Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day 2013. Grandpa's letter's from Italy 1944 and 1945

It's Veteran's Day, and as a change of pace, I'm dedicating a piece to my Grandparents Tom and Edith Luce.  Grandpa served in the 10th Mountain Division in WWII in Northern Italy in 1944 and 1945.  He left my Grandma home with my Mom aged 4, Uncle Joe 1 and Uncle Roy on the way.  He felt it was his duty to serve and my Grandma went to work at a factory, Rosie the Riveter style.

People often compliment me on being a good dad and a good husband.  I come from a long line of people who had good strong marriages and raised me right.  Grandpa by the way was an amazing athlete, played baseball and football and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds as a pitcher. He also was an sharp shooter and could hit a golf ball a country mile. Grandma, all 5 foot 2 of Irish fury kept my Grandpa 6 foot 4 and country strong in check.  He called her Babe, Honey and Squirt. I  honestly can't remember what she called him, but she gave him the stink eye like nobody's business.  They were made for each other.

Here's a picture in the late 60's

Any way while he was away at war, Grandpa wrote a letter every day.  I picked out two to share.   This willmake the blog a little long, but it's an amazing read.  At the end of the piece I'll add photos of the originals. These are the folks that helped make me who I am.  I added emphasis in places I thought were funny or touching.

Letter 1:
                                                                                                     Somewhere in Italy
                                                                                                      November 30, 1944

Dear Babe,

  Well Honey here I am again, I'm a little late to nite but I guess it is better late than never.  Boy I never saw such writing conditions as these, there I go crabbing right off the bat. Well Honey another day and no mail aint that hell, boy I ought to go all night when I start getting them again, hadn't I hon? How have you been feeling Sweetheart, sure hope you are okay.

  Doggone it do you know what, we worked all day making a little stove and then some blokes went and burned their tent down, so all we had to do was go and tear it down again, aint that hell? And we were just figuring on keeping nice and warm to nite, if you ever saw some mad boys, you should have saw us. Dam Hon it sure is hard to find anything to write about if I would just get a letter maybe I would have some questions to answer you see honey. I know that you can still ask questions cant you?

  How are my two or three younguns getting along, God I'd to know for sure which it is for sure.  But I suppose someday I'll know all about it , won't I.  Well Hon, here it is the last of November already, the old time is moving along pretty fast at that. It can't go fast to suit me if it will bring me back home faster, thats all I care about is getting back where I belong. Sounds like I'm trying to write a song, don't it. How are all the folks back home hope all of them are okay, is Edith ( grandpa's sister), still getting around a little, it sure would be swell if she would get going again wouldn't it Babe, I suppose that the folks have their place fixed up pretty good by now haven't they. I'll bet they are glad of that.

  How is the old man doing is he still griping about everything in general, him and I are going to have a date with a barrel of beer when I get home, and you are going to be right with me, how will that be Babe, you are never going to get out of my sight again as long as I live, if I can help it and I don't me maybe. Say Hon I know we've got some birthdays in December but Im damned if I can remember who they are, can you help me out.

  You know days and dates just seem hard to remember over here, we can't hardly remember what day it is, I guess it dont make much difference anyhow, theres only one day I want to see roll around anyhow.  Well Honey it is getting late and my eyes are getting sorta tired, it isnt too easy to see by these damned lights so I guess I'll have to close for this time. So for this  time I'll have to say Goodnite and God Bless you and the little ones I love  you all very much.

                                                                              Your Loving Husband
  Bye till tomorrow Sweetheart, I can't put down any X's anymore cause the think we might be talking in code, aint that the nuts

                                                                                  Bye Now

Letter 2

                                                                                              May 28, 1944

Dearest Babe,

       Well Darling the dam thing is almost over around here, aint that something to shout about but they are doing plenty of that aren't they.

       Seems as the boys birthday was a busy one wasn't it. How are my three little ones, growing like weeds I'll bet. did I ever tell you that I love you Squirt, well I do, so there.

       Now I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm in the field hospital, sleeping on nice white sheets with a pillow and everything, its the life of Reilly Babe, Ha! Ha! I'd just as soon not told you about it, but I'm afraid The War Department would, and then you would be worried.

I had a little fragment in my leg, and they took it out, it is only a scratch and I'll be back with the outfit in a few days, so don't worry about it will you Darling. I'm going to gave to close for now so I'll write tomorrow. Good Bye and God Bless you all.

                                                                                             Your loving husband Tom.

Here's the copies of the letters:

What Grandpa didn't write in the second letter is that his buddy was cleaning his M1 and there was a round in the chamber.  The gun went off and killed his buddy and the round ended up in Grandpa's leg.  He was awarded the Purple Heart.

I never had the chance to have a date with Grandpa and a barrel of beer, but I'd like to think he and Grandma are enjoying one somewhere.  Here's to them and here's to all the Veterans, today and every day.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bully Pulpit

Fat Pat, Cherion, Fat Albert, Perkins, Three eyed fag. Cry Baby. That's a short list of the names I was called as a child by classmates, school mates and even some adults. I was bullied mercilessly for many years. It didn't really end until college.  That's why the tale of Richie Incognito and Jonathon Martin of the Miami Dolphins strikes a nerve.

If you haven't heard, Incognito is a bully who made threats and slurs towards Martin to the point that Martin left the team, and Incognito has now been suspended indefinitely. We're hearing anecdotes that Incognito was bullied as a child and his father, who has been posting slurs of his own, is said to have been a cruel man to his son.

Whatever  the reason for Incognito's behavior, its time for the NFL and other sports leagues to ban the hazing of rookies or severely curtail it. Perhaps there's still room for some mild teasing like making rookies carry the pads or buy donuts or sing their college fight songs, but there's no reason rookies should buy 40000 dollar team meals or be taped to a goal post.

The bullying and hazing in the NFL is a national story now, but the bullying that is going on every day in schools across the country is insidious and has caused many kids to take their own lives. This is becoming a crisis.  Due to the prevalence of social media, bullying is now carried out every waking hour of the day. When I was being bullied, I could at least leave the bullies at the door of the school and go home to peace and quiet.

At the open of this piece I mentioned a few of the names I was called.  Fat Pat was pretty obvious, cause you know I was fat.  Cherion is a play on my last name and being a "cherry" (aka pussy).  Fat Albert was the name given me by the lunch lady when I was in 1st grade and had a Fat Albert lunch box.  The fucking lunch lady.

Perkins was again a play on my last name and the character Perkins from Sheriff Lobo.  See Perkins was a bumbler and also fat, so there you go. Three eyed fag came in High School when I had a zit between my eyebrows.  Cry Baby was due to the fact that when I was teased, which was often I cried. My Junior High School Principal referred to me by that moniker.

The point of sharing these things is not a play for pity, because I think I'm doing pretty damn well. Instead it's an example of what kids take with them from bullies.  All of these things happened to me 30-40 years ago, but I still remember them all.

Take the time to take interest in  your kids day at school.  Ask them about their friends. Make sure that they understand that the can tell you anything, and feel safe.  Make sure you're monitoring and limiting your kids on social media. They may find it intrusive, but you're the still the adult.

If the school calls you and suggests that your child may be a bully, don't scoff and dismiss it. It may be unpleasant for you to deal with, but it must be dealt with. You're kid is in need of some redirection if they're bullying other kids.

The Incognito-Martin dust up has opened a necessary dialog, but they're both grown adults and will no doubt land on their feet.  The suicides of so many young people are far more concerning to me.
Bullying is not a joke, not a passing thing and often not easily overcome.

I was lucky, I forgave a lot, but I haven't forgotten.