May 24th, 2012

Memorial Day Memories

Albert DaviesBefore he was a hero, he was just a Chicago kid. The youngest of four and son to English immigrant parents, Bert was adored by everyone. His family used to tease that he was “Momma’s little bubby-mies,” a playful way of saying that he could get away with anything. No one seemed to mind.

Bert finished high school and worked as a purchasing agent. His brother – who, despite being older, idolized Bert – enlisted in the service in 1942 and was stationed in Detroit as a military policeman. Nine months later, Bert decided to do the same. He was just 24 years old when he joined the United States Army Air Corps. The family couldn’t have been prouder; Bert was going to fly.

“Hell’s Angels” was her name, an iconic B17 aircraft on a mission to bomb the U-Boat Yards in Kiel, Germany, and Bert was her 2nd Lieutenant. After a successful bombing, she was up against fifty German FW190s and Me109s. Around 12:30 in the afternoon, Hell’s Angels suffered a hole in the rudder and a stopped engine. Bert, and his 9 comrades on board, died over the North Sea.

This memorial day, I’ll be thinking of the men of the 8th Air Force 91 Bomb Group 322 Bomb Squadron. I’ll be thinking of my great-uncle Albert “Bert” Davies, a man who continues to be honored and loved in our family, though his story survives only through faded correspondence and the memories passed down to a generation that never met him.

This Monday, May 28th, the library will be closed in observance of Memorial Day. The long weekend is a perfect opportunity to meet with your family and tell the stories of the brave men and women who have died in service to our nation. If you’re planning to interview a veteran or those who remember the service of one who has died, consider consulting the chapters on interviewing in The Genealogy Handbook by Ellen Galford and The Genealogy Sourcebook by Sharon Debartolo Carmack. To read about the stories of brave Cecil Countians, be sure to check out Cecil’s Soldiers: Stories from the World War II Generation by Jenifer Dolde.

And if you’re interested in local history, make sure to check out the Journey Stories events coming to Cecil County this summer and fall.

The men in the group photograph are as follows: S/Sgt. Clyde B. Burdick; 1st Lieutenant William H. Broley; 2nd Lieutenant Albert H. Davies; 2nd Lieutenant Joseph M. Darmiento; T/Sgt. Lowell A. Dawson; S/Sgt. Edward H. Jones; T/Sgt. Edward K. Clyne; S/Sgt. Kenneth S. Greer; S/Sgt. Kenneth T. Donovan; Sgt. Edward S. Caspariello.

322 bomb squadron

Who will you be thinking of this Memorial Day? Please share below!


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February 10th, 2012

All Things Amish

Why I Left the Amish bookWhen my dog starts barking like crazy, I know he is sitting in the upstairs window, watching the horse and buggy coming up the road.  Occasionally, I see them tied up in front of the grocery store.  When we head up towards Lancaster, we always pass young Amish teens walking or riding bikes or scooters.  The Amish are a normal part of our community and yet we can’t help but be fascinated by them!  They are so much like us, but at the same time, so very different.  No wonder everyone wants to read about them.

Lucky for us, Cecil County Public Library has a wide variety of items about the Amish.  There are nonfiction books about their way of life, with explanations of all those details we are so curious about, such as why or why not they allow the use of electricity, tractors or cell phones.  There are picture books showing the pastoral farms and the girls in their bonnets hanging out the wash.  There are books of Amish quilts and Amish cooking.   We have books about the strength of their community and the power of their religion, which contribute to their ability to deal with the stresses of living in the “English” world and events like the tragedy at the Nickel Mines School.  I loved the book “Rumsrpinga:  To Be Or Not To Be Amish,” an in-depth look at the “running-around” period that the teens have, allowing them to take part in the “English” life before deciding whether to join the church.  This book was research done for the movie “The Devil’s Playground,” in which we can watch them explain their lifestyle as they assume the dress and behavior of the non-Amish.

Of course, there’s also a lot of fiction about the Amish: inspirational stories by Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter are extremely popular.  Beverly Lewis alone has sold over 12 million books.  Other popular writers are Shelley Shepard Gray, Cindy Woodsmall, and Beth Wiseman.  Amish books are now mixing with other genres, such as Amish romantic suspense.   Mindy Starns Clark combines Amish beliefs and community settings with mystery and love.  My favorite was “Secrets of Harmony Grove,” which was set in Lancaster County.

If you too are intrigued by the Amish, you will be happy to know that Saloma Furlong, author of “Why I Left the Amish” will be speaking at the Elkton Central Library on February 15 and the Rising Sun Branch Library on February 16.  She will talk about growing up Amish and how hard it was to break away from her family and culture to satisfy her longing for freedom and education.

What fascinates you about the Amish?


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