Wednesday, April 29, 2015

And this one tells the story of the Long March may uncle went through.

Story here.

Since my mom and dad met much the same way. . . I love these stories!

The teddy bear that went to war and then went viral

Five-inch teddy bear and his 89-year-old owner becomes internet sensation after his RAF exploits during the Second War came to light.

He is barely five inches high, with a stern little mouth and rather worn ears and paws – a scruffy little teddy bear that you would not give a second glance in a charity shop. He doesn’t even have a name.
But he has become quite an internet sensation, thanks to his owner, Jean Mellows, writing a letter to The Telegraph. (Go to the source for more photos.)

In full, the letter said:
“I was interested to read about the teddy bear that accompanied a Battle of Britainpilot as I too have a little bear, with my maiden name tape sewn on it, which I gave to my fiancĂ© to take with him on his operations over Germany during the Second World War.
“He was a Mosquito nightfighter pilot and flew 50 ops accompanied by my bear, and together they won the DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross].
“We were married for 50 years but now, sadly, I just have the bear.”

With three sentences of perfect prose, Mrs Mellows had ensured readers of The Telegraph letters page were wiping their eyes over breakfast, clearing their throats and asking for the marmalade to be passed. Within 48 hours of its publication at the end of last week, her letter had been shared hundreds of times on social media, with many wanting to know more about the bear, the DFC – and Mrs Mellows.
Which is why I ended up in her lovely house in Dorking – bursting at the seams with treasures, pictures and memories – turning over bear and inspecting the small “Jean Wells” name tape.
“I had him when I was away at boarding school,” she explains, adding: “He’s never had a name. I’m sorry, I can’t produce one.”
“Bear” looks rather unimpressed by the fuss and the Telegraph photographer snapping away, but Mrs Mellows is rather enjoying herself.
“Yes, I don’t really do Twitter,” she says, “but I am told that he has become quite popular.”
I explain that he’s gone viral. “I think it’s marvellous,” she says, adding that she shrieked with delight when her letter appeared in the paper. She has written in in the past, but without luck.
She is in her 90th year. “I’m 89-and-a-half,” she giggles (she giggles a lot). “I’m so psychological about being 90, I’m doing it in halves. You wouldn’t think I am 90, would you?”
“No!”, I say in mock gallantry. But, I mean it. She is tall (six-foot in her prime), elegant, strides up a flight of stairs with barely a puff and keen to share her wonderful love story.
She met Pilot Officer Paul Mellows at church tea party in Redhill, Surrey, the Saturday before Christmas 1943. He was 21, on leave, and, despite his RAF tunic, looked like a schoolboy – with a walnut whip of thick curls on his head. Jean was 18 and had just left school. “He came up to me, smiling and asked if he could carry my tray for me,” she says.
Was he dashing? “Oh, yes. My knees knocked, and I think they knocked for the next 50 years. I adored him.” A few days later they went carol singing together and when Jean’s torch broke, he again came to the rescue. “We shared a hymn book. I was fluttering from then.”
On Boxing Day, he invited her around to tea at his large family home, which was home to countless fearsome maiden aunts, who had been bombed out of their own homes. “I walked into the drawing room with 16 pairs of astonished eyes looking at me. You have to remember, sons and daughters were younger for far longer back then. Paul had never had a girlfriend. He was the youngest of four. And, to them, he was just little Paul.”
She survived her ordeal, and when the next day he had to return to base, they started a correspondence.
Danger was never far away. Jean’s own father was missing in action after being torpedoed in the Atlantic. Only later was it confirmed he had died. Paul, meanwhile, was flying Mosquitoes, two-man fighter planes that accompanied night bombing raids over Germany.
The one upside was they could not fly during full moons, which meant Flight Lieutenant Mellows (as he was by then) got frequent leaves.
The young couple would go walking up Colley Hill in the moonlight. From an upstairs window of her Dorking home, Mrs Mellows can almost still see the spot where he proposed in the summer of 1944, with a peck – the first time they had ever kissed.
“We were totally innocent. We did not give ourselves to each other until we were married – even though every leave could have been the last time we met. It’s a big point I want to make.”
She stresses it later: “It was the discipline many of us had at the time. I want my children and grandchildren to know that.”
She obviously suspects that I have her down as a hussy – and, looking at her engagement photos, you can tell she would have turned plenty of heads.
At this stage, Jean, then training as a nurse, gave her fiancĂ© her teddy bear as a lucky mascot – one of many such tokens given to young pilots by their sweethearts. It was the news that Bonhams was auctioning a similar bear (with an estimate of £5,000), owned by Wing Commander Stephen Beaumont during the Battle of Britain, that prompted Jean’s letter to the Telegraph. And Falla, a teddy bear tucked into Sir Robert Clark's tunic, ended up being parachuted behind enemy lines in Italy before finishing the war in a POW camp in Germany.
Paul and bear got into quite a few scrapes, including having his tail (the plane, not the bear’s) shot to pieces above Stuttgart. He was briefly missing in action, but skilful flying meant Fl Lt Mellows was able to limp the Mosquito back to base, being awarded the DFC in the process. Paul’s miniature mess medal, along with his France and Germany star, is currently pinned to bear’s chest.
The couple married in 1946, after Paul was demobbed. It was the last time he wore his uniform.
What is remarkable is that Jean has kept everything: not just the medals and badges, but his uniform, including his flying boots, complete with penknife secreted in a specially-designed pouch in the lining; the silk escape scarf on which is printed a map of Germany; and every single letter he wrote to her during the war. There is a whole cabinet of curiosities, a mini-museum full of medals, coins, shrapnel.
As a young married couple, they went to Cambridge so Paul could finish the law degree he started before the war, while Jean brought up their young family. He rowed in the record-winning 1948 boat race crew and went on to compete in that year’s austerity Olympic Games, winning a silver medal (Great Britain was beaten in the final by the United States).
But all of these medals are nothing compared with the burnished trophy of their marriage. The secret? “Total love.”
She adds: “I think possibly in our generation, you married with an absolute lifetime dedication. We had some awful times when we were first married, we had no money, we were living on a government grant which he was given as an ex-serviceman, we had far too many children too quickly – I had three before I was 25.” She would go on to have five, and now has 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
But, as she says, “I’ve never had any 'what ifs’.”
She says Paul, who died 18 years ago, would be slightly appalled by the bear’s celebrity.
As I get up to leave, she adds: “I still miss him terribly. Almost more because I am on my own so much. But I know we shall meet again. I am sure I will join him. Isn’t that wonderful?”
It is. It really is. The bear might be an old scruff, but he represents something invaluable: enduring love.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April showers will hopefully bring May flowers. . . . .

 Sat. found it rainy and me out at the cabin while the ladies were on a Girl Scout camp out.

 I have been trying to empty out the little log cabin to make it into a play/guest cabin.

The upper story loft is now empty.
 View of the main cabin from the upper loft.
 Dogwoods from the loft.
 Even with the rain, it sure was still pretty out there.
 Monday found us getting the flower garden ready.
 The boss and assistant.

 Planting bulbs that will hopefully come up.

Kind of exciting. . .

One of my photos is suppose to be in the book. Keep your fingers crossed.

Reserve your copy here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rosie dies!

You know Mary Doyle Keefe, but maybe not by that name. In 1943, the then-19-year-old telephone operator had been called upon to provide a unique kind of service during the war effort: Become the face of dedicated patriotism from the home front.
Norman Rockwell painted Keefe as “Rosie the Riveter,” an image that graced an iconic Saturday Evening Post cover and “became a symbol for millions of American women who went to work during World War II,” according to the Norman Rockwell Museum.
Keefe, 92, died in Connecticut this week after a brief illness, her family told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
How Keefe’s likeness came to be immortalized — and turned into a symbol of female independence — happened rather serendipitously. Rockwell and Keefe were neighbors in Arlington, Vt., and he often asked folks in the community to pose for his work.
During a 2012 interview with the Hartford Courant, Keefe recalled how she returned for a second photo session because Rockwell asked her to model in a blue shirt and loafers. She was paid a total of $10.
“He liked to paint from photos, so his photographer took pictures of me, just posing me different ways and telling me to look this way or that,” Keefe said. “I don’t remember the photographer telling me to have any kind of attitude on my face, but I’m 90 and don’t remember.”
The resulting image — of “Rosie” with a rivet gun on her lap, sandwich in hand and “Mein Kempf” beneath her feet — didn’t quite resemble the 19-year-old. Keefe, who told the Courant she had never even seen a rivet gun before, was petite, contrasting with Rosie’s large biceps, broad shoulders and large hands.
“Other than the red hair and my face, Norman Rockwell embellished Rosie’s body,” Keefe told the Courtant. “I was much smaller than that and did not know how he was going to make me look like that until I saw the finished painting.”
Rockwell sent Keefe a letter 24 years after completing the painting, apologizing for bulking her in size “and calling her the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen,” the AP reported. “I did have to make you into a sort of a giant,” he wrote.
Keefe got teased a fair bit for the image, which Rockwell said was inspired by the way Michelangeo painted Isaiah in the Sistine Chapel. But, she told the Courtant in 2002: “It didn’t bother me. I was slim and trim. Just the idea of being able to sit for Norman Rockwell was a nice thing to do.”
A popular song, “Rosie the Riveter,” predated the painting, as did J. Howard Miller’s motivational “We can do it!” poster. But the Rockwell work, which includes a lunch pail emblazoned with the name “Rosie,” received wide distribution via the Saturday Evening Post.
Soon, the work took on a life of its own. The painting was taken across the country to sell war bonds, something Keefe said made her proud.
“I didn’t really make anything of it and didn’t really see it or realize what would happen to that picture until it came out.”
The painting sold in 2002 for $4.9 million, which at the time was the highest amount paid at a public auction for a Rockwell, according to the AP. The work is now at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.
In an obituary written by Keefe’s family, the painting is described as “a nationally known icon of American resolve for women assisting in the war effort during World War II.” Keefe, the obituary said, earned “much appreciation and acclaim over the years” for it.
Keefe went on to earn a degree in dental hygiene from Temple University and married Robert Keefe, whom she met during a dental cleaning appointment. The pair had four children, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 2003, the AP reported.
“Mary will be remembered as a loving, patient, and generous wife, mother and grandmother,” the family’s obituary reads. “Her personal interests included maintaining a daily interest in sporting teams, especially the Red Sox, Celtics, and UConn Women’s Basketball teams, as well as bridge, golf, cooking, and baking for her family and friends, and watching with great delight as her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren grew and prospered.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

Outdoor kind of weather. . . .

 Thursday after piano mushroom hunt with Girl Scout friend.
 "Say mushroom!"

We didn't find any . . . yet.
 Sat. found me heading down to the St. Francis river for the MWA beginners clinic.

Perfect weather for a clinic.
 Boaters starting to come down river.
 Wild flowers along the river.
 All kinds of strange crafts out today.
 Father and son having fun.

 'Cats paw' rapid.
 Not everyone stayed up right all the time. But they all had fun.
 Michelle in 'Double Drop' rapid.
 The paddle stayed up right, but not the boater.
 Group feast at the end of the day.
 Sunday out to the cabin where the dogwoods made it look like it was snowing.
 Workin' at cleanin' out the little cabin I brought out the old Tee Pee
to see what kind of shape it was in.
Not bad after all these years.

 All kinds of other wild flowers out also.
But still no mushrooms.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Okay, this is kinda weird. . .or my near brush with fame.

I was searching the internet for myself. (Maybe that's the weird part?)
Well anyway. I was searching the internet for myself and wanted to see how I was turning up.
Then I searched images.
I came up with this picture;

That's me walking my two dogs, Sherlock and Watson,
on the riverfront in the mid to late 80's. (See, I was kinda skinny at one time.)
I remember the day well.
This Randall Hyman came up and asked if he could take pictures of this large dog and small dog, black dog and white dog. I didn't mind. (Wish now I had worn other shorts. But it was the 80's.) He was doing a feature for National Geographic. I think he was doing a feature on Missouri River towns.
Go his site and see some other stuff of his.

More hair also.

I could do this if the plane just flew straight and level . . . .

Prince Harry displays Battle of Britain spirit for veterans

Monday, April 13, 2015

I had the same thoughts!


While reading a bit about the Beauty and the Beast live movie being worked on, I read this; "whose brattiness as a child was such that the Enchantress felt compelled to curse not just him but his entire household staff. (Which probably says more about the Enchantress than the Beast, come to think of it.)

I guess this would fall under, "What I'm reading now."

I love this line:

‘There’s more wisdom buried under these slabs than you’ll find in any book, lad.’ He sighed and added, ‘It’s been the same old story – since the dawn of time.’ With that, he looked at me, tapped his pipe once more, patted the headstone, and grinned at me. ‘Don’t worry, lad. My old granddad enjoyed the smell of a good tobacco.’

From; "A Likely Tale Lad" by Mike Pannett

Mostly Yorkshire rural police tales, I have read all his books and enjoyed each, and his writing is getting better with each one.

What would we do if our weekends weren't so busy? Softball, soccer, camping and the Fox all in one weekend. Actually, two softball games.

 Well, we missed softball practice on Friday, dad's fault, so daughter and I headed down to the cabin to spend the night.
Dusk was still bright enough to jump on the trampoline for a little while.
 Kung fu moves?
Why sleep in a perfectly good cabin when the trampoline works just as well.

Got down to about 42 degrees, but the stars were crazy!
Bright moon woke us up.
Next morning.
 43 degrees and all covered up.

Best way to get warmed up is to jump on your bed. . . er. . .  trampoline in the morning.

 Sat. afternoon down to the Fox to watch 'Stomp!'.

A very fun show.
We had two softball games this weekend.
One Sat. evening.
And another after soccer on Sunday.
These photos are from the Sunday game.

Third base. "Hi Dad!"
 A chance to play catcher.
 "How am I suppose to see to catch the ball in this?"
A natural.
Getting ready to score her first ever run!