Monthly Archives: May 2019

Lest We Forget

By Leslie

I have been totally engrossed in books, primarily historical novels about World War II and the Holocaust, over the last several years. Surveying the New York Times Books Review section each week, this huge interest, some also would say a near obsession, is shared by the reading public. The Best Seller List has seen titles such as, “The Nightingale,” “The Lilac Girls,” the “Tattooist of Auschwitz” and “All the Light We Cannot See” remain solidly entrenched amongst the top 20 for months, if not years.

My latest “read,” a book entitled, “The Plum Tree” was a wonderful, quick – too quick – read, and most unusual in relating the sorrowful, disgraceful story of WWII as it affected ordinary Germans – Germans who lived amongst, worked with, and even loved the Jews in their midst; the Germans who did try to assist their Jewish neighbors – albeit a minority, and who lived and died attempting to oppose Hitler.

It is with a sad heart I read about the rise of anti-Semitism, especially in the US and France, and the rise of the neo-Nazi, right wing in Germany. Human beings are quite capable of forgetting – in fact, it is indeed – I suspect – a survival mechanism. But, as these books remind us – We should never forget!

May 2019

Brief . . . But Spectacular

By Leslie

At the end of many of the PBS News Hours is a charming five minute segment entitled, “Brief . . . but Spectacular.” Known and unknown individuals present their usually animated discourse on a vast array of topics. Two weeks ago, we had a “brief but spectacular” visit from one son and daughter, the former from Philadelphia and the later from Portland. They were without children, a rare occurrence.

Todd and Kathy dove into a number of “tasks” to assist Bill. (We did take them at their word – “just give us stuff to do”). These tasks were accomplished in record time – allowing a visit to the botanical Gardens, festooned in its spring flowering finery. And no trip to Tucson can be without a trip to Bookmans – what fun. Of course, Mexican food – real Mexican, non-Taco bell, capped the trip. And we “discovered” a little Mexican restaurant, which opened about two years ago, virtually right around the corner. If you haven’t tried “Benny’s Mexican Restaurant,” I’d highly recommend it – As I would the brief, but spectacular weekend we had with our children!

April 2019

how i ended the gulf war

By Kat

in the 1980’s i moved from my home state of maryland to virginia beach. just before I left, a friend advised me, “don’t get involved with a military man.” i had not even realized that it was a town populated by navy and marines. my wish was simply to live near the ocean, and enjoy the beach. at any rate, her words were wasted.

at thanksgiving, i was invited to a gathering of folks with no family in the area. that day we became a family of sorts and i met a man who i eventually lived with for five years. he was, of course, a navy man, stationed at an airfield in norfolk. after a time he was reassigned to the uss america, an aircraft carrier. the ship would leave port for two- to four-week cruises, which meant he was home more than he was gone.

until december of 1991, when the ship headed to the gulf war. desert storm raged for 100 days, during which my eyes were glued to television coverage and my heart bled with fear. there are no words to describe the impact of receiving a letter explaining what he wanted me to tell his family in case he did not return.

my own family was supportive; my dad came to visit and stayed with me through the initial few weeks. dad literally pulled me away from the tv at one point, made me take a benedryl and go to bed. it is difficult to imagine what it is like for families who go through the fear and concern for years at a time. those 100 days were some of the most stressful i have ever experienced.

letters were regularly mailed back and forth. though, at one point, when none had arrived in nearly 10 days, i think our mail carrier began to worry that i might do him harm. like all the other military spouses and partners, i lived for those missives of love, reassurance, and private thoughts that only someone in a war would have.

sometime in february 1992, i put together a care package i hoped would cheer up my faraway partner. into a box went homemade cookies, a couple of books, lollipops, fudge leftover from the holidays. it took a little longer to decide what to add that would simply be for fun. after some creative thinking, i crafted a large peace symbol from clay and hung it on a chain, tie-dyed a t-shirt, made long bead necklaces, found an old bandana to which i affixed buttons with sayings like “make love, not war”, “save the whales”, “wage peace” and mailed the package off to the america.

amid the tension and concerns of making war, my gift became a great excuse to have some fun aboard ship. one morning my partner donned the tie-dyed shirt, slipped the beads and peace sign on, tied the bandana around his head, and headed for the tower. along the way, sailors laughed and yelled out, “you damned hippie!” and “hey, we’re at war here; take that stuff off!”. my guy laughed, shouting back, “i’m into peace!”, declaring that, “i will wear these clothes until the war ends!”.

the next day, the war in the gulf was over. naturally, he attributed this to the “peace package” I had sent.

May 2019