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World War II Love Story

* A World War II Love Story *

It was a time of Harry James and Betty Grable; a time of seams in the ladies stockings, of Rosie the Riveter, ration stamps for gasoline, shoes, fuel oil, sugar and tires.

It was a time of the 35-mile per hour speed limit to conserve gasoline and tires, and a time when all the church bells rang in all the little towns for all the people to come to pray for the success of the Normandy invasion. It was a time when couples married hurriedly in order to have a few days of married bliss before he went off to war.

Such a marriage was that of Luther and Jenny. They had dated all through high school in the little town of Miller, Missouri. She was a cheerleader, and he was captain of the basketball team, both known and loved by all the townspeople in that little community of 600.

Then Luther got his draft notice. They married quickly and rented a tiny house at the north end of town, near the end of the railroad spur that came from Mt. Vernon, the larger town eight miles to the south.

The townspeople watched Luther off on the train, and Jenny went back to the little house to wait for his return. Luther’s letters to her came daily at first, then sporadically after he reached Europe where he was a bombardier on a B-17 bomber. Jenny would carry his letters with her and read them not only to her friends, but to anyone in town who would listen, and everyone would. Jenny kept the little house clean, the lawn mowed, the flower garden cultivated – all in anticipation of Luther’s return.

The telegrams began to arrive. Will Johnson had been killed, Perry Abiattia had both hands blown off when he picked up a land mine, Herschel Sexton had been shot and had a plate in his head and his Purple Heart had been sent to his wife, Dixie, who showed it to all the townspeople and wept over it.

Still, Jenny said that Luther would come home safely. She knew it. Two years went by. We little boys played our war games. We would run about holding our arms outstretched, making airplane noises and dropping imaginary bombs on imaginary targets.

“I just bombed Hitler”, one would say, “I just bombed Mussolini”, another would say, and then the war was over in Europe and the letter came from Luther.

“My dearest Jenny,” it said, “We will be ferrying our B-17s across the United States to California. I will ask my pilot to break formation and fly over Miller and your house. Be out front on April 3rd at 10am.”

Now, none of us in that area had ever actually seen a B-17. We had seen that giant airplane only on recruitment posters and movie newsreels. The word flashed across Mt. Vernon, Aurora, Greenfield, Lockwood and several other little towns in the area, and on the appointed date, at least 6000 people had gathered in front of Jenny’s house, many having left their cars parked nearly two miles away.

The people left a large opening in front of Jenny’s house where she stood awaiting this monumental event. I think I was about 7 years old then, and I stood holding onto my mother’s hand, waiting.

We heard it long before we saw it. The roar of those giant engines began to build up until it nearly deafened us, and then there it was. Just over the trees, from the east, nose high, flaps down, wheels down, bomb bay doors open, the huge propellers clawing the sky. It seemed to just hang there, and yes! We could see Luther in the bomb bay as he waved at us!

The gigantic war machine banked to the left, flew around the water tower and made another pass. This time Luther dropped a small supply parachute which opened just a few feet in front of Jenny. It had a small box attached. Jenny ran to it, picked it up and ran to the house. She later made a dress of the parachute, it was of the camouflage type, and wore it proudly around town.

Yes, that amazing scene took place over 50 years ago, and most of those who witnessed it are now dead, but Jenny and Luther’s love for each other never died.

As a matter of fact, I just saw them last week. They are still together, enjoying a love that to this day is as big as that B-17 we stood and watched in awestruck wonder.

We may have come from a small town, but our memories and our feelings run very, very deep.

~ The Author is the late Joe Edwards from Missouri who was a semi-retired Jazz pianist. He played all over the country. His primary base was Kansas City, known as the home of good jazz. Joe often wrote about his little hometown of Miller, Missouri. ~

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Lord, Prop Me Up

Often when I pray, I think of my good friend that was a deacon and always prayed:

“Lord, prop me up on my leaning side.”

After hearing him pray that prayer many times, I asked him why he prayed that prayer so fervently. He answered,

“Well sir, you see, it’s like this. I got an old barn out back. It’s been there a long time, it’s withstood a lot of weather, it’s gone through a lot of storms, and it’s stood for many years.”

“It’s still standing, but one day I noticed it was leaning to one side a bit. So I went and got some pine poles and propped it up on its leaning side, so it wouldn’t fall.”

“Then I got to thinking about that and how much I was like that old barn. I have been around a long time, I have withstood a lot of life’s storms, I have withstood a lot of bad weather in life, I have withstood a lot of hard times, I have developed a bunch of bad habits, and I’m still standing, too.”

“But I find myself leaning to one side from time to time, so I like to ask the Lord to prop me up on my leaning side, because I figure a lot of us get to leaning, at times.”

“Sometimes we get into the bad habits of leaning toward anger, leaning toward bitterness, leaning toward hatred, leaning towards not taking good care of our selves, leaning toward a lot of things that we shouldn’t, so I need to pray:”

“Lord, prop me up on my leaning side,”

“So that I will once again, stand straight and tall.”

— Author Unknown —

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With One Leg and One Arm

When I was in China, I saw a Chinese modern dance competition. One couple won the top prize. The lady had one arm and he had one leg. They performed gracefully and beautifully.

The lady was a dancer and was trained as one since she was a little girl. As a teenage she got into an accident and lost her left arm and was depressed for a number of years.

Later in her 20s she was asked to coach a children’s dancing group and from that point on, she realized she could not forget dancing. She still loved to dance. She wanted to dance again.

So she started to do some of her old routines. But by her losing an arm, she also lost her balance. It took her a while before she could even make simple turns and spins without falling. With persistence she became better and better.

She heard of a man in his 20s that had lost his leg in an accident. He also fell into the usual denial, depression and the emotional roller coaster of anger. She was able to locate him in another province and after much conversation persuaded him to dance with her.

He had never danced. And to dance with one leg? Are you joking with me? No way. But she didn’t give up. He reluctantly agreed.  “I have nothing else anyway,” he said.

She started to teach him Dancing 101. The two broke up a number of times because he had no concept of how to use his muscles, control his body, or even the basic dancing steps.

They hired a choreographer to design routines for them. She would fly high being held by him flying in the air with both his arms while she had only a sleeve for one arm.

He could bend horizontally supported by one leg with a crutch for the other and she leaning on him. They danced beautifully and on their own merits beat the others in the competition.

To see the couple dance please click here.

~ Author Unknown ~

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A Gift with Meaning

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it. The overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma. The gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike.

The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings were the only things holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, they swaggered around with their sense of false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly,

“I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.”

Mike loved kids – all kids – and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition. One year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

~ by Nancy W. Gavin ~

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Three Hairs, Two Hairs, One Hair, None

There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
looked in the mirror, and noticed
she had only three hairs on her head.

Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.”

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and saw
that she had only two hairs on her head.

“Hmm,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.”

So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed
that she had only one hair on her head.

“Well,” she said, “today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.”

So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed
that there wasn’t a single hair on her head.

“YES!” she exclaimed,

“I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

Attitude is everything.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.

It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

~ Author Unknown ~

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