Under my Quilts

Facebook Post - December 16, 2017

There is still a slight remnant of the sleeting from last night on the street but the sun is shining this morning. Ah,happiness because Karen and I are driving to Baltimore this afternoon for a joyous wedding. The mother of the bride is Karen's long time friend and she was one of my Brownie's in my first Girl Sout Troop. Remember the Girls Scout Brownies, third grade girls wearing brown uniforms when they rang your front door bell to sell Girl Scout Cookies? 
Today I woke up early and stayed for a long while in my toasty warm bed.
Its my favorite work place where I am warm between blue flannel sheets under two colorful quilts - one faded that Jim and I slept under and a newer quilt that I am breaking in. 
My old hand-made wooden farm bed from Texas is a thinking place where I ramble through memories and sort them for stories. Where I remember people who have left and I feel comforted by visiting with them. And of course I often chat with Jim before the warm spell is broken. It all works for me.
Right now I am thinking of hopping on trains and planes to re-trace trips to some interesting places that often tested my good-sense and my courage. Some of the memories have me laughing....and that feels good.

But I didn't stay there all day even though I would have liked it.


Don't Forget to Catch the Moment.

2010: Jim decided to try his hand at making bread. The mixings went well.

When he slipped the loaf into the oven it was not long before the kitchen began to smell wonderful - - we watched it closely anxious to taste "homemade bread." 

As soon as possible Jim sliced several test slices and the bread was delicious.

He made more after that!

Grateful to have these pictures of his experiment.


Headed In - Collage


                              Headed In     Ellouise Schoettler    
                                 Paper Collage  Circa 1990s    


A Christmas memory

This morning a message on my iPhone carried this photo from my son as he approached Vienna, Austria from the air.

Technology brings wonderful possibilities for connections - and in this case for memories. 30+ years ago Jim, Robin and Karen and I flew to  Germany for a family Christmas with son Jimmy who was living serving in Stuttgart . 

Germany was dusted with snow everywhere and it looked like we were riding a train through a black and white etching. Stripping the world of color cast a medieval feeling. Loved it.


Italian Memories

In 1983 I captured these shoes on a hot July afternoon when Jim and I strolled slowly through narrow streets in Burano, Italy. We escaped schedules and our time was our own. A wonderful memory of the month we lived inVenice.


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.


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


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.


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)


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.


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.