Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back North out of this heat

It has been a lot of fun here in DuQuoin, IL at the Fleetwood Motor Home Association Rally and reuniting with friends made last year in WY at the first rally of this group, BUT, this heat and humidity is absolutely not for me....no way no how, not now, not then!  When we chose to relocate out of CA I drew the line at humidity with self awareness that it was not something I could tolerate.  I do not like heat either but then so many use that excuse, "well it's dry heat.."  Forget it, I lived in 100 degree Sacramento sweltering  while being dressed daily in suits and panty hose and it's just as hot! 

I appreciate  four seasons  so would not want  a perpetual summer.  You may remind me of that when it gets frigid this winter and if we are immobile in MN.  But this heat and humidity would find me inside like a mole in the air conditioner which makes my throat tingle after a while, and without gardens.  So places south were out of the question  for retirement relocation although I love TN.  This week in southern IL has confirmed wisdom.  We get that white fluffy stuff that has to be shoveled in MN in the winters but it is not oppressively hot so I will be happy to journey back north!.

But another comment  has arrived, on my blog from my 2nd cousin's grand daughter who found my blog looking for information on her ancestry and her great grandmother in particular. I wrote about my Great Aunt Frances Mroz back several Sepia Saturdays ago  and my Great Aunt Francie is  Amber's great grandmother.  Trouble is Amber did not leave a way for me to reply to her request and her astonishment about finding family information on my Sepia Saturday posts.  I have had such success with these hits and expanding our family base. 

So I am taking time to post to the blog in hopes that Amber will return and send me her email address to establish contact.  Odd that she found the blog and commented but did not leave a way to reply.  I hope she follows up and reads this so I can pass along information to her some of which she can glean from my blog.   

Friday, June 25, 2010

Unknown Bride for Sepia Sat Week 29 (Click Here to See Others Posts)

This beautiful bride is one of three identical  sepia photos  I found among my family--one at Mom's when she died, one at my aunt Virginia's house that we cleared out last year after she died and one at my Uncle Carl's among a folder labeled only "some cousins."  That all three (sisters and brother)  had this photo leads me to believe they knew her and that perhaps she married into the family and became a cousin. But then because they all had an identical photo of only the bride, perhaps she is the cousin.  It is odd that there is no photo of a complete wedding party, nor of bride and groom. Mom had penciled  1942 on her photo.   I believe I have seen  this same woman  in other snapshots somewhere in my family archives.  We are on the road in our RV and I have little time to post but have a few scanned  photos on my traveling thumb drive, so I offer this mystery bride from sometime in the  1940's. She is posed grandly by this arch and the sides appear to have palm fronds, unusual for PA.  I have never seen another similar photo of a wedding pose in the family collections... Also the month of June is nearly done, and known as the month of weddings, so this mystery bride seemed appropriate for my Sepia posts for June. 

PS... After Nancy's comment and others echoing same, I do believe she is not a bride at all but some sort of pageant winner!  Why  couldn't I think of that?  That explains lack of wedding party photos, no groom, etc.  Still the mystery of her is to be solved, perhaps revealed as I continue to dig through old photos....With this determination, I can point out the benefit of working with all the Sepia posters, world wide, together we can share and help each other solve some mysteries in our photos.!

To see other posts by our international Sepia bloggers click on the title above or here ignore error messages that seem to be appearing when I click the link and just click on the Sepia Saturday, I can't explain what's happening.....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

From Nordstroms to Dollar Stores and WalMart

It  has  just occurred to me again, as several times here in retirement land, how different things have become from my frantic  career professional days.  Today I have joined the ever increasing numbers of folks who browse the Dollar Stores searching for unknown bargains.   I shun most trinkets  in the Dollar Stores, made in China, but finding brand names like  Kleenex, Scrubbing Bubbles,  even Suave for $1 encourages me.  I notice locally the stores are filled with the college kids and many others as well, a far cry from CA where the yuppies wouldn't look twice.  Here in the Midwest where the economy seems far ahead of the left coast, people  are more cognizant of getting the most out of the dollar.

Jerry said years ago that I had become the queen of Walmart on our RV travels.  Well sometimes we do pull our   motor home into  a WM parking lot for a quick and free overnight stay and then it is very convenient to go inside and pick up a few items.  I have learned that merchandise can vary across the country, for example in New Mexico the attire was  bright and ornamental, appealing to the Hispanic populations. 

How different my world is today!  Back in my career days I had a personal shopper at  Nordstroms who would call me for the best sales, newest suits, wardrobe updates.  And I usually always bought something from the attire she had ready for my trying on.  Today J C Penney's and good old Wal Mart carry most of what I buy with an occasional trip to Herberger's or Macy's.  But today knit tops,  tank tops, shorts, jeans, capris and utmost casual attire  are my preferred garb.  It's way cheaper!  Even then I sometimes ponder, "I could sew this  for less"

Heck today I even get to Curves, bike around town for errands or take off in our motor home as right now without a drop of any makeup, lipstick, mascara or eyeliner, just my trusty lip balm.  Used to be at least I swabbed on the  mascara and eyebrow pencil, now, I feel perfect freedom to go as I am.  I never would have done this before in CA when I always  made sure I applied  mascara, liner and shadow to run to the grocery store!

Before we moved I donated so many women's clothes and shoes  to the women's shelter in Auburn for which  our church held an annual clothing drive event.  After we moved and more of the same attire sat in my closet I donated even more to a local similar place where clothing is free to women needing a hand and entering the job market.  I have not bought a suit since 2003!  I retired in 2004.  I have retained one  black and one  navy suit and a few of the fabulous knit ones that I became fond of, Weekender brand which was washable, saving lots of $$  on my weekly drycleaning.  Actually most of my working attire is all gone, but then I lost weight and trimmed down too so much no longer fit well. 

These thoughts just came meandering by at how my life has changed in retirement.  From Nordstroms to the Walmart and  $Dollar store!  I have become fascinated by the Dollar Stores across the country as there are  variations in offerings depending on region, too.       Another  find and favorite is my  local Aldi grocery stores with limited selection, but very good prices; when we travel we frequent an Aldi's when we can as well.  To think I shunned it for a long time because they charge 25 cents for the cart, refundable when the cart is returned to it's place, saving them loss of carts in parking lots.  Besides Aldi's has the very best European dark chocolate candy bar!  Finding bargains was not always on my mind but now I have become almost in an obsessive  contest with myself  in how much I can save!  Things change in retirement for sure.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"700 Sundays" by Billy Crystal

I picked  this little book up  at the Dollar Store and thoroughly enjoyed all only 182 pages of it reading  most of it in only one evening.   I have long been a Billy Crystal fan so  his  memoir, "700 Sundays" was a no brainer to  add to my basket.  His father dies suddenly  when Billy is only 15 and he calculates they had only 700 Sundays together , thus the title.  Billy describes his grief in a way that touched me and rang so true, he says it's like being given a heavy boulder/rock  to carry the rest of your life!  And the haunting feeling of not being all here but having the "otherness" as he calls it.   He reminds us that after JFK's assassination the entire country has the "otherness."  The chapter about his Aunt Sheila in Boca Raton, FL had me laughing so hard, that I snorted my cup of tea which I sip with an evening read!  He's that kind of a guy, Billy Crystal, the  ultimate comedian. His childhood is not typical but in ways the family memories are.   I don't know how I missed this book when it first was published in 2005, but I thank the Dollar Store, besides the entertaining and  heart warming writing about his family, there are endearing photos.  Pick it up at a Dollar Store near you.  The best buy around about "heroes...laughter...family"! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sepia Saturday Post Week 28 My Father Lewis S Ball

This weekend marks a holiday created to honor fathers, a day I seldom appreciated and a day that has morphed into commercialism marked by sales of Hallmark cards, ties, fishing paraphernalia, bar-b-que accoutrement's, or other mementos of male hobbies. I will share some photos of my father Lewis S Ball and some photos from his collection; he was an avid photographer until he entered pilot training and then must have become too busy to take many snapshots.

I wrote about my father on Sepia Week 19 and if you have read my blog that I never knew him because his plane and crew disappeared somewhere in the Atlantic returning to Charleston, SC from the Bahamas on June 20, 1944 enrolling me as one in the nearly 185,000 American children designated by our government as war orphans. I belong to an organization, American World War II War Orphans Network source of immeasurable resources and unbelievable support among those of us who shared similar stories growing up not knowing, and not even knowing anyone like ourselves. Tomorrow, June 20 designated father’s day summons my need to remember the man I never knew, continue to grieve his loss after and still 65+ years, ponder how different my life might have been, and share more photos and stories about his journey.

He and Mom married June 12, 1943 at Maxwell Field, AL. I think Mom figured she best travel there  from PA and hook up with this young guy who had courted her at home after they met at a Polish wedding. His  mother was furious and I wish I could  know how he told her about it, Anna Ball said that the eldest son was supposed to marry first and Lou was the middle son, also her favorite, so she did not want to let him go.  My aunt told me a few years ago that  Louie was always coming around to the house and Mom was smitten because he had a car.  Besides that he had dreams.  But they were to be set aside as he enlisted into the Army despite the vehement protest of his mother who felt that having the oldest son, Eddie, off to war was enough.  But not for my dad.  He wanted to go and help.  He and so many other young men.  Later he would admit to his baby brother Henry that he wondered what lay ahead and if he'd been so smart after all.  He had some fear, but then it was too late, he was a pilot in the Army Air Corps,  soon  to fly to England in the War effort, likely he'd been briefed about the D Day invasion,  with only 86 hours training and yet on  the complex B-24.  By the time he was fated for his final flight from Charleston to the Bahamas and back, he knew the Air Crew members odds were not great, when a plane went down that was the end of most of the crew, few survivors.  Still Dad had dreams, he went into pilot school because he was quick and he really wanted to make a difference, he wanted to fly the fighter planes, the P-38's.  Ahh but they needed the B-24 guys on the fronts.  He had been briefed about what lay ahead.  The odds were not good.   This is one of the few photos my mother gave me when I was  in my teens, she called it "that damn plane!"

Here is the Maxwell Field Chapel where Helen and Lou  married June 12, 1943,  which upset both their families as they  both came from avid devoted Roman Catholics.  How could they go to a chapel?  Followed by photos from my dad’s collection of Maxwell Field with different labels all photos in the scrap book which I’ve now scanned. I’ve not been to Maxwell but they immediately responded to my inquiry for copies of the investigation of the plan accident and couldn’t have been more gracious. I am grateful to them.

A Preflight 1943  book from my father's training says, "This is Maxwell Field, red earth covered by green splotches of grass, yellow stucco barracks reflecting the bright sunlight and shimmering heat of an Alabama day.  ...Cadets, pilots, engineers, mechanics, instructors, tactical officers  along the flight line throwing off silver streaks of lights in the mid afternoon.  The roar of motors overhead and a thousand craned necks taking a quick look at the future..."   I like this photo of the band marching and the flag being foisted. 
Maxwell Field  was one  of the oldest of the  Army Air Corps flying fields in 1943 named after William C Maxwell, who died in an airplane accident in the Philippines.   This was headquarters for Southeast Army Air Corps training and the Preflight  school where men like my father were first inducted into flight training.

 The photo of the flight line below of planes is one my dad had titled on the back, Maxwell, on the line.  It is a treasure to me. 

As is this one of the men, I think the guy with his  arm folded, leaning on the wing is my dad, but not sure because he only wrote  "line talk" on this one...  All these photos are in a scrapbook I have assembled about him and most of these I found after Mom died in 2004.    The following are the fighter planes that Dad coveted, and on the back of this photo he wrote, "1943 on the line Maxwell"

When I first heard the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale and knew that my father disappeared in the ocean somewhere, I began to think that perhaps he too was in the belly of a whale somewhere and might return someday. I never talked about this with my mother who’d remarried and put it all behind her, or so I thought until so many years later after her divorce from the evil abusive man she married, when she would tell me what a wonderful man my father had been. She said when 9/11 happened here that it took her back so long ago to my dad and the end of hope. She prayed that others would not see all their dreams and hopes end. I don’t know why, maybe I had my mind on who knows what but I did not question her more, then again after growing up where no one talked about him, maybe it was deep seated in me to not ask anymore.

Here is my dad’s mother, mother Anna Kudzia Ball, in 1958, the grandmother with whom I had little contact, but who would look at me and cry, “The picture of Louie.” I suppose my mother felt this would upset me and it did, what child wanted to be greeted by grief and tears when they saw their grandmother? There was unresolved bitterness between my mother and Anna because Anna received my father’s life insurance policy. I never really believed this until I saw all the papers documenting this when Mom died, I guess I could not believe my grandmother could be so selfish, but she was.   Anna  came to the hospital when I was born and  wanted my mother to give me to her because she had lost her Louie, her son.  Mom and my mother's mother ran her out of there !  But having lost an adult  son now I can more appreciate the heartache she carried to her grave, always believing that someday Louie would come home, no trace ever being found of the crew or the plane.   I learned through AWON that this happened to many other women and sometime the mother did the right thing by the widow and as in my case sometime not, the soldiers just did not remember to change beneficiaries on  those policies when they married. 

Here is his father, Frank Ball  in 1944 with the dog they called Pooch.  Frank  died when I was only 7 years old. I barely can remember, but I remember a very big funeral. I was told that he was a wonderful person too, and the funeral was huge because everyone liked Frank.  Besides being a miner and a part time farmer he tended bar at the Polish American Club in Harwick.  He was very generous and let many run a tab, believing that a man should not ever be denied a drink.   I wonder to this day if he knew that Anna took the money from the insurance policy.  As you can tell I have so many unanswered questions.

This picture of the  3 boys is of my father and his two brothers, Eddie, the oldest,Henry the  baby,my dad Lou taken in PA on the family homestead in about 1936.  I just received this by  email  last year from my cousin Carol, Uncle Eddie's daughter.  The youngest brother, Henry lived in CA and I had a relationship with he and his wife and family.  Henry died in 2008, but I am still in contact with my cousins and Aunt Pearl, his wife.  Eddie died suddenly from a heart attack in the 1970's.  Anna lived until 1980. 
Something that I enjoy doing is gong to places  today and taking photos where my Dad took photos so long ago.  It is a twinge of following in his footsteps.  This is the Belmont Hotel in Madison Wisconsin, Dad took the black and white photo in February 1943 when he was at Truax Field in Wisconsin.  It was built in 1924 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, it still stands but today is a YWCA home for homeless women.  Its height  of 140 feet instigated legislation limiting the size of future buildings in Madison to not exceed the height of the Capitol building just  down the street.  This legislation is still in effect today. 
I took the color photos in 2007. 

So to my father, ever  2 Lt. Lewis S Ball, pilot of fatal flight June 20, 1944, that never returned from Nassau, the Bahamas Morris Field, with Combat Crew 193,    I'll be seeing you.....I close with one of my favorite photos of him  taken May, 1944; who knew, who would have dreamed.....here he looks out to sea....what is he thinking what is he seeing........

Click on the title to get to the Sepia Saturday site and then link to read others' posts.....or  click here...   

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No broom trip required

Looks like I will not have to ride my ready broomstick to PA to resolve the issue about Uncle Carl's medication.  I have talked to everyone and  got very speedy results as I am prone to do; so this morning I pedaled my trike off to Curves and around town.  Most of these people know enough of me to  realize I will not be put off.

First the psychiatrist's nurse  returned the call  for the doctor yes and advised that he had not  prescribed that medication, that Carl was on it when he first saw him so he decided to continue it.  I explained that I thought this might have come as something to do with the urinary trac infection he had in March when they obtained antibiotics from Dr. Ferlan, the  primary care physician.  But after I researched I  was alarmed at this drug and did not feel it appropriate for my Uncle nor was it the "standard of care."  (Remember that phrase when dealing with the medical community. It really gets their attention! I learned about this in my professional career in the bureaucracy of CA.)  She said, "well  doctor said he would be willing to discontinue this medication if you do not want him on it."    "Well of course I don't want him on it--it's for schizophrenics for crying out loud not for dementia and is contra indicated for use with elderly, which I presume 92 years of age readily  qualifies as!"  I am wondering what kind of psych I am dealing with now that he has readily deferred to my  questions and yet I also feel a sense, of "oh not me, I didn't do it"   although I had been assured that he is an excellent doctor and had  a good impression when I spoke with him in PA.  Meantime she tells me that my Uncle had exposed himself and I went through the phone lines with a shrill "What?  When?  Who said, where,!  Uncle Carl doesn't even like to shower in front of the  female aides that work there!  That is absolutely out of character for him even with dementia!  Tell me the specifics because this is the first time I've heard such things.!"   She said she did not have any further specifics but that they would call the facility to immediately discontinue the meds and then we would see what happens.  Well we certainly will.  I thank her for the prompt response, within a couple hours of my initial call yesterday, and  hang up. 

Now I am angrier and perplexed as to why if this episode indeed occurred, no one has mentioned it and that facility knows well that I am to be contacted about everything.  When Jerry comes back inside I march upstairs and tell him I am really angry with Logan House (that's the facility where my Uncle resides.) and that plans for the RV rally trip may  not fit with a broom ride I may take to PA.   When Jerry hears this, he's dumbfounded too recalling that our entire time in PA  all everyone said was that Carl was doing fine.  So I tell him I will call the facility director in the morning as he has not yet returned my call and was out  when I called.  I recall my conversations with the aides on the weekend, because I know they can talk more freely if "management" is not hovering and yet they never indicated any  "exposure" or weird behavior like that. 

Meantime I put in a call to the primary care physician, but it's too late, the office is closed for the day. 

This brings us to bright and early 9:10 this morning  and the call from Phil, the director of Logan House.   Being his cheerful self he asks what he can do for me and  yet says, "but first, we got a call from Dr, K to discontinue Carl's medication today...so that's good."  That's good indeed I think, but I  explain curtly to him that I was more than  annoyed about this drug when I looked it up and further what, where, when, etc happened with the exposure?    He is  rather surprised too and since he is really involved and  in that facility daily and even stops by on weekends and brings his son along, I am now onto something.  The assistant director, Val, who is also an RN is in Phil's office and he asks her, "Has Carl ever exposed himself?"  I can hear Val say, "no, but Dr. K said it happened the first time he saw him."  I find this odd, could there have been a miscommunication  where perhaps my Uncle thought the doctor wanted to examine him?  This Dr. K is east Indian and has an accent while Carl is hard of hearing, so who knows.  Now we have a three way conversation as I tell Phil that  the Dr. K, the psych. said he had not prescibed the meds, so who did?  Phil assures me  they will investigate and I assure him that they must because I have a call in to Dr. Ferlan as well.  I explain that Carl has been on this medication since the end of March when the antibiotics came in for his  infection.  Now I am livid again, a mistake?  A mix up in meds?  Where?  Who?  The pharmacy, the facility, the doctor?  I also explain that I noticed a change in his habits while I was there, more tired, sleeping more but wrote it off to aging and now I suspect it may have been the medication.   Well, Phil is the  professional and  as I said knows  a bit about me and my background and ability to stir up a hornet's nest, so he is very concerned. 

Later today he calls me back to confirm the prescription came from Dr. Ferlan's office when the infection was underway and the facility called for antibiotics. And I ask him why then they would not have questioned the medication when it arrived, to which he has no response because he knows I've got him.  I mention to him as I did to Dr K's nurse that Aricept and Nomenda (?sp?)are the appropriate prescriptions for these cases and that I had previously discussed this with Dr. Ferlan and with Phil at the facility and we all agreed that there was no need to medicate Carl.   I have yet to hear from Dr. Ferlin, but I will.  I am satisfied now that I have my uncle safe from anti psychosis producing medication, but  whoever prescribed that has answers to provide.    Proving once again that we must be ever vigilant even in dealing with good  care  facilities for the aged.  Imagine what can happen to the elderly who have no one to oversee and or no one with knowledge. 

The rest of this story will fall into place, did a nurse misunderstand, was the drug for someone else, did the pharmacy mix up something?  But I have reserved my broom ride yet again.  It's good to be known in such a way  that responses are swift. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The roses are set but I am not

The roses have been fed, weeded, trimmed and now I am in from the sun.  Oh it smells so divine out there   in the rose garden and actually out front period.  What a sweet wonderful scent from the bushes fully in bloom!  Not  much  better than that!   I  will soon be back to listening to the  3rd session of "Building Great Sentences" by Professor Brooks Landon, a writing class that I purchased from the Teaching Company, but I have to let out more steam and what better place than here on the blog. 

I am  awaiting  return phone calls regarding my uncle Carl.  I  researched the medication recommended by the  consulting geriatric Psychiatrist  who is making calls to the facility where Carl resides.  It is "resperidone" and if I had  learned about this while I was in PA I would have had very swift action. He has been on it for  two months and initially when he had a urinary tract infection along with an antibiotic.   I noticed Carl is  a bit slower but attributed it to the aging decline.  I spoke with this psychiatrist who explained the need to keep him in a  routine, etc.  Yeah, well I know that too.  But today I learned that this drug can have very severe side effects, including cardiac arrest in the elderly and that it is primarily for  bipolar and or schizophrenic patients.  OMG my Uncle has dementia, not that!  I am really fuming about this, so there are going to be some answers today and or I will return to PA with a vengeance. Both the director of the facility and this psychiatrist are not going to ignore me.  I am not uneducated in geriatric care having more information than the average bear  from my professional career, so I will resolve this.  I cannot understand why he would not have prescribed Aricept or Nomenda, both of which are  commonly used drugs for dementia patients.  Well we are certainly going to have explanations about this.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

3 Reads now on to better books

Just finished the 218 page “Spirit Car” by Diane Wilson. It is part memoir and part historical fiction about her heritage, Dakota (Sioux) Indians and their ungodly mistreatment in the 1860’s. I met Diane this winter at our local Library when she came one evening to discuss her book. I learned a lot about local history reading this and even about certain settlers and fur traders like the Myricks for whom a park in La Crosse is named. There were parts where it lost me when she delved into what she termed “intuitive anthropology” where fact and history and fiction or intuitions combine. It’s unlikely I would have ever picked this book up, but I feel smarter for having read it. Certainly the Indians were severely mistreated in this part of the country buy the settlers of Scandinavian descent in particular. Driver from lousy land to reservation to more lousy land and finally forced to march to Ft. Snelling, MN which was an Indian concentration camp. Diane includes what she knows about her Dakota heritage. It was interesting to read how her family assimilated and intermarried to survive until traces of Indian heritage vanished. Her mother was left at an Indian boarding school at a young age and the family moved on without her though a few years later they sent for her. The family  shows no bittrness but over and over merely the attitude, "that's how it is and we  survived and did our best."  Quite stalwart and admirable.  Parts are heart rending and parts of the book are horrifying such as the hanging of the Indians in Mankato in 1862. Some parts lost me as she describes imaginatively driving a Spirit Car for her ancestors back in Nebraska and South Dakota. How the half breeds chose to participate in the Civil War impacted their history. I have a curiosity and sympathy for these people who were more abused than the slaves of the south.   And I can better relate to them coming from a family that did not discuss its own history but just wanted to forge ahead. Anyone interested in fur traders and early northern Indian history would benefit from reading this book. It was serendipity that I learned of this book.

On our trip took along a book that has been on my “to read” shelf for some time, “The Memory Keeper’s’ Daughter” by Kim Edwards. This is a distinctive novel set in Kentucky about a snow storm and the nurse who assists the doctor in the birth of his twins; one twin is born with Down’s syndrome. The doctor tells the nurse to take the baby to an institution. He never tells his wife instead, he tells her that the daughter was still born. The nurse, Caroline, instead after visiting the institution determines to keep the baby and raise her as her own; she leaves for Pittsburgh where she raises Phoebe, the child. Life takes strange turns as Norah, the mother and Dr. David Henry, the father continue their lives and raise their son. The ever needy dependent Norah finally hits her own stride and becomes a successful travel agent and David who thinks he controls and fixes everything, cannot accept that. Parallel stories occur with Caroline in Pittsburgh and the Henry’s in KY. David pursues his hobby of photography with a vengeance and his fame brings him to Pittsburgh where Caroline comes to see him. This was an entertaining novel and a good one to read over time as on our trip. It was not always easy to put it down but then I managed to regain the story line when I did return to read. So this novel can be read at multiple settings. It is a memorable story finally when Norah learns of her daughter and David dies. Not so much eloquent writing that I admired in this book, but there are some good lines, pg. 7, “ .. the lie from a year before darting like a dark bird through the room….” I would recommend this book which was a NYTimes Bestseller 2004-05.  It  kept me interested waiting to see what happened with Caroline and Phoebe and I was not at all disappointed in the  ending with some reunification, but Phoebe defiantly declaring to Norah and others, "She  is my Mom" referring to Caroline.  

A month or so back I finished, “Falling Through the Earth” by Daniele Trussoni, who is almost a local author writing about growing up in La Crosse, WI as the daughter of an alcoholic Vietnam vet. There was quite a bit of publicity about this book when it was released a couple years ago.   It was interesting for me to read about local places that I recognize. But the book was tiresome. Her father takes her to rise when the parents divorce as the wife and mother can no longer tolerate his drinking. It is clear and very understandable that the author favored her father, and why not when the mother seemed distant to this daughter. I can say that she falls into not such good habits in her teen years including drinking, smoking and forging her father’s signature on checks though this perhaps was how she survived. She does leave her father and return to live with her mother at age 16 which may have been her salvation; to her credit that she does attend college and survives to write this memoir. She becomes strong but hard. She did not have an easy life at all and I cannot decide whether she wrote this book to memorialize that or to vilify war and the military. Her prejudice about the Vietnam War comes through loud and clear. She refers to small towns as “reservoirs of the draft….where men went to war without resistance….” Obviously she cannot fathom patriotism. She claims to go to Vietnam to better know her father, but to me it seems she does that to solidify her own attitude toward war and how wrong it is. She blames it on causing her father’s alcoholism resulting from his Army tour there as a tunnel rat. I could not help but think that he may have been destined to be the way he was regardless of Vietnam after reading about his family and environment. She describes her own trip to Vietnam seeking answers, which I found a bit tedious. Still I do like to read memoirs and this book is that coming from her own experience. I would not really recommend it as an entertaining or intriguing book.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Flag Day JUNE 14 2010

This cartoon  sums up why we proudly fly the flag today and all days......

Today I remember my father  2 Lt. Lewis S Ball who gave his life  for our flag, he and his Combat Crew 193 Army Air Corps flight from Nassau to Charleston, SC.....June 20,  1944.   Ironically it will be  on Father's Day that I will again remember and miss my dad whom I never knew the most.  

I consider my Uncle Carl who served with vigor through Europe seeing and living through things he would not share with anyone who was not there, saying only to me, "It was allright if you survived.  I was a lucky one."  I remember our fallen soldiers who left gaps in hearts.  

Fly the flag  proudly, beat the drum loudly for somewhere a soldier has given his all .......

I was born June 14, 1777
I am more than just cloth shaped into a design.
I am the refuge of the world's oppressed people.
I am the silent sentinel of Freedom.
I am the emblem of the greatest soverign nation on earth.
I am the inspiration for which American Patriots gave their lives and fortunes.
I have led your sons into battle from Valley Forge to the bloody ridges of Korea.
I walk in silence with each of your Honored Dead to their final resting place beneath the silent white crosses row upon row.
I have flown through peace and war, strife and prosperity,
And amidst it all, I have been respected.  

My red stripes symbolize the blood spilled in defense of this Glorious Nation.
My white stripes  signify the burning tears shed by Americans who lost their sons.
My blue field is indicative of God's heaven under which I fly.
My stars clustered together unify  50 states as one for God and Country.
"Old Glory" is my nickname and proudly I wave on high.
Honor me, respect me, defend me with your lives and your fortunes. 
Never let my enemies tear me down from my lofty position, lest I never return.
Keep alight the fires of patriotism.
Strive earnestly for the spirit of democracy.
Worship Eternal God and keep His Commandments.
And I shall remain the bulwark of peace and freedom
           for all mankind.
I AM YOUR FLAG                      by Thomas E Wicks, Sr.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Carl and Marge Sepia Saturday Week 27

I continue with my Uncle Carl and Aunt Marge from last week, because there are so many grand photos in her album. This is the youngest photo I have of Uncle Carl, taken at the Renton School in PA, about 1926 or27 when he was about 8-9 years old. I found an old  newspaper clipping in Uncle's Carl's collections that this school was considered for renovation to senior housing in 1993; we could not find it today so it may have been destroyed.

Two photos taken at commemorative events brought memories of conversations I recall between Carl and Marge.  One of her famous ways of dealing with her stubborn husband was to look up at him and say, "Carl Konesky, if you can't talk nice to me just don't you say anything at all then."  And she would walk away.  I shared that with the aides in the care facility where Carl is today at age 92, because sometimes he gets cranky when they  tell him it's time to shower and he doesn't want to.  He is used to having things his own way, so that's a bit of an obstacle.  I told the young aides they could use those words, from Marge.  They did and he really looked at them oddly and then  said, "That's what Peg used to tell me!"  So he well remembers that.

This first photo from 1940 is from Herman Pirchner’s Alpine Village Playhouse Square, when my Aunt Marge went to Cleveland to attend beautician school. I don’t know why she went to Cleveland because there must have been similar training in Pittsburgh, but that’s what she did and it must have been an adventure for her. Marge is standing, third from the left, and marked on the back, “went out with my girlfriends and had a good time.”  No names for her friends, nor of the others in this photo, but notice the young sailor seated amongst all the lovely women, the only other gentleman two seats down from him. The hats some of the “girls” wore made me recall that Aunt Marge was never a hat person, priding herself on fixing her hair quite nicely and not considering hiding it under a hat. This caused some “talking” at church where all the women wore hats, but not Aunt Marge! That is one reason she preferred the Lutheran church to the Catholic of our family, she did not have to cover her hair.

This “supper club” must have been quite the big city event for a young country girl from Worthington, PA. The front of the folder with the wonderful sketch of the owner with a Tyrolean hat aroused my curiosity, so off to Google which revealed this was a premier theater restaurant in Cleveland in its day. NBC broadcast radio shows coast to coast from this theater with such well known entertainers as Artie Shaw, Cab Calloway and Pearl Bailey. I learned that the owner, Herman Pilcher was quite the entertainer and showman and died at 101 in February 2009. The PS at the bottom of today’s post is a bit of fascinating history from his obituary. 

I remember that Aunt Marge told of living in a rooming house while she went to beautician school and this photo shows her with her roommates, likely in front of that place as it was marked “Me and my roommates” Both photos are 1941. I can see  these same girls in the supper club photo. 

When I saw the supper clubs photo I recalled the banter between my aunt and uncle. Carl always called her Peg and I remember his saying, “well Peg went to a fancy club but I did one better in Los Angeles!” To which she’d reply something, like “Well Carl, that was before we were married and I was with my girlfriends but you did that after we were married and I was back home in PA!” I think this photo taken in 1944 in Los Angeles at the Palladium Club and the one in Mexico must have been the reference of that banter. The soldier with him is Ray, no last name. Uncle Carl was tall at 6’2” but looks short next to his friend.

Can you imagine what his young bride thought when he sent this to her and he was supposed to be on maneuvers in  Arizona and California? That’s my Uncle Carl in the middle front row, sombrero and serape. No names of the fellow soldiers. I can hardly imagine him in such a get up and had never before seen these photos, until I discovered Marge's album this trip to PA.  To be fair, I imagine the young soldiers of the 809th Tank Destroyer Battalion appreciated and took advantage of any breaks for fun that they could while they were stateside. They were training for gruesome life on the European front lines; the desert maneuvers make me think they were to be prepared for combat anywhere, including Africa. It also strikes me that they had more training time stateside than did my father in pilot hours. 

This last photo shows Uncle Carl outside his tent January 12, 1944 Arizona/CA Maneuvers. All his life until he could go no more he was a hunter, a fisherman and an avid outdoorsman.  He said his love of the "woods" began when he was a boy.  

And this 1943 snapshot of his Peg is one Carl carried with him through the war, so it was a bit wrinkled. She had written on the back, “Always thinking of you, dear.” She has a marvelous twinkle in her eye and this appears to have been taken in one of those arcade type photo places, but the tint is interesting.  It shows her with hair just so and as pretty as can be.

PS. Herman Pirchner obituary:
“Herman Pirchner, 101, whose popular Alpine Village supper club on Playhouse Square drew some of the biggest names in entertainment, both as performers and as patrons, from 1934 to 1961, died Sunday. He had run Pirchner's Alpine Village from the early 1930s to 1961. He was known for putting on fabulous floor shows, presenting souvenir rolling pins to new brides in the audience and treating teenage couples, who stopped there for dinner after their senior proms, like royalty.
Cab Calloway, Jimmy Durante, Pearl Bailey, Nelson Eddy, Henny Youngman, Perry Como and the Mills Brothers were among the many top-notch singers, musicians and comedians who performed at the supper club. Other celebrities, such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Fred Astaire and Henry Fonda, might have dinner in the restaurant, and then go upstairs to Pirchner's exclusive Eldorado Club.

Pirchner, who wore Bavarian leather shorts and Tyrolean hat to add to the alpine flavor of his restaurant, delighted his customers by performing his "beer hefting" routine. He would stack steins of beer -- from 25 to 55 -- and balance them in his hands, while running and sliding, like a baseball player, toward a table without spilling a drop before passing the free beer around to amazed diners. In 1933, his beer-carrying accomplishments made Ripley's "Believe It or Not" and March of Time.

As a teenager in the 1920s, he performed as an aerialist and clown for circuses in his native Austria. In 1927, he immigrated to the United States. He ended up in Cleveland, where he had relatives. The Alpine went out of business in 1961 and was torn down in 1993.”

As usual, click on the title to see other Sepia posts this week or here

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The movie,Iris, about Iris Murdoch

Last night I watched "IRIS" a movie that had long been on my Netflix que. I really don't review movies here on my blog, but because this one was about a subject in which I have intense interest, Alzheimer's, here goes.  Alzheimer’s first surfaced in our family through my mother, who died blessedly of a heart attack at age 80 in 2004 as the diagnosis was made. I read all I can about it, fact or fiction, so this movie about the descent into the disease based on the true story of the life of Iris Murdoch, a British writer and philosopher, was a must see. I enjoyed the movie tremendously, if one can enjoy this subject. Kate Winslett plays young Iris and Judith Dench, who is one of my favorite actresses, plays the older suffering Iris. The film depicts the heart wrenching struggles she and her husband, Professor John Bayley, encounter aging with this disease. He is caring for her as best he can but the film shows he is suffering too and about to go under when the doctors finally convince him to institutionalize her. In fact one heart breaking scene he no longer recognizes a long time friend who returns Iris to her home after she strays off. In another he lashes out at Iris and she turns to comfort him.

I was not familiar with Iris or her works, but Googled her today wanting to know more. Wikipedia clarified Iris really was Irish but lived in England. “…an Irish-born British author and philosopher, best known for her novels about sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious. Her first published novel, Under the Net, was selected in 2001 by the editorial board of the American Modern Library as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 1987, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2008, The Times named Murdoch among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". She wrote her first novel, Under the Net, in 1954, having previously published essays on philosophy, and the first monograph study in English of Jean-Paul Sartre. It was at Oxford in 1956 that she met and married John Bayley, a professor of English literature and also a novelist. She went on to produce 25 more novels and other works of philosophy and drama until 1995, when she began to suffer the early effects of Alzheimer's disease, the symptoms of which she at first attributed to writer's block. She died, aged 79, in 1999 and her ashes were scattered in the garden at the Oxford Crematorium. She had no children”

Early in the movie there is an exquisite line which Judith speaks, as Iris is struggling to write and the words don’t come….”We worry so about going mad….those of us who live in our minds…surely someone would tell us….” I was struck by that as I fear Alzheimer’s. Writer’s block! OMG a harbinger of Alzheimer’s? I get that, it’s not just words at times, but sometimes block of thoughts, or total impatience and I can’t get started writing. Only I ignore it and go on my way, off to another hobby, gardening if the weather is good, biking, etc. But then there it is and what if? One more thing to wonder about.

 I spent the better part of my career in state government in Health Services and long term care and Medicaid funding. But when this disease began to manifest in Mom, who lived in PA while I was in CA, I was almost as helpless as any person. It is perhaps the most insidious disease of all robbing people of their minds and memories. I will want to read some of Iris’ works sometime. She was evidently controversial.

“ Was saintly Iris Murdoch a rabid political extremist, long before Alzheimer's could explain any outbursts? Writing to the London Review of Books, biographer Jeremy Treglown recalls raising the issue of striking miners with her in the early 1980s.

"I think they should be put up against a wall and shot," declared the author of “The Sovereignty of Good.”

Here are two of her famous quotes:

 Happiness is a matter of one's most ordinary and everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self.

Being good is just a matter of temperament in the end.

I learned that Professor Bayley donated Iris’ brain for Alzheimer’s research. He said he and his wife talked about the decision during her final months. That is commendable because still today it is the only way research and a possible cure can occur. And it is only through a brain examination, after autopsy, that the diagnosis can be assuredly confirmed. My ex-brother who lives in PA prevailed and so we did not do that with Mom.   I can’t imagine anything worse than this disease unless it is recognizing you have it when you are lucid!

There is another good movie out as well which I watched some time ago, "Away From Her" featuring Michael Caine, whose wife is  being taken by the dreaded A. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Meet my Uncle Carl Sepia Saturday Week 26 (Click to link to others)

I have missed Sepia Saturdays both posting and enjoying others, but am back now for a few weeks before we journey to Southern IL for an RV Rally. We have been in PA tending to matters for my Uncle Carl Konesky who is 92 and living in an assisted living personal care facility since last July due to his dementia. He is content there and doing as well as expected and some days better than others.

He is the last of my family, Mom’s brother and has survived all his sisters. He has outlived his heart  bypass operation in his 60's, stomach ulcers in his 50's and  broken bones along the way.  While in PA trying to get his home cleared to sell, a task which we could not complete this trip despite my optimism,  I found many old photos and some with dates in an album, black pages, labeled with white ink, years ago by Aunt Marge, Uncle Carl’s wife, who died in 1997. I have so much more to write and share about Carl and Marge who never had children, designating me as the surviving blood niece to handle things. Well he was important in my life growing up as was Marge, so I accept this challenge paying back however  I can.

Carl changed the family name to Konesky from Kochanowski, much to the consternation of his father, my Granpap Teofil whom you met several Sepia’s ago. Once Carl did this, my mother and aunts followed suit also using Konesky, but my Granpap never did. Carl said it was easier to spell and to the day he died, Teofil would ask him why if he was so smart he couldn't lkearn to spell his name the right way!

Many years back on a visit to PA my aunt gave me this photo of Uncle Carl at a Fireman’s parade. He was a proud volunteer fireman for more than 50 years and I remember his marching in parades in uniform, spit shined shoes and white gloves. Sometimes he was the leader of the parade and so had a  big brass whistle to blow, which was his from the Army and which I brought home to MN this trip.  He played a harmonica and sometimes a horn. I have always loved this particular photo, which is framed and on one of our bookcases in the study/compuiter hobby room. but until this trip I did not have a date of the photo. Uncle Carl himself did not remember the year when I had asked about it several years back, just saying, “Oh that was long ago.” So I have learned thanks to Aunt Marge’s album that it was in 1938, he would have been 19 or 20 years old and this was one of the river towns along the Allegheny in PA. The  firemen always marched in the  Memorial Day and Veteran's Day parades and had a band.  We observed the Memorial Day parade  this trip to PA and the firemen were there, but riding their trucks and there is no longer a marching band of volunteers.  Today, most of the firemen are paid, full time positions.  My birthday is  in November and for  many years I believed the Veterans' Day parade was part of my birthday celebration, because Uncle Carl told me so and I thought he should know being so prominent in the parades!  I wouldn't miss a beat of the marches  standing there on the sidewalk with my grandmother and grandfather, just beaming and of course, Uncle Carl always made the band stop and play a tune right in front of me.  I was the proudest little girl in town.  I don't know anyone else who really did have their own parade serenades! 

Well just back from weeks away there is a lot of catching up to do around here, laundry to wash, yard work; weeds to pull, etc. so this must be short posting. I am celebrating acquisition of many more photos (which I need like another hole in my head as they used to say) some from his Army experiences in WWII in Germany, France, Belgium where he served with the 809th Tank Destroyer Unit which I will share later.

Here is Uncle Carl as a young Army soldier and Aunt Marge (Lichanec), in September 1942, a month before they were married in Tulsa OK during his early Army years. I have written once before on this blog about Aunt Marge.  You can go to mySeptember 7, 2008 post titled, "Margie Sway" ( http://patonlinenewtime.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-09-08T19%3A51%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=50)
Aunt Marge made her living as a beautician and had her beauty shop in their home until she retired, the same home they built in 1950 and where we are tasked with clearing out lifetimes of accumulations.  I found a small wooden sign, "Marge Konesky's Beauty Shop," that Uncle Carl  painted for her and put at the foot of the steps outside arrow pointing the way, so that those women not  bother him in his garage/shop/mancave. I brought it home and have hung it on the  downstairs in the rec area near the bathroom door.   Uncle Carl was also a self taught artist and  painted   big and small signs for extra money while working full time at the gas company until he retired.  He was an avid hunter and fisherman and as I have said, more to come later.

As usual, click on the title to link to  Sepia Saturday where you can  clickk to other posts.....