Tag: American History

Rockin’ Through the Decades

History is often where you find it, sometimes even in old rocking chairs!

The story of this rocking chair essentially begins with the Barringer family for whom Barringer Road in Ilion, NY is named. The Barringers were one of Ilion’s wealthier families and lived in a mansion in the village of Ilion. They also owned a dairy farm out on Barringer Road. I assume the road was named Barringer Road because of the farm. However, the Barringers were not farmers, so they hired a family to live on the farm and work it. My great grandparents, Irving and Kathryn Klippel, worked that farm for years.

In fact, during the depression, my great-grandfather, Irving Klippel, would save the butter milk left over from the process of making butter, and try to deliver it for free to poorer families in Ilion with young children. While some would thankfully accept it, others would not. Since it was essentially a by-product and was often fed to pigs, many were scared to give it to their children, which was too bad.

My grandfather, Erwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner, helped work the farm for many years. After my grandfather married Eileen Gardinier, they moved into a tiny house farther down Barringer Rd, and he eventually went to work for Remington Arms because he wanted a more steady paycheck to support his family than working the farm provided.

My great grandmother, Kathryn Klippel, received several pieces of furniture from the Barringers including a very nice hand-carved oak bed and dresser which my brother, Dan, has in a guest bedroom to this day (The few times I have slept in it over the years, I had to sleep diagonally across it, because, back in the day, people were a lot shorter. Another piece of furniture given to Kathryn Klippel by the Barringers was this old Queen Anne rocking chair.

A historic home

The house my Grandparents moved into on Barringer Rd was built in the 1700s, and survived the Revolutionary War. It was tiny but we still had many great family gatherings there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We all got quite adept at maneuvering through tight, crowded areas. I remember fighting for a spot on the couch to watch football games with my grandfather. This was when I became a Vikings fan … it was the Fran Tarkington era!

This is a relatively current picture of the house, but it hasn’t changed much. My Grandfather and his brother, Great Uncle Wagner, rebuilt the stone fireplace with stones they hauled back from the Ilion Gorge. And back then, most of the houses currently found on Barringer Rd were not there. When my mother was a little girl and growing up there, it was surrounded by woods, fields, and a pond they would skate on on the winter when it froze over. When I came along and got old enough, we used to ride snowmobiles in the fields behind the house.

You can’t tell because of the tree, but the only real difference in the house today, is that there was once an old wooden “fan” pattern decoration over the front door that also dated back to the American Revolution. It was taken down by the family who purchased this house from my grandparents. I am sure by then it was pretty-well rotted and needed to come down. It is still a bit sad.

The Old Rocker

My mother always told me that my Aunt Carol once rocked me to sleep in this rocker when I was a baby. I guess Aunt Carol would have been in her teens at the time.

Years later, I held my very first baby in my arms, sitting in that very same rocking chair. I was maybe 10-or-12-years old at the time, and the baby was Aunt Carol’s daughter; my cousin Kristine.

This picture was taken in my grandparents house on Barringer Rd. I still remember the old rocking chair with this fabric. Over the years, it has been reupholstered a few times. I seem to remember a blue and gold pattern, maybe a red velvet, and the floral print it currently has.

The foot stool doesn’t match the rocking chair. I vaguely remember a foot stool that did go with the rocking chair, but I have no idea what became of it. The foot stool that is currently used with the rocking chair was made by my great Grandfather Gilbert, my father’s grandfather. But, that is a story for another day.

So, here you go, Joy. Just for you. One more picture of the rocking chair. And this time, I am smiling!

Remembering a WWII Veteran

I got an email from my dad this afternoon telling me his Uncle Bob passed away today. He was 95. My Great Uncle Bob was a WWII veteran, serving in the Army Air Corps on Okinawa at the end of the war.

In the email, my dad mentioned that when he was born, the whole Widmer clan lived in the same house in Herkimer, NY. By the time my father was a toddler, he’d identified Bob as his favorite uncle. Bob would take my dad to the playground and kept a watchful eye on him as he grew older. All the time Uncle Bob was in the Army, he would send my dad a dollar each month to put in a bank he had given him. When he returned from overseas, Uncle Bob took my dad and the money, bought my dad’s first bicycle, which he taught him to ride.

Uncle Bob was not drafted until July of 1945, and Japan surrendered in August of 1945. Hence, the war was over before he arrived at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, where he served as an aircraft mechanic. As I understand it, he worked on B-29s and P-47s, which continued to fly air defense and other missions during the occupation. Bob received a commendation signed by President Harry Truman for his service.

I still remember going to my Great Uncle Bob’s house as a very young boy and playing with his two girls, Ellen and Ruth. We would also see them at Raquette Lake in upstate New York and at family reunions. I guess Ellen and Ruth would be second cousins. Uncle Bob and Aunt Lillian were wonderful people, and these are such great memories. American has lost another one of its heroes.

He was truly a wonderful man.

Revolution 2016: Take Back America

This “entertaining” read is based on a satirical plot where Democrats win control of the House and Senate in 2014 and pass sweeping gun control and greenhouse gas legislation. Unintended consequences soon follow.

Events are similar to what is occurring in 2019. Anarchists step out of the shadows. Constitutionalists and gun owners rally to defend their Second and Fourth Amendment rights. States begin to defy the federal government and clashes occur. The military must choose between obeying their Commander in Chief’s illegal orders or supporting their oath to defend the Constitution against domestic and foreign enemies. Resistance begins in various locations and then spreads across the nation. Patriots rally to take back America.

Could this happen in post 2020?

My thoughts …

First, let me again point out that this is a satirical work, and as Lee Boyland states himself, it is clearly over the top. It is also a great read!

The author spins current events into a prophetic tale that can’t help but make you say, “hmmmmm.” This book has it all … political correctness run amok, destroying the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments, and crooked Teflon-coated “deep state” politicians that put their agenda over the welfare of the country.

The narrative reads well, and I finished it in a couple of days. I did not want to put it down, but as you know, life sometimes gets in the way. I had to take a few breaks from reading.

The story does have a potentially happy ending but takes the reader through a scenario that I hope America will not have to endure. Sometimes I do wonder, as I look at the devolution of our society today if our America will continue to exist for future generations or will we simply devolve into another failed nanny state.

Many American’s will enjoy this excellent read. I also found it a bit reassuring to see that others view the current political situation in this country like I sometimes do. I give this book 5 Stars.

Vietnam Veterans Day

March 29th

I have counted several Vietnam Veterans among my closest friends. Sadly, several are no longer with us. Please remember our Vietnam Veterans today as you go about living your daily lives.

They sent me

and my friends

and my generation

To Vietnam to die

and some of us did.

The rest of us have been dying

in bits and pieces

since the first day they sent us

home.

Unknown

New Book Review Page

I have done a significant number of book reviews over the years, and it dawned on me that they become too easily lost among the other blog post in a typical blog feed.

Therefore, I created a new book review page called DC’s Book Reviews and will display images of the books I have reviewed on the page. Each image will contain a link to that book review in my blog. I have been working on this for several days, and it is now ready to go live.

Voilà! A lot less searching.

I guess I’ve done about 40 or so book reviews. However, 16 have been added to date. I will keep working at this until all of them are on the book review page.

I do enjoy good books and reviewing them for other readers. However, lately, whenever possible. I have turned to audiobooks. I guess my eyes are getting a bit older, and too many years of working at the computer have taken its toll. Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy books, even with tired eyes!

While I only review books I have an interest in reading, anyone interested in having an honest book review done by me can contact me through my contact form. I will reply as quickly as I can.

Click here to view my new book review page. It is also a menu option a the top of the page.

Also, please check out Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales available on Amazon.com. Montagnard is now in the hands of my editor and will be released later this summer.

Thanks for stopping by!

WWII Documentaries Available On-Line for Free

It might be fun to learn a little WWII history while staying at home and helping control the spread if Covid-19! John Purvis provides some great links to documentaries on the subject that are free to view.

John's Notes

If you or your students, kids, adults are looking for things to do to stay occupied, please know ALL our World War II films are available to watch for free on your computer, tablet or smart phone @WWIIFoundation 2020-03-20 at 9.32.34 AM

I saw a tweet from @WWIIFoundation a short time ago that I thought was worth sharing. It said:

If you or your students, kids, adults are looking for things to do to stay occupied, please know ALL our World War II films are available to watch for free on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

If you visit their website (https://wwiifoundation.org/) you will find nearly 30 documentary videos covering WWII. This website offers something to fill some of the time while we are confined at home and to learn more about WWII.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “

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Leora’s Letters

The Story of Love and Loss For An Iowa Family During WW II

by Joy Neal Kidney … with Robin Grunder

The day the second atomic bomb was dropped, Clabe and Leora Wilson’s postman brought a telegram to their acreage near Perry, Iowa. One son was already in the U.S. Navy before Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Four more sons worked with their father, tenant farmers near Minburn until, one by one, all five sons were serving their country in the military. The oldest son re-enlisted in the Navy. The younger three became U.S. Army Air Force pilots. As the family optimist, Leora wrote hundreds of letters, among all her regular chores, dispensing news and keeping up the morale of the whole family, which included the brothers’ two sisters. Her fondest wishes were to have a home of her own and family nearby. Leora’s Letters is the compelling true account of a woman whose most tender hopes were disrupted by great losses. Yet she lived out four more decades with hope and resilience.

“Joy lets us see her grandmother’s personal family correspondence through letters. It is heart-tugging. Be ready to be moved by this true story.” –Van Harden, WHO-Radio Personality

Joy Neal Kidney, the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, is the keeper of family stories, letters, photos, combat records, casualty reports, and telegrams. Active on her own website, she is also a writer and local historian. Married to a Vietnam Air Force veteran, Joy lives in central Iowa. Her nonfiction has been published in The Des Moines Register, other media, and broadcast over “Our American Stories.” She’s a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and her essays have been collected by the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa.

My thoughts …

In Leora’s Letters, Joy Neal Kidney provides her readers with a genuine and heartfelt glimpse into the life of an American family during one of our nation’s most trying times. Five Wilson brothers leave their family farm in Iowa to serve their country during WW II, two in the Navy, and three in the Army Air Corps.

Through a well-crafted combination of letters, photographs, and narratives, Joy Neal Kidney draws you in and makes you feel like a member of the family. I found myself caught up in the daily experiences of all five young men and hoping each of them made it home safely. Unfortunately, war is never that kind.

Leora’s Letters is more than a story about one family’s sacrifice. It is a story about America and the kind of people who helped to forge this great nation. Our nation owes Clabe and Leora Wilson and their family a debt it can never repay. However, in reading this incredible story, perhaps we can regain a sense of what kind of people Americans were, and hopefully again, will be.

Do yourself a favor and read this book!

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend

by Susan Orlean


A Little Rin Tin Tin History

rin tin tin

On Sept. 15, 1918, an American soldier named Lee Duncan discovered a litter of German Shepherd puppies in the wreckage of a recently shelled German WW I encampment. He kept two of the young puppies, naming them Rin Tin Tin and Nanette, and managed to get them onboard when he shipped back to the United States from France at the end of the War.

I felt there was something about their lives that reminded me of my own life,” Duncan later wrote of the puppies. “They had crept right into a lonesome place in my life and had become a part of me.

Lee Duncan

The lonesomeness in Lee Duncan developed because he’d spent part of his young life in an orphanage in Oakland when his father abandoned his mother and his young mother simply could not feed or support Lee and his sister.

Lee loved his dogs and seemed to have quite a knack for training them. The thought entered his mind that perhaps, his dogs could become canine movie stars. He always thought Nanette was the smarter of the two, but there was something about Rin Tin Tin.

After the war, Duncan pursued his dream, taking Rin Tin Tin to California, where the dog got a big Hollywood break when one of his spectacular 12 foot jumps was caught on film at a dog show. Rin Tin Tin’s first part was a small one in a 1922 sled-dog picture. Then in 1923, “Where the North Begins,” based on a story written by Lee Duncan, gained the dog national attention.

rin tin tin

And as they say, the rest is history! I can still remember those Rin Tin Tin TV shows! Much better than Lassie …

Now, about the book …

I must admit, however, I was a little disappointed in Orlean’s book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. Her book actually has very little about the dog, Rin Tin TIn, or the training techniques that produced the original Rin Tin Tin’s amazing skills and feats.

On a side note, as a German Shepherd owner myself, I was not that surprised to learn that the heroic German shepherd who could leap 12 feet, crashing through plate-glass windows was buried with his squeaky doll! That fits the German Shepherd perfectly!

rin tin tin

But Rin Tin Tin is strangely absent from most of his story. Orlean tracks down loyal fans who now own descendants of the original Rin Tin Tin. She talks to many of Lee Duncan’s family members like ex-wives and or his daughter. She writes about business associates and Rin Tin Tin’s co-stars.

Susan Orlean’s story seems to be more about how family members profited by selling off everything related to Lee Duncan’s dream and his dog. She writes about people looking for some way to capture past glory, or perhaps the means to create new value from an old piece of intellectual property.

Susan Orlean also writes about the many tangled legal disputes such as the one between Daphne Hereford and Bert Leonard, the producer of “The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin,” and the confusing story of Lee Aaker, a child actor who played the dog’s TV sidekick, and who might or might not have become a special-needs ski instructor in the Eastern Sierras, but who was once definitely sued for impersonating himself.

You also learn that, since the death of the original Rin Tin Tin, this American canine hero has been played by no less than 20 other dogs.

What became clear to me from reading this book, is that the leap from heroic canine fame to mundane triviality is much shorter than 12 feet.

My thoughts …

rin tin tin

On the whole it is not a bad book, that is … if you want to read about everything surrounding Lee Duncan and his efforts to make a good living with the German Shepherd he trained to do really amazing feats, and how tough that actually was.

Maybe it was naive of me, but I wanted to read about the dog, Rin Tin Tin!

I wanted to read about his movies and his TV shows, and how he was trained, and to have the author paint a picture in my mind of this heroic German Shepherd leaping 12 feat and crashing through a plate-glass window to save the day.

On that, score, I was badly disappointed. And for that reason, I gave this book three stars …

I did love the cover …

Home Front recipes from WWII by GP Cox

What a fantastic post!

Check out this great post by GP Cox over at Pacific Paratrooper! A collection of Home Front recipes from WWII. I think I remember my grandmothers making some of these … or at least something very similar.

via Home Front recipes from WWII

The World War II Heroics of a Very Special Ship

Luck Lady: A very special ship

What makes the USS Santa Fe such a special ship? On March 19, 1945, a Japanese bomber dropped two 500-pound bombs through the deck of the USS Franklin, killing hundreds of officers and enlisted men, and thrusting the lives of nearly 3,000 other American seamen and aviators into mortal danger. As the Franklin listed dangerously near capsizing, the light cruiser USS Santa Fe, nicknamed the Lucky Lady, bellied up alongside her flaming hull and attempted the most daring rescue in U.S. naval history.

Lucky Lady tells the tale of  the legendary World War II careers of the USS Franklin (the most decorated naval vessel of the war) and the Santa Fe (unparalleled record of wartime service while avoiding casualties) through the eyes of the men on board. This tale is told from the perspective of the highest levels of rank and flying altitude to deep within the ships engine room. Through the bloody years of the Pacific War (from Pearl Harbor to the surrender of Japan) the crew members of these ships experienced first-hand all the horrors of war.

Close to home

A friend of mine, whose father served on the USS Santa Fe, loaned me this book. And I must say, I greatly enjoyed the read.

Sailors believed the Santa Fe to be an unlucky ship.  Christened with a bottle of water rather than Champagne, such as is the usual case. The bottle of water came from the Santa Fe River … blessed by a Catholic priest. This, of course, caused a good deal of muttering among superstitious sailors. But as it turned out, the Santa Fe led a charmed life. This ship and crew’s heroic efforts to rescue the sailors of the USS Franklin is the stuff of legends.

This is first and foremost a history, It goes into great character detail and development. You get to know the officers and the sailors assigned to this ship. From the Aleutians to Pearl Harbor and the war in the Pacific, this book tells their tale. It’s pages are full of WW II Naval action. However, if you are strictly an action junkie, it might be a bit of a slow read. On the other hand, if you love history, well-developed characters, and detailed, historic accuracy … this is a book for you. I highly recommend this book and give it a 4 out of 5 stars.