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?

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)

21
Sep

Mildred Haggenbottom - Mrs. Odboddy's Best Friend

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Today, we are talking with Mildred Haggenbottom. As Agnes’s best friend, she’s likely to have a bit of dirt…rather, some information to add to our character analysis of Agnes Odboddy, the protagonist of the upcoming novel, Mrs. Odboddy – Home Town Patriot. Here’s Mildred now. Thanks for your time, Mildred.

“Won’t you sit down? The kettle’s on and I just pulled a fresh batch of cookies from the oven. I saved my last sugar ration coupon, just for such an auspicious occasion as this. Agnes and I are old buddies. What do you want to know about her?”

On a scale of one to ten, how would Agnes rate as a friend?

“Oh, I think she’d be at least an 11. We’ve been friends for over twenty-five years. She’s the cat’s meow…as the young people say. Oops! There’s the kettle now. Do you take milk or lemon in your tea?”

Sugar, please. How did you and Agnes become such good friends?

“In 1919, it was WWI you know, Agnes and I were assigned to a top secret operation in Berlin. A brave local woman working in a German government office secretly photographed documents and then passed the film to us in a hollowed out book. Sure enough, they caught her, and made her talk. Agnes and I ran for our lives. Wouldn’t you know, that night, the Allies bombed Berlin. We spent three days trapped in a bombed-out building with our handler, Godfrey. After our rescue, due to the chaos in the city, we made our escape. Believe me, after being trapped together for 72 hours in a life or death situation, you come out either hating someone’s guts or friends for life. Godfrey and Agnes…well, that’s another story…”

It sounds very exciting. Can you tell us about Agnes’s peculiarities?

“Indeed, after the Berlin episode, Agnes changed. She became a bit paranoid, fanatically patriotic and determined to root out injustice, regardless of the consequences. Thing is, Agnes has an over-stimulated imagination regarding patriotic issues, particularly during a time of war. More lately, her determination to right wrongs has become…I hate to say it…, well-intentioned, but sometimes misguided.”

How exactly do you mean…misguided?

“Let’s just say, Agnes tends to see conspiracies where there aren’t any. She believes Nazi spies have infiltrated Newbury, and she acts out on such notions in peculiar ways. She’s usually wrong, but her heart is in the right place. People have come to believe she’s a bit tetched’ in the head, if you know what I mean.

Does Agnes have a family?

She was married during WWI. She lost both her husband and her son not long after our Berlin adventure. There was a granddaughter, thankfully. Katherine lives with Agnes now. Most of the time, she keeps Agnes on an even keel…. And, they have a very loving relationship. They’re the best of friends, despite the difference in age. Agnes is a wonderful woman despite her peculiarities. She’s a true home town patriot if there ever was one.”

Thanks, Mildred. Any final words?

Just this... Fair warning to the Nazi spies out there. If you really are skulking around Newbury and you’re reading this, I suggest you peddle your papers somewhere else, because if Agnes stumbles onto you, between her and Chief Waddlemucker, your name is toast!

3
Sep

Introducing Mrs. Odboddy

Mrs. Odboddy – Home Town Patriot – oddboddycollage.1

Can you tell us a little about yourself, Mrs. Odboddy?

"Mrs. Odboddy sounds so old. I’m only 70. My friends call me Agnes. I live with my Siamese cat, Ling-Ling, and my granddaughter, Katherine. She lost her fiancé on the Arizona, at Pearl Harbor last year and she’s still a little bit lost. She works in a Beauty Salon here in Newbury. My volunteer work keeps me busy, and, as I’m sure you’re aware, every citizen must to be a home front warrior. There are Nazi spies and conspiracies everywhere."

Besides looking for Nazi spies, what kind of volunteer work do you do??

"I volunteer at the Boyles Springs Military Base USO several times a month, just up the Northern California coast. I also roll bandages at the hospital and work on the paper drive. Our ladies’ group at the church knits socks for the military. Probably my most enjoyable service to the war effort is on the coast watch every other Wednesday. As for Nazi spies, I’m sure that Sofia Rashmuller, the new gal in our knitting circle at the First Church of the Evening Star and Everlasting Light is a Nazi spy. Her dyed red hair is a dead giveaway."

But, Agnes…Your hair is dyed red.

"I beg your pardon! I do NOT dye my hair. I may freshen it from time to time with a henna rinse but I would never dye my hair. Fast women and European spies do that. I should know. I saw enough of them during WWI when I worked as an undercover agent for the USA. Of course, I was much younger then, but we saw some action, and I lived to tell about it."

Can you tell us about your WWI adventures?

"Of course not. If I told you the details, I’d have to kill you."

Did you ever kill anyway?

"Don’t be ridiculous… Well, there was that one time… Never mind. Next question?"

Okay. I can see that’s a sensitive subject. Let’s talk about these conspiracies you mentioned. What kind of conspiracies?

"Did I mention that I also volunteer at the Ration Book Center, addressing and sending out the ration coupon books to the neighborhood? Rationing is really terrible. Imagine. Only one pound of coffee per adult every six weeks! And the price of eggs! Actually, I’ve solved that problem."

Agnes? You were telling us about conspiracies?

"Oh, yes. This week, while addressing ration books, I came across a Black Market conspiracy. Someone is stealing ration books from the mailboxes at empty houses. I’ve convinced my friend, Jackson Jackson, to drive my Model A and I’ll bring my Brownie camera. We’ll catch the thief in the act."

I can see how that might go wrong. Are you sure….

"Really, young man! Where is your adventurous spirit? Where were we? Oh yes. Chickens. I’m getting six free chickens this afternoon. I’m not quite sure what we’ll do with them until Saturday, when Jackson is building us a coop. Guess we’ll just have to stick them in the bathroom."

In the bathroom? Really, Agnes. Are you sure that’s such a good idea?

"Why not? I’ll call them Mrs. Whistlemeyer, Sophia, Mildred, Clara, Abigail, and Myrtle, after my friends and associates. They’re just chickens, after all. What could possibly go wrong?"

What, indeed? Thanks, Agnes. We’ll continue this conversation another day.

"Delighted. Would you care for some tea? We’re completely out of coffee until next week."

27
Apr

All Aboard the Friendship Train

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While doing research for the WWII novel I’m currently writing, I often find information of little remembered history from WWII. I recently learned of the Friendship Train sent to France and Italy following the war.

Much of Europe was devastated during WWII and following the war, the people continued to suffer years of deprivation, limited food supplies and a slow reconstruction of their towns.

While Drew Pearson, a popular journalist of the time, visited Europe during 1947, he heard that the Communists were being thanked for sending a few carloads of grain to the Europeans. Feeling that the United States could do more to help our European neighbors; he conceived the vision of the Friendship Train. His suggestions appeared in his newscast columns on October 11, 1947. He asked our citizens to donate food and clothing to help the people of France and Italy. I’m sure he must have been amazed at the response to his request.

Immediately, towns, cities, and the citizens of every state in the USA collected food for the Friendship Train. The plan was met with such enthusiasm that competition among the communities, counties, and states began for collecting and sending the largest contribution.

Five weeks later, on November 7, 1947, the Friendship Train began its trek beginning in Los Angeles and ending in New York City. Although the train traveled through only eleven states, every state sent boxcars or trucks filled with goods to meet the Friendship Train at a junction. When it arrived in New York, we had collected and shipped $40 million in food and supplies to Europe aboard the 700-car American Friendship Train.

No money was ever spent in the process. The transportation by rail and truck, the loading of the boxcars and trucks, the loading and the use of the ships was all provided by volunteers and donations. The train's mission was an incredible display of goodwill from the people of the United States to France and Italy.

Every package had this label: "All races and creeds make up the vast melting pot of America, and in a democratic and Christian spirit of good will toward men, we, the American people, have worked together to bring this food to your doorsteps, hoping that it will tide you over until your own fields are again rich and abundant with crops." Also on every label were these words, "This gift is sent to you by: 'first and last name and address of donor.’” This message was written in Italian and French and printed beside the American flag.

In 1949, France reciprocated by collecting 49 boxcars full of gifts donated by the French citizens and returned to the USA in their Merci Train as a thank-you for our generosity. One boxcar went to each state. Upon arrival, the gifts were distributed in various ways. Some freely given, others auctioned off and many items placed in local museums. The boxcars, called 40 and 8 boxcars were vintage, having been used to transport troops during WWI and then again during WWII. Many veterans remembered being transported across Europe in these boxcars. The Merci Train cars were restored and kept in museums across the country as memorials to those who had fought and died. Most of these boxcars have survived, many now over 100 years old, and are on display in museums in 43 states.

More information about the Friendship Train and the Merci Train can be found on the internet.

23
May

Why Washington DC Has 3000 Cherry Trees

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Where did they come from? Folks often schedule visits to Washington DC in the spring time to coincide with the blooming of their famous Cherry trees. Have you ever wondered just why Washington has so many cherry trees?

3000 Cherry Trees In January, 1910, Japan sent 2000 cherry trees to Washington as a good will gesture. Sadly, upon arrival, they were found to be diseased and infested with insects. To protect American growers, President William H. Taft ordered the trees burned. Letters from the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador expressed deep regret to all concerned. Good will was maintained and in 1912, Japan again sent more than 3000 additional cherry trees from 12 different varieties to Washington D.C. Two thousand trees were planted on the White House grounds, and the remainder planted around the city and along the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial south toward Potomac Park. They grew and blossomed each spring to the delight of thousands of Washington visitors.

War is Declared Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack in December, 1941, four cherry trees were cut down in retaliation by vandals. Letters poured into the National Parks Commission, calling for “cutting all the Japanese trees down and replacing them with an American variety.” Throughout the rest of the war, in hopes of preventing future damage and ill will, the trees were no long called 'Japanese' cherry trees, but referred to as those ‘oriental flowering cherry trees.’ The National Cherry Blossom festival, an annual springtime event since 1935 was suspended and did not return until 1947.

Cherry Blossom Festival At the Cherry Blossom festival, princesses and a queen are crowned. In 1957, a wealthy Japanese business woman donated a crown for the festival queen. It contains more than two pounds of gold and 1,585 pearls. The queen wears the famous piece for just a few moments when she is crowned. It is then replaced with a miniature crown of gold with a pearl topping each point. The queen wears this crown for the remainder of the evening and she keeps it as a momentum of the event.

The Japanese government generously donated another 3,800 trees to Lady Bird Johnson in 1965. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Ryuji Takeuchi, wife of Japan’s ambassador reenacted the original planting ceremony of 1912.

Cuttings from the Trees In 1982 and on several occasions since, cuttings from the original 1912 cherry trees were returned to Japan to replace trees destroyed during the war and when the course of a river destroyed a number of them.

Where are We Now? Private funds were donated between 1986 and 1988 to replant another 676 trees to restore the trees to the original number. Between 1997 and 2011, cuttings from the surviving 1912 cherry trees were propagated to ensure preservation of the 1912 trees’ genetic lineage. These will be used in subsequent replacement plantings both in Washington and in Japan. Thus, the original 1912 gift will ensure a cycle of giving between Japan and the United States.

14
Jan

THE DAY JAPAN BOMBED OREGON

220px-Japanese_fire_balloon_moffetRESEARCH: While researching World War II history for my latest novel, Mrs. Odboddy’s Wartime Adventure, I found another little known piece of history.

BOMB DROPPED IN BROOKINGS, OREGON: In September, 1942, a Japanese submarine off the coast of Oregon launched a float plane loaded with two 76 kilogram incendiary bombs, which it succeeded in dropping in the Siskiyou National Forest, near Brookings, Oregon. A forest fire ensued. The fire was spotted by a fire lookout tower on Mount Emily and two rangers were dispatched to the site. They were able to control the fire throughout the night until a fire crew arrived the next morning. A recent rain had kept the area wet which helped the fire crews contain the blaze.
According to records reviewed after the war, the floatplane carried two bombs. Though both were dropped, no trace was found of the second bomb.

BALLOON BOMBS: Between 1944 and 1945, the Japanese hatched a new plot to attack and torment the American citizens. They launched more than 9,000 air-balloon bombs, 70 feet tall with a 33 foot diameter made of paper and filled with hydrogen. Each carried an anti-personnel bomb and two incendiary bombs. These were launched during the fall and carried across the Pacific Ocean in about three days via the jet stream at an altitude of 30,000 feet.
Three hundred sixty one of the balloons were found in 26 states, Canada and Mexico. Several were found in San Pedro, near Redding and near Santa Rosa, California. It is likely that more balloon bombs landed in unpopulated areas of North America.
CONSEQUENCES: Some of the balloon bombs were sighted by citizens and dispatched by fighter pilots. Others landed in populated areas and caused some degree of damage by igniting fires. One fatality and 22 injuries resulted from subsequent fires caused by the balloons.

TRAGIC RESULTS: In May, 1945, while picnicking, a balloon bomb was found by a woman and five children. A witness warned them away, but before they could retreat, the bomb exploded, creating a 1-foot deep, 3-foot wide hole and killing the woman and all the children. Their cause of their death was withheld from the public and stated “the six were killed by an explosion of unannounced cause.” Later the site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and a monument built. The six are the only known deaths in the continental USA as a result of enemy action during WWII. Japanese visitors have since visited the monument to plant cherry trees as a symbol of peace.
BLACK-OUT: Due to a press black-out during the year of the attacks, no evidence of the success of the program reached Japan and the mission was considered a total fiasco, thus the program was abandoned.

POST WWII: The remains of balloons continued to be discovered during the 1940’s and 1950’s and two in the 1960’s.

Do you know an interesting bit of history related to WWII? Can you share it on this site?

2
Nov

Rationing Goods During World War II

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While researching information about WWII for my latest novel, Mrs. Odboddy’s Wartime Experience, I discovered some things that came as a big surprise.

RATIONING: Rationing during the war affected every American citizen. The government spent a good deal of time and money promoting the idea that Americans should give up certain foods, clothing, tires, and other goods, and that doing so was patriotic and a worthy sacrifice. As most Americans had a son, husband or friend overseas, they readily accepted the deprivations.

COFFEE: During part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed. One pound every six weeks for each adult! This restriction was due to the blockade of ships from Brazil and other countries from bringing coffee to the United States, as well as the desire to send much of the limited coffee supply to the troops. Can you imagine buying only one pound of coffee every six weeks?coffeecup

TIRES: A citizen was limited to purchasing only five tires during the entire war. This sounds like plenty by today’s standards, but remember, neither roads nor tires were as good back then as they are today. People were encouraged to car pool–not just encouraged, required is a better word. Bicycles and motorcycles were not uncommon.
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SUGAR: Sugar was rationed and many other food items were available, but extremely expensive. Beef was costly as well as eggs, which resulted in many a chicken taking up residence in the suburban backyard.

Victory Gardens were encouraged and lawns and backyards were quickly converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Any vegetable that was a high producer in a limited space became the focus of the weekend gardener and provided bragging rights at the local USO where ladies volunteered to serve coffee and visit with the troops.

It became almost a requirement of a good citizen to purchase monthly war bonds to help fund the war effort. About 18 billion dollars was collected through the sale of war bonds meeting the government's goals.

People lived in fear of invasion and many men and women spent hours with binoculars pointed skyward, watching and reporting any aircraft that flew overhead. Remember, radar was in its infancy and not wide-spread.

Young people spend their Saturday afternoons at matinee movies where, for a few hours, romance or cowboy stories with happy endings could whisk them away from thoughts of war or fear for their loved ones.

In general, Americans accepted rationing willingly. They gave up their coffee, sugar, tires and many other luxury and common-place items so the products could be sent to the war effort. Our citizens felt that by their sacrifice, in some small way, giving up sugar or coffee or driving less might shorten the war.

I wonder how Americans today would react, if the same rationing were forced upon us. How would your life be affected if you had to give up drinking all the coffee you wanted and you could only purchase four gallons of gas each week?

We take so many things for granted. We wallow in luxuries and the ability to purchase whatever we desire. We have come to believe they’ll never be taken away. It happened once. Could it happen again? Something to think about, for sure.

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