10/06/2017

Digging into History




This week I had a very exciting afternoon at the National Archives. My son Jim found this bit of paper which finally tells us when and where John Walter died in France in 1918. A huge leap to finally pulling his story together. It's one of those finds when you just tremble with excitement .... and I always have tears at finding someone. I also think of Jim ..... he loved this kind of detecting!!!





One of the research rooms at the National Archives-- a spacious light filled place that is really excellent to work in. Great space and all the technology you could want to help you with capturing the information. 

Twenty years ago when I started my genealogy searching I worked in the old building downtown. I loved it there for it's traditional connections but the space was tight and the narrow windows kept it dim. I finished one long cycle with genealogy and gradually moved on so that today after a twenty year gap I was no longer in the "system". 

That was no surprise and the treat was quickly getting a new researcher badge which is your entrance access to it all. Its like a feast has been spread out on the table. I love it - feel back in a familiar saddle and plan to ride quite a lot.

Today searching into the past  is different from my early days. Going to the Archives is rich and its exciting. There is so much to dig through. But if you keep at it you can accomplish a surprising amount at home with you laptop comfortably on the kitchen able  - - or where-ever you like to work.

I have armed myself with internet subscriptions to Ancestry.com and to Newspapers.com. I am sure there are other sites too. And of course there is google which often comes through with some surprises.



After our visit to the Archives I was itching for more information without going back this week so I spent time with my tools and came up with riches. Learned more about John Walter's death, yes, but the real new treasure was finding 
fresh information about his younger brother from identifying his boat transport to and from France and later to visit John Walter's grave in conjunction with the American Legion Gathering in Paris to honor the 10th Anniversary in 1927. 

To my surprise all this information led me down a the new path of learning about how the Army organized and accomplished the disinterments of soldiers buried in formal temporary graves for the 
journey home or to a permanent Army Cemetery in France once the family decided.


John Walter is buried in San Mihiel American Military Cemetery.
The week that John Walter died so did two others in the same hospital. The records show that the three men were transferred and buried side by side in 1918. In the end in 1920 two were moved to a "funeral ship" to come to the Unted States for final burial and John Henry was assigned to San Mihiel.  I was startled to discover that one of  the two is buried at Arlington. I know where he is resting and some his story.

Grateful to be working with Genealogy and Storytelling.





10/01/2017

Video: Childhood Memory




A Childhood Memory - Hope you are saving and telling your stories.

I loved Elizabeth School and was quite happy in 2011 to be invited to tell this story - a bit longer than this version - at the school when they were celebrating their 100th anniversary.


There was a lot that had changed but the First Grade room was the same and the auditorium looked exactly as it did when I saw it for the first time. 



The Day I Started the First Grade  HERE

9/28/2017

From James Bond to Meteora





Last week I called a friend in California to "catch up". We had a great conversation that took us stepping through memories and then we backed up to a trip to Greece and Turkey we made more than ten years ago. 
When we were talking about it I could not remember the name of a particularly memorable place. Neither could she recall the  name.
Last night I fell asleep while I was watching a Netflix movie. When gunshots woke me up about 2:20 am I realized another movie was playing. I was now watching Roger Moore in the 1981 James Bond movie "For Your Eyes Only". Bond was using ropes to pull himself high up an emense rock face to reach a monastery perched at the top. One look at the monastery sitting high on the rocks and I called out into my dark and empty bedroom - "Meteora".  Knowing the name now released flood of fabulous memories.
Our group's first stop that day was a busy work shop were artists were painting religious icons. Beautiful work.
We were invited walk around and watch the artists doing their painting. We also looked through the completed works that were "for sale" and selected a few to buy and take home.  Then we all returned to our bus. Once we were settled in our guide, Father Larry Boadt, reminded us that "our next stop is Meteora". I was surprised when some of our group sighed deeply.

When Jim and I  prepared for this trip we were so busy getting ready we did not study the itinerary. I had no idea about Meteora and no clues about what to expect. We did not AH!!!.

Shortly after pulling back onto the asphalt road the bus turned into a smaller road that almost immediately began to move up. Our bus squeaked loudly as it climbed slowly up the narrow steep road and the landscape shifted dramatically from flat green fields to rocks, huge boulders rising out of the earth.  I whispered to Jim, "where are we"? He did not know either. I felt like we had shifted  into a different world. I clutched Jim's hand because I felt some uneasy fear as well as being amazed by the awesome views.

Later after touring the monastery our group gathered on top of one of the large flat boulders and our Fr. Boadt, said Mass just below one of of the elevated monasteries. 

It was quite an experience.

Recovering the name of the place and the memories is a wonderful gift.

9/26/2017

A Good "Finding"




What a “serendipity”. 

September 24, 2017 while researching on the internet  I found a letter from France published in a Talbot County, Maryland newpaper on September 22, 1917. Even though they edited out the writer’s name and location to protect her and the American troops, I recognized her as one of the Hopkins nurses I tell a story about in Ready to Serve.  


From the paper: 
A Talbot County nurse with an American Army Hospital in France wrote Dr. Davidson at the Easton Hospital an interesting letter. Among other things she says, "This is a wonderful country. They seem to have all the crops of fruits and vegetables which we have at home. Their season is quite a little later than ours and in August it is as cold as we have it in October. 

There has been so much rain this summer I think I could have counted on one hand the days it is not raining since we came. But also we have such sunshine. One hour of it makes up for the whole day of clouds. It is so warm so and satisfying.
The children are bright little things but the elders are sad. There are only a few men to be seen other than those in the blue French uniforms. 

Recently every woman is in black. Even very young girls wear veils which touch the floor.
Their feeling towards us Americans is amazing. Everywhere we are acclaimed with cheers and tears of joy.”

(During our visit to France September 6, 2017...we seldom saw men women or children working in the fields today and certainly no
Men in blue except for a few village statues where the soldier's uniform was painted blue)



9/22/2017

Catching up


It has been exciting, very busy and exhausting since I wrote the last blog post.



On August 28th when I put on my "poppies shirt" and went to Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore to tell Ready to Serve, the story of the 64 Hopkins nurses who went to France during World War One. The audience came to their feet applauding at the end so I knew they liked it. That felt good....





Two days later my son and daughter and I flew to France for  an eight day to visit to the areas where the  Hopkins Nurses and the Hello Girls had worked during the Great War - - - and to visit the grave of Sgt. John Walter Cobb, our ancestor-uncle,
who is buried in San Mihiel American Military Cemetery.


Just writing that down shocks me with how idiotic it was to try to cram so much into eight days - two  of which were flight days. Topped by the fact that we were coming and going from Brussels Airport - four hours from our hotel in France.



8/27/2017

Two Cards Bring Back a Story



Somewhere in France.
Christmas Day 1917 - 

Thanks to cousin Robert Lowry these 100 year old postcards from Sgt John Walter Cobb, Jr. have been brought to light. We don't know much about him. He died in France, people stopped talking about him and he slipped away as the older nephews and nieces slipped away. But I like him - his way with words particularly.

 I love the image of that Christmas tree with red, white and blue lights on it. 


This week I found another letter from him in the Charlotte newspaper - but there it is nothing like the connection through this card which was written directly by him to "Mama". I will stop by for a visit at the San Mihiel Cemetery in France next week and we will keep looking for his footsteps. 

You will hear more from me. The story is growing.





Going "Over There"

August 25, 2017 - 
Yesterday I posted this longer post to talk about the trip ahead next week. I will add other FB posts as we go along.

Posted August 24, 2017

Stepping into History:
This time next Thursday United AL will be taking me to France - - - There is a "List"--- To place a wreath on my great grand uncle's grave in San Mihiel Cemetery, to visit the sites of Base Hospital #18 where I hope to imagine my self walking in the footsteps of the nurses I talk about, to stop by the Edith Cavell Memorial in Brussels, to visit Verdun and Flanders Fields, and to find a few other places that matter. 


This picture was taken on the dock un NYC before the 64 Hopkins nurses boarded the USS Finland the ship in the convoy that was taking them to France 
I have had my head in WWl for almost four years - this is a chance for seeing this area as it is today - and working to imagine the places as they were. 


When Jim and I made a pilgrimage to Israel following in the footsteps ofJesus and His followers our Leader Fr. Larry Boadt, warned us that a pilgrimage is hard work - if you want to get underneath today and find it as it was." Ever since I have been grateful to Larry for setting us on that path and teaching us how to work at it.

This trip is a pilgrimage for me. Lots of research, reading, and getting ready to be there. Particularly the work done to find our forgotten uncle John Walter Cobb - who died 100 years ago in France. That's a story for the family - -

And I do have some leads on new stories- - - but I have learned that you never really know how that will turn out - so I will also try to stay open - on the look-out for a story I have not dreamed of.

Do you know the poem "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian battlefield surgeon, John McCrae, MD. I am hoping we walk among those crosses, remembering those buried there.

The Poppies -

8/22/2017

Power of a Dream










Made this collage at least 20 years ago and called it Self Portrait.

I remember adding the clock to draw attention to life - and time slipping by.
That slipping by was brought home like a bullet between my eyes in July when I celebrated my 80th birthday.

Followed by the fifth anniversary of Jim's burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

That was hard.

Ten days later I had a dream - a dream that means a lot and I don't want to lose it - so I wrote it down and then told it to a camera.

Next morning when I told my daughter about the dream she said, " Mom, looks like Dad stopped by again."

Yes.

I felt comforted  by Jim's love.