9

Birthday Remembrance for Dad

Today would have been my dad’s 100th birthday, so I thought I’d repost this piece from Veteran’s Day a year ago.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.  I miss you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are some photos of my dad from an earlier post I did on my family history.

I find this photo particularly poignant.  I managed to date it to Dec. 25, 1942 from the headline on the newspaper my Dad is reading.  He would be going into the Coast Guard soon to serve during WWII.  He had the opportunity to get a job at a factory that supplied the war effort and essentially sit out the war safely at home, but he wouldn't do it.  He didn't feel he could face his children if he didn't "do his part."  My Mother (on the right) is about 2 or 3 months pregnant with my older brother.  My Grandmother is on the left, lost in thought.  To me, this scene reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting.

I find this photo particularly poignant. I managed to date it to Dec. 25, 1942 from the headline on the newspaper my Dad is reading. He would be going into the Coast Guard soon to serve during WWII. He had the opportunity to get a job at a factory that supplied the war effort and essentially sit out the war safely at home, but he wouldn’t do it. He didn’t feel he could face his children if he didn’t “do his part.” My Mother (on the right) is about 2 or 3 months pregnant with my older brother. My Grandmother is on the left, lost in thought. To me, this scene reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting.

 

My mother found her own hunky dude in the form of my father, Jack, seen here on his Coast Guard ship during WWII.  His ancestors came to this country from the Alsace region of France, probably in the early 1700's.  (That region typically veered back and forth between the control of France and Germany until finally coming under French rule in recent times.)  My Dad's relative during the Revolutionary War provided meat to the troops, so we qualify for membership in the DAR for that "patriotic assistance."  They say an army travels on its stomach....

My mother found her own hunky dude in the form of my father, Jack, seen here on his Coast Guard ship during WWII. His ancestors came to this country from the Alsace region of France, probably in the early 1700’s. (That region typically veered back and forth between the control of France and Germany until finally coming under French rule in recent times.) My Dad’s relative during the Revolutionary War provided meat to the troops, so we qualify for membership in the DAR for that “patriotic assistance.” They say an army travels on its stomach….

 

Jack Coast Guard

When I was a kid, my Dad would let us play with the semaphore flags he had brought back from the war. Sometimes he would demonstrate how to send certain messages and occasionally, with a mischievous gleam in his eye, he would spell out words that we knew had to be “naughty,” but we didn’t know what they were. My mother would just say, “Oh, Jack!” and laugh along with us.

 

My parents' union was "blessed" first with the arrival of my brother, Tim, in 1943 and then with me in 1947.  Get a load of the noggin on that baby!

My parents’ union was “blessed” first with the arrival of my brother, Tim, in 1943 and then with me in 1947. Get a load of the noggin on that baby!

Dad passed away in 1998 at the age of 82.  His generation had to deal with the Great Depression and WWII.  They had a job to do and they stepped up and did it.  Many never returned to their families.  We were among the lucky ones.  Thanks, Dad.

3

For My Dad, On Veteran’s Day

Here are some photos of my dad from an earlier post I did on my family history.

I find this photo particularly poignant.  I managed to date it to Dec. 25, 1942 from the headline on the newspaper my Dad is reading.  He would be going into the Coast Guard soon to serve during WWII.  He had the opportunity to get a job at a factory that supplied the war effort and essentially sit out the war safely at home, but he wouldn't do it.  He didn't feel he could face his children if he didn't "do his part."  My Mother (on the right) is about 2 or 3 months pregnant with my older brother.  My Grandmother is on the left, lost in thought.  To me, this scene reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting.

I find this photo particularly poignant. I managed to date it to Dec. 25, 1942 from the headline on the newspaper my Dad is reading. He would be going into the Coast Guard soon to serve during WWII. He had the opportunity to get a job at a factory that supplied the war effort and essentially sit out the war safely at home, but he wouldn’t do it. He didn’t feel he could face his children if he didn’t “do his part.” My Mother (on the right) is about 2 or 3 months pregnant with my older brother. My Grandmother is on the left, lost in thought. To me, this scene reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting.

 

My mother found her own hunky dude in the form of my father, Jack, seen here on his Coast Guard ship during WWII.  His ancestors came to this country from the Alsace region of France, probably in the early 1700's.  (That region typically veered back and forth between the control of France and Germany until finally coming under French rule in recent times.)  My Dad's relative during the Revolutionary War provided meat to the troops, so we qualify for membership in the DAR for that "patriotic assistance."  They say an army travels on its stomach....

My mother found her own hunky dude in the form of my father, Jack, seen here on his Coast Guard ship during WWII. His ancestors came to this country from the Alsace region of France, probably in the early 1700’s. (That region typically veered back and forth between the control of France and Germany until finally coming under French rule in recent times.) My Dad’s relative during the Revolutionary War provided meat to the troops, so we qualify for membership in the DAR for that “patriotic assistance.” They say an army travels on its stomach….

 

Jack Coast Guard

When I was a kid, my Dad would let us play with the semaphore flags he had brought back from the war. Sometimes he would demonstrate how to send certain messages and occasionally, with a mischievous gleam in his eye, he would spell out words that we knew had to be “naughty,” but we didn’t know what they were. My mother would just say, “Oh, Jack!” and laugh along with us.

 

My parents' union was "blessed" first with the arrival of my brother, Tim, in 1943 and then with me in 1947.  Get a load of the noggin on that baby!

My parents’ union was “blessed” first with the arrival of my brother, Tim, in 1943 and then with me in 1947. Get a load of the noggin on that baby!

Dad passed away in 1998 at the age of 82.  His generation had to deal with the Great Depression and WWII.  They had a job to do and they stepped up and did it.  Many never returned to their families.  We were among the lucky ones.  Thanks, Dad.

9

Immigrants: Part Deux

Here are a few more photos to go along with my original post “We Are All Immigrants.” 

This slightly unhappy child is my Grandfather, Harold, when he must have been around 5 or 6 (I'm guessing). He was born in 1892 and little boys didn't get their first haircut until much later in those days. He's wearing his "Little Lord Fauntleroy" suit and is definitely not pleased with the whole thing. I have seen that expression on my daughter's face many, many times when she was little!

This is a lock of Harold's hair from when the golden curls were finally cut off! My mother had kept and treasured it and a few years ago gave it to me at Christmas time, along with one of the many little dolls my grandmother had made during her years as an invalid. The doll measures just barely 2" in length (not counting the the ribbon she's suspended from.) This scan doesn't do justice to the handiwork that went into her creation. The stitches are very tiny, and so is the beadwork. I have both keepsakes in the same box they came in when my mother gave them to me. Just a little something tangible from Grandma and Grandpa...

This was my Dad, Jack, when he was probably about the same age as my Grandfather in the photo above. No Fauntleroy suit for little boys in this era. It's replaced by a sailor suit, making the posing experience much more comfortable, as evidenced by Dad's sweet smile.

I find this photo particularly poignant. I managed to date it to Dec. 25, 1942 from the headline on the newspaper my Dad is reading. He would be going into the Coast Guard soon to serve during WWII. He had the opportunity to get a job at a factory that supplied the war effort and essentially sit out the war safely at home, but he wouldn't do it. He didn't feel he could face his children if he didn't "do his part." My Mother (on the right) is about 2 or 3 months pregnant with my older brother. My Grandmother is on the left, lost in thought. This scene could be a Norman Rockwell painting.

And here we have little ol' me! At least I had enough hair here to support a ribbon. My mother used to Scotch Tape a bow to my head when I was first born because I had so little hair...LOL! So this baby is going to be 63 this week, huh...

10

We Are All Immigrants

My good friend, Frumpzilla, over at The Frump Gazette had an excellent piece the other day on the U.S. as a nation comprised of immigrants.  If you haven’t seen it yet, click here.  It’s a must read, as always. 

Our country used to “lift our lamp beside the golden door”, but now it seems we’ve turned out the light and are pretending nobody’s home.

That got me thinking about my own family immigration history.  Some ancestors were here as early as the 1630’s, having left France by way of England after the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris.  Others, the Norwegian side of my mother’s family, got here fairly recently in the 1870’s.  Since they’re the “newest” immigrants in my family, I’d like to show you some photos and tell their story a bit.

This is my maternal grandmother, Annette, or "Nettie." She was first-generation Norwegian-American and grew up in Wisconsin.

This is her father, Carl. He came to the United States from Norway in 1871 when he was 20 years old. He joined his brothers who were already working in South Dakota as lumberjacks and eventually settled in Wisconsin and became a successful farmer and respected member of the community.

This tiny little lady was Nettie's mother, Amelia. She came to the U.S. from Norway about the same time as Carl, but as a teenager with her family. Here she is seen in her 80's posing with some of her sons and daughters. I think she had at least nine children, including two sets of twins!

This beautiful young woman was Nettie's sister, Emma. She died tragically at the age of 18 from peritonitis following a ruptured appendix. She had been working at the home of neighbors as a maid or house servant. It breaks my heart to think that she could have been saved if only antibiotics had been discovered earlier. I think the lovely lock of blonde hair tied with a ribbon that I found in my grandmother's old family Bible had to have been hers. In the list of names of the children and their birthdates that my grandmother inscribed in the Bible many years later, Emma's name is conspicuously absent. Perhaps it was too painful for my grandmother to contemplate.

Here is Nettie as a schoolgirl. She's in the middle row to the left, the one with the white shirt, black tie and white floppy hat. When I look at these kids, I try to imagine what they would look like wearing modern clothing. How many Hannah Montana t-shirts would be on the girls and how many sports jerseys and skater pants would be on the boys? It boggles the mind! (One of the girls to the right of Nettie has had the misfortune of having her face scratched over in the photo. Maybe an early form of "de-friending" in the pre-Facebook era?) Click on the photo for an enlarged view.

Nettie went on obtain a teacher's certificate, enabling her to teach the 3rd grade. Some of the subjects were new to me. I looked up "orthoepy" and found it to be the study of the pronunciation of words. Since my grandmother was a Gemini, like me, I'm sure she would have loved to blog if she had been born in my generation! It seems Nettie wasn't taught to speak Norwegian. Her parents, regrettably, didn't teach their children their own native tongue beyond some words and phrases. They only spoke it when they didn't want the kids to know what they were talking about! This is something I wish had been passed along, since bi-lingualism is so much easier to acquire when you're a child rather than an adult. But apparently they felt that they weren't in the Old Country anymore, so that is what they chose to do. There are some people today who don't see the benefit of knowing other languages besides English, but I think we are so much richer as a nation if we recognize that we aren't the center of the universe. Just sayin'... (Again, click on the image to enlarge it.)

Here we have Nettie and her class standing in front of the one-room school house she taught in for two years until she met....

...the dapper young dude on the left, my grandfather, Harold. His ancestors were the ones who were French Huguenots who escaped from France and came to the Colonies in 1630. Harold and Nettie were married and a few years later came...

...my mother, Iris.

Nettie, Harold and Iris moved to California in the early 1930's but came back to Wisconsin to visit family. (The little girl is the daughter of a neighbor.)

My mother found her own hunky dude in the form of my father, Jack, seen here on his Coast Guard ship during WWII. His ancestors came to this country from the Alsace region of France, probably in the early 1700's. (That region typically veered back and forth between the control of France and Germany until finally coming under French rule in recent times.) My Dad's relative during the Revolutionary War provided meat to the troops, so we qualify for membership in the DAR for that "patriotic assistance." They say an army travels on its stomach....

Their union was "blessed" first with the arrival of my brother, Tim, in 1943 and then with me in 1947. Will you get a load of the noggin on that baby!

This is Nettie holding my brother, Tim. Unfortunately, sometime just prior to my birth Nettie was stricken with pernicious anemia, an auto-immune disorder that prevents the absorption of vitamin B12. (I recently learned people of Scandinavian heritage are particularly predisposed to this condition.) Before it could be discovered, she had severe damage to the motor nerves in both legs and for the rest of her life she could only get around haltingly on crutches. My brother remembers her when she was active, able to work (and bring him presents every day!) but I never knew her any other way than as an invalid confined to her home.

This was taken at our home in California, probably around Thanksgiving. Although Nettie is standing with the help of Harold, you can see her crutches leaning against the wall by the door. I don't blame her for not wanting to be photographed with the crutches she depended on for at least twenty-five years. That's me standing in the doorway. I hated to dress up for holidays, so as soon as Grandma saw me in my fancy dress, I zoomed into my room and changed into something more comfortable--jeans and sneakers.

Although Nettie couldn't get around, she remained true to her Gemini nature. Her legs didn't work but her hands were exceptional. She created wonderful handmade fabric dolls and knitted and crocheted items for family. This photo is Nettie and Harold's 50th wedding anniversary. Nettie died in 1965 and Harold followed soon after in 1967.

So here’s a look at a family history that started with some brave individuals who took the chance to come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their descendants.  We owe them a lot.  We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never forget it.

2

Death Threat from a Vet

Here is the latest insanity from a Chuck Grassley led town hall meeting yesterday:

“The president of the United States, that’s who you should be concerned about.  Because he’s acting like a little Hitler,” said Tom Eisenhower, a World War II veteran.   “I’d take a gun to Washington if enough of you would go with me.”

My Dad, rest his soul, was a World War II veteran.  In December of 1942 he was a 27 year-old married man who would, in a few months, become a father.  He was told if he got a job at a certain defense plant he could sit out the war, enabling him to be at home with my Mother and her soon-to-be born child. 

But he wouldn’t do that.  He told my Mother he didn’t think he could face his children if he didn’t step up and do his part for the war effort. 

So he enlisted in the Coast Guard and became a signalman.  Eventually he was sent on a ship to the South Pacific where he spent the rest of the war and then, thankfully, came home to my Mother and his now two year-old son. 

It was a difficult adjustment.  It took some time for him and my brother to become acquainted, and for my brother to learn how to “share” my Mother with him.  But my Dad didn’t complain.  He wouldn’t have had to do this if he’d taken the “easy way” out.  But he didn’t.

As I read those words above by Mr. Eisenhower (how ironic!), I am filled with shame and anger. 

I’m sure Mr. Eisenhower knew the magnitude of the Nazi threat and all that it stood for.  Perhaps he enlisted in the war for the same reasons my father did—because he felt it was the only thing he could do and still be able to look his children in the eyes when it was all over. 

Now he is sullying what my Dad and countless others fought against by cavalierly tossing about the comparison of Obama to Hitler, as many seem to be doing these days with no objections from the Republican leaders who stand there listening with mute tongues and cold, leaden eyes.  They feel this kind of talk will “gin up” the base and that’s alright with them. 

The more right-wing flamethrowers, the better.

Not only is this kind of rhetoric ridiculous and demeaning to the Greatest Generation, but it is also inflammatory and downright seditious.  How can people–especially veterans who have fought against the real Hitler and should know better–be allowed to make such statements against the safety of the President of the United States and the stability of our country? 

Didn’t he live through the agony that was the JFK assassination? 

I did, and the memory is forever scorched into my brain. 

Perhaps Mr. Eisenhower wasn’t paying attention in 1963 to the painful turmoil that trauma caused our country, and the subsequent stripping of innocence from the young people who believed in “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.” 

Now this “veteran” is calling for the same violence to be enacted upon yet another president. 

I’m sure if Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford were still alive they would be appalled at the threats being shouted against this president.  Both of them suffered through assassination attempts, and with Reagan it was almost accomplished.  The specter of assassination has again raised its ugly head. 

Before long, Mr. Eisenhower himself will die, and when he arrives at the Pearly Gates I hope he’ll be met by a throng of WWII veterans who are just as ashamed of him as I know my Dad is.

jack2