Boys and Their Bombers

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When World War II planes come to our local airport for an exhibition, my husband and son are among the first in line to see them. This week four retired war machines, a B-17, B-25, and a B-26—all bombers— sat on the tarmac in Eugene, Oregon as well as a P-51 Mustang. Tours were available on the bombers and half-hour flights were offered to those who had extra cash sitting in their wallets.

We were familiar with the B-17 because our neighbor, a veteran waist bomber and radio man, flew thirty-three missions on one. His crew was commissioned to fly thirty flights. When one of my neighbor’s crewmen became ill on the twenty-seventh mission, the rest of the team finished their quota of thirty without him. The company of men would receive a medal for their accomplishment, but the crewmember left behind would have to finish out his thirty on another crew. When he returned to duty, his squad volunteered for three more flights to let him finish with them—an almost unprecedented act of bravery—and the group received a special commendation from the Army air force.

As my son and husband toured the planes, they were reminded of our neighbor’s story about a bomb getting hung up in the door while missiles dropped on targets. The pilot told our neighbor to go back and see if he could free the shell. He dutifully climbed down the narrow catwalk, knowing the incendiary device was armed, and using a crowbar, pried the bomb from its trapped position. When my son saw the catwalk, he said it was so narrow they had to put rope protection on either side during the exhibition to keep tourists from falling off and out of the plane. Imagine walking that plank ten thousand feet in the air with nothing between you and the ground but an open bomb bay door.

Each of the planes had their special purpose during the war. The bombers were considered the muscle—all loaded with sufficient artillery to fend for themselves. The Mustang came later to escort formations of bombers, but soon the single seat fighters proved their worth outmaneuvering the Luftwaffe’s larger planes. The P-51 was able to sweep in and clear a path through enemy lines for the heavier bombers, rather than act as sidekick. Their history conjured up an image of a little engine that could.



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Left to right: Gunner station, catwalk, Bomb chamber, radio


Storykeepers #19–Freedmen Freed Men

atticsOne of the most interesting aspects of my research into the life of my great-great-grandmother has been the disagreements between scholars on what truly happened to runaway slaves during the 1840’s.

I’d been led to believe that kind, God-fearing white folks abounded along the trail, helping the fugitive find his or her way to freedom in the north. I’d read books where quilts of various colors were hung on fences to alert those seeking shelter to possible dangers. Other accounts told of hidey-holes under a barn floor where fleeing slaves could stay beneath a trap door. Still others told of wagons built with fake bottoms where the runaway could ride prone beneath the main carriage, sight unseen, as the driver transported his cargo to safety.

Not necessarily so, say historians.

While much of the above could have happened, more likely than not runaway slaves found their way to freedom on their own two feet, living under trees, and traveling by night. With the abolishment of slavery in the North by the end of the eighteenth century, free black men, and their families living there, provided shelter for the escapees who knocked at their doors. Single men were more often successful than those trying to flee with families.

Quaker communities spread themselves across the northern states, their stance against slavery borne of religious beliefs. Populations of African-Americans increased in communities inhabited by Quakers, as the runaway came, found shelter and acceptance, allowing immersion into the society with relative ease.

In Iowa, where my great-great-grandmother spent her teenage years, anti-slavery Quakers played a leading role in the compassionate treatment of men and women on the run. Documented evidence exists of more than a hundred homes across the state—all fitted with basements, attics, or spring houses—owned by Iowans who helped freedom seekers to new lives.

Ephesians 6:8-9 says, “because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. Masters, do the same for your slaves. Give up your use of threats, because you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.”

The most sobering bit of information I uncovered is that from the early 1830’s through the end of the Civil War fewer than 35,000 men, women, and children escaped, while four million slaves are reported to have lived in the South. Numbers of those who either died or were returned to their masters is unknown. Such a small percentage of success for so great a risk taken.


More Great Reading

iced teaAs promised, I have more great titles of summer reading by authors I have read and enjoyed to recommend to you. This week I’ll start with contemporary books and add a couple of historical stories to the mix as well. So while you mix your lemonade or stir  your tea, try a few of these on for size.


Contemporary tales

1-SongofSilence_Final-1Cynthia Ruchti has earned my respect with stories hemmed in hope. I have yet to read something she’s written that hasn’t reached to the depth of my heart and pulled on its strings.  Her newest release, song of silence, promises to be an emotionally satisfying tale for her readers.

Forced to retire from her position as a music educator in a small Midwestern school, Lucy Tuttle watches helplessly as the program her father started years before disintegrates before her eyes. Without the music a chasm separates her from her heart’s passion and Lucy wonders if the song of her faith has gone silent as well. Published by Abingdon Press.

TheSecondHalfSMReaders who know Lauraine Snelling usually associate her with her historical tales about the Bjorklund family who homesteaded in Blessing, North Dakota, but Snelling also writes some great contemporary stories as well. The Second Half, a timely story about two grandparents left to care about their grandchildren, releases in July.

Mona and Ken Sorenson are approaching the best years of their lives. Mona is planning a surprise party for Ken’s retirement as Dean of Students from Stone University. Yet he struggles with the news that office politics threaten to destroy the department he has spent years developing. Days before Ken’s departure, their son, a Special Forces officer in the Army, is deployed to Pakistan for six months and since his wife has left him, trusts no one to care for his two children but his parents. In moments, Ken and Mona find themselves parents once again, the second half of their lives very different from what they had planned. They learn that God’s plans are more important than theirs. Available on pre-order from FaithWords.

Contemporary blended with the past

finalcover2-183x300Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is another crossover tale by Susan Meissner. This author is the queen of stories that have their themes firmly planted in two different time periods. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take the reader on a journey to the past. It’s 1938 and Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Los Angeles after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart. She lands a job on the set of the historic film. There she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s elite enthrall Violet, until each woman’s deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and each other, to ensure their own happy endings, will shape their friendship and their futures.

Two more historic tales to thrill you 

Revolutionary War 

I’ve already read The Wood’s Edge, the first release in The Pathfinders series by Lori Benton, and am excited to venture into book two, A Flight of Arrows, which is now available from Waterbrook Press.Flight of Arrows (2)FINAL FINAL

Twenty years before, during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry in 1757, a young Redcoat named Reginald Aubrey, stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins—and raised him as his own. Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army which prepares to attack frontier New York. The Continentals, aided by William’s own twin brother, Two Hawks, and his band of Oneidas, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, but united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the young man marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.

Late Nineteenth Century

It’s 1897 and Romulus White has tried for years to hire Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry. But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her sister.From-This-Moment-Elizabeth-Camden

Thus begins another great story from Elizabeth Camden, whose late nineteenth century tales capture this reader with their intrigue, mystery, and heart-stopping danger. From This Moment, which releases this month, promises to be another winner in a string of captivating stories.

Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they’ve worked for at risk? Available from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Readers: if you have discovered an author you really enjoy, please message me or leave a comment on my blog. Some of the authors I’ve listed here I’ve discovered because other readers mentioned them to me and I became captivated by their stories. Thanks for dropping by. I am so blessed to have you reading my weekly posts.








Authors, Authors, Authors

iced teaHave you geared up for summer reading? With sunshine, lemonade,  and hot, lazy days ahead, don’t forget to spend some of those wonderful moments with a good book. This week and next, I will list books by authors I’ve come to know and appreciate. Whether you fancy historical romance, contemporary women’s stories, or a little of both, you’re sure to find something here to fit your taste.

drexlerAmish —An author new to me, but recommended by my agent, is Jan Drexler, who writes Amish historical fiction. Hannah’s Choice is the story I just completed, and is set at the time before the Civil War. Amish families are facing more and more outside influences to their way of life and many are migrating west to Indiana and Pennsylvania. The main character is faced with the decision of moving with her family, or remaining behind and finding some way to live on the generational farm she’s grown to love. Mix this with runaway slaves and safe houses and you have a compelling tale. This was a good first read. Published by Revell.


kbarnett1920’s—The third in the Golden Gate Chronicles by Karen Barnett released early last month. Through the Shadows is a complex historical romance which explores the depths of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  Elizabeth King hides a past regret she thinks can never be forgiven and works to redeem herself by helping girls rescued from slavery in the Chinese brothels. When she meets handsome attorney Charles McKinley, who is poised to rid San Francisco of dirty politics, Elizabeth fears her secret will ruin them both. A particularly thought-provoking tale—one of Barnett’s best, so far.  Published by Abingdon Press.


Anchor-in-the-Storm-193x300WWII— Anchor in the Storm, a second release in the Waves of Freedom series by Sarah Sundin, begins its story as Pearl Harbor is bombed, December 7, 1941.  Lillian Avery is headed for Boston to prove herself as a female pharmacist, her first taste of independence and freedom. Her brother and his best friend, society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg, are rescued from a sabotaged ship, and are also stationed in the city. Lillian must succeed at earning her employer’s trust, and not securing Arch’s attentions, which she finds annoying. I’m currently reading this and find the struggles of the characters intriguing. Published by Revell.


demarunoEarly America— A third book in the Southold Chronicles series by Rebecca DeMarino, To Follow Her Heart, releases later this month.  The year is 1664. Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton, a man she hoped would one day come home and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island, is believed to be lost at sea when his ship wrecked off the coast of Barbados. While his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy sails aboard a British warship with secret orders. When he makes his surprise return to Southold, it is not the happily-ever-after Patience hoped for. DeMarino gives great care to historical detail and her characters come alive. Published by Revell.

More great suggestions to come next week. . . . . . . . .Benton, Ruchti, Camden, Meissner, Snelling