Memorial Day Memories

May 24th, 2012

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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You Still Need Eyes in the Back of Your Head

May 15th, 2012

No need to hack his texts…yet.

My son now has a record.  Not unlike Cool Hand Luke, he recently spent a few hours pulling weeds in the middle school courtyard while others watched a movie in the gym.  A repeat offender, his rap sheet boasts multiple gum chewing incidents and one broken cafeteria broom.  Not unlike his father who once set off a bottle rocket in an empty school hallway, my honor roll son just can’t seem to consistently tow the line.  Repeatedly praised for his polite manner, good grades and generous spirit, I’ve tended to minimize his detentions as they seem to present harm only to the bottom of someone’s shoe.  But should I?  After reading these recent thrillers, paranoia becomes an option.

Defending Jacob by William Landay defendingjacob
A 14-year-old boy is accused of murdering a classmate.  The original district attorney assigned to the case, his father must now sit on the other side of the bench, helping to defend his son.  When questions involving heredity come to light, the boy’s mother comes to her own conclusions.  The ending made me gasp and grapple with choices I hope never have to be made.

The Good Father by Noah Hawley
Paul thinks nothing of his son dropping out of college to “see the country” until the Secret Service knocks on his door.  His gentle, Greenpeace-loving son has assassinated a leading presidential candidate.  Re-married with young children, Paul must come to terms with his part in his first son’s choices.

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton afterwards_800
Comatose after saving her daughter Jenny from a devastating fire, Grace searches for the arsonist, her daughter’s potential killer, in overheard conversations and out-of-body experiences.  Her son is accused of the crime, and Grace must learn more about the hidden lives of her daughter and family and friends in order to rest in peace.  In the style of “The Lovely Bones”, but with a twist.

We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
When her son kills seven in a school massacre, Eva attempts to apportion blame.  Was Kevin born a killer or was her inability to love a “difficult child” the deciding factor?

Given that my son once carried a stray dog around three local developments looking for its owner, I highly doubt I need to reserve him a place in maximum security at this point.  But, I should probably notify the school that pulling weeds on a beautiful sunny day rather than watching Ice Age in the stuffy gym was not much of a deterrent to the mid-day need of a sugary snack.  Not, that is, until he had to pull them again from the flower beds at home.  Now that’s what I call “character building.”

What reads or movies have scared you into being a better parent?

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