Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 22, 1963

I perched on edge of the seat pouring over my notes – a left-hander in a right handed desk. I’d done okay in high school speech but this was a class of nearly 100  Sophomore wanna-a-be speech pathology and education majors – and I didn’t ‘wanna be’ there, or a teacher, or a speech therapist. I was a foreigner among homies in Lincoln, Nebraska. Three months earlier I married my Freshman-year sweetheart and gave up my political science major and dreams of Foreign Service. I couldn’t expect my husband to follow me around the world. No, instead I’d follow him into ‘the wild blue yonder’ as an Air Force wife. Crazy, right? I have no excuse except this – it was 1963.
It was November 22 to be precise. The young professor who, on another day, purposely embarrassed me in front of this class for mispronouncing a word (My pioneering Iowa family hadn’t picked up the fine distinction between ‘jist’ and ‘just.’ ) was looking over her list of speakers for the day. 

A girl wrenched open the door and 100 heads swiveled toward her as she yelled -- “The President’s been shot!”  This was not something that happened in the United States, at least, not in modern times, so the 200 eyes blinked in astonishment and disbelief.
“No, it’s true. This isn’t an Oklahoma joke.” were her exact words. It was football season and our annual rivalry with Oklahoma U was super-charged by the bonfire rally on the night before. Go Huskers!

If it wasn’t an Oklahoma joke then it must be true. President Kennedy was shot!

While heads swiveled back to attention, and we quietly whispered and wondered if he lived or died, it was obvious that Fräulein professor was an irritated-at-the-interruption Republican. Believe it or not President Kennedy was not universally popular, his reelection was not a shoo-in. I was stunned. My folks were citizens of Camelot and I’d met, then Senator, Kennedy in 1960.
We heard the classrooms around us being dismissed and then thundering through the halls and down the steps, leaving us in a building as quiet as a mausoleum. Now we were all on the edge of our seats wanting a radio, a TV, and loved one to hold . . .

“No,” she ordered the class, who as a body was ready to flee, “sit down!” She took a quiet moment to scan her list of speakers . . . I could almost hear the turret of a Nazi tank turn as her finger found a name and her eyes aimed at me . . .

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thoughts on Veterans Day

Considering that we have a large number of Quaker ancestors who, because of their religious conviction, did not practice war (although they were often on the front lines with the Red Cross or participated in other ways), we have a large number of veterans who served well and proudly and made sacrifices so that we could live under this government in this land happily and well. America has been good to all of our families who immigrated here between 1600 and 1850. And, through their sacrifices they have made this our land. I believe we have been represented in every war from the French and Indian to Vietnam. So far our younger generations emulate their Quaker forebears in not joining the military or practicing war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Regardless, we owe a great deal to those who keep us safe.

 A word about those who also serve. My first husband  was an Air Force officer. It follows that I was an Air Force wife. Not only did he serve at various domestic stations – he was in Vietnam. The Vietnam War had a huge impact on my life and, as things flow on down, on the children. My mother’s life was turned upside down by WWII. Consider my grandparent’s worry and anguish when Pearl Harbor was bombed – their son was station there. Consider the worry of my widowed grandmother when her only child’s ship was sunk in a typhoon. The cost of war is also carried by the loved ones of military personnel. Simply put, our lives would have been different if they hadn’t been in the military. Military spouses and other family members also serve and we salute you!

My brother attended West Point and served in the Army. During WWII my father was an Army officer who served in the European theater. Uncle Wayne was a Navy pilot. My mother worked at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant – a dangerous job building and packing shells. My step-mother was an Army nurse. My step-father was in the Navy floating in a life raft in the Pacific (as well as other war-time duties). My paternal grandfather held the lowly rank of wagoner in WWI (he was a farm boy who could handle a team of horses.) but his job all over bloody France was as a wagoner/corpsman – he had a wagon and therefore he picked up the dead and wounded as well as trying to help those dying of disease.

My mother’s brother Weldon signed up for the Navy at 17 and made a career of it. He survived Pearl Harbor and was on duty during the Korean War. We have ancestors aplenty who served in the Civil War almost exclusively in the Union Army. We had family in the War of 1812, the Spanish American War, and many who participated in the Revolution mostly on the American side. Some of our German ancestors fought for the British but were welcomed to stay here after the war.

With all those and many more I’m sure there are some fascinating or horrifying tales to tell. Of course we have stories – we are the survivors. All those wasted lives . . . all those who died are not telling stories; and since they were mostly young – have no descendants to carry on. The world was forever altered because they left before their time. So, as we salute those who protect and serve let’s all look to the day when, like the Quakers, we can practice war no more. In the meantime, we are thankful for our military forces.

God Bless our Veterans and their families.

Follow this link for more awesome Veterans Day posters:

Credits:   U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day Poster Gallery,

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Autumn Doldrums

It happens every year. I love autumn, I’m going full-speed ahead, sailing before the wind, and then the wind dies and I’m dead in the water. All those things I have to do, all those things I was working busily and happily on are still there. I should be sailing at 30 knots because I gained an hour.

Wait a minute! It feels like I lost two. I’m slightly out of whack and still trying to get all those things on my list done but Daylight Savings Time has disappeared! I don’t know why the spring forward doesn’t bother me; but the change that falls back doesn’t make any sense – can’t we just adopt Daylight time as permanent? It gets dark way too early and my internal clock doesn’t make the shift easily. Of course, Beatrice doesn’t know anything about man tinkering with time so she still on doggie Daylight Savings.  Hopefully I'll adjust and the wind will kick up soon as I have a ton of things to do.

Don’t you? We’re in the holiday season!  I’ve been working on the book but in a scattered way. It is being accomplished a bit at a time. Glitch – I didn’t print, or have pages printed in order so there was no way to machine collate. I have been building the 10 books by hand. I’m looking at it as meditative time in which (and here’s the good part) I’m not sitting in a chair. The pages are spread in piles on a queen-sized bed and I’m moving around and around it.  Maybe it’s not cardio but at least I’m moving.  I’m at the confusing part. Which charts do I want to include and where? Still they are near complete.
The biggest part of the last week or two has been working on to complete all the family information I want to include (and this is just for one county) – the details for each person, such as relationship – “this is your 6th great grandfather.” Or making sure I have all the dates. Are all the children listed with the family? You think you have it all until you go back and. . .  There’s always work to be done and it can be repetitive and a bit tedious. Still, there is a nice feeling when the record is as complete as you can get it. Is it accurate? I did the very best I could with the time and information available.
Overall, the book is shaping up nicely. Here’s the rub. Only a small portion of it will be ‘somewhat’ complete before it is time to send it off.  It is not humanly possible to complete it by Christmas. My book is turning into a workbook – an outline to be filled in over time.  Still, I’m happy with that. Ohio is there in all its glory and the counties set up.  I’m concentrating on one family in Muskingum County and will spend the first several months of 2014 adding the rest of the families. It gives me time to make the record as complete as possible.
Happy Veteran's Day!
It’s the weekend and gloriously beautiful. Time to get out in the San Diego sunshine!

Credits:  Nat King Cole "Autumn Leaves"  - Elyan,
Clipart: ship -
Photo: Price Center UCSD; flag & sun - Sandra Barber