Bessie Baker - Recognition of Bessie and 64 Hopkins nurses in WWI in France

A writer always hopes to find and work out a special story that you fall in love with and then can tell. Ready to Serve is one of those for me. It has been an honor to tell the story and to spread their history to women in Maryland particularly.  It has been in joy - pure joy -  to draw the story from the voices in the letters the nurses wrote home about their lives overseas.

Ready to Serve tells the story of Hopkins nurses who served in France  1917 - 1919 - led by Chief Army Nurse Bessie Baker.

The event yesterday at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, brought together Students, Faculty, Board members from the Maryland Women's Heritage Center and guests to honor these Hopkins Nurses. The story is little known so 100 years later the Women's Heritage Center in Baltimore presented an award to JHU School of Nursing in their honor.  It will be hung the School.



A New WWI Story by Ellouise Schoettler

November 2, 1918 Sgt. John Walter Cobb, Jr. died in France.

Twenty years ago I called my aunt Catherine asking if she knew a family ghost story.  “Well, Ellouise, when I was a youngster they told me Granny Cobb said she saw Walter standing at the foot of her bed in the Cobb home on Church Street. She said he saluted, waved a last good-bye and disappeared.”   "Who is Walter?" I had never heard about him. 

What's his story? 
I kept wondering and looking for information.

Mary Louise Grose Cobb

In 1930, 12 years after John Walter died from Spanish Flu in Camp Hospital 13 in France, Mary Louise Cobb, John Walter’s mother, traveled from Charlotte across the Atlantic on a ship with a large group of Gold Star widows and mothers, who bravely went to France to say good-bye to their loved ones. 

87 years later, September 2, 2017, I stood beside John Walter’s grave in San Mihiel American Cemetery in France with my daughter Karen and son Jim.
Karen, Jim and Ellouise Schoettler

It was beautiful there and in the quiet of the cemetery we realized how forgotten Walter is. 

We were approaching the 100th anniversary of his death. We knew it was time to bring something of him home to Charlotte - - to the next generations of his family. 

We are remembering John Walter and his mother by placing a Centopath memorial stone on the Cobb Plot in Elmwood Cemetary, Charlotte, NC. and I am telling their story. 

On November 9, 2018 nearly 100 years after THE Great War ended Olde Mecklenburg Genealogical Society presents “In Remembrance” Ellouise Schoettler’s new story of the Great War.
7 PM  Aldergate 
2800 Shamrock  
Charlotte, NC
The $10 fee is a donation to the Society.

On November 10 at 10 am the stone remembering Sgt John Walter Cobb will be placed on the Cobb Plot in Elmwood Cemetery with Military Honors. 
About the storyteller Ellouise Schoettler: 
Born and raised in Charlotte, now based in MD, she tells original stories nationwide, Since 1914 Ellouise has developed and told stories of the Great War which feature women. 
“In Remembrance” is told from the perspective of John Walter’s mother who went to France alone to visit her son’s grave in 1930 on a Gold Star Mother’s pilgrimage.  
More information: www.ellouiseschoettler.com 
A variety of WWI memorabilia will also be on display during this special evening. 


What has happened -

These are hard days listening and watching the news and following what's happening about the nominee for the Supreme Court.
I was raised in times and in school when I was taught how important the Supreme Court
is -
but today I am losing my belief in that - - -


Looking and wondering

Tonight i have pulled out this "old" collage. I do that when I am facing up on something that worries me.

These days I worry about the Supreme Court - -

I am asking myself, "what will Brett Kavenaugh on the Court mean to my grand-daughtersand great-grand-daughters if he is cleared to the lifetime seat on the court?"

Are you wondering and maybe worrying about that too?


End of July.


a bit of a story to tell.

I had hip replacement surgery June 25. 4 days later I was transferred to a resident rehab facility fifteen minutes from my home to get back on my feet and get started walking. Thought I would be there for two weeks but it worked out that I was there three weeks. The extra week provided more strength for my hip, knee, and leg and strong motivation to go home

Being home is great although initially a I was a bit unsure. I came home on Friday and my health aide did not come on until Monday. I managed over the week-end by moving very carefully especially on the seven stairs taking me down to the kitchen level.

When my aide arrived I was so happy to see her - the same woman that helped me several years ago when I had surgery on my shoulder. Felt so lucky to reconnect with her.

So winding down July began.

A marvelous Physical Therapist comes to my house three times a week and gets me back to focusing on exercises, walking and strengthening my leg.

Sunday I showered on my own for the first time since the surgery. I felt warm, clean and empowered.
When the Physical Therapist arrived we went outside to walk - a first for me. It was liberating to feel breezes and smell fresh cut grass.

A friend stopped by. We had a long conversation catching up. It was another high moment on a good day. So how do I explain that I made too quick  amove at the bottom of the steps and WHAM - - -

Hurt my "good" leg. It scared me. Would this mean going back to "go".
I am so grateful it was not serious and I am up on both feet

And - - moving more slowly like a sensible person.



So many possibilities available that they bump into each other.

Choices, choices, choices.

What about mistakes?

Be careful....think it through.


A Step At A Time

Early to the dining room so it’s quiet for breakfast. Grateful. Usually the first sounds on my hall are the piercing screams from a woman a few doors away from me. She is not injured or bleeding her pain comes from deep inside her mind. 

Today is my last breakfast here. After 21 days the dining room is familiar. I will be packed and leaving in a couple of hours. Surgical pain brought me here .. a hip replacement which hurt and frightened me as I wondered how I would walk again. This morning I walked 100 feet alone from my room using a walker. Yesterday I walked the distance four times with only a cane and my PT therapist following close behind. It has been quite a journey.

In a few hours I will leave and my daughter Karen will drive me home in my car. Probably 3 weeks before I can drive.

I have learned one thing ... go slow and steady...one step at a time.


Catching Up

On June 25 I marched over to Holy Cross Hospital for a long needed hip replacement. The surgery went well. Four days later I was transported to
a live-in REHAB facility near my home. After almost three weeks I will finally be going home in two days. I am eager to be back home.

Have you ever been painfully homesick like a kid sent to camp for the first time. That's how I have been feeling as I entered the 3rd week.  Only my own bed and being surrounded by years of familiar things will take care of that.

This REHAB facility  is a good place and the physical therapy to get me back on my feet and walking has been excellent. When people tell me I am moving along well - much faster than expected - I am grateful!

My family has been wonderfully supportive - coming in often to visit and eat meals with me - even when the food has been disappointing.  They formed a committee and shared their time generously which helped me through every day.

Friends have stopped by and good conversations have been welcome and encouraging. Cards, calls and social media have knit together warm connections.

Later I will probably add some stories to share my glimpses of the daily lives of others here who have lived on my hall and will not be fully restored in body, mind or spirit.
I had not expected that in addition to my physical treatments I would be fully engaged in an emotional education of days of infirm elders. I leave here filled with things to think about and ponder. I expect
some changes in how I will prioritize what's important.

Grateful storytelling will give me ways to sort things out.


Saint Anthony Comes Through

Some stories I want to write out so they aren't lost.

A week ago I lost Jim’s watch which I have worn since he died 6 years ago. Hopeful I could find it I looked everywhere in the house and in the car. I retraced my steps from the last time I saw it on my arm. First and last I launched prayers to St Anthony asking him to help me find it. No instant luck. I felt heartbroken.

I lost the watch on Sunday. Tuesday I was scheduled to travel to Cape May, New Jersey to perform Ready to Serve. With the watch missing,  I was not as happy to go asI had been. But people were expecting me. I had to go.

Monday morning I took 3 old watches I had tossed into a box to the Clock Shop in near-by Kensington.  The repairman was on duty. In minutes he put in new batteries and the watches were ticking away.

Even when I was out of town I kept looking and hoping the watch would turn up in the car or somewhere else. As soon as I returned home I started the search again.

Friday night my daughter Karen shouted MOM and ran upstairs holding out something to me.
“What? " 
“ Dad’s watch, Mom. "

"Where? Where did you find it?"
"It was in the refrigerator - wrapped up with the extra bread. I was about to pitch it into the trash when the aluminum foil wrapping came loose and I saw a flash of gold...

Dad’s watch.”

 She waved it as she walked over to hand it to me.

I remembered how slicing the bread had been difficult because the crust was hard. The watch must been shaken loose when I was slicing the loaf of bread. It fell into the package and went missing. Because of my long-sleeved sweat shirt I did not noice it was off -

Tears and laughter from the both of us.
What a find -

Since then - thinking about the "find" - I remembered the warm afternoon Jim and I visited the Tomb of Saint Anthony in Padua, Italy.
I still wear the St Anthony medal I purchased at the Cathedral that day.

We had a special reason for our visit to Padua.
Jim was born on June 13 - the Feast of St. Anthony and his mother named him James Anthony  - - -

Today Jim's watch is comfortably back on my arm - a wonderful gift.

Thank you Saint Anthony.


Traveling to Myself 2

A repeat to remind my self of this poem.

Traveling to Myself

Last night I watched a movie I had seen before but only sort-of remembered -
Night Train to Lisbon with Jeremy Irons.
I watched it because I did not recall the story but I felt that there was something in it I wanted to "catch' again.

And - there was.

The story is a mix of mystery, romance, and discovery set in Lisbon - in a non-specific modern time. The characters too are rather universal and yet non-discript- soft identities that do not take away from the story itself. The Irons character , a middle-age professor, saved a girl from jumping off a bridge in Bern, she runs away and he impetuously hops on a train to follow her to Lisbon to find her and discover her story. You guess soon into the movie that who he eventually finds, along with an interesting story, will be himself.

The key to the search for the girl is a haunting memoir by a young doctor - the other driving character. The heart of the story rests in the book.

All of this was familiar to me as I re-visited the movie - but then in the ending - - AH, HA - I found what I was looking for - a piece of verse:

I spent some time this morning capturing it - I don't want to lose it again because the poem speaks to why I am tied to memoir and to capturing my past. Its the reason for my own personal searches  - and at 80 years old I have a lot of ground to cover as I find bits of myself and quilt them together.

From the movie: Night Train to Lisbon
This is the passage one of the characters writes into his journal which will become his book.

We leave something of ourselves behind in a place we have been

We stay there even though we go away

There are things in ourselves we find again only by going back there

We travel to ourselves when we go back to a place where we have covered a stretch of our life 

No matter how brief it may have been.

Ah, yes.


On the Home Front

Glad to catch up with you and - thanks for your report.
Are you sure you mean it when you ask what I am doing ?

All right  - you asked.

Talking with my dear childhood friend Betsy every week is an important connection for me - - 
we keep up with the state of the world today, 
drop back to the past we share 
and then just go on blabbing about anything that comes up.

Are you, like me, very grateful for Alexander Graham Bell and his telephone - even though - who dreamed we would be carrying it in our pockets?  Maybe Dick Tracey - he was a prophet on that score.

Sorry to say I am taking a pass on the FRINGE this year after eight consecutive seasons. It was a tough decision for me. I LOVE introducing a story at the Fringe -  

My original plan was to introduce a new WWI show at the Fringe - but now I will be introducing it in November in Charlotte,NC where it started. Its a family story about my grand uncle and his mother.  The WWI doughboy buried in France is from Charlotte and November 2 will be the 100th anniversary of his death during the War. 
His mother, a Gold Star Mother, visited his grave in 1930. 

Sponsored by the Olde Mecklenburg Genealogical Society I will tell that story. Probably November 9. I feel as though I am bringing him home.

In a way I will bring him home. I am placing a Centopath Stone in Elmwood Cemetery on the family plot with his parents and other family members.

Tom Wolfe says you can't go home again - - -- what has been made clear to me - is that you can go back where you were once "at home" but its not exactly the same . I am very grateful to Obie Osborne, a Central High School classmate and Marilyn Hall Jones, a cousin who is a member of the OMGS for helping to make this happen.

Saturday I had a great time at a workshop on writing monologues and dialogue. It was good stuff for writers and also just plain fun. It was a cold rainy day.  We were meeting in a 19th century small and livable, once-a-church, house in College Park across from the University of Maryland campus.  I was the oldest in the 20 mixed age group of men and women -  strangers to me -  gathered around a huge table talking and laughing all day. We had 2  excellent leaders, author Mary Amato and playwright John Feffer. I am ready to go again. Being wrapped in laughter felt medicinal.

For Valentine's my daughter Karen and I are going to a play - "HAND-BAGGED".  It is running an additional month at the Round HouseTheater in Bethesda which says a lot!
The cast is small - two characters performed by four women - 2 as Queen Elizabeth - young and older - and 2 as Margaret Thatcher - young and older. They talk from the four perspectives.  Sounds intriguing doesn't it? I will be paying attention to the dialogue and monologues.

Well, that's it for me today.
Love to all of you!!!


Connecting with History

Months ago I subscribed to a Smithsonian Blog - - " O Say Can You See." 

I love regularly receiving notices for a new article which takes me closeup to history. A few weeks ago the article reminded me of a bit of my family history so I wrote a quick FACEBOOK post about it.

Today I am saving that post here on my blog for several reasons -

first - to keep it where I can find it

second - because I hope it will jump-start me into writing on my blog again rather than putting all my words down on Facebook.

FROM FACE BOOK: Touching base with history through a Blog Post from the Smithsonian - -
Seeing this book and reading the explanation reminds me to check my family history records. My 3 great grandfather, Daniel Diggle came to Philadelphia in the 1840s from Manchester, England where he was born and learned his trade as a dyer. His son William, born in PA in the USA followed his father into that trade. William moved to Georgia and then to North Carolina. Seeing this color recipe book brought him to mind. Makes me want to pull out the records and check in on the Diggle - --maybe find something more. Robin S. Fox Jim Schoettler

If you'll use color to wow your valentine this year—perhaps with an attractive card, gift, or hint of vivid lipstick—let Valentin Emmerling's careful attention to color…