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

It started 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.


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 -


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."


I felt comforted  by Jim's love.


Memories Barraging

Several days ago a story started trying to birth itself.

I am experiencing a barrage of memories.  After posting twice on Facebook about it I know I need to capture them so for the time-being I will combine them here. And capture/add anything that comes later.
Until I know what's happening  - if anything.


Facebook  July 28, 2017  

My cousin sent me a "message" today with this picture and it unleashed a flood of memories from my childhood. The address of this house is1942 E. 7th Street, Charlotte, NC.

My grandmother lived at 2308... their house was one of the first built in Elizabeth. I grew up in that neighborhood...A corner house  - 2201 - was once our house. Then 8th street. Once we lived on 9th street in a darling house where I remember a good Christmas from Santa and Pearl Harbor - the beginning of war. I hope it is still there. Mama and Daddy moved frequently and always in the Elizabeth Section - close to my grandmother. Seeing the picture of that house brought back a deluge of memories.

It was a mega prompt. I sat down and began dictating into the Dragon App. on my iPhone so I can catch the images and the memories. Its a rich gift that is sending me I off into the long ago of my own story.

The sad note - once houses are broken up they have taken down the stories as well. Even though this house is not one I ever lived in it is familiar and reminds me of the look of 7th Street. Glad Louise Lowry Barr

sent this for a last look. Jim Schoettler Robin S. Fox Kathy Diggle McGill

The way I decided to write - is to keep adding to it -


Evernote - July 28, 2017

When all the memories began to flow  earlier today I was sitting out a heavy rainstorm in the parking lot of Chevy Chase Supermarket. Rather than waste the time or/and lose the train of thought filled with childhood memories I dictated them in the Dragon App on my phone. I am keeping these in Evernote.

Train Memories - 
The Elizabeth Section - was developed around a train line and crossing - so the sound of soulful whistles was the Musak of my childhood but I did not realize it as that until 45 years later when Jim and I spent a week-end in a B and B off Seventh Street and I heard that music again during all hours of the night and day. 

Checking Memories - When you are 81 years old who do you call to fact-check your memories? But better to capture the stories now than never.

The White Cliffs of Dover - The houses I on 7th street had wide porches and we played on them in the hot summer and on rainy days. Or anytime we wanted to "put on a show".  A neighbor lady loved hearing me, at age 6, sing The White Cliffs of Dover and she took me downtown to audition for a local radio talent show. It was held at the Visualite Movie Theater. I was selected and the Saturday morning I faced a large audience for the first time I was shaking and scared. The announcer said, "Go ahead, Ellouise."I took a deep breath and sang. I had forgotten all about that morning but when I remembered it the other day I could hear the sound of the applause.

Have to keep thinking about those days in the Elizabeth Section - and Granny and others.

My children or grandchildren have never lived in a house with a porch.


Facebook - July 29, 2017  Waldorf, MD
Winds are tossing the flags. The middle flag is Maryland. I feel a bit tossed myself by waves of memories. Coming down Hwy 5 S took me right by Andrews AFB where Jim was stationed for four years. Our kids were youngsters, our youngest child died in the hospital there, two others swam on the base swim team, several summers I was a Scout leader at a near-by Girl Scout Camp - Camp Winona-- and we rode down Hwy 5 every day for a few weeks...I don't remember the camp songs we sang in the car back and forth but Karen does. Reminded of the historic sites near here.. Surratts House and Doctor Mudd's Home where they took Booth after Lincoln was killed. Definitely coming back to go through those. Maybe I can get son Jim to come down too so that he can use his US Army pass to get on base st Andrews. Would love that. Maybe there is a story here? And then just a bit further down the road is the Union Prison where my great grandfather- a 16 year old boy - was held- after Petersburg. I don't know much about him or his story. And have always wondered if he walked home to NC.


Ready to Serve Wash Post Review - 7/07/2017

Writer's Note: One of the special benefits when you have a show in the Fringe is that they are all reviewed. My first performance, July 6, reviewers from The Washington Post and DCMetroTheaterArts were in the audience and their opinions were published on July 7. Because the review of Ready to Serve was in a write up with two other shows - I have separated the Ready to Serve article for my blog - and for sharing. 
See the full article HERE.  


Ready to Serve Review: July 7, 2017
by Celia Wren  

 Ellouise Schoettler, writer-performer of “Ready to Serve: Remember the Nurses” at the Capital Fringe Festival. (Courtesy of Ellouise Schoettler)

“Ready to Serve: Remember the Nurses”
First came the sound of the ambulances rolling up to the hospital entrance. Then, the shouted alert to medical staff: “Gas! Gas! Gas!” It was a heads-up that the ambulances had brought victims of a gas attack on a World War I battlefield. The nurses would see the soldiers shuffle into the hospital, coughing, with bandaged eyes, each man holding on to the shoulder of the man in front in a kind of macabre conga line.

Those images are among the vivid details that surge up from “Ready to Serve: Remember the Nurses,” storyteller Ellouise Schoettler’s solo piece about Maryland nurses serving in France during World War I. Drawn from nurses’ letters and other documents, the 70-minute piece eschews performative polish: Dressed in contemporary garb, Schoettler talks casually, plopped on a stool, like a grandmotherly acquaintance recounting anecdotes over tea. But she has curated her material deftly, and the monologue is often moving and searingly specific.

Told in the first-person, through the eyes of a composite nurse character, “Ready to Serve” contains many scenes that are more upbeat or prosaic than the gas-attack sequence. The narrator recalls a pile of hand-addressed envelopes sent by nurses eager to volunteer; a dismaying first look at the bathrooms in the nurses’ residence in France (no shower curtains!); a hospital ward’s Christmas tree, festooned with ornaments that wounded soldiers had crafted from shiny candy wrappers. Through such glimpses comes a portrait of resourceful, mutually supportive, fiercely committed medical pros coping with harrowing circumstances they hadn’t foreseen.
“Ready to Serve” follows a previous World War I-themed show that Schoettler performed at the Capital Fringe Festival: “The Hello Girls,” about military switchboard operators. This newer piece gains added resonance from timing, arriving at the Fringe in the centenary year of America’s entry into the war.Sign up

Celia Wren
70 minutes. July 8, 9, 15, 18, 20 & 22 at the Eastman Studio Theatre, Gallaudet University.


Remembering the WWI Nurses

July 6 Ready to Serve, the unknown story of 64 MD nurses who served in France during WWI, opens at Gallaudet University as part of the 2017 Capital Fringe. 

Someone asked me "Why are you telling Ready to Serve again this year. You have been telling it across Maryland for six months - aren't you tired of it?"

"No." This will be my eighth consecutive year performing in the Capital Fringe for audiences of all ages who are terrific listeners which is vital for a storyteller. And, I love this story and the more I tell it the more I care about these women who stepped up when they were needed and then were forgotten.

Ready to Serve is a true tale of 64 professional nurses, trained at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD, who joined the Army to serve in France with Hopkins Base Hospital #18. 

Yes. Ready to Serve was premiered at the 2016 Capital Fringe last June.  I am bringing it back to the Fringe after a year of touring the show in Maryland.  June 14 their story turned 100 years old as that is the date they “shipped out” in 1917 from New York on the USS Finland . 

From the day I started the research for Ready to Serve I have been determined to give these women a voice to tell their story… and to bring them out of the shadows of history during the WWI Centennial and that is NOW. The Centennial began April 6.

Ready to Serve is a one-woman show drawn from letters these nurses wrote home. Their letters are filled with reports of brutal winter weather, spartan living quarters which they called “our ridiculous plight”, and the sisterhood of French nurses who prepared them for the battle wounds that would come into their care at Base Hospital #18. “You can do it.” They told them. “if you know what to expect.” 

Mostly they write home about the courage, strength, and patriotism of the men they are tending.

The winters of 1917 and 1918 were punishing. Two of the nurses died and five were sent home because of the weather. The numbers of casualties from major battles were a test of their stamina but they did their best work through all the hardships. Yet their stories remained unknown.  Ready to Serve shines a light on them and their work.  

“I may forget the names of those boys ,” wrote one nurse, “but I will remember the faces of those brave lads forever.”  I hope this story will help people remember the nurses!www.wwonesnurses.weebly.com  

As I will remember my opportunity to share this story.
The year of telling their story to varied audiences at different venues across the state has been a wonderful journey. By telling the story many times to different audiences I feel closer to the nurses and can bring more life to their story. And, I know Maryland better as I drive the back roads and highways.

The people who attend Ready to Serve are interested in the war and the story. Many are well schooled in the history; others want to know more about the Great War a hundred years ago. They are surprised by the women’s experiences, saying, “I never knew about that. I never heard of that.” There is sadness in their faces when they hear of the deaths of the doughboys from battle wounds and the nurses and corpsmen who died from diseases not bullets or bombs.

When I describe the battle wounds they wrote home about we have a  glimpse of the reality of the war for the soldiers and for the nurses who saw it and experienced working with them, especially of the cost to men suffering after a gas attack. I have seen tears in many eyes.  I often choke myself when telling of some incidents that I know quite well.

 ‘’ How do they do it,” a nurse asked to no one in particular in a letter she wrote to her family in 1918. “They take their "cup of courage", someone blows a whistle, they climb the ladder against the trench wall and then over into the battle. If they are lucky they are brought to us.” 

During the Q and A audience members share WWl stories from their families, some bring scrap books to share and nurses come to hear their “sisters” remembered for their skills, kindness and courage. 

While Ready to Serve focuses on Hopkins nurses the story is intended to honor all the nurses who served overseas. 

As a spokenwordartist, my joy is seeking stories of unknown women and bringing them to life.      



Moments to Remember

1999  Our Pilgrimage to Israel, Jordan and Egypt -

Found this when searching for something else - and reminded of a fabulous and meaningful trip Jim I made to the Holy Land - our trip led by the late wonderful Fr. Larry Boadt who was an amazing teacher and guide. This is the cover to a book of meditations - Rev. James A Wallace wrote the meditations and I provided the drawings from moments of our trip. This drawing is an adaptation of a photo Jim took of me from a point overlooking Jerusalem.

1986 - After I came home from taking an exhibit to Kenya to be seen during the UN Conference on Women I arranged a schedule of US exhibits.
Last night these yellowed papers surfaced from an old file aud it tells part of the later story.
Glad I kept a copy of Polly Paddock's article in the Charlotte Observer . Not only the story of the Charlotte Exhibit it also brings back many other
of how that gone done - - - and how grateful I am for Jennie's help - and how much I admired her work in the MD Legislature. At that time
she was in the House - she was later delegated to the Maryland Senate. She made us all proud there for 36 years.