Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back to blogging

It is raining! I will take the rain, after months seeing no real precipitation, as motivation to renew this blog that has become stagnate while I worked on finishing the novel. The first and part of the 2nd draft are finished, and I am in the process of major revisions. Rereading some sections, I often think, Was I asleep while writing this? It is awful! This is humbling work, always reminding myself that I taught students for years that the first couple of drafts are frame work--getting ideas down. Revising is where the artistic pen goes to work, and the scenes and emotions shine. I have an enormous amount of work to do. Hopefully inspiration will fall with each drop of moisture.
    The joy of this rain must be a little of the ecstasy felt by troops at the end of WW II—especially those who were in POW camps wondering what the Germans or Japanese would do with them in retaliation for defeat. In this year of the 70th anniversary of the beginning of WW II, it is important that we remember these heroes of years ago. The sacrifices they made are so often forgotten. It is so easy to look at these now very elderly men and women and forget they have tremendously interesting stories of bravery and adventures  to tell--worthy of novels and movies. If you know an elderly person, take time to visit with them about their lives during the War.  If never a part of the military, the folks on the Home Front also have memories of sacrifice, privations, and changes in the culture of the period.
Comments are welcomed! Click below.

Father John McHugh---WWII POW

A few months ago, my daughter Kristine called to tell me that she had met someone who had to be included in this book (at that time, I was still thinking “short story). She had been to a dear friend, Bernadette Cathers Valsquez, wedding, and had met Fr.  John McHugh.  Kristine told me that Fr. John is a riot, and so personable to visit with, but that was not why he needed to honored.”--. Fr. John, a bombardier with the 448th Bomber Group, was declared dead along with the entire crew of his plane that exploded on a bomb run. It was not until after the end of the war that Father (at that time Lieutenant  John McHugh) and two fellow crewmen were found among over 9,000 POWs at Stalag Luft #1 at Barth, Germany on the Baltic Sea.  
   I told Kristine that sounded like a wonderful story, but I was writing about nurses. Then she told me (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story. Father had a sister Mary who was a flight nurse during the war.  Of course, Mary's heart broke when she learned her brother and the entire crew had been lost. It was also difficult knowing that her parents were suffering so much anguish. After the war, one of her last assignments before discharge was serving on the crew of one of the final evac flights of Stalag Luft #1. The events that followed is the stuff of movies about miracles.
. Recently, I checked out Stulag Luft #1 in Barth, on the NET and was amazed with the 1st person accounts that are available. If you would like to learn more, a very interesting, informative sites is:

In addition, you can see Fr. John McHugh on YOUTube.  If the following won’t open just type in his name.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Aggie (Agnes Beat)--laughing flight nurse

Remember when we were really young, and anyone 10 years older was OLD. Remember when we were 40, and 75 was old. You get the picture--age is so relative.
    Last week Aggie--beautiful blonde soldier pictured on this blog---came over to play cards with some other friends. We never did play cards; we got too busy visiting and laughing so much, and enjoying each others' company.
    Even though Aggie is 90, she still is not old. Her body is trying to slow her down, but she has a full schedule every week, and I am sure she keeps everyone laughing at each event she attends.
     Unfortunately, she is so  humble that trying to get her to relate stories about her life as a flight nurse is like listening to someone tell about flipping burgers at McDs. One time, the plane on which she was in charge of between 25 & 30 injured soldiers lost an engine and made a crash landing on a remote Pacific island. To hear Aggie tell the story, it was like having a flat tire on a dirt road with a bunch of friends who were hurt a little bit--- so she took care of them until help arrived.
       When, I was a kid, and my mother's nurse friends would come to visit, I never dreamed that over fifty years later one of them would become my dear friend.  Aggie has the most wonderful, contageous laugh and spreads joy to all she meets. I can imagine most all the soldiers she cared for must have fallen in love with her. Probably a good thing she saw most only on the long flights from evac centers to real hospitals at Hickam in Hawaii and later to San Francisco.
     Looking at Aggie, and other seniors in our church family, I realize there are so many fantastic interesting stories that need to be told and preserved before it is too late.
    Last evening I was reading through an interview given by my Uncle Ben, (a bomber pilot in Europe during WWII), before he died a few years ago. Another humble person, he mentioned that the people on the homefront also made great, unappreciated sacrifices during the war.
     I would love to hear your stories and use this blog as a "beginning" to honor these people of the "Greatest Generation" who are aging much too quickly.  Please just click below--0 comments to post your reflections

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mom---"a complicated character"

I recently entered the first two chapters of the book I am endeavoring to write in a national contest, and I had been notified a couple of months ago that it was a finalist.  Received notice last week that it did not win, but the wonderful thing was the notice came with critiques for improvement---something I really welcome. However, these were not very helpful.
    One stated that Polly--Mom-- was too complicated. "At first she is a nurturing, caring young nurse, but then is cussing out someone, and being an exibitionist."  Well, if they knew Mom, they would know that was her. Loving one minute and yelling and cussing the next.
   Another critic said that Mom's  profanity was unrealistic for women during the WWII time period. Oh, that person must be young and innocent. 
   It was nice to be a finalist, but wish the critics had known Mom.  I acquired many more colorful words and phrases from her than Dad, most often the gentleman.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Honoring unsung heroes and heroines

Hi All,
Ever since I read Tom Brokaw's wonderful book  The Greatest Generation which details the sacrifices of military men (mostly), I have felt that a book needed to be written about the people on the homefront and what they did to keep the war machine moving. I know some books have been published, but none had the stories that my parents told--some funny, some poignant. What began as a short story about Mom and her nursing school buddies, and a few stories about Dad is now over 100 pages and still growing.
      This is because I  have become good friends with Aggie, one of Mom's best friends during nursing school. This wonderful, feisty woman, who turned 90 in May, joined the Army-Air Force after graduating from nursing school and served as a flight nurse in the Pacific. Her humility makes it difficult to discover many stories through her, even though she is as "sharp as a tack." Therefore,  I have done quite a lot of research with the help of Air Force archivists and learned so much about the heroic actions of WW II flight nurses. Unfortunately, there is little written for the common citizen about the action of  WW II flight nurses, and their experiences are just beginning to be honored.  Anyway, what began as a short story for family to honor my parents has become a much bigger project, and will include other people of the WW II  era and their stories.
  For her birthday last month, I gave Aggie a copy of what I have written thus far, and she was delighted and said, "I almost wet my pants remembering antics we pulled as student nurses.  
   If you are interested in WW II and especially know anything about flight nurses during WW II, I would love your input. If you have homefront stories about people who deserve to be honored, this is a great place to begin to honor them.
Hope we make lots of friends who are also interested in the era of "the greatest generation."