Thursday, December 27, 2012

THE FULL MOON OF DECEMBER: What would YOU name it?....



After midnight tonight, if your weather allows, you may have the privilege of viewing the full moon of December.

Our Native Americans, depending on their tribes, had many names for this moon... the Moon of the Long Night; the Big Winter Moon; the Moon that makes the Trees Crack; The Big Hard Face Moon... and more!

These and other Native American names for the full moon of December reflected their great and well-placed fear of the cold and hardships of the season, when their very survival was threatened.

We modern Americans live far more safely and comfortably than the early Native Americans (or even our early white settlers). We should give some thought to adopting our own names for the full moon of the month of December.

Perhaps: The Christmas Moon; the Moon of the Silent Nights; the Moon of the Outdoor Lights and the Indoor Trees; the Moon of the Bells and Carols; the Moon of the Fireside; the Moon of the New Year Waiting; the Moon of the Family Gatherings; the Moon that Lights the Fields...

Or, to be more practical: The Moon of the Sky-High Fuel Bills; the Moon of the Snow Tires and Chains; the Moon of the Shovels and Snow Blowers; the Moon of the Heavy Quilts; the Moon of the Boots, Coats, Scarves and Gloves; the Moon of the Salt Trucks and Slush...

(Well, YOU get the idea!)

Share your own name-suggestions for the full moon of December. Email this blog via randrmoore@gmail.com.

And please, no profanity!

(Moon photo by Rose Moore)

Monday, December 24, 2012

CHRISTMAS TREES, OH CHRISTMAS TREES....


THE HISTORY OF the Christmas tree is nowhere near as bright and clear as that beloved holiday centerpiece itself. It is full of twists and turns and myth, conflicting facts and fanciful stories...

Some speak of pagan roots; some trace it to ancient winter festivals; some find the tree's long history as a symbol of rebirth and everlasting life more than worthy of its connection with Christian yuletide celebration...

I choose to address the history of the Christmas tree through my own personal history, by sharing memories of Christmas trees through from the vantage point of my childhood and later as a wife and mother.

Our Painesville City in the 1940s, when I was a child, was full of Mom and Pop stores in a large downtown where Christmas trees were all around us. We saw them in the beautifully decorated Christmas storefront windows. We saw them being carried home on top of family cars, or being dragged along by families on foot from downtown Christmas-tree sellers. We saw them being decorated and then lighted on porches, inside houses, churches and schools; in yards and at the town square...

In those days my father insisted that our family have live, balled Christmas trees. Our trees could then be re-planted outside after Christmas, and in later years our yard was dotted with the evergreens that had briefly lived indoors with us. As we grew older, we could look upon those trees that had started small like us and grown with us, and we could recall the year each tree had come into our home...

In the 1950s, after Dad had died, the whole world seemed to love aluminum---aluminum siding, aluminum cookware, aluminum Christmas trees... I came home from school one day and was shocked to see a shiny aluminum tree in our front window. Instantly, I hated it.

It didn't help a bit that a multi-colored rotating beacon lit it up like a rainbow. The new tree wasn't green; it didn't have a history; you couldn't plant it after Christmas; it didn't have a Christmas tree aroma; it didn't appeal to me at all!

My opinion was in the minority, so I tried to tell myself that Christmas was no time for carping. After all, the tree had been purchased and set up in our living room with all good spirit and intention. There was nothing I could do but co-exist with it and try hard not to think about the unfortunate fact that it could be stored after Christmas for re-use year after year.

LATER, WHEN BOB and I were newly married and looking toward Christmas with very little cash to spare, a pine tree blew across the road in front of our car. We didn't see a house around for miles, so naturally the little tree became our gift. We took it home and set it in our farmhouse, and with that little bit of handling, the tree lost all its needles!

We camouflaged its bareness with long tinsel---cheap to buy at a dime a package---and topped it off with a tree-top angel I had put together from a fragment of lace. If that tree was far from perfect, it was our first tree as husband and wife.

As we stepped back to admire it, our dog raced across the room in pursuit of a country mouse that had found its way inside, and together those two critters brought down the tree.

We untangled dog and tree, but the old-style tinfoil icycles were unforgiving; for the rest of Christmas, our naked tree looked like a roost for birds, with nests of foil tangled in the branches. No matter; we had our merry Christmas, comic tree and all.

Then, when our eldest son was just a few years old, we watched as he bonded strongly with the first Christmas tree he was old enough to be fully aware of. He spent many happy hours napping in its shadow, but he became a somber presence as, on New Year's Day, we stripped the tree and got it ready for disposal. When we tried to pull the tree out through the doorway, it wouldn't budge; our boy had thrown his body on the tree because he couldn't bear to see it leave the house!

In a trauma-gentling compromise, the tree became a feeding place, full of goodies for the winter birds. Anchored in a snowbank, it was visible from our windows, creating happiness for birds and boy alike. A new tradition had begun.

BY THE TIME our brood had grown to three boys, we had begun the long-running father-son ceremony of going out to a country tree farm and cutting our own holiday tree. From here, it seemed our children alway chose a tree that needed help. A tree that was too fat, too short, too skinny, too skimpy and/or hopelessly lopsided would be all the more appealing to them. One tree, as I remember, was rescued from the farm's pile of rejects. Its trunk was so hopelessly crooked it couldn't stand completely upright, and on Christmas Eve it crashed down onto the dog as he rested nearby. We calmed the animal and, using a long string, we tried the tree to a nearby banister, where it stood blantantly askew (but nonetheless beloved) for the rest of the holiday.

Wild thorn trees entered the Christmas picture when the boys decided we needed more than just one tree. From the woods each year they would bring in a sawed-off multi-limbed branch of a thorn tree. Attaching it to a base, they would outline the twisty branches with tiny lights---a tradition they continued through their teens. I liked those trees.

WHEN THE KIDS were grown and raising families of their own, it was once again up to Bob and me to find and decorate a Christmas tree for ourselves. One year it dawned on us that live trees might be the cause for my yearly Christmas allergy attacks. It was time for faux fir!

A young friend helped us choose a good one, and each year helped us shape the branches properly for a realistic look. Our grown children didn't comment on the change, nor did we. Thinking back to the aluminum tree of my own youth, I presumed it was their sense of Christmas kindness, and I didn't want to challenge it.
Then one year a son remarked, "You guys are finding really pretty trees... We always were afraid you'd buy fake trees as soon as we were gone." (Oops! Confession time! We may have lost some points there.)

Now in our later years, we continue to put up a nativity scene and generously deck the halls (and windows and banister's and tables and doors) with plenty of Christmas. But Bob and I no longer put up a Christmas tree. Absence of the tree has the advantage of leaving more space for seating at family gatherings, and with all the other Christmas color we've installed, it was years before anybody seemed to notice. A tree is just a decoration, after all, and in our Christmas gatherings, our loved ones are the greatest ornaments.

WE HAVE OUTDOOR Christmas trees in good supply, however, and these stately woodland evergreens have reached up to the sky far longer than we people have resided on this property. Long after indoor ornaments are packed away, those trees remain before our vision winter-long, elegantly draped with snow and ice by Mother Nature. Sometimes wind or sun will warm the branches just enough that they will shrug and toss away the ice like broken crystal.

Then Mother Nature kindly comes along and decorates them all over again for us, until the winter's done.

Monday, December 17, 2012

FIGHTING THE ALIEN AIR FORCE IN THE ATTIC....

(A REPRINT OF ROSE MOORE'S COLUMN IN GAZETTE NEWSPAPERS OHIO, 12-14-2007)
BY WAY OF WARNING, let me share with you the story of a growing colony of squatters that has existed in our home, uninvited and undetected. They have been poor tenants. They sought no lease with us and have paid no rent to us. They have removed, ruined and soiled a lot of insulation and have not compensated us for the consequential loss of money or heat. They have chewed wires and left their own grafitti in the form of droppings...

They are flying squirrels, though Bob and I refer to them these days as "The Alien Air Force in the Attic." In a declaration of war, we have been in the process of eviction and exclusion of these costly pests. If that doesn't meet with the approval of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and their views, too bad; we are animals too.

If these were not the flying sort of squirrels, things might not have been as bad. While other squirrels are territorial and won't willingly share their nesting spots, the flying squirrels are all too sociable with their own kind. "Y'all drop by and stay awhile; we'll keep each other warm," seems to be their attitude, and their colonies expand amazingly. And that spells filthy, dirty, expensive trouble in the human habitat.

The animals have inhabited our attic for quite some time, apparently, but we hadn't heard a sound from them, perhaps because our ceilings are high, our walls thick, and our insulation installed with exceptional R-factor ratings in mind. These construction details were designed to serve as buffers against sound as well, in this case to our detriment.

OUR SAGA STARTED in earnest with the arrival of cold temperatures this season, when we realized our home just wasn't keeping us warm anymore. We thought perhaps our insulation had done some settling over the years and needed boosting. Like many people our age, we don't willingly climb into attics anymore, so we had an insulation contractor come to check things out for us. All too quickly he scurried down from the attic to inform breathlessly that he would return---"ONLY when those bug-eyed scary things are gone from your house!".

We were fairly sure he wasn't referring to us, so my husband and a family member went into the upper reaches and were shocked at the damages there. We had a major project facing us, for sure.

At least one price for the preliminary work---evicting the critters and sealing the access points the animals had established---ran into the thousands of dollars (close to $4,000), and that did NOT include the extensive bio-clean-up and the restorations. Our insurance company denied our damage claims; they had recently sent a policy amendment excluding payment for damages by rodents and removal of pollutants caused thereof. (Rodents!? In 15 years here, we'd never heard a rodent scratch or seen a dropping. So when that rodent damage exclusion notice arrived, we foolishly set it aside to discuss later with our agent).

So here we've found ourselves as a result, acting as our own Homeland Security and financially responsible for the evictions and the barricading of our home against further invasion; and after that, the clean-up and replacement of the insulation.(You might carefully check your own insurance in that regard).

We had set to work to beat the winter season, but the onset of cold temperatures arrived too quickly. Coupled with the drastic loss of attic insulation, winter brought new noises to our ears; we could hear the sound of furry little pilots "bowling!" (Actually, they were pounding acorns and black walnuts against the wood with their front incisors to obtain the inner foodstuff they had stored for winter).

We since have learned that flying squirrels will also gnaw the bark from maple trees to get at the precious sap that so attracts them. And some occasionally will even fall into a sap-collection bucket and drown. (We're not mourning over that, except for the lost bucket of sap).

IT SURPRISES MANY people that flying squirrels exist at all in this area, but wildlife people have said they're actually quite common, and more and more they seem to be creating problems in Lake-Geauga buildings. The reason you so rarely see these mammals---certainly not as often as you see the non-flying type---is because flying squirrels are the only truly nocturnal tree squirrels in North America.Their principal enemies include owls and house cats; in the case of our own problems with them now, you can add our names to that short list. (Forget the cat; I'm allergic).

I know... Those flying squirrels are cute, especially if they're damaging someone else's house. And I admit I was once a fan of that celebrated TV jet-age aviation ace, Rocket ("Rocky") J. Squirrel of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame. But Rocky wasn't living in my house.

If you don't take their "wingspread" into account, these little guys are no larger than chipmunks, and their plush fur, short ears, longish tail and bright bug-eyes give them an appealing, sprightly look. So appealing have they been to some, in fact, that southern flying squirrels (which inhabit the north too) have been captured or bred to be sold as pets since the 1800s.

Via the internet, I'm even finding advice from flying-squirrel fans about adopting them; rehabbing them from injury; relocating them to someone else's property (likely illegal and certainly not fair); attracting them to your own property; building a home (nesting box) for them... HUH!

AS A FORMER PILOT of small airplanes, I admit I find these little mammal aviators interesting---or at least respect their flying skills. Experts say the squirrels don't actually fly and should therefore be called falling squirrels or gliding squirrels. (Nit-pickers!)

They accomplish "flight" their own way---with legs outstretched and the fold of skin between each foreleg and hindleg acting as a combination parachute and sail (or glider wing), allowing the animal to turn or change its angle of descent. The tail acts as a stabilizer in flight (like the tail of a kite), and just before it lands, the squirrel drops its tail and lifts its forequarters to slacken the "wing," which then serves as an air brake.

This highly efficient little self-contained glider-and-pilot contraption can travel at least three square miles in four hours, soaring from tree to tree. (It is usually the male who does this sort of travelling, by the way, to reach a female).

INTERESTING AND CUTE or not, Bob and I have yanked the welcome mat from under our unexpected house guests. They haven't necessarily been leaving easily, and we've had our moments of frustration over that. One night, my husband climbed into the attic to check the traps and was confronted by a merry crew of flying squirrels, looking him boldly in the eye and gleefully dancing around among the traps, defying them... and him. Obviously, as my husband told me afterward, he was not invited to that party. I couldn't help laughing at the mental image of my burly husband being firmly banned from that gathering of bug-eyed, manic little critters.

As of now, the war continues; we're progressing well and seem to be winning. But the season isn't over yet.

Check your attics!

(If you're not a flying squirrel intent on invading her home, Rose is always happy to receive your comments at randrmoore@gmail.com).



Sunday, December 16, 2012

THE LOYAL HERO DOGS WE LEFT BEHIND...

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: I conducted this interview more than a decade ago, for my weekly column in Gazette Newspapers of Ohio. Now the Military Working Dog Memorial is approved and will open next year. A bill has also been approved for the care of retired military working dogs, for their care and adoption).
HER NAME was Cali; she was a U.S. Army Scout.

She was intelligent and beautiful, with thick dark hair, aristocratic form, and innate abilities that enabled her to save lives of fellow soldiers by searching out the traps and ambushes and other perils of war.
 Larry Buehner was Cali's partner in Vietnam, but all he has of her today are souvenirs and memories ... and the knowledge that the U.S. Army she had served abandoned her.
 Cali was a German Shepherd, one of thousands of war dogs left behind---deemed "expendable" when U. S. troops pulled out of Vietnam. Her former partner, Larry Buehner, pulls Cali's leather muzzle from among his souvenirs, and he reflects upon the friend he worked with more than 30 years ago:
 "I didn't need to muzzle Cali, except on the aircraft," he recalls. "Cali was one of the few female scout dogs in my platoon ... She was really a good dog. Off duty she was playful and affectionate; on duty she was serious and focussed ... She was not aggressive ... She did nip a few guys slightly, but they were only officers." He grins. "That's what the guys all said to her, 'Well, that's okay; they were only officers.'"
 The war dog handlers were screened for an intuitive feeling for animals, and the ability to instill the bond that makes the dog and handler an effective unit. Buehner qualified by virtue of his history.
 "I always had a dog when I was a kid," he says. "I left a dog at home when I was drafted ... So there I was, a U. S. soldier in Vietnam, far away from home, and I had a dog; I had Cali! ... Most of the guys had dogs when they were kids, so they were always glad to see Cali. She was a comfort, a memento that reminded them of home. They'd talk to her, play with her ... But not when she was in her harness; that was working time for Cali; she ignored all else, and was strictly business."
When a soldier trained with a dog, that dog became his friend, and that was true of Larry Buehner and Cali. He fed her, gave her water, scrubbed her, worked with her, relaxed with her ... Buehner wryly notes that as a draftee at Fort Benning, he volunteered for scout dog handler school, "because I was sure I had a better chance of coming back alive with those trained dogs." He laughs outright. "Only later did I learn, our dogs were so effective, the Viet Cong had bounties on them ... and on the handlers too."
CALI AND HER HUMAN PARTNER were attached to the 37th Platoon, supporting the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division Artillery at Phuoc Vinh, Vietnam. From platoon quarters at Bien Hoa, scout dog teams were sent out daily to the forward area at Phuoc Vinh. From there they were deployed to the 1st Cavalry units in the field. Larry Buehner thinks back to those days of "walking point" with Cali---dog and handler leading the way ahead of a combat formation.
They were the "point men", dangerously vulnerable in the tactical formation, and statistics show these scout dog teams incurred the highest rate of casualties. It was not a picnic. Buehner considers himself luckier than some. "I never had to fire a rifle ... Still, it was a war on nerves, tense all the way." A handler had to constantly keep his eyes on his dog. The dog's reactions were a sort of code, a message to be read and relayed back to the platoon leader.
 "We commonly went into the field for three days at a time ... I walked Cali off the leash, working with a silent whistle. She walked 25 or 30 feet ahead, checking often to see that I was with her ... Once when we were walking point, she began alerting. I radioed back to the platoon leader, but he ordered us to keep on going ... I was surprised; had Cali been mistaken? .. Cali kept alerting, then one of the guys thought he heard slight movement out ahead ... Cali had saved us; we had almost walked into an accidental ambush by our own troops!"
One patrol went on longer than expected, Buehner remembers. "Cali and I ran out of food. I called for a food drop ... Cali got her drop, but where was mine?" He chuckles. "I found out that Cali's Gainesburgers didn't taste too bad with water, but they were gritty."
Each period in the field was followed by three days back at Bien Hoa "for a bit of rest. Then Cali and I would spend at least two days training together, to keep her interest and alertness at peak level, before recycling back into the field."
Though Larry Buehner's daily contact with Cali ended when his Military Occupational Specialty was changed to combat photography, his bond with Cali wasn't broken. Buehner had a degree in fine arts, and photography seemed more in keeping with his education. But he found working with the dogs was "more selfsatisfying. A lot of us, even after we lost our jobs as handlers, would re-visit our dogs ... "
CALI WAS JUST ONE of 4,000 war dogs in Vietnam---Army, Marine, Air Force, and Navy. They were highly trained in different specialties against the enemy's ability to surprise and destroy. Cali's specialty was Infantry Platoon Scout Dog. In addition, dogs were trained in the following specialties:
*Combat Tracker Teams who tracked enemy through scent or blood trails after contact had been broken.
*Sentry Dog Teams who defended aircraft, airfields, supply depots, ammo dumps, defensive perimeters and other strategic military facilities; and often were deployed as the first line of defense at night.

*Patrol Dog Teams who were deployed to patrol and protect air bases; to track, search buildings, and attack; and to ride with law enforcement.
*Mine, Booby Trap and Tunnel Teams who were deployed with infantry and combat engineering units to detect mines and booby traps, and to search enemy tunnel complexes and Vietnamese communities for hidden arms, ammo and supplies.

*Water Dog Teams who travelled with the Navy on patrol boats along the waterways, tracking scent of enemy divers underwater.
By some estimates, Cali and her fellows in the K-9 Corps saved as many as 10,000 U. S. and Allied lives during Vietnam alone. They were unpaid, as far as money went; food, water, and the companionship of human soldiers was enough for them. Yet when the human U.S. soldiers left Vietnam, the dogs were left behind.
WHEN THE 37TH PLATOON was dismantled, and the military didn't need as many dogs, thousands of the loyal canine soldiers were classified as "expendable equipment to be abandoned in place." "What happened to them ultimately isn't known to us," says Larry Buehner. "We tried with no success to get a bill proposed to get the dogs back home with us ... Dogs had gone home with their handlers from World War II and Korea, but not this time."
In the variety of explanations offered by the military, some handlers heard that the South Vietnam Army would receive the dogs and train with them. "We all knew that was a lot of hooey. The Vietnamese had never seen big dogs like ours; they were afraid of them. As cultural practice, they ate their dogs ... Plus, our dogs were well-indoctrinated to see Vietnamese as enemy ...
"We sought respect and recognition for the dogs. We couldn't get agreement for a national memorial. We couldn't even get them on an honorary postage stamp (though there were 100,000 signatures). We lost out on that one to a cartoon rabbit---Bugs Bunny!"
ANOTHER DOG-AND-HANDLER Team--the team of Burnam and Clipper--came to my attention during my efforts to track down a Northeast Ohio war dog handler for an interview. John Burnam of the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association (VDHA) is the man who steered me to Geauga's Larry Buehner.
Burnam told me he and Buehner, armed with their memories, would be appearing in Lake County at Lake Farm Park.In that exposition of war dogs, guide dogs and police dogs, the war dog handlers would focus on the need for a national war dog memorial.
 A Virginia resident, John Burnam is a decorated veteran who served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He detailed his experience in the book, "Dog Tags of Courage: The Turmoil of War and the Rewards of Companionship". Lt. Gen. Harold K. Moore, USA retired, encouraged Burnam to write the book, and Burnam gifted me with a copy.
The book is real and readable. It reflects the guilt and grief of all the handlers who saw their dogs abandoned. It also sheds some light on the handlers' steadiness of purpose in campaigning for a national memorial for the dogs.
There is heartbreak in the narrative. Burnam writes with lingering horror of an enemy mortar attack on the scout dog kennels. The sleeping scout dogs were locked in for the night, and the handlers could only listen helplessly to the pain and panic of their dogs. Some dogs died; some were badly wounded; Burnam's scout dog Clipper was mid-kennel and survived.
WHEN BURNAM LEFT Vietnam, he was well aware of the nature of Clipper's impending fate. He writes with bitterness and sorrow of the last goodbye:

    " ... I viewed Clipper as a soldier, not equipment. He displayed uncompromising loyalty and obedience. His memory was magnificent. He knew what he'd been trained to do ... I got up early in the morning ... filled his water bucket with fresh water and cleaned his run for the last time, (and) afterwards I sat with him under his tree and stroked his head and back.
My mind flashed back to the many combat missions we'd gone on as a team. Clipper had alerted me to danger and saved countless lives on so many occasions. It was hard for me to believe I was going to have to leave him behind. He was a real American hero ...
Clipper couldn't speak for himself. He was at the mercy of the people who had recruited him for military life ... As Clipper's handler, I was the only one who had truly developed an allegiance for this dog ... I felt I was abandoning a brother. How could my country weigh me down with the burden of this lifelong memory
...I knew, as I sat under the tree, with my dog leaning against my leg, that I'd never see him again in this lifetime ... I tried to hold back my tears ... I looked into Clipper's eyes and gave him one last farewell bear-hug.
Afterward I turned and walked away, with the bitter and sad knowledge that Vietnam would become my dog's final resting place. Clipper stood erect with ears pointed high like the champion he'd always been.
I sensed that he was watching me as I eventually vanished down the dirt road ... "
(To learn more about the military working dog monument and where donations can be sent, google www.jbmf.us website. Comments may be registered with blogger at randrmoore@gmail.com)
ATTACHED PHOTO: Bath day in Vietnam for Army Scout Larry Buehner and his k9 partner Cali.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

GOING TO THE DOGS...

I ALWAYS WANTED A MERRY-GO-ROUND HORSE.
 
SOMETIMES WITH MICK THE MOORE DOG, I THINK I HAVE ONE.
 
A DANCER, A PRANCER, A MISCHIEF MAKER, A POSEUR HE IS!
 
AND MORE!
 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CHILDREN AND DIRT...

This sign offends me!
 
My mother always told me, "Children need a bushel of dirt a year to grow on." (Or was it a bushel a MONTH?)
 
Whatever... I, a mother who raised three boys, think Mom was right!
 
For boys... and for girls too!
 
Worked for ME!
 
 
(photo Dec. 13, 2012 by Rose)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

THE HOLIDAY WHEN MAMA COOKED OUR GOOSE...

A Thanksgiving dinner never passes when I don't think about the year a fine Thanksgiving bird became a gift for our Thanksgiving dinner.

It was the mid-1940s, and I was five or six years old. The all-American Thanksgiving holiday was generally a time of thankfulness, family gatherings and church services, and dinners were as bountiful as families could make them. The star of the dinner table was usually poultry; most often a big roast turkey.

That was not to be true for us that year, however. No turkey or any bird of its ilk was destined for our holiday table.Times were hard for a lot of families, and we were no exception. Turkeys were a luxury we could not afford, and Mom had told us we would have to work with what we had and let the spirit of the holiday make up for it. Still, that humble circumstance led to a Thanksgiving I vividly remember after all these years..


As Thanksgiving week arrived, our family's menu expectations took a sudden turn for the better. One of my father's fellow railroad workers---who was also a farmer---called our house to say that a plump Thanksgiving bird would be personally delivered to our door, as his gift to our family. My mother was excited at the prospect of the fine feast she could make of that, and she began to plan creative trimmings for the grand occasion. When the bird arrived, I must say it was magnificent indeed.


As my mother stepped out to the doorstep to receive the bird, she sharply drew her breath before she extended greetings to our benefactor and thanked him for the generous donation of this fine LIVE GOOSE! As it honk-honk-honked and marched around and preened its snowy feathers for us, we children were delighted. As far as we could see, we had just been gifted with our own special holiday surprise---a pet goose!


Mom saw to it that our goose was properly secured in the basement, and for reasons we couldn't figure out, she nervously awaited my father's return from work. She told us it would be Dad's job to deal with "the goose problem," though what that problem could be, we didn't know.


If my father was surprised to find the prime feature of our Thanksgiving dinner was still ALIVE, he didn't show it; he took my mother's hand and, out of our hearing, told her something in a tone so low we couldn't hear him. It seemed to reassure my mother; in later years, we'd learn that he'd told Mom she wouldn't be responsible for rendering that great bird lifeless for its holiday destiny, nor would he. He would discreetly engage a local farmer to perform that task and make it ready for her culinary talents.


We kids began to talk about the prospects for our future with our fine new pet. We opened the basement door constantly to peek at the bird, marvelling at its size; it seemed larger than we were! Could it fly, we wondered? Would it need training like a dog? Would we have to build a "goose house" for it?...

A day or two later, we peeked at the goose before breakfast and discovered it had disappeared! Who had stolen it, or who had left the door ajar and allowed it to escape? Would we ever see it again? Would it find its way back to us?


We didn't realize it at the time, but our goose was returned onThanksgiving eve, brought by the farmer to our door---dead, bled, and well-hidden, in a heavy sack which Mom whisked quickly out of sight. Later when we saw what we thought was a turkey in our refrigerator, we decided it was the Thanksgiving bird promised by Dad's friend, who must have delivered it in the night while we kids were still asleep.


On Thanksgiving morning, Mom rose early to begin the dinner preparations. Soon the comforting aromas of this holiday permeated every corner of our house. At dinner, my father carefully transported the big cooked bird to the table. He led the blessing, adding with what was probably a slip of the tongue: "We also thank you, Lord, for the good friend whose generosity put this handsome GOOSE upon our holiday table."


The happy child-chatter stopped abruptly. THIS WAS OUR GOOSE! It really was a beauty on our table; like something on a holiday magazine cover. But if Mom had created a masterpiece, its magnificence was lost on us. Here sat our goose before us on the table, and it was being CARVED for us to eat for our Thanksgiving dinner!


We had MET this goose, and all too suddenly we understood a bit about the process that had brought him to our table. We kids just sat there; we didn't raise our faces; we didn't make a sound; we didn't raise our plates to share the meat when it was carved; we couldn't even summon up the courage to face the goose... or face our parents.


"Well," my father said at last, "we can eat around it." That didn't help a bit, and when my father saw that, he understood his children could not attempt to eat a thing in that bird's presence. And especially, they wouldn't be taking so much as a nibble out of that bird!


He rose and took the bird to the kitchen. Where it went from there, we children couldn't say; we never saw it again. But our parents were never of a mind---nor could they afford---to throw good food away, and in later years we came to realize we had probably enjoyed our goose in my mother's hearty post-Thanksgiving stew and soup and hash.


Our response to Mom's heroic work in cooking up that grand Thanksgiving dinner must have disappointed her, but in hindsight, it seemed to me she might have actually been prepared for our reaction. She left the dining room and came back with a meat loaf, piping hot and seemingly from nowhere. It was delicious, the best we'd ever had, and we told her so and meant it. When we addressed dessert, we saw that Mom had topped our pies with extra ice cream, a rare luxury for us.


After dinner we were bundled up and hustled out-of-doors with Mom and Dad, to build a snowman. Mom brought along the coal to make the face and buttons; Dad supplied the hat and corncob pipe, and together we came up with such a tall, impressive snowman that, in its splendid presence, the goose was all but forgotten.


It was a fine Thanksgiving after all, for all of us; except the goose!













MEETING THE LONE SURVIVOR OF THE DANIEL J. MORRELL...

DENNIS HALE: A survivor of shipwreck and life...
By Rose Moore
(Rose's column Printed Nov. 23, 2012 in Gazette Newspapers of Ohio)

(EDITORS NOTE: A few weeks ago, Rose wrote about November's history of notable shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, including the sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell. Soon afterward, she met Dennis Hale, the sole survivor of the Morrell, and she shares some of that meeting through this column).

"I realize that throughout life we have friends that come and go... However, losing 28 of them at one time is hard to overcome. I don't know if I think of them because I want to, or if their faces just appear in my mind and I have to think about them. I'll tell you this much; it's nice to never be alone because they are always with me."---Dennis Hale from "Shipwrecked: Reflections of the Sole Survivor."

THE GREAT LAKE Erie was calm and sun-splashed when I drove to Madison Public Library on the eve of Veterans Day. Ironically, I would spend that brilliant Indian Summer afternoon inside the library, reliving the break-up and sinking of a 603-foot freighter, the Daniel J. Morrell, in a vicious storm on the Great Lake Huron in November 1966.

As a long-time Great Lakes maritime history buff, I had specifically come to the library to meet the keynote speaker Dennis Hale, the sole survivor of the Morrell disaster. My timing couldn't have been luckier. I walked into the door in time to become part of a conversation between Hale and another Great Lakes sailor, Geri "Don" Slater, who had sailed the Lakes in the 1950s. Slater had brought photographs and memories, and the two men were comparing notes.

Hale explained to me that, "Once you have sailed the Lakes, a permanent bond is formed with other Great Lakes sailors." In his speaking engagements throughout the region, he told me, he has enjoyed knowing that at least one Great Lakes sailor will be in every audience.

He noted that he still keeps in touch with a survivor of the Carl D. Bradley, the great ship whose November 1958 sinking instilled in me a deep interest in Great Lakes maritime history. He also often attends bi-monthly meetings of a group which calls itself "The Royal Order of Ancient Mariners"---Great Lakes sailors all.

HALE LAUNCHED HIS presentation at the library with a brief, compelling film of a deep-water exploration of the sunken Morrell. I was personally struck by the footage from the pilot house, which has become a haven for fresh-water fish. The fish seemed to be performing a ballet for the divers' cameras, and I had the sensation that the Morrell, which had died in violence, was now at utter peace. The thought was made more poignant by the knowledge that we were watching the film with the lone survivor who, in that one night in 1966, had lost all his crew mates---friends who had seemed like family to him.

The film ended, and Hale began to speak---not theatrically, but plainly and in quiet tones, without notes. Connecting eye-to-eye to the audience, his great talent was that he could make us feel we were with him on the night of the shipwreck.

The Morrell was owned by Cambria Steamship Company of Cleveland, a subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. It was 60 years old when it set out on its "last trip forever"---leaving out of Lackawanna, N.Y.---and Hale was a six-foot-tall, 26-year-old husband and father of four. He was a watchman in the pilot house the night the storm took down the ship.

"We had just picked up taconite for Bethlehem Steel," Hale recalled. "A day out of port, we received word that we would have to make one more trip in what had already been a very long season. Most of the men were bummed out over that, and I was too." (As fate would have it, the boat originally scheduled to make that trip had developed serious engine trouble.)

Hale kept a car at Lackawanna, and with 24 hours on shore before the Morrell would set out again, he dropped a fellow crew member off in Erie and rushed home to Ashtabula to visit his own family. By the time he got back to Lackawanna, he saw the lights of the Morrell moving out in the lake; he had missed the boat!

"I was risking the loss of $7,000 in forfeited vacation pay, extended vacation pay, and my annual bonus," he said. "It was money that would provide for my family and give us a good Christmas too... I contacted the ship, and they allowed me to meet it at the next stop a day later."

ABOARD THE MORRELL as it moved into Lake Huron, Hale was happy to find he would serve his normal watch in the warmth of the pilot house. "The weather reports were not severe enough to cause alarm," he recalled. "I did talk with the first mate about the proverbial 'last trip forever' omen, but no one expected dangerous weather ahead...

"After my watch, I went to my bunk to read and then went to sleep... I was awakened by a big bang---actually an explosion---and then another, and the books fell off my shelf. That had never happened before. The lights went out and the general alarm sounded, and I opened the door of my room, wearing only my shorts.

A crew man had run to the spar deck to investigate, and he yelled, "Oh my God!" The ship was breaking in two! Clad only in his shorts, a pea coat and a life jacket, Hale felt his way to the deck through complete darkness, and he could feel the ice and snow and slush between his bare toes.

Soon he was on a life boat with others, who were either inside the raft or hanging onto the sides. As the Morrell was separating, the men were planning to launch when their half of the ship sank to water level.

Conversation was impossible above the noise, which Hale would never forget... "the crunching of metal... the scream and sparks of one-inch steel plate, tearing like paper... the wailing wind that tore at our clothes and stung our skin like needles... the sound and sight of escaping steam and puffs of dust as rivets were pulled away...

"Then," he said, "we saw the separated stern, still under power, with the cargo hold still lit, as it headed toward us... "

IT SEEMED THAT we in the audience were submerged with Hale into the walls of waves and the fiercely bitter cold, as the men were tossed from the raft and into the teeth of the storm. Hale and three others---Art Stojek, John Cleary and Charles Fosbender---were able to find the raft again and move toward it, fighting the weight of life preservers that had become soaked with water and ice. They never saw the others again; never heard their voices; their crew mates had permanently disappeared into the storm...

That was merely the beginning. Hale said he is often asked, "What was the worst part of it?" He said he always answers, "There was no GOOD part; probably the most memorable part was going through the monstrous, endless waves and not seeing them coming and not being able to do anything about it... and the power of the wind and waves sucking the breath from our bodies..."

In the early hours, two of the men died. Charles Fosbender (known to the men as Fuzzy) hung on longer than the others, Hale said. "He and I spent a lot of time in prayer, each of us in our own way making peace with our Maker...We talked about our families and Christmas and being home... Later Fuzz began to cough; he said his lungs felt full... He died with my arm around him... His lungs had frozen... I couldn't talk about that for a long time."

Now essentially alone among three dead friends, Hale was in for many more hours of cold, pain and despair. He was sure his own life would soon be over too. "In a situation like that," he reflected, "you go through a loss-of-faith syndrome. You don't care if you live or die. I reached that point, and it became my constant companion. I felt irritated that I was still alive; I just wanted it over with; I was desperate to end this thing..." Hale even contemplated suicide.

Soon it started snowing, and he figured, "This will be my last day for sure... I was really thirsty, and I began eating ice off my coat and hair. I felt someone looking at me. I turned and looked into the pale face of a man with thick, white hair and forceful eyes... He ordered me not to eat the ice; it would make me even colder and lower my body temperature even more... "

When Hale stopped eating the ice, the man disappeared, only to return when Hale began to eat the ice again.

Then Hale began what he later would recognize as an after-life experience... surrounded by light being pulled backward and upward, away from the raft... He looked down at the raft and saw himself and his dead friends, and soon he was in a different place where he saw members of his family who were no longer alive...

"I felt so happy, so completely surrounded by love," he said. "It was the most beautiful feeling I have ever experienced... I was in a green field filled with flowers in so many colors... I was sent across a footbridge... My mother, who died when I was born, was there; she put her arms around me and told me she had waited forever for me... I asked, 'Where are my shipmates?'... They were downhill with our boat, and soon we were laughing and happy together again; the best reunion you could imagine... "

Suddenly Hale was sternly told he shouldn't be there; it was not yet his own time to die. "I didn't want to leave; didn't want to go back," he said, "but I was pulled away and slammed back down into my life boat...

"When I was rescued by the Coast Guard and transported to a hospital, they said my body temperature was too cold for life, and yet here I was, and I was talking!... A priest gave me the last rites, and I didn't think I needed them... I wanted to talk, but when I told the priest about my after-life experience, he told me I should not talk about that again." That was when a peculiar sense of shame came over Hale, and he never discussed it or the sinking again. Not for 26 years.

He asked the veterans in the audience if they had ever talked about their war experiences, and he cautioned them, "You HAVE to talk about it; it's the only way to get over it." Trying to bury his own experiences complicated his life for many years, he said.

THROUGH THE YEARS, Dennis Hale carried the emotional pain of the shipwreck and the loss of his friends, along with the physical pain of the surgeries and the after-effects of freezing. Eventually, however, he found the strength to speak about the Morrell. With the help of a psychologist and hypnosis, he launched a new journey, to find himself and find new purpose. In the process, he became a survivor once again, but in a different way.

His motivational and inspirational speeches began from there, talking openly about the sinking, discussing his after-life experience, and sharing memories of his shipmates. "I intend to continue doing that for as long as life will let me do it," he told me.

He addresses many people in many places, including children, and I asked him how he tailors his talks for children. "With the kids," he said, "I always focus on the message, 'Don't ever quit; don't ever give up.' "

His self-published "Shipwrecked" autobiography was completed and published several years ago and is still selling well. Not surprisingly, the dedication page contains the words: "To my 28 shipmates and friends who lost their lives in the sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell on Lake Huron, November 29, 1966. You are forever in my mind and heart."

Of course I purchased an autographed copy; it was part of my reason for attending the program. I went home and spent the rest of that day, well into the night, absorbed in Hale's written words. When it was done, and I reluctantly set the book aside, it dawned on me that, without the lone survivor Dennis Hale---and his book and his appearances---the story of what happened to the Daniel J. Morrell and the good men of its crew could not have been completely told.

For Dennis Hale, I think this had become his new mission, and he is doing it well. I'm glad he didn't quit.

(Hale's book can be ordered direct at dennishale@windstream.net.)

Attached photo by Rose Moore:
Keynote speaker Dennis Hale (right) happily greets a fellow Great Lakes sailor, Geri "Don" Slater, at the Madison Public Library's annual Veterans Day reception. Hale, the lone survivor of the sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell in 1966, was keynote speaker at the event.

















Sunday, November 11, 2012

CASTOR CANADENSIS: I've called this critter by other names too, some unprintable....

(Written by Rose Moore 2006 after the Great July Flood)

HEADLINE: If a creek runs through it, the beavers will too

IF THERE'S ONE good thing about the recent flood damages to our Concord Township property, it might be that it has washed away a few squatters. Or so we like to think, but we're careful not to delude ourselves when it comes to these particular residents; we've been proven wrong before.

Over the years along our creek, this colony of CASTOR CANADENSIS (American Beavers) have been exercising their natural rights of eminent domain, acquiring ever-increasing amounts of our land. It was only a few years after we built our house on a high-point of our acreage that these buck-toothed, over-sized, bark-chewing, tree-eating, vegetarian rodents began sneaking in.

At first we were naive about the implications; when they began to build a dam, we sat quietly on our porch at dusk and happily watched them work. We felt lucky.

Then autumn arrived and the trees lost their leaves, and we were startled to see that at least an acre of formerly dry, wooded, wildflower-studded land on the other side of the water was now completely treeless; our furry neighbors had built a lodge there. As time went on, we discovered these interesting creatures can destroy acres of woodlands each year. They can and do erode creekbanks... And, as wildlife officials have told us, they can also destroy ponds, damage lake dams, block draining, flood roads...

One year we cheered as we watched the beavers' dam destroyed by our rain-swollen creek; perhaps they'd move out now, we thought. To our dismay, the beavers simply spanned the water with a larger dam upstream, just out of view. They also began enlarging their lodge, and the fetid mosquito swamp they had created continued to thrive and expand. It extended, in fact, into the rest of our woodland on that side of the creek, undermining roots, eroding banks, drowning trees and wildflowers...

Finally we applied for and received a nuisance permit and hired a trapper. Briefly it seemed the beavers were abdicating, but in their own court of nature and public opinion, the beavers always seemed to win their case and return in ever greater numbers. Eventually we gave up.

Conventional wisdom says the beaver sticks to quaking aspen (poplar), rarely chewing coniferous trees except for building purposes, or if the animal is in starvation mode. But if your property is populated by beaver colonies, you soon discover they also turn to hemlock, pine and spruce, red maple ("swamp maple"), wild cherry and other trees---even when good supplies of "favored foods" are easily available. (Some experts have speculated they do this for medicinal purposes).

The rodents also quickly clear saplings and brush from the understory where many wildlife species nest. They use branches of the fallen trees for food and construction, and they chew voraciously on the bark to keep their back teeth from outgrowing their front incisors. (Oh for orthodontia!)

CASTOR CANADENSIS WAS listed as extinct here in a 1940 Natural History of Lake County. (So was the Canada Goose). Beaver were re-introduced back into our streams more than 30 years ago; the problem is, they were brought back into a habitat that no longer had the predators (bobcat, lynx, giant river otter) to keep the beaver population in balance.

The population multiplied beyond expectatons. Before too long, the option of control by managed hunting clashed head-on with the anti-fur and anti-hunting movements, and soon the hunters and trappers found the fur market no longer could support their labors. The beaver population mushroomed.

For a time, the State of Ohio relocated destructive beavers at property owners' requests. But this largest of our rodents was prolific, and as the population continued to grow, Ohio discontinued the re-location program and ceased to even recommend it, because, I was told, "It only re-locates the trouble, which will soon return."

Our problems with Castor Canadensis are by no means unique to our property or even our county. Even the Park System had its problems with these critters in Washington, D.C. When the industrious mammals began to attack the famous cherry trees there, wildlife officials began to trap them, and they were set free elsewhere. (Hopefully not on someone else's land; the Park Service refused to say where).

I'm sure their troubles weren't over. A mated Castor Canadensis produces three or four pups each season, and several generations live and grow in one colony. As the lodges expand, the younger generations then begin to establish their own homes, building their own or moving into someone else's abandoned lodge. Any property owner who has tried to evict these aquatic mammals can attest to the fact that a vacated lodge is all-too-soon re-occupied by such squatter families. A wildlife officer once explained that to me with the declaration that "Nature abhors a vacuum."

About the time Castor Canadensis began moving into our own property, a Geauga resident warned, "My woodland trails went to bed intact for the winter, but by springtime we discovered the beavers had moved in, and what a mess!." He said he worried that his spring-fed lake would soon fall prey to these rodents "who like digging into earthen dams almost as much as they like building their own."

Around 1980, Concord Township trustees enlisted the aid of state wildlife people in removing a good number of these aquatic engineers who had become especially destructive to the properties around Brightwood Lakes. The animals were taken to a nature preserve in Hambden Township.

Soon officials and property owners throughout the region, especially in rural areas, found themselves "up a creek" without much help, when the animals' talent for obstructing drainage began flooding and eroding rural roads and damaging fields.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, things could be worse. Really.

There is sound evidence that Ohio was once frequented by giant predecessors of our rodent creekside tree-chewers. When the glaciers receded from northeast Ohio, allowing plant life to quickly take hold in the scree left behind, our bottomlands were prowled by huge Castor Canadensis who measured more than seven feet from nape of neck to base of hip. (They were tail-less). Eventually the blessing of Mother Nature's evolutionary widsom left us with a smaller version of the animal.

All I can say is, it's a good thing we didn't have anyone around at that time to insist on re-introducing the big ones!

(Rose may be out in high boots today, searching her creek for Castor Canadensis, which have returned a number of times since this was written)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NOVEMBER'S SOMBER GREAT LAKES MEMORIES....


The following is Rose Moore's newspaper column of Nov. 3, 2012 in the Community section of the weeklies of Gazette Newspapers (based in Jefferson, Ohio).


IT'S NOVEMBER, and a press release arrives. It tells me of the annual Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service, on Nov.10th at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Michigan. At 7 p.m. on that date, the Fitzgerald bell will be rung 30 times--the first 29 in honor of the 29 lost crew members, and the 30th in honor of all mariners lost on the Great Lakes.
Whitefish Point is an appropriate location for the memorial and museum. The wreckage of the Fitzgerald lies 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, in 535 feet of water. The museum, sponsored by the Great Lakes Historical Society, is based at a restored U.S. Lifesaving Station (later U.S. Coast Guard).
While the museum's base of interest seemed to grow around the Fitzgerald, the Historical Society's mission is broader, as they work to discover, study, preserve and share the Great Lakes' maritime history.
Two new exhibits were added in 2012. They feature in-depth, multi-media studies of the Carl D. Bradley and Daniel J. Morrell disasters. Over the years, any month of the year could have marked a Great Lakes disaster, but it was the sinking of the Bradley that sparked my own long-term interest in our region's shipwreck history.

For two years, beginning in 1958, I covered Fairport Harbor and its waterfront for Rowley Publications; they were the owners of the daily Painesville Telegraph and the Fairport Beacon and a number of other weeklies in the Lake-Ashtabula-Geauga region.

In those years, freighters were still streaming in and out of the harbor at Fairport, and I met and spoke with many skippers; a few times, I was even a dinner guest aboard their boats. (Yes, boats.... Unlike ocean sailors, the Great Lakes sailors referred to the large vessels on the Lakes as boats, not ships, and they made that very clear to me from the beginning.)

Admittedly, I never "met" the Edmund Fitzgerald or any of its crew, for that great boat was only a few months old when I began my beat. What I did quickly become aware of, from sailors and ex-sailors themselves, was the brutal influence of November weather on the Lakes.

In November 1958, during a delightful spell of Indian Summer, I sensed unease among the village residents. Coffee conversations had suddenly turned to weather history and barometric readings, and the brilliant skies and waters seemed to have become a magnet for distrust.

I quickly learned the history that made these people see a fine November day as a harbinger of trouble. The month's mercurial nature was well known to them, and the clashing autumn-into-winter weather systems brewed some wicked storms, taking many boats and sailors to their underwater graves.

Official shipping-season closing date was Nov. 15---the date most insurers cut off coverage for the owners. However, many skippers pushed beyond that date, hoping to make a few last runs before the Great Lakes froze. Many post-season runs did become just that---last runs---and the loss of boats and people punctuated November history on the Lakes.

ON ONE GENTLE Indian Summer day in Fairport, I talked and listened to the people in the restaurants, coffee shops, firehouse and other places, and I gathered up their stories like a student of November storms: Some stayed in my memory more than others, including:
*Nov. 1869... An unexpected, brutal storm hit all five Lakes, sending 77 vessels to their graves...
*Nov. 1879... The Canadian steamer Waubuno was one of 65 vessels that sank in a series of gales on Lake Huron, and 30 lives were lost, including a honeymooning bride who had dreamed of the shipwreck before it happened...
*Nov. 1896... A powerful storm during Thanksgiving Week took down the Persia and the Valentine. Both boats descended forever, with crews and cargo, into the depths of Lake Huron...
*Nov. 1905... Lake Superior was the target of an icy hurricane that sank 13 vessels and hurled 26 steel carriers into the rocky shorelines. Many of those boats had been bound for Cleveland...
*Nov. 8, 1913... A massive storm on this "Dark Sunday" wrecked 40 boats---many owned by Clevelanders, with Ohio crews---including eight large freighters which sank with no survivors. Among these was the 6300-ton Charles F. Price carrying coal from Cleveland...
The same storm's banshee winds and icy blizzards swallowed up the smaller "Christmas Tree Ship," a three-masted schooner, the Rouse Simmons, steaming toward Chicago with evergreens stacked high upon her decks. She battled the ferocious elements as heartbroken observers watched helplessly from points along the shoreline. The following spring, loads of unused Christmas trees were snagged by fishing nets, and legend says the Simmons and her trees can sometimes still be spotted in November storms...
*Nov. 11, 1940... In 125 miles-per-hour winds, the Anna C. Minch and William B. Davock disappeared into Lake Michigan with full crew, and no evidence thereafter as to where they'd met their fate... That storm also doomed the Canadian freighter Novadoc near Pentwater, Michigan. Miraculously, all but two of the Novadoc crew were brought back alive by the captain of a little fishing tug.
*Nov. 20, 1940... Many Ohio ore boats were among those stranded in the St. Mary River in temperatures of minus 35 degrees, when 247 freighters were ice-locked for weeks outside the Soo Canal; where they sat trapped, three and four abreast, for miles...

HOW COULD I, a young reporter in November 1958, have guessed that, in those Indian Summer days, yet another vicious weather system was poised to smack a Great Lakes freighter down? It would be Ohio's mighty Carl D. Bradley, as she steamed toward Lake Michigan, in what would be her own "last trip forever," to deliver one last cargo before the winter docking. The outcome stunned the Great Lakes shipping circles, and I was there to witness its effect on the harbor town of Fairport.

Owned by Bradley Transportation of U.S. Steel and built in 1927 at Lorain, the 640-foot namesake vessel was then the longest overall of any on the Lakes. Before that day, the Bradley fleet had never lost a freighter. The Bradley itself had recently been certified as seaworthy by the Coast Guard and the Lloyds Register of Shipping Inspection. 

Considered the safest freighter on the Lakes, it had established many records and ridden out three decades of great storms. Her captain and officers were among the Lakes' most experienced.

The day of the storm, with waves breaking at 30 feet, the Bradley's captain reported calmly that his ship was riding out the storm quite well and needed only an hour to reach the Straits of Mackinac. Fifteen minutes before the freighter sank, the captain radioed his expected arrival time, still noting no concerns. At 5:31 p.m. as the captain spoke by radio, a loud noise was heard and the captain urgently reported a horizontal split opening across the deck---the ship was swiftly breaking into two pieces!

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! was radioed out, and short-wave operators heard the abandon-ship whistle and life-jacket call. Radio contact broke off abruptly in the midst of the final Mayday. There were only two survivors; and 55 children were left instantly fatherless.

Over coffee the next morning in Fairport and in every other harbor town around the Lakes, there would be one somber topic---the loss of the Bradley and her crew.

.
GREAT LAKES SHIPPING dropped off sharply, and technology steadily improved, yet November continued to take its toll on the Lakes---including, most memorably, the following:
*Nov. 1966... The Daniel J. Morrell, travelling with her sister ship, the Edward Y. Townsend, was on the last trip of the season, leaving home port at Cleveland to load iron ore at Michigan. Tom Connelly of Mentor was piloting the Townsend; the Morrell was piloted by Skipper Art Crowley of Rocky River with many northeast Ohio crew, including 26-year-old Dennis Hale of Ashtabula.
Heading into stormy Huron, the ships lost visual contact but continued talking by radio. Suddenly all contact with the Morrell was lost, and the vessel was not seen or heard from until after the storm, when bits of wreckage surfaced. Hale was the sole survivor. Thrown from the ship as it broke up, Hale had landed near a raft with several others; his companions froze to death before rescue.
(Carrying survivor's guilt, Hale couldn't talk about the experience for many years. Later he was the subject of a book, and more recently he wrote about the tragedy himself. Now he shares his memories quite openly in appearances throughout the region).
*Nov. 1975... The storied Edmund Fitzgerald sank with its entire crew. Among 14 Ohio crewmen, First Assistant Engineer Eddie Bindon was a native son of Fairport. Christened and launched two months before the Bradley's demise in 1958, the 729-foot size of the "Big Fitz" had pushed the Bradley off the record books. But like the Bradley---yes, perhaps like the Titanic too!---its size could not protect it from unpredictable November.

AS I RECALL in later accounts, the family of a crew member of the Fitz had been picnicking on a Lake Erie shore, completely unaware that, as they enjoyed their fine November day, their loved one's boat was being stalked by tragedy.

A Great Lakes sailor later told me that genetic imprinting and the experience of history had surely filled those loved ones with the same innate anxiety I had witnessed in November 1958, in Fairport Harbor, in the balmy days before the sinking of the Bradley.

"It was November, after all," he quietly reminded me. And by then, I understood.
(Shipwreck Museum information is available at http://www.shipwreckmuseum.com.)
 
(Order Dennis Hale's book at dennishale@windstream.net )
(Whatever the weather, you can direct comments to our columnist Rose Moore herself at randrmoore@gmail.com)

Monday, October 29, 2012

OLDE WITCH ROSE, 1972...

HALLOWEEN SOLDIER/SPY... from there she went for her broom license! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

WITCH ROSE LOVED HALLOWEENS OF YESTERYEAR...


Not for candy, but for costumes, I loved Halloweens of childhood. I could walk around as someone else--like a child playing dress-up with bits and pieces from an attic trunk. The search through bureaus, trunks and closets was a joyful part of it, and sometimes the outcomes were surprising.

The first costume I remember was a grown-up's cast-off gown. My mother nipped and tucked, and slashed the hem to suit my height (or lack of it), and wrapped a brilliant scarf around my waist. She draped me with a fur-piece from her single life, and presto! I was transformed into a 1930s movie star!

Beneath the neighbors' porch lights, I got a better look and saw the vintage fur was made of little foxes, with eyes and little teeth and paws, each pelt clinging to the next. I was terrified! My mother stood protectively behind us in the shadows. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I feigned illness. I couldn't wait to get back home and peel off those scary little animals. I soon became more independent in my costume choices.

When I was eight or so, I loved the smiling Aunt Jemima on the pancake mix and syrup. For Halloween that year, I decided she was who I'd be. I meant no harm; Aunt Jemima was to me a warm and friendly presence.

I tied a big red handkerchief around my head and donned a dress and my mother's apron, and then I sneaked to the furnace and smeared my face and neck with coal soot--an addition apparently unnoticed by my busy mother as I went out the door with my crowd of siblings. Mom wasn't happy with me when I returned that evening. She refused to help me clean my face and ears and hairline, and for a week it seemed impossible to remove the soot from underneath my fingernails. "That's your punishment for disrespect," my mother told me.

One year, Buster Keaton comedies from the silent movie days were a costume inspiration for me. But no one recalled those silent movies, and I was mistaken for a bum! ... Another year, when I was slightly older, I dressed as Moonbeam McSwine, bad girl from Li'l Abner comics. That costume was a flop, because Mom had censored the scanty outfit into something else entirely.

When I reached junior high and high school, costume parties were a staple of the days surrounding Halloween, and I went as a flower child... an Appalachian apple seller... a flyer... a mechanic... "Babushka Woman"... a beatnik... a pioneer... a Roman senator and many other personnae... Sometimes I wasn't really sure myself who I was meant to be; improvisation was the point, and half the fun! Once I showed up at a costume party as MYSELF, and won the prize for most original; the meaning of that wasn't really clear to me.

I was no longer a child on the Halloween that fell on the eve of my eldest child's birth, when I decided to escort young nieces and a nephew on their trick-or-treating. One homeowner spotted me behind the kids and urged, "Come forward, little pregnant mommy; what a costume!"

I did love grown-up costume parties most of all, but they have long since disappeared from Halloween in many places. Ten years ago, however, a relative-by-marriage delightfully revived the costume party for a lucky few of us, with a costume gathering in her family's cozy barn. Eureka!

That year I didn't think about my costume until an hour before party-time, when I dug into my closet, threw on a Russian shawl I'd never found excuse to wear, stuck colorful large hoops into my earlobes, grabbed a decorative straw chapeau from the hall tree, and went as "Gypsy Rose." I was escorted by my husband who appeared before me as an aging tie-dyed hippie whose crew-cut silver hair didn't look like any 60s hippie anyone of us had ever seen.

A Hunter's Moon was brilliant in that Indian Summer night. There was a campfire in the neighborhood, and some of us pretended we were smelling burning leaves, an aroma that has been against the law for many years.

For a little while that evening, we all were laughing kids again; and none the worse for it!


(Witch Rose is up in the air on a broom. Feel free to leave a comment: randrmoore@gmail.com

Sunday, October 7, 2012

MY WALKING BUDDY 2012...

You remember my walking buddy, Jack, our doberman who passed away in October 2009.
This is Mick, who entered our lives just after the New Year 2012.
In late August he reached his first birthday.
His personality is still part 2-year-old, part teenager, but he's getting better all the time.
And he is finally almost as good a walking buddy as Jack was, and he's a lot of fun.
He's got his willful side, as did the human boys my husband Bob and I raised years ago.
But he loves the sky, as I do.
He loves the woodland, as I do.
He loves my Bob, as I do.
He loves to have fun, as I do...
What more could I ask?
 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

MY OCTOBER WOODLAND...

My woods on this October day are a place of peekaboo sunshine, shade and spectacular clouds.
Today was damp from yesterday's rain. The temps never rose above 50 degrees, and the winds blew in from the north at 10 to 15 miles per hour. So it was chilly!
Still, it was beautiful. My big dog Mick agrees; it is here that he walks with me every day. And he never complains, whatever the weather.
IN CASE I HAVE FORGOTTEN TO REMIND MY READERS PERIODICALLY, YOU SHOULD CLICK ON EACH PHOTO TO SEE ITS FULL SIZE. IT'S WORTH THE PAY-OFF!--Your friend R.A.T. (Rose About Town)

IN AUTUMN, EVEN THE GROUND IS BEAUTIFUL...

CALL OF THE OPEN ROAD...

This time of year in my Ohio presents some special views of what might seem ordinary to me during any other season.
 
This barn, for instance. I pass it almost every day. I know it's actually a water plant, built to look like a barn, in deference to its rural neighborhood.
 
And now, in the blue and gold of autumn, the barn and its surroundings are spectacular to me.
 
And the sky... it is so blue it lends a bit of its color even to the roadway!
 

ON THE EVE OF OCTOBER...

On the last day of September 2012, the sky spoke to us through an old weather omen: "Red sky at night... a sailor's delight."
And yes, in the following days of early October, we were blessed with the good weather forecast to us by this spectacular sky..
 

KING OF THE OCTOBER WOODLAND...

"I am Mick, and I am the king of this October woods in which I walk today."

TODAY: BEAUTIFUL OCTOBER

WE ARE KEPT INDOORS BY THE RAIN AND THE CHILL,
BUT THE VIEW FROM OUR WINDOW'S NOT RUN-OF-THE-MILL.
 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

BEAUTY FROM A SUNSET WE CAN'T SEE...

YESTERDAY EVENING...
 
There we stand, my dog and I, transfixed by what we see before us as the daylight fades away.
Sunset comes earlier in the depth of our valley than it does in the lands above and around us. Sliding away from our view, no longer visible to us, the sun leaves a bit of its brilliance behind in the high treetops and the lingering blue of the sky.
My dog and I look upward as a faraway jet with a bright double con-trail begins to rise above the horizon, toward the top of our world.
The plane gleams pink and definable in the rays sent upward by the lowering sun beyond our valley rim; and it moves in grace like a neon bride carrying her startling neon train behind her.
My dog and I inhale the vision and are grateful that it travels in slow motion.
And then the evening chill and darkness drive us both inside.

Monday, August 13, 2012

THIS COUNTRY ROSE IS NOT FOR PRESIDENT! ... (Reprint from 2012)


IT SEEMS LIKE ONLY YESTERDAY, when I was a younger Rose in a pre-9-11 world, that I light-heartedly declared myself a write-in candidate for President of the United States. Readers of my Gazette Newspapers column had some fun with that, and several said they even saw my platform on the Internet. (That amazed me, since at the time I wasn't even ON the Internet).
And what was the outcome of that self-nomination? I lost by a landslide! Every voter in America, including me, chose someone else!

FOUR YEARS LATER---apparently needing a laugh to distract themselves from yet another long, intense national campaign---my readers urged me once again to "run" for President. Once again, this All-American Rose firmly declined, but I did brush off my platform and shared it once again.

NOW THROUGH MY personal blog this August 2012---again at your request, for better or worse---I share some items from my original Presidential Platform crafted in the campaign season of the year 2000. It has seemed to suit you:

*As President Rose Moore, I would choose my cabinet and appointees without regard to black, white, red, green, polka-dot or any other color; male or female; pure-blood or Heinz 57; old or young or in-between... The ruling criteria for my selections would always be based on ability, experience, character, and love for country and its founding principles.
*I would deem all people born in this country, to legal U.S. citizens, to be Native Americans.
*I would champion "plain English" as the national language and would encourage its use in all legislation.
*I would seek a tax penalty for all eligible Americans who don't vote.
*I would call for a tax credit for those who serve on juries, and I would switch the jury-selection pool from the list of registered voters, because many non-voters fear being chosen for jury duty. For that and other reasons (such as a larger jury pool) choosing juries from the licensed drivers' list would make more sense.
*I would function as your president, not your mother. I would not attempt to engineer your way of living. I wouldn't tell you what to eat or drink, and I wouldn't raise your children, tell you HOW to raise your children, or reward you for having OTHER people raise your children...
*I would push for election revisions to require President and Vice President to run separately... I would give the Vice President real work to do so he or she could be ready for my job if I should die, resign, lose my mind, run away or go to jail.
*I wouldn't criticize or penalize the rich for being rich, or the poor for being poor. I'd stand for equal opportunity for all Americans to pursue their dreams...
*I would lighten up and encourage YOU to lighten up. In my communications with you, I would share the positives as well as the negatives, and I would not peddle fear for polital gain.
*I wouldn't use the people's time or money, or the people's White House, to work toward my future re-election. A simple "Moore!" or NO Moore!" at the voting booth would be enough to keep me in the White House or send me home.
*I would put America first, every single time!


WHY I WON'T RUN for President this 2012 or ever in the future:
I couldn't be elected or even nominated. It would take a person far beyond my own capabilities to build a viable political constituency. In these days of political correctness, we are splintered in too many directions and, in dealing with each other, we no longer look for what is in the heart; we look for TROUBLE!
I am 72 years old this 2012 election season, and I'm growing older (so they say). That makes me too old for the young vote; too young for the old vote; too strong-minded for the old-fashioned women's vote; too traditional for the feminists' vote; and not electable for countless other reasons...
I don't feel old, but I have mellowed appropriately into my years and have gained an appreciation for the small good things around me. I have no patience for whining, bickering, infighting...
I couldn't stand the scrutiny and loss of privacy; I would have to give up my intrinsic informality and my Wild-Irish-Rose impulsive ways; every word I said would have to be carefully thought out for unintentional hidden meanings that might dog me all my days.
I wouldn't want to have to take the Secret Service or the press along for an x-ray or a colonoscopy...
And I could not ever leave my country life behind. Be realistic, after all:
Could you imagine a zoom-lens news photo of your President in garden boots and gear, joyfully sinking her gardener-hands into the soil of the White House rose garden... Sitting barefoot with her husband on the front porch of the White House... Stringing wind chimes in the trees around the White House... Mowing lawn on an old green garden tractor "because it is her favorite thing to do?"...
And could you accept an early-morning photo of your President, walking sleepy-eyed and tousle-haired with her big dog on the green lawns of the White House, with that same dog snarling at the Secret Service on his mistress'es behalf?  ...

FACE IT! Country Rose is not elite enough to be your President. And she never will be.

(And who could ever tell her what to do?)