Monday, September 26, 2011

Thanks for the Memories

The following are Erwin A. Thompson’s memories of an incident occurring during World War II. Mr. Thompson, born in 1915, was drafted into the Army in 1942. Thompson was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained from enemy action and a Silver Star for "Gallantry above the call of duty," and discharged in 1945 to return to the United States. Mr. Thompson is known as a historian, poet, novelist, philosopher, whittler and fiddler. I would add that he’s a treasure among his community, family and friends.

Following are Mr. Thompson’s own words:

My memories of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby

By Erwin A. Thompson

In August 1944 I was in France. Two months after “D” day, the military situation was far from guaranteed safety. We had landed on the same beach as the combat troops who had gone ashore. That bloody day started our “liberation” of France, Belgium, our occupation of Berlin and the end of that portion of World War II. It was a bloody road to travel. Our tanks had gone through the hedge rows of France, and were pounding at the Siegfried line—that almost impenetrable line of defense Germany had set up to resist any move, such as we were making now. We were still subject to air raids.

A show was planned (carefully) with just enough light to see the stage and the performers. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were the big names. There were girls. Pretty girls. Talented girls; but girls that I had never been introduced to on the TV screen.

They were performers. The show that they put on would have been appropriate as a part of a burlesque show but they left their clothes on (just barely).It was slanted for an all male audience; well planned and well put on. One of the numbers that they did was “All of me.” With the gestures that the girl made there was no question what she was referring to.

Bing sang ‘White Christmas,’ and received a great amount of applause. At that time we were hoping to be home by Christmas.(It didn’t work out that way.)

They were great performers and great people. My friend, Norman Grover, told this story about Hope and Crosby.

“They were traveling by truck convoy. The trucks were having trouble. The passengers got off and helped push the vehicle out of the mud hole. I looked around and saw both Crosby and Hope in mud up to their knees like I was, pushing the stuck vehicle. Not only great performers, but great people!”

Thank you, Mr. Thompson. To quote the title of Bob Hope’s theme song, “Thanks for the Memories.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meet Leslee Breene, author of Starlight Rescue

It is my pleasure to have as my guest Leslee Breene, author of recently released Starlight Rescue.

Thank you, Mary, for giving me the privilege of being a guest on your blog today.

Starlight Rescue, (August 2011), is my venture in changing horses, actually switching from historical western romance to contemporary romance. I’ve always been drawn to settings in the west, and this time my love of animals emerged. The heroine, a veterinarian, was born along with a cast of unpredictable four-legged critters.

A family of llamas emerged in my storyline. These regal and intriguing animals I had only seen from a distance. I turned to Jerry Dunn, llama expert and owner of Bear Track Farm of Golden, CO, for my research. At her invitation, I spent a magical day at the farm observing about twenty llamas. The males were quartered in a large rear stable, females on the side property. She informed me that too much male rivalry would occur in keeping them together. Jerry’s personal experience with a breech birth lent specific details to the birth scene in Starlight Rescue. Her sharing of recorded llama behavioral sounds was definitely enlightening.

Here’s the synopsis of Starlight Rescue in a nut shell.

Wyoming veterinarian Kimberly Dorn must keep her inherited animal rescue ranch from greedy developers. Rescuing abused and abandoned animals has been a lifelong dream ever since her youngest sister drowned in their lake, and Kimberly was unable to save her. Her new practice cannot yet support the ranch. The young man who answers her rental ad has a movie star smile and devilish green eyes.

Gabe Trent, a successful wildlife photographer and filmmaker, rents an outbuilding for his studio. When he meets Kimberly, they recall past summers when he worked in his uncle’s hardware store. She was a pony-tailed teenager then. Now, his sexy new landlady is a goal-oriented woman.

Still a free spirit at age thirty-two, Gabe wouldn’t mind sharing some good times with her. Kimberly introduces him to her rescue family: horses, llamas, dogs, and emus. Instantly captivated, Gabe offers her a percentage in a TV documentary he wants to film on the ranch.

But can she trust him with her animals…..and her heart?

Starlight Rescue ~ Romance Writers of America PASIC Finalist.

“Kimberly’s stubbornness is matched by Gabe’s patience in this story of saving the family ranch from greedy developers. Starlight Rescue is a wonderful story of determination, love and forgiveness.” ~ Linda Wommack, contributing editor and writer, True West Magazine, Wild West Magazine.

Starlight Rescue may be ordered directly from and at Softcover ISBNs: 978-1-936127074-0, 1-936127-74-1. Ebook listing is available in all format distribution (including Kindle).

Leslee, you obviously have enthusiasm for your new novel. I wish you every success and great fun on your journey with Starlight Rescue.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I will Never Forget: 9/11 in New York

The events of 9/11 will reign in my heart forever. Along with the rest of the nation, I sat in horror watching the televised events of that awful day. Although a volunteer, it didn’t occur to me that the American Red Cross would take an active role in the recovery process, but it soon became evident that New Yorkers in all walks of life were affected. Apartments within a huge radius were evacuated, jobs evaporated, life as New Yorkers knew it was horribly altered.

My first three weeks after 9/11 were spent in Washington, D.C. helping to set up a national American Red Cross call center. Those affected needed one central place where they could inquire about loved ones, where to find temporary housing, get mental or spiritual help; others needed to know where to go to give blood, volunteer help, donate money.

Soon after Washington, D.C., I was deployed to New York and my life was changed forever. I was assigned to Pier 94, a huge FEMA facility in Manhattan that coordinated more than 100 agencies under one roof. It was a one-stop shop where people could come for financial and emotional assistance.

Every assistance agency imaginable was represented at Pier 94: New York Police and Fire Departments, Salvation Army, housing authority, child welfare, unemployment, missing persons, insurance companies. The American Red Cross assisted people who lost family members, they helped families through financial crises that occurred as a result of the bombing, they set up respite centers where relief workers could rehydrate and relax.

Pier 94 was a somber place. We were aware at all times how affected these people were on so many levels. No cameras were allowed. Confidentiality and privacy were high priorities.

The Red Cross had a huge team of Mental Health workers available to the public, first responders and aid workers, as well as a large contingency of chaplains who circulated around the vast building. We even provided child care, staffed by church groups, so that people could talk to agencies without the distraction of small children. My personal responsibility was to give financial assistance to people who suddenly couldn’t pay their bills, they had been thrown in financial chaos.

Even dog clubs organized to give comfort. Throughout the day, well-behaved dogs were guided through crowds, stopping when a child needed to bury his head in comforting fur, or when an adult, overcome by grief, just needed to look into soft eyes and cry. It was obvious to me that the dogs sensed profound sadness, a deep melancholy that prevailed on Pier 94. I marveled at these dogs and their gracious owners who spent hours circulating through the crowds bringing calming comfort.

Local restaurants donated their services and food, preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for all those who served. It was my pleasure to share meals with people of all represented agencies. I had never spent time in New York, and talking with police, fire fighters, and those of other agencies was an eye-opening experience for me. I found New Yorkers warm and friendly, and so appreciative of people who were there to help.

When I had a few minutes, one of my favorite places to visit on Pier 94 was a long corridor decorated with gifts from the people of Oklahoma City who had suffered from the bombing in 1995. Flowers, dozens of teddy bears, pictures, notes from adults and children, it was an outpouring of love that brought tears to my eyes every time I visited that section of the building.

New York’s Thanksgiving parade had a special meaning that year. Sure, we experienced the relief of laughter–you have to laugh at clowns’ antics. There was pride, too, when school bands marched by playing patriotic tunes, their uniforms spotless, their instruments polished to perfection. But when the NYFD float came by with our tattered American flag we came to attention, saluting or putting hands over hearts. The fire fighters who carried that flag carried it with pride, and yes, defiance.

I continue to have mixed feelings about 9/11: horror that such a tragedy could happen on US soil, admiration for the strength and bravery New Yorkers showed, and pride in the American people for stepping forward to help. I am proud to have had a small part in the healing process after the worst day in America’s history.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: Inside of a Dog

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s been friend,
Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

Those words of wisdom, attributed to Groucho Marx, are quoted by Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog, What Dogs See, Smell and Know (Scribner). The book delves delightfully into the inside workings of a dog. Horowitz often refers to a dog’s umwelt, a German word meaning environment or surrounding world. Through this authoritative and captivating book, we learn what the world looks like from a dog’s point of view.

Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their worlds. Dogs are decedents of wolves but through breeding vast differences now exist. The author shows us what the world must look like through a dogs eyes and describes the actual construction of their eyes. She discusses the noise a dog makes and what it might mean. We might think of a dog licking our face as kisses, but what does it mean do a dog? You don’t want to know.

For me, one of the book’s most interesting discussions deals with dogs’ incredible sense of smell. A dog can sort with minute detail the information presented through his nose. Bloodhounds, supersmellers among dogs, can detect small changes in odor, such as a diminishing smell in footsteps over time. The bloodhounds large ears facilitate his sense of smell. By gently shaking his head, he can stir up more scented air for the nose to catch. The medical field recognizes the ability of dogs to detect distinctive smells of various infections, diabetes, cancer or even schizophrenia.

Horowitz backs up her facts with scientific research and presents it in useful context. Inside of a Dog is scholarly, yet a fun, witty read with practical application for dog lovers interested in knowing why their dogs act the way they do.