Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Relieving Stress

When I’ve had an especially stressful  day, relaxing in a nice warm bath is the most wonderful way to ease my mind and wash away worries and put problems aside, for at least a little while. No matter what has happened with students or other concerns in my life, I doubt that I will ever experience the stress the pilots of WW II faced during each mission.
Not only did they have to fly for hours in formations so close that their wing tips almost touched, they had to accurately drop their payload while flying through skies black with gun powder from exploding shrapnel. In addition, in the back of their minds was always the knowlege that the lives of their twelve or more crewmen were in their hands. Even after a succesful bomb run, the return flight of the seven and eight hour missions could be extremely dangerous, as the pilots were often nursing badly wounded birds back to base. 
Unfortunately, Uncle Ben and other pilots stationed in sunny Italy had only freezing showers in which to relax and wash away stress. For that reason, Ben had an aversion to showers. Next to God, Margie, and country, playing cards was probably his greatest love. Not until fellow crewmen refused to play any more cards with him that Ben showered after a 29 day stint avoiding it.  His mother, my Grandma Anna would have been appalled.
That seems so ironic to me because this uncle always seemed the epitome of the gentleman But, I don’t blame him. I can’t think of many things less relaxing than taking a shower in icy cold mountain water, especially when it is cold outside. Just another reason to appreciate all that the Vets did for us, and to thank God daily for the conveniences that are so easy for us to take for granted, like bathroom facilities and warm water.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wrong Perceptions

     Amazing how the media colors our thoughts and perceptions, and we presume we know something only to learn that we are completely wrong. In any movies I‘ve seen about WW II, even old ones, the pilots lived in barracks, not fancy, but at least offering a little protection. Reading the little details we have about Uncle Ben’s life while stationed in Italy, that “knowledge” was blown to bits.
                          Uncle Ben's Crew 
            Ben is on first row-- 2nd from the right.
     I had contacted my cousin Bob Wetta for information about Ben, his dad. He sent an interview his son, Brian, had conducted with his Grandpa Ben about his service during the war. The information was quite enlightening about life for the pilots while on the ground. Seems they did not live in barracks at all, but four men to 16 X 16 tents with no conveniences. Suddenly a totally new picture is playing in my head, much similar to to the TV show Mash, and the living quarters of Hawkeye and B.J., cramped, chaotic and completely void of any privacy.
 In in the small compound of Mash, the showers were close at hand, while at the airbase at Foggia, Ben had to cover the distance of a football field to take a cold shower. Even though Italy may be in a more temperate region, the temperatures can drop below freezing during the winter, and snow is common. Taking a shower in freezing cold water was not a luxury to anticipate. The men would shave in their tent, warming water over in a tin can over a candle. Learning more about the deprivations my uncle suffered, makes me admire him and the other pilots even more.
     It also reinforces the precept that we always have more to learn, and never to make rash judgments. Things are not always the way we have learned or perceived them to be. I had occasionally visited w/ our new neighbors across the street, but was recently dismayed that their yard was overgrown and the place was looking shabby. I prayed they were not going to neglect their property, and we would have to look at it every time we walked out the door.  Last week, I saw the pre-teen daughters coming home from school, and they stopped to visit. My face was red, and my spirit humbled when I learned their mother had a massive brain infection suddenly erupt before Easter. She had undergone surgery and had been in intensive care in a hospital in Wichita (60 miles away) for two weeks---will be in rehab at least two more weeks. And I was concerned about them being poor neighbors!!! What did Jesus say about removing the plank from your own eye before worrying about the speck in your neighbor’s!  When will I ever learn?