A Story by Lea Sheryn
5th Grade Class
April 27, 1952
By Billy Harris
My hero is Edward “Butch” O’Hare.
The only son of Edward and Selma Ann O’Hare, Edward was born on March 13, 1914 in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother and father got a divorce in 1927. Butch lived with his mother and sisters in St. Louis but his father moved to Chicago.
Can you believe his father worked for Al Capone? Gee Willikers, Miss Flynn, can you imagine actually working for Scarface? Well, Butch’s father did and he was a lawyer and everything. Mr. O’Hare was a good guy and, when he realized Capone was breaking the law by not paying his taxes, he helped the government put him away. I guess even bad things happen to good guys because Mr. O’Hare was shot dead in his car in November of 1939, right before Al Capone got out of jail.
Well, back to Butch O’Hare because he really is my hero and you asked the class to write a composition about a hero. So I have to write about him now.
At first, Butch went to Western Military Academy. When he graduated in 1932, he went on to the Naval Academy in Annapolis until 1937. Annapolis is in Maryland, in case you didn’t know, Miss Flynn. Next he went for flight training in Pensacola, Florida at NAS. NAS means Naval Air Station. He learned how to do aerobatics and gunnery. His training was completed on May 2, 1940.
Edward O’Hare married a wife in Phoenix, Arizona on September 6, 1941. Her name was Rita Wooster. Their honeymoon was in Hawaii but it was cut short when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Butch was called to duty.
On February 20th, 1942, Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare became the Navy’s first Flying Ace. He single-handedly shot down several enemy bombers with limited ammunition. He was the first Naval recipient of the Medal of Honor. That made him a genuine War Hero. There was a reception at the White House for him (President Franklin Roosevelt was there and everything) and a parade in his hometown of St. Louis AND he got to go on a War Bond tour around the country. People loved him because he was a young, handsome and a hero.
Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare flew in many successful missions until, on November 26, 1943, he gave his life while fighting for our country. The Japanese shot down his Grumman F6F Hellcat over the Pacific. His body was never found. He died a World War II hero. One year later, his widow, Rita O’Hare, accepted a Purple Heart and Navy Cross in his honor.
Other awards were presented later on. The Navy named in his honor, “USS O’Hare”, a Gearing-class Destroyer in January of 1945. Most memorable of all, in Chicago, the Orchard Depot Airport was renamed O’Hare.
And do you know what, Miss Flynn? As soon as I’m old enough, I’m going to join the Navy and become a pilot just like Butch O’Hare.
Auld Lang Syne
Auld Lang Syne
A Story by Lea Sheryn
Soldier marries Sweetheart in Gretna Green
Midnight strikes on the old hall clock. Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong…twelve times the bong resounds. On the Philco radio, the first bars of that same old tune begin the same old song.
”Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?”
Yes, the year has turned from the old to the new once again. One year out and one year in, Jessica thinks as she carries her flute of champagne onto the balcony. Suddenly she wants to be alone. From the open French doors behind her, the sound of party horns and voices blend into one steady noise. Sighing, she turns to lean against the wrought iron banister and shivers in the icy winter air. She hasn’t thought to bring her wrap outside with her. It is too cold to stand about in the early January morning but this is not the only reason that causes her blood freeze.
Jeremy heard the call to duty. Proudly donning the uniform of the United States Army, he went off the fight the war in Europe. At first his letters arrived on a weekly basis. Jessica grabbed them from the hall table to eagerly carry them to her room for private reading. The other gals, who shared the rented Brownstone, liked to compare their letters by reading them out loud in a group but Jeremy wrote flowing words of love that she didn’t want to share. She cherished the paper, the envelopes and even his crabby, crunched up handwriting.
As soon as the opportunity arose, Jessica managed to pick up a nursing assignment in England. With great luck, she was able to meet up with Jeremy and, with even more luck, was able to coordinate a week’s leave with him. They knew what they were going to do as soon as they were seated in the little roadster he was able to borrow from a friend. It was a secret.
Heading north from London, they rambled through Birmingham and Manchester to their destination of Gretna Green in Scotland. In the marriage capital of Great Britain, Jessica Haversford became Mrs. Jeremy Martell. How they rejoiced in their clandestine nuptials. Never would they forget their first night together at the inn or their first meal in the pub across the way.
In the snug little tavern, a bearded giant of a man wearing a plaid kilt recited Robert Burns’ famous poem in a broad Scottish accent. The brogue was so thick, it was difficult for their American ears to understand but they both loved the quaintness of words spoken in a native tongue.
Jeremy was quick to pick up the accent in imitation; Jessica couldn’t get her tongue around it…but she did her best. Auld Lang Syne became the catch phrase of their honeymoon. With a twinkle in his blue-gray eyes, her new husband would suddenly say the words in the broadest brogue he could muster. She couldn’t help but fall into peals of giggles every time he did it. Surely they weren’t mocking the Scotsman who recited the poem; he delighted them.
Wandering through the Lake District, the return to London was a slow, leisurely one. Each of them wanted to make the most of the short time they had left together. Jeremy had to leave for France with his regiment upon their return. Jessica had to face the influx of wounded soldiers returning from the front. War duties were going to separate the newlywed pair.
Yes, Jessica mused as she leaned against the balcony on that cold first day of the year, Jeremy’s letters arrived with frequency at the beginning. Seeing his handwriting on the white envelopes the postman delivered caused her heartbeat to flutter with joy. Alas, the letters that used to show up daily dwindled to one a week, one every two weeks, one a month and stopped. Had he suddenly realized he’d made a mistake by marrying her or was there something much worse the matter? Tearfully she began to fear every knock at the door. Each day a letter or a knock didn’t come was another day of anxiety to be faced.
To the relief of all, WWII came to an end. Jessica remained in England long enough to see her duties to the injured soldiers fulfilled. How many letters had she written to the young men’s parents, wives and girlfriends back home? She couldn’t count; she didn’t want to count. The only letter that really mattered to her was the one that never appeared. “Jeremy, where are you?” she desperately asked herself as she walked from the hospital to her lonely London flat. “Are you amongst the unidentified dead or are you still out there thinking of those days of “Auld Lang Syne”? Until news arrived, there was no answer, the lonely girl kept reminding herself.
Clinging to every hope, Jessica remained in England as long as she could. When the desperate hope for information became the desperate sense of loss, she finally realized it was time to go home to New York. The gals she had rented the Brownstone with had all reunited with their husbands and lovers so there was no one for her to bunk up with; she took a small efficiency apartment and lived alone. Her heart was no longer interested in nursing, she had seen enough of war wounds to last a lifetime, so she eventually took a job as a typist in a large law firm. The keys of her typewriter hitting the white letterhead she composed letters on seemed to chant “Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy” and “Auld Lang Syne” until she felt she could no longer bear to hold in her grief.
On New Year’s Eve, her boss insisted she join the party at his penthouse apartment. At first she politely declined. Having no reason to celebrate, Jessica longed to go home to flop on her bed and stare at the ceiling. All her longing was for Jeremy…and she very definitely didn’t want to hear “that song” at midnight. The memories, oh, the memories, would be too much for her lonely, breaking heart. But, when the rest of her co-workers joined their voices with the boss’s, she was persuaded to go.
And, now, here she was out on the balcony on a cold first day of the year. The celebration was winding down. One last hold out was still tooting away on a colorful party horn. Cone shape hats sat askew on heads feeling the first pangs of a hangover; confetti and balloons lay neglected on the floor; voices seem to come from a long, long way off. Jessica turns away from the opened French doors toward the wrought iron railing and accidentally let her champagne flute drop from her hand. It’s a long way down…but what life is there if Jeremy isn’t here to share it?
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?”
The song becomes the spoken word of the Scotchman from the pub across the way on the first night of the day Jessica Haversford became Mrs. Jeremy Martell. In her mind’s eye, she can see the bearded man in his plaid kilt as he recited Robert Burn’s poem in his thick brogue. The Scot’s accent is strong and pure and, yes, even a wee bit musical. It’s almost as though he is on the balcony behind her. But Jessica knows it is all in her mind.
Her mind reels with the acquaintance she will never forget to bring to mind as she places her palms on the banister’s railing. Again, the words are in her ear but this time it’s Jeremy’s imitation accent. “Has he come back to bring me to heaven?” Jessica’s last thought runs through her mind as she feels strong arms encircling her slim waist.
Jeremy’s face is buried deeply into her long golden hair as he whispers “Jessica” into her small ear. Slowly she turns to take his longed for face in her hands so she can gaze lovingly into his soft blue-gray eyes. They kiss and cling to each other in ecstasy. They don’t care how they got to where they are as long as they are together in love…forever.
*Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns (1788)
The Mighty Quinn
The Mighty Quinn
By Lea Sheryn
By every account, Quinn Madison was a typical All-American Girl. In her bedroom, a poster of Andy Gibb was taped on her closet door; a giant Holly Hobby doll sat comfortably on the seat of her white rocking chair. Along with her best girlfriends�“Helena, Samantha and Phoebe�“she had seen the movie GREASE more than twelve times. They all loved John Travolta and absolutely wanted to grow up to become Olivia Newton-John. It was the spring of 1979. Boys were expected to be boys; mother’s crossed their fingers hoping their girls still expected to be girls.
Twelve-year-old Quinn loved everything about her life. Although she was by every means an average child, the one thing she loved most of all was BASEBALL. Beneath her canopy bed was hidden a shoebox full of baseball cards. In the evenings, when she was supposed to be asleep, the box would come out of hiding. Sitting cross-legged with the pillow propped behind her and the comforter snuggly covering her lap, she memorized the stats on each and every card. Baseball was her passion; baseball was her life.
Early on a Saturday morning, Quinn woke up long before anyone else. Dressed in day-glo purple shorts with white piping around the legs and a matching t-shirt with a large white number 2 on the back, she rode her bike to the local schoolyard. Her bike was metallic red with a matching banana seat and red, white and blue streamers blowing happily from the ends of the handlebars. The white basket on the front was full of baseballs; her glove and ball cap rested on top.
Sure, she had played on the Girls’ Softball Team the year before but underhand pitching just wasn’t fast enough for Quinn. She wanted to feel the weight of a baseball in her hand; she wanted the thrill of the Fast Ball and the crack of the bat. Parking her bike next to the pitcher’s mound at the school’s ball field, she lifted her glove from the basket full of balls and inhaled the scent of freshly worked leather. Placing her cap on to her head, she was ready to go.
The ball in one hand, the glove fitting snugly on the other, Quinn assumed the position, raised both hands above her head, smoothly lowed them and released the ball. Too wide. Frowning, another ball was released. Too high. Again and again, a ball was released until the pitch was perfect.
Morning was slowly creeping toward noon as the girl became one with the ball and glove. By twos and by threes, little boys with baseball on their minds began to show up at the field on their own bikes. Many of them lined up outside the fence to stare at the strange sight that met them. Their minds screamed the same thought: GIRLS WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO PLAY BASEBALL!
“What’s going on?” Buford Brown wondered as he rode his bike toward the schoolyard. “Why weren’t the boys on the field tossing practice balls?” Standing on tiptoes, he craned to see what was going on as he balanced his own banana seat between his legs. What he saw nearly knocked him for a loop. Who was that girl who was pretending to be a pitcher?
Throwing his ride to the ground, fourteen-year-old Buford�“better known to his friends as Buster Brown�“stalked across the grassy field to confront the girl. As he drew closer, he recognized the honey brown ponytail sticking through the hole in the bottom center back of the purple ball cap perched on her head: Quinn Madison! One of the “Silly Sisters”, he thought to himself as he approached the mound. Well, he thought, he would just have to send her back to the quartet of Quinn, Helena, Samantha and Phoebe. There would be a clear understanding: BASEBALL WAS FOR BOYS!
Just as Quinn was about to let go of the ball, Buster Brown stepped in front of her. Grabbing her arm, he roughly forced her to drop it. “GO HOME!” he yelled directly into her face.
Without blinking, Quinn bent down, retrieved the ball and sent it flying in a direct line across Home Plate. Buster had no choice but to step aside. A second ball sailed past him; the third narrowly missed his nose. Now he was all attention: This Girl Could Pitch! Without another word, he pulled his worn out catcher’s mitt from his back pocket and strode toward Home Plate to assume the position.
Skeptically Quinn watched Buster Brown amble toward Home Plate. He was a big boy; not what one would consider fat or obese but rather what was referred to as hefty. As he squatted into position, she took in the pouch that hung over his belt and his thick thighs. Clearly, he wasn’t one of her favorite people but he was there and she wanted to play ball. As soon as he lowered his catcher mask and punched his fist into his mitt, she let loose. The ball hit the mitt with a thud.
The pitches came in high and low, left and right, and dead center. Quinn threw; Buster caught. It was a cat and mouse game to see who faltered first. Neighbor boys leaned against the outfield fence or stood spellbound with their bikes between their knees. They had never seen anything like it. Without warning, the cat and the mouse suddenly became a team.
When it finally came to picking teams, Quinn was Buster’s first pick. Thad Johnson, the other team captain, was disappointed at first but settled on Tommy McNeil as his pitcher. Back and forth, the scratch team was picked until each had a full squad. All the kids were accounted for; they all knew their positions from past Saturday games. The only newcomer was the girl.
The Game was On! By the time it was over, the fence line was full of spectators. In a small town word gets around fast. Men, women and children all heard there was a girl playing in the scratch game and rushed to see whom it was. Quinn’s mother, Jenny Madison was all for marching onto the field to march her daughter home but her father, Frank, held her back. Her elder brother, Marvin, was in awe at her skill; he always admired his little sister’s spunk.
It was a hard fought game�“both teams were nearly equal�“but Team Buster won the day, 6 to 4. From the mound, Quinn whipped her hat from her head and dropped it to the ground. Her long honey colored hair had lost it’s ponytail somewhere around the third inning so it hung free around her face. She was grinning from ear to ear. Laughing, shouting and waving their arms in glee, Helena, Samantha and Phoebe rushed the field. Their best friend was the hero of the day and, without hesitation, they wanted to be a part of it.
When Little League tryouts began, Buford Brown was the first to show up. He wasn’t surprised to see Quinn Madison show up as the second. Never, in the history of the town, had a girl arrived on tryout day. “So she’s going to play,” Buster thought to himself. He couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. This was one Silly Sister who wasn’t so silly in his opinion. He had realized a great respect for this skinny little girl.
Without much thought, the high honchos of the Little League world dismissed Quinn without given her a chance to prove her self. In their minds: GIRLS DIDN’T PLAY BASEBALL! The disappointment was evident in the girls face as she turned to walk away. Her shoulders sagged, her glove hung limply from her hand. She wanted to play! Damn boys and damn men who thought that girls couldn’t play baseball, she thought as she headed for her bike.
“Hey! Are you stupid?!” Buster Brown yelled out as he rushed the men who were the deciding factor on who could play and who couldn’t. Adamantly he advocated on Quinn’s part. She was the best damn pitcher he had ever played with, he exclaimed. Finally he shouted: “If Quinn doesn’t play, neither do I.” Throwing his catcher’s mitt down in a fit of rage, he stormed away.
Buster Brown was the Little League Star of his division and the Powers that Be knew it. They charged Buster and brought him back to reason with him. After a heated exchange, Quinn was brought back too and allowed to tryout. There was no question: she was on the team.
What a season! The bleachers were full at every game. Quinn was a star! Game after game was won by the combined efforts of Quinn and Buster. When she walked out onto the field, the home side spectators shouted out: “You’ll Not See Nothing Like the Mighty Quinn!” Somehow the girl knew it was her father, Frank, who had started the chant. Still, she loved and basked in every moment of it.
Sooner or later, every child outgrows Little League but they rarely outgrow baseball. Quinn was the same. Her Little League days behind her, she moved onto to the High School team. There was no problem with her joining the team. By this time, all the coaches knew: if Quinn didn’t play, Buster wouldn’t play either. They were, by this time, practically an unbeatable team. Baseball, Buster and Quinn were words that all went together in the minds of the townspeople; you couldn’t have one without the other.
Quinn grew into a beautiful, vivacious teenaged girl. Her hair grew longer and the honey color became richer. Buster lost his baby fat and became a tall, lean, muscular young man. No longer did he want to be referred to as “Buster Brown”; his name was Buford, therefore he wanted to be known as Bo. It seemed natural that the pitcher and the catcher should become a couple.
At the end of Bo’s Senior Year, he took Quinn to the prom. Much to the surprise of the couple, they were elected King and Queen of the Prom. Since Quinn was only a sophomore, rules had to be broken but no one wanted to split up the “Dream Team”. No one complained. On the stage, they were presented with their crowns and a glove and a mitt and a bat… Cheers resounded around the gymnasium.
Alas, the magic was over when high school was over for Quinn. Although she had been able to play baseball through her school days, no college would entertain a girl pitcher. Bo was able to continue to play; he was signed into the minor league at first but was soon in the Majors. Quinn had to content herself by being his #1 fan. Still, she wasn’t worried. The next year, she became Mrs. Bo Brown, All-American.
Wedding Day (Or The Curse of the ’Zilla)
By Lea Sheryn
I woke up with a sense of immense relief. Today is my wedding day. Sighing I threw my blankets aside and basked in the glorious sunshine beaming in from the window above me. I was waking up as Lena Pershing; I was going to my marriage bed tonight as Mrs. Major Roderick Cheltenham III. Oh wonderful morning; oh wondrous day!
Standing tall and proud at the altar of love everlasting, my groom stands resplendent in his uniform with his groomsmen beside him. How handsome he is when he smiles. My party advances toward him and take their places. Lastly I stand by his side, fully of joy in the long awaited moment. Rod smiles his strong and beautiful smile but I’m just in time to see the glimmer of a tear moisten his eye as we turn together to face the priest.
It had been one year since Rod and I announced our engagement to the family. Both of us had beamed with pleasure when we proclaimed our love for each other and our strong desire to become man and wife. Surely happiness had surrounded us. The future was ours to make as we wished and oh how we wished. All the cherished hopes and dreams were going to be ours…to have and to hold…for an entire lifetime. We were in love and that love shone from our faces, beamed from our eyes and proclaimed itself in the song of our hearts.
Who would have thought it would have taken solid year to untangle the muddled mess that announcement created. Truly we thought our plans would have been simple to accomplish. After all, Rod and I had put them together with such intricate care prior to making the family announcement. All we had to do was lay them out one step at a time. Nothing could have been easier. But nothing is ever that easy. There is always something lurking in the background to create difficulties.
Why do people have to cause awkward situations out of a thing of beauty? I wondered in reflection. We have all heard of Bridezillas but what about the family-zillas who think it’s their right to become over involved in the planning stages of a couple’s Big Day? There is always someone to create scandal, gossip and rumors that lead to heartache and misery. And, boy, did we have it in plenty!
Where did the rumor come from that said Rod and I weren’t going to have a big wedding? Weaving our plans in our minds, there were many exciting hours when we shared our dreams of the biggest event we were ever going to plan in our lives. All we had to do was put them in place. Simple, right? Well, not so fast…
While my mother was happily stitching together lovely white taffeta and lace for the one of a kind wedding dress of my dreams, the Family-zilla was fast at work, systematically countermanding every thought, every idea, every plan. No sooner had Rod and I made an accomplishment that brought us one step closer to the fulfillment of our hopes and desires than another rumor or piece of gossip took us another step back. As you probably know, lies are like thistledown, once they begin to spread, it’s impossible to call them back.
“It can’t continue,” I cried into Rod’s shoulder when the mixed up maze of frustration became too difficult to suppress. Action must be taken and taken fast otherwise all would be lost in confusion. “Why don’t we just runaway?” I begged out of desperation when all the roads were blocked. Surely if we were legally married by law, no one could hinder us from advancing our plan to stand at the altar. It had to work! My mind was working overtime to find a solution! Perhaps it would have worked but Rod received an assignment that placed him out of the country. All plans came to a sudden and abrupt halt.
Suddenly, out of the blue, the ’zilla noticed that Rod had yet put a ring on my finger. To be honest, his assignment had come up so fast the engagement diamond had been forgotten. He and I had a good long discussion about it with the conclusion that we should wait until his return to make a properly romantic presentation. Oh how much I wanted to be face to face with the man I loved when he slipped that beautiful ring on my finger; oh how much I longed to fling my arms around his neck and kiss him with a show of complete and total love. But no, that plan simply wasn’t good enough. My darling’s ear was captured by conflicting information that convinced him I had to have the ring immediately. So it came in the mail…
That’s when the crying started. I couldn’t help it; it was too much. The ring in the FedEx box was the beginning of the end. What was supposed to be the start of a beautiful life was reduced to a game of push me/pull you with Rod stuck in the middle. It was impossible. Every plan had to be placed on hold until a firm grip was taken to end the horror that had ended our happiness.
The months were ticking by with no wedding day in sight. All of a sudden the solution struck me. The only thing to do was to stop communicating the wedding plans with the person who was spreading the misinformation and rearranging all the plans. It was the only possible way to solve the complicated situation. With Rod still away on assignment, I quickly dashed off a message explaining everything in detail. It had to work!! After all desperate times called for desperate measures!
Silently the plans we had so carefully set out at the beginning of our engagement were set into place. It was a relief to finally have to ability to get things done without interference and without worry. Work, work, work, that’s all I did for six months. My sole focus was to make sure everything was done correctly for Rod. Poor man, he had been through so much�“he deserved a relief from all the confusion. He was not to worry about a thing; I had it all under control.
But…it wasn’t to be. While I had a clear path, Rod was beset with a continuation of the rumors and misinformation. He hadn’t realized the solution. He had reached the end of his rope. Upon his return, he called the whole thing off! For him, it was impossible.
Diligence and hard work pay off in the end. It took a miracle but today is my wedding day. The gown that spent so many long months wrapped in plastic in the closet flows evenly from my shoulders to the tips of my toes. My mother’s veil�“my “something old”�“softly covers my face. My slightly trembling hands hold a cascade of daffodils and white ribbons. The six bridesmaids lined up ahead of me are dressed in yellow with bouquets of white roses. And the church is awash in bright ribbons tied in bows at the end of each pew�“all yellow.
With our faces awash with tears, we finally come face to face in front of the priest. It seems to take an eternity for Rod to lift the veil. He is in my arms and I am in his as we embrace and kiss for the first time as a married couple. Clinging to him as though I would never let go, my voice whispers in his ear: “Around her neck, she wore a yellow ribbon…” It was my surprise for him. That old song was a special one that only he and I understood. It was the reason the church was awash in bright, happy, cheery yellow. Dear Rod, he had no idea I was going to do it!!
No one knew why our faces were tear streaked as we turned to rush outdoors where the arch of swords awaited us. Only the two of us understood the completeness of our joy and the relief we felt once it was all over. The ’zilla was vanquished; we were finally face to face with our own private happily ever after.
By Lea Sheryn
Anna sat at the edge of her bed. The tablet beside her left a black unforgiving square on her pretty pink floral comforter. Slowly she lowered her head as a silent tear slipped from her eye to leave a splash mark on the front of her favorite purple tee shirt; the one with the unicorn on the front. Her long brown hair hung over her face like a blanket to hide her misery from the world.
Sheila said Anna could talk to mommy any time she wanted to. It was Sheila who had shown her how to use Skype to call mommy. The little girl was allowed to go into her room and close the door so she could talk privately. At six years old, it was a big deal to be able to talk privately with someone. Anna was proud to be able to do something grown-ups did all the time. She couldn’t wait to call mommy.
The first time she called was early in the morning. Mommy was just leaving for work and couldn’t talk. Mommy worked for an advertising agency; it was a very important job. Anna tried again at lunchtime but mommy was going out to dine with her boss. An hour after work, another call was attempted. This time mommy had a date with Jason. (Anna didn’t like Jason!)
It was after eleven o’clock when the last call was made. Daddy said it would be okay if Anna stayed up late because she was really anxious to talk to mommy. Mommy was already in bed. Angry, the woman the little girl loved and trusted most in the world berated her for calling so late. In the background, Jason’s voice barked out a stream of very bad words. It made Anna upset.
Ugly and black, the screen of the tablet menaced Anna from its place on the bed. It was as though mommy and Jason were somewhere inside waiting to yell at her some more. The six-year-old child shook uncontrollably as she covered her face and allowed her tears to flow.
Mommy and Daddy were divorced. Daddy married Sheila two weeks after the judge had signed the final paperwork. Daddy’s real name was Brandt. When he was a young man, he was in love with Sheila and wanted to marry her. Something went wrong and he married mommy instead. Her real name was Julie. It wasn’t long before they realized the marriage had been a big mistake. Still, they tried to make it work and, when it didn’t, they decided a child would make things better. Anna was born and the situation became worse. No one was happy.
One day, when Brandt was away on an out-of-town business trip, he ran into Sheila quite by accident. On the spur of the moment, he invited her out for dinner. Once they became reacquainted, the whole world opened up for both of them. The old love they had lost so long ago was back. From that point on, everything happened in a whirl. The divorce and the remarriage were quick to follow. Brandt was finally happy for the first time in forever and Sheila was ecstatic with joy. Julie, on the other hand, was angry.
Anna lived with mommy from September to June so she could continue to go to her old school. For six weeks in the summer, she went to live with daddy and Sheila. When it was time for her to take the long flight from New York City to Florida, her father came to pick her up. He didn’t want her to travel so far�“alone�“for the first time. At first she was nervous about meeting daddy’s new wife then she was determined not to like her. When she found out Sheila wrote children’s books, Anna changed her mind. Sheila was a lot of fun.
At home with mommy, Anna had a nanny named Consuela. She was young and pretty but she was also the fourth nanny since the divorce. Nannies were supposed to work 24/7 while mommy went to work, went out with Jason and went to sleep. Even when they were supposed to have days off, they were expected to work so they didn’t stay long. Anna rarely saw her mother; it was lonely for the little girl.
At daddy’s new house, Anna saw her father and Sheila every day. They took her to fun amusement parks and to the beach. Sometimes they would take her out to dinner and let her have a “Shirley Temple” to drink. When they went out alone, Zazzy came to baby sit. Zazzy’s real name was Xavier. A big boy with a laughing face and a goatee, he knew how to play the guitar and could sing all of Anna’s favorite Disney songs. She liked him…a lot.
Stretching out on the bed, Anna allowed her foot to kick the tablet onto the floor. It made an ugly place on her pretty pink floral comforter. She didn’t want it there; she hated it. Now it lay on the floor and made a black square on the lavender carpet. Anna could see it staring at her as she cradled her head in her arms. Rolling onto her other side, she glared at the wall instead. Why had life suddenly turned upside down, the little girl wondered.
Slowly the bedroom door cracked opened and Sheila looked in. Silently entering the room, she lifted the tablet from the floor before perching on the edge of Anna’s bed. She didn’t have to ask what happened; she knew. Laying her hand softly on the children’s back, Sheila whispered words of comfort. It wasn’t long before the little girl was sitting up and pressing her small body into the older woman’s side. “Mommy!” she cried as she pressed her face close and felt a gentle arm around her shoulder.
Sheila questioningly looked up at Brandt. Was Anna disturbed because she was homesick or was there something else wrong? The father entered to room to tentatively sit on the other side of his little daughter. A small tear streaked face looked up at him as the child asked, “Can Sheila be my mommy now?” Slowly daddy nodded his head.
Grandfather’s Pocket Watch
By Lea Sheryn
Wearily sitting on the stone bench beside the kitchen door, grandfather’s old pocket watch weighed heavily in my hand. Moments earlier our small cottage had been bulging with neighbors, friends and family members who appear when wedding bells ring or funeral bells toll and soon disappear into the mists of time until such events occur once more. Alas, today was not a marrying day but a burying day instead. It was my dear father who we laid in the ground, God Rest His Soul.
In the days of Old Queen Vic, in the 1870s, grandfather was a coal miner. The Rhondda Valley in Wales was his home; his workplace was in the deep dark shafts far beneath the ground. How well I remember the stalwart fellow in his olden days; how well he liked to describe his golden days. Sitting in the warm corner in the rocking chair nearest the fire, he seemed to me to be aged beyond years. His face wrinkled like a prune; his hair gray; his mouth toothless�“he was far from the young man he must have been in the days when coal was King.
I was but a young lad of seven the first time he laid the pocket watch in my open palm. It was a thing of beauty�“this prize possession of an old man who had very little in all the days of his life. With a bird in flight etched into the gold cover and his name, Selwin Morgan Davies, inscribed on the back, the old relic was grandfather’s pride and joy. Slowly I allowed my fingers to roam across the glossy surface of the timeless timepiece before my thumb depressed the latch to reveal the clock-face with the photo of my Gran on the opposing side. The clock was a bright shining white with Roman numerals dancing around the edges and wee tiny hands pointing to the exact time; Gran, dressed in severe black with an equally severe expression, was grim as only Victorian ladies could be grim.
“This will be yours one day, young laddie,” the old man stated as he firmly closed my palm upon the grand old pocket watch. “You’re father takes possession of it first and, when he is finished with it, it will be yours. A family heirloom, young lad, that’s for sure.” In my tender years, I was in awe to believe someday, far and away in the future, the grand old pocket watch would be mine.
Leaning snugly against the leg of his flannel trousers, I watched my grandfather tend and wind his watch. Although it kept perfect time and tick-tocked, as it should, every night the patriarch cared for his timepiece. Every night he rubbed the outer casing with soft cloth until it shown golden and bright in the candlelight. Every night he tucked it away, in safety, beneath his pillow. It was, indeed, a treasured possession in our home.
When the time came when grandfather could no longer enter the dark shafts of the mine, it was my father’s turn to take his place. Our family was a family of coal miners just the same as all other families were coal miners. The men worked their shift, day or night. The end of shift found the men tramping home covered in coal from the top of their heads to the toes of their socks. Although they all wore rugged hobnail boots, there was nary a clean sock in the entire town. Mothers and grandmothers kept tubs of hot water in the back kitchens for the men to scrub in before the evening meals. This was life in a coal town in the Rhondda Valley in Wales when coal was King.
I was just entering my tenth year when grandfather put his foot down. “Young Danny,” he said, “is not fit for the mines. Young Danny is fit to become a doctor or a lawyer.”
My ears were all attention at this firm announcement for I was the Young Danny my grandfather was speaking about. And I, Daniel Idris Davies, was a small thin boy who was more inclined to study than to swing a pick in the deep dark shafts of a mine. Mother and father were as equally agog as I, I do admit. None of us had ever considered the possibility that I would become anything other than a coal miner. But grandfather had spoken and grandfather’s word was law. When I became of age, I was to go to Oxford�“if they would have me�“or to Cambridge if Oxford wouldn’t.
To this day, I cannot tell you how they did it but upon my eighteenth year, I was sent off to Cambridge for a term of study and, afterwards, to medical school. It was a hardship to the family, that’s for sure. Mother took in laundry and a bit of sewing here and there; father took extra shifts in the mine. With grandfather’s small pension, they managed to get by and keep me at my books.
Happy and contented to have a grandson with a doctor before his name, the old patriarch passed away in his sleep. It was two years to the day after I returned to the Rhondda Valley with my education. Although I could offer assistance with the income from my medical practice, father was too stubborn to quit the mine. He was a proud wage earner and a proud owner of grandfather’s pocket watch. Every night before bed, he tended the timepiece in the ritual manner and slid it beneath his pillow, the same as always. And time continued to march forward in our small mining town in the Rhondda Valley in Wales.
It had been the family’s wish that I should leave the valleys to set out my shingle in fashionable London Town. My heart and soul were in Wales and the Rhondda was my home. The land of my birth called me back every time I had to cross the border into England so in Wales I remained. I have doctored the sick and the needy. I have entered the mines after the shafts collapsed to dig out the wounded or set fractured bones. It is my calling; it is my life.
The years fly swiftly. The place is still the same but the old men of the mines are gone, replaced by the young. Father has now joined his old mates for today is his burying day. He lies beneath the ground in the churchyard beneath the stone that bares his name. The golden pocket watch with the flying bird etched on the cover lies in my palm. The old family relic is now my prized possession. A click of the lid reveals a bright shining white face with Roman numerals dancing around the edges and wee tiny hands pointing to the exact time. Gran, dressed in severe black with an equally severe expression, as grim as only Victorian ladies could be grim is still on the opposing side.
Time is a strange thing. Grandfather’s time is gone and so is father’s. It is now my time but it will soon be gone also. As I sit on the stone bench beside the kitchen door, I wonder if my two daughters would be interested in the old pocket watch. Their lives growing up in the doctor’s house were much different than my life in a miner’s cottage.
Neither Menna or Bethen knew their great-grandsire nor did they know how he cherished the old timepiece. They are pretty, fair of skin with golden ringlets in their hair. The mines are places they will never see other than at a distance. The niceties of life are their interest. Still, when the time comes, the watch belongs to one or the other. It is their choice to cherish it…or not. Until their time comes, Grandfather’s pocket watch is mine to wind and polish…and to remember the days of the Rhondda when coal was King.
Moonlight and Love Song
By Lea Sheryn
“Moonlight and Love Song Never Out of Date”
The meal was fine and the company even finer. Cara found Anthony to be a courteous well-manner young man who was eager to please. Sharing a lovely gourmet meal at their favorite seafood restaurant, they had an excellent view from the huge windows overlooking the inlet. Much to their enjoyment, dolphins frisked happily in the Florida waters providing instant entertainment to accompany the platter of excellent lobster and juicy steaks that had just been placed before them.
Leaning toward each other over the meal, the conversation flowed in an endless stream. It had been a long time since Anthony had the opportunity to visit his Sunshine State sweetheart. As soon as he landed at Tampa International Airport, his mind began to whirl with plans that whisked him over the Skyway Bridge toward his destination�"the southern city that was her hometown. Cara had waited patiently for her lover over the long months of his deployment. Now they were finally together, once again, and craving each other’s company.
It was Anthony who suggested they stroll along the shore after the meal ended. Neither of them was anxious to draw their date to a close. Cara readily agreed to linger; certainly she didn’t want such a lovely evening to end. In the moonlight, the slow steady beat of the love song only they could hear played its melody as they leaned close together. Cara’s head rested lightly against Anthony’s chest as he leaned forward to nestle into her soft brunette curls.
“Swing On a Star, Carry Moonbeams Home in a Jar”
Sighing in heavenly bliss, Cara leaned her elbows against the protective banister of the boardwalk bridge she and Anthony lingered on. The cool waters of the inlet rippled beneath her as the night stars twinkled overhead. With her lover’s arms wrapped around her waist, she looked upward into the sparkly sky. Grandly staring down at her from his lofty position amongst the constellations stood the powerful Orion.
Awestruck, Cara held her breath as her gaze met the mighty hunter of myth and legend. Instantly she knew, from now until eternity, each time she saw Orion her memories would fly back to this wonderful night with Anthony. Turning to wrap her arms around her dashing young Officer’s neck, she gazed wonderingly into his handsome face, for the first time noticing the flecks of gold threaded into the soft brown of his eyes. In that moment, she knew she wanted to share his life and his name. Underneath those dancing sparks of evening light, Cara suddenly understood the infinite power of love.
Oh how wonderful it would be if they could swing amongst the heavenly stars of Orion’s Belt while moonbeams guided their way to the bliss they both sought. By the strength of their love for each other, Cara and Anthony could face anything. Their love was strong, powerful and pure magic.
“Give Me a Kiss to Build a Dream On”
Holding hands, the two young lovers drifted along the boardwalk overlooking the clear waters of the inlet. Anthony was caught up in dreams of his own. How lucky he was to have encountered Cara. She was the love and the light of his life. Army life was often lonely. There were so many assignments and so many moves. It was difficult to keep in touch with friends when one travels from pillar to post throughout the years. Anthony felt it was time to settle down.
This young sprite was charming, he thought to himself. Cara knew what to say and how to say it. As Anthony gazed with delight upon this beauty walking at his side, he felt as though he were suddenly at home. It was a comfortable feeling and a feeling he had never encountered before in his life. Truly the powers that be had Anthony in mind when they created Cara. Sighing, he brought their promenade to a halt to lean, once again, upon the balustrade. Beyond the sight of the huge windows of the restaurant hovering as a backdrop behind them, he pulled Cara closer and kissed her warm inviting lips.
His kisses were soft polite little pecks�"the first they shared. Full of vibrant energy, Cara knew she wanted more. Without holding back, she ran her fingers into the short stubble of his back hairs and drew her lover closer. Her kiss was passionate and strong, full of first and immediate love. Drawing back in surprise, Anthony was left aghast. After only the shortest moment of reflection, he allowed his own passions to break forth. Their kiss was long and arduous�"the kind you can build a dream on. Filled with pure imagination, they began to build their lives together. Now they knew, they would never part. This was love.
The Fundamental Things Apply…As Time Goes By
Finally, with the evening waning, it is time for Cara and Anthony to turn their backs upon the magic of their long awaited encounter. Grasping hands, they strolled back along the boardwalk and past the restaurant into the parking lot. It is hard to say good-bye to those wonderful moments by the water’s edge. The time that hovers before them is the next step into their futures. Although neither of them wants to let go of each other, reality must be faced. Their love will remain and new memories will be created but, always, the time they shared this evening will be precious.
It is, always and forever, the same old story. Two people meet and fall in love. There is a beauty in it that lasts, unalterable, until the end of time. Whether Cara and Anthony fulfill their dreams and reach complete happiness is yet to be seen. What will always remain is the love they feel for each other. That is, indeed, inalterable. Time may bring them closer together or it may cause them to drift apart. Yet, whenever they meet, or dream about each other, they will always be in love. True Love is a fundamental thing that will always apply, no matter what the circumstances…As Time Goes By.
Songs used in this story are:
“Would You Like to Swing On a Star” sung by Bing Crosby
“A Kiss to Build a Dream On” sung by Louis Armstrong
“As Time Goes By” sung by the Character Sam (Dooley Wilson) in Casablanca
By Lea Sheryn
Why did you leave me? After all those years of love and devotion, again, why did you leave me? There was a time when I was everything to you. The sound of my voice and the words of love I lavished upon you caused you to fly to the moon. You and I played amongst the stars, once upon a time. It was you and I and no one else. There was a cozy little place made in the heavens for just you and me.
Look into your children’s faces and see me there. They are my reflection as well as yours. You say you love them well yet now you say you don’t love me. How can that be when they are me and I am them?
What does she have that I don’t? She is but a silly little plaything to lavish you with a moment’s joy. The attention you have for her can only be fleeting. All she has is a soft body to fill the void on a cold winter’s night. Careless chatter can only amuse you for a fortnight before you are seeking better and more meaningful talk.
Careless chatter is what drove you to her in the first place. Oh how you drank in the worthless gossip you heard about me. Oh how you couldn’t wait to use it against me instead of discovering the truth. All you had to do was speak to me…all you had to do was seek the right answers. Instead you flew away but not to the moon or the stars.
Will you come back, my love, now that you know or are you trapped in the net of deceit? Only you can say and only time will tell. Did you hoist yourself on your own petard? Is there lament on both sides?
If you will come home, I will love you still.
First Love, Only Love
First Love, Only Love
By Lea Sheryn
Flicking off his mirrored aviator sunglasses, he stood, tall and handsome, in the doorway of the small dress shop where I worked. Surveying the scene as though on a surveillance mission, Roderick was every bit an Army Officer. Without hesitation, he approached the counter where I stood and introduced himself. Although this wasn’t our first encounter, it was the first time we had come face to face. Over the numerous occasions we had spoken via email, it did feel as though we had known each other for a very long time.
Calm and comfortable in his presence, it was easy to fall into step with Rod and to slide into the front seat of his rented car as he politely held the door open. Chatting amiably as he commanded the steering wheel, it wasn’t long before we reached the popular restaurant where we planned to share the evening. By the time the meal was served, we were already fast friends and on the fast track to something more.
Finding it difficult to part of the evening, once the long anticipated date had come to a close, we lingered beneath the parking lot light at the dress shop where I had left my car. Oh how I longed for my charming officer to suddenly take me in his arms and keep me always in a warm and inviting embrace. To stay with him forever and ever was such a strong desire. It filled me to the very top as we stood there, alone, in that vast parking lot with the lights and the stars twinkling overhead.
Too soon, it was over and he was gone. There was a feeling of joy in that first meeting with a man who held such promise for the future but one that was also filled with a dread of never seeing him again. Had he a desire to return for another encounter or was this just a casual fling to pass the time while he awaited his next assignment? How I hoped Rod would decide to return and return again until we could finally be together forever. During that wonderful, wonderful first evening, I had truly fallen in love for the first and the only time.
The Call of the Clouds
By Lea Sheryn
Ever since I could remember, my older brother, Deacon, wanted to fly. Day in and day out, it was all he ever spoke about. My father, the Right Reverend Josiah Samuel Whittier, didn’t believe it was possible for man to take to the air. When Deke spoke of the possibility, my father thundered it was blaspheme against God. In my father’s opinion, if God had wished us to fly, He would have had the foresight to give us wings. Still, my brother insisted that someday there would be a great invention that would allow us to travel in the clouds.
The year 1903 brought speculation that the achievement would be upon us. Deacon had just turned fourteen during the summer of that year and I had turned eight a few weeks before Easter. No one knew how he came about the information but somehow he had heard a rumor about two brothers from Ohio named Wright, who for three years had been experimenting with a design to create a flying machine, were closing in on success. Despite father’s thunderous exclamations cautioning Deke to silence on the subject, he persisted in his talk.
Early one cold December morning, just as I was beginning to awaken, I thought I felt a draft enter the room. As I turned over to gain a new position, I noticed a movement in the curtains and was just in time to see Deke’s head disappear from the frame of the window. Quickly throwing my trousers and shirt on, I yanked up my suspenders and climbed onto the trellis a few moments behind my elder brother.
Having much longer legs than I, Deacon had a tremendous head start on me. Rushing to catch up to him, it was all I could do to keep him in sight as he deliberately marched along the road to town in the pre-dawn of an adventurous day. Hearing the chug-chug of an approaching locomotive, I noticed Deke’s direction was leading him to the far side of the depot. My brother was going to hop the train!
Calling his name, I rushed down the slope headed to town. Stopping at the edge of the tracks, Deke turned to me and hollered: “Go home, Sam.” Instead of heeding his instructions, I rushed forward to join him. It was my intention to discover what his plans were and to attempt to convince him to return home. I knew my father’s fury and my mother’s anxiety if their eldest child were to suddenly disappear. I reached his side just as the train approached.
Deacon swung easily into the yawning gape of an opened boxcar. Leaping after him, I managed to grab the ledge at the opening and began to scramble for footing. Grabbing my hands, my brother hauled me onboard.
“Don’t you ever do what your told, Squirt?” Deke questioned as he deposited me in a corner and stood over me.
“What are you doing? Where are you going?” I fired my questions without answering him.
“Kitty Hawk,” he answered, sitting down beside me.
“Kitty Who?” I asked, perplexed.
“Not who; where. Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville and Wilbur Wright are there right now, experimenting with their flying machine. I’m going to see them fly,” Deacon bragged.
“You’re going to what? Oh, no you’re not. You gotta go home, Deke. Mother will worry and Father…you know what Father will do,” I blurted out, thinking of the leather strap the Right Reverend kept hanging in the barn for the occasions when his sons disobeyed his strict law of household behaviors.
“I’m going to Kitty Hawk and, as soon as day breaks, Sam is going to jump off this train and go home,” my brother declared as though his word were law. “Understood?”
“I’m cold, Deacon,” I complained, hugging myself around the middle to keep from shivering.
The argument ceased as my sibling struggled from his coat and unwound his muffler from around his neck. Although his outer wrap was much too large for me, I was glad of its warmth. Occupying my former place in the corner, Deacon took me in his lap and held me close for the duration of our train journey. It was a great sacrifice for him to do this since I knew the December cold penetrated the outer wall of the boxcar yet he never complained. All in all, he was a good brother who cared for the welfare of others and showed his kindness by taking on such tasks without a word of complaint.
When the train showed signs of slowing as it closed in on a depot sometime around mid-morning, we leaped from the moving boxcar. Grabbing my hand, Deacon dragged me down the grading and into a wooded area. It wouldn’t do if we were discovered hiding out in the train since we would have been hauled to the nearest police station where a telegraph would be sent to our parents with our location. Hence we would have been returned home to face the wrath of the Right Reverend.
Upon gaining the far side of the wooded area, we found ourselves on the outskirts of a farmyard. A tow-headed boy about my own age was busy chopping wood at the block. Although it was a downright cold day, he had stripped his coat off and draped it over the pump. It didn’t take Deke long to silently creep forward to snatch it, grab my arm and run. As soon as we were out of sight, I gave him his coat and donned the one he had stolen.
“Father says it’s a sin against God to steal,” I proclaimed, feeling uncomfortable about wearing a garment that belonged to someone else.
“It’s an even greater sin to allow your little brother to freeze to death, Sam,” Deacon responded as he marched off in the lead. I ran to catch up to him.
Our life of petty crime continued through the states of Virginia and North Carolina as Deacon raided henhouses, root cellars and dairy barns to feed us and provide fresh milk each day. He even went so far as to swipe a pecan pie from the opened windowsill of a farmhouse with the farmer’s wife still busy in the kitchen. We were a long way from our home in Brooke’s Mills, Pennsylvania. When we weren’t marching along the road, we were able to hitch a ride on any transportation that provided itself which meant trains, wagons, and much to our enjoyment, a Ford Model A. Finally Deke declared we were close to Kitty Hawk.
Once we reached Kitty Hawk situated on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it wasn’t difficult to discover the location of Kill Devil Hills where the experimentation with the flying machine was taking place. Standing in awe at the sight of the Wright Flyer, I couldn’t believe for a moment that it would ever leave the ground. The contraption, built of giant spruce with a wing design of 1-in-20 camber bicanard biplane configuration and twin propellers, seemed unwieldy to my young eyes. How were they ever going to get that thing off the ground? I wondered. Deacon, on the other hand, had no doubt success was in sight.
Situating ourselves in a place where we could get a good view yet still remain undetected, we prepared to watch the Wright Brothers take turns with their experiment. Sitting with his knees bent upwards and his elbows propped to hold up his chin, Deacon studied the maneuverings as the trial and error testing continued. Finally on December 17th, 1903, Orville Wright took the controls and launched into the first recorded flight that lasted 12 seconds at a distance of 120ft. All in all, Orville and Wilbur completed four brief flights that day, all at low-altitude. Unfortunately, by the end of the day, the flyer was damaged by a heavy gust of wind that turned it end over end.
Despite the inability to make quick repairs, my brother was in paroxysms of glory. “We did it!” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet and whooping loudly as he waved his arms over his head. Tugging on his coat, I pulled him back to the ground and whispered: “They did it.” Deke reddened at his assumption of having participated in the experiment and repeated: “They did it.”
Gathering the meager results of our picnic lunch, we rose to leave the scene of the great achievement of the first flight. There standing behind us, the tall imposing figure of the Right Reverend loomed. Dressed all in black and with his hands clasped behind his back, our father appeared as stern and righteous as ever. A little further away, our mother sat inside a black carriage, her hands clasped tightly in her lap.
Without a word, father pointed us toward the road and made us walk along side the carriage the full four miles to Kitty Hawk. Taking us each, one at a time, into the stables behind the hotel the Right Reverend had booked for the night, he tanned our jackets for us with his black leather strap. Deacon took his punishment in stride, like a man, but I couldn’t endure mine. As soon as I was set free, I ran into our rented rooms to bury my head in mother’s lap.
Ever fascinated with flight, Deacon, with the help of his good friend, Eddy Franklin, built his own bi-plane in a fallow field on the Franklin farm. When the war called, he eagerly signed up as a pilot soon becoming an American Ace. The news hit us hard when we received the wire that he had been brought down over Germany. I admit I was at a loss to think my brother was gone forever.
Deacon, who had always shown such great joy in the idea of flying and who had answered the call of the clouds with such gusto, was gone. It was only then that I realized how much he had meant to me and how ashamed I was to think I had never taken the opportunity to tell him. His body was never recovered. As much as I grieved his loss, I knew Deke had died as he had lived�“and that he had fulfilled his dreams of soaring with the clouds.
World War II found me in the Chaplain Corp. Never, during my stint in Germany, did I loss the opportunity to seek information concerning my brother Deacon. However my searches remained fruitless. Even after the years between the two wars and now, I still feel the loss of the brother I admired as a youth. I longed to bring him home but he is lost to us yet.
I am now the Right Reverend Josiah Samuel Whittier. My mother is long gone; she couldn’t bare the strain of the loss of her firstborn and departed this earth shortly after the news of Deacon’s death. My father passed on to the Glory Land he preached about at a cantankerous old age leaving me the church he’d founded in Brooke’s Mills before the turn of the century. Unlike his fire and brimstone sermons, I preach the Love of Christ and administer to our congregation as I am needed which brings me to the bedside of the sick and dying and to women having difficulties with childbirth. At the age of 93, I still enter the pulpit for Sunday morning and evening service and on Wednesday night prayer meetings, although my son�“another Josiah Samuel Whittier�“would rather relieve me of those duties. My eldest grandson, Deacon, is the flyer in the family having acquired his wings with the US Air Force.
Dutifully I tend the memorial marker commemorating the life and heroic death of my elder brother, Deacon Marshall Whittier. I realize my time is near and my life is drawing to a close. It is my hope that I will see Deke beyond the Pearly Gates and we will be young once again, sitting in that field at Kill Devil Hills watching history unfold as Orville and Wilbur Wright record their first flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.