The Last Liberty Boat

David Campbell

David Campbell and Joe Callahan

Joe Callahan was my best friend in the Navy. We weren’t together very long, but while we were, we were virtually inseparable. When I returned to the Wilson after my leave to get married, Joe was on board fresh out of Internal Communications Electrician school.

The gun fire control gang, my unit, and the IC electricians both worked out of the IC room, home to the main fire control computer and the ship’s main gyro compass, the heart of the internal communications network, because all navigation and fire control systems were connected to it. IC electricians maintained the compass and the circuitry connecting it to other systems, as well as the sound-powered telephone system. The fire control guys and the IC gang were joined at the hip.  (More…)

England During the War Years

Jack D. Plimmer

At the age of 12, I was not prepared for the war. It was a dark cloud that cast its shadow over what promised to be an enjoyable part of my life. I had just passed the 11-plus exam and had a scholarship to the local grammar school. My future looked rosy, but there were clouds on the horizon.

In England, we knew for some time that war was on its way. As I grew older, I read the national newspapers. They convinced us that Hitler’s aggression soon would be directed against England. The papers were full of news about Mussolini’s conquest of Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Civil War was a harbinger of what was to come. It polarized European thought and opinion. The newspapers gave detailed reports of the aerial bombing, sieges, battles, massacres, the flight of civilians and all the terrors associated with the war. The nightmare grew closer.  (More…)

Arrival

Raymond Paltoo

The sky was an unbelievable blue with only a lonely, white, drifting cloud to disrupt its absolute rule in the heavens. The sea was a reflection of the blue sky, except near the shore, where the water became a translucent emerald-green.

From the rough planking of the dock Sham watched the ship, which had brought him and more than a few hundred others over the depths of the dark ocean, gently rocking as the small waves washed her hull on their way to the shore. His senses told him that he had never seen anything so lovely and yet so alien as the waters of the Caribbean. Simultaneously, he was conscious only of misery and loss.  (More…)

Yes, Diane! There is a Santa Claus!

Diane Russell

The happiest season of the year was Christmas for the Chicago-based Henrikson family.   I was the only kid among my friends who could say that I actually saw Santa Claus deliver presents.

Santa made regular appearances decades earlier to another generation of Henrikson and Dixon kids.  My dad, Art Henrikson, wrote about these Christmas Eve visits to his Scandinavian grandparents’ home in the 1920’s as follows:  “Each year someone would have to go to the store and leave through the front door…minutes later, conversation would lower.  I’d hear a tinkle of bells and then a knock on the back door…there was Santa!” In the 1930’s, his younger cousin, Vince Bates, saw Santa at Big Grandma and Big Grandpa’s house a couple of days after Christmas and was amazed: “Of course, he had gifts for all of us, and of course he knew all of us by name, including me!”   (More…)

Civil War Battlefields

Kevin Chittim

Unbearable Florida heat and humidity, wives off on their own adventures, more than a slight danger of boredom—how are a couple of golden agers to spend their summer vacation?

Tim McMurrich and I have been friends for 45 years (although we lost contact with each other for 30 of those) ever since we were part of a stellar softball outfield in the ‘70s.  We hatched our plan to tour Civil War Battlefields over cocktails during the Christmas holidays (not surprisingly our spouses began planning alternate summer plans the same evening).  So, began an 8-day Odyssey    (More…)

Life As It Was

Raymond Paltoo

“Why bother with the past? It is not where you come from but where you end up.” This was a question posed by my younger son who was and is as American as Mom’s apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I smile at him as we sit around a kidney-shaped swimming pool with sparkling blue water; the bright Florida sun glinting off the calm surface of the water with occasional swirls from the underwater jets and filtration system.

My answer was unthinkingly swift and spontaneous, as I had heard this type of question before, posed by students who were impatient to get on with life.  (More…)

My Ancestor Was a Civil War POW

Diane Russell

In the late 1970s, I started researching my family tree. My paternal grandmother’s grandfathers were Union soldiers in the Civil War, so I obtained their military records through the National Archives.

Charles G. Dixon married his sweetheart two days before he enlisted in October, 1864, in Company E, 8th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry. Private Dixon served only 9 months before his discharge in July 1865. A year later, he and Emma Gleason became parents of my great-grandfather, William H. Dixon.

Sanford C. H. Smith was a married father of four children when he enlisted in September, 1862, in Company H, 7th Regiment, Ohio Cavalry. Corporal Smith was captured during the Battle of   (More…)

My Friend Fannie Farmer

Jane Applegate

Fannie Farmer isn’t actually my friend, but if you are a home cook or know something about cooking in America, this should get your attention.

In my mother’s kitchen, when she baked a pie and it emerged from the oven bubbling with juice, she would wonder aloud, “Would it meet Fannie Farmer’s standards?” Her Fannie Farmer Cookbook was the reference for all good meals in our home.  (More…)