Category Archives: Holocaust

Corrie’s Memories of Christmases Past

Corrie's Christmas Memories

Corrie Ten Boom Christmas story

Corrie Ten Boom Christmas story-1

Corrie Ten Boom Christmas story-2

Corrie ten Boom
was the youngest daughter of a Dutch watchmaker. She learned the trade, never married and worked alongside her aging father, Casper, in Haarlem.

The Christian faith of the ten Boom family was a living faith. Corrie’s sister, Betsie, never married due to poor health. Corrie herself was jilted when she was a young woman, and stayed single the rest of her life.

She and Betsie used their spare time teaching Sunday School and ministering God’s love to the mentally challenged.

A basic element of their love for Jesus was a love for his chosen people.

During World War II, the Nazis invaded their tiny country. When Holland’s Jews were being rounded up, murdered or sent away, the ten Booms created a special place in their home to hide them, at great peril to themselves.

Eventually all the members of the family were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Corrie’s sister Betsie and her 90 year-old father perished.

In spite of all the persecution and evil treatment she suffered, she was one of the best known examples of the Christian faith in the 20th century.

Miss ten Boom shared her story in “The Hiding Place“.

The excerpt above is from Corrie’ Christmas Memories, c. 1976, Fleming H. Revell.

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Filed under Authors, Books, Children, Christmas, Corrie ten Boom, Faith, History, Holocaust, Non-Fiction, World War II

Books Read, March – July, 2011

To catch up my reading list, the books below are listed by type, rather than by the month in which they were read.

(I’ll update it as I remember other titles – or find my list).

Mystery
Death of a Maid – M.C. Beaton, 2007
Death of a Dentist – M.C. Beaton 1997
Small Town Secrets – Sharon Mignerey, 2006


World War II

Non-Fiction
Entertaining Eric – Maureen Wells, published 2008; written 1940s
Notes to My Daughter – A Father’s Blitz Diary – Alexander Pierce, published 2010; written 1934+

Fiction
While We’re Far Apart – Lynn Austin, 2010
Henrietta’s War – Joyce Dennys,
The Devil’s Arithmetic, Jane Yolen, 1990


Early 20th Century Memoirs

A Vicarage Family – Noel Streatfeild, 1963
A Lucky Number – Vera Henry, 1957
Half-Broke Horses – Jeanette Walls, 2009

Cozy Fiction
Mrs. Tim of the Regiment – D.E. Stevenson, 1932
Kate Hardy – D.E. Stevenson, 1947
Summerhills – D.E. Stevenson, 1956
The Young Clementina (alternate titles: Divorced from Reality/Miss Dean’s Dilemma) – D.E. Stevenson, 1935

General Fiction
Joshua ~ a Parable for Today – Joseph F. Girzone, 1983
The Wetherbys – G. Clifton Wisler, 1992
Made in the U.S.A. – Billie Letts, 2008
One Second After – William Forstchen, 2009
A Promise for Ellie – Lauraine Snelling, 2006

General Non-Fiction
In the President’s Secret Service – Ronald Kessler, 2010
The World According to Beaver – Irwyn Applebaum, 1984
Among Schoolchildren – Tracey Kidder, 1990
Venus~the Dark Side- Roy Sheppard Mary T. Cleary, 2008

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Books Read, January 2011,

*Death of a Charming Man by M.C. Beaton. First published in 1994, this is Beaton’s 10th Hamish Macbeth mystery. The story centers around the effect of English newcomer, Peter Hynd on the small village of Drim in northern Scotland. Peter has a malicious streak and it becomes his downfall. Lochdubh police sergeant Macbeth warns Hynd to tread easily around the local Highlanders, but of course, he’s heedless.

The Hamish Macbeth series are cozy mysteries, though not quite as cozy as Agatha Christie’s books. Whose are? Grotesque descriptions are rare, along with bad language and sexual content. That being said, there was one section with a very un-cozy word.

Possibly it’s my imagination, but it seems that Beaton gets a little bored with the romantic relationship between Hamish and Priscilla Halburton-Smythe. Priscilla is not a sympathetic character; actually she’s fairly off-putting. Am I supposed to like her?

Hamish on the other hand, is someone I’d love to have as my local constable, despite his failings (mooching, laziness and all too often, a lack of loyalty).

Are there really policemen like him somewhere?

*Death in the Downs by Simon Brett
What’s the deal with so many current books? No happy marriages, affairs galore, no traditional religion, endorsements of New Age silliness.

Technically, this one is well written. The story moves along, clues are injected along with red herrings, it’s interesting and it ties up most of the loose ends.

On the other hand, it’s full of excessive drinking, mysticism and bad men. There is only one good/sympathetic man in the whole book.

I suppose Simon Brett really is a man, but he writes like a world-weary, jilted feminist who never met an alternative religion that he/she didn’t like.

It’s been a few years since I last read a Simon Brett mystery. The cynicism surprised me.

There are virtually no happy marriages in this book. Carole’s husband left her, one woman with an overbearing husband uses tranquilizers, another wife drinks, one couple is uncommunicative and then they part, and the “doctor” is a serial philanderer. Jude is not married but has an unpleasant relationship with her paramour, which we are thankfully spared the details. Parent/child relationships don’t fare much better.

And speaking of drinking … that’s practically all these characters do, besides intimidate, murder and commit mayhem and masochism. They are constantly drinking, not just at the pub but opening the second bottle of wine, etc.

New Age therapies are repeatedly defended- no matter how bizarre. At the end, we are treated to a discourse on the emptiness of traditional religion by the killer.

The writing is adept, the content leaves something to be desired. Come to think of it, Simon Brett seems more jaded than cynical. Perhaps he thinks he’s post-modern. Maybe he writes because his New Age healer prescribes it.

*Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie. Years ago, Joe and I saw the movie with Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Power, an excellent production. Since I’m always on the lookout for copies of Agatha Christie books, I bought a paperback copy and read it last week.

The first chapter told the whole story of the movie, so I thought there had been some Hollywood interference with the original and that there must be a lot more that had been pared down. The second chapter had a whole new cast of characters, but many books do that – using the first several chapters to introduce new settings, etc… By the beginning of the 3rd chapter, I realized that it was a book of short stories! I looked at the front and back covers and the flyleaf and nowhere did it say it was a book of short stories, so I felt a little less foolish.

The second odd thing about the book, was that the day I finished it, I watched a movie on Hulu titled “Love From a Stranger”. As it went on, I thought that it seemed very familiar. When the wife read the notation in her husband’s diary “9:00 p.m.”, I knew! It was the same story as “Philomel Cottage”, chapter 8 in Witness for the Prosecution. I checked the imdb page for the movie to see if they acknowledged Christie’s original story and indeed they did.

Now, it may seem that I was pretty stupid not to connect it before but lots of details had been changed. Christie wrote the book in 1924 and I think the tales are contemporary to that time; the movie is set in 1901. In the book the husband claims to be a photographer; in the movie he’s a scientist. Her sudden influx of money is explained by an inheritance in the book, and the film has her winning the pools (lottery). And there are many other things expanding the original story – so it wasn’t a clearcut case of simply not paying attention on my part.

I thought all that it was kind of a quirky co-incidence and it has absolutely no significance. Just an interesting interlude.

*Possessed: the Life of Joan Crawford, by Donald Spoto I can’t look or think of Joan Crawford without thinking Mommy Dearest, so when I saw this on the New Books shelf at the library I hesitated. But I was willing to consider that maybe that was a distorted view of her when I saw that Spoto claimed that she was misunderstood and had new archival information. Perhaps Christina was merely bitter after having been left out of the will.

But I will never know because I can’t get past the alternative lifestyle agenda of the author. He takes every opportunity to campaign for it and it’s tiring.

Hollywood history has long fascinated me, but I’ll have to satisfy my curiosity elsewhere.

Unfinished and NOT RECOMMENDED

The Blue Sapphire by D.E. Stevenson This was a re-read for me. Back in the mid-197s, Wal-Mart carried a lot of D.E. Stevenson reprints with new artwork on the covers and I bought several of them. The Blue Sapphire was originally published in 1963 but the cover on my book is straight out of the 1970s: her ruffled, loose dress, wedge sandals and long, flowing curls; his open necked shirt with the big collar and styled hair. When I read a book, I really like to picture the time setting in my mind – and the early 60s were not like the 70s, in any fashion.

Therefore, I see this as an opportunity to do an altered bookjacket.

The Blue Sapphire is a cozy romance and a quick read. It’s pleasant with likable characters, although I must say that I found Julie ( the female protagonist) a bit stuffy at times. Perhaps that makes it more believable.

(Dorothy Emily Peploe’s father was Robert Louis Stevenson’s cousin; she used her maiden name when she wrote, but the copyright is in her married name.)

RECOMMENDED

*Tides by V.M. Caldwell (Juvenile Fiction) The sequel to The Ocean Within targets 5th – 9th grade readers. It’s the continuing story of 12 year old Elizabeth who was adopted into the Sheridan family one year previously. All the Sheridan grandchildren spend each summer at their grandmother’s house on the ocean. Which ocean? We don’t know, but the clues are: the kids spot Vermont license tags on the journey there; it’s not Maine and there are pine trees right up to the beach. That’s a minor issue. However, the author doesn’t tell us why Elizabeth is afraid of the water, which is the main issue in the book. At the end, we are left to kind of …well… guess.

The writing is well crafted and held my interest. The subject matter is enjoyable – a house full of cousins, summertime, the beach, a town with a movie theater that shows W.C. Fields films. This is fun stuff to me. But the dark cloud is the intrusion of social issues – Elizabeth aids an environmentalist who’s trying to catch polluters.

Tides is a publication of Milkweed Editions, which is a non-profit publisher who “publishes with the intention of making a humane impact on society, in the belief that literature is a transformative art uniquely able to convey the essential experiences of the human heart and spirit”, according their note at the back of the book. At least they are upfront and bold in stating their goal.

My beef is that 10 year olds don’t need the weight of the world on their shoulders and how dare authors and publishers try to rob them of their childhood.

What they didn’t mind was inserting some gaia earth worship and a brief little ceremony for “mother ocean”. Perhaps they think they’re being ecumenical because they also devote very short passages to Judaism, Catholicism, as well as mentioning Hinduism, Buddhism and agnosticism. Talk about all-inclusive.

One very surprising element was the subject of spanking. Grandmother spanks. Everyone agrees that she’s fair about it, and there’s the agnostic mother’s disapproval of it, but I thought it was unusual aspect of a modern novel.

NOT RECOMMENDED for children.

The beach/family vacation storyline was much better done in The Secret of Cross Bone Hill by Wilson Gage.


*Theater Shoes
by Noel Streatfield (Juvenile Fiction) It was in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” that I first heard of the Shoe books. I didn’t know if they were real books, or just something fictionalized for that story. When I did an internet search (remember this was about 1998) the cupboard was bare.

Then when I looking over the Books for a Donation area at the library – there it was – Theater Shoes! I added it to my stack of purchases, brought it home and read it right away.

It’s a delightful episode in the continuing story of a Dancing/Theater school in London. This go-round was written in 1945 and concerns 3 children whose guardian grandfather dies. Since their mother is deceased and their father is missing in action with the British army, they have nowhere else to go but to a grandmother they’ve never met. Unbeknownst to them, their maternal relatives are all theater people and they are enrolled in Madame Fidolia’s Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training, which to them is like falling down the rabbit hole.

This passage from`Chapter 14 describes how the war had changed the appearance of a first night theater audience: “The audience was exactly as Miriam had said it would be, and not a bit as Alice had described it. The women were in uniform or dark overcoats, and most of them had big boots with fur linings. The men were in uniform or exactly as they had come on from work. Nobody was dressed up. Aunt Lindsey was looking very nice in a black frock and fur coat, but only nice in the way that anybody might look in the afternoon.”

Even though it’s written for older children, Theater Shoes is a charming book which held my interest.

RECOMMENDED

*Night by Elie Wiesel This is a tough book to read, which I knew going in. It is the story of Wiesel and his Jewish family in the early days of World War II, their deportation to Auschwitz, then Buchenwald. At first there is his father, mother and sister. The mother and sister are separated from them, then his father is gone.

It’s the story of the price of survival.

It is a horrible and cruel book. One that we need to read every time we’re told that Israel is expendable.

The Gentile world turned it’s collective back on the Jews. They have no other place to go but Israel.

God bless his chosen people and the land He gave them.

RECOMMENDED for the strong

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The Desire for Style


What is it in human nature that drives the desire for attractive clothes, hair, shoes, jewelry? How innate is this desire?

Proverbs 31 describes the virtuous woman: “She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.” (Thank you, http://www.biblegateway.com)

Silk and purple are far from being simple, plain clothing. Tapestry is labor intensive but stunning.


Then Jesus said in Matthew 6:28 (Amplified):
“And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and [a]learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.”

What I believe the Lord is teaching us here is that it’s no sin to want or wear beautiful clothes, that it’s actually considered a virtue for a woman to clothe herself thusly.

It becomes sin when we obsess and become anxious about it.

What a relief! Because I do like pretty clothes. I don’t have very many due to … what? Laziness? Lack of planning? The Proverbs 31 woman seeks wool and flax and works them willingly with her hands. I need to do more of that because I can sew. I’d never win a 4-H competition but I can put together a garment. Hopefully I just need more practice.

This line of thinking began today after reading Robert Avrech’s May 10, 2010 post, Friday Fashion. (He doesn’t have a direct link to that post; just go to his website and page down to it.)

Mr. Avrech is a Hollywood screenwriter and he describes the change that comes when a plain looking actress is dressed and coiffed by movie studio professionals. The transformation even changes how the actress feels about herself; she becomes much more self confident.

Freda & Stella Sexton, 1917


And that reminds me of something my mother used to say: casual dress leads to casual behavior. I grew up during the late 1960s – early 1970s and jeans and a t-shirt were fine with me, even for church at a time when that was considered a little too radical.

But now there’s been a lot of water under my bridge and I not only see her point, I agree with it. I’ve noticed that when I dress up, I behave more lady-like. My husband dons a suit and he becomes Mr. Debonair.

This subject fascinates me – in fact, there are 22 entries under Fashion in my Categories list. And as I mentioned before, what someone wore on a particular occasion usually sticks in my memory. On Saturday my sister and I were talking about the Christmas trip back home to Oklahoma that she and her husband made in 1965. I recalled her outfit when we picked them up at Tulsa International Airport: a royal blue suit (skirt and jacket), made of a wool-like fabric.

Dorothy Provine Paper Dolls
The news about Dorothy Provine’s death last week reminded me of her paper doll. Included in the set were some costumes from her television show The Roaring Twenties. I just loved them. Ebay usually has a set of them and you can go here to see them.

Girls just naturally want to have and wear pretty clothes. Paper dolls fulfilled that desire by making it much more affordable to have lots of changes. The creator of the Barbie doll observed her daughter playing with paper dolls and changing their clothes. Her idea was to make a doll with a big wardrobe which could be attained one piece at a time, by marketing them separately from the dolls.

The Thoughtful Dresser

Back to Mr. Avrech’s post: he mentioned a new book by Linda Grant titled “The Thoughtful Dresser“.
If you click on the link, you can read a few pages from the book. I found it very interesting and hope that the rest of it lives up to my expectations because I’ve put it in my cart.

Miss Grant tells of a requisition for lipstick for females liberated from a concentration camp. How puzzling.

Lipstick? They needed so many things!

Why lipstick? It was an attempt to restore their human dignity.

Which reminds me of a documentary, Steal a Pencil for Me
. (Available for free viewing at hulu.com). It’s the story of a man and woman who survived the Holocaust. Of course, the very subject matter is deadly serious. How could it be otherwise? But the featured couple are wonderful, uplifting people and survived with a joy for life.

The tie in to fashion? Manja Polak tells of her style efforts in the camp: she had taken with her a few hair curlers. Even though she was unable to wash her hair, she used the curlers every night. In the midst of the squalid conditions, she did what she could to beautify her appearance.

What a lady!

She’s still lovely.

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