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Ann Kathleen Otto

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Dachau and Munich

December 12, 2017

The next stops on our memorial tour are contrasts in setting—one for solemn reflection, the other for hedonist celebrations. Welcome to Dachau and Munich.

Dachau

We enter the gate that reads Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work Sets You Free”), which appeared on entrances to Auschwitz and other concentration camps like Dachau. Our eyes are immediately drawn to the center of the courtyard and the breathtaking sculpture known as the International Monument (right). Hitler established this first camp in 1933 for political prisoners. I’d expressed concerns about visiting this site on the trip, remembering sorrowful feelings after touring the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Group members who have visited Dachau before say that this was a political camp, not a death camp. I can’t fathom the difference.

Several buildings remain as museums. Commanded by the Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel, or “Protective Echelon”), over 200,000 prisoners from throughout Europe were imprisoned in the twelve years that the camp was open, and one in five prisoners died. The camp was liberated by the Americans on April 29, 1945. While Dave visits the crematorium area, I visit the nearby Russian Orthodox church, one of several religious monuments on the grounds.

Unlike many sites visited on our trip, everyone, youth included, are silent and well behaved. We walk through buildings where prisoners slept and ate, tables and chairs just as they left them. One locker remains open so we can see how sparingly they lived. We return to the bus, still in whispers. We are glad Dachau is still here to archive and educate future generations.

October in Munich

It’s the opening weekend of Octoberfest in Munich for us—and three million others from around the world. For Germany, that means plentiful beer and food. Dave and I have German roots, and his are around the Munich area in Bavaria. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but when we hear the logistics of getting to the official Octoberfest grounds and the crowds expected, we decide not to join the dozen of our group who chance it. The brochure isn’t encouraging, either. If a tent is full (which most would be), you can’t enter, and you can’t purchase anything, including the € 11 liter of beer, unless you have a seat. You are “permitted to dance on the benches, but it is not permitted to stand on the tables.” Probably difficult to control given the inebriated consumers. We wouldn’t have survived.

Downtown Munich was also beyond crowded with cheerful Tyrolean peasant-dressed visitors everywhere.  We attempt to go to the famous Hofbrauhaus (right), but no empty seats remain in the great hall or any of the other eating areas. These are the tourists waiting for evening to join the annual festivities. We walk a block down the street and find a corner café with outside seating, lovely sandwiches, and coffee. We’ll save the wine and beer for evening. We shop in the pedestrian-only streets and admire the squares and the Cathedral. Munich has charm. We decide to return—but not in October.

After Munich

At the end of the day, we are relieved to travel through small villages in Bavaria and Tyrol toward the small city of Kufstein for the night. The citizens are cleaning up from a day celebrating their own small Octoberfest. From our hotel window, we look directly above us to the fortress that has watched over the city for eight hundred years (left).

A perfect spot for the night. It was a very long day.

Learn more about Dachau at  the official site:  https://www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/index-e.html

See more photos of Dachau, Munich and Kufstein at the Yours in a Hurry Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/YoursinaHurry/

Next time: Salzburg and Hitler’s hide away, the Eagle’s Nest

The Road to Nuremberg

November 21, 2017

Our Memorial Tour starts in Frankfurt. It’s the fifth largest city in Germany and has Europe’s busiest airport. You hear a lot about German efficiency. That isn’t our experience.

German Efficiency

Two large flights arrive at the same time, and we are in the under-staffed and uncontrolled customs line for about an hour. Soon after our bus enters the autobahn on way to Nuremberg, traffic stops—and remains stopped for five hours. As we watch from the bus, some people get out of cars, sit in lawn chairs, and read books. School children see friends in neighboring cars and start playing. The busload of Americans can’t help thinking what would happen on one of our expressways in a situation like this. Heads would roll! Later we find out that two large trucks collided in a narrow construction area.

Once beyond the stop, we pass many exits on this new roadway that looks American with most of our fast food chains represented. Our guide tells us that McDonald’s, known as “The American Embassy,” is very popular.

The Nazi Parade Grounds 

The next morning our tour starts at the Nazi Parade Grounds. You’ve probably seen photos of this site your whole life, in history books and in historical film footage, with Hitler speaking enthusiastically to thousands of Germans, their arms raised in unison in a “Heil Hitler” salute. (photo right) Aside from the main structure where Hitler stood, a guide must describe what the rest once looked like. He directs us to large photos covered in plastic. Now it’s deserted, crumbling in areas and overgrown with weeds, except for a few tourists and joggers. We speak in quiet tones. Standing in this spot, I see ghosts. There were so many. They must be here. (photo below)

While here, we learn that there’s talk about beginning to acknowledge those who fought for Germany during World War 2. It’s been frowned upon so long, this history. Maybe bring the Parade Grounds back to its former glory, they say, or better preserve it as a tourist attraction.

As we leave to visit the site of the Nuremberg trials, it feels like preservation is a better idea.

Palace of Justice

From fall of 1945 until fall of 1946, the International Military Tribunal convened in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice to try individuals responsible for war crimes. The site was chosen because of the large space in the building, including many offices and the eighty courtrooms. The building was spared during the war, and a prison was part of the complex. 

The twenty-four Nazi leaders were tried on four points: conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; panning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. The Tribunal opened in Berlin, but moved to Nuremberg on November 20, 1945. The trials lasted 218 days, with testimony from 360 witnesses, and more than 1,000 personnel assisting in the trials. The verdicts were announced on September 30 and October 1: twelve sentenced to death by hanging, seven sentences of life imprisonment, and three acquittals.

The courtroom has been remodeled, even more since we were last here several years ago. (photo right) The museum upstairs is spacious and describes the history well. What happened here may be one of the best examples of the quote attributed to George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

As we leave the site, Dave asks one of our new travel mates, “Was your father in the war?” “Yes,” he replied, “but on the other side.” Hans, an American veteran post-World War 2, was orphaned at birth. His father was in the German navy and died when the German ship Bismarck sunk. His mother later brought her young son to America. We realize that the trip has a special meaning for Hans and his family, just as it does for Dave. 

Nuremberg 2017

I can't leave Nuremberg without commenting on what a vibrant city it is today. These photos show the multiculturalism (yes, that's a shushi stand outside Nuremberg cathedral). We also got a taste of what we'd experience on our next day. Many German towns and villages were celebrating the beginning of Octoberfest in Munich that weekend with their own local festivals, and Nuremberg was no exception.

             

Details on Nuremberg war history can be found at https://museums.nuernberg.de/nuremberg-municipal-museums/.

Send your World War 2 stories to ann@ann-otto.com.

Next time: Dachau and Munich

Two Wars in Perspective

November 9, 2017

“My travels taught me that there was no area of Europe free from the memories and monument of the First World War.”  Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete History

I echo Gilbert’s comment. We saw these memorials in our travels, too. You can find  small monuments to military leaders and battles in cities and small villages throughout Europe that were ravaged in two wars. An  example below is the one hidden in Germany's Black Forest area, a tribute to Erwin Rommel. It's close to his home, and unlike the more formal monument near his grave, this is at the site of  his forced suicide by the Nazi regime.

I found Gilbert’s book when doing research for my next novel. He also wrote a book on World War 2, and he has a way of connecting events and individuals that helps us understand how history can take societies in directions both planned and unplanned. Most of the politicians and commanders involved in World War 2 participated in some way in the Great War. That’s why Gilbert’s books are considered good ones to start with if you’re interested in reading or studying either of these wars. 

Only an Intermission                                                     

The root causes of World War 2 began with the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. The process of developing that document ruined American President Woodrow Wilson, and it changed much of Europe and the Middle East—but particularly Germany. As the world economy worsened after the Great War and reached its nadir in the 1929 depression, Germans became increasingly angry, and it was easy for someone with a promise of national renewal and revenge to develop a following. Scapegoats—such as Jews, Poles, and Socialists—provided common enemies on whom to vent frustration and anger.

Many see World War 2 as caused by one man’s insanity: Adolph Hitler. What we saw at Dachau makes one wonder about man’s inhumanity toward man—and how one person could have such an effect. I haven’t read much about the German psyche during this period, and it’s hard for me to understand. But our tour guides along the way explained much about the French during the occupation and why more didn’t join in the resistance. Some feared for their lives if they didn’t accept Nazi rule. Others felt that the Germans were sure to win the war and wanted to position themselves for that eventuality. Add these perspectives to the Germans’ feelings of being punished into a deep depression after the Great War, and one can see why few of them resisted. 

Ironies of War

Gilbert reminds us that more soldiers were killed in the Great War than any other war in history—8.6 million—a fact that many Americans forget given our brief time in that war in comparison to our losses in World War 2. During that war, Americans lost 48,000, not counting the 62,000 who died of influenza.

The American cemeteries in Europe for the two wars are pristine, like the American Cemetery in St. Avold, France, pictured. Ironically, many of the Great War’s cemeteries were being formally dedicated in the summer of 1937 while Hitler was moving into the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. On Easter 1939, survivors of a British Gun Corp met in Albert, a small French town, to dedicate a plaque commemorating their service and lost comrades in the Battle of the Somme, which lasted five months in 1918. Less than six months later, the Germans would come again. This time they would stay for over four years.

I hope you read Martin Gilbert’s works. If you are interested in the Great War, I recommend M. K. Tod’s website, A Writer of History. Her historical novels are well researched, and you can read blogs concerning the wars, some of which involve her family’s letters.

Next time: Nuremberg

Tracing History

October 28, 2017

Have you ever wanted to dig deeply into an ancestor’s past? I did that for some of my family members for Yours in a Hurry. Now it was my spouse’s turn. This is a first in a series of blogs reflecting on a recent World War 2 Memorial Tour. If you follow my site, you know that history is a family passion: we read it, and we visit and support museums, historical societies and sites, and libraries. In addition to wanting to revisit my family history, I wrote my first novel because I’m interested in the early 20th century.

A Father's Untold Story

Why a nearly three-week World War 2 tour? Dave’s dad was in the first wave at D-Day with the 29th Division. Like most of those veterans, he didn’t talk much about his experience. After this tour and reading more about what we saw, I can understand why. Who would want to relive the horrors, even in the mind?

Dave has read a lot about this war and others. He wanted to trace what he knew of his father’s path across Europe—St. Mere-Eglise, Bastogne, the Eagle’s Nest. We finally found a tour that did that and more. After seeing some locations, such as Nuremberg and the Remagen Bridge, on an earlier river cruise, we wanted a more in-depth look at Europe’s history at that period.  

Learning From The Past

The tour included World War I stops, and one was the site of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the largest US engagement of that war. Some characters in my work-in-progress, Little Diamonds, are World War 1 veterans, like Danny, a Meuse-Argonne survivor with post- traumatic stress syndrome. I started writing the novel before we knew that the site of that offensive would be part of the trip. I felt I was fated to be there, and couldn’t believe the similarity of the forests there to those of rural southern Ohio, the Little Diamonds setting.

Future novels will cover other aspects of World War 2, especially life on the home front for gold star mothers. Reading about this history is one thing. Seeing these European locations and hearing from individuals who were children at the time of the war made me aware of the extreme losses for two generations in the countries we visited—France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands—as well as the United States.  

Search for Answers

Were Dave’s questions about his dad’s war record answered? Yes and no. For instance, after the occupation he was at Himmler’s house, and we could almost see it from the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s hideaway in the Alps near Salzburg. But Dave came back with has as many questions as answers. Some of his father’s comments of where he was after the occupation don’t fit. That’s a project for this winter.

Please join us on this journey, and share your family stories about this historical period. I’ll be glad to share them.

Character and Craft

September 17, 2017

I just finished reading Characters and Viewpoint (2010) by Orson Scott Card, one of many books on writing I’ve read the past few years while developing my writing skills. This is one of the best, not just because it deals with character building and emotions, but because Card is an author and teacher, and he uses books and films to highlight points on effective writing. The art of writing fiction includes being able to create the visual on paper for the reader, and Card caused me to think about some works I haven’t thought about in a long time.

Transferring Thoughts to Paper      

Card’s impressions of the complex plot structure and characters in William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, both in the novel and film, led me to finally read the book. Some of those elements are successful by using the ploy of a “story within a story” and a comedian’s device of “doing a take”—stepping out of the story and speaking directly to the audience. Think: TV’s Dobbie Gillis; Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop; and Jack Benny or Woody Allen—anytime. If these aren’t familiar to you, visit your local library and borrow some examples. The trick is, how can a writer capture these great types of action on paper?

Characters are Key to the Action

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings creates a world of Middle Earth and populates it with a social stratum of memorable representative characters. For instance, the character Sauron appears only once, but readers remember him because of how Tolkien depicts him. We may not like certain characters, but as Card notes, the author needs them to be memorable. One of Card’s favorite films is Far from the Madding Crowd, and I love the latest version. It’s the characters, their personalities, and the choices they make that are riveting.

Stories can have a strong effect on us. Card mentions Stephen King often. In King’s stories, such as The Dead Zone and Misery, the main character usually experiences both physical and mental pain, often unbearable to the point that we suffer with them. Sexual tension—with positive (as in the 1939 film It Happened One Night) or negative outcomes (unrequited, as in The Elephant Man)—affects us, too. The same occurs when characters experience moods, as when the ark of the covenant opens in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or when storms rumble across the moors in Wuthering Heights.

In John le Carre’s spy thrillers, the characters aren’t heroes, just ordinary people. But George Smiley becomes more interesting than much of his literary competition. The same with Agatha Christie’s protagonists.

Creating Believable Characters

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Thomas Gavin’s The Last Film of Emile Vico are offered as strong examples of fictional memoir. Walker tells her story, in part, through letters from one person to another. Gavin’s 1930’s mystery involves a cameraman writing a memoir about the disappearance of a friend—whom he may have killed. How the authors pace the story and develop the characters is key.

What book you’ve read or film you’ve seen has really moved you, made you think about the book or screenplay, thinking “Wow, this is great writing!”?

                                                         Orson Scott Card is also the author of Ender’s Game (1985), which was made into a film in 2013, and numerous other best-selling novels http://www.hatrack.com/ .     

 

A Passionate Request

August 28, 2017

At the recent 109th Annual Hartle Reunion a family member presented me with a letter dated November 17, 1909. It was written by my grandfather, Thomas Purl, to a man who would soon be a relative. Unlike the one postmark used today, this letter is stamped by five postal services beginning at Fort Monroe, Virginia, before reaching its destination. Six red two-cent stamps with George Washington’s profile are atop a beautifully written ‘Special Delivery’. No street address or zip code, just:

Mr. Milo Sanford.                                                                                                                                                                              Marseilles. Ohio.                                                                                                                                                                       .       Wyandot. Co.  

When my relative presented the letter, he smiled and said, “Look what it says. He’s asking for money.”                                      

“What would you expect,” I replied. “He’d lost everything.” Purl had a hard time of it early in life. If you haven't already, you can read about it in Yours in a Hurry. The young soldier was abrupt: “I will write to you at once and tell you what I want,” he began. He’s written Mr. Sanford, father of the groom, Harry Sanford, who is marrying Purl’s sister, Mary, on November 30. I can’t imagine my grandfather being so abrupt, but it’s obvious by the rest of the letter that there is a pre-wedding dinner on November 25—only eight days away—that he wants badly to attend.

A previous blog explained Purl’s circumstances. He lived in various family homes after his parents died. He lost his inheritance shortly after getting it, and joined the army. His seven siblings, including Mary, safely guarded their inheritances.

His war record is sketchy due to the July 12, 1973, fire at the National Personnel Records Center that destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files, so I didn’t know about his brief stay at Fort Monroe, Virginia, that first year.; or, that he’d gotten any leave that early in his military career. This would have been a great letter to to include in Yours in a Hurry. It describes Purl's situation at the time well.

I was glad to get one of his early letters. Even in later years, people marveled at his beautiful script (at right). He was supposedly an impulsive child, but he and all his siblings were well taught. Their older sister, Anna, was a school teacher. Purl worked as a railroad depot clerk until he retired. I’m sure they appreciated his 19th century calligraphy.

Have you ever uncovered a surprising letter from the past? What did it tell you? 

Worth a Thousand Words

August 3, 2017

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Looking at a family photo can give hints as to why some things turn out the way they do. Body language and facial expression tell a lot. In this photo of my mother and her siblings circa 1926 (right), William, standing at left, looks disturbed about something. Suddenly, memories of the siblings later in life come back to me.

The Twins

The twins are around three at the time. I’m pretty sure that my mother, Edith, is the one looking at the camera. Ellen, who went by Jane, was always looking for fun and taking greater risks. They were a surprise to grandma who had them when she was 42. Financially it was a burden. Now grandpa was a clerk for the railroad depot with six children. And grandma couldn’t say no when any neighbor or passer-by was on hard times and needed something. She was a dedicated member of the Pilgrim Holiness church down the street, and the children belonged until they were old enough to make their own decisions. At that point, they left. But that meant that the teen-aged twins had to sneak out of the house to go to the movies or wear make-up. As a child, I wasn’t permitted to wear shorts to grandma’s. She didn’t approve.

The girls married ex-service men and had families. Edith moved out of town and always missed the family.

Addison, Alma and Robert

Addison (middle rear in photo) and Robert (front right) served in World War 2, and then came home and raised families. Ruby (back right) had a mental disability. Back then she was labeled ‘slow’. She was grandma's special child. She may have been slow, but she could memorize the Bible. Everyone in the family loved her. She died young of leukemia. My mother always had a special place in her heart for those with disabilities because of Ruby.

William

William’s story is different- and heartbreaking for his mother. He was described as stubborn and moody. Grandma was the only one he cared for. He married shortly before going to war. His wife had a baby, and the family became close to little Patty. His wife worked at a bank, became involved with her boss, moved to the big city, divorced William, and married the banker.

Rumor has it that William started drinking when he lost his wife and child—but it could have been earlier. Grandma didn’t believe in divorce, and he knew he’d let her down. He’d never gotten along with grandpa who was very loyal to grandma. After this, he and grandpa never spoke. William moved out west and never told anyone where he was. Every few years he’d slip back home to see his mother.

I only saw him once. When I was about three, I was sleeping on my grandparent’s living room floor late at night and can remember the front door opening. I woke up, startled, but not afraid. A tall, thin man was equally as startled seeing me. He didn’t smile or speak, merely walked toward the back of the house. Shortly, my mother came and took me upstairs. I didn't see him again; he was gone the next morning.

The family had difficulty tracking him down after grandma died. They only knew that he was working as a migrant farmer in Washington state. His then-current partner convinced him to respond to a registered letter that finally reached him. William said he didn’t want anything from the family, and never wanted contact with them again. I found his death on Ancestry.com many years later.

I’ve often wished I’d known more of William’s early story. But the family rarely spoke of him. What or who was he looking at in the photo? Was it  his father? Maybe he just didn't want to be in the photo. Why? The family loved William’s first wife and child, so I can understand his need to get away from that situation for a while, but his life decision was drastic.

Alma

Someone is missing from the photo. My mother was always sad that grandpa never included Alma in family photos. She remembered Alma always standing off to the side. Grandma was a widow when she married grandpa, and Alma was her daughter from the first marriage. Grandma was older than grandpa, and Alma was older than the siblings. Maybe that’s why. A few years later, Alma had a daughter out of wedlock. Grandma knew that Alma had a harder time than the others, so she made sure that the family came together and embraced the daughter, who became one of the most loved family members until she died a few years ago. We have photos of her when she was young. It would have been nice to have photos of Alma when she was younger.

Care to share?

Have you ever looked at a photo and wondered what was going on in that instant?  If you have and would like to share, please email me at ann@ann-otto.com, or post  them via this website or on my Yours in a Hurry Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/YoursinaHurry/ .

 

Hollywood's Silver Screen Beginnings

July 5, 2017

“I believe we have an acquaintance in common, David Griffith. He and his wife Linda are long time colleagues of mine," Harriet said.

"Yes, since he has started filming his motion pictures here, he's become acquainted with our neighbor Paul deLongpre," Daeida replied.

This discussion took place in 1912. I’m often asked, “Were movies really made in Hollywood at the time your book takes place—that early?” Many associate the beginning of Hollywood films with the 1920’s, but a lot was already going on by then.

David Wark Griffith

The most famous of America’s early film directors, D. W. Griffith isn’t a character in Yours in a Hurry, but we see him in a scene at the opening of the Beverly Hotel, and he has a history with and influence on some of the characters. I watched several of his surviving films while researching my book to get a flavor of life at the time. Most of them are available on YouTube. One of his earliest, a very short 1909 film, Those Awful Hats starred his wife, Linda Arvidson. Among many of his finds were Mary Pickford and the Gish sisters.  This photo shows why he chose deLonpre's gardens as a location.     

An early Pickford film was The Lonely Villa (1909), and Lilian Gish starred in the first gangster film, The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912). When he first arrived in Hollywood, Griffith found Paul de Longpre’s beautiful home next door to the Beveridge’s, and filmed some of his scenes there. This photo shows why he chose deLonpre's gardens, some patterned after his countryman Monet's, as a location.     

 

Comedy Was King

Before Charlie Chaplin was Mack Sennett. He began acting in films in 1908 and by 1911 when he began writing, directing, and producing, he had appeared in over two hundred. His best remembered productions were filmed from 1912 until 1914. Even today, if someone says a group behaves like the incompetent policemen known as the Keystone Cops, we know that means humorously dysfunctional. Their popularity increased in 1913 when comedian Mabel Normand was added.

Universal Pictures

By 1912, many independent film makers began arriving in California. One was Carl Laemmle. The weather was good, the location choices varied from mountains to oceans, and it was far from the patent infringement threats from Thomas Edison back east. The roots of Laemmle’s company, Universal Pictures, began in Wisconsin where he owned a chain of nickelodeons. He founded Independent Motion Picture Company in New York in 1909, and reformed the company as Universal in 1912 when he arrived in California.

Acceptance Comes Slowly

It seemed like hundreds were entering the foyer of the Beverly Hills Hotel on opening night. As Anna and the Beveridges arrived, Ida looked across the room and tapped Philo's arm.

"I cannot believe Mira Hershey is here. This hotel may well mean the end of her Hollywood Hotel."

"Serves her right. There's talk that she's starting to rent to movie people."

Of course, the “movie people” weren’t welcomed with open arms. Hollywood was settled by religious mid-westerners, many prohibitionists. They saw the easterners, many stage and vaudeville performers, as a bad influence. But, times were changing, and the lucrative business the studios could bring was becoming evident, as the opening of the Beverly Hills Hotel illustrated.   

Italicized quotes are from Yours in a Hurry.

Historical Transitions

June 15, 2017

When you're writing a novel about a period of rapid change, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're using the right terminology. That's the case for Yours in a Hurry which takes place between 1908 and 1912. Here are some examples of choices that had to be made.

"Addison stood in line outside of his hotel waiting for a hack to take him to the airfield." 

Hack, Carriage, Cab? The mode of transportation was changing. In 1909, one had the choice of a horse-drawn carriage or hack, or a taxi, a new word at the time meaning an automobile for hire. Our character chose the hack because it was much cheaper. Of course, many referred to the motorized vehicles as the horseless carriage, but most of the autos on the road at that time were a Ford Model T, referred to as "tin Lizzies". 

"This is Addison Hartle, who I told you about, my chum from back home."

Today you might label your best friend on social media as your BFF, but if you read any book from the 1910's in America or even much later in the UK, you will likely see the word chum commonly used for friend, especially among youth.  

The Aviation Issue

It's difficult to decide what terms to use during the invention and development of the airplane. First, one has to understand that lighter-than-air machines are those like balloons or dirigibles. Airplanes are heavier-than-air. 

In the beginning, the heavier-than-air vehicles were called flying machines, as in the popular song of the time, Come Josephine in My Flying Machine. As France became the leader in aviation prior to 1910, their term, aeroplane, was adopted. The term derives from two Greek words meaning 'air' and 'wandering'. Over time that changed to airplane, and now, we usually refer to them as just planes.

And then there is the issue of who controlled the machine. They were first referred to as flyers. In the early 1910's as the profession began to emerge and licenses became common, they were referred to as pilots and aviators. 

"You know I can't sit in the dark during the daylight. I don't know what you women see in the flickers. Daisy is always after me to go, too."

From 1905 to 1915, nickelodeons were popular around the country. You paid a nickel at these small store front theaters to see projected moving images. As the film industry grew, and the movie houses became larger, these became known as moving pictures or motion pictures, unless one didn't like the new entertainment or just liked to use the slang of 'the flickers'. We soon shortened that to the movies.  You can read more about the early movie houses like the one below in an earlier blog.

 

Truth is, some changes take years to become the norm. In rural areas and small towns, horses were still a common form of transportation well into the 1920's or 1930's. If you walk the streets of England today, you may still hear someone refer to a chum. 

What terminology have you had to research in your writing or work? What have you had to change in your vocabulary recently?  

 

Memories of Great Dining

May 25, 2017

There’s no question that Americans love food. Major and minor life events, as well as lively discussions, are often remembered by where we were, and maybe what we were eating or drinking. Our Yours in a Hurry characters were no different. Here are three examples with excerpts from the book.

John’s Grill, San Francisco                                                          

Addison and Anna Hartle are in San Francisco in 1908 to see Purl off on Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet.

They stepped into John's Grill. "What a lovely place!" Anna said.

Taking notice of Purl's uniform, the maître d' gave them a prime table near the window on the first level and handed each a menu. The dark paneled walls and globed ceiling lamps created an elegant atmosphere. The restaurant buzzed with excitement, understandable given the number of uniformed men. One could barely hear above the tinkle of silverware and the noise of plates banging.

A waiter dressed in a white jacket arrived. "I must apologize for the noise. It's usually much quieter. So much enthusiasm! We hear that President Roosevelt may come later.”

John’s Grill was one of the first restaurants to open in 1908 after the great earthquake. Known for steaks and fresh seafood, the  restaurant today looks quite the same back then- dark oak paneled walls, original period furniture, and white globed ceiling lights. Full of atmosphere. And fortunately for visitors like the Hartle’s, it was within easy walking distance of Union Square and the cable cars line.  

Philippe’s, Los Angeles                                                                                           

Fiance Martin, and friends Lucy and Pete take Anna to Philippe’s restaurant for dinner on her birthday.

The couples went for a light dinner at the new Philippe's restaurant on Alameda Avenue after the motion picture show.

"Happy birthday, Anna!" Lucy gushed as they were seated at one end of the long, communal tables.

"Thank you! I read that the food is good here," Anna replied.

Martin glanced in the direction of the counter. "They have plenty of corned beef for the Irish holiday!"

They perused the menu that listed a variety of meat dishes. "Let's try them all." Pete said. Lucy ordered lamb, Anna pork, Pete beef, and Martin, blood sausage.

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest in Southern California, established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, of French heritage. Later Philippe’s was sold to the Martin family from Kansas, and they operated the restaurant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until World War II. When the new Hollywood-Santa Ana 101 freeway came in 1951 Philippe’s relocated to a former machine shop with a hotel on the second floor where it is still a popular attraction.

Sherry’s, New York City                                                                                 

Harriet Quimby selected an elite restaurant to meet old friend Dorothy Gibson, an actress and Titanic survivor.

Shortly after her return, Harriet was curious to get Dorothy Gibson's first-hand account of the Titanic disaster. Dorothy arrived at Sherry's in a high-waisted black and white stripped dress, trimmed with black lace piping and transparent lace from elbow to wrist. Her large white hat with a black underside anchored flowing black plumes, with abundant auburn curls seeming to burst from underneath.

After they ordered, Dorothy commenced her story, her large expressive eyes focused on Harriet's.

Canadian Louis Sherry opened his first New York venue, a small ice cream and confectionary shop at 6th Ave on the south side of 38th Street in 1881. During the 1880’s he catered large public and private events, quickly becoming a New York institution.

He had an ongoing competition with Delmonico’s, so when Delmonico’s moved uptown  in 1897, Sherry followed and opened across the street  in the south-west corner of 5th Ave and 44th street. in a new Stamford White built twelve story building. For the next twenty years, the restaurants existed side by side. One season Sherry’s would be the rage, the next Delmonico’s and then the Waldorf. However, Sherry’s future became secure when Mrs. Astor gave a ball at Sherry’s, and subsequently some of the most important public dinners of the period were held there.

Sherry’s closed in 1919 due to prohibition and what Sherry called ‘war-born bolshevism’ of waiters that lowered the quality of service. However, many felt that the real cause was the passing of the prestige of 5th avenue as the fashionable flocked to new venues on Madison and Park avenues.

Isn't it fortunate that we can still visit two of these iconic restaurants today? Bon appètit!

Sources:
Sherry’s: Read more: http://www.jazzageclub.com/venues/sherrys-restaurant-new-york/#ixzz4i14MtgO2 
Sherry’s Photo: James R. Osgood and Company, Boston - American architect and building news plate 1204 (photo is on two pages) Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46934369

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Dachau and Munich

December 12, 2017

The next stops on our memorial tour are contrasts in setting—one for solemn reflection, the other for hedonist celebrations. Welcome to Dachau and Munich.

Dachau

We enter the gate that reads Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work Sets You Free”), which appeared on entrances to Auschwitz and other concentration camps like Dachau. Our eyes are immediately drawn to the center of the courtyard and the breathtaking sculpture known as the International Monument (right). Hitler established this first camp in 1933 for political prisoners. I’d expressed concerns about visiting this site on the trip, remembering sorrowful feelings after touring the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Group members who have visited Dachau before say that this was a political camp, not a death camp. I can’t fathom the difference.

Several buildings remain as museums. Commanded by the Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel, or “Protective Echelon”), over 200,000 prisoners from throughout Europe were imprisoned in the twelve years that the camp was open, and one in five prisoners died. The camp was liberated by the Americans on April 29, 1945. While Dave visits the crematorium area, I visit the nearby Russian Orthodox church, one of several religious monuments on the grounds.

Unlike many sites visited on our trip, everyone, youth included, are silent and well behaved. We walk through buildings where prisoners slept and ate, tables and chairs just as they left them. One locker remains open so we can see how sparingly they lived. We return to the bus, still in whispers. We are glad Dachau is still here to archive and educate future generations.

October in Munich

It’s the opening weekend of Octoberfest in Munich for us—and three million others from around the world. For Germany, that means plentiful beer and food. Dave and I have German roots, and his are around the Munich area in Bavaria. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but when we hear the logistics of getting to the official Octoberfest grounds and the crowds expected, we decide not to join the dozen of our group who chance it. The brochure isn’t encouraging, either. If a tent is full (which most would be), you can’t enter, and you can’t purchase anything, including the € 11 liter of beer, unless you have a seat. You are “permitted to dance on the benches, but it is not permitted to stand on the tables.” Probably difficult to control given the inebriated consumers. We wouldn’t have survived.

Downtown Munich was also beyond crowded with cheerful Tyrolean peasant-dressed visitors everywhere.  We attempt to go to the famous Hofbrauhaus (right), but no empty seats remain in the great hall or any of the other eating areas. These are the tourists waiting for evening to join the annual festivities. We walk a block down the street and find a corner café with outside seating, lovely sandwiches, and coffee. We’ll save the wine and beer for evening. We shop in the pedestrian-only streets and admire the squares and the Cathedral. Munich has charm. We decide to return—but not in October.

After Munich

At the end of the day, we are relieved to travel through small villages in Bavaria and Tyrol toward the small city of Kufstein for the night. The citizens are cleaning up from a day celebrating their own small Octoberfest. From our hotel window, we look directly above us to the fortress that has watched over the city for eight hundred years (left).

A perfect spot for the night. It was a very long day.

Learn more about Dachau at  the official site:  https://www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/index-e.html

See more photos of Dachau, Munich and Kufstein at the Yours in a Hurry Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/YoursinaHurry/

Next time: Salzburg and Hitler’s hide away, the Eagle’s Nest

The Road to Nuremberg

November 21, 2017

Our Memorial Tour starts in Frankfurt. It’s the fifth largest city in Germany and has Europe’s busiest airport. You hear a lot about German efficiency. That isn’t our experience.

German Efficiency

Two large flights arrive at the same time, and we are in the under-staffed and uncontrolled customs line for about an hour. Soon after our bus enters the autobahn on way to Nuremberg, traffic stops—and remains stopped for five hours. As we watch from the bus, some people get out of cars, sit in lawn chairs, and read books. School children see friends in neighboring cars and start playing. The busload of Americans can’t help thinking what would happen on one of our expressways in a situation like this. Heads would roll! Later we find out that two large trucks collided in a narrow construction area.

Once beyond the stop, we pass many exits on this new roadway that looks American with most of our fast food chains represented. Our guide tells us that McDonald’s, known as “The American Embassy,” is very popular.

The Nazi Parade Grounds 

The next morning our tour starts at the Nazi Parade Grounds. You’ve probably seen photos of this site your whole life, in history books and in historical film footage, with Hitler speaking enthusiastically to thousands of Germans, their arms raised in unison in a “Heil Hitler” salute. (photo right) Aside from the main structure where Hitler stood, a guide must describe what the rest once looked like. He directs us to large photos covered in plastic. Now it’s deserted, crumbling in areas and overgrown with weeds, except for a few tourists and joggers. We speak in quiet tones. Standing in this spot, I see ghosts. There were so many. They must be here. (photo below)

While here, we learn that there’s talk about beginning to acknowledge those who fought for Germany during World War 2. It’s been frowned upon so long, this history. Maybe bring the Parade Grounds back to its former glory, they say, or better preserve it as a tourist attraction.

As we leave to visit the site of the Nuremberg trials, it feels like preservation is a better idea.

Palace of Justice

From fall of 1945 until fall of 1946, the International Military Tribunal convened in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice to try individuals responsible for war crimes. The site was chosen because of the large space in the building, including many offices and the eighty courtrooms. The building was spared during the war, and a prison was part of the complex. 

The twenty-four Nazi leaders were tried on four points: conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; panning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. The Tribunal opened in Berlin, but moved to Nuremberg on November 20, 1945. The trials lasted 218 days, with testimony from 360 witnesses, and more than 1,000 personnel assisting in the trials. The verdicts were announced on September 30 and October 1: twelve sentenced to death by hanging, seven sentences of life imprisonment, and three acquittals.

The courtroom has been remodeled, even more since we were last here several years ago. (photo right) The museum upstairs is spacious and describes the history well. What happened here may be one of the best examples of the quote attributed to George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

As we leave the site, Dave asks one of our new travel mates, “Was your father in the war?” “Yes,” he replied, “but on the other side.” Hans, an American veteran post-World War 2, was orphaned at birth. His father was in the German navy and died when the German ship Bismarck sunk. His mother later brought her young son to America. We realize that the trip has a special meaning for Hans and his family, just as it does for Dave. 

Nuremberg 2017

I can't leave Nuremberg without commenting on what a vibrant city it is today. These photos show the multiculturalism (yes, that's a shushi stand outside Nuremberg cathedral). We also got a taste of what we'd experience on our next day. Many German towns and villages were celebrating the beginning of Octoberfest in Munich that weekend with their own local festivals, and Nuremberg was no exception.

             

Details on Nuremberg war history can be found at https://museums.nuernberg.de/nuremberg-municipal-museums/.

Send your World War 2 stories to ann@ann-otto.com.

Next time: Dachau and Munich

Two Wars in Perspective

November 9, 2017

“My travels taught me that there was no area of Europe free from the memories and monument of the First World War.”  Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete History

I echo Gilbert’s comment. We saw these memorials in our travels, too. You can find  small monuments to military leaders and battles in cities and small villages throughout Europe that were ravaged in two wars. An  example below is the one hidden in Germany's Black Forest area, a tribute to Erwin Rommel. It's close to his home, and unlike the more formal monument near his grave, this is at the site of  his forced suicide by the Nazi regime.

I found Gilbert’s book when doing research for my next novel. He also wrote a book on World War 2, and he has a way of connecting events and individuals that helps us understand how history can take societies in directions both planned and unplanned. Most of the politicians and commanders involved in World War 2 participated in some way in the Great War. That’s why Gilbert’s books are considered good ones to start with if you’re interested in reading or studying either of these wars. 

Only an Intermission                                                     

The root causes of World War 2 began with the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. The process of developing that document ruined American President Woodrow Wilson, and it changed much of Europe and the Middle East—but particularly Germany. As the world economy worsened after the Great War and reached its nadir in the 1929 depression, Germans became increasingly angry, and it was easy for someone with a promise of national renewal and revenge to develop a following. Scapegoats—such as Jews, Poles, and Socialists—provided common enemies on whom to vent frustration and anger.

Many see World War 2 as caused by one man’s insanity: Adolph Hitler. What we saw at Dachau makes one wonder about man’s inhumanity toward man—and how one person could have such an effect. I haven’t read much about the German psyche during this period, and it’s hard for me to understand. But our tour guides along the way explained much about the French during the occupation and why more didn’t join in the resistance. Some feared for their lives if they didn’t accept Nazi rule. Others felt that the Germans were sure to win the war and wanted to position themselves for that eventuality. Add these perspectives to the Germans’ feelings of being punished into a deep depression after the Great War, and one can see why few of them resisted. 

Ironies of War

Gilbert reminds us that more soldiers were killed in the Great War than any other war in history—8.6 million—a fact that many Americans forget given our brief time in that war in comparison to our losses in World War 2. During that war, Americans lost 48,000, not counting the 62,000 who died of influenza.

The American cemeteries in Europe for the two wars are pristine, like the American Cemetery in St. Avold, France, pictured. Ironically, many of the Great War’s cemeteries were being formally dedicated in the summer of 1937 while Hitler was moving into the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. On Easter 1939, survivors of a British Gun Corp met in Albert, a small French town, to dedicate a plaque commemorating their service and lost comrades in the Battle of the Somme, which lasted five months in 1918. Less than six months later, the Germans would come again. This time they would stay for over four years.

I hope you read Martin Gilbert’s works. If you are interested in the Great War, I recommend M. K. Tod’s website, A Writer of History. Her historical novels are well researched, and you can read blogs concerning the wars, some of which involve her family’s letters.

Next time: Nuremberg

Tracing History

October 28, 2017

Have you ever wanted to dig deeply into an ancestor’s past? I did that for some of my family members for Yours in a Hurry. Now it was my spouse’s turn. This is a first in a series of blogs reflecting on a recent World War 2 Memorial Tour. If you follow my site, you know that history is a family passion: we read it, and we visit and support museums, historical societies and sites, and libraries. In addition to wanting to revisit my family history, I wrote my first novel because I’m interested in the early 20th century.

A Father's Untold Story

Why a nearly three-week World War 2 tour? Dave’s dad was in the first wave at D-Day with the 29th Division. Like most of those veterans, he didn’t talk much about his experience. After this tour and reading more about what we saw, I can understand why. Who would want to relive the horrors, even in the mind?

Dave has read a lot about this war and others. He wanted to trace what he knew of his father’s path across Europe—St. Mere-Eglise, Bastogne, the Eagle’s Nest. We finally found a tour that did that and more. After seeing some locations, such as Nuremberg and the Remagen Bridge, on an earlier river cruise, we wanted a more in-depth look at Europe’s history at that period.  

Learning From The Past

The tour included World War I stops, and one was the site of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the largest US engagement of that war. Some characters in my work-in-progress, Little Diamonds, are World War 1 veterans, like Danny, a Meuse-Argonne survivor with post- traumatic stress syndrome. I started writing the novel before we knew that the site of that offensive would be part of the trip. I felt I was fated to be there, and couldn’t believe the similarity of the forests there to those of rural southern Ohio, the Little Diamonds setting.

Future novels will cover other aspects of World War 2, especially life on the home front for gold star mothers. Reading about this history is one thing. Seeing these European locations and hearing from individuals who were children at the time of the war made me aware of the extreme losses for two generations in the countries we visited—France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands—as well as the United States.  

Search for Answers

Were Dave’s questions about his dad’s war record answered? Yes and no. For instance, after the occupation he was at Himmler’s house, and we could almost see it from the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s hideaway in the Alps near Salzburg. But Dave came back with has as many questions as answers. Some of his father’s comments of where he was after the occupation don’t fit. That’s a project for this winter.

Please join us on this journey, and share your family stories about this historical period. I’ll be glad to share them.

Character and Craft

September 17, 2017

I just finished reading Characters and Viewpoint (2010) by Orson Scott Card, one of many books on writing I’ve read the past few years while developing my writing skills. This is one of the best, not just because it deals with character building and emotions, but because Card is an author and teacher, and he uses books and films to highlight points on effective writing. The art of writing fiction includes being able to create the visual on paper for the reader, and Card caused me to think about some works I haven’t thought about in a long time.

Transferring Thoughts to Paper      

Card’s impressions of the complex plot structure and characters in William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, both in the novel and film, led me to finally read the book. Some of those elements are successful by using the ploy of a “story within a story” and a comedian’s device of “doing a take”—stepping out of the story and speaking directly to the audience. Think: TV’s Dobbie Gillis; Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop; and Jack Benny or Woody Allen—anytime. If these aren’t familiar to you, visit your local library and borrow some examples. The trick is, how can a writer capture these great types of action on paper?

Characters are Key to the Action

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings creates a world of Middle Earth and populates it with a social stratum of memorable representative characters. For instance, the character Sauron appears only once, but readers remember him because of how Tolkien depicts him. We may not like certain characters, but as Card notes, the author needs them to be memorable. One of Card’s favorite films is Far from the Madding Crowd, and I love the latest version. It’s the characters, their personalities, and the choices they make that are riveting.

Stories can have a strong effect on us. Card mentions Stephen King often. In King’s stories, such as The Dead Zone and Misery, the main character usually experiences both physical and mental pain, often unbearable to the point that we suffer with them. Sexual tension—with positive (as in the 1939 film It Happened One Night) or negative outcomes (unrequited, as in The Elephant Man)—affects us, too. The same occurs when characters experience moods, as when the ark of the covenant opens in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or when storms rumble across the moors in Wuthering Heights.

In John le Carre’s spy thrillers, the characters aren’t heroes, just ordinary people. But George Smiley becomes more interesting than much of his literary competition. The same with Agatha Christie’s protagonists.

Creating Believable Characters

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Thomas Gavin’s The Last Film of Emile Vico are offered as strong examples of fictional memoir. Walker tells her story, in part, through letters from one person to another. Gavin’s 1930’s mystery involves a cameraman writing a memoir about the disappearance of a friend—whom he may have killed. How the authors pace the story and develop the characters is key.

What book you’ve read or film you’ve seen has really moved you, made you think about the book or screenplay, thinking “Wow, this is great writing!”?

                                                         Orson Scott Card is also the author of Ender’s Game (1985), which was made into a film in 2013, and numerous other best-selling novels http://www.hatrack.com/ .     

 

A Passionate Request

August 28, 2017

At the recent 109th Annual Hartle Reunion a family member presented me with a letter dated November 17, 1909. It was written by my grandfather, Thomas Purl, to a man who would soon be a relative. Unlike the one postmark used today, this letter is stamped by five postal services beginning at Fort Monroe, Virginia, before reaching its destination. Six red two-cent stamps with George Washington’s profile are atop a beautifully written ‘Special Delivery’. No street address or zip code, just:

Mr. Milo Sanford.                                                                                                                                                                              Marseilles. Ohio.                                                                                                                                                                       .       Wyandot. Co.  

When my relative presented the letter, he smiled and said, “Look what it says. He’s asking for money.”                                      

“What would you expect,” I replied. “He’d lost everything.” Purl had a hard time of it early in life. If you haven't already, you can read about it in Yours in a Hurry. The young soldier was abrupt: “I will write to you at once and tell you what I want,” he began. He’s written Mr. Sanford, father of the groom, Harry Sanford, who is marrying Purl’s sister, Mary, on November 30. I can’t imagine my grandfather being so abrupt, but it’s obvious by the rest of the letter that there is a pre-wedding dinner on November 25—only eight days away—that he wants badly to attend.

A previous blog explained Purl’s circumstances. He lived in various family homes after his parents died. He lost his inheritance shortly after getting it, and joined the army. His seven siblings, including Mary, safely guarded their inheritances.

His war record is sketchy due to the July 12, 1973, fire at the National Personnel Records Center that destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files, so I didn’t know about his brief stay at Fort Monroe, Virginia, that first year.; or, that he’d gotten any leave that early in his military career. This would have been a great letter to to include in Yours in a Hurry. It describes Purl's situation at the time well.

I was glad to get one of his early letters. Even in later years, people marveled at his beautiful script (at right). He was supposedly an impulsive child, but he and all his siblings were well taught. Their older sister, Anna, was a school teacher. Purl worked as a railroad depot clerk until he retired. I’m sure they appreciated his 19th century calligraphy.

Have you ever uncovered a surprising letter from the past? What did it tell you? 

Worth a Thousand Words

August 3, 2017

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Looking at a family photo can give hints as to why some things turn out the way they do. Body language and facial expression tell a lot. In this photo of my mother and her siblings circa 1926 (right), William, standing at left, looks disturbed about something. Suddenly, memories of the siblings later in life come back to me.

The Twins

The twins are around three at the time. I’m pretty sure that my mother, Edith, is the one looking at the camera. Ellen, who went by Jane, was always looking for fun and taking greater risks. They were a surprise to grandma who had them when she was 42. Financially it was a burden. Now grandpa was a clerk for the railroad depot with six children. And grandma couldn’t say no when any neighbor or passer-by was on hard times and needed something. She was a dedicated member of the Pilgrim Holiness church down the street, and the children belonged until they were old enough to make their own decisions. At that point, they left. But that meant that the teen-aged twins had to sneak out of the house to go to the movies or wear make-up. As a child, I wasn’t permitted to wear shorts to grandma’s. She didn’t approve.

The girls married ex-service men and had families. Edith moved out of town and always missed the family.

Addison, Alma and Robert

Addison (middle rear in photo) and Robert (front right) served in World War 2, and then came home and raised families. Ruby (back right) had a mental disability. Back then she was labeled ‘slow’. She was grandma's special child. She may have been slow, but she could memorize the Bible. Everyone in the family loved her. She died young of leukemia. My mother always had a special place in her heart for those with disabilities because of Ruby.

William

William’s story is different- and heartbreaking for his mother. He was described as stubborn and moody. Grandma was the only one he cared for. He married shortly before going to war. His wife had a baby, and the family became close to little Patty. His wife worked at a bank, became involved with her boss, moved to the big city, divorced William, and married the banker.

Rumor has it that William started drinking when he lost his wife and child—but it could have been earlier. Grandma didn’t believe in divorce, and he knew he’d let her down. He’d never gotten along with grandpa who was very loyal to grandma. After this, he and grandpa never spoke. William moved out west and never told anyone where he was. Every few years he’d slip back home to see his mother.

I only saw him once. When I was about three, I was sleeping on my grandparent’s living room floor late at night and can remember the front door opening. I woke up, startled, but not afraid. A tall, thin man was equally as startled seeing me. He didn’t smile or speak, merely walked toward the back of the house. Shortly, my mother came and took me upstairs. I didn't see him again; he was gone the next morning.

The family had difficulty tracking him down after grandma died. They only knew that he was working as a migrant farmer in Washington state. His then-current partner convinced him to respond to a registered letter that finally reached him. William said he didn’t want anything from the family, and never wanted contact with them again. I found his death on Ancestry.com many years later.

I’ve often wished I’d known more of William’s early story. But the family rarely spoke of him. What or who was he looking at in the photo? Was it  his father? Maybe he just didn't want to be in the photo. Why? The family loved William’s first wife and child, so I can understand his need to get away from that situation for a while, but his life decision was drastic.

Alma

Someone is missing from the photo. My mother was always sad that grandpa never included Alma in family photos. She remembered Alma always standing off to the side. Grandma was a widow when she married grandpa, and Alma was her daughter from the first marriage. Grandma was older than grandpa, and Alma was older than the siblings. Maybe that’s why. A few years later, Alma had a daughter out of wedlock. Grandma knew that Alma had a harder time than the others, so she made sure that the family came together and embraced the daughter, who became one of the most loved family members until she died a few years ago. We have photos of her when she was young. It would have been nice to have photos of Alma when she was younger.

Care to share?

Have you ever looked at a photo and wondered what was going on in that instant?  If you have and would like to share, please email me at ann@ann-otto.com, or post  them via this website or on my Yours in a Hurry Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/YoursinaHurry/ .

 

Hollywood's Silver Screen Beginnings

July 5, 2017

“I believe we have an acquaintance in common, David Griffith. He and his wife Linda are long time colleagues of mine," Harriet said.

"Yes, since he has started filming his motion pictures here, he's become acquainted with our neighbor Paul deLongpre," Daeida replied.

This discussion took place in 1912. I’m often asked, “Were movies really made in Hollywood at the time your book takes place—that early?” Many associate the beginning of Hollywood films with the 1920’s, but a lot was already going on by then.

David Wark Griffith

The most famous of America’s early film directors, D. W. Griffith isn’t a character in Yours in a Hurry, but we see him in a scene at the opening of the Beverly Hotel, and he has a history with and influence on some of the characters. I watched several of his surviving films while researching my book to get a flavor of life at the time. Most of them are available on YouTube. One of his earliest, a very short 1909 film, Those Awful Hats starred his wife, Linda Arvidson. Among many of his finds were Mary Pickford and the Gish sisters.  This photo shows why he chose deLonpre's gardens as a location.     

An early Pickford film was The Lonely Villa (1909), and Lilian Gish starred in the first gangster film, The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912). When he first arrived in Hollywood, Griffith found Paul de Longpre’s beautiful home next door to the Beveridge’s, and filmed some of his scenes there. This photo shows why he chose deLonpre's gardens, some patterned after his countryman Monet's, as a location.     

 

Comedy Was King

Before Charlie Chaplin was Mack Sennett. He began acting in films in 1908 and by 1911 when he began writing, directing, and producing, he had appeared in over two hundred. His best remembered productions were filmed from 1912 until 1914. Even today, if someone says a group behaves like the incompetent policemen known as the Keystone Cops, we know that means humorously dysfunctional. Their popularity increased in 1913 when comedian Mabel Normand was added.

Universal Pictures

By 1912, many independent film makers began arriving in California. One was Carl Laemmle. The weather was good, the location choices varied from mountains to oceans, and it was far from the patent infringement threats from Thomas Edison back east. The roots of Laemmle’s company, Universal Pictures, began in Wisconsin where he owned a chain of nickelodeons. He founded Independent Motion Picture Company in New York in 1909, and reformed the company as Universal in 1912 when he arrived in California.

Acceptance Comes Slowly

It seemed like hundreds were entering the foyer of the Beverly Hills Hotel on opening night. As Anna and the Beveridges arrived, Ida looked across the room and tapped Philo's arm.

"I cannot believe Mira Hershey is here. This hotel may well mean the end of her Hollywood Hotel."

"Serves her right. There's talk that she's starting to rent to movie people."

Of course, the “movie people” weren’t welcomed with open arms. Hollywood was settled by religious mid-westerners, many prohibitionists. They saw the easterners, many stage and vaudeville performers, as a bad influence. But, times were changing, and the lucrative business the studios could bring was becoming evident, as the opening of the Beverly Hills Hotel illustrated.   

Italicized quotes are from Yours in a Hurry.

Historical Transitions

June 15, 2017

When you're writing a novel about a period of rapid change, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're using the right terminology. That's the case for Yours in a Hurry which takes place between 1908 and 1912. Here are some examples of choices that had to be made.

"Addison stood in line outside of his hotel waiting for a hack to take him to the airfield." 

Hack, Carriage, Cab? The mode of transportation was changing. In 1909, one had the choice of a horse-drawn carriage or hack, or a taxi, a new word at the time meaning an automobile for hire. Our character chose the hack because it was much cheaper. Of course, many referred to the motorized vehicles as the horseless carriage, but most of the autos on the road at that time were a Ford Model T, referred to as "tin Lizzies". 

"This is Addison Hartle, who I told you about, my chum from back home."

Today you might label your best friend on social media as your BFF, but if you read any book from the 1910's in America or even much later in the UK, you will likely see the word chum commonly used for friend, especially among youth.  

The Aviation Issue

It's difficult to decide what terms to use during the invention and development of the airplane. First, one has to understand that lighter-than-air machines are those like balloons or dirigibles. Airplanes are heavier-than-air. 

In the beginning, the heavier-than-air vehicles were called flying machines, as in the popular song of the time, Come Josephine in My Flying Machine. As France became the leader in aviation prior to 1910, their term, aeroplane, was adopted. The term derives from two Greek words meaning 'air' and 'wandering'. Over time that changed to airplane, and now, we usually refer to them as just planes.

And then there is the issue of who controlled the machine. They were first referred to as flyers. In the early 1910's as the profession began to emerge and licenses became common, they were referred to as pilots and aviators. 

"You know I can't sit in the dark during the daylight. I don't know what you women see in the flickers. Daisy is always after me to go, too."

From 1905 to 1915, nickelodeons were popular around the country. You paid a nickel at these small store front theaters to see projected moving images. As the film industry grew, and the movie houses became larger, these became known as moving pictures or motion pictures, unless one didn't like the new entertainment or just liked to use the slang of 'the flickers'. We soon shortened that to the movies.  You can read more about the early movie houses like the one below in an earlier blog.

 

Truth is, some changes take years to become the norm. In rural areas and small towns, horses were still a common form of transportation well into the 1920's or 1930's. If you walk the streets of England today, you may still hear someone refer to a chum. 

What terminology have you had to research in your writing or work? What have you had to change in your vocabulary recently?  

 

Memories of Great Dining

May 25, 2017

There’s no question that Americans love food. Major and minor life events, as well as lively discussions, are often remembered by where we were, and maybe what we were eating or drinking. Our Yours in a Hurry characters were no different. Here are three examples with excerpts from the book.

John’s Grill, San Francisco                                                          

Addison and Anna Hartle are in San Francisco in 1908 to see Purl off on Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet.

They stepped into John's Grill. "What a lovely place!" Anna said.

Taking notice of Purl's uniform, the maître d' gave them a prime table near the window on the first level and handed each a menu. The dark paneled walls and globed ceiling lamps created an elegant atmosphere. The restaurant buzzed with excitement, understandable given the number of uniformed men. One could barely hear above the tinkle of silverware and the noise of plates banging.

A waiter dressed in a white jacket arrived. "I must apologize for the noise. It's usually much quieter. So much enthusiasm! We hear that President Roosevelt may come later.”

John’s Grill was one of the first restaurants to open in 1908 after the great earthquake. Known for steaks and fresh seafood, the  restaurant today looks quite the same back then- dark oak paneled walls, original period furniture, and white globed ceiling lights. Full of atmosphere. And fortunately for visitors like the Hartle’s, it was within easy walking distance of Union Square and the cable cars line.  

Philippe’s, Los Angeles                                                                                           

Fiance Martin, and friends Lucy and Pete take Anna to Philippe’s restaurant for dinner on her birthday.

The couples went for a light dinner at the new Philippe's restaurant on Alameda Avenue after the motion picture show.

"Happy birthday, Anna!" Lucy gushed as they were seated at one end of the long, communal tables.

"Thank you! I read that the food is good here," Anna replied.

Martin glanced in the direction of the counter. "They have plenty of corned beef for the Irish holiday!"

They perused the menu that listed a variety of meat dishes. "Let's try them all." Pete said. Lucy ordered lamb, Anna pork, Pete beef, and Martin, blood sausage.

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest in Southern California, established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, of French heritage. Later Philippe’s was sold to the Martin family from Kansas, and they operated the restaurant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until World War II. When the new Hollywood-Santa Ana 101 freeway came in 1951 Philippe’s relocated to a former machine shop with a hotel on the second floor where it is still a popular attraction.

Sherry’s, New York City                                                                                 

Harriet Quimby selected an elite restaurant to meet old friend Dorothy Gibson, an actress and Titanic survivor.

Shortly after her return, Harriet was curious to get Dorothy Gibson's first-hand account of the Titanic disaster. Dorothy arrived at Sherry's in a high-waisted black and white stripped dress, trimmed with black lace piping and transparent lace from elbow to wrist. Her large white hat with a black underside anchored flowing black plumes, with abundant auburn curls seeming to burst from underneath.

After they ordered, Dorothy commenced her story, her large expressive eyes focused on Harriet's.

Canadian Louis Sherry opened his first New York venue, a small ice cream and confectionary shop at 6th Ave on the south side of 38th Street in 1881. During the 1880’s he catered large public and private events, quickly becoming a New York institution.

He had an ongoing competition with Delmonico’s, so when Delmonico’s moved uptown  in 1897, Sherry followed and opened across the street  in the south-west corner of 5th Ave and 44th street. in a new Stamford White built twelve story building. For the next twenty years, the restaurants existed side by side. One season Sherry’s would be the rage, the next Delmonico’s and then the Waldorf. However, Sherry’s future became secure when Mrs. Astor gave a ball at Sherry’s, and subsequently some of the most important public dinners of the period were held there.

Sherry’s closed in 1919 due to prohibition and what Sherry called ‘war-born bolshevism’ of waiters that lowered the quality of service. However, many felt that the real cause was the passing of the prestige of 5th avenue as the fashionable flocked to new venues on Madison and Park avenues.

Isn't it fortunate that we can still visit two of these iconic restaurants today? Bon appètit!

Sources:
Sherry’s: Read more: http://www.jazzageclub.com/venues/sherrys-restaurant-new-york/#ixzz4i14MtgO2 
Sherry’s Photo: James R. Osgood and Company, Boston - American architect and building news plate 1204 (photo is on two pages) Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46934369

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Hi Linda. I know Carolyn. Are you the person who was presenting on Clara in our area about one year ago? If you are ever around here, I'll try to attend. I'm not writing about Clara, but about another Ohio family of the same era (as you can see by the many posts about the book in my blogs) who left and went to California. Echo was nice enough to correspond with me. I used some ideas about how she set her book up to help me with mine.
Best,
Ann

Anne, I am Clara Wolcott Driscoll's 4th cousin (related to Carolyn Mackey in addition to a plethura of other Wolcotts across this country). And I do presentations about Clara - have done 87 of them so far in the past 8 years from upstate NY to Palm Beach. Someone said you were writing a book about Clara? Echo Heron and I are friends and she said she had communicated with you. Just curious what you are doing.

Yes, and I've seen her present. Also loved Girl With the Pearl Earring.

i see you like Tracy Chevalier. Have you read Remarkable Creatures? a historical novel about two women archaeologists.