Furry and Feathered War Heroes.

Nov 6 2019, 10:11 am in ,

November is Veterans Month

Veterans come in many sizes shapes and species. Yeah! Species. Animals have served and are serving around the world and many are certified heroes.

I believe we are most familiar with military working dogs (MWD) and K9 officers. Dogs have been in warfare since ancient times used as scouts, sentries and trackers. They sniff out explosive devises saving countless lives. They are assigned to safe guard generals and political personnel on visits outside the country. They’ve suffered severe trauma, lost limbs and been honored for their bravery with medals.

Recently Social Media was ablaze over the heroism of this military working dog  assigned to 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, known as Delta Force. 

 

And then there’s

Layka

a Belgian Malinois, shot four times in 2014 at point-blank range by enemy forces in Afghanistan. Despite her injuries, she attacked and subdued the shooter, protecting her handler, and other members of the team. 

 

                                       Sgt Stubby, a war hero from WWI

 He wandered into the training encampment of the Massachusetts of 102nd infantry in 1917. When the unit shipped out to France, Stubby was smuggled aboard ship. On the battle field, the dog alerted his friends to German attacks. He was wounded by a hand grenade, gassed several times, and once found and held a German spy by the seat of the pants until the troops could complete the capture.

When his master was wounded, Stubby accompanied him to the hospital and made rounds to cheer the troops. Sgt. Stubby survived the war and Gen. John Pershing, personally awarded him a gold medal for one of his many efforts. He became a highly decorated dog, among his medals a Purple Heart, and various veteran’s awards. Stubby returned home at the end of the war and became quite the celebrity. He was made a lifetime member of the American Legion, the YMCA, and the Red Cross. He lived at the Y and made recruiting tours for the Red Cross. Stubby passed on in 1926, he was preserved and displayed with his medals at the Smithsonian Institution.

 

Now let’s talk about some of the other animal heroes maybe not so well known like Staff Sergeant Reckless,USMC 

The Staff Sergeant was a beer-guzzling, American hero war horse who bravely transported ammunition and carried wounded Marines to safety under enemy fire in the Korean War

She served with the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, 1st Marine Division, was bought for $250 at a race track in Seoul during the war. The marines taught her to walk over trip wires, avoid incoming enemy fire and deliver huge packs of ammunition during battle.

During the five day Battle of Outpost Vegas in 1953 in one day she made 51 solo—that’s by herself— trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites. Marine Corps history say this battle was particularly savage and Reckless was in the middle of it. Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly “no man’s land” rice paddies and up 45-degree mountain trails to the firing sites. “It’s difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy—remember she was on her own—bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain,” Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalled.

She carried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds – almost FIVE TONS! — of ammunition), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute. She would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns. She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line. Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down.

Her heroics defined the word “Marine.” She was BELOVED by the Marines. They took care of her better than they took care of themselves – throwing their flak jackets over her to protect her when incoming was heavy, risking their own safety.

Her Military Decorations include two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

There is a book about Sgt. Reckless. She has a face book page and she has a bronze statue. 

 

Okay I find this one really well, odd. But Wojtek the bear was bought and adopted by Polish soldiers making their way back east after they were released from a prison camp in Siberia in 1942.

When the unit re-entered the war the only way they could take Wojtek with them was to make him an official soldier. So he became Corporal Wojtek of the artillery supply unit. Wojtek fit in quite well—his favorite activities included wrestling, drinking beer, and Taking showers.

The 440-pound bear became an ammo carrier that ferried heavy artillery rounds to the guns and he was good at his job. His finest hour came during the Battle of Monte Cassino, when he loaded 100-pound boxes of artillery shells into trucks all day long, every day until the battle was won. The army honored Wojtek’s service by putting his image, carrying ammo, on the unit’s official badge. After the war, Wojtek was housed at the Edinburgh Zoo until his death in 1963.

 

Then there are our feathered heroes.

Quite a few carrier pigeons were honored for their service in war. Cher Ami, a messaging pigeon serving in the Argonne Forest with the 77th Infantry. Joe an American pigeon.

In WW1, Cher Ami, a messaging pigeon was serving in the Argonne Forest with the 77th Infantry Division when the battalion of 550 soldiers she was with was completely cut off by German forces. After four days of heavy fighting, friendly artillery decided the battalion must have surrendered already and began firing on them. Ouch! Remember this WW1 could get on the cell and tell them to knock that crap off. They had to use carrier pigeons. Three were sent out and quickly shot down. Cher Ami, with a hole in her chest and a nearly amputated leg, got back into the air and delivered her message. Wow! 194 soldiers made it out alive thanks to her actions.

Joe an American pigeon from Fort Monmouth, N.J. was in Italy. The British advanced on a town the Germans had abandoned and… that U.S. planes were about to strike.  Radio communications couldn’t reach the airfield 20 miles away to tell them the German were gone. Joe saved the day. He carried a message, covering the entire 20 miles in only 20 minutes. His message reached the airfield just as the bombers were taxiing for take off. With only five minutes to spare, the bombing run was canceled, saving the lives of at least 1000 British troops.

Joe retired to the Detroit Zoological Gardens until he died in 1961 at age 18. His body was mounted and displayed for years at Fort Monmouth, which closed in 2011.

 

A pig, Tirpritz, was carried on the German warship Dresden in 1914 as a food source. The Dresden was sunk in battle with the HMS Glasgow off the coast of South America. Tirpitz escaped the sinking ship and swam to the Glasgow. The crew brought him aboard and adopted him as a mascot, named him after German admiral Alfred von Tirpitz and he spent a year aboard. Tirpitz was eventually auctioned off as pork, but in his final act he raised £1785 for the British Red Cross. His mounted head is on display at the Imperial War Museum in London. Tirpitz’s trotters were made into handles for a carving set that traveled with the Glasgow in World War II, giving Tirpitz the dubious honor of serving aboard the ship in two wars.

                                                                               Rita

August 7 is National Lighthouse Day

Aug 7 2019, 11:04 am

A short story to entertain you on National Lighthouse day

Haunted Lighthouse

From William Samuels’ Journal. 

Written on a plane headed to Kansas City.

     I love lighthouses. I grew up a block from the St. Augustine, Florida lighthouse. As a kid the grounds, with its old oaks were my playground. The light and the keeper’s house were basically abandoned after the Coast Guard automated the light.

     I’m not admitting to anything but…entering the structure was—cough—hypothetically possible. Hypothetically, I spent some rainy afternoons in the keeper’s house with a girlfriend or two, making out. Occasionally, of an evening, Clay, my best friend in high school, and I would entice our dates to climb in a window and go into the light. Not up to the top, just stay at the bottom where it was nice and private. I’ve only been to the top a handful of times. Not because it’s 219 steps to the top, but up past the first 50 or so steps I got a queasy, dizzy feeling. Like vertigo. Pretty sure it’s because of the heavy smoke smell permeating the walls. Accumulated from years of cigar and pipe smoking keepers. I also hear phantom footsteps that kept my feet firmly on the ground. One of the times I did go to the top was with a girl. While we were up there she clocked my hard enough to cause a bloody nose. Why? She said I tried to push her over the iron stair railing. I didn’t lay a hand on her and I was pretty mad she said I did something like that.

     Anyhow, that’s how I got started with lighthouses.

     I went away to journalism school at the University of Missouri and believe it or not there aren’t any lights there. I was so used to the beam from the St. Augustine light sweeping past my window every minute and a half I had trouble sleeping. I tried setting a timer on a lamp to mimic the light. Roomie put an end to that real quick.

   After graduation I worked for a couple of small newspapers and freelanced. I could see the internet was killing print media and in my spare time—which had become more than my working time—I began to write the great American novel. Quickly learned I’m no Stephen King. Writing is hard. One night at the corner pub I was telling a friend my sad tale of woe and he gave me the name of a client of his looking for a ghost writer. Well, hell. I gave it a try and found out I could do it and do it well. I live comfortably off my earnings. So do two ex-wives.

     I recently traveled to Michigan to work with a client on his auto-biography. Before taking on a gig I visit a client to gage the tempo of their speech and get a feel for where they live. This makes the ghost writing easier. The client spent his childhood on the upper-peninsula, or thumb, as the locals call it. A nice guy, nothing earth shaking in his life. Some interesting stuff, like his grandfather came to Michigan from Boston on an orphan train. We bonded big time when he tells me about a nearby haunted lighthouse where he and his friends hung out. I’ll be honest, I never thought about lighthouses in Michigan. But, get this, Michigan has more than any other state. The rocky shores on four great lakes have a hundred and twenty. Florida has thirty. Yeah. We shared a few lighthouse stories and a lot of damn good whisky.

     Contract signed and my business concluded, on a whim, I drove my rental to a few of the Michigan lights. At each I was greeted by enthusiastic volunteers who treated me to the stats, stories and secrets of their wards. These bastions are pretty damn amazing. Most, built in the late nineteenth century on inhospitable rocky islands and desolate land, are pounded year round with treacherous weather. Yet, they’re still standing.  Gotta tip my hat to those who built the towers without the heavy equipment we have today.  One thing they had in common with the St Augustine light, they smell of cigar and pipe smoke. I mentioned this to the woman—an aging hippie type—showing me around. She stopped dead in her tracks and put her hand to her throat, breathing hard. Eyes big as Oreos. Thought she was having an attack and was reaching for my phone to call 911 when she told me, in a halting whisper only special people could smell the smoke.

   Alrighty then.   Said my good-bys and beat feet it out of there.

   I made my way to the next Light where a great guy and his wife show me around. At the top of the light the lady, in a hushed voice, says, “The windows are clean.” I thought she was responsible and asking for an atta girl so I told her she did a good job. Although I wasn’t sure how she’d managed to do the outside. The Mrs. politely informs me she didn’t clean the windows, the ghost did.   Okay.

   Moving on, I mention it’s too bad the smoke smell can’t be removed by cleaning. The couple give me a hard look. The Mr. chimes in that not everyone can smell the smoke from the light keeper’s cigars. As if I’ve given them a secret handshake into a paranormal club, tales of haunted lighthouses around the country pour from them. Strange lights, music playing, cries of women and sailors, heavy footsteps on the stairs. Cleaning ghosts, like the one here, who clean light windows and brass. Specters of women in flowing white gowns and men in pea coats.      

     On the ground, outside and after the hairs on my body returned to their proper positions I was slapped alongside the head with a book idea. Thoughts swirled in my mind and I wasn’t able to think of anything else. I’ve heard writers speak of getting ideas this way but this is a first time experience for me. I’m excited. Excited about writing for myself. I can hardly sit still. The woman in the seat next to me keeps giving me funny looks. I gave her a big smile and tell her I’m going to write a damn good book about a haunted lighthouse.

 

     I’m Rita and this is my blog.

 

Fresh Writing and Cliché Busting.

May 6 2019, 8:57 pm in , ,

Ever been dinged in a contest or in a critique for using a cliché? I sure have. What is a cliché?  Here are a few general definitions I found.

  • A cliché is an analogy characterized by its overuse. It may be true (‘Fat as a pig’), no longer true (‘work like a dog’) or inscrutable (‘right as rain’), but it has been overused to the point that its sole function is to mark its user as a lazy thinker.
  • Being predictable and unimaginative; falling into a groove of human boredom; an old tired trend.
  • Something that has been overdone to the point where it is now predictable. A fad that has either died or is dying out.
  • Something that is lame and unimaginative, and, more importantly, has been done many times before.

Look carefully at these definitions. They are very applicable to our writing.  I know you all have heard of the writing oracles Some One, They Say, and They Said. Their teachings and sayings have often been quoted to me in an effort to prevent me from using dreaded clichés. I shall be referring to their words of wisdom here.

I think, to a degree, clichés are unavoidable.  I suggest we take clichés, bend and twist them and use them to our advantage.  Fresh writing or cliché busting.

The actor, John Krasinski and Amazon took a lot of heat for casting him as CIA Analyst Jack Ryan in a Prime Original. Krasinski’s bulk of work had been in comedies. Critics said he was horribly miscast. He’d ruin the series. Well, huge cliché buster and surprise. He was brilliant.

In the movie, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, the Cannibal, Lector, a brilliant physiologist, kills and eats part of his victims. Ewww! Think of all the Hollywood tough guys the director could have picked to play Lector.  Each and everyone, evil, and diabolical.  He chose Anthony Hopkins, a five-foot- six, middle aged, English Shakespearian actor whose only screen roles to date had been portrayals of gentle men. The performance Hopkins gives is chilling. Big cliché buster.

 On more than one occasion, the oracle They Say has made it very clear we should not open a book, or a chapter, with our characters in bed. It’s cliché. They Say is also against opening with descriptions of the weather.  It was a dark and stormy night.  It was a bright sunny day.

Try these.
It was a dark and stormy night on a planet that didn’t have nights or storms.
It was a bright and sunny day. The first in the hundred and twenty years since the war.
Simple, and for me, cliché busters.
Some One is against using cliché sayings. Think of the GIECO auto insurance commercials. They take cliché sayings bend and twist them and make them fun.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Really?
The little pig went wee, wee, wee all the way home.
Can a woodchuck chuck wood? In this commercial we learn they can.
The Drill Sergeant Therapist.
These are cliché busters.

Take a look at the following clichés. Can you twist them to something new?
All’s well that ends well.
An oldie but goodie.
Pick of the litter.
Pay backs are hell.
Kick ass.
I know it like the back of my hand.
Slept like a baby.

I’ll take the last one. A detective asks his partner.
“How did you sleep?”
His partner replies, “Like a baby. I woke up every two hours.”

They Said makes it clear we must stay away from stereotype cliché situations.  Say my WIP is about a middle aged Italian widow who loves to cook.  She has two grown sons and she is constantly talking to them about marriage. What is the first image you conger up?  A short plump woman standing in her kitchen stirring spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon and lecturing her sons they need to get married and give her grand children.

Try this. A hot Italian cougar with her own TV cooking show who is desperate to get her sons to break up with the boring women they are considering marrying, sell their book store, and travel the world for fun and adventure.   Cliché buster.   

I do agree with They Say about descriptions having become predictable.  Just once (yes I used just) I’d like the description of the handsome Lord in a historical to be a bit off.

Lord Brilliantly Handsome stormed into the room. His cravat appeared to be on backwards, his waistcoat was on inside out, his breeches buttoned askance and dear me, his boots were on the wrong feet. Where had his Lordship been and what had he been doing that led him to such disarray?

Or, the beautiful heroine has a penchant for wearing so many ribbons in her hair you can barely see said hair.  

Oh come on, you know you’d like to see it happen.  🙂

 

Bottom line is, listen to our writing oracles. Avoid being a lazy thinker. Don’t use the same overused, predictable, unimaginative, boring clichéd openings, character descriptions, settings and situations.  Spin them, twist them, make them your own to thrill and amaze the rest of us. Go through your WIP. Can you identify a cliché you could rewrite? 

                                                              Rita

 

 

 

Haiku

Apr 15 2019, 10:47 pm in , ,

I’m lucky to have another lovely Poet, Deena Hosmer, blog today. Deena is a very artistic person. I asked her to tell us about her creative endeavors and to share her poetry with us.  Here is what she had to say.  

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with words, how they sound, how they look, how they go together to impart meaning, and where they originated. I often write in my head purely for my own amusement. I truly can’t remember when I started writing; it seems it has always been a part of my life. My entire college career was centered on literature and writing. I began freelance ghostwriting blog posts, articles, and website content more than a year ago, and recently started ghostwriting nonfiction books this year.

I’m also a published designer of cross stitch patterns inspired by quilt patterns, nature, fabric patterns, and anything else that takes my fancy. The one unifying theme is color; I like to combine bright, vibrant colors in unique and unexpected ways. My writing is the same. I enjoy weaving a conversational, sometimes quirky, tone into everything I write.

My favorite form of poetry is haiku. I feel it is the greatest challenge a poet can face to impart so much meaning in a form of poetry that is, by its very nature, composed of so few words. My haiku is usually inspired by emotions and events in my life and interwoven with nature.

If I can’t be found on the computer writing or crafting my next colorful cross stitch creation, I can be found in my garden painting with flowers and telling a story with plants. Every moment of my life is driven by the desire to leave the world a better place than it was before.

 

This was inspired by a huge change in my life. When my position at the university was eliminated due to budget cuts I felt like a fledgling bird suddenly pushed out of the nest. I had no choice but to fly or I would fall to the ground.

 

I wrote this following the death of my older sister in 2011. For me this was a way to express my grief and honor her memory by not letting it break me. I think of her every day and honor her by being the best person I can be.

 

When my husband was in the Navy, before we married we had a long distance relationship. I wrote this double Haiku about him leaving after a visit.

 

Wow. Thank you Deena.  I’m fascinated with Haiku poetry and love these.

 What do you think about her poems? Leave a comment and let her  know.        

 

You can catch up with Deena on Social Media click on the links below.

Facebook

Shoestring Digital Designs     DJs Dreams Cross Stitch Design

 

Poetry with Lynda Ladret

Apr 9 2019, 10:29 pm in , ,

In keeping with the National Poetry Month theme I invited Author and Poet Lynda Ladret to the blog. I met Lynda in a small writing group and asked her to tell us about her writing  and share her poetry with us. 

Rita: Lynda, why do you write?

Lynda: I write to please myself. For my own entertainment and amusement A lot of the stories I write are creative non-fiction, about my past experiences.  On the other hand, my poetry just seems to write itself.  I like writing stories for the opportunity to explore emotion, to try to define meanings.  It’s therapeutic at times.  Writing is the scariest, most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.  I love it!

Rita: How long have you been writing?

Lynda: Three years.

Rita: Have you shared your work before?

Lynda: I started posting poems and short-stories on facebook, where quite a few friends and acquaintances made positive comments, and encouraged me to keep writing. 

Rita: Oooo. I love short stories. We’ll have to talk about that another time.   

Rita: Have you taken any writing craft classes?

Lynda: Yes. I enrolled in a poetry class in 2017 and have never looked back.

Here are Lynda’s poems. Joy and Regret. 

 


 

 

Wow!  Thank you for sharing your poems with us. With a few words you manage to tell us a story filled with deep emotion. Well done.  

Leave a comment and let Lynda know your enjoyed her poems.  

You can check Lynda out on Facebook 

April is National Poetry Month

Apr 5 2019, 10:16 am in

I admit I know nothing about poetry. Except what speaks to me. When I open a book of poems I can honestly get lost in them. I marvel at the author’s ability to tell a story in a few lines. To draw me in and make me feel. I’m sharing a few.

 

Impromptu – To Kate Carol – Poem by Edgar Allan Poe

When from your gems of thought I turn 
To those pure orbs, your heart to learn, 
I scarce know which to prize most high — 
The bright i-dea, or the bright dear-eye.

 

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Suess

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

 

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

The Toucan by Shel Silverstein

Tell me who can
Catch a toucan?
Lou can.

Just how few can
Ride the toucan?
Two can.

What kind of goo can
Stick you to the toucan?
Glue can.

Who can write some
More about the toucan?
You can!

 

Do you have favorite poems? Please share.

Rita 

 

 

 

 

National Women’s History Month

Mar 25 2019, 11:39 am in ,

Let’s talk Women in Time of War. 

There are so many, little known, brave women in our world history. 

In 1716, Winifred Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale, successfully smuggled her husband, Lord Nithsdale, out of the Tower of London, the day before he was due to be executed for his role in the 1715 Jacobite uprising . She supplied the guards with drink and then with friends created diversions while her hub’s beard was shaved and he was dressed in women’s clothes. Slick as anything William left with his wife’s friends. To buy time, Winifred stayed in the cell and carried on a conversation for the guards to hear. On her way out, she asked the guards not to disturb her husband because he was praying.  Dang. The woman had courage.

In WWl a 17-year-old French woman, Emilienne Moreau, assisted the Allies and set up a first-aid post in her home.

Russian peasant Maria Bochkareva, twice wounded in battle, led the all-women combat unit the “Women’s Battalion of Death” on the eastern front. Look it up.

American journalist Madeleine Doty, determined to make a difference, traveled to Germany during the war to report the truth.

During WWll actress Hedy Lamarr developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes which used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat jamming by Axis powers. The principles are now incorporated in wi-fi and Bluetooth technology.

Julia Childs was a world-renowned chef. She was also a SPY. At the onset of World War II, she went to work for a newly formed government intelligence agency the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). She went on assignments around the world and played a key role in the communication of top-secret documents between U.S. government officials and their intelligence officers.

Nancy Augusta Wake. She ran away from her home in Australia at age 16. Worked as a nurse, traveled to New York and London. Married a wealthy Frenchman and became the single biggest thorn in the German’s side during WWll. The Gestapo called her the White Mouse because she eluded capture. She was their most wanted person and they put out a five million-franc reward for her capture. In a WWll movie if you see a woman depicted doing extraordinary things it is more than likely something Nancy actually did. She died in 2011 and I truly wish I had met her. There is simply too much to say about this amazing woman. I suggest you research her.  

The women of London who, during the war, sent their children to the countryside in hopes they’d be safe then went about enduring the almost daily bombings of the city. Can you imagine?  

Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. About 200 women flew planes during World War II but weren’t considered “real” military pilots. No flags were draped over their coffins when they died on duty. And when their service ended, they had to pay their own bus fare home.

An incredible group of Soviet women, most under 20 years of age, flew bombing missions during World War II. Many flying more than a thousand missions. The Germans feared them and gave them the name The Night Witches.

Rosie the Riveter, a name for American women who worked in factories during WWll, many in plants that produced munitions and war supplies. Rosie’s Canadian sister was just as determined and dedicated. 

In 1945, Olivia Hooker became the first African-American female admitted into the United States Coast Guard. Dr. Hooker later earned a doctorate in psychology and had a long and distinguished career as a professor in New York, retiring at the age of eighty- seven. She is amazing.

Rose Valland a French art historian, and member of the French Resistance, a captain in the French military, and one of the most decorated women in French history. Rose is one of the greatest and yet unknown heroines of World War II. For four years, Rose risked her life daily to locate and return works of art stolen by the Nazis during their occupation of France. Her remarkable story remained unknown to the broad public until it was revealed in the book and movie The Monuments Men.  I’ve stood in galleries admiring the art she saved and never knew about her until the book was released. It makes me sad the world didn’t know to thank her.

The contributions these ladies made are huge. Without them our world would be very different.

Rita 

 

March is Women’s History Month.

Mar 23 2019, 10:15 am in , ,

History.

I have a love hate relationship with history. I love learning history. I hate that it can be a less than accurate representation of what really happened. Why? Because history is being told through the lens of the writer. What they perceive. Their interpretation of the events, as an eyewitness, or of the facts from their research. Now, through the ages, history has been written by men. Stories told though the lens of a male eye. I’m not saying historians lied, only they rarely saw things from the woman’s point of view.

In the US we rarely hear about women in our early history.        

I think of the women who came from all over Europe to settled North America. All the little mama’s, with children in tow, who had the courage to leave everything they knew, follow their husbands and get on a tiny, leaky boat and go to an unknown new world. They didn’t have a smart phone to check the weather, complain on social media the boat didn’t dock on time, or call an Uber driver to take them to an Inn. These women stood shoulder to shoulder with their man helping to build cities and colonize the wilderness. Traveling across prairies, mountains and wastelands in wagons.

I am fascinated in women’s roles in the American Revolution. How much do we actually hear about ladies during that time? There was Penelope Barker a loyal patriot of the American Revolution. Barker rallied 50 women— the first recorded women’s political demonstration in America—to sign a resolution boycotting British tea known as the Edenton Tea Party. North Carolina’s version of the Boston Tea Party. Don’t ya love it?

And there was Agent 555, an extraordinary woman, who was a member of the Culper Spy ring that George Washington says helped win the revolutionary war. To this day her identity is unknown.  Anyone out there know?

For more stories about ladies in the Revolutionary War go here

Have you heard of Dr. Mary Walker? She is the only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for her efforts to save lives during the civil war. Congress eventually revoked her medal saying she was a civilian and asked for its return.  Mary, quite the outspoken character, refused and wore the medal proudly every day until she died.

Rose O’Neal Greenhow was a Confederate spy. A Washington, D.C., socialite, with friends in high places made her an excellent spy. Jefferson Davis said she was responsible for the South’s victory at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Frances Clalin disguised herself as a man, and she and her husband enlisted in a Missouri regiment.  A wife and mother of three children, she fought alongside Union forces for a year.  

To discover more about women during the Civil War go here

Rita

March is National Women’s Month.

Mar 20 2019, 10:32 am in , ,

As a writer I’m asking you to take some time and talk to the women in your family to get the other half of the story. Other half of the story? Yes. World events, disasters, family triumphs and celebrations told from their unique point of view. The vast majority of historical events is written from a male perspective. Hearing a woman’s point of view can be enlightening.

Where they were, what they thought when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

Who in your family remembers rationing during WWII?  Ask how difficult it was during that time to go months without letters from a loved one.

Find out what it was like to have a family member in Vietnam and, for the first time in history, see the war on the news every evening.

What they remember about Jackie Kennedy.

Their first car. Boyfriend. The time they met Elvis. The real reason Aunt Gertrude left town. How Uncle Johnny got all his money.

Have you ever spoken to your mom about the day you were born?

Do you know the black sheep of your families? 

How did the women in your family meet the love of their life? What they thought when they did. I asked this question at a ladies gathering. One gal shared how she met the love of her life and then told us how she met her husband. Do you want your children to know how you met their father?

A family member was going to reveal a huge—her word—family secret to me. We’d set up a time for me to go over and hear this secret. She died before she could tell me. I’m left with a bazillion questions and a great deal of regret.

Don’t have this happen to you. Transfer your family stories to words on the page so they will never be lost.

Rita

Happy St Patrick’s Day

Mar 17 2019, 11:02 am in ,

 

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!

What’s your Irish History?

On my daddy’s side of the family, the O’Brien’s, my Irish history can be traced to the early 1800’s.  This family picture was taken about 1897 probably in Braidwood IL.   My grandpa was Moses O’Brien, the dashing young man on the left holding the toy gun.

 

An Irish story

The characters Gemma and Ben, my heroine and hero from Under Fire: The Admiral, shared an experience they had a few months ago while visiting Ireland.  

They were in the Irish countryside on a very dark, stormy night–really it was–in the middle of nowhere. They’d stopped at a local pub for dinner and were enjoying the food, pints, and conversation when the pub door slammed open. A soaking wet, obviously upset young man stood in the doorway. He rushed in babbling about a horrible experience.

He was settled into a chair and given a pint. The beer was half-gone before he could string words into sentences and answer the many questions. The young man explained he was backpacking through Ireland and on a deserted road when it began raining so hard he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Finally, a car came slowly towards him and stopped. Desperate for shelter and thinking he was being offered a ride, he got in and closed the door only to realize there was nobody behind the wheel. Even though the engine wasn’t on, the car once again started moving. Ireland’s many ghost stories rumbled through his brain and fear paralyzed him. That is until he looked at the road ahead and saw a curve looming. Gathering courage, he prepared to jump. Then, through the driver’s window, a ghostly hand appeared out of gloom. In terror, he watched as the hand turned the wheel, guiding the car around the curve.

The lights of the pub appeared and gathering strength, he jumped out of the car and ran for it.

A silence enveloped the pub when everybody realized he was crying.  

Once again the door slammed open, startling everyone, and two men walked in from the dark and stormy night. They too were soaked and out of breath. Looking around, and seeing the young man sobbing at the bar, one said to the other…

“Look ….there’s that fookin idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it!”

Rita

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