26
Jul

World War II Entertainment. A Simpler Day?

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During WWII, folk sought entertainment which included stopping by to visit a neighbor, riding bikes, playing parlor games, reading a book, listening to music and soap operas on the radio, listening or dancing to records, Saturday Matinees at the movies, local high school plays or concerts, attending ball games, church social events and the occasional Red Cross sponsored dance. People often got together in their backyards to share barbecues, went to a community sing, or attended a last minute wedding before the young man was shipped off overseas.

Imagine! Young folks actually survived and had fun without an IPAD, a smart phone, a Kindle, a laptop, a DVD or CD recorder, the internet, U-tube, Instagram, twitter, face book or the ability to text 300 message a day, and say absolutely nothing.

I have a vintage Betty Crocker book that includes food buying, preparation, meal planning and serving, recipes, rationing tips, and suggestions on how to stretch food, substitute ingredients, time-saving hints and party planning.
In the Party Planning section, I found several party ideas that included decorating, suggested games and menus (with recipes). Here’s my favorite. Original Betty Crocker text in bold, with my own added comments in italics.

A Basket Social – Fund Raiser for Red Cross or charitable event (Betty Crocker – YOUR SHARE)

Each girl brings “lunch for two,” making up a basket that looks as irresistible as possible. .The goal is to get the young man of her dreams to bid on the basket so they can share the lunch. The money raised goes to a charitable cause.

The basket is auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the winner shares lunch with the basket’s designer, which might have created some intrigue, beginning or possibly ending a budding romance. (Yikes!)

Simplicity, novelty and a look of plenty are desirable in the basket. (The way to a man’s heart is often through his stomach.) Prize winning examples: a small market basket covered with a fringed blue and white napkin; a grape basket with a bunch of lustrous grapes tied to the handle with a large green bow; an old style dinner bucket with a corner of a red checked napkin peeping out. Suggestions for ingredients include pickles; jellied chicken or slices of roast chicken; individual pies or tarts; devils food, angel food or spice cake or maybe some delectable molasses filled or sugar cookies in place of cake. (Maybe today’s basket would include a bottle of wine, a hunk of cheese and a bottle opener) Coffee or beverages served by the hostess.

After the auction, the Virginia Reel and old time square dances and an old fashioned spelling match add color to the entertainment. Doubt anyone even knows what a Virginia Reel is… and I’m not sure that spelling is still taught in today’s school. I know that history isn’t and heard that mandatory math is on its way out in some colleges.

My, things have changed. Sometimes, I think, thanks to the technology of today, people rely on ‘things’ to entertain, rather than on other people, and I think that’s a shame. What do you think?

For more WWII daily life, and a few good laughs, read my latest novel, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot. Amazon e-book $3.99 http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv

9
Jul

A Short Story of Magic and Dreams- A CHANCE ENCOUNTER

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In 1987, while visiting Austria, we were caught in a storm. Like our day in Austria we experienced the storm and the ringing church bells. The village and setting are real. There were cobbled streets and rain water flowing down the street and the fear and wonder were real. We were given this explanation for why they rang the bells...but the delightful interaction with the stranger is fantasy...or was it?
Have you ever had an experience that felt unearthly and ethereal?

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Hofpgarten, Austria, 1987
The clanging church bells, crashing thunder and flash of lightning assailed my senses. Adrenaline surged through my chest like an electric current. Lightning lit the sky behind the church steeples across the street. Crashing thunder momentarily drowned out the clanging church bells.

Terror gripped my heart. Was I caught in a time warp of nature’s fury, transporting me to another place; magical, ethereal, and terrifying? How odd that I should feel such fear. Stay calm. It’s just a sudden summer storm. I stood transfixed in wonder as the elements crashed around me.
A torrent of water rushed down the cobbled stones, filling the gutters, threatening to flow onto my feet. Were the bells warning of some disaster? Have they declared war? Did someone assassinate the President? Does Austria even have a President?

I huddled beneath the narrow striped canopy of the clock shop. Cold spines of stinging rain drove against my face. Lightning flashed and I jumped at the next clap of thunder. The awning was pitifully inadequate and rain dripped from my hair onto my raincoat. Rain bounced off the pavement, forcing me closer to the wall.

And then, a man stopped beneath the awning where I shivered. “May I offer the shelter of my umbrella?” He tilted his umbrella, protecting me from the storm.

“Thank you, how kind.” His presence soothed my fears and my pattering heart slowed.

We stood side by side beneath the canopy, watching the ribbons of lightning zigzag across the afternoon sky.

“The storm came up so quickly, it caught me quite unawares.” I dabbed my face with a handkerchief and tilted my head toward the sound of the church bells.

“Sudden storms are not unexpected this time of year.”

“Why are they ringing the bells?” I tucked the hankie in my pocket. “Has something happened? Is there an emergency?” I gestured toward the deluge of water flowing down the cobbled stones, looking as though a river had overflowed its banks.

“They ring the bells to frighten the storm clouds toward another village.”
I struggled to suppress a smile, doubting the ability of the bells to drive away the clouds but pleasantly moved by his quaint belief in their magical power. “If that’s what you believe, I’m sorry to say, it’s not working. It’s been raining for half an hour.”

“Oh, it’s working fine.” His smile lit up his face. “But, the next village also rings their bells and the clouds are confused. They hear the other village bells, so they drift back here again. From village to village they drift. Soon they will find a quiet place where they can rest.”
We stood beneath the awning watching the rain and laughed, exchanging small bits of idle conversation. On the hillside above us, my pension looked down on the train winding through the valley and into the town. Cows dotted the nearby fields. The cow’s bells tinkled as they ambled across the meadows; the sound echoing from valley to hillside.
We stood so close to the stranger, I was warmed by the scent of him.
A whistle shrieked and he turned toward the train station. “I’m sorry, I must go. My train is coming. Perhaps you should seek better shelter?”
I nodded. “I’ll go into a shop as soon as the rain lets up a bit. Thank you again for sharing your umbrella.”

He caught up my hand and raised it to his lips. “It’s been a pleasure. I wish we had more time to…” His lips brushed my fingertips. “Good-bye.”

I looked deep into his eyes and in that moment, it felt as though I whirled through spasms of space and time. And in that instant, surrounded by light and the music of the bells, it was as though he and I had shared a lifetime together; infinite days and endless nights of love and hope. I heard the blare of 100 marching bands, saw the night sky explode in a cacophony of fireworks, felt the coolness of a 1000 springtime rains, the pink glow of 10,000 morning dawns and the wonder of a myriad of red and golden sunsets…

In those few seconds, it seemed we shared a lifetime. I shook my head, knowing it was a fantasy brought on by the magic of the bells and the storm.

He released my hand, waved a final farewell and strolled toward the train.
As he disappeared into the station, the blare of marching bands tinkled and became a warning bell, then silence. The music in my head became…a sparrow in a nearby tree.

The rain stopped. The sun cast sparkling rainbows through the dewdrops dripping from the shrubs. I touched the place where he had stood and his aura seemed to melt through my fingertips. “Wait! I don’t even know your name.” I ran toward the station, “Wait!” The whistle blew and the train clacked down the track. The magic spell was broken.

Years have passed. I’ve had a good life, all that one could hope for. Marriage, a satisfactory career and children. But, even now, when I hear church bells, I stop to listen.

Even now, the bells have the power to drive the storm clouds from my soul. I smile as I remember a summer storm in a faraway land. I close my eyes and relive the moments I shared an umbrella with a stranger. Were we caught up by a crack in time and space? In that instant, did we actually share a lifetime of love and laughter? Or was it only a dream that lasted for a second?

The bells ring on and I am reminded of that day when church bells echoed from one mountaintop to another, as the storm clouds scrambled from village to village in search of a silent peaceful place.

Finally in their frantic search, they drifted onto a quiet hillside where the only sound was the tinkling of cow’s bells, as they ambled through the meadows and disappeared into the mist.

25
Jun

Through the Eyes of an Eagle

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THROUGH THE EYES OF AN EAGLE
ELAINE FABER
Long before gold was discovered in the Sierra Mountains, the pristine forest, hills and valleys lay in green and golden repose, as yet untouched by the hand of man.

In this land of yesterday, meadows were carpeted with flowers, gently waving grass, dense forests and snow- capped hills. Crystal lakes shimmered in the sunlight, reflecting a brilliant blue unpolluted sky. In this virgin wilderness, animals and birds lived together in peace and harmony. Mother Nature taught each of them how to build a home in the trees, in the river or in a cave. Each knew when to find a mate, and how to raise their young.

On a particular day long ago, there was a certain valley surrounded by the forest at the base of a cliff, where a river splashed and tumbled over moss covered rocks. This valley was the home of Kamar the eagle, Pogo the beaver and Xerces the bear and her baby, Jali.

To the north of the river was a jagged, sheer faced cliff. On the top of the cliff stood an old dead tree, jutting another 50 feet into the sky. The old tree was blackened and broken, reminiscent of a long ago forest fire, years before the recollection of any of the forest creatures living in the valley. As the years passed, the hills turned green with new forest and now stood proud and tall with only a few remembrances of that terrible day when lightening struck and flames ravaged the hillside. Atop the old, blackened tree, in its highest branches, Kamar, the eagle and his mate built their nest.

Year after year, Kamar and his mate returned to the treetop and pulled out branches, kicked and scratched out leavings from last year’s nest, added new branches, enlarged and broadened its base until it spanned seven feet across, covering the top branches like a giant mushroom. Several months had passed since their eggs had hatched and three little fledglings filled the nest. Dark golden plumage had begun to sprout on their bodies and upper legs. In the months to come, as they grew to maturity, their golden heads, neck and tails would turn white, identifying them as Bald Eagles.

In the river below, Pogo, the beaver, built a dam, creating a rocking, flowing pool fifty-foot across causing the water to slow to a trickle. In this gentle pool, fish lazily slept, swam, and fed, providing a private supply to the beaver family. In the center of the dam, Pogo and his mate built a warm dry den for their four pups.

Mrs. Pogo sat on top of the dam, listening to the splash of water tumble over the nearby rocks flowing down the river toward the sea. The wind whispered through the leaves and forest birds chirped as they gathered sticks, flitting back and forth making their own nests. She heard the cac-cac-cac above and saw Kamar soaring overhead, his magnificent white head, neck and tail contrasting against the blue sky. He drifted down and seized a dead fish on the shore. With it gripped tightly in his talons, he soared upward. Turning and lifting with the air currents, he landed on top of his nest. His young fledglings opened their mouths hungrily to receive the pieces he tore from the fish. The smaller little female struggled valiantly with her larger brothers for her share.

Baby Jali, the grizzly bear, woke from a nap, stretched and yawned. A flying bug caught his attention and he stumbled after it. Stopping here and there to nibble a flower, he followed the bug across the meadow, until he was far from the river where his mother lay sleeping.
A ground squirrel ran toward a hole and forgetting the bug, he ran after it, imitating his mother’s actions.

The squirrel zigged and zagged toward the forest with Jali following close behind, until she zipped out of sight under a log. Jali found himself far from the river in a part of the forest he did not recognize. He bawled loudly for his mother. The only sound was the chirp of forest birds and small animals scratching nearby.

Jali heard the low moan of a wolf howling in the distance. Lost and hungry, he ran, frightened by the menacing sound. He stumbled over branches and undergrowth until he was deep in the damp forest and far from the safety of the meadow.

Kamar sat atop his mighty nest, his head cocked to the side, peering through bright yellow eyes at the river below. A fine pool had swelled behind the beaver’s dam where fish were trapped. He was pleased, for where there are fish, surely dead fish will be found such as was needed to feed his family!

Kamar’s attention was drawn toward Xerces, running through the meadow, but the baby was not scampering behind, begging to be fed. Xerces roared and smashed branches as she searched for the missing baby.

Kamar lifted off his nest, spread his wings and followed a down draft toward the river for a better look. He banked to the east, gave his six- foot wings a gentle flap and caught another air current that carried him in a soft arc. His excellent eyesight surveyed the entire meadow as he looked for Jali.

Kamar turned south and sailed across the lush forest, allowing the air currents to take him slightly up and down, back and forth. He scanned the trees below. Dropping down to get a better look, he saw the baby cub far beyond his mother’s call. Kamar banked again, his wing tips swishing against the highest branches.

Jali heard the swishing branches and looked up. He saw Kamar, soaring in a spiral above the trees. He had often seen Kamar circling above the meadow where he lived. Jali stumbled along the path, following the bird. Kamar circled slowly in a wide arc above the baby bear. Jali tumbled through the brush, keeping Kamar in sight, and at last was heading in the right direction toward the meadow. Within a short time, his mother’s bawling led him to her. She gave him a reprimanding smack with her great paw, licked his face, and lay down on the forest moss and fed him. When both were rested, she led him back to the meadow.

There came a day when a sudden summer storm rose up. The run-off from the mountains flowed into the river and the waters rushed toward Pogo’s dam, tearing and breaking loose the branches from the south wall.

Pogo and his family waddled into the forest to find trees to repair the damage. He showed them how to choose the right size trees, chew them at just the right height and angle to fall toward the river. Together, they pulled and tugged the trees back toward the broken dam. Pogo’s family gathered mud and placed it in the branches to secure the trees to the walls. The beavers worked throughout the day until the breach was nearly filled and the rushing river slowed to a trickle.

High on the top of the cliff, Kamar’s family huddled in their nest, their feathers dampened by the storm. When the storm had passed, the young fledglings stretched their wings in the air to dry. Each day they were becoming braver, stretching their wings, and letting the wind currents lift them up a few feet, only to fold their wings and drop back into the safety of the nest. The storm had also weakened Kamar’s nest, tearing away some of the branches that supported the increasing weight of the young birds.

As the littlest fledgling stood on the side of the nest, the weakened edge crumbled. Instinctively, she spread her wings. An air current lifted her slightly, breaking her fall, as she plummeted downward toward the river. She drifted, rather than fell, into the water, 20 feet from the beaver’s dam. The fledgling splashed frantically, but her wet feathers kept her from lifting herself out of the water. The river’s current dragged her toward the rocks.

Pogo entered the water with the final log gripped in his teeth, needed to repair the dam. His children followed along side guiding the log into place. As they positioned the end of the log into the breach, the far end swung around and smacked into the drowning fledgling. She flopped her drenched body onto the log. Pogo swung the log around to fit it into the dam, rapping the end where the little bird slumped, sharply against the shore. The nearly drowned fledgling fell from the log into the sand, where she lay huddled, wet and shaking in the sun. She extended her wings to dry, closed her eyes and slept.

The little bird huddled on the shore, drying and regaining her strength while her parents circled helplessly above, calling and swooping over her crumpled body. When the sun dried her feathers, the little bird extended her wings and pushed off the shore. She rode the air currents, circling above the river while her parents called encouragement, until she reached the safety of her nest, high at the top of the sheer cliff in the old blackened treetop.

Following their sister’s example, for the first time, Kamar’s sons let the current take them from the edge of their nest. They circled, each time a little farther, until the sky was filled with eagles. They lifted and soared and let the wind take them, returning again and again back to their home base. Eventually they would leave the safety of the ancient tree and learn to find food and care for themselves. But on this day, with the air filled with cac-cac-cacs, they soared and called, high above the river, proud of their new skill. They flew through the sky, where as far as the eagle’s eye could see, the land was covered with trees and majestic mountains and meadows filled with flowers.

Pogo and his family, not knowing the part they had played in the little eagle’s rescue, slept soundly in their newly repaired den beneath the river that flowed endlessly toward a distant sea.

The summer days grew longer and the leaves on the trees turned to shades of red, yellow and orange. The shrubs lost their leaves and the autumn rain turned the meadow grasses once again from brown to green.

One crisp fall day, the youngest beaver pup ventured into the cool and shadowy forest near the spot where they had taken trees to mend the dam last spring. With the wind in his face, he did not see or hear the male grizzly bear that came out of the forest. The male had caught Xerces’ scent, and on the chance that she might be in season, was coming to investigate.

Coming from behind a clump of bushes, the grizzly and the beaver unexpectedly stood within feet of each other. The bear roared and reared on his hind feet. The little beaver was paralyzed with fear, unable to move. The male grizzly bear raised his paw to strike a blow that would send the beaver to his death.

Xerces awoke at the sound of the male’s roar. She raced toward the giant male who dared invade her territory where her baby lay sleeping. Xerces burst through the bushes, roaring hideously, as only a mother grizzly bear can.

The grizzly turned to face the enraged mother. Though the male easily outweighed Xerces, he knew that she would fight to the death to protect her cub. The lady was obviously not interested in romance. He ran back into the brush with Xerces close behind him. The little beaver raced back to the river as fast as his little body could waddle.

Kamar rose from his treetop, catching an updraft, lifted and circled the valley. His fledglings were grown and all but the little female had flown away, as fledglings do. Some days, Kamar would see them high above the valley, their cac-cac’s ringing through the morning sky. The little female ranged far and wide during the day, hunting, catching the currents, drifting and swooping over the forest, returning only to her mother’s nest at night. Soon, she would find a mate and build her own nest in a high crevice or treetop.

From high over the treetops, he looked down upon his world. His abandoned nest, atop the sheer rock face, above the river winding through the valley. Xerces, sleeping in the meadow with her cub. Beavers paddling happily across the river, diving into the sparkling water. Kamar’s mate, preening her feathers, in a nearby tree.

Kamar circled and then flew straight up into the sun until from the ground, he looked like a speck in the sky. Beneath him, the mountains, the forest, the rivers and the valleys far, far below were touched with shades of sparkling red, yellow and gold, crisscrossed by brilliant blue rivers, white snowcapped mountains and vivid shades of green forests, as though it were a mighty landscape, painted by the hand of God.

21
Jun

Victory With a Victory Garden

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In my latest humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Home Town Patriot, Agnes grows and tends vegetables and fruit in her back yard victory garden. Here are some facts about victory gardens you may not know.

During the course of WWII, and due to labor and transportation shortages, trains and trucks were used to move soldiers and equipment, thus limiting the ability to transport fruit and vegetables products to cities and towns across the United States. Therefore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged planting victory gardens in every back yard, vacant lot or unused plot of land.

One U.S. propaganda poster read, Our Food is Fighting. Such war time posters sent the message to local citizens that produce from their own gardens would help lower the price of vegetables needed by the U.S War Department to feed the troops. Such a savings could then be used elsewhere to provide weapons and clothing to the military: Home victory gardens also increased the supply of produce that was otherwise rationed and limited to homemakers across the county. Around one third of the vegetables produced by the United States during the war years came from victory gardens.

By May 1943, there were 20 million victory gardens everywhere from rooftops and empty lots to backyards and schoolyards or in any other usable plot of dirt in the United States. It became a sign of patriotism to convert your front lawn into a vegetable garden.

Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden on the White House grounds as an example to the vast number of dedicated followers of her newspaper articles and radio broadcasts. This was viewed with concern by the Department of Agriculture. Not everyone was an experienced gardener, so the government issued educational pamphlets, as did seed and agricultural companies, including growing techniques and recipes. As a result, 9,000,000–10,000,000 tons of fruits and vegetables were successfully harvested in homes and community plots in 1944. “Grow your own, can your own", was a slogan that referred to families growing and canning their own victory garden food, so the harvest could last all year.

Even in New York City, lawns were converted to victory gardens, as were portions of San Francisco Golden Gate Park. Schools and community centers still plant gardens to teach children about harvesting, good nutrition and the wonder of watching nature’s bounty when properly cared for.

To read about Agnes Odboddy’s victory garden and her recipe for Oxtail Stew and War Time cake, Mrs. Odboddy Home Town Patriot is available at Amazon for just $3.99, or about the same price as a nice package of bran muffins from today’s supermarket. Bran muffins or hours of reading enjoyment. You make the call.

7
May

And Where have all the Dollars Gone?

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Society has demanded many changes in the United States over the years including the popularity and use of certain coins and bills. Let me share a few that have come and gone.

The copper United States half-penny was produced from 1793 to 1857. It was slightly smaller than a modern quarter. The coins are now only found in coin collections. The rare designed coins are valued from $100’s to $1000’s of dollars depending on the age, condition and various styles.

The two-cent piece was produced for circulation from 1864 to 1872. Maybe this is where the phrase, “let me put my two-cents worth in,” came from! Even three-cent coins were struck briefly during the Civil War.

The United States half-dollar or fifty-cent piece is the largest U.S. coin currently minted and twice the weight of the quarter. The coin depicts the profile of President John F. Kennedy on the front. Used mostly during the first half of the twentieth century, they are still occasionally seen in circulation. The 1964 Kennedy half dollars are largely collected by the public for sentimental reasons. Those issued through the end of the 1960s were the only precious metal U.S. coin remaining in production, and as the price of silver continued to rise, pre-1964 halves disappeared from circulation.

I fondly remember the fifty-cent piece, a coin I often had during my childhood.

The Susan B. Anthony dollar was minted from 1979 to 1981, when the series was halted due to poor public reception, and briefly produced again in 1999. Proposed as a smaller replacement for the dollar, a number of shapes and compositions were tested, but all were opposed by the vending machine industry, and rejected in part because of its similar size to the quarter.

In 1997, a gold-colored Susan B. coin was produced and a final run of dollars was struck in 1999 and retired in 2000. Most are now privately collected and rarely seen in circulation.

The Sacagawea dollar, another gold coin, has been minted every year since 2000, although released only during various years, due to its general unpopularity with the public. Designs on the reverse side of the coin during various years depict a different aspect of Native American cultures.

The term silver dollar is often used for any large white metal coin issued by the United States with a face value of one dollar whether or not it contains any silver. Dollar coins have never been very popular in the United States. Most Americans currently use the dollar bill rather than dollar coins. The Mint ceased production of dollar coins for general circulation in 2011. Silver dollars can still be obtained at banks on request.

The silver dollar is another of my favorite childhood coins, often received as a birthday or Christmas present.

The two-dollar bill is rarely seen but is available at banks on request. Multiple changes to the face and reverse side occurred over the years, including the size of the bill in 1928 when the size of U.S. currency was standardized.

Changes are now being planned for the twenty-dollar bill. Harriet Tubman, a woman responsible for assisting thousands of slaves to freedom, along the ‘underground railroad’ will likely replace Thomas Jefferson’s face on the front of the bill.

Lastly, the words “In God we Trust” was first added to large coins in 1865 and added to our paper money in 1957. The story of how this all occurred will be discussed another day.

14
Mar

And Then There Was a Tiger

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Then there was a tiger ….

As every author knows, we, who manipulate the keys on the computer are not always in charge of the words that end up on the page.

This AM, while working on my third Mrs. Odboddy adventure…which I must admit is coming along very slowly thanks to the characters dragging their heels with less inspiration than I’m used to getting from my imaginary crew…

In this final sequel, I had every intention to wind up the series, finalize the romances outlined in book one, bring the culprit from book two to justice, and have Agnes unravel another Nazi-conspiracy.
We were at a crucial point in the story where someone has framed my protagonist for burglary, another character was just whacked in the head, and another couldn’t decide which of two men she loved and … And then…there was a tiger. Literally! A living, breathing striped tiger!

Who knew?

Well!!

Throw out the rule book. Toss away the outline. Forget the red herring that I was just about to add to page 109, because now…there is a tiger.
Not that this is the first time a character has changed the direction of my story, but I have to admit, this is the first time there was a tiger. Now I have to figure out what to do with a tiger, in small town CA, during WWII.

Really? Come on guys!

I’m sure you’ve all experienced this to some degree. How many of you, while writing your Great American Novel, (or facsimile) have had a plan for where a particular scene should go when suddenly…the character takes over and drives the scene in a completely unexplained or impossible direction?

26
Feb

WWII Coast Guard Mounted Beach Patrol

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While writing for my humorous mystery novel, Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot, I located interesting little- known WWII history. Some events were included in my novel and other information was not. Of interest was the Coast Guard Coast Patrol. More information can be found about this subject at http://www.uscg.mil/history/uscghist/Beach_Patrol_Photo_Index.asp

Pearl Harbor: After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, the Coast Guard put into action a wartime beach patrol. Two men teams were dispatched to walk the shores along miles of beaches, watching for any suspicious boats or activity, in hopes of stopping an invasion or sabotage.

In June 13, 1942, a German submarine successfully landed four saboteurs on Long Island, discovered by one of the Coast Guard beach patrol. Four boxes of explosives, detonators, and timing devices were discovered buried at the site. The spies were apprehended by the FBI.

Four day later, four more German agents were landed from a U-boat at Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville, Florida. Again, boxes of bombs and incendiary devices were found on the beach. The men were apprehended by the FBI. A beach patrol was urgently needed.

Adding Horses: Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard sought men who knew how to ride and handle horses to perform the coast watch.

Applicants ranged from experienced equestrians including polo players, cowboys, jockeys, rodeo riders, stunt men, horse trainers, Army Reserve cavalrymen and more.

By the end of 1942, hundreds of new coastal stations were established and 24,000 men and 3,000 horses were patrolling 3700 miles of beach on both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico.

Riding horseback allowed patrolmen to carry radios, rifles and side-arms. It further provided an advantage in the event a patrol had to run down a suspect or block an escape.

Dogs Join the Team: In August 1942, the Coast Guard also recognized that the use of dogs, with their keen sense of smell and their ability to be trained for guard duty, could help enhance the patrols. Ultimately, some 2000 dogs were added to the equestrian force.

Mounted patrol teams now included at least two riders, often with dogs working alongside the horses. Dogs added to the patrol’s ability to detect persons or situations that might not be observed by the patrolmen. The use of dogs was so successful, that within a year, animals and their handlers were on duty all along the coastline.

In some areas, canvas boots were designed to protect the Coast Guard dogs from sustaining cut feet from the oyster shells during the long treks along the nation's beaches while on anti-saboteur beach patrol.

California: Mounted horse patrols were instituted in California up and down the coast. Dogs were also used in California, but were not as successful as in other areas because there were so many people on the beaches that the dogs soon became accustomed to people and ceased paying attention to strangers.

More little know WWII events are included in my novel, Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot. Agnes Odboddy gets involved with stolen Hawaiian money, a black market ration books and a Japanese air balloon attack. Available at Amazon in e-book and print.

30
Jan

WWII Life in the Small Home Town

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Posted on January 29, 2016
JAMES CALLEN WEBSITE POST

Today’s guest is Elaine Faber, the California writer who generally has a Faber-2scat as the chief sleuth. She departs from that to bring us a story centered around World War II in her latest novel, Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot. (Of course, there’s a cat in it.) Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers, and Cat Writers Association.

While researching California WWII events, the following events became an integral part of the plotline for Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot.

Rationing:
The government convinced the Americans public that giving up their precious food, clothing, tires, and other goods was not only necessary to win the war, but was patriotic.

During part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed; one pound every six weeks per adult. This was due to Brazil’s blockade of ships bringing coffee to the United States, as well as the need to send much of the limited supply to the troops.

A citizen could purchase only five tires during the entire war. This sounds like plenty by today’s standards, but neither roads nor tires were as good in 1942 as today. People were strongly encouraged, almost required, to car pool or use bicycles and motorcycles.

Sugar and other food items were extremely expensive and required a ration stamp which limited its purchase. Beef was in short supply and costly, as well as eggs, which induced many a chicken to take up residence in the suburban backyard.

Victory Gardens:
To reduce the reliance on purchasing vegetables and fruit, it was considered patriotic to have your front lawn converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Even Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the Rose Garden. Any high producing vegetable in a limited space became the focus of the weekend gardener and the mainstay of many Meatless Meals.

Watch Towers:
Californians and Oregonians lived in fear of Japanese invasion. Volunteers were stationed in watch towers every several miles up and down the coastline with binoculars pointed skyward.

In Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot, Agnes experiences rationing, volunteering at the Ration Stamp Office, organizing can and paper drives, tending her Victory Garden and cooking meatless meals, fighting the war from the home front. But this eccentric lady also keeps an eye on her nefarious neighbors, some of whom MUST be Nazi spies. She finds herself knee-deep in what is sure to be a black market ration book scam, but when the watch tower burns down on her coast watch shift, she takes the blame to keep a National Security secret.

Toss in the return of an old lover from WWI who wants to re-ignite their romance, chickens in the bathroom and a search for a million dollars in missing Hawaiian money and you have the crux of the story.

When Mrs. Roosevelt comes to Newbury to attend a funeral, and Agnes’s eccentric notions become reality, she must prove she is, indeed, a warrior on the home front.

On Amazon at: http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv

Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com (e-mail)

3
Jan

Interviewing Agnes's Friend, Jackson Jackson

Today we are interviewing, Jackson Jackson, the Elevator Man at the Court House, Mrs. Odboddy’s friend. Tell us how met Agnes Odboddy?

Sure can. I works at the County Court house. Missus Odboddy, she come to the Po-lice station most every week to speak to Chief Waddlemucker. She says ‘howdy’ to me every time. She jes’ about drives Chief Waddlemucker to distraction with all her tales ’bout the Newbury citizens, claiming they is spies and such now that there’s a war on.

Can you elaborate about the kind of tales she tells?
Uhh…No…

Co-laberatin’ would be gossipin’ and it’s not Christian to gossip. That don’t stop some folks from spreading gossip, ya’ know, but I tries my best to follow the teachings of the Good Book.

I’ll bet operating the elevator at the Court House, that you see all kinds of things.

Yessir. Folks is comin’ in every day for licenses and getting’ married and such. Several months ago, Myrtle Nesbitt opened up a beauty shop; Curls to Dye For… kinda’ cute, huh? She come in for a city business license, but she didn’t have enough money, so’s Chief Waddlemucker, he jes give it to her and say, ‘Make up the difference another time.’.

Katherine, that’s Mrs. Odboddy’s granddaughter, works at the Beauty Parlor. Myrtle bought one of them new-fangled curling machine things with all the wires and gadgets. Imagine, gettin’ your hair all hooked up to that thing? It’s a caution what some ladies does for beauty.

So, what can say about Mrs. Odboddy that you wouldn’t consider gossip?

Well, she helps the war effort, doing all sorts of volunteerin’ around town. Some folks says she’s a little off her nut, but I won’t name names what thinks that, ‘cause that would be gossip. Mrs. Odboddy jes’ sees things different than most folks, kind of suspicious-like.

When my wife took sick and went to the hospital, Missus Odboddy’s society down at The First Church of the Evenin’ Star and Everlastin’ Light where she goes almost regular, they brung us dinner every night for a week. One of the ladies even took my little girl to the picture show so I could visit at the hospital one evening after work.

So how come folks think poorly of Agnes? Do you think they judge her poorly?

Yessir. That’s the God’s truth. Once she was takin’ a bath and saw her neighbor, Milton, in her back yard. Chief Waddlemucker arrested old Milton for bein’ a Peepin’ Tom. Seems it turned out he was in her back yard huntin’ for his cat. Mrs. Odboddy says she jumped to a wrong idear. That’s the kinda’ thing gets her in trouble with folks and they talk bad about her. Oh dear, I wonder if telling’ that story amounts to gossip? It’s not Christian, you know…gossip.

You’re right. That’s all for now, Jackson. Thanks. You’ve helped us understand Agnes. I can’t wait to meet her.

29
Nov

The Year of the Christmas Stick

christmas stick

In the early 1980’s, when my kids were young teenagers, we had to close our business, leaving us in debt. Collection agencies called almost daily. I had to pay my house payment on the Visa card. We gave up a 1972 Cadillac convertible to settle a business obligation. The IRS emptied our meager bank account (without notice) to pay the overdue California sales taxes, resulting in bounced checks all over town.

Christmas came and we were financially in a bad way. No way was there much money for Christmas, much less a Christmas tree.
My husband brought home a beautiful manzanita branch, mounted it on a base, sprayed it white and decorated it with red Christmas balls. Not the traditional Christmas tree, to be sure, but pretty. We set a few presents underneath; mostly sweaters and pajamas and sox.
Hubby and I were prepared to deal with the substitute tree, trusting that things would be better next year. The kids hated it. They called it The Christmas Stick and where humiliated when their more fortunate and affluent friends visited.

We muddled through that financial disaster, took a second mortgage on the house at 14% interest (true) and paid off all the debts. The next Christmas we were back on our feet and had a real Christmas tree.

I was thinking the other day that sometimes in our life, we should all have a Year of the Christmas Stick. A year when we can’t afford to buy the children expensive gifts that break before New Year’s Day. A season where we do without the typical luxuries we enjoy; Christmas trees, lights in the front yard, presents and expensive holiday outings. A year when we can truly commiserate with folks who are unemployed, suffering natural disaster or illness, many who are without a tree, without gifts, for that matter, maybe without a home with a chimney for Santa to slid down.

It’s been over forty years since the Year of the Christmas Stick. On Christmas Day, as our family stumbles from the table loaded down with turkey and all the fixings and we gaze at our ten-foot- tall Christmas tree with gifts piled underneath, invariably someone mentions the Year of The Christmas Stick. And we contemplate its message.

We are grateful for our families, our health, and our faith, all gifts from God. We remember to share our bounty with folks who would feel blessed to have a few gifts for the kids beneath a Christmas Stick.

I remember how hard things were when we closed the business and struggled to make ends meet, wondering how we could make pay off our business debts, keep our home and feed our kids. We struggled and persevered and made do with a manzanita branch for a Christmas tree. Looking back, I remember and thank God for the Year of the Christmas Stick. We all learned lessons I hope we will never forget.

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