What Happened on February 13th – The Fire Bombing of Dresden

What was the real reason that the Allies fire bombed Dresden, Germany on February 13, 1945?  This is one of history’s many arguments.  Known as the “Florence of the Elbe”, did Dresden meet the criteria for the strategic bombing raids on cities known for war production and manufacturing decided from the February 1945 Yalta Conference or was it just to punish the Germans and weaken their morale?  Dresden had never been a site for Germany’s war production or major industry.  It was a city known for rich artistic and architectural treasures. The “official” reason was that it was a communication center for Germany and needed to be eliminated to bring the war to an end.
At Yalta in 1945, the Big Three formalized plans for occupation zones in Germany. Stalin, above right, also agreed to join the U.N.. Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

At Yalta in 1945, the Big Three formalized plans for occupation zones in Germany. Stalin, above right, also agreed to join the U.N.. Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

Regardless of the real reason, the city was reduced to rubble with a death toll of 135,000 people.  Everyone has heard of the devastation to the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II history but Dresden was the single most destructive bombing of the war.  Since the Germans were already on the verge of surrender, this bombing has been the cause for much speculation and was considered disproportionate to the stated strategic goal.

The single most destructive bombing of the war.

  • More than 3,400 tons of explosives were dropped on the city
  • 800 American and British aircraft involved.
  • Two days of bombing set the city burning, littering the streets with charred corpses, including many children.
  • Eight square miles of the city was ruined
  • The total body count was between 35,000 and 135,000 (an approximation is all that was possible given that the city was filled with many refugees from farther east).
  • The hospitals that were left standing could not handle the numbers of injured and burned, and mass burials became necessary.

Have you read Slaughterhouse Five, by the novelist Kurt Vonnegut?  This antiwar novel detailed the Dresden experience as he was an American POW in Dresden at the time of the raid.

Aerial view of Dresden, Germany today

Aerial view of Dresden, Germany today

Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge – Why Won’t They Assimilate

Submitted for Sunday Photo Fiction

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The Assignment: The idea of Photo Fiction is write a story of around 100-200 words (which is also called Flash Fiction) based on a photo as a prompt. In this particular photo fiction, the story must be based on the photo below.

Photo © Sascha Darlington

Photo © Sascha Darlington

Why Won’t They Assimilate

Michael’s mother stood in the doorway with her shoulders slumped. She saw that he was watching the outside monitor again.

“Michael you know we don’t like you spending all your time watching that screen.”

“I find it interesting. I don’t get it mom. Why won’t they assimilate?”

“They just haven’t learned that they can trust their government. Moving inside the PODS is the best decision your father and I made for our family. We always know exactly what we’ll be doing every day and we never have to employ our imagination again. It’s a structured life.”

“I see families being admitted each day when I am going to school. Just yesterday a really cute new girl was hooked up to the education probes next to me. We didn’t talk because after all who needs to when there never needs to be anything to say anymore.”

“I am glad you found a new friend. Turn off the monitor and come get hooked up to the dinner probes. Your father will be home soon.”

After his mom left the room, Michael saw what he’d been waiting for. His new friend winked at the camera as she walked by on the outside.

Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge – The Simple Crime By A Simpleton

Submitted for Sunday Photo Fiction

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The Assignment: The idea of Photo Fiction is write a story of around 100-200 words (which is also called Flash Fiction) based on a photo as a prompt. In this particular photo fiction, the story must be based on the photo below.

Credit: J Hardy Carroll

Credit: J Hardy Carroll

“Where is it?”, demanded Bruce.

“The heat was on so I had to stashed it,” said Pauley.

“What?”

“I put it where no one will notice. We can go back and get it.”

Bruce didn’t like to work but picking up odd jobs provided lucrative information.  He had seen the crystal decanter when he helped a friend install carpet last week and heard that more work would be occurring today, Tuesday.  With workmen in and out of the mansion, no one would notice Pauley.

“So where did you stash it?”

“When the old lady looked at me funny, I hid in the crawl space under the stairs.  After a while, I escaped out the backdoor but the police were there. To avoid them, I ran down the alley and stashed it in a junk shop. There was an old case with no front and it was full of bottles. I put it in with them.”

“Let’s go. Show me this junk shop.”

Around the corner from the scene of the crime, Pauley pointed to a shop at the end of a plaza. Bruce frowned when he read the sign above the door.

RECYCLING CENTER

PICK UP EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY MORNING

Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge – Made Up Memories

Submitted for Sunday Photo Fiction

spf

The Assignment: The idea of Photo Fiction is write a story of around 100-200 words (which is also called Flash Fiction) based on a photo as a prompt. In this particular photo fiction, the story must be based on the photo below.

Credit: C. E. Ayr

Credit: C.E. Ayr

Tara slowed as she walked along the path. She could almost hear the laughter as her parents counted 1-2-3 and lifted her to swing her on 4. This memory from twenty years ago was the only memory of her parents she remembered in the sessions with her therapist. She knew what had occurred when she was four years old, but she didn’t remember. Always having an active imagination, Tara would often picture that time and form made up memories to block out what really happened. Eventually her imagination became her reality. In her reality, the small family lived on a boat in the middle of a river. They sailed up and down the river and used their little dingy to get off whenever they wanted to go ashore. Her dad was a fisherman and sold his fresh fish in a market on the wharf. Her mom would cook them meals often with fish and she and her parents had fun all the time. Tara stopped and looked out at the water. There was no boat nor its dingy and no family having fun. Alone in the world, this was the place she was left all those years ago.

Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge – The County Hotel – A Shakespearean Sonnet

Submitted for Sunday Photo Fiction

spf

The Assignment: The idea of Photo Fiction is write a story of around 100-200 words (which is also called Flash Fiction) based on a photo as a prompt. In this particular photo fiction, the story must be based on the photo below.

Credit: Al Forbes

Credit: Al Forbes

The County Hotel – A Shakespearean Sonnet

Once a destination for the elite.
Now a place to shelter the lost.
Long ago the beautiful people would meet.
Today find a room at no cost.

Long ago parties in satin and lace.
Now women and children line up for a meal.
Champagne and caviar served with grace.
Now lost hope is all they feel.

Once plush carpets and satin sheets.
Now folding cots twenty to a room.
Pampered with a massage in the spa.
Now dank, musty and full of gloom.

The County Hotel a place on a map.
Shelters the homeless no longer just for a nap.

 

Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge – Reading Is Fundamental

Submitted for Sunday Photo Fiction

spf

The Assignment: The idea of Photo Fiction is write a story of around 100-200 words (which is also called Flash Fiction) based on a photo as a prompt. In this particular photo fiction, the story must be based on the photo below.

Credit: Al Forbes

Credit: Al Forbes

Reading is Fundamental

“Where are we, Harry? It’s creepy.”

“Never you never mind Otis. Your job is to bag valuables, not to ask questions. For god sake try not to break anything this time.”

Turning to opposite sides of what looked like a church but not like any church Harry had ever seen before, the brothers began stuffing their sacks with objects. Harry had watched this place for the last week and when he saw a group of oddly dressed people climb into a van including the strange man who he’d seen daily, he decided that tonight was as good as any.

Harry and Otis have been alone in the world for ages having lost their parents at a young age.  Harry always looked out for his younger brother. He knew Otis wasn’t quite right in the head and would always need him. Otis never learned to read or write.

“I think we’re done. Grab your sack and meet me at the van, “ said Harry.

Otis frowned at a weird piece of cloth with writing on it. The goblet with the skull had been on top of it. He shrugged and placed it in his sack too. Harry could read.

Harry would never read these words…

THE MORTAL WHO REMOVES THIS CUP WILL RECEIVE

A VISITED TONIGHT FROM BEELZEBUB

 

Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge – The Question

Submitted for Sunday Photo Fiction

spf

The Assignment: The idea of Photo Fiction is write a story of around 100-200 words (which is also called Flash Fiction) based on a photo as a prompt. In this particular photo fiction, the story must be based on the photo below.

Credit: Al Forbes

Credit: Al Forbes

“Why am I different?”

Mr. and Mrs. Ursus looked at each other as they cuddled their son.  For months, they’ve discussed how and when to explain adoption to Teddy but thought they had more time. His world us expanding. Every day, Teddy bombards his parents with all kinds of questions.

“Different?” Claude and Sheila had decided to steer the conversation based on their son, not assume what he wanted to know.

“Mommy is white and Daddy light too but I am really brown. At school the brown kids are picked up by brown mommies.”

“Sheila please get the special story book, it is time.”

Sheila retrieved I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze (1) from the bookshelf and return to the sofa.  She showed Teddy the mother and child on the cover than opened the book.

She began, “I Don’t Have Your Eyes… but I have your way of looking at things…” (1)

Through this book, Claude and Sheila explained adoption to Teddy and how they are a family just like the other kids at school.  Teddy learned that they may not be the same on the outside, but in their hearts, they are the same.(1)

(1) The title, direct quote or paraphrased from the book I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze

Iron Bottom Bay – A Poem for #MemorialDay2016

Many gave and some gave all. Remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice and thank those who came back safe and those that serve today.

“Iron Bottom Bay” by Walter A. Mahler, chaplain, USS Astoria (World War 2)

Memorial to USS ASTORIA_CA-34_Crew_BJ_4x3_1200x

Crew of the USS Astoria

 

I stood on a wide and desolate shore

And the night was dismal and cold.

I watched the weary rise, –

And the moon was a riband of gold.

~

Far off I heard the trumpet sound,

Calling the quick and the dead,

The long and rumbling roll of drums,

And the moon was a riband of red.

~

Dead sailors rose from out of the deep,

Nor looked not left or right,

But shoreward marched upon the sea,

And the moon was a riband of white.

 ~

A hundred ghosts stood on the shore

At the turn of the midnight flood,

They beckoned me with spectral hands,

And the moon was a riband of blood.

 ~

Slowly I walked to the waters edge,

And never once looked back

Till the waters swirled about my feet,

And the moon was a riband of black.

 ~

I woke alone on a desolate shore

From a dream not sound or sweet,

For there in the sands in the moonlight

Were the marks of phantom feet.

Top Ten Costumed Characters Seen at a Renaissance Faire

The Floral Headdress and the Proverbial Turkey Leg

The Floral Headdress and the Proverbial Turkey Leg

Since it is the opening weekend of the New Jersey Renaissance Faire, I thought I’d repost something that I wrote a few years ago.  Please enjoy.

 

When I first decided to write a guest blog for The Top Ten of Anything and Everything, I didn’t know how difficult it would be to narrow it down to just ten photographs.  Having recently experienced how enthusiastic the people involved with Renaissance Faires are (my daughter was a supporting cast member for the New Jersey Renaissance Faire), I should have known that there would be a wide variety of photographs from all over the country at my disposal.  A Digital Renaissance Feast.  Somehow I managed to select ten.  If you enjoy these, I recommend visiting the websites and facebook pages of these photographs as well as any other Renaissance Faire in the country.  There is so much more to see.  If you have never been to a Renaissance Faire, check out the next faire in your area.  It will be a day well spent.

Dog in Chainmail PA

10 – The Chainmail Pooch

Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151470404167377&set=pb.75141067376.-2207520000.1373833517.&type=3&theater

I originally titled the post “Top Ten Costumed People Seen at a Renaissance Faire” but then I found this little fellow on the facebook page of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.  Chainmail is often seen in the costuming for Renaissance Faires and there is normally at least one vendor selling chainmail products and clothing.  The photographs that would depict the more common use of chainmail in clothing would remove the G rating of this post, so I will just leave that to your imagination.

DSC_4030-3

9 – Arrgh!  There be Pirates

Source:  http://www.pbase.com/kramerkrause/escondido_renaissance_faire_spring_2009

Pirates could always be seen at the Renaissance Faire and many faires have pirate themed weekends.  Ever since the series of movies that I don’t think I need to name, Jack Sparrow is a common visitor to the faires.  I bet this guy gets a lot of Johnny Depp groupies hanging around him.  Marc Krause who has several galleries at the source link, shared this photograph taken at the Escondido California Renaissance Faire in 2009.

Childs First Turkey Leg 2012 PA

8 – The Floral Headdress and the Proverbial Turkey Leg

Source:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150997876487377&set=a.10150997876387377.412427.75141067376&type=3&theater

This photograph from the 2012 Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire , Carrington’s First Turkey Leg, was the winner of the Food Picture Contest. (picture taken by Courtney Henry).  Families are a big part of the atmosphere at the Renaissance Faire.  You can see many young 21st century girls transformed into maidens of the realm by putting a ring of flowers around their head.  Little boys just want a wooden sword.  There is nothing that says Renaissance Faire more than walking around eating a smoked turkey leg.  It is both lunch and part of the costume.

Group Shot of Gypsies7 – The Gypsies

Source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/72213316@N00/5315933415/

The Gypsies always add color to any Renaissance Faire and their dancing is thoroughly entertaining.  This photograph of the Gypsy Dance Theatre was taken at the Texas Renaissance Festival in 2010 by photographer Frank Kovalchek.  Whether it is gypsies dancing on stage or patrons dressed as gypsies, they could never sneak up on you because their costumes often have belts, bracelets or anklets with little bells which are used to keep away evil spirits.  Jingle Jingle.

mongers

6 – The Peasants

Source:  http://www.norcalrenfaire.com/entertainment/guilds.html

Not everyone can be the Queen or even part of her court because after all she needs subjects to rule or step on :).  The peasants serve a purpose and most of the characters seen at a Renaissance Faire are of the peasant class.  This photograph is the Mongers of Saint Swithin from the Northern California Renaissance Faire.  According to the website, the Mongers Guild brings to life peasant class street vendors. These relentless and determined street merchants will attempt to sell anything. Whether it’s Pig’s ears, Chicken feet, or month old cabbage, these villagers of modest means will convince you that you need to buy it. They also perform each afternoon in the hilarious and bawdy faire classic, Pye Powder Court.

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5 – Proper Ladies Must Wear Their Layers

Source:  http://www.pbase.com/kramerkrause/escondido_renaissance_faire_2008_fall

Among the throngs of patrons visiting a Renaissance Faire, the well dressed ladies wearing all their layers is a site to behold.  This is often in temperatures above 90 degrees.  Marc Krause who has several galleries at the source link, shared this photograph taken at the Escondido California Renaissance Faire in 2008.  The photograph was too cute to pass up.

Royalty

4 – Royalty

Source:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=258087587663538&set=pb.150086671796964.-2207520000.1373836188.&type=3&theater

Every Renaissance Faire has some type of royalty and often it is Queen Elizabeth of England (Reign 1558-1603).  This photograph is Queen Margaret and King Edward Longshanks of England.  Each year in the magical land of Crossford, notable characters from history come forth through the forest which is filled with fairy magic to arrive at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire.  These royals were among this year’s arrivals.

Tree Guy Arick d'Entremont_Bristol

3 – Animal, Vegetable or Mineral.

Source:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151832686900285&set=a.10151832686215285.860838.136459570284&type=3&theater

Now that is performance art.  This was a photograph of Arick d’Entremont from the facebook page of the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  Talk about going green.  I wonder how long he had to stay in that position.  That is working hard for your craft.

Knight Rider

2 – Knight Rider

Source:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152451051600285&set=pb.136459570284.-2207520000.1373938732.&type=3&theater

I knew when I started writing this post that knights would be included and be near number one.  I looked at so many wonderful jousting photographs and couldn’t decide between them.  When I found this unique take on a knight on the facebook page of the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I decided this would be the one.  The Joust is an important event at a Renaissance Faire.  What’s better than a ancient battle of heros in heavy metal on horseback.  The crowd always goes wild.

Red Knight

1 – Uh! What Else Would He Wear

Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151468057206024&set=o.150086671796964&type=3&theater

This is not a cardboard cutout that you get your picture taken with.  He is real and he wasn’t the only extreme costuming I’ve seen at a Renaissance Faire.

Bowman Employees Spend the Day with Habitat for Humanity

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a community service project as part of a team from my firm.  I wrote an article about the experience for my company’s blog which you can read from the link below.

Bowman Employees Spend the Day with Habitat for Humanity

Employees from Bowman & Company LLP volunteered their day to build a home for Habitat for Humanity

Employees from Bowman & Company LLP volunteered their day to build a home for Habitat for Humanity