Thursday, December 25, 2014

A HUSBAND'S CHRISTMAS GIFT.....

When I  was in 4th grade, it came to me that writing was to be a part of who  am. And that's the way it was for many years. 

When I was in my 30s, a tragic family happening brought my writing to a sudden stop, and that writer's block seemed permanent. My husband waited patiently for its return, and so did I. It didn't happen.

One Christmas morning, a lovely handmade secretary desk appeared within my home. It was for me. "It was made for you and no one else," my husband said. "I have missed your writing. Now your writing MUST return, for you cannot let that desk sit by itself, unused." 

That desk did lead me back to writing. To this day, through these many years of marriage, that desk reminds me of the love my husband feels for me.

THE MAN WHO LOVES ME 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I LIVE WITH MOTHER NATURE'S CHRISTMAS TREES...

 
 
     I was a child of the 1940s, and in that decade of my childhood, my father would insist that our family always have a live, balled Christmas tree. After Christmas, year by year, each live tree would then be planted in our yard outside where we could see them easily from our large windows. 
   As we grew older, our yard was dotted with those Christmas trees that had lived so briefly in the house with us. We would look upon those trees that had started small like us, and had grown along with us, and we'd try hard to imagine all over again the year each tree had spent its Christmas in our home.
   Now I'm in the seventh decade of my life, and in the valley where my husband and I built our retirement home in 1993, we have outdoor Christmas trees in good supply. While they make me think of my father's living Christmas trees, these stately woodland evergreens of my senior years do have one important difference: From where their feet are planted, they grew naturally and not by transplant. And they have reached up to the sky far longer than any family of humans has resided on this property, and several of them have reached a height of at least 100 feet.
   Each year, long after Christmas is over, these trees remain before our vision, elegantly draped with snow and ice by Mother Nature. Sometimes wind or sun disturbs the branches just enough that they will shrug and toss away the ice like broken crystal, and we can hear it happen. It sounds like tiny bells.
    Then Mother Nature kindly comes along and decorates them all over again for us, until the winter's done.

 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A HOLIDAY FLIGHT FOR THE MOORES......

  
  It was Christmas Eve night,
  Santa's reindeer were hitched,
  But there was a problem
  because Santa was sick!

  A call went out urgently
  To the Moores---Bob and Rose---
  Who were feeling the spirit
  From their head to their toes.

  With their Doberman hitched
  To their racy red car,
  They soared upward like magic
  And were soon in the stars.

  With his Rose riding shotgun
  And the wind at his back,
  Bob broke the speed record
  and emptied the sack.

  But he mixed up addresses
  As he rushed through the job---
  If you got the wrong present
  Or missed one... BLAME BOB!

  (Happy Christmas Season from Bob, Rose, their dog & the elves!)

   

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

WITH WEATHER, WHAT SHOULD WE WISH FOR?...

This posting is for my granddaughter Katie, who told me tonight the best Christmas present she could receive would be a white Christmas. As much as I would love to be able to give her that present, there is a reason I dare not even try. She will understand if she reads the following, a column from Gazette Newspapers in 2007: (by Rose Moore, Columnist and Weather Witch)

   Why was my column missing missing last week? Because I got what I asked for, at least weather-wise.
   For at least eight weeks preceding the recent storm that broke the drought, we watched as "scattered showers" visited communities to the north, south, east and west of us. Despite my vigilance and constant watering, my lawns and gardens were succumbing to the wilting heat and drying winds and a dearth of natural moisture.
   In desperation I began to pray in earnest, "Let it rain." Given my personal history with that sort of weather-tinkering that caused my family to dub me the "weather witch," I should have known better. Mother Nature sends her answer, and then she slaps me down.
   Consider my role in the Great Thanksgiving Storm of 1950. When a warm Thanksgiving rain began to melt a magnificent snowman my siblings and I had created, I ordered my younger brothers and sisters to kneel with me and pray with all our might for the return of snow and cold. The storm--The Great Thanksgiving Week Blizzard of 1950--began that night, and it is still a legend in Ohio weather archives. Stunned by the result, we swore off that sort of thing, and for my part, I stuck to that promise for a good long time.
   But... My own children were in grade school when I ventured back into that dangerous arena. When I complained about the long dry spell that made our gardens wither, our middle son Bryan recalled a Navajo weather ritual he had learned in kindergarten. With his leadership---and his order that we had to believe or it wouldn't work---we sat in a closed circle of clasped hands and bowed heads and closed eyes and repeated with him the ancient ceremonial plea to the Great Spirit to bring rain for the crops.
   Apparently we DID believe! The rains came down in torrents, sending a river of water down the road to flood our garage and front courtyard. The water proceeded next door to my in-laws' property, washing away the corner foundation of their garage. Assuming the same kind of guilt I had felt in the Thanksgiving weather mischief of my own childhood, my boys decided firmly not to try that sort of thing again, and I agreed.
   But... on a January night years later, as the boys prepared for bed, a weather bulletin lured us back to our mischief. Despite the spring-warm rains of that winter night, the weather person was warning that a "panhandle hook" from Texas was on its way with lots of snow for Northeast Ohio.
   Three pairs of eyes lit up at the thought. It seemed too warm for such a snow to arrive in time to close school the next morning, but Goddard had said it was so. Still, my three boys decided one of Mom's 1950-style prayer sessions was in order, as extra insurance. My child-like love for the magic of such unscheduled holidays prompted me to join them, and as it turned out, we got more than we bargained for. We got the Blizzard of 1978, that "great white hurricane with snow" that made a lot of trouble and will never be forgotten. Now perhaps I would keep my hands off the weather once and for all! 
   But... It was a soggy summer in the 1980s when I tampered with the weather once again. When the flowers in my boggy gardens were growing more slowly than the toadstools, I raised my eyes to heaven, cursing the rains and praying fervently for some good old-fashioned summer heat to dry things out. 
   Oh my, the heat came quickly and stayed around awhile, without a bit of rain. Temperatures were rising to the triple-digits, as white-hot winds blew dust into my eyes and turned my grass to straw. And when, mysteriously, the peat moss in my paltry flower beds caught fire, it seemed to me an added punishment for my arrogance.
   AND NOW... judging by events that kept last week's column from happening, you may have guessed I was up to my weather mischief again. With dying gardens, heat-stressed trees and crisp-cooked lawns, I forgot myself and prayed for rain.
   The rainstorm came, alright, and it was fairly minor in its way. The cooling, gentle rains that followed through the week were soothing to our lawns and trees and gardens. But with the onset of the rains, an electrical bolt from the heavens had fried my computer as I was working on my column. For sure, this was a message.
   Will I change my ways? Probably not. I'm a member of the same human race that cries all winter for summer heat and cries all summer for winter cool. I'm a member of the same human race whose indoor workers cry for pleasant weather for the weekends, and whose outdoor workers cry for decent weather for their working days. It seems we humans just will not be satisfied.
   So... when it comes to weather, what should we ask for? Perhaps we should ask for nothing and make the best of the weather that comes our way; it's out of our hands. 
   If we try to make it otherwise, we are playing with fire... and flood and drought and blizzards and a whole lot more! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

STORY OF A SPECIAL SANTA....



 
By Rose Moore, columnist,
Gazette Newspapers of Ohio
Published December 2012 
 
   OUR MODERN VERSION of Santa Claus---St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas or whatever else you choose to call him---was built around the giving nature of the season. Over centuries he has grown in our imagination as a jolly gentleman of Christmas, with long white hair and beard, a bright red suit, and an airborne sleigh with reindeer.
   My own favorite Santa doesn't fit that mold at all. He doesn't sport a beard and never has; nor has he ever worn long hair, though his perennial crew cut over time has turned snow-white.
   He doesn't drive a sleigh with reindeer, though he has often had a friendly dog of reindeer size who traveled with him in a truck. And though my Santa does like red as much as any other color, it's never been his signature, and the Santa suit has never been his garb; he's happiest in work clothes.
   WHEN OUR THREE boys were little children, times were often tough financially, and my Santa devised a lot of Christmas fun for them that money couldn't buy.
   In the weeks preceding Christmas, footprints of Santa, elves and reindeer would mysteriously appear around the yard and house, compliments of Santa, who went into the cold of night when the world was sleeping, and made this minor miracle that brought such wonder to his children's eyes.
   On December afternoons, he would help his boys stack piles of apples for the reindeer. Those apples would be gone by morning, and then it would be time to start again; oh, those hungry reindeer!
   On a mid-December morning, he would take his boys out to the tree farm and let them choose the family Christmas tree for cutting. Invariably, they chose a tree that no-one else would want, a "tree that needed love." When it was time to stand the tree for decorating, these trees were guaranteed to give old Santa silent fits, with crooked trunks and most ungainly shapes.
   Then there was the yearly "Boys' Night Out." In Christmas week, Santa and his boys would enjoy a meal on the town, then tramp around together while each boy sought his special gift for Mom. Here too, the small boy's choice was honored, with sometimes interesting results; for instance, how could I forget a small son's Christmas gift of "cowboy underwear?"
   MY SANTA HAD an active North Pole annex at our house. On many nights before the holiday, the garage became a workshop where Santa whistled, sang, sawed, hammered, sanded, painted ... By morning, all evidence of Santa's work was cleared away before the kids woke up.
   This shop created wonders. One year, with new parts and paint and lots of patient work, Santa magically transformed a discarded, worn-out bike frame into a brand new, shiny bicycle. To this day, Santa claims that project was a snap, compared to the year he purchased new-age Christmas bikes in packages fraudulently labeled, "Easy to Assemble."
For our first-born, Santa's shop produced a child-sized, upholstered "Santa Chair." This bright red, sturdy treasure got a lot of use and then was passed intact from oldest boy to youngest, and then passed good-as-new to another family's child.
   From Santa's shop one Christmas, there even came a set of bunk beds. That Christmas night, there was a lot of giggling as Santa climbed into the upper bunk and snuggled with his boys as Mama read the nightly bedtime story. The bunk beds held his weight, it should be noted, and Santa fell asleep before the story time was over.
   This home-grown workshop also created treasure boxes; wooden horses; wood cut-outs of boyhood favorites (such as cars and cowboy pistols); handmade and painted alphabet blocks; a carpenter version of Tinker Toys or Legos, with glue and nails, a hammer, and pieces of wood in many shapes and sizes ...
   ONCE SANTA EVEN left materials and plans for a doghouse for the boys' companion, Buster. After Christmas, the little building was created by  my Santa and the boys together, with a shingled roof, real siding, insulation and a swinging door. Well built, that tiny structure outlasted Buster, and when Buster died, it became a marker for his grave; and the boys and I sat together on the doghouse roof and traded tales about our Buster and how much he had added to our lives.
   In those simpler times, this Santa made small gifts seem like the best gifts, and his presentation was ingenuous. A wrapped box might contain a map for an "X-marks-the-spot" game that led to the real gift ... A pocket knife might be wrapped deceptively in a box inside a larger box, accessorized with wood for carving and a sharpening stone for after-Christmas lessons in whittling and sharpening.
   ALL YEAR every year, my Santa blended into everyday society under the comfortable name of Bob. I first met him when both of us were young, and he has aged along with me. But in his heart and in my eyes, he's ageless; he has kept his Santa smile and spirit, and his eyes still sparkle with a boyish mischief.
   For years now, our sons have been busy raising children of their own, and my Santa is retired. He has long since passed the Santa torch to the younger generation. Someday that generation too will feel a tug of sadness as they pass the Santa torch to yet another generation. And then, like us, they'll warm themselves each Christmas with their  memories of the best December jobs they ever had.

   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

TO SIR WITH LOVE: A TALE OF THE BLIZZARD OF THANKSGIVING 1950...



     It was November 1950. Thanksgiving was approaching in a small town in northeast Ohio, when a big family of little boys and girls stood back and looked approvingly at their special project. It was a temporary landmark they had sculpted for the holidays--a snowman of such quality they named him "Sir."
    Sir was taller than the children. In their judgment he was the finest snowman ever seen around the neighborhood. His shape was burly and imposing, and his snowy body had been buffed into an icy surface that made him look like he was made of gleaming crystal.
    Standing tall on borrowed milk crates, the children had used their ungloved hands to shape Sir's noble face. Coal from Papa's furnace room had given Sir his shining eyes and bright, broad smile. His substantial ears and nose had been carved by jackknife from soft wood.
    Sir wore a bright red, long-tasseled stocking hat. It didn't seem to suit his character, but there it was--a gift from Older Sister who had decided it was perfect for Sir Snowman--or for any person other than herself, for she had grown quite tired of the laughter it inspired when she wore it.
    Sir's broomstick arms, finished off with mismatched woolen mittens, were covered with sleeves cut from a cast-off shirt and stuffed with newspapers to give them shape and muscle. This snowman was a solid winter friend designed to last.
    He smiled at the children as they looked out at him each morning. He put the little sculptors into a merry mood that bounced around the table as the family ate their breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
    A day or so before the holiday, a touch of Spring stole into late November. Sir endured as he was meant to, and the children were quite sure that he could stand through any unexpected warm spell.
    On Thanksgiving in the early afternoon, as the family feasted unaware, a warm and steady rain began to fall. Later when the children went outside, they were dismayed to find a sloppy-sloshy Sir without his arms and ears. He was quickly losing shape and form, his belt was slipping from his waist and hips, and his coal-inspired smile had turned into a grimace.
    There was heartbreak all around. "What can we do?" the younger children of the family wailed to the Older Sister. She thought a moment, and then she ordered them to "Wish!... Wish and pray and believe with all your might for snow and cold!"  
    She gathered them together--brothers, sisters, and perhaps a neighbor child or two. (Who would notice in that crowd of children)? They knelt together in the longest hallway of the house, for a spacious spot was necessary to contain that splendid congregation. They closed their eyes and pressed their hands together and wished, believed and prayed for all the snow and cold that God could spare--"And bring it quickly for our Sir!"
    Older Sister's watchful eye was needed as the mildness continued into night. Near midnight it turned quickly colder and great soft flakes defined themselves against the city streetlights. With excitement, Older Sister tip-toed around from room to room to spread the word.
    Through the night the snow piled higher and then higher. The wind joined in and tossed the camouflaging snow around. It softened rooftops, streets, sidewalks, driveways and porches. It clung to every branch of every tree and shrub. It hid the family car... The world was white--at least when you could see it!
    It snowed through Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday...It didn't seem to want to stop. It brought down tree branches. Blue lightning snaked along the streets through broken power lines. Schools and roads and businesses were closed. The mail couldn't be delivered, nor the papers or the milk. The parents and the kids, it seemed, were trapped inside the house.
    Sir, or what remained of him, was buried by the very stuff of which he had been made. He disappeared beneath the drifts, never to be seen again. If the Mom and Dad were worried by the raging storm, they didn't let their children see it. Through blizzard days and nights, they took turns napping so they could keep the big coal furnace fired against the frigid wind and cold. For the childrens' sake, they made it seem like play.
    Oil lamps were lit, and the children were allowed to stay up talking well into the night. The parents used the time not for complaint, but for sharing stories of their childhoods--the tall winters and hot summers, the things they did for fun, the excitement of catching sight or sound of a new-fangled horseless carriage or an aeroplane...
    The children were convinced that, with the help of God and Older Sister, they had brought the famous "Great Thanksgiving Blizzard of 1950" into Ohio. In later years as grownups, they would laugh about their heavy-duty weather mischief, led by Older Sister. 
    Had their earnest prayers really brought the record-breaking storm? Should they try it once again? Probably not. For failure might lead to disillusionment; and success might drop a ton of snow, adult responsibility and problems they weren't ready for.
    Like her siblings, Older Sister is more than half a century older now. But she can still recall the magic of that snow-swept holiday when she was ten years old.  And she still is saddled with the family nickname settled permanently upon her by her adoring younger siblings: 
    She is still the Weather Witch!


MORE ON THE STORM...
Unparalleled for snowfall and duration, the storm pounded the entire state. Winds blew down wires and trees; roads and rails were blocked; schools, stores, industries, banks and public buildings shut down; fuel supplies dwindled; nothing moved for 5 days. 
    Throughout the state, communities were isolated. Before the storm was over, Lake County had lost much of its nursery stock to the weight of the snow. The storm had not abated two days later when the Ohio State and Michigan football teams gathered in Columbus for what would thereafter be known as the Blizzard Bowl. More than 50,000 fervent fans watched from the bleachers (or tried to watch) as the teams fought raging winds, swirling snows and five-degree temperatures. Michigan won 9-3, with both teams gaining only 27 total yards, with no first downs, and 45 punts between the teams.
    The storm had begun on the 23rd, By the 28th, many major roads were open, but side-streets were still jammed, and schools remained closed. When temperatures soared to the 50's and 60's on December 2nd, clean-up was far from over; the world of Ohio was a sloppy mess.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

SNOW! IT MAKES ME THINK OF FROST!...

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep... "
"Whose woods these are, I think I know..."
"... (I) watch the woods fill up with snow."

Here is a poem I have loved since I first discovered it in 4th grade. I memorized it right away and kept it in my mind my whole life through, not only for its beauty, but for the message it carries... as with so many of the poems of Robert Frost. 

With the poem, I share some photos from the here-and-now, taken in a portion of my own wooded property.  

         --Rose Moore, still a fan of the poet Robert Frost

 
              
STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING
BY ROBERT FROST
  
Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound's the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

REMEMBERING THE DAYS WHEN RADIOS WERE WATCHED...

    This week's THROW-BACK THURSDAY topic arises from a remembered conversation of years ago, on the subject of "The Golden Days of Radio." 
    That conversation had begun in an area coffee shop, where an elderly woman at a table nearby noticed the orthopedic collar I was wearing for a sprained neck. Leaning over amiably toward me, she asked, "Honey, is that thing going to do you any good?" 
    I laughingly replied, "Well, it keeps my head from falling off," and she responded with a story. 
"You may not be old enough to remember the years before television," she said. "In those days families gathered around the radio and actually seemed to WATCH it while they listened to it... 
    "Anyway, one night we kids were home alone, and there was a scary story on the radio about a girl who always wore a ribbon around her neck; she never took it off. I still remember how the story ended. When that girl got married, her handsome husband insisted she take the ribbon off. And when she did... her HEAD fell off!" 
    That drew a hearty laugh from both of us, but she reminded me that was an eerie program for the children of those more genteel times. "Our parents surely would have disapproved if they'd known we were listening to such a story," she admitted. "But they were away from home for a bit, and so we listened to it anyway. After the show was over, we were so scared, we could hardly wait for them to get back home." 
    I enjoyed this woman's detailed description of the fancy carved-wood floor model radio she "watched." It was as big as the floor-model TV consoles that would come along in later years, she said. 
    I CONFESSED TO HER that I was more than old enough to recall the days before TV. I and my own siblings would sit in a circle like cowboys around a campfire, "watching" a small radio Dad and Mom had placed high up on a shelf in the kitchen, so only they could reach the dials---thereby giving them control of any subject matter that might reach our tender ears. 
    Still, we raised our faces high and gazed into that story machine as raptly as we'd later look into the television screen. And like this woman, my siblings and I also had our round at foiling parental programming efforts. 
    One program we kids all wanted to hear was Gangbusters, strictly forbidden for us because of its violent gangster story lines. When Mom and Dad stayed late one evening during a visit across town to our grandmother, we commandeered a ladder from the garage and climbed to the shelf to turn the radio to---you guessed it---Gangbusters! 
    We were immediately drawn in by the dark tones leading to the story, but by the time it was over, we were terrified and our house seemed to have acquired some suspicious sounds we hadn't noticed before. I don't think any of us kids slept easily that night, but we had learned a lesson. We couldn't go to Mom and Dad for comfort in our fears, for they surely would have learned what we had done behind their backs. 
    ON SCHOOL-DAY MORNINGS, we kids would wake up to the songs of Happy Hank; that program's motive was to get us moving and in good spirits before we went to school. Then we'd hurried home from school to catch our favorite radio adventures with Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet and others. We memorized the lead-ins and could sing all the advertising jingles. 
    Mom, like many housewives, often tuned in on the 15-minute afternoon soap operas (Ma Perkins, Portia Faces Life and Stella Dallas) so-called because they were always sponsored by soap companies. 
    And our entire family laughed together with the comedies---Amos 'n' Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Baby Snooks, Life of Riley, Jack Benny, Red Skelton.... We also sang and tapped our feet with radio's big-band, pop and country music concerts... 
    There were dramas for all ages, and one of my favorites was an evening program for the entire family---"Dr. Christian, where the audience writes the script." I actually sent that show a script when I was 8 or 9 years old. The manuscript---in childish scrawl filled with marks from my eraser---was rejected, but the rejection letter was kind and filled with encouragement and good advice. 
    Without the images that television would later paint so graphically for us, we radio-watchers were limited only by our own imaginations. The characters formed in our minds were always handsome, beautiful, larger than life, and we were often disappointed when we saw a photograph of any of the actors; they seemed so ordinary! 
    THESE WERE THE days of no TV, no 24-hour news, no weather channels or cell phones and no internet; when the commercials were fewer and shorter and usually singable; when you heard the news succinctly and periodically; when bulletins broke in only when necessary; when the big news stories weren't beat to death over and over through the following hours, days, weeks, months... 
    Many of today's growing cult of old-time radio buffs don't seem old enough to have such interest in what they refer to as the Golden Age of Radio---an era many of them could not possibly have witnessed. Their own nostalgic movement encompasses an era from 1929 to, perhaps, the early 1960s. I came along in 1940 and remember that "Golden Age" as vividly as I recall the exciting days of early television. 
    When TV did arrive, it was generally accepted that it would spell the end of radio, but radio changed gears and the world kept room for both. Radio switched from story machine to music machine. That made it a favored accessory for our automobiles, though for some time it was a luxury too expensive. 
    Radio is still evolving. It still soothes or energizes us with music of every genre. It gives us drive-time talk which we can respond to with our cell phones... It talks sports... Through satellite radio, it also spews out smut... 
    But these days, at least for me, it's mostly a music machine that wakes us every morning with a bit of news and weather, laced with genial conversation while we linger over coffee. 
    It provides good company for our dog when he's in the house alone; he likes the sound of music and the human voice. 
     I hope radio will also be around forever. And I think my dog does too.
The days when families WATCHED the radio together!

Monday, November 10, 2014

TOM SWOPE HAS GIVEN VOICE TO AGING VETERANS...


By Rose Moore, columnist, 
Excerpt from Gazette Newspapers Ohio
Veterans Day 2014

I extend my Veterans Day salute this year to a civilian, Tom Swope of Mentor, OH who has given a voice to the aging veterans of World War II. These veterans are passing away in great numbers, and Swope has not stopped his unique and earnest efforts on their behalf.

Swope seemed to realize that, for whatever reasons, veterans of that era had difficulty sharing their war experiences with family and succeeding generations. It was important to Swope that their stories not be lost. And so, when the Library of Congress World War II Veterans History Project was initiated, Swope began to dedicate himself to seeking out and recording the veterans' memories for the Library of Congress project. In recording and submitting nearly 500 veterans stories, Swope has devoted so much time and energy that he was invited as a special interviewer and honored guest of the Smithsonian when the Veterans World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.

A radio man who felt the veterans' stories should be shared with the public, he also began producing and narrating a weekly series---LEGACIES: Stories from the Second World War, which has marked its 10th anniversary on WINT-AM 1330 (formerly WELW, Willoughby). The program airs on radio at 9:30 Sunday mornings, and on Internet at www.radiooncemore.com on Sunday nights at 6:30. The series has earned two Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards and was named Best Weekly Radio Show in Northeast Ohio at the March of Dimes A.I.R. Awards.

Requests from veterans and their families also prompted Swope to compile and edit some of the veterans' stories into a book which bears the same name as the radio series. (The Legacies book is available at Amazon.com or from Swope direct at 440-255-7410).

U.S. Army WW II Veteran,
Clarence "Mike" Swope
SWOPE'S WORK ON behalf of veterans was inspired by his father, World War II veteran Clarence "Mike" Swope. "My dad kept a diary during the war," Swope recalls. "Soldiers were ordered not to keep diaries. The concern was that sensitive information might fall into hands of the enemy, but many ignored the order. My father had his diary with him, a little red memo book, when he was captured. He hid it during his time as a prisoner of war and dared not write in it. On his way home, he began writing again; as much as he could remember about his time as a POW. More than 30 years later, he added more details and then finished it."

After encouraging his father to record and submit his memories to the WWII Veterans History Project, Swope learned that many veterans needed help in preparing and submitting their memories for the project. He began travelling throughout the area providing that help on a volunteer basis, and his wife Noreen and son Mike were supportive in these efforts.

The book and program that coincidentally resulted do not comprise a history or documentary. "Instead, they capture the unique moments remembered by individual soldiers," Swope explains. "War is more than facts and figures. Ask the veterans about their experiences and they will tell stories of friendship, fear, sadness, hope ... Maybe they remember a brush with death or a moment of faith ... Or maybe the day the latrine blew up and all they could do was laugh! Such stories are rarely found in official accounts."

THE VETERANS HAVE shared such memories as: The humanity of civilians during the Bataan Death March when Filipinos risked and sometimes lost their lives trying to help American prisoners ... A laid-back teenager's instant maturity at Pearl Harbor ... Bodies stacked at Iwo Jima beach to make way for military vehicles ... An Army bride enduring terror in Luftwaft bombings, then walking the next day with her children among spring flowers ...

They have spoken of the pain of such things as: Military buddies looking out for each other and then losing each other ... Pilots on D-Day looking down at the destruction of "those kids on the beach; the same age as we were"... Medics recalling with equal clarity that they could save some people, yet do nothing for others ... A young Army nurse noticing the awful but "actually beautiful" tracer patterns of enemy aircraft at night ... An officer and PFC in a foxhole, missing death by inches and realizing rank had disappeared between them for that moment when "we were just two men with the fear of death between us" ...
 
Swope has shared the words of a variety of veterans, including: The college freshman who was first refused by the military because he was almost blind without his glasses, and later quickly accepted when the need was great ... The battle-hardened marine coming home after war and gratefully finding the aging dog of his pre-war boyhood was incredibly happy to see him again ... Tom Swope's own father, so physically destroyed after escaping captivity and finding his way back to American troops that it was only the unexpected and respectful salute from a high officer that could bring him back to feeling human (That officer was General Dwight D. Eisenhower) ...
 
The stories remind us that war is fought by human beings. In helping them to share their words with future generations, for inspiration and reflection, Swope underscores our debt to these people who served us well in such a bitter time. And he has solidly set their efforts into history.

AND SO, on behalf of U.S. veterans of every war, I salute Tom Swope and people like him, on this Veterans Day 2014.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

SYCAMORES: NOVEMBER NIGHT...


A stoic honor guard of ghostly sycamores
stands gleaming in the dark November night
in silent, curving rows along the water course.


Their bleached arms rising upward to the sky,
they remain unmoved by bitter winds or
cold that rises from the waters at their feet.

They stand impassive as the guards at Buckingham,
listening but not judging as the moving water
sings its plaintive, painful song of pending winter.

---Rose Moore, from "Valley Songs"
    Nov. 1992

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WHAT TO DO ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY

FROM ROSE:
Beautiful day, mostly. I used it for cleaning up what I pray are the last of the fallen leaves, and for doing what I also pray will be the last mowing of the year. The Lord must be shaking His head over my perpetual praying for things that would save me work!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

THE CHORES OF NOVEMBER...

SAYETH MY BIG DOG MICK: "On a beautiful day like today, I don't understand my mama's priorities. When did the leaves become more important than playing?"

Sunday, October 26, 2014

LEFT BEHIND: THE SMELL OF BURNING LEAVES

In the darkness of this autumn night,
as fallen leaves are whispering underfoot,
nostalgia puts a ticklish hand upon my throat,
calling forth a scent that smoulders only
in my memories of youth.

In this autumn of my life,
when eco-laws forbid that precious incense
of the waning of the year,
leafsmoke is foiled before it comes to be;
the golden, dusty piles of leaves are wrapped
in bags and carted off or put in compost piles,
and our world is said to be improved
by our well-intentioned eco-clarity.

The children of today have never known
that tangy autumn fragrance; and yet
on autumn nights I sometimes think
I catch the fine aroma of that smoky perfume
and sense its gentle mist upon the fields.

It might be contraband;
a little fire someone sneaked into the darkness.
Or it might be wishful thinking.

1993... by Rose Moore, the Last ROSE of Summer, from her country journals "Valley Songs"




Friday, October 24, 2014

A SPECIAL TREE AMONG THE COLORS...


2011 photo of my autumn Christmas tree
    In 2009, beavers took a lot of trees from our back property, and I openly worried about a little sapling that had held its golden leaves past autumn every year, far beyond the other trees. 
     Its leaves were curved and balanced in such a way it looked (to me, anyway) like a golden Christmas tree.   One afternoon in late October 2010, I looked out the window and saw Bob installing a protective fence around that sapling, to protect it from the varmints. He had responded to my open worry about that baby tree.
    In October 2011, as dusk was settling in, I took a photo of that little sapling (left foreground of the photo), for it had grown a lot since the previous October---thanks to my husband, who knew his effort to protect the tree impressed me! Better than diamonds and candlelight!
     And now I share a brand new photo of that tree, taken just after sunset on this evening of October 2014. The tree is thriving, growing tall and lovely; taller every year.
    I still see it as my autumn Christmas tree. Every year its brightly tinted leaves still cling beyond the winter holiday. It still impresses me.
    So does my husband, whose down-to-earth, romantic efforts saved that tree. 
AUTUMN CHRISTMAS TREE 20


Thursday, October 23, 2014

WHEN I SAID GOODBYE TO THE OLD PAINESVILLE HOSPITAL...

(Published Gazette Newspapers Ohio, Rose Around Town, Dec. 2009)
 
 
 
Old Postcard Photo, Lake County Memorial Hospital, Painesville
 
 
   DEMOLITION OF THE  Lake East Hospital in the city of Painesville is underway. Painesville residents have told me they find the demolition a sad process to watch, and that's not surprising. A hospital is part of a community's personal history, after all, and the old Lake East building is likewise a part of mine.
   During my childhood in the 1940s, the hospital was commonly referred to as the "Painesville Hospital." My brothers and sisters and I were ushered into the world at that venerable institution, as would later be my own three sons, and two of my granddaughters.
   My earliest recollection of the old hospital would have to be the year my father went there for major surgery. Operations weren't taken lightly in those days, and hospital stays were long. We kids were scared; our dad had been there far too long. Childrens' visits weren't allowed, and since we couldn't see him, we imagined awful possibilities about Dad's "true" condition.
   In response to our distress, the nurses bent the rules and pre-arranged some "visits", bringing Dad to an open window in a lower hallway at the southeast corner of that then-much-smaller building, where Dad would be allowed to see and talk to his children on the ground below. That act of kindness on the part of the staff was a balm as powerful as medicine for us, and perhaps for Dad too, and as I near the age of 70, I have not forgotten it.
   As with any family growing up, things happened that required medical attention. When a little brother fell out of a tree and was seriously hurt, the nurses at the Painesville Hospital treated him quite tenderly during his long confinement there; and when he left, it was with great reluctance.            
   When another little brother later tore his hand while using Dad's old handsaw on a "secret project," I took him to a "new kind of place"--the hospital's newly-built emergency room!
   PRIMARY IN MY memories of that old hospital was the "Hospital Hill"--a green expanse of sloping land that rose upward from High Street, then swooped delightfully down toward Washington Street. It was a much favored sledding spot for Painesville youngsters. In winter snows, our rambunctious laughter surely drifted to the ears of patients and staff, yet no one from the hospital ever came to quiet us. It didn't seem the hospital's "QUIET ZONE" signs extended to the children romping on the hill outside. In fact, it seemed the staff might actually have decided the sound of children playing was a good thing for the patients. 
   Also on that property was a graceful, long-windowed Victorian-style home we knew as "The Nurses Residence." This building, demolished long before the hospital was demolished, was originally the home of a Dr. Stephen Mathews. It had been designed and built by premier Western Reserve architect Jonathan Goldsmith. Situated east of the open area of the hill on which we played, it had a wide veranda and was shaded by the best of Painesville's grand old shade trees. I loved the place!
   The hospital itself, as I recall it from the 1940s, was but a fraction of the size of the sprawling complex that occupied the land in its last years, and the entrance was a mere car-length or two from Liberty Street. Lawns extended from both sides, softening the hard edges of the old building's exterior. The City Health Department occupied a portion of the front of the structure, as did the morgue.
   In those years, we could greet the nurses as neighbors, for most were local women. (There were no male nurses in those days). In their uniforms they seemed to walk more briskly---straighter and taller---than in their "ordinary lives." Clad in white from head to toe, they wore crisply starched dresses and caps, and the white stockings and spotless white shoes that were also a trademark of their profession.
   For years, there was no emergency room, and no ambulances as we know them today. Local funeral directors transported victims for treatment, or families and neighbors simply put the sick or injured into a car and brought them in. For emergencies requiring transport, we dialed 0 for Operator, and all these phone operators were trained in the handling of distress calls of all sorts.
   The modern concept of the post-surgical recovery room had not yet evolved. Its substitute was the devoted attention of a bedside nurse, who would sit through the night to keep an eye on the patient. That sort of hospital may sound primitive today, but in the context of the times it served us well and had a worthy history in our community.
   THE SMALLER ORIGINAL hospital--the first in the county--had opened at the Painesville location July 8, 1904. It was housed in the old Reynolds house on High Street, several houses back from Liberty Street. Impetus for that simple, early hospital had begun with the New Connecticut Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was picked up and continued by the women of Lake County.
   The first floor consisted of the matron's apartment, a kitchen, a large room converted to a ward, a bathroom, a porch, and a room which became a ward at a later date. The second floor would later consist of wards provided and furnished by local organizations.
   A nursing school opened at the hospital two years after its opening, with two students; Mrs. C.F. Wyman was superintendent. Requirements for young women who applied were basic, including "at least one year of high school credits... good health and good disposition."
   The students trained for two-and-a-half years at Painesville, with a last half-year at Cleveland City Hospital. When money problems of the Great Depression later forced the closing of the nursing school, its students were transferred to Metropolitan General Hospital in Cleveland. 
   In 1924, a quarter-million-dollar expansion to the original hospital resulted in the building I recall from childhood---the old Reynolds house having been incorporated into the larger building, for administrative offices.
   IN THE 1950s, the hospital began a long, steady period of change and growth that corresponded with the county's growing population and changing needs, and the new technologies. A big expansion project at Painesville in 1959 was coordinated with the opening in 1961 of an even larger second hospital in Willoughby. The west-end construction was financed by federal funds and a $3.5 million bond issue.
   When the Loblaw Supermarket was built on Washington Street east of the Painesville hospital, medical offices were included in the upper level. Close location to the hospital proved convenient for local doctors. 
   After the supermarket closed, the Loblaw Building was acquired by the hospital, which continued to rent the facility to physicians.
   In its most recent years, the hospital complex covered the entire block encompassed by Liberty/Washington/St. Clair and High Streets--excepting a small private medical office on the southeast corner; in addition, parcels were purchased one at a time on the other side of High Street and on South and St. Clair Streets.
   By that time, the sledding hill was long gone, and the surrounding area bore no resemblance to the hospital neighborhood I remembered from the 1940s.
   IRONICALLY, MY HUSBAND and I were among the last people in the Lake East emergency room on the evening it closed and transferred its patients and services to Concord. So close were we to the closure and start of the actual move, the staff told me and my husband we might be included in the lock-down and transfer to the new TriPoint Medical Center's emergency room. That didn't happen; we were released within minutes of lock-down.
   But that evening I did wander through the stripped and empty halls of our "old Painesville hospital," and I felt as if I were walking through the streets of a suddenly deserted city. It was sad and unsettling.
Old photo of nurses residence (left) and original hospital.


AFTER-NOTE: The old hospital was demolished in 2009, the same year my old high school in that city was demolished. The replacements for both buildings have been stellar, but that does not erase the nostalgia for two old buildings that served our people well for generations.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

PHOTOS AND A THOUGHT FOR THIS OCTOBER DAY......


"

"For all its faults, I love October.
Its glories more than make up for its faults." ~ Rose Moore

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WATCHING THE LUNAR ECLIPSE... 10-08-2014

Photo courtesy of Space.com


When my big dog Mick woke me up just after 6 a.m., I shut him in and felt my way across the living room to the big bank of floor-to-ceiling west windows, and Yes! The sky was clear, and that was not expected. I could watch the moon as it was being slowly swallowed by the sun. What must the native Americans of our early days have thought of this!

And the moon, positioned as it was, was in the perfect spot for me. It was mirrored in my creek, and so I had a double vision of the spectacle. I could lie in comfort on the long seat at the windows, to watch the full moon slowly turn into a crescent.

The most unexpected side effect outdid the moon. As the bright full moon became a sliver of itself, the sky grew ever inkier, and the stars grew ever brighter, and much larger. It seemed to me that I could see so many stars I hadn't seen before, and some of them seemed larger than my eyes.

Toward the point where no moon at all would still be visible, the star effect was growing by the second, as though I myself was being lifted up among them.

True, by the time the moon was reappearing in all its glowing glory, it was sliding down behind the treetops. No matter; the stars were putting on their show for me until a bawling dog began to call.

Time for our morning walk. Mick and me and the morning star. And the morning star may be feeling neglected today.

Friday, September 26, 2014

THE JOYS OF RISING EARLY...



Starry, starry night,
Mother Nature's candlelight,
Morning sky still dark as night...
 


 
That's what I'm singing.

That's my bonus for my big dog Mick getting me up before six this morning.

I say good morning to you with a smile and a great appreciation.

When daylight finally lights the sky, I know the day will be sun-tacular.

And Mama Dog Walker will enjoy that too!


NASA Hubble Site photograph  
 

 
 


 
 
 

 

 

 
 

 


 
 
 
 
 


Monday, September 22, 2014

WELCOME, AUTUMN!....

Autumn cold, autumn gold, 
make this oldie feel bold!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

IS IT REALLY SEPTEMBER?...

   
    Good morning. It's Wednesday, the 17th day of September.
    The dawn is misty and quiet and cold for me and my slow-walking dog; entirely TOO cold for a dog with short hair.
    From a damp-leafed tree in the woods, one lonely bird sings a song about misery, and we understand how that poor creature feels.
    The white moon is pinned overhead, like a crescent of ice.
    Our breath adds its steam to the dampness of dawn.
    One more chilly morning in a long string of days that have been more like October...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

REMEMBERING THE EVENTS OF 9-11

This drawing was given to me a few days after 9-11 by a very young granddaughter as "a patriotic drawing in a sad time." I was impressed that a girl her age was so aware of what had happened and what it meant to us. The drawing still hangs in my home.

REMEMBERING THE EVENTS OF 9-11, 200l
Published on the 10th anniversary of the catastrophe
Written by columnist Rose Moore, Gazette Newspapers

    In 2001, on the morning of the 11th day of September, it was all blue skies and mellow sunshine. So beautiful was the morning that Bob and I hadn't bothered to get dressed. Instead, after celebrating our wedding anniversary the day before, we lingered long and lazy over coffee, enjoying  national news with Diane Sawyer.
    The program ended, then we realized it HADN'T ended. We were seeing a live shot of a passenger jet impaled in one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. We watched in horror as a second plane hit the second tower; America was under attack!
    It didn't end with New York City; Washington was next. We sat like statues watching the developments. Soon we noticed one of the Twin Towers appeared to be leaning. That couldn't be, my husband said, and I agreed; it had to be illusion due to camera angle. But the great tower actually DID come down upon itself, and through national television we watched it happen! And then the second tower...
    At some point as we watched TV at home, we were startled by the too-loud, too low, too-close sound of a large airliner over our valley; we could feel the rumble! As the sound faded into the distance, we put it out of our minds. In later weeks and months, as details emerged about another hijacked plane that had flown into our northern Ohio skies, we became convinced the plane we'd heard was Flight 93, heading toward D.C.with the heroic passengers who had heard of the attacks through cell phone calls and decided they would re-claim the plane or bring it down! In saving other lives, they lost their own when the plane crashed at Shanksville, PA.
    For a period of time after the attacks, there would be no passenger planes in our skies. Before their absence we could not have realized how much we'd miss them. The first time I would see a commercial jet overhead again was at a rural festival. An old man whipped off his hat and waved it skyward, shouting, "Look!" We crowds of people stood together, smiling upward as we watched that shiny plane traverse the sky. When and why and how had that simple every-day sight become so unique and precious to us?
    Life changed in stages after 9-11. No longer would we stroll into the airport with friends or family as they awaited passenger-loading. No longer would we linger at windows to wave goodbye as the plane departed. No longer would we board a plane without the growing factors of ever newer rules and humiliations; eventually we'd feel less like passengers and more like perpetrators undergoing police frisking...
    THROUH THE EVENTS of that week,I learned new things about the U.S. Coast Guard. No longer would I visualize them mainly as a friendly presence in Lake Erie's pleasure waters. They are, and always had been, so much more; they are a military force.
    After the attacks, a U.S. Coast Guardsman who had graduated from our local Riverside High School was ordered to the New York harbor to lead up post-attack operations at the waterfront. He was Commander Gary Smialek, son of our friends and well-known former local educators Elaine and Norbert Smialek of Painesville Township.
    Just a month before,the  Smialek family had been standing happily on the sunny deck of a Coast Guard cutter at home port in New Bedford, Massachusetts, witnessing the formal Change of Command ceremony that placed the cutter Tahoma into Smialek's capable hands.
    "It was a proud and happy moment," his parents later told me. "Who could have known that, one month later, our son would be in such a troubled place, anchored just off shore from Ground Zero, between the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan?" 
    When the first attacks had struck the Twin Towers, U. S. Coast Guard forces were immediately mobilized. Coast Guard cutters were dispersed to major ports and waterways along the northeast seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. For Commander Gary Smialek and his crew, the call came in as the Tahoma was arriving at Newport, Rhode Island after routine patrol.
    THE TAHOMA CHANGED course, arriving at New York after midnight. The famous, perpetually lit city skyline lay in unaccustomed darkness, and daybreak soon revealed a landscape drastically changed from what it had been. "The smell of smoke from the terrorists' destructive act was readily discernible from 20 miles away," Smialek told me. "The waters and the air were devoid of the normal commercial and recreational traffic; nothing but boats involved in rescue were allowed into the harbor."
    Smialek assumed charge of all Coast Guard ships and boats in operation there. Security aboard the Tahoma was extraordinary for a Coast Guard vessel. With threat at the second highest level, an around-the-clock sentry walked the flight deck with an M-16 rifle; spotters with binoculars manned the bridge wings at the bow; and the Coast Guard began monitoring "everything waterborne" and tracking all boats operating in the harbor.
    The mission was to assist local officials with crisis response and to assure safety and security of the port and waterways. Much of the response was coordinated within 24 hours. The Coast Guard coordinated evacuation of one million people from Lower Manhattan; assisted the lead emergency agencies with transport of medical and logistical personnel and supplies; and led the effort to secure the harbor. Within two weeks, with limited reopening of the harbor, Coast Guard security continued as "Operation Guarding Liberty."
    The Coast Guard contribution at New York included law enforcement boardings and marine safety inspections of commercial vessels. It provided support to FEMA, the Department of Defense and other federal, state and local agencies. The crews washed down rescue workers departing Ground Zero and assisted EPA policies in ensuring that the financial district buildings were safe to re-enter. They conducted air-monitoring sampling near the World Trade Center and cleared numerous buildings to allow essential employees to re-enter and start business...
    If the public had a common notion that Coast Guardsmen were people who helped people whose boats had run out of gas, the work at New York was dramatic proof that the Coast Guard serves a significantly larger role, defending our shores and sometimes serving in harm's way.
    THROUGH THE WEEK of 9-11, my column shared some important Coast Guard history with our readers. Sometimes called the fifth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, this smallest of U.S. military forces is the nation's oldest sea-going service. Established in 1790, it is the only military force working on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, on such designated missions as search and rescue; military readiness; environmental protection; marine science; boating and port safety; merchant marine safety; aids to navigation and law enforcement.
    In war, it becomes a specialized segment of the U.S. Navy, with equal status and responsibility. Commanded by a four-star general, the Coast Guard stands ready at all times to do its part in protecting this country. In regular but little-publicized exercises, it joins in anti-submarine maneuvers and convoy practice. In times preceding 9-11, it was involved in enforcing the UN embargo against Iraq and had roles in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. (After 9-11, the highly decorated Smialek was promoted to Captain, serving as Commanding Officer of U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces in Southwest Asia, and Commander of Task Force 55.6 in Bahrain).
    IN THE WEEK of 9-11, I spoke with yet another Riverside graduate, Dan Krapenc. Professionally known as Dan O'Shannon, he was an executive producer and writer for the sitcom Frasier. From his California home, he shared with me the grief and mourning of the Frasier staff at the loss of David Angell and his wife, who died aboard one of the Twin Tower planes. With Angel's loss, the staff had lost a great friend, a valuable colleague, and a source of inspiration...
     We all have somber memories connected to the events of 9-11. That day cast a permanent shadow on one of the favorite months of many people who, like myself, consider September to be a prime month of the year. September polishes off the summer and prepares us for our superb Ohio autumns. It ushers in the morning mists, the veiled sunny days, the mellow moonlit nights, the promise of the coming brilliant colors, and the beauty and aromas of the harvest... 
    Yet now it's also true, that on every anniversary of the great catastrophes of 9-11, America broods and looks with worry at the memory. Perhaps those dates should stir less fear and serve, instead, as a reminder of how united we Americans were in the days and months that followed the attacks. 
    WITHOUT CATASTROPHE, or even with it, could we ever be that way again?