I just got my signed copy in the mail! Joy is a great author and I count her among my author friends. I am looking forward to digging into this book. So far, I have only read the back cover, the reviews, and the Foreward by John Busbee, but I can already tell it is going to be great.
I read Joy’s earlier work, Leora’s Letters, which is an amazing tale of this same family’s patriotism, struggle, sacrifice, and pain during World War II. All five of Leora and Clabe Wilsons’s sons went off to serve in the military. They did not all come home. It was a story that broke my heart, made me smile, and stirred my pride all at the same time. If you haven’t read Leora’s Letters, you really should. It is an American story about an America we all need to be remind of these days.
In Leora’s Dexter Stories – The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression, Joy Neal Kidney now shares with her readers the lives of Leora and Clabe Wilson and their displaced Iowa farm family during a time of great struggle and sacrifice. It is an American history, a history of hardworking common folk in America’s heartland during the Great Depression told through the memories and stories of Leora Wilson. And it is, by all accounts, a great collection of stories about love, survival, determination, sacrifice, and perhaps most importantly, hope.
Of course, when I finish the book, I will be posting a review here. I just could not wait that long to say something.
But, of course, you don’t have to wait for my review. Check it out. I promise it will be good.
Today I drove up to Russellville, TN for the opening reception of a Civil War Art exhibition. The collection consisted of a number of really beautiful original paintings by Marie Merritt covering the civil war, and included one painting of General Longstreet Marie painted for the museum and which was unveiled at the showing. And you could not have a better location for the showing than an antebellum American house that General Longstreet occupied during the winter of 1863-1864.
The historic Nenney House served as the winter headquarters for General Longstreet just after the Battle of Bean’s Station in December of 1963. Russellville became the winter camp for his Confederate army. The house has been painstakingly restored by the Lakeway Civil War Preservation Association to serve as a museum. It is the centerpiece of the Civil War Trail in the Lakeway area. The museum’s gift shop also contains an excellent Tennessee Civil War history reference library and Civil War related souvenirs and publications. The museum hosts several special events throughout the year. A reproduction of an 1860’s era tailor shop features both Confederate and Union uniforms and other period dress. It is a perfect setting for an exhibit like this one.
Paintings by Marie Merritt
That is Marie Merritt standing on the staircase in the Nenney House with some of the “reenactors” who were present for the event. I first met Marie at a gallery on Gay Street in Knoxville, TN through my friend, Vicki Goforth. I met Vicki back in my ballroom dancing days and we have remained friends over the years. I enjoyed Marie’s paintings at the gallery, so when I received an invitation to attend the exhibition at the General Longstreet Museum, I had to go. I am a military history buff after all. To be honest, I had no idea this little gem of a museum even existed. What a great surprise. It is definitely worth a visit and I recommend stopping by if you are in the area.
Here is a picture of several of the paintings mounted on a wall in what was probably the sitting room of this historic old house. That is my friend, Vicki, in the red jacket.
One of my personal favorites was this painting below of a Confederate sharpshooter.
Sadly, I must confess that at the time I was taking pictures, I did not know about the special painting of General Longstreet Marie did for the museum which sat to the side on an easel. And somehow, I missed getting a picture of it. But on the bright side, that gives me an excuse to make another trip up to this great little museum in the not-to-distant future.
And here is one picture that might be a little off topic, but I still had to share it. General Longstreet’s staff probably sent messages on this very telegraph. This is probably one of the earliest known predecessors to the smartphone!
The region of New York where Ilion is located was first settled by Palatine Germans under the Burnetsfield Patent about 1725. The first settlers took plots along Steele Creek, which flows through what is now known as the Ilion Gorge and into the Mohawk River.
The Battle of Oriskany in the Mohawk Valley was one of the bloodiest battles fought in the American Revolution and was a major engagement during British General John Burgoyne’s Saratoga campaign. If you have read the novel, Drums Along the Mohawk, by Walter D Edmonds, you may be familiar with a character named, “Mad” Jacob Gardinier.
Being essentially historical fiction, there are many “real” historic characters in the story including General Nicholas Herkimer, Adam Helmer, William Caldwell, and yes, Jacob Gardinier.
“Mad” Jacob Gardinier was born on February 7, 1727 at Kinderhook, NY. He married Dirkji Vanderwerken from Albany, NY. They are buried in the Maple Avenue Cemetery in Fultonville, NY.
Jacob Gardinier served as a First Lieutenant in the Third Regiment of the Albany County Militia in 1768. In August of 1775, he was appointed Captain of the First Company, Third Battalion of Tyron County Militia, and was wounded at the Battle of Oriskany. Jacob Gardinier resigned his commission on March 26, 1787.
He died in 1808, but if alive today he would, I guess, be my great, great, great grandfather.
The Village of Ilion
The small village of Ilion began to grow in 1816 when Eliphalet Remington created his first flint-lock rifle. A blacksmith by trade, he built the rifle using a firing mechanism he purchased from a gunsmith and a rifle barrel he forged himself. The rifle was so popular he started producing them in quantity. This enterprise developed into what later became the Remington Arms manufacturing company.
Ilion continued to grow after the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, which provided a trade connection to exchange products with Albany and the Great Lakes region. By 1850, the Village of Ilion had grown to a population of 812, not counting livestock.
Klippels and Gardiniers
William J Gardinier was born in the Town of Danube in 1870. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell University in 1893, and was admitted to the bar in 1895. He married Minnie Lee of Herkimer in 1896 and went on to become a lawyer of some note, practicing law in Herkimer until he retired in 1963. William Gardiner had two sons, Russell and Elton, and a daughter, Eileen. who later married Erwin Klippel and became my grandmother.
The Klippel Saw Mill and the Lumber Yard on Elm Street.
The Klippels immigrated here from Germany in the mid-to late 1800s. I know early members of the Klippel side of my family ran a sawmill in the Ilion Gorge and other members ran a lumber yard in Ilion on Elm Street.
Erwin Klippel married Eileen Gardinier, mentioned above. They had three children, Kenneth Klippel, Ardis Klippel (Gilbert, my mother), and Carol Klippel (Piser)
The lumber yard was started by Conrad Klipple. I am not sure when and where the spelling of the name Klipple switched to Klippel, but I do remember, as a young boy, hearing discussions about some branch of the family spelling it that way.
Arriving in Ilion in the 1890s, Conrad Klipple first established himself as a skilled carpenter, before expanding into the lumber business. The house where Conrad Klipple resided was at 64 Elm Street, and it still stands to this day. According to a 1925 map of Ilion, the office building for the lumber yard was located at 66 Elm Street; directly behind Klipple’s house.
The Klippels, the Gilberts, and Remington Arms
Mygrandfather, Erwin Klippel worked at Remington Arms as a gun assembler, and if memory servers me correctly, he built the prototype for the Remington Model 1100 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun. His wife, Eileen (Gardinier) Klippel, worked as the Secretary and Treasurer for Ilion High School for many years.
His older brother, Wagner Klippel, worked at Remington Rand, just across the street. “The Rand” as it was called made mechanical calculators. In the 1950s, they built the first real digital computer. It used radio tubes, (triodes), for its processing and memory systems. My dad didn’t see the computer, but he saw the truck they used to transport it – a huge 18 wheeler. However, one of Great Uncle Wagner’s sons, Bob Klippel, did work for Remington Arms as well.
On the Gilbert side of the family, both my Grandmother and Grandfather worked for Remington Arms. Marjorie (Widmer) Gilbert was the customer service representative for the custom-built division of Remington Arms for many years. So, if you had a custom-built Remington rifle or shotgun, and you had dealings with customer services during the 50s or 60s, you probably dealt with her.
My Grandfather, Bernell Henry Gilbert, served in Japan with General MacArthur during World War II. After returning from Japan, he eventually ended up at Remington Arms, heading the shipping and logistics department for many years.
As a final note, I have a wonderful collection of letters written between my Grandmother and Grandfather Gilbert while he was serving in the Army. I will soon be working on a novel based on those letters.
Pearl Harbor still serves as a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii. On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was the target of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese naval forces. Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese aircraft attacked the base, managing to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval ships, including eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack. These casualties included civilians. Another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.
So we remember our heroes, those brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect what American is and means in this world.
Today we remember, but does that remembrance last?
I see the chaos of this 2020 election unfold around me, and I wonder.
Despite the mass media’s repeated denials, more and more evidence of fraud surfaces. Votes being changed by Dominion algorithms, votes disappearing, and sacks of other votes magically appearing. While they are not widely reported, they are certainly there. But still, the rush to erase voting machine memory, to certify what cannot be verified. Why? If all is on the up and up, why the rush?
American Combat Veterans are now demanding a complete audit of the Georgia vote. These are your heroes, folks. These are the people who fought for you. I think we owe them that. I also think there needs to be a complete audit of the entire election. If Joe Biden truly won the election, an accurate, validated recount will substantiate that fact. If massive fraud did occur as I fear it did, it would be proven, and those guilty would be discovered and dealt with.
But for this American, the 2020 election will never be legitimate … until that investigation and audited recount occurs. This 2020 election is a dark smear on the character of the American people.
Are Americans and American ideals still worth fighting and dying for?
I once read a plaque that was inscribe with a poem Eleanor Roosevelt carried around in her pocket during World War II. It read …
Dear Lord, Lest I continue My complacent way, Help me to remember that somewhere, Somehow out there A man died for me today. As long as there be war, I then must Ask and answer Am I worth dying for?
I read that plaque many years ago, and it profoundly touched me; heart and soul.
It breaks my heart to say this, but today, if Eleanor Roosevelt asked me that same question, I would have to answer her, sadly – “maybe not.”
A little 1900s American history … from Naples, New York
Of course, we call them dehydrators these days, but back in the day, they were called … evaporators.
This is a little article written some years ago by my great grandfather Joseph Widmer. This is the same family that owns Widmer Wines, although my great grandfather was not part of the winery. My father found a few of his old writings and shared them with me. I thought it would be nice to share them with some of my readers.
I remember my great grandfather as a kindly old man with badly bowed legs and two canes, who loved little kids and always had time for us. He was also quite an exceptional woodworker. I still remember the old farm he and his wife, Bessie, owned that we visited on occasion. I have fond memories of the frog pond we often played around (getting quite muddy) and the old apple tree in the back that always had the best apples. I think they were Northern Spy apples.
by Joseph B. Widmer
I lived in Naples until the spring of 1913 and knew of no public evaporators in the Town of Naples, N.Y. As far as I know, there were two privately owned fruit evaporators. One was located on the farm of Charles Hamlin, Jr., just off Naples Atlantic Road; the other was owned by my father (John Frederick Widmer) who also raised many acres of blackberries.
He had a fairly large dry house or fruit evaporator, as we dried other fruits such as apples, peaches and apricots. This dry house 16 feet long by 12 feet wide, a one-story structure, somewhat higher than a garage.
There was only one man in the Naples area that could build that type of building, a Mr. John Dinzler who lived on the corner of Tobey Street and Lower Main Streets before the new Catholic Church was built.
As I said, it was a long building that housed two long cylindrical type heaters that burned old grape posts or other woods of that size. These heaters were joined together lengthwise, resting on large rock slabs. Instead of a floor the inside was all open with a 30-inch wide catwalk and a railing along three sides of the building around the top of the heaters. A very steady low heat was kept.
There were no windows, only hinged shutters for ventilation. Inside the dryer were constructed frames and framing that held screens 30 inches by 48 inches, trays joining both lengthwise and crosswise. These trays were cover with fine screening.
While in operation it called for a full-time attendant who used a small rake in his operation of drying the fruit. When one could squeeze the dried berries in a ball without their sticking together, the were ready for the market.
At that time Walker-Boles who had a warehouse on the corner of Academy and West Avenue near the Lehigh Valley Station hired women for fifty cents a day to pack these evaporate berries in one-pound packages for shipment to a market.
Please will take a few minutes and check out some of my other interesting blog posts by clicking here! If you like music, look at the Tunes for Tuesday posts.
And take a look at my new award-winning novel, Montagnard, on Amazon.com! It’s getting great reviews!
I’ll never forget Jimmy Cagney playing George M. Cohan in the musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy
I’m a yankee doodle dandy, A yankee doodle do or die; A real live nephew of my uncle sam, Born on the fourth of july.
I’ve got a yankee doodle sweetheart, She’s my yankee doodle joy.
Yankee doodle came to london, Just to ride the ponies, I am that yankee doodle boy …
My two favorite 4th of July memories are:
Old Forge, NY
When I was a little boy, we went with my mother’s family to watch the fireworks in Old Forge, New York. My Mom, Dad, my brother, my grandfather and grandmother, and I think my Aunt Carol and Uncle Ken were there. Halfway through the fireworks display, it began to rain, many people fled to their cars, but the fireworks continued.
My grandfather calmly took out his handkerchief and placed it over his head and continued to sit there and watch the fireworks. Periodically, he would reach up, take the wet cloth off, wring it out, and replace it. He was not going to let a little rain dampen his patriotic enjoyment!
I went to see the fireworks in Norris, Tennessee with a lady I was dating. We got settled and ready for the show to begin. We saw a man carrying a flare toward the firework setup to start the show … which he did!
The fireworks began, and it was a glorious sight—a nonstop barrage of colors and explosions lasting several minutes. I thought, Wow! If this is the opening salvo, this is really going to be something.
Then there was nothing. The silence continued on for long minutes. People began to get impatient, muttering, asking what was wrong? Eventually, word came around that it was over. This was the first year a new and safer system for setting off the fireworks was being utilized. Somebody had screwed up and ignited the whole display at once.
It was the shortest and best fireworks display I have ever seen, even to this day!
Happy 4th of July to all my readers, friends, and fellow Americans.
May that star-spangled banner forever wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure. Jimmy Cagney, while famous for gangster roles, was a great singer and dancer as well! Check it out!
Rosalind P. Walter, the first “Rosie the Riveter,” died at the age of 95 on Wednesday in New York City.
Rosalind Walter was born in Brooklyn on June 24, 1924, and is survived by her son Henry S. Thompson, two grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, and several step-great-grandchildren.
Walter grew up privileged in a wealthy Long Island home. However, when the United States entered World War II, Rosalind joined millions of other women in the home-front crusade to arm the troops with munitions, warships, and aircraft.
Rosalind rose to fame when a newspaper column which celebrated her outstanding work ethic, inspired a 1942 patriotic song that boosted the morale of the entire nation.
“Rosie” worked the night shift driving rivets into the metal bodies of Corsair fighter planes at a plant in Connecticut, a job that had been previously reserved for men.
An American icon is created …
It was this song that got the attention of the public and inspired the series of famous posters depicting Rosie in the workforce during World War II. While different models were used for several versions of “Rosie the Riveter,” and Rosalind P. Walter may not be “the” Rosie the Riveter in the paintings, she was undoubtedly the first!
This painting became “Rosie the Riveter” to most Americans.
In fact, we should remember that in America as well as other free countries, there were a great many other “Rosie the Riveters” who contributed to the effort to defeat the evil, oppressive Nazi regime during World War II.
To me, these are women to be recognized and admired. These women set the examples our daughters should follow. These women saw a job that needed to be done and decided, “We can do it!”
These are the kinds of women who helped make America great, and will keep America great in the future!
On an interesting side note, I had a Great Aunt Rosie, who worked at Remington Arms during the war, and was nicknamed “Rosie the Riveter” by her co-workers.
As I watched the news on this morning, 09/11/2019, the images of the two towers, the destruction, the victims, the dust, the debris, the first responders, those rushing to help, the pain and horror of that cowardly attack is rekindled. But, so is the pride!
We are still here. We are still strong. And, we will never forget.
It is not about vengeance or retribution. It is about courage, sacrifice, and many selfless heroes rushing … not away … but toward the danger!
It is about the police, the firemen, the reporters, and the everyday citizens who pulled together to get us through one of the darkest hours in American history. It is about doing everything we can to ensure it never happens again. It is about remembering to remain strong as Americans!
Remembering Man’s Best Friend
Being a dog lover, I cannot help but also mention that, when the World Trade Center tower collapsed and 10,000 emergency rescue workers rushed in to help … over 300 of those heroes were dogs. Dogs like Bretagne, Riley, Coby, Guinness, Appollo, Thunder, Sage, Trakr, and Jake to name a few.
These dogs, along with many more devoted, brave, loyal, and hardworking K9 heroes risked life and limb on September 11 and during the many painful days over which the rescue and recovery efforts continued.
Heroic K9s searched for survivors, located remains, and provided a very real source of comfort and hope during one of the worst moment in modern American history.
Elizabeth Griscom Ross was born on January 1, 1752, the 8th of 17 children. Ross worked as an early American upholster and seamstress, and claimed to have done tailoring for George Washington. She had seven children, five of which lived to adulthood.
According to the popular story of the origin of the Stars and Stripes, George Washington, commander-in-chief of the fledgling Continental Army approached Betsy Ross with a design for a new American flag. He was accompanied by two members of a congressional committee, Robert Morris and George Ross.
Betsy Ross convinced General Washington to change the shape of the stars in the sketch of a flag he showed her from six-pointed to five-pointed stars by demonstrating that it was easier and faster to cut the latter. While there is no real historical evidence this meeting ever took place, it is known that Betsy Ross was hired to make flags for the Pennsylvania Navy during the Revolutionary War. Below is an order entry dated May 29, 1777 to pay Mrs Ross for her work.
An order on William Webb to Elizabeth Ross for fourteen pounds twelve shillings and two pence for Making Ships Colours [etc.] put into William Richards store……………………………………….£188.8.131.52
Betsy Ross was a Quaker, an outspoken abolitionist, and a strong supporter of the women’s right to vote movement. She died on January 30, 1836 and has been buried in three different locations:
Free Quaker burial ground at South 5th St. near Locust
Mt. Moriah Cemetery
On Arch Street in the courtyard adjacent to the Betsy Ross House.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States dedicated to remembering the people who died while serving in this country’s armed forces. This holiday is observed every year on the last Monday of May. The date has changed in recent history. From 1868 until 1970, Memorial Day was observed on May 31st. For many Americans, this holiday also marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.
Traditionally, those celebrating Memorial Day visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. I have participated in this several times. First, while a Boy Scout in my earlier years. Then, a few years ago, I attended such a ceremony at the Military Cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee with Jackie, the daughter of a very good friend. I was deeply moved and reminded of how much this County, it’s Flag, and those who have died defending it all, mean to me.
The practice of decorating soldier’s graves is an ancient custom. In the United States, soldier’s graves were decorated before and during the Civil War. This American holiday is a heartfelt remembrance of those who chose to make a stand rather than take a knee!
The Difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
Memorial Day should not be confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering the men and women who died while serving their Country, Veterans Day, observed annually on November 11th, celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
A Memorial Day Poem by Joyce Kilmer (12/12/1886 – 0/30/1918)
Who was Joyce Kilmer?
Joyce Kilmer was a prolific American writer and poet. He was also an American veteran who give his life in the service of his Country. In April of 1917, just days after the United States entered World War I in 1917, Kilmer enlisted in the Seventh Regiment if the New York National Guard. Kilmer deployed to France with the famous “Fighting 69th” and rapidly worked his way up to the rank of Sergeant. Though offered a commission as an officer he declined, stating that he would rather be a sergeant in the Fighting 69th than an officer in any other regiment.
In April of 1918, Kilmer was transferred to the military intelligence section of his regiment. Kilmer was highly respected by the men who served with him. There are many stories of his coolness and his bravery on scouting patrols into “no man’s land.” Indeed, it was this coolness and bravery, along with his habit of volunteering for the most dangerous and difficult missions, that ultimately led to his death.
Second Battle of Marne
During the Second Battle of Marne, the last days of July had seen very heavy fighting. On July 30th, 1918, Kilmer volunteered to accompany Major “Wild Bill” Donovan (who later, during WWII founded the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the CIA). Donovan’s battalion, the 1/165 Infantry, was ordered to lead the assault. During the course of the day’s fighting, Kilmer led a scouting party to locate the position of a German machine gun. Crawling to the edge of a little hill for a better view of the terrain, he was killed by a sniper’s bullet. Kilmer died at the age of 31. The French Republic posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre (War Cross) to Joyce Kilmer. Kilmer left behind his wife, Aline Murray, another accomplished poet and five children. Below is his poem about Memorial Day:
“Dulce et decorum est”
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.
~ Joyce Kilmer
Have a Wonderful Memorial Day!
So, please enjoy your Memorial Day in any manner you see fit. By all means, go camping, picnic at the lake, eat hot dogs and hamburgers, drink beer, play in softball tournaments, watch old war movies on television, go hiking, biking, walk your dog, do whatever it is that makes Memorial Day special for you. But, try to take a few minutes to remember those who gave their lives so that you actually have the freedom to celebrate this great American holiday in the manner that you do choose.