Archive for September, 2010

Flames-the fire of talent and remembering-CIA- Chris Ritchey

The incredible and incredulous happened, we lost our son on that December 3rd,2009 day , cards and well wishes poured through the mail slot intermingled with Merry Christmas cards. Mainly my mum had to open them as I wasn’t able to do so in the raw state I was in at the time, I still haven’t managed to go through them all. My mum has kept them for me but there was a note from Dean Deming of Chris’ college- Cleveland Institute of Art.

His note was such a positive in all the negative and wickedness of deceit that found us reeling and still does wound.
We decided as I wrote in my blog post of thanks to have a “living” memorial for Chris. one that gives back, embraces his life and memory as opposed to the decay of death.

Cleveland Institute of Art has unwittingly and unknowingly given me my son’s voice . It was they who taught him how to use his talent, to express himself, to reach out , to speak , as he has done for me in recent days, as I have found and reviewed his work, I have once again heard his voice.

To that end, I contacted Cleveland Institute of Art , Chris’ family ( read RITCHEY)( father, mother, sister, nana and uncle) will sponsor a scholarship to be given to a 4th year Communications and Design Student . A scholarship in Chris’ name to the student that shows , tenacity, diversity , and stands behind their work no matter how controversial.

It is our way of thanking those that helped form my son and have in fact helped give him back to us.

The scholarship award of $1.500 was announced in April

A reception to meet the student arranged by CIA was held on Sept. 22nd.

I knew it was going to be very difficult to attend, I knew that Nikki and I would probably feel it the most as she and I were the ones that were “involved” in Chris’ college years.

We had geared ourselves to face the known triggers we knew could open the fragile dike that was holding back the ocean of grief. Nikki managed it better than I – I lost it unexpectedly in the parking lot. In my mind I saw his truck parked sideways saving us a parking place the day of his graduation .

I flashed backed to the day I had to drive in with the SUV so he could transport his other -self to display it/him in his chosen spot as there was no room in his jeep. I saw him carrying his “other- self” up those same self stairs to the entrance, his face full of deviltry and humor as he was placing it .

I pulled myself together behind my sun glasses and walked the corridors filled with the displays of the talented students and faculty of CIA.

Since we were all attending the reception Gavin did too- his babysitters all occupied for the evening. I have admit he was the little boy with the finger in our particular emotional dike holding back our emotional ocean. His reaction to a pig sculpture , may not have been appreciated by fellow attendees but it surely was a moment to savor by us.

I stayed a little out-of-the-way trying to fight the flames of memory that were licking at my being – I watched as the recipients of the scholarships chatted and talked , their youth , joy de vie , the expectations full with happiness. I tried not to remember that my son had attended such functions with his scholarships his laughter echoing down those halls .

We met Jessica and she was a joy and so very talented. I was glad that Chris laughter and talent will be remembered in those same halls by Jessica and other students to come.

Nikki had stood resolute in her courage but her eyes filling as she held back her tears only to be released when we left

“This just sucks mum, he should be here”

and the question that is never answered


once again being asked to the warm September evening breeze as we walked through the parking lot.

We will be on December 3rd, 2010 sending another check to CIA to help another student fan the flames of their talent.

If you would like to contribute to the Christopher Ritchey Memorial Scholarship at CIA please do so by sending the check to :
Attn Amy Bartter,
Cleveland Institute of Art,
11141 East Boulevard,
Cleveland, OH 44106

mark Chris Ritchey Memorial Scholarship

September 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm 6 comments

Lorain City Schools- Guest Blogger -Kelly Boyer Sagert

Sing Along with Me: Memories . . .
By Kelly Boyer Sagert
Photo- TMC News
Three years ago, we were furious! We were outraged! Three years ago, we knew that we needed to do something – anything! everything! – to register our disapproval with the direction in which our school system was headed.

Lorain City Schools had just eliminated 243 teachers’ jobs and 22 preschool teacher aides’ jobs, with the fine arts programs shredded. We shouted. We sobbed. We hand-painted signs, we protested outside of the building where school board meetings were being held, we made sure that we were being heard. We begged television stations to show up, telling them that it was important that the community at large hears about what was happening to our schools. Important? Hell. It was urgent!

People waited in long lines to speak during the public portions of the school board meetings. People in the audience listened intently to what was being said by those standing at the microphone. We clapped uproariously in support and we gasped collectively in dismay.
People marched in with banners emblazoned with cards signed by members of the community, insisting that the fine arts programs be restored. The marchers received resounding whistles and cheers. They were our heroes!

Attending those school board meetings consumed a significant amount of time – but, nevertheless, the room brimmed with teachers (those still employed and those recently RIF’d), parents and students – and Lorain citizens with no direct connection to the school system who understood what was at stake if our school system was brought down to its knees.

After the meetings ended, if you were a WoM blogger, the night was still young, because you were anxious to get home to blog about what had just happened. You had to transform your chicken scratch into legible prose, but it felt so good because you were doing something valuable. You were actually making a difference! Then, you couldn’t go to bed. Oh, no. Not yet! There were comments – lots and lots of lovely, impassioned comments made by people who wholeheartedly cared about our schools – and so you stayed up late to respond to them. We were, if just for a blip in time, a force with which to be reckoned.

This time . . . Eh. Not so much.

Three years ago, I didn’t miss many school board meetings – and I needed a darned good reason to miss. This past year, I attended a few meetings . . . very few . . . and, when I did show up, it was all so very, very quiet . . . I think I left early once or twice, too, but I can’t really remember. Maybe I needed to go grocery shopping. What can I say. I tend to run out of lettuce and toilet paper.

Very few people bother to speak up these days at school board meetings. The audience – well, we’re scattered about in chairs located here and there, with plenty of free leg and arm room for all. And, sure. We hear what’s being said but don’t feel inclined to participate ourselves. That would mean we’d need to actually stand up and walk ALL the way over to that microphone.

We’re drowning in apathy – muddy, yucky, stinky apathy. We feel as though we’re in the middle of one of those dreams in which we know we should run or jump or do something – anything – but our muscles are weighted down and we feel as though we’re trudging through sludge. We know that all is imploding, right in front of our very eyes, but we just can’t seem to muster enough energy to try to do something about it – or to get out of the way in the faint hope that the other guy might try.

I know that I should create a heartfelt conclusion right about now. Maybe even pen a rousing call to action! In fact, my English teachers would have insisted that adding some sort of relevant finale would be necessary, but . . . yawn . . . I don’t think so. Not tonight, anyhow. Instead, I think I’ll just turn in early . . .

Original photo Mark Teleha

September 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm 15 comments

Lorain City Schools -going – going ?????

(it makes for some eye opening reading and will make you think!!)

There was not a lot of hope that many of these sixth graders would ever make it to twelfth grade, so this was their only chance at the “prom” experience. The families never failed to pull out all the stops for this event every year. Yet, when it came right down to it, the families were giving up on these kids. They were just accepting what they perceived as their inevitable fate. They weren’t even trying to give these kids a better life and break the vicious cycle.

For the most part I am ignoring issues , I am ignoring what is happening in the real world of Lorain. I am leaving it to others now. I probably won’t even vote this year – first time since the age of 24. (I am still debating that in my head- it will depend on if I feel I can make a difference) you see I have changed.

But it is hard to ignore the fact that a neighbor, whom I have said good morning to every day that I have lived in this house, is in its death throes.
Irving School is going and today there is an on-line auction for Lorain City Schools



From my self-imposed prison I scan the newspapers ( on-line) and read of problems with Lorain City Schools . I think back to just 3 years ago and another September, when Lorain City Schools was rocked financially all the problems faced and it seems that I am reliving those times three years on.
Not a lot has seems to have changed

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. ~Confucius

As I archived the comments from Lorain City Schools Forum and the happenings on WoM I noticed In the space of just one month and 22 days on that forum there was over 1074 comments. 262 pages filled in “word” a small book.
Wom LCS forum 175 Sept 2007
Wom LCS 175-350 Sept 2007
Wom LCS forum 350-525 Sept 2007
Wom LCS forum 525-700 Sept 2007
Wom LCS forum 700-875 Sept 2007
WoM LCS forum 875-1074 October 22nd

The posts on WoM penned fast and furious as to the state of the schools and what needed to be done. Brian , Scott , Kelly, Jim and Roman
Lorain City Schools- Roman, hundreds of comments followed each post, so much so Scott had to set up another page.

ALL had suggestions and in the case of Brian
he organized rally after rally drawing people from their apathy, but that was of another time and another blog.

Things changed on the Wom – just as they have with me but not to wisdom and happiness unfortunately .

Sept 2007 was a time of upheaval and cost cutting. Employees, teachers , citizens and candidates found a place to vent the frustration – the financial situation was dire – we are being told now the financial situation is dire once again .

Have things “changed” in those three years?

Yes! we have another superintendent, different members on the BOE , we now have one high school , new buildings to replace the old in some cases, new uniforms but the report card is not good- a score of 1 out of 26 that isn’t good no matter how optimistic you are. In that year of 2007 we rated 4- in 2006- 6 in 2005 -8 and 2004 -4 and I say WE because how Lorain Schools fare so do we all- we are in this together like it or not.,Lorain City,Lorain County

We have another newspaper editor at the helm of the local paper , Tom Skoch at the Morning Journal who states on Sept 24th-2010

SOMETHING good is happening in Lorain’s schools these days, and at the same time, a door is opening to further improve student achievement.

But we also have the “old ” newspaper editor of the Morning Journal, John Cole , who wrote in his column for the rival newspaper The Chronicle on Sept 8th 2010

ED. NOTE -John we must remember was the long time editor of the Morning Journal and was at the helm through the LCS continuing decline so his opinion should come from experience.

“So, as the education available in Lorain stinks like a dead cat on the curb the superintendent and board find all manner of activities to look busy”

ED NOTE: The whole article can be found here by clicking on the PDF file link below

A tale of two editors???- who does a mere mortal believe?

Something does need to change – even I can see that from my place beneath the surface- but what???? YOU tell me – what will make a difference and “quickly”. As I see it from the “outside” Lorain City Schools need to pass a levy but the voters are not in a giving mood- what is needed to change that mood? What can be said that hasn’t been said before, what change for wisdom and happiness?

After all what is being asked of the voters is not “small change” in these trying times –

“The Lorain school board officially placed a 9.12-mill, 10-year emergency levy on the November ballot. Members voted 4 to 1 last night, with the dissenting vote coming from member Jim Smith.

The levy will bring in $6 million per year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home roughly $306 per year or $25 a month.

On top of what we are already paying???No not small change!
Morning Journal

The previous levy (May 2010) of
generating $5.9 million each year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $274 per year, or $22.83 per month.

as did the previous The 6.43-mill levy in November 2009

WILL THERE BE A CHANGE COMING????( apart from the mills that is)

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

September 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm 18 comments

Long time passing- Gone to fighting – Part 6

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

The last ship my father was on was a hospital ship in Belfast- my mother can’t remember the name – he didn’t have to start the ship or run it – he was there to survive . The injury from the HMS Speedwell caused an ulcerated stomach injury- the ulcer perforated. He was out of the action in 1945.

The day VE day was declared he was in Ireland with my mother- He was 27 years old and had lived through a world of carnage , my mother just 25 had seen more in her young life than most 25 year olds of today could even imagine in their wildest nightmares. Is it any wonder they are called the “Greatest Generation”.

How I wish I could talk to my father- my grandparents – the time wasted – the opportunities missed to talk…..HOW IN WISH I COULD TALK TO MY SON …… those of you that still can – do so !!!!!

My exploration of this tiny part of my son, Christopher’s, heritage made me realize where he got his strength from- because he was strong. He tried valiantly to fight his own private war with the obscenity that is Cancer.

I wish I had the strength I have rediscovered of my parents and grandparents- I always was proud of our heritage – the tenacity of will of my countryman and ancestors.

I was brought up to uphold those principles- but I am lost – the enemy he fought was not of flesh and bone but an enemy without a cause- even an unjust cause.

When my father died – my son purchased a pure white rose-bush and planted it at 5 am in the morning – the time corresponding to my fathers funeral in England that July day. Chris was 11 years old as he planted the bush he had chosen for his grandfather. He checked that rose-bush by the willow tree and garden wall and was incensed when it fell to “poison” by the overspreading of “Round Up” by the “landlord” and tenant next door in that dilapidated house.

Chris was in his teens by then- almost a man – he couldn’t understand the selfishness and control exercised by those that can. He was ready to hoist the landlord up on his own roof.

NOTE – on the old WoM I wrote about my father and Chris’ rose- bush- it seems a lifetime ago- and indeed it was-
An Old Cowboy

I know Chris wouldn’t understand or give countenance to the vindictiveness , destructiveness and pain caused to his own family by that of the extended Lombardi Clan.
Had they done what was right by his family part of him would have joined his grandfather -over the sea- and a new white rose-bush would have joined the one planted in perpetuity in that place of his ancestors.

Instead the place where they have locked his last worldly remains has become a place of tacky plastic decoration and they dishonor those that loved , formed and grieve for him as our own wonderful Chris.

Chris’ family , dishonored, by those of supposedly civilised and god fearing people –

the wars that continue throughout this world continue because of greed, a separation of ideology and people who wish to control – is this so different on the large-scale than the smaller. It is people

Yes, thanks to the Lombardis,(Tim and Sue Lombardi – Lorain) their daughter, their family and in my opinion by their acts of greed, cruelty and control toward this family there is no peace.

I am being reassured that I knew my son as I continue this journey just as sure as I am his mother –

BUT thanks has to go to Dr. Angela Marie ( Lombardi) ritchey(now Murphy) for starting me out on this quest for without her cruel words unasked for and unappreciated, without her deeds of deceit as mentioned in previous posts I would not be writing this series In search of my son in Search of me.

A mother understands what her child does NOT say

( an old Jewish proverb)

September 25, 2010 at 11:24 am 11 comments

Long Time Passing- Gone to Fighting- Part 5

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

There comes now a period of great confusion as far as time lines go. I do know that my father was transferred to a hospital as the injury suffered on the HMS Speedwell caused some major issues. Since he was off loaded to a hospital in Algiers and going by the HMS Speedwell’s timeline it was probably 1943. This ties in with the timeline of my father’s next ship the American built HMS Goodson-

My mum had been bombed in London and so was no longer at the Ministry of Information where she had been transferred early on in her job as a telephonist:

“I was to go to the “Ministry of Information, which was temporarily housed at Senate House , University of London, near Goodge Street. We had triple forms to fill out, swearing us to secrecy , never to divulge or talk about anything we might hear there.

Three of us would be required to man the emergency switchboard, which was housed in the basement of the building, this was called the War Room ……..


We used to be able to tell by the sound of the aircraft engine whether it was one of ours or one of the Germans. The whistle of the descending bombs and the explosions was terrifying. This night I did not hear the whistle , nothing, suddenly complete and utter silence. The bricks seemed to be crumbling and falling all around. I tried to hold onto to something, I only grabbed empty space. The air was filled with dust. I realized the house must have received a direct hit and the three people who were near me had disappeared. I tried calling – the silence eerie and shocking. I had bricks, wood and plaster all around me “was I going to be buried alive.”

This was the story of many of those young lovers, the men torpedoed , shot down , blown out of the sky knowing their loved ones at home were also facing the same .

My grandmother , my mum’s mother was living on the east coast.

“My mother was outside her little house on the lawn chopping up the kindling for the fire. Hearing the sounds of an aircraft overhead, thinking it was one of ours lifted her little axe and waved to the pilot only to find it was a bloody German who proceeded to strafe her. She came running in the house scared witless and it took precious brandy in the tea to restore her.

My fathers next ship after the was the HMS Goodson- and American built destroyer escort ship.

The ship was laid down as George on 20 May 1943 at the Boston Navy Yard, and named after Eugene Frank George, posthumously awarded the Navy Cross at Guadalcanal.

She was assigned to the United Kingdom under the lend-lease on 22 June 1943; launched on 8 July 1943; transferred to the United Kingdom on 9 October 1943; and commissioned in the British Royal Navy as HMS Goodson.

During the remainder of World War II, she served on escort and patrol duty in the Atlantic and along the English coast. She supported the Allied Invasion of Europe at Normandy on 6 June 1944.

Damaged late in August by U-984 commanded by Heinz Sieder,

she was returned to the United States on 21 October. On 9 January 1947 she was sold to John Lee of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

My father also ended up in Belfast, but in 1945.

To be continued………..

September 22, 2010 at 11:15 am 3 comments

Long Time Passing- Gone To Fighting Part 4

HMS Bellona
Part One

Part Two

Part Three

HMS Bellona , I am not sure and my mother can’t remember how long my father was on this ship-

Loose Lips sink ships and not even wives were beyond the censor pen.

It seemed the Bellona had some teething troubles with the electrical systems- is that why my father ended up on the HMS Speedwell a mine sweeper? I haven’t found the time line yet but I remember this being spoken about by my father the Murmansk Run and found mention of an incidence that caused him problems throughout the remainder of his life.

Cyril Green:

1400 – Explosion in our ship don’t know whether we hit or what it is yet someone gave a scream.

1445 – Explosion was heater drain observation tank in boiler room exploding. 2 stokers seriously scalded and 1 fractured elbow.

We left Harmatris to two Russian tugs and proceeded to Polyarnoe (Russia) at all speed.

What Cyril Green did not mention in was as the escaping steam scalded the two stokers -one had a huge wrench in his hand and as my father went his aid he was smashed in the abdomen by the flailing stoker. This unbeknownst at the time caused a serious stomach injury- which eventually perforated on another trip .

My searching of the internet that afternoon with my mum I have learned what this young lad who ended up being my dad was doing whilst the censors were censoring his mail

PHOTO – Sickberth Attendent Henry Brown

NOTE: As I linked back to Mr. Brown’s photos I wondered did he treat my dad on the day boiler blew?

All the Sweepers up here suffer very much with engine trouble due to the extreme climate and rough sea combined with ice.

I’ve just been out to have a look at the sea! We are moving around in circles until tomorrow waiting to contact the convoy and the sea is covered by ice covered with snow not quite thick enough to prevent us moving, yet thick enough to freeze us in if we stop

Cyril Green
M.S.6 From S.B.N.O., N.R.

I should like Commanding Officers of all Minesweepers to know that I fully appreciate the good work in the difficult conditions in the past few days searching, escorting, and hunting under the nose of the enemy sea and air forces. It does everyone, but especially the Engine room department, great credit that all ships have been ready for service whenever called upon and I am sure that valuable lives and ships have been saved by the good work performed.

CommanderSenior Officer, Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla

September 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm 4 comments

Long time passing- gone to fighting everyone- Part Three

HMS Vindictive

Part One

Part Two

HMS Vindictive :
The young couple was married June 17th- 1940 the day France fell.

“He was on leave from the Navy for 4 days. He phoned on the Sunday and we were to be married by special license in the little church on the Ridgeway , Mill Hill on the Monday.
What a day for a wedding France had surrendered and our guests were more concerned with the war news”
After the reception we left Roy’s home to “go away” Where? we had no idea.Uncle Jack had kindly lent us the Humber. As he stood at the door waving us off he said: “You look such a couple of kids no one will take you in” I was silent as we sped along the great North Way – this was June and the last time I had seen Roy was the previous Christmas when we became engaged”

Digging for Victory

After two days my father left his bride – she continued to work for the Ministry of Information and his new assignment found him gone for two years-

HMS Vindictive

July Deployed with Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

August -Transferred to West Africa Command for support of escorts.
Passage to Freetown.

September -Deployed as Base Repair Ship at Freetown to December

1 9 4 1 Freetown support duty in continuation

1 9 4 2
January- Freetown deployment in continuation to September

October – Nominated for transfer to Oran for support duties after allied landings in North Africa (Operation TORCH)

November – Passage to Oran -Joined HM Destroyer Depot Ship HECLA escorted by HM Destroyers VENOMOUS and MARNE west of Gibraltar. (See HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR Volume 2)

12th Avoided torpedoes fired by U515. During a series of attacks HMS HECLA was hit by three torpedoes and sank with heavy loss of life.

HMS MARNE was seriously damaged after being hit by another torpedo.

My father was one of the young men deployed to repair the engines etc as they limped into Freetown .

I remember once in my flippant youth being a “know it all” about the war during my “Peacenik” days – my father was furious at my attitude. It was one of the rare times he spoke about his personal experiences.

I remember being shocked as he told me of the ship in the convoy being torpedoed- how it was dangerous to pick up survivors because of the U boats and your ship being lit up as a target in the flames. The men covered in oil and fire screaming in the water. He told me of how ( not being on duty) had been ordered to help the Dr. and medics with the wounded as they were brought on board. He was shown how to give the fatal dose of the drug. Those with no hope were triage to him and those without medical knowledge. He spent the last moments of men’s life with them – giving a cigarette and comfort to one chap who had no lower body , his blood stopped by the quarterizing of the fire he had been in. The smile remembered as he said “you ‘ll be home for Christmas mate” whilst giving him the shot that would end his nightmare. A 23-year-old who as my mother had written

“I guess half the charm of Roy was his inability to take anything too seriously . He laughed a lot and lived for the day only .”

Is it any wonder that the next time my mother saw her husband after that 2 year absence had aged beyond his 23 years?

” I imagined Roy would arrive with his hair bleached golden from the West African sun with beautifully tanned skin. When he stepped from the train I barely recognized him. His naval case was battered, he looked weary, tired and half frozen- I went to the nearest telephone box, where I stood like stone and inspected him without his knowing. I decided I just didn’t like him. He looked expectantly up and down the platform, blowing on his cold hands for warmth . Finally all the passengers disappeared over the bridge, there he stood alone and lost – looking- I reluctantly left the safety of the telephone box and walked toward him, his golden curls had turned grey and he had lost nearly thirty pounds since I had last seen him.

Roy was being directed to a new ship the HMS Bellona, for what waters or convoy he would be guarding we knew not……..

To be continued……………….

September 17, 2010 at 11:49 am 9 comments

Long time passing- gone to fighting everyone-Part Two


” Daddy’s on the engine……..”

Ships – my first ship ( transatlantic crossing) was very different – I can imagine- from my father’s first experience. She was a passenger vessel and we had left England for Canada. Being a wee one – mummy and daddy decided to be young and have a bit of a holiday whilst we sailed the ocean that November. They, in their wisdom , put me into the ship’s nursery. I remember being part of a whole group of children entering the nursery doors. I also remember looking around and thinking

This isn’t for me

so in the confusion of the next batch of incoming I slipped out.

I don’t know how long I explored the ship, finally ending up in the bowels to be found by a man with grease and grime on his overalls who sat with me on the stairwell as I chatted about my daddy and how he could make the ship go. I regaled him stories of my hero daddy and with the song
Daddy’s on the engine ( although I found out in later life it was about a train engine but at that time it was definitely the ships I had in mind!

“Daddy’s on the engine,
Don’t be afraid,
Daddy knows what he is doing,”
Said the little maid,
“We’ll soon be out of danger.
Don’t you ever fear;
Ev’ry one is safe because
My Daddy’s the Engineer.”

until some very stern officers followed by two angry but relieved parents escorted me back to the cabin, where I spent a lot of the rest of crossing.

It is difficult to believe that in 1938 a young man of 20 joined the Royal Navy. He met my mother at a dance

We were standing clapping waiting for the band to start up again; a chap , quite well built with terrifically strong looking shoulders and periwinkle blue eyes, with blonde hair, one curl of which had fallen across his forehead, caught my gaze. He came over, whisked and danced me to the other end of the room” My Book by Nana

Her young man passed his exams and he was soon sailing aboard the ‘HMS Southhampton ‘

Her battle honors can be found here

However on October 16th 1939 a 19-year-old young woman working at the Ministry of Information watched as a report came through the tele type

HMS Southampton

her boyfriend’s ship

Damaged during air raid on warships in Forth Estuary.One bomb penetrated three decks. Casualties.

Note as I write this part of the story I have just watched on The military Channel ” The Man who Designed the Spitfire” again little life coincidences. The Spitfire first saw action on that October 16th 1939 protecting the Royal Navy and my Dad.

On 16 October 1939, Junkers Ju-88s of 1/KG 30 led by Hauptmann Helmuth Pohle attacked British warships in the Firth of Forth. Nine of the Ju-88s were intercepted over Rosyth by three Spitfires of 603 Squadron, each of which attacked Pohle’s aircraft which was hit repeatedly and crashed into the sea

His brother who eventually lost both his legs as a Battle of Britain pilot flew spitfires. As a tiny child he would give me pennies to slip into the holes in his “tin legs” to keep me amused at family gatherings. At the end of the evening he would take off the “shoe” and I would be given my store of pennies.

HMS Southhampton had taken under my father’s care of the engines a King and Queen to Canada, searched for German ships, in the first days of the war including the battleship GNEISENAU,

patrolled the North sea, convoy duty to Malta and finally was torpedoed Jan 11th 1941 , too damaged to continue she was sunk by her own off the coast of Malta.
My father had left the ship by that time and was on his next ship

the HMS Vindictive…………

September 14, 2010 at 9:29 pm 7 comments

Long time passing- gone to fighting everyone

It is peculiar how one thing in your life segues into another. The series of “In search of my son- In search of me” would never have been written if it hadn’t been for the actions of my son’s wife and her family.

I would have after they had had their ceremonies and we had had our closure stopped writing this blog.

I would have closed the front page with a goodbye .

I would have grieved in private-

I would have walked the woods of his special place, watched the seasons change and mourned my son.

I would not have searched his artwork to hear his voice, I would not have doubted our relationship

I would have slipped quietly into my non ending night.

That was not to be and in some respects the “Princess” opened up a whole other world.

Chris and his sister, Nikki - on the happiest night of her life

As readers know I started exploring who my son was , what made him- HIM.
I went on a “genes journey” and in that search I came across ancestors I hadn’t thought of and some of whom I didn’t know existed.

The other part of my life that probably wouldn’t have changed is my escape from grief, I still cannot pick up a book for reasons I will explain in another post. I can only watch certain television programs so that the triggers don’t happen as they are “debilitating” ( Chris trigger word)

I tend to watch HGTV and World at War ( as I know the outcome) on the Military Channel. I also try to see if my uncle’s and grandfather’s ( WW1) faces are ever pictured.

I was watching an episode the other day when they were showing a ship , the HMS Southampton as she steamed into New York Harbor on the Old King and Queens visit in 1939.

Frank Watson Wood (1862-1953).

Wait a minute! My father was the on that ship – He was the Engine Room Artificer Officer 1st Class . I remember him telling me of that trip.

But I bet like most of you when your parents talk of the good old days you didn’t pay much attention .

I called my mum and she came over and I asked her write down the ships my father was on from 1938 until 1945.

You always think of your parents as being “old” at least I did – it was only when my mum wrote “MY Book” a chronicle of her life to a certain point that I thought of my parents as being young . Chris actually designed the cover of that book.

I realised that my father was only 21 when he ran the engine room of that destroyer . 21 !!! years old…. ( some things never change do they the wars are always fought by the very young)

‘If Hitler could have been there for five minutes with me, he would have finished the war.

‘He would have realised that he has got to take every Englishman and twist him by the neck – otherwise he cannot win this war.’

I have his medals hanging on the dining wall – well what is left of them
Apparently I used the box when I was little girl to collect caterpillars and some medals went to pin my dolls dresses that I used to make out of handkerchiefs.

I decided to do a little sleuthing on his ships and the where and when.
So mum and I started the internet search .

It was a poignant and sharing experience for both of us. I highly recommend a walk down memory lane with your parent – you will both gain from the experience.

I will share our afternoon in the next post.

Where have all the young men gone?


September 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm 9 comments

Remember the “kind” of September 11th

Loose Change Poster – design by Chris Ritchey

‘Kind” -having or showing a tender and considerate and helpful nature

There was no “kindness” in the nature of that September day as terror flew into the everyday working lives of those who experienced the dreadful destruction of September 11th 2001

They say you remember where you were and what you were doing until you die certain events-

September 3rd- 1939

Dec. 7th – 1941

November 22-1963

And September 11th 2001.

ED NOTE:The linked video is from ordinary citizens with a view of the destruction- released 5 years after that September 11th day

I was sitting on the couch that morning, having my first cup of tea- my son- in -law to be called

“We are being attacked”

Knowing his penchant for practical jokes and phone calls I said

yeah yeah right- tell me more”

Just then my daughter came down the stairs with the phone in her hand , hair dripping wet –

Mum he is right a plane just flew into a building in New York – turn on the television.

Another call beeped in it was my mum

“Oh there has been a terrible accident a plane has flown into a skyscraper”

Just as she said that Tony ( my cousin who was over for a trip ) is heard in the back ground

“Bloody Hell there is another one.”

We all went silent, incredulous watching as devastation rained down from the sky on a beautiful September morning.

I called my son- he told me that they were being evacuated from the college and told to return home- there was something going on in Cleveland , as he was heading to his campus apartment there were agents and militia armed with weapons in and around the streets- it was very tense. They were told to stay inside.

That day had a profound effect on this nation – I remember for the next two mornings- as I watered the garden not a sound from the sky , no roaring of the high-speed boats out on the lake- traffic was almost non existent- the sound of a siren sent chills- flags appeared outside the houses and on the streets – as if a patriotic garden bloomed from the carnage.

We did not move from the television- we watched as if from another planet the “human” story unfold that day. We hardly knew how to express our thoughts -the ugliness of hatred brought home -engulfing and billowing out as the towers and civilization fell in the name of “Jihad”.

As for those that carried out these attacks there are no adequate words of condemnation. Their barbarism will stand as their shame for all eternity.
–British Prime Minister Tony Blair

My son used his talents , he did a series of posters – that I have yet to find since his passing. It was after that day my son wore his patriotism proudly – always one to fly the flag ( more on that at the closure of this blog) he defended her the way he knew best through his work.

Yes , I am remembering Septembers and they are tinged with pride , lack of understanding , helplessness and prejudice against those that cause pain to the human heart and condition ………

and all who weep including the willow WE REMEMBER SEPT 11TH IN OUR OWN WAY!
Source needed

September 11, 2010 at 12:06 am 6 comments

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September 2010