Friday, June 29, 2012

Soldiers without Guns: Women Defense Workers in WWII

I love a good first person re-enactor. A good re-enactor can make you feel as if you have just traveled back in time. They make you feel as if you have met the person they are teaching you about. As a history buff, I have been enthralled by their stories. I often quiz them about their lives. I always learn something from them and feel an attachment in a way that simply reading about the "person" or watching a movie cannot do. I become engaged with their lives.

Over the years I have engaged with Stacy Roth in this manner. She has programs as part of her "History on the Hoof" business. A great way for a local organization to hire her is through a Horizon Speakers Program grant available from NJCH for such a purpose. We have seen Stacy as Molly Pitcher, and as a refined 18th centuryb lady educating us 20th century people about tea. Most recently, I saw her in overalls and a red bandanna as "Rosie the Riveter" in hyer "Soldiers without Guns: Women Defense Workers in WWII" program. 

Technically, this was my second time seeing her as Rosie. The first time was at Peachfield a month earlier. I got lost. I got very lost. By the time I found Peachfield, Stacy was almost finished. She told me should would be reprising her role at the First Presbyterian Church of Woodbury Heights -- not far from Don's office. We all went. Ashley was asked to demonstrate the outfit welders would have worn. It was a bit big on her.

Stacy brought that era to life. All able women took jobs in order to free up the men so they could go off to fight the enemy. In "her" case she learned how to be a welder. Other women drove buses, made deliveries and took other jobs traditionally held by men. After her presentation, members of the audience were encouraged to share stories about their lives (or the lives of their parents) during WWII.

Her presentation made me think about life in America now.  We've been fighting a war in Afghanistan and Iraq for over a decade. Few Americans are making enormous sacrifices. Many are making no real sacrifices. Back in the 1940s, scrap metal was collected to make weapons. People made do with what they had. They grew Victory Gardens. The war was huge news. Everyone did their part for the good of the country. Today most of us don't have that same connection. Personally I know one person who was killed in action (David Weigle) -- the son of our former pastor. I know of a few others who have or who are serving. Most days pass without my giving that part of the globe a moment's thought. I think that is true for most (not all, of course) of the people I know.

It is a different time. 

We still need to support our soldiers, our vets and their families. They have many needs. 

I do not wish enormous sacrifices on our part, nor did I start writing this planning to turn it into a political statement. 

Thank a soldier, a vet, or their family today and every day.

Long time, no write

Whoosh went the past couple of months. Last I wrote it was May 8th and all of a sudden it is almost the 4th of July.

Life has been crazy busy. Lots of fun. Some work. And more fun.

May is always busy in our house. May 15th Don and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. May 17th Ashley turned 10. May automatically turns into celebration month around here.

Ashley celebrated double-digits with lots of sweets -- including my baking the Pillsbury recipe for Scotch Bars for her class, and brownies for sewing. This is more baking than I do most of the rest of the year. 

On her birthday we had a picnic with food from Tiger Noodle in Princeton, and walked down the street to Purple Cow for dessert from our local ice cream parlor. 

From the time Ashley was a baby until she was 8, each month I took a picture of her with "the bear" on this chair. Someday I'll scan the other pictures, but for now this will do.

There were other parties, including a family BBQ. It was a beautiful day, and not just because of the weather.

After May comes June.

We spent a few days up North -- three days in Quebec City and two more in Montreal. I'll write more about that trip in a separate blog entry.

June is the traditional end of the school year. As official class photographer, that meant chaperoning the class trip (to Jenkinson's Aquarium and the beach), taking pictures at the class party, putting together an album of pictures for the teacher, and juggling the odd end of school year calendar.

My freelance work with Patch was slow the first few months of the year. In its place, I started volunteering again in the PDS Lower School Library. That was a lot of fun. Too bad I can't convince them to pay me. They did, however, pay me to play with the Junior Kindergarten kids for a week as a substitute teacher. I smiled the whole week.

I also started serving on the Sustainable Lawrence committee -- think of it as a Roots and Shoots club for grown-ups. At our last meeting (I hate meetings, but these are fun) we discussed how we can join the bandwagon of states banning single-use plastic bags and implement a similar ban in Lawrenceville. The other big topic was what I think of as "Composting for Dummies" -- we have trash pick up solely for food waste, and yard clippings, which will then be turned into bio-fuel. It is a win-win as the fees for picking up food waste are a lot less (about a sixth of the fee) as picking up regular trash. This is a committee I support and feel excited about when I talk to people in town.

This month Patch has asked me to write a bunch of stories, and take a bunch of pictures. I interviewed Girl Scouts about the 100th anniversary of scouting (, local award-winning "Mustard Man" (, and the Miss Amy concert ( The biggest coup, though, was when I took pictures of Lawrence High School's graduation from the floor of the Sun National Center ( The school liked it so much they gave me a by-line on the website.

Thanks to a friend from church, I recently received my first non-Patch freelance assignment. I've been asked to write a story for Chamber of Commerce publications in North Jersey. I am hoping this will lead to more work.

Ashley is now home for the summer. She wrapped up a week of Vacation Bible School at the Nassau Presbyterian Church. Next week (4th of July) we'll spend it together. I'm glad the work I do gives me the flexibility to spend time with Ashley as she grows up. Yes, the past two months have gone by in a giant WHOOSH, but so have the past 10 years. They are only little once.