Posts filed under ‘men of substance’

Nov. 11th- Youth Lost- Medals worn- Remember

Design ( artwork Chris Ritchey  2009)

Design ( artwork Chris Ritchey 2009)

I have always tried to Remember those who fought on November the 11th – from granddads, uncles and my father- to my generation, my husband USAF, my cousins and to those friends who have lost their sons to war.

I was pleased and touched the last piece of art work produced by my son was in honor for another young man who gave his life for his country ( in remembrance)- Eric Barnes .

I was reminded on Remembrance Sunday, as I walked through the dining room, of my father . I hadn’t looked at his medals in a very long time as they hung over the sword he bought me ( The Sword of Charlemagne ) incase I ever did Camelot again. He was coerced into polishing up a sword for the theatrical production in which I was involved -a lousy job and one he decided he wouldn’t do again – hence the purchase of the sword !

There was a lot of dust, the ribbons had lost their sharp colours over the decades and they decidedly needed a clean . I knew some of his medals were gone – RN Long Service and Good conduct Medal, The Arctic Star and the Oak cluster – I had used them to pin my dolly’s clothes when I was just a little one.
Although I had written about his Royal Navy Career in the series along with my mother’s remembrances of those days of world war two –

I can’t really remember having ever “looked ” closely at the medals.
I was surprised at the number of theatres of war in which he had been involved. And then, I remembered this man , my father who had been in the Royal Navy before war broke out and had seen so much in those terrible years was only 28 years old when Victory was declared – my mother 26-. War is for the young they say ……

1939-45 Star

1939-45 Star

The 1939 to 1945 Star was awarded for any period of operational service overseas between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 (2 September 1945 in the Far East).Naval personnel qualify after 180 days afloat in areas of operations as laid out in the regulations between certain specified dates.


Naval personnel anywhere at sea in the Mediterranean or in harbour in North Africa, Malta or Egypt between the above dates will qualify. Those serving in direct support of the Eritrean and Abyssinian campaigns between certain other specified dates will also qualify.

THE ARCTIC STAR**** The Arctic Star is granted for operational service of any length north of the Arctic Circle (66 degrees, 32’N) from the 3rd September, 1939, to the 8th May, 1945, inclusive. The Arctic Star is intended to commemorate the Arctic Convoys and is designed primarily for the ships of the convoys to North Russia and their Escorts. •Royal Navy and Merchant Navy: naval and Merchant Navy service anywhere at sea north of the Arctic Circle to include, but not limited exclusively to, those ships participating in, and in support of, Convoys to North Russia

Atlantic-L THE ATLANTIC STAR******
The Battle of the Atlantic took place between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 as German U boats, aircraft and surface vessels attacked the convoys transporting valuable supplies from America and the colonies to Britain.
Warships of the RN and aircraft of the RAF escorted the convoys, hunted the U boats, fought German ships and, despite some notable German successes, the allies won a comprehensive victory in the Atlantic

Italy_Star THE ITALY STAR Naval personnel must qualify first for the 1939 to 1945 Star before the Italy Star can be awarded. It is then awarded for service at sea in the Mediterranean between the above dates provided that it was directly connected with active operations in the Mediterranean theatre.
George 5th medal
George VI Medal *****The duration of the Second World War in Europe was from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, while in the Pacific Theatre it continued until 2 September 1945. The War Medal 1939–1945 was instituted by the United Kingdom on 16 August 1945 and was awarded to all full-time personnel of the armed forces and merchant marines

My dad also earned the Royal Navy – Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

ww2-oak-leaf-midand the Oak Leaf –

Oak Leaf awarded to personnel who have been mentioned in despatches in action with the enemy (all environments) in war.

HMS Speedwell
I believe ,in researching my dad’s history, a mention of the incident for which he was mentioned in despatches

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.

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 “

The HMS Speedwell was a minesweeper and now a segue back to Lorain
and another naval man Admiral Ernest J King

Admiral King

Admiral King

His tribute space has the flags flying – not on a flag pole but a ship’s mast and a “minesweeper mast” at that rescued from the from the old American Ship yard.
Old Mast at American Shipyard
AK flag old

Photo Lisa Miller

Photo Lisa Miller

( Now in place at the Admiral King Tribute Site 1st and Hamilton)

Photo - Lisa Miller

Photo – Lisa Miller



November 10, 2015 at 12:15 pm 2 comments

All things relative – September 3rd- Chris Ritchey


Life continues to be in an upheaval , what with concrete chunks through windows, downspouts of retribution being the “breaking news” as Nikki stated to me as I breakfasted with her.

Anymore Breaking News this morning?

Sounded like something YOU would say and it did bring a smile. As I get older , I realize there really is nothing you can do to stop uncivilized behavior or downright meanness for because we can sake.
Uncle John
It was your Great Uncle John’s 104th birthday this week. Memories returned- letting you drive ( on the wrong side of the road) down the lanes to his cottage when we were on our trip to England for soccer. We went to the pub and introduced you to “real cider” – You thought it like American cider, it wasn’t – as you soon found out , needless to say you did not drive back.

In order to escape my mind and life in Lorain I tuned out of the present and tuned into all things British Acorn TV-
I have been watching a series Lilies

Lilies details the lives of Iris, May and Ruby Moss, three Catholic sisters living with their widowed father and brother in a terraced house in Liverpool in the early 1920s. The story is set in the years immediately after the First World War and, as such, the after effects of that conflict are apparent

Their little two up – two down terraced house with the back “yard” once again brought back the familiar; Nana’s sister , my Auntie Kath, who had the self- same little house- although in Ipswich not Liverpool. I remember playing in such a familiar yard, the step down into the kitchen, my granddad plucking the chicken for Sunday dinner. The program covered the Scarlet Fever epidemic
and once again memory bells went off!


Your Nana had written about her experience with having Scarlet Fever during that epidemic of the late 1920’s. You had designed the cover of that book , written initially for Nikki the only grandchild she had at that time of writing , then adding more for you.

Nana has lived here in this house now for 4 years, thanks to mean mindedness of yet another “in law” relative. Although she never really bounced back from that episode in her life , more fragile than she was , she is still one of the very few to whom I can turn with my demons.

But what a joy it is to have my mother here, her wonderful take on life- so different from my own, caring hands that bring a cup of tea when I am in pieces, for such a tiny person she has the strength of the ages. Maybe it was what her generation had to deal with the poverty, the great depression, World War 2 being bombed three times , I don’t know all I do know is she is a hell of a lot stronger than I ever was or can be. As she helped clear the glass from the window destruction

she said with a smile

I think I will change my address to High Street, Afghanistan.

Can one imagine a little girl not much older than Gavin, being taken from your home by ambulance ( Fever Van) and put into an isolation hospital, no mother or father to visit?

The Fever Van by  Lowry

The Fever Van by Lowry

“The presence of a fever van in the street meant that a child would be forcibly taken from the family, with a strong likelihood of never returning, such was the high mortality of scarlet fever and diphtheria. Moreover, there were more materialistic concerns. The disinfection procedure that followed the removal of the child was likely to have a very destructive effect: ‘The child’s books and toys were to be destroyed, its bedroom disinfected by the application of concentrated solutions of powerful germicides to the floor, bed, walls and furniture. Wallpaper must also be stripped and burned’.5 These procedures caused much disruption and discomfort for the household.

The Isolation Hospital –
Hendon Isolation Hospital was the place Nana, her sister Renee, brothers- Mark and Paisy were taken . The hospital had been built near the Hendon Sewage Works and Johnson Chemical Factory – Hindsight – what were they thinking category!!!
Hospital marked with cross- you can see the proximity to the “sewage farm”

Nana remembers well the sewage farm, the smell coming in the windows but apparently the tomatoes grown in the vicinity of that sewage farm were huge and plentiful( apparently tomato seeds are not easily digested and sprout) and sewage is used even today .

For six weeks she , her sister and brothers stayed in that hospital, no contact with kith or kin or the outside world. Mere children , taken from all that was familiar put into in scratchy hospital shirts and boots. The food she remembered was awful-

“it was like a minced beef – only I am not sure how much beef there was in it- horrible tasting stuff and bread with no butter , the bread fell apart and crumbles

– her young mind turning to poetry wrote :

“There is a place, a barn of a place right in the middle of the sewer and mince and crumbs come out our bums and back into the middle of the sewer”

not bad for an 8-year-old .

The children were sectioned in very long open wards similar to the photo shown here ( no source found and believed to be in the public domain)
Her brothers were separated from the girls and were put in the men’s ward. Mark, just two years her senior, found a way to sneak from the men’s isolation ward where there was a large cupboard( storage) housing fruits and vegetables . Mark would appropriate the fruit , sneak in during the nurses break to his little sisters loaded with the fruit which eased their sore little throats. Nana said after the Scarlet Fever rash went away your outer layers of skin would flake off just like having had a bad sunburn. She thinks the taste of that wonderful fruit gave her the love of fruits and vegetables she has today.

” I think all those stolen fruits and raw vegetables Mark smuggled into us each night certainly helped us as Renee and I recuperated much quicker than anyone else on that ward.

I wish you too could’ve been healed and write your own story, but if wishes were horses beggars would ride- so I will write your story….. I love you


September 3, 2015 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

The day dream- Chris Ritchey- August 21st

The air – warm ,not too humid, not too hot- a summer’s afternoon. My eyes are heavy- I can barely keep them open – any other time -it would be a good thing to fall into sleep -for sleep heals – but sleep does not come easily now. This day, there is no noise from the street, all is quiet – the windows open – a small, lake kissed breeze, finds its way in – cooling the room, the lace curtains stir and wake, caressed by the breeze, adding a movement gentle and relaxing , hypnotic.

There are “little” sounds creeping around the edges of consciousness, a rustling of leaves from the Birch tree as they help the breeze on its journey , a bird splashing in the flower fountain under the window – a languid lullaby beckoning me away from a weary world. The plump couch cushions invite me into repose – I feel myself sinking into that healing sleep, without meaning to- probably further induced by re-occurring pain from the night, the tears that flooded the pillow taking their toll, wearing at me and what strength I have left.

Lulled once more into another world, finding myself happy in a room -a student’s room , there is pleasure , laughter in that room, my son talking to me, he is young and strong , I look upon the face I know so well- his face tanned ,

Oh! why doesn’t he take that damned hat off

header His eyes animated – we are talking about soccer, his team, how the game went yesterday. He doesn’t usually talk excitedly except about the things he loves or an accomplishment- a goal! He laughs, enjoying the moments relived, the coach had been overjoyed at the winning goal , another win to brag about. He carries the conversation, describing the details of that winning goal, every movement down the field, every pass , the cross , the header into the goal ……

I reach my hand to touch his face, he is too big , too grownup, too old to kiss and make a “mother” fuss. My hand cups his cheek , there is a warmth to his skin, the muscles of his cheek flutter a beneath my palm as he smiles once more at me . He is being patient with his silly sentimental mum. I can feel the stubble of a growing beard – see the colour of gold against my fingertips as I withdraw my hand hesitant to lose the connection. ….

I sit back in the chair that has somehow appeared into the picture and ask –

Has the doctor been in touch?

The mood changes-

“He doesnt’ want me seeing anyone else – there is nothing to be done

My mind whirls, confused thoughts rushing in from other worlds and times

What do you mean- let me talk to him – you look fine strong- there is nothing wrong you will beat this we will find a way

And then my body screams me awake– I am jolted ripped from happiness – I am back – my conscious mind declaring it unsafe, to continue , to go through his dying days again… rescued????

The breeze still moving the curtains – ceiling fan lazily stirring the warm air… his picture smiling from the mantle …. still there as dust moves dancing in circles in the sunlight – a smile frozen ! MY tears fall once more, lungs try to breathe, to escape the band of iron that is now encircling them and I realize – those moments of happiness- a gift for brief seconds- snatched away – just as he was snatched away by that obscenity – cancer- it permeates everything-

I fight being awake to reality. I want to go back – go back to that place where the excitement still had a place , where his smile was not just an instant caught by the lens of a camera …- it is no good…. I go to the computer, trying to hold onto those moments for just a little longer to remember the feeling of happiness and having him near……. to keep that moment… but all is lost…. the words bring back the pain of losing happiness, laughter , my son …… …..

August 20, 2015 at 11:10 pm 3 comments

June 3rd- the comfort -the questions- Chris Ritchey

chrisart collage Your drawings, sketches, photographs, product design, glass design, ad campaigns- for the most part your class work from your years studying at Cleveland Institute of Art has comforted me. I am surrounded by your raw talent in this house you called home for 28 years.

Not long after that dreadful December day, when I was in such despair my breathing was “forced”, the will to continue absent, trying to bear the unbearable -I would sit in your room, hour after hour looking out at the sky you looked at, drinking in the essence of you that lingered- waiting – for my breath to stop and release me from the agony.

Your father, wandering around the rest of the house , he too , looking for answers as to the cruel and terrible place we found ourselves. One such day, he struggled up the stairs with this life-sized self- portrait you had done in your “foundation years” at CIA he had found in a pile of your “paintings” . I had seen the preliminary sketches , small and the large, but I never knew the painting existed. You had done “just enough” to get it passed for the class- you weren’t a great success when it came to painting- that was not your forte.
The portrait , amateurish, insignificant to the rest of the world was and is worth more than any “old master” to us. The portrait hangs in pride of place and although a likeness of you at 22 , the perspective- a little needy. However, in the evening, softened by a night-light, the “mistakes” fade and blend until I see you as you were.

My comfort, I was reminded by your portrait there was more to you than the emptiness left to us. And so, I was able to find the strength to write about you and to write the truth.

I thought I was done receiving your gifts of comfort- and there have been many – some surprising. But once again, this last week, your father came in from the garage with another object. This time apparently with one of your “tries” with “glass”. I treasure “failures” just as reverently as I treasure the successes.
glass collage
World Cup Trophy – Breath of Life- Tiny Blue/ Gold Vase – Chris Ritchey
There are times, looking at some of your work, I wonder what you were thinking – did you have a premonition as to what the future may hold? But this latest gift did take me aback somewhat. I know of your wicked sense of humour. Was it used for a drinking vessel, as it is hollow inside and is a little strangely shaped an elongated smooth edge or was it designed to hold a light, as others of your pieces did?

You liked to work with light in glass- I have experienced that in the “Breath of Life”- a certain time of the day when the sun hits its just right the piece glows and the Celtic design in the body of the glass glow with fire. But “this” latest addition is very heavy but is surprisingly tactile in nature, the feel of it in your hands adds another dimension I wouldn’t have believed possible- there is a sense of movement in the texture of the glass – planned or by accident – it is a “puzzlement “ What can I say Chris once again you made me laugh, made me cry and ask the question ‘WHY????”

June 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm 3 comments

Memorial Day- 2015- Respect through the ages

A little over 2 1/2 years ago Lorain Mayor- Chase Ritenauer, Chief of Staff- Derek Feurestein , Ariel Vasquez of the Lorain Utilities Dept. met, along with the parents and family members of three of the young men who had lost their lives for our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, on what was then a derelict waste and dumping ground .

We trudged , and I mean that literally, through bracken, weeds, over fallen trees and mud as Ariel explained his vision for what would become Eric Barnes Heroes Walk.
Ariel explained how each young man would have a tribute garden with a bench , signage and artwork along a path which would meander through what was left of a woods, flower beds and a view of Lorain’s lakefront a priority . The pathway would connect the two areas already in place known as, Settlers’ Watch 2009
and at the opposite end of the site Admiral King Tribute site 2011.

The plan was ambitious. Ariel and his crew, with the support of the volunteers and donations through Charleston Village Society, would have phase one completed by November 11th-2012.
marks photos
As I walked the pathway on Pride Day,
I could not credit how far the area had progressed in the months and changing seasons since that walk of vision. The plants grown and tended so beautifully by our volunteer “Constant Gardener- Joe” . Thinking back to that day in 2012 I remembered the look on the faces of the others as we stumbled through the undergrowth – they weren’t so sure themselves this plan would come to fruition!
gavin ryan

Once more this morning, I walked in the sunshine, the blue of the lake sparkling as the waves danced and the wind blew the clouds around an azure sky, with my two grandsons- ages 6 and 3. We were putting out the flags for Memorial Day, a job they hold very dear.

As we went along, making sure each garden and area was recognized, I admonished Gavin telling him to make sure the flags never touched the ground. Being six, the question arose,


I didn’t want to confuse them anymore than I usually do with my explanations and this was an important WHY? I said it was

out of respect for the young men and woman who gave their lives for their country, in this case the United States and the flag was very important as it was carried into battle.

But why can’t it touch the ground- NOG?

I knew from my own history- being English- how important the flag was to my father, uncles and grandfathers , they gave their youth and in some cases their limbs and their lives for their own flag. . union Jack

Even from Roman times the “standard” was considered extremely important –

The standard-bearer normally was in close proximity to the unit leader. When the standard ‘fell’, the unit members did not have a visual point to rally around or return and the possibility that the leader had fallen was great. Loss of a standard in battle was considered to be one of the worst things to happen – the Honor of the unit was lost. By the same token, capturing a standard by an opponent was considered to be a tremendous act of courage.
With England’s long history emblems and flags ( standards) were most important on the field of battle and like the Romans the disappearance of the a standard/ flag on the battle field may well mean the battle was lost.
But I wasn’t absolutely certain about the United States history and the flag not touching the ground– was there another aspect my grandsons should know about?

Once again, the search for a reason – apart from respect as I knew it had to be – sent me to Google. To my surprise, I was brought full circle back to this community of Lorain. As I googled the reasoning, I was directed to a site about the Civil War and my eyes beheld a familiar painting .
gillmore  scan
Yes the Storming of Fort Wagner – the movie Glory – and my dining room companion General Gillmore !!![

Among the troops who assaulted Ft. Wagner was the 54th Massachusetts, a regiment of African-Americans led (as required by regulation) by white commissioned officers. Gillmore had ordered that his forces be integrated and that African-Americans were not to be assigned menial tasks only, such as KP or latrine duty, but instead they were to carry arms into battle. They and their assault on Ft. Wagner were the subject of the 1989 Civil War movie Glory, which starred Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick.

I eagerly read the following from that battle :

There, also, Sergeant William Carney, who had earlier taken up the National Colors when the color sergeant had been shot, planted the flag and fought off numerous attempts by the Confederates to capture it. Without support, and faced with superior numbers and firepower, the 54th was forced to pull back. Despite two severe wounds, Sergeant Carney carried the colors to the rear. When praised for his bravery, he modestly replied, “I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground.” Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, the first African-American to receive the award.

There was also a poem and later a song from that proud moment coming out from that battle –flag groundres

The next time I walk the path with my grandsons- I will tell them the story of General Gillmore, whose father owned all the land
upon which we walk, when we wander through Settlers’ Watch, Eric Barnes Heroes Walk, and Admiral King Tribute Site and how it was the men under his command who “never let the old flag touch the ground”

Who I am by  Christopher D. Ritchey

Who I am by Christopher D. Ritchey

May 22, 2015 at 7:57 pm 2 comments

Growing with Pride – Day 2015- a History of Pride

The Lorain Dudes and Pride in Lorain- Growing year by year

Pride Day 051615 Lorain Dudes Photos Lorain 365- Lisa Miller

SW 071213 from corner 2

Settlers’ Watch dedicated August 2009– follow link for the videos of the ceremony- Mark Teleha
The story of Settlers’ Watch – Mark Teleha

photo Lisa Miller

photo Lisa Miller

Admiral King Tribute Site dedication September 18th 2011
follow the links for the dedication Mark Teleha

Photo  Lisa Miller

Photo Lisa Miller

Eric Barnes Heroes Walk – ( Phase One) November 11 – 2012
follow link for the videos of the ceremony Mark Teleha

It takes as lot of work and pride to take this site from this
SW before
to what it is today . A pride that grows and continues – The Lorain Dude
Pride Day 2010 Settlers’ Watch
pinkand blue Photo Lisa Miller
Pride Day 2011
Pride Day 2012

Pride Day 2013



That year found the Lorain Dude having a family helper – the other Lorain Dude.

They also found some familiar faces of the Lorain Rotary who have been volunteering at the Watch from the very first day!

Pride Day 2014– the Lorain Dudes were kept home by mum due to the terrible weather but that didn’t stop the faithful
ducks back

And now a collage of sorts from Pride Day Settlers’ Watch, Eric Barnes Heroes Walk and Admiral King Tribute Site
Screen Shot – Rotary – Dina Ferrer
Photos by Lisa Miller
Lorain Dudes back to work
braedyn gavin
Pride Day 051615-8
Link to Lisa Portfolio of Pride
The area , thanks to Charleston Village Volunteers, Lorain Rotary, The City of Lorain looks cared for , beautiful and unique.
We would be remiss if we didn’t thank Mr. and Mrs. Perez of 6th Street and the Girl Scouts for the sign and V space for the Charleston Village sign – Thank you so much !!!

And finally another sunset – Settlers Watch- Lisa Miller


May 17, 2015 at 3:46 pm 7 comments

March 3rd- Earth Spring – Chris Ritchey

chrisdafThese days of winter still linger outside the den window- snow still falling in March. The ground frozen- unyielding and yet below a small little bulb struggles to break through the hard coldness surrounding it. The energy within fights the blackness to reach the surface. Soon the snows will melt in a warming sun turning ice to life, giving moisture, warming the dormant earth until at last the bulb senses a release from the prison. Tentatively, it will send out a small shoot to search for the sunlight- pushing through undaunted and finally celebrating its freedom with a glory of fragrance, colours reflective of passion and hope.

I wish my life was like that – it isn’t- the bulb has more of a chance than I. My world is still dark and frozen. The questions rage on in my mind- WHY? Why is my beautiful son locked in that terrible place- thanks to others.

He had no chance to see the coming spring.

Why?? rings through the bleakness – why if there is as supreme being , whatever the beliefs does he/she allow the horrors perpetrated in their names and yet daily those of light and laughter die? Why???

I don’t know of any answer! I have been reminded of those things this week and your last days. The mask, I had to wear when in your ICU room, caused an allergic reaction under my nose and around my mouth. It took many days for it to heal properly after you died. The scar is there, unseen for the most-part but every so often with a cold virus it will flair. It did this week, from a distance it could be mistaken for a “Hitler moustache. Another subhuman- Roman Catholic altar boy who visited such horror upon mankind.


And yet there is a beauty in this grief so profound as to sap the energy of life and laughter – it is the love that your Nana, Dad and sister still feel – not diminishing- as the world turns once more around the sun – one day I will know the answers ……. as will we all in the meantime I will put my faith in the earth , the sky , the sun and rain to bring forth life………. boost

March 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm 1 comment

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