Black Venus in the Pantheon

Josephine Baker may be more adequately recognized in France than she is in the US, although she has many fans here too.

words and music and stories

Joséphine Baker (born on 3 June 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri) was not only an American-born French dancer, singer and actress, but also a French Resistance agent and civil rights activist.
She spent her youth in poverty before learning to dance and finding success on Broadway. In the 1920s she moved to France and soon became one of the most popular and highest-paid performers in Europe.
Her rise to stardom on the stage of Paris’s famous cabaret music hall, the Folies Bergère, made her a symbol of wealth and freedom, admired in her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, which became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.

Baker had several nicknames: the “Black Venus”, the “Black Pearl”, the “Bronze Venus“, and the “Creole Goddess”.

During the German occupation of…

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Reblog: 2022 Best & Worst States for Military Retirees

In order to help ease the burden on our nation’s military community, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their ability to provide a comfortable military retirement. Our analysis uses a data set of 29 key metrics, ranging from veterans per capita to number of VA health facilities to job opportunities for veterans.

WalletHub Best States for Military Retirees
To find out more click here.

Decoration and Memory by JR Reddig

JR Reddig’s cousin Jame B. Reddig is the man buried here. “Cousin James Burr was a Great American!”

There is a brightness in this Piedmont morning. It is not unusual, since this is a lovely place with new bright green illuminated by the equally brilliant heavens above. It contrasts with the gloom of the past week, the perfectly natural parade of clouds and rain that in their time nurture the growing foliage that has raised the winter wheat at the end of our farm lane to maturity. It will be cut in time to provide another crop in this season of warmth and the bounty of the soil on which we lightly tread.

So, basking in that benevolence, we have a weekend that demonstrates the power of life and the glory of life. In its way, this day demonstrates the collision inherent in our society. We have applied our emotions to a natural surge of the life force. We bask in this rich sunlight, shake off the chill moisture, and exult in the power of life. 

And we remember. 

For the military members of the Writer’s Section, it is a poignant day. Sometimes our shared recollections evoke the occasional inconvenience of deployment and conflict. Sometimes the irony of humor amid the order of destruction. And sometimes the recollection of things that went wrong or right in massive collective efforts expended in the cause of a greater good. 

The memory of those events conjures the effort of an entire nation. General John a. Logan was not the first to remember, of course. He had service in the Mexican War that determined some order to a border apparently still in question. This day passed twice without particular mention for two years after the conclusion of the most savage conflict even conducted in the Americas. As the Spring season gave way to the riches of Summer, he channeled the raw emotion that lingered from the death of 600,000 soldiers into something constructive about the memory of their early deaths. 

General Logan called it “Decoration Day,” a time to visit the graves of the fallen and place the symbols of growing new life on the soil enriched by the passing of those whose vitality was expended in violence. There were other conflicts to come, ones even greater in scope and destruction. We celebrate it- a curious word that reflects the collision of purpose on lovely peaceful days- as Memorial Day. 

We have no heroes here at the Fire Ring. We do have men and women who volunteered and a few who were simply notified that it was time to serve. The Chairman emerged from the Big House as the dawn’s early light flooded the southeastern pastures. He made no attempt at a formal address. He did raise his voice in a forceful but respectful tone. We looked up, since public address from the platform overlooking the working parts of the farm are unusual.

“A moment on a lovely morning. A moment to pause and remember those whose days were cut short. I am remembering one on this morning. He was a volunteer. He flew one of the Air Force’s big jets, laden with the most powerful deterrents of his age.” The Chairman paused, gathering his thoughts.

“He was not committed to acts of war. He was dedicated to the proposition of peace.” The Chairman looked down at a card in his hand. “Returning his B-47E Stratojet, side number #52-0171, from deployment in Terrajon, Spain, there was a failure during re-fueling with a KC-135 aerial refueling tanker off the coast of Newfoundland. He had performed the routine of his job with alert precision. Precise course, rendezvous and connection with the tanker accomplished high above the gray and moving seas. And as that small but significant bit of routine peacetime operations was nearing completion, something went wrong.”

“A dozen people were there with him as the routine event erupted in catastrophe. The load of fuel, not bombs, erupted. Still professional, his hands moved to activate other systems in precise order in fiery chaos. Hurtling at hundreds of miles per hour through rarified air, they worked.” We thought of tugging straps tight against mischance in the air, or survival at sea in the event it was suddenly required. 

“He landed in the waves safely, activated raft, detached the shrouds of the parachute and breathed the chill, moist air that would be his last communication with life.” 

We considered that moment on a sunny day in a peaceful land. The Chairman summed it up simply. “He was returned home, and we helped decorate his grave. He had been young, fit and brilliant in his capabilities. He served for Peace, though ready for its alternative if necessary. He was the only one found of the seven who were lost that morning. The others now spend eternity unmarked beneath the trackless sea. The flowers that mark his place in this green and growing earth are not just for him.” 

The Chairman’s arms fell to his sides, then he turned and walked back into the Big House. We didn’t need him to finish, since we knew who the flowers are for.

They are for all of them.

Janine’s Mission 72

.and now here’s Mission 72: 
david hoffman
#1 Send by 5/24 (for 5/29) Henry’s 98th! About Henry:  Henry J Rishkoski was born on May 29, 1924. Henry’s hometown was Nanticoke PA. Henry served in the Army from 1942-1945. He was a gunner.  Henry was stationed in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. He lost two close friends on Christmas Day, 1944. When he returned home, Henry married the love of his life, Pauline Olshefski who passed away in 2008. Henry enjoyed bowling and dancing until recently. His fondest memory was on Memorial Day May 29, 2017, his 93rd. birthday, when he was Grand Marshall in the West Side Memorial Day Parade. Henry continues to don his World War II hat as he is very proud of his service to our country. Henry’s Birthday is May 29th Mail your card ASAP to: Henry J Rishkoski  384 Park Drive, Mountain Top, PA, 18707.
#2 Send by 6/10 (for 6/15) Clyde’s 96th! About Clyde: Clyde was born and lived in Freeport, PA the majority of his life. He served in WWII with the US Navy. He was a signalman 3rd class on the USS LSM-331 in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Clyde was 150 yards from the USS Missouri watching with binoculars when the Japanese signed the surrender documents to end the war.After the war he and his wife raised 5 children and he became a bricklayer and worked in several capacities in the construction industry. Clyde was very active in his local volunteer fire department for decades as well as many other community affairs. He enjoys woodworking and continues to make small wood projects to give to others. Clyde’s birthday is June 15th. Mail your card by June 10th to: Clyde Leri  148 Marwood Rd Apt 1213 Cabot, PA 16023

Reblog Janine’s Mission 71

Hello (again!!), 
I sent out mission 71 about a week ago, but we have 2 veterans to add. So now you have a total of 7 cards to send. Keep scrolling to get all the info you need to send them a card.   For your convenience, I’ve also kept the first 5 in this email as well in case you missed the original email. 
When missions are completed, the families usually send over pics of these veterans (with big smiles😁) holding all the cards they received! I post the those pics on my facebook, instagram, and twitter– so make sure you’re following along on your favorite platform! You can also scroll all the way down on this email to see recaps of recently completed missions if you don’t use social media. For those wishing to share a veteran’s birthday: please try to give me at least 2 month’s notice via email.  MOH Mail Call Update: Thanks to ALL who wrote our Medal of Honor Recipients! The National Medal of Honor Museum has received your cards and is delivering them to our Recipients! Last but not least, a warm welcome to all our new members! Thank you so much for joining! I hope you find this to be a fulfilling and meaningful way to do what you can, with what you’ve got, from where you are! 🤗
david hoffman
#6 (New!): Send your card by April 30th! Tom Partsch’s 75th! About Tom: He served in Vietnam from 1966-67, and was a grenade launcher for the Army. Tom was born and raised in Johnstown, PA. He now lives in in Florida with his wife – of 50 years.   Like so many of our Vietnam Veterans, he was not treated kindly when he returned. Let’s give him a warm welcome home and wish him a Happy 75th Birthday. Tom’s birthday is May 3rd.  Mail your card by April 30th to: Tom Partsch
919 Fieldstone Way
Haines City, FL 33844
#7 (New!) Send your card by May 15th!! Francis Newcomer’s 105th! About Francis: Colonel (Ret.) Newcomer is an Army World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veteran. During World War II he served in the Pacific on the Southeast Asia Command of Admiral Mountbatten. In Korea, Newcomer commanded an Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion. He is a 3rd generation U.S. Officer and a 1939 graduate of Military Academy at West Point. He retired from the Army in 1967 after serving on the staff of the Secretary of Defense. Dave’s birthday is May 25th. Veteran’s Last Patrol is collecting cards for him at their office, but will be traveling to NJ to hold a ceremony for him. So please mail your cards on or before May 15th to: Veteran’s Last Patrol
Attn: Francis Newcomer
140-B Venture Blvd.,Spartanburg, SC 29306

The Original 5 – ICYMI:
david hoffman
#1: Send your card by April 30th David A. Hoffman’s 75th! About David: He entered the US Army in April, 1969 at Fort Bragg, NC with advanced training at Fort Gordon, GA.
David left for Vietnam in November of 1969 and returned home in November 1970. Before heading to Germany, David married Olivia Ann Hassler. David left the Army January 12, 1972.
David currently lives in Texas with his wife of 51 years. He has a daughter and son-in-law, also in Texas.
A car guy his entire life, David still owns his original auto love, his 1965 Pontiac GTO convertible. David’s birthday is May 3rd.  Mail your card by April 30th to: David A Hoffmann
18125 Mammoth Cave Boulevard
Pflugerville, Texas 78660

#2 Send your card by May 1st! Dave Frank’s 90th! About Dave: He was in the Korean War from 1952 till 1954. Started out in the infantry then became a cook for 175 Army service members. Dave worked at Ft. Hamilton in the offices for 9 months, becoming a First Private First Class officer, lastly transferring to the Newfoundland office and coming home as a Sargent.. Dave’s birthday is May 4th. Mail your card by May 1st to: David Frank
P.O. Box 356
Augusta, MI. 49012
david hoffman #3: Send your card by May 10th Jim Herald’s 95th! About Jim: Ballard James (Jim) Herald was in the U.S. Navy, 1944 – 1946. This was during WWII. He was stationed on the USS Buckingham Naval Vessel, and was a C-man 1st class. His hometown was Elizabethton, Tennessee, where he got married shortly after his service. After he was laid off at the Rayon Plant where he worked in Elizabethton, he moved his family to Akron, Ohio. He has 2 living children, and 1 child who passed away in 2009. His wife passed away in 1992. He remarried in 1995. He still resides in Canton, Ohio, along with his wife Lou. Jim’s birthday is May 15th. Mail your card on or before May 10th to:
Canton Christian Home
Room 342
2550 Cleveland Ave. NW
Canton, Ohio 44709

#4 Send your card by May 12th Richard Gray’s 104th! About Richard: He was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He served as a medic in the Army during WWII. He was assigned to the 82nd airborne division when landing at Normandy. He was on a ship in the English Channel on D-day and went ashore on D-day +2. After the war he and my mother moved to New Jersey to raise their family; 2 sons and a daughter. He was an optician for many years until retiring in his 70’s. He attributes his long life to walking several miles to/from work everyday for many years. He was married for 79 years when she passed away in 2020 at age 99. He still lives in the home they shared and enjoys visits from his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He enjoys reading the Atlantic City Press and doing the crossword puzzle everyday. He is an Eagles and Phillies fan and enjoys Lawrence Welk reruns on TV every Saturday night. Richard’s birthday is May 16th. Mail your card on or before May 12th to:
Richard Gray
52 Stow Creek Rd.
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
david hoffman
#5: Send your card by May 20th

Jack Collier’s 101st!

About Jack: He was born in Republic, Alabama. It is just outside of Birmingham. He joined up on October 1, 1943, what was then called the Army Air Force, now the US Air Force. He was assigned to the European Theater. He reached the rank of 1st Lt.

He was a twin engine bomber pilot -he flew the B-26 (Martin Marauder) and A-26. As far as missions, he just “went where they told him to go”. He flew 45 missions, 141 hours in combat.

He separated from service on October 22, 1945. Jack’s birthday is May 25th.

Mail your card on or before May 21st to:

Jack Collier
704 Circlewood Lane
Birmingham, AL 35214

A Library With Difference

In time for National Library Week, Kaushal has posted about a different concept of library.

Kaushal Kishore

We have seen different types of libraries during our lifetime in schools, colleges or organisations, where one can have access to books, periodicals and other documents. But today I’m going to talk about a library where books are in the form of humans. This is called Human Library.

In such a library, the books are all human volunteers, who have opted to speak about their experiences openly to an interested audience (readers) and answer any questions put by readers.

Each person has a title like ‘unemployed’, ‘refugee’, ‘bipolar,’ ‘transgender’, ‘cancer survivor’, ‘bullying victim’ etc. One can borrow a person to listen to his or her life story for 30 minutes or so. Sometimes, a book is also read by a small group of 4 to 5 readers. 


The Human Library is a non-profit international organisation based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was started in 2000 by brothers Ronni and…

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Janine Strange: Mission 70

…here is Mission 70!
Send a Card to WWII Navy Vet Warren Shilling for His 96th Birthday! A bit about Warren:  He enlisted with the Navy at the age of 17, after telling the recruiter he was 18. At the time, Warren was a senior in high school at St. Mary’s High School in Katonah, New York. Warren served in the Pacific as a Radioman-Gunner in a Grumman TBF Avenger, operating from the USS Princeton Aircraft Carrier. While serving his country, Warren’s sister, LaVelle accepted his High School diploma.
Upon returning from the War, Warren had a successful career as a carpenter, while also continuing a commitment to service, joining the Katonah Volunteer Fire Department. Today, Warren is the longest serving volunteer in the Katonah Fire Department and has recently served as the Grand Marshall of numerous Annual Katonah Firemen’s
Warren is one of 4 children, with a brother Bill and sisters Kathleen and LaVelle. Warren currently resides in Newtown, CT with his wife, Patricia (celebrating their 73rd anniversary in October). Together, they have 6 children, 16 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren, who all live locally and enjoy visiting them often.  He loves spending time with his family at Fairfield Beach, cheering for the NY Mets and indulging in his afternoon Scotch. Together, Warren and Patricia maintain a strong commitment to their health, faith, and family.

Please join us in wishing Warren a very Happy Birthday, much health, and continued happiness! As a proud member of the Greatest Generation Warren can always been seen wearing his Navy hat. Your kind words will make him smile on his special day.
Please mail a card by April 5th to:

J. Warren Shilling
2 The Boulevard
Room 308
Church Hill Village
Newtown, CT 06470

1.  6th Annual Medal of Honor Mail Call  deadline is 3/25. The National Medal of Honor Museum is excited to get your letters! All info to participate is here.  2. If you haven’t sent a card in for Korean War Vet Howard Ferguson’s 90th Birthday (Mission 69) you have until April 7th!  Mailing Address:  Joy Nemeth
2160 N. Coldspring Rd
Arlington Heights, IL 60004


Luisa finds the best gems to celebrate.

words and music and stories

Charles Bukowski, who died on 9 March 1994 was a German-born American poet, novelist, and short story writer, whose words of “ordinary madness” scandalized the world.
He spent a lot of time roaming from job to job living in rooming houses from the East Coast to the West Coast before joining the United States Postal Service in Los Angeles. In 1969 Bukowski left that job to dedicate himself to full-time writing.

“You begin saving the world by saving one person at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.”

“If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose.”

The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”

Charles Bukowski, morto il 9 marzo 1994, è stato un poeta, romanziere…

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Reblog: I No Longer Pray for Peace

Please see Mary Grace Gibbs DuPree’s info on the icon, misidentified below.)

Believed to be an icon of the Virgin of Vladimir

Reblogged from a Facebook page.

“I No Longer Pray For Peace”

By Ann Weems

On the edge of war, one foot already in,

I no longer pray for peace:

I pray for miracles.

I pray that stone hearts will turn

to tenderheartedness,

and evil intentions will turn

to mercifulness,

and all the soldiers already deployed

will be snatched out of harm’s way,

and the whole world will be

astounded onto its knees.

I pray that all the “God talk”

will take bones,

and stand up and shed

its cloak of faithlessness,

and walk again in its powerful truth.

I pray that the whole world might

sit down together and share

its bread and its wine.

Some say there is no hope,

but then I’ve always applauded the holy fools

who never seem to give up on

the scandalousness of our faith:

that we are loved by God……

that we can truly love one another.

I no longer pray for peace:

I pray for miracles.

– Poem by Ann Weems

Byzantine Orthodox Icon (1132) known as “Our Lady of Kyiv”