Archive for September, 2009

The day I got some credit for being my father's daughter

Monday, September 28th, 2009

One fine day last spring in 2009, when the day was way too hot to be cabin fevered at home, I decided to set out on my own, as The Collingsworth Foundation from our British allies, a society worthy of quite a bit of praise and attention, as they had sent three planes to the Austin (used to be Bergstrom AFB) Airport that year, while I was very ill from stress related trauma.

I went to forget my own problems, and still managed to see a WWII B-17, and a B-24 (the only operational airplane of its kind today) and a P-51 Mustang fighter.  I was able to tour the interior of that last B-24 unaided by constraints, as I had my father’s autobiography with me. I showed them my info and was allowed (just as the plane was preparing to take off), to stand in what would have been my father’s place, between the pilot and the co-pilot, as the navigator would have done–when he did  just that on a  June day back when many young American servicemen lost their lives in WWII.

I am a 62 year-old woman. As I crawled in severe pain ( to what used to be the opening that my Dad grabbed and hopped up with his strong upper body strength, and agile young body ) up a stairway provided for us ‘civilians’ to enter and be given a tour by a kind but befuddled crew member.  I was allowed free access there in his stead, and quite strangely enough began to envision what he might have experienced.  As tears filled my eyes and I was unable to suppress the sob that shocked even me (and believe me I’ve had my own trails and tribulations) — I stood in silence and  great pain for some 10 minutes while the possibilities of the stories that I had heard and read about filled my mind and memory. That very amiable, and puzzled crew member was seemingly amazed that I, who had been limping into the exhibit, my metal hip and knee starting off the usual ear shattering alarm upon my entrance ,was able to make it through the side tunnels of that old beautiful airplane, that had been carefully restored and was kindly offered in view to the public.

I was filled with pride at what my father and his crew members had done back in WWII, as I will always be so. I hold that day in my heart of hearts, as one of my finest memories. 

 I only hope that all service brats have a similar experience that evokes that kind of emotional epiphany, that brings appreciation of what their father’s or mother’s participation in a War Torn World can do to a person, and to his or her family. As I sat in my old Volvo with tears pouring down my checks and on my shaking legs for quitesome time.  I finally gathering up what was left of my dignity and drove out of the parking lot, into the highway headed for home.

 When I was a youngster, I remember playing with my brother, and his friends as my father looked on with a bemused smile, as we ever so innocently cavorted and giggled, completely unaware of the history and significance of such a plane to him.  But still as we played beside and inside of an old B-17, I remember how patiently and calmly he handled us all.  Even though this was one of the planes that he had so expertly guided as a navigator, with his own flock of brave servicemen through the more than perilous, impossible days when the 408 delivered supplies, reinforcements, and the very incendiary gasoline needed to fuel Patton’s army, not having the time to wait for assistance, as he and his crew members carried those 5 gallons tanks from the fuselage to the storing place.  Yet some of those few soldiers somehow managed to survive and make it back home. I am forever grateful that one of them was my father (at the time Captain Charles Webb Abbitt, VMI graduate 1941).

Though I may be known for my humour and imagination, there is nothing that can take the place of that day inside the last B-24, when the tears that fed my heart and soul which began leaking out of my eyes, like salt water onto the burning face of this newly enlightened old lady, who had awkwardly made her way into her aging and still heroic father’s place so many years ago.

 And today, I am remembering all of us old “military-brats” of those heroes of what was truly the war to end all wars. Compared to those sacrifices made way back then with these that I have made in my life to entertain and amuse, and try to cling to the hope you might be amused too; find in comparison, mine are down to 0.01.

I am glad that I have survived to tell you this story today. As for all the funny stuff that had me linked to ‘comedy land’; it can remain out there as everything on this Internet can do. I only hope we in the US of A continue to havethe trust and nerve to continue in the spirit of fighting the forces of evil – that, as Jakob Dylan said “Evil is alive and well.”

Heard on the Ferry going back to Cambridge, from a recreational venture to Revere Beach in 1941

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

     My good old dad, Col. Charles Webb Abbitt, of Appomattox, Virginia,  is a ‘well-spring’ of timely stories and sayings.  I have memories of laughing to the point of tears over some of them. But this particular phrase has stuck with our family for four generations.  I find it a brilliant description, one that stands on it’s own, as a culturally significant sample of the New England way of speech. Hopefully, that region’s accent remains with us today and has not acculturated into’ SVEN SPEAK’, but what can you do?   Traces of it’s unique quality will still be there, where and when people still talk to each other, there “where each Winter is too cold  to smile.”(1.)   Sometimes they even listen; but that is an acquired taste, for sure.

    This saying has stuck with me all my life as a useful and wonderful, discriptive key phrase — with out peer.   It is a true conversation blocker, no question.    This particular phrase was heard by my dad, in 1941 back when I wasn’t around to write about some of his more, amazing adventures.  But in the fall and winter after graduation, with a new degree in Electrical engineering.
, after he graduated from Virginia Military Institute, in May of that year, after some strange shuffling around the country in the Army Infantry (!), he was assigned to a Research and development graduate program at Harvard.  No summer Vacation for him that year. 

     This time period was before America’s official involvement in WWII, as those History Buffs that know stuff  like that would remind you.  He (my dad) was participating in the study and research and development that became Radar, something really very pertinent to the present day advancement of technology, but often overlooked as a “given.”  But it’s development we owe to the unforgotten, with-out equals, brave World War II Veterans of  The United States Army Air Corp and those other guys: (just a tad of comic relief, with the help of our Alies at that time…)

     Times Changes, and so do names:  “The Army Air Corps ” was then, what is now “The United States Air Force”.

My Dad has had some of the most amazing experiences–  But Soldiers, in keeping to their purpose in what seems to be insurmountable,  personal destruction, here in the United States, anyway, tend to have their own  special brand of  humor, with Wit and Wisdom, and a certain “Can-Do” attitude.   Notice each Branch of the Military seemed to create their own funny phrases, just to get through what must have been more than horribly tough times, more horrible than we civilians can begin to  imagine.

     This is our infamous family Key Phrase; It is the kind of thing that floats thru the air if you listen closely, and have sufficient acting skills and knowledge of correct deportment and use it quite formally and naturally. With out causing a ruckus or reacting, my father and his then companion held a dead-pan-facial-expression, even when a knee slapper like this one came along. And for this dissonant sort of comment, great protocol, repressed hilarity and calm acting skills were used.  Even as I goof-up the editing of my story, I am laughing while trying to hold my sides together.   So many people ,even now–have problems with my Dad’s comic delivery;  just like that day back then when he returned from a balmy afternoon spent at in recreation at the always entertaining “Rah-Veeah”  “beach.”   It happened that way that day, when a shrill very loud voice belonging to a strange young woman said very publicly:

Geeze, Freddy,Aint it Row-manic? …  The Sky am lousey ‘mwit Staahrs.”

     Thanks Dad!,  And to all our remaining Veterans of WWII,  as well as our current soldiers over seas. (with special apologies to those with the Boston-Proper accent, which I acquired (temporarily) when I was 15 years old, then dropped like a stone.
     Don’t forget…”The Sky am lousey  ‘mwit  Staahrs”, and that  just maybe, we’re all looking, and wishing on the same one.

     With great respect for our soldiers no matter who, what branch, when and where they are. 

     I have a picture of my Dad,when he was about the same age, when he was in a most serious and attentive pose while addressing the Commanding officers, as well as the whole group of Troopers and Crew assigned to this mission, which was indeed the biggest air strike in the history of the planet: The Army Air Corps were in the process of getting supplies, gasoline and one overwhelmingly serious  and tenacious air support for General (5 stars)-George Patton when he drove on cross the Rhine River into Germany, at the beginning of the end of Germany’s tendency to overshoot it’s realistic goals.



Caroline Abbitt Sauer (AKA) Kay Buena

Spammers: get a hobby

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

And while I’m reviewing some of my weirdest chance meetings with strange types (that would be you) of personages,  I sometimes wonder why I waste my time writing up something I work really hard on, and edit until a blunt edged hind-end knocks on my door, because not only do I sometimes say something insightful, or at least oddly entertaining, which I can be.  And even I must admit how creative my spelling can be these days and times.