan had attacked us in a treacherous way.  It was a tremendous shock!!  Japan had diplomatic people in Washington, DC,  supposedly in peace negotiation with the US government.   Europe was in a huge war with Hitler’s Germany the aggressor and the German troops were conquering too rapidly too many countries

Our military was not in good shape.  If Japan had immediately following Pearl Harbor attacked our West Coast, one wonders what would have been the result.  Had Hitler immediately after Dunkirk  attacked the coast of the U K, what would have been the result?  The war was not going well on any front on Dec 7, 1941. The situation would not improve immediately.

As a teenager, I saw teenage boys change into men who would soon be called into active military duty……many of whom did not return.  Those who did return came back changed.

I will continue with this in my next blog.  I am surprised after so many years, how emotional it is to write about this. I want be sure to write correctly.