Posts filed under ‘men of substance’
These days of missing pile up like so much stuff in a hoarders closet. Pull out one item and blam the rest of those days – stuffed to the back of the “closet of mind”- explode out of their confinement , knocking me off my “grief feet” , stunned , covered in the bits of days I had pushed to the dark recesses- forgotten.
There I am sitting amongst all the rubble of life, the memories, bruised by the sheer weight of it all, overwhelming and in sad recollection. This sheer weight of it all might lessen, as more things are put away again, but the “mind closet” is filled to overflowing and will always be there until end of days.
Desperately hanging on to the memories of your face, your laugh, your voice means reliving the days you were a man.
I was so proud of you Chris- I still am- your strength – the way you tried to keep from me your fears, your pain in those days of Texas. You knew I was frightened to death of what was happening to you, even in your darkest days you sought to protect Nikki, your dad, Nana and me.
Last month, I received a sympathy card from across the world. They had only just learned you had died. They remembered , not the man, but the child – and at the same time “they” had been little more than a child when they visited us. Their words
“I will forever remember Christopher as a bright-eyed, blond-haired, cheeky, chirpy 8 year old boy”
In my pain of remembering you as the man , it had been a long time since I had pulled from my mind those childhood memories of you. You WERE cheeky, you were a handful, you were loving , boisterous and sometimes bad.
Jumping off the neighbor’s garage roof – spraining both ankles – hiding the pain so as not to feel my wrath at such behavior. Your feelings and moods were always written all over your face- open to the world.
Those last months, your eyes hidden for the most part behind those aviator glasses, trying not to share ……
I love you Chris- both the boy and the man and the strength of your spirit…………………
I admit it I have become lethargic, apathetic, and more so than ever of late. This is due to finally realizing I am on the other side of the fence to the majority in my tilting of windmills. The court system ( locally) is sadly lacking. I can’t stomach the judicial posturing on face book and elsewhere of those judges that want re-election and those that want to be elected. I have been in too many courtrooms of late- locally – followed too many cases and in some cases insulting to the taxpayer results . We will ( the taxpayer) eventually end up paying for those judgments. ( too many articles to list search Housing Court/ Judges etc. on this blog)
A great number of local politicians paying lip service for too many years and the realization that pointing out issues ( that no one really wants to deal with anyway ) gets a flurry of activity until it is “received and filed”. Oh! I am not complaining as such – it is was it is but the end result I no longer care to get involved with Lorain’s posturing .
Even her history has been sliced, diced , ignored and compartmentalized.
Lorain- history- Changes – kicked to the landfill
BUT once in a while something happens to peak my interest once again and send me to the keyboard. I received a lovely book written by Hartley J. Smith Jr. Paula Shorf and Mathew Weisman .
The book centers on Black River, Charleston, Lorain and some of her early families . As I leafed through, re- reading some of the history we had already known and some we didn’t concerning “Charleston Village” -I felt guilty. I still hadn’t sorted into some sort of order Peggy Gillmore’s cuttings , letters etc. https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/history-mystery-lives-of-lorain-gillmore/ So yesterday I started.
Mayor Conrad Reid was a name most familiar- he was Lorain’s first Mayor and I had seen amongst Peggy’s newspaper cutting an article from 1953 and the Lorain Journal
I pulled out the newspaper cuttings Peggy had clipped and saved through the years – pieces parts falling away into yellowing dust as I carefully read through them. There it was, the connection I remembered, from those many months ago when we first received a box of stuff!
The son of Conrad Reid- Lorain’s s first Mayor –George Croghan Reidnamed after his uncle – He had a varied military history
Reid was born in Lorain, Ohio and was the son of Conrad Cornelius Reid and his wife Helen Charlotte Crandall. George was named after his father’s brother George Croghan Reid, a Marine Corps veteran of the American Civil War. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps on May 20, 1898. His early assignments included duty with the China Relief Expedition and in the Philippines. In 1912 he was sent to Nicaragua during the insurrection in that country. He took part in the assault and capture of Coyotepe and Barranca on November 19, 1912, for which he received a letter of commendation for gallantry and conspicuous service in action.
In April 1914 he took part in the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico and was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action.
From 1919 to 1921 he was assigned to the Dominican Republic and commanded the Dominican National Guard. In 1921 to 1922 he attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and then served as commander of the Marine Barracks at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1922 to 1924. He then attended the Army War College, then at Washington Barracks (now Fort McNair) in the District of Columbia, and graduated in 1925.
His last overseas assignment was in command of Marines at Guam. His last posting was Officer in Charge, USMC Recruiting Division, Chicago. He retired from the Marine Corps September 1, 1930 and was advanced to the rank of brigadier general from the retired list in February 1942 in recognition of having been commended for heroism in combat.
He died February 19, 1961 at the U.S. Air Force hospital, Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. His grave can be found in section 2, lot 1096-A LH. His wife, Mary Louise Calhoun, is buried with him.
He was a hereditary member of the District of Columbia Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS).
Lorain was a close-knit community and many of her sons went onto military fame including The Reids along with the Gillmores , Admirals- King and Braun – maybe they came from tough stock – the sons of Lorain certainly played an important role in this new nation .
There isn’t a bridge, or a school named after Brigadier General George Croghan Reid– Medal of Honor recipient- in fact, but for a few, I would think his very existence has been forgotten.
Tucked away with the Medal Of Honor information was a photo of a “sloop of war” USS Marion , his ship
The sons of Lorain linked once more through a walkway of heroes – not to be forgotten.
A Walk of Heroes- Settlers’ Watch- Admiral King Tribute Site
“Cool as the other side of the pillow” http://www.cheatsheet.com/sports/remembering-stuart-scott-as-cool-as-the-other-side-of-the-pillow.html/
For the past 7 days I have been fighting the gift given to me by my grandsons- they apparently got it from school – however this is turning out to be the gift that keeps on giving . Maybe it is my age or weakened immune system but they managed to get over their gift a lot easier than I am getting over mine.
This means I have had a lot of time to lay in bed , think, dream and ponder life, it also means my guard and “filtering out the bad” is down. As I lay between fitful sleep and coughing, I have taken advantage of the other side of the pillow. Thankfully colder temperatures have prevailed – hopefully that will kill off some of the “bugs” but I have opened my bedroom window to the cold air- which of course makes the pillows even colder. The cool pillows give respite to the fevered brow and bring some relief if only for a little while.
I was reminded , as the years have gone by, since your passing there has been very little relief from the missing , grieving and memories lost. I take relief from grief where I can find it- constantly looking for the other side of the pillow for some relief in my journey.
Unless they have had a similar journey, people cannot possibly understand what this means and how difficult the journey . I know before this happened I , who was usually empathetic ,never fully grasped the devastation losing one’s son , watching the process of dying – by inches- every day causes to one’s life and psyche and I wish I had been able to remain ignorant.
I don’t like being this half person, this wanderer through a world I cannot fathom. Choices are not given, anger and hurt lay just beneath the surface. You do not choose to visit pain and anger but they are intertwined with the memories of you.
But there are people who don’t need the coolness of the other side of the pillow, they carry their coldness with them – That first January
The coldness of control visited upon this family just days before set me off on a journey of life, death, hypocrisy and love. I watched another mother ” Sue Lombardi”
as you died and the relief on her face knowing her daughter wouldn’t be burdened with an invalid.
This same woman, who complained two days after you were diagnosed with the return of the cancer, phoning me to get the “fundraiser” organized – I remember telling her I couldn’t talk about that – you were in a bad way emotionally that Sunday only to be told ” Well now you know what Angela has had to put up with The Dr. of note at South Pointe Hospital who told Angela – “You have dodged a bullet -( with Chris dying)… and the classic Lombardi quote on the return of the cancer-
I hope this won’t put Angela in debt….
True coldness – immune to human compassion……..”cold cash”
No ! I wouldn’t have wanted to keep you alive with such a terrible diminished quality of life- being blind- bedridden- having to face yet another return of the Refactory Hodgkin’s – you would’ve hated that – I know that your words to me “Don’t let me be pathetic mum” told me more than I wanted to hear – your hope had gone
Still I hear your voice and wish that I didn’t also hear theirs …..
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 ……
THE AFRICA STAR******
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
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
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 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
Oak Leaf awarded to personnel who have been mentioned in despatches in action with the enemy (all environments) in war.
I believe ,in researching my dad’s history, a mention of the incident for which he was mentioned in despatches
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–
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
( Now in place at the Admiral King Tribute Site 1st and Hamilton)
PLEASE TAKE A WALK THROUGH THE ERIC BARNES HEROES WALK THIS WEEK AND AS YOU REMEMBER THOSE THAT FOUGHT AND CONTINUE TO FIGHT – REMEMBER THEIR YOUTH -LOST – SOME WILL NOT GROW OLD AND DID NOT GROW OLD- AND THOSE THAT SURVIVED NEVER FORGOT – CHANGED FOREVER.
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.
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? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539454/
“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 http://jonbarron.org/article/tomatoes-salmonella-and-sewage#.VecOvunwsc8 .
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.
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
– 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 …… …..
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.
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????”