My aunt, Bonnie McDaniels often reminds me of my mom, Collene Spencer, who is her older sister. I don’t think it was as noticeable when they were younger girls, but later it became very obvious to me, and to many other people in the family. Aunt Bonnie and her siblings have long been close, but these days, their numbers are getting smaller, as more and more of them go home to Heaven. Aunt Bonnie’s husband, Uncle Jack among them. That has been hard on all of us, but especially Aunt Bonnie, who lost the love of her life when he went home. Still, her family is very close, and they are making sure that she has what she needs, and the she is not lonely.

Aunt Bonnie has always been a very hands on mom, grandma, and great grandma, and that has not stopped. Just the other day, my husband, Bob and I ran into Aunt Bonnie with her grandson, Peter, and his daughter at the mall. The smile on Aunt Bonnie’s told me that she was, as always, very excited and happy to be included in her grandchildren’s family. I’m not sure where they were headed in the mall, but due to her great granddaughter’s influence, I’m sure they were planning on some fun activities.

Aunt Bonnie and I have that “hands-on” grandparenting style in common. We wanted nothing more than to spend lots of time with our grandchildren. It is our opinion that kids need their grandparents as much as grandparents need their grandkids, and I know that many grandparents share that view. Aunt Bonnie has the added fun item for kids, of living out in the country. Her place is beautiful, and all of the family members who have been there, would agree. It’s like going out to a park along the river. Summertime at her house is beautiful. I’m so happy that she has such a beautiful sanctuary. I’m sure it is a very relaxing place to be. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Imagine an airplane simply disappearing…without a trace. These days, that scenario seems both far fetched, and yet not so far fetched. After Malaysia Flight 370 went missing and wasn’t found for a long time, the people began to wonder if it had been hijacked and taken to a communist country. Many people are still skeptical concerning the wreckage that was located. Nevertheless, Malaysia Flight 370 was not the first flight to go missing, many planes have gone missing, some never to be seen again. The big shock with the Malaysia flight was that there were so many locators on these planes. We couldn’t figure out how this could happen with so many gadgets to find missing planes.

In years gone by, flight locating equipment was not as readily available. For that reason, planes disappearing was more common. On March 16, 1962, one of the strangest disappearances of modern times occurred. Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 still remains a mystery. It is the worst aviation accident in the Lockheed Constellation series. The strange thing was that there was no reported accident involving the flight, and yet the general belief is the plane was involved in an in-flight explosion. This information came from a potential witness on a civilian tanker. Nevertheless, no wreckage, debris, or bodies were ever found, although the search and rescue efforts of the US military were extensive. The frustration must have massive. Looking…but finding no signs of wreckage.

The biggest reason that the lost flight still remains a mystery, is that without wreckage, there was no way to determine probable cause of the accident. The explosion remains the best cause, but there is a conspiracy theory which insists that sabotage could have been in play. Flight 739, an L-1049 Super Constellation, took off from the Travis Air Force Base on the March 16th and went missing in the area of the Aleutian Islands. The Civil Aeronautics Board determined that, based on the tanker’s observations, Flight 739 probably exploded in-flight, though an exact cause could not be determined without examining the remnants of the aircraft. As of this date, flight 739 remains the worst aviation accident involving the Lockheed Constellation series.

Saint Patrick’s Day is usually synonymous with celebrations, parades, green beer at the local pub, and of course the “Wearin’ O The Green,” but this year might be very different. Of course, we all know why that is. The current Coronavirus has found most people taking extraordinary measures to avoid being around large groups of people, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which can have serious symptoms in some patients and rather mild symptoms in others. I think people are trying to do what it takes to be safe.

One of the biggest cancellations is the many Saint Patrick’s Day Parades. Most places don’t want more than 50 people…or 25 people…and even 10 people gathering in public places. Many of the bars and restaurants have been closed, so that eliminates Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Of course, schools and day cares, gyms, hotels and travel industries, casinos, movie theaters, churches, and many businesses, are also closed, so people can’t go to those places to celebrate or even to carry on everyday life. Even the traditional dying or the Chicago River to emerald green for Saint Patrick’s Day has been cancelled. There are places that are open, such as stores, hospitals, and doctors offices, but people are asked to avoid them as much as possible. The idea of a sick person being told to avoid the doctor’s office or hospital is a very strange one. In times past, doctors would not diagnose disease over the phone, but now that is the first line of defense. The medical professionals don’t want people who have the disease to come in and infect other people. In fact, people are told to “quarantine or shelter in place” in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Testing sites have even become drive-through…a previously unheard-of idea. All of these things have pushed Saint Patrick’s Day to the background of reality.

Nevertheless, I have seen a number of people who have put their own “Wearin’ O The Green” on line, or on television (for people who are in the news, etc), or just at home with their own families. I realize that this virus has dampened the spirits of many people, but deep down inside, there seems to live a victorious spirit within people. They seem to be refusing to allow this to bring about depression. On this Saint Patrick’s Day, I have seen the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine talking about postponing the Ohio Caucus, while wearing a blue suit, green tie, and green hair dye in his hair. Sure, the best case scenario is to be able to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in all of it’s traditions, but the reality of the Coronavirus insists that we do things differently this year. I like that so many people have chosen to celebrate in a social-distancing social media kind of way. I’m glad that people still seem to have a sense of humor, amid the panic. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all!!

My nephew, Eric Parmely was raised in a house in Casper, Wyoming, but he hasn’t lived in the city since his marriage to his wife, Ashley, Eric has lived in the country. Ashley was raised in the country, around horses especially, but other farm animals too, and her dream was to raise her children in the country too. As a motorcycle-riding kid, who loved racing and popping wheelies, the idea of Eric, taking care of horses, chickens, goats, pigs, cat, dogs, and dogs, and dogs…surprises me to a degree, but Ashley is an “old hand” at it, and now so is Eric. In fact, Eric is very comfortable in this farm environment he and Ashley have built for themselves and their children. They love farming.

There isn’t a lot Eric can’t handle. He is the first person Ashley calls when she has a car problem, because she has her own “Roadside Assistance” service, and she feels very blessed that he is also a “Looker.” Not many men can fix a flat tire, work in the oilfield, ride a motorcycle and a horse, muck stalls, help with an animal giving birth…all while being a great husband and daddy to his kids, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve.

Much like his mom, Jennifer Parmely, Eric likes the outdoors and even snow. He and Ashley are teaching the kids to ski…mostly cross country skiing, and even little Maeve gets involved, because they have a covered sled for her to ride in, and of course, her big strong daddy is right there to pull her through the snow, while she laughs, wide-eyed and happy. As with her siblings, there will come a day when Maeve will walk on her own two feet, or skis, as the case may be. Nevertheless, all these kids think their daddy hung the moon, because after all, he can “do anything.” Not bad for a city boy!! Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kellie Hadlock is one of the happiest people I know. Kellie keeps happiness in her heart, and from there, it explodes into the atmosphere around her. Kellie has always been that way. Her laugh, her smile, her sense of humor, and her unending ability to be pleasantly surprised have made her personality one of bubbly excitement and happiness. Everything about life is exciting to her. I don’t know many people who as adults continue to be excited and amazed at all of God’s creation, but Kellie is just that. She is that person who wakes up and looks at the world, and says, “Wow!!”

Kellie has two pets, who fill her with joy every day…her bird, Peetey, and her dog, Leena. They keep her busy every day too. Peetey loves to sit on her shoulder and listen to her sing, which Kellie loves to do. Kellie is one of the worship leaders at our church, Word Christian Fellowship, but Kellie loves to sing all the time. She has been such a great blessing when she sings at church, and every time I hear, it brings tears to my eyes. Her songs are just so beautiful, and her voice is perfect. She plays piano at her house, and sings worship songs to God as often as she can, then she often posts them on YouTube, so others can enjoy them too. It is in her blood and in her spirit. Leena came into Kellie’s life as a tiny little ball of fur. She has grown some, but not really very much. Leena…a wiggly, happy little pup, has stolen Kellie’s heart…what Peetey left of it anyway!!

Of course, Kellie is all about her family. She loves each and every one of them, but her nephew and her nieces are her very favorite people ever. They love spending time with their Aunt Kellie, and they always have lots of great fun. I think that Kellie just might be everybody’s “favorite aunt,” but to say that might get me in trouble. Nevertheless, I call ’em as I see ’em. Kellie is so much fun to be around, that it’s like having a “friend aunt” or something. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

One of the most unique buildings in the United States is the Pentagon. I’m sure that most people think that it was built the way it was to provide a better level of security for the people working within its walls, but that was not the case at all.

The Pentagon was originally planned for a different location, but for reasons unknow, the structure could not be built on that location. The original location was a rather tight space, so in an effort to fit the building in the field that was located between five major roads, the design of an irregular pentagon was chosen. The building couldn’t be very tall due to regulations in the area, and so the design was an almost-level irregular pentagon. Still, the building needed to house 40,000 people and have parking for 10,000 vehicles. That is a very tall order, for a short building. In the end, the planned location, was not allowed, and the Pentagon had to be moved.

Of course, with the location change, it was thought, at first, that the design to be changed too, but everyone involved in the design immediately got mad about the change. The designer had already been paid for his work, and it wasn’t really fair to take the payment back, nor did they want to pay for something they did not use. Finally it was decided to go ahead with the original design, and the result is the well-known, irregular pentagon shape that we are all very familiar with. While the Pentagon is synonymous world-wide with defense, he design had nothing to do with defense at all, but rather it was in an effort to put the building in the space allowed…much like a child putting a square peg in a square hole so that it fits.

The White Rose was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students including Hans and Sophie Scholl. The students attended the University of Munich. Their goal was to promote awareness using an anonymous leaflets and a graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi regime. Of course, while the actions were anonymous, the Third Reich had spies everywhere. The activities of The White Rose started in Munich on June 27, 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on February 18, 1943. The core group, as well as other members and supporters of the group who carried on distributing the pamphlets, were sentenced to death or imprisonment in show trials by the Nazi People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof).

Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were among the members of the core group. They were captured on February 18, 1943. During the trial, Sophie interrupted the judge multiple times, but she was ignored. No defendants were given any opportunity to speak. They had no way to defend themselves, and were found guilty at the “trial.” They were executed by guillotine four days after their arrest, on February 22, 1943. The group had only been active for eight months, they had never committed a violent act, and yet they were put to death. Hitler’s regime considered them more of a threat for pamphlets and paintings, than if the had run around shooting people.

The group wrote, printed, and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. As the movement grew, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. The White Rose authored a total of six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread. In all, about 15,000 copies were printed. They denounced the Nazi regime’s crimes and oppression, and called for resistance. They openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews, in their second leaflet. By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well known both within Germany and worldwide. Sadly the movement ended almost before it could get started.

When the Civil Engineers build a dam, it is a structure that is expected to last for many years to come. The build dams for recreational purposes, as well as economic purposes. In August of 1924, civil engineers began construction of the Saint Francis Dam. The dam was to be a curved gravity dam located near Los Angeles in the San Francisquito Canyon, close to Santa Clarita. Chief Engineer William Mulholland supervised the project as a part of the Los Angeles aqueduct system.

The construction of the dam was completed on May 6th, 1926. While the dam was very new, it still began to exhibit signs instability and leaks shortly after the work was completed. Apparently, there were a few flaws in the construction of this dam. The problems with the Saint Francis Dam continued until on March 12, 1928 at 11:57pm, the dam suffered a catastrophic failure causing a massive flood with little to no warning for residents in the surrounding area. Many thought that the rumbling from the dam may have been an earthquake, only to find out very quickly that the dam had failed in a catastrophic way. Without warning, the flood water came rushing down the river and into the unsuspecting town.

The resulting flood left between 385 – 430 people dead according to some of the official estimates. In reality, the number may have been higher…possibly over 600 dead. The carnage caused the collapse to be considered one of the worst civil engineering failures in United States history. The flood waters…12 billion gallons strong were initially 140 feet high. Several Southern California towns suffered massive damage due to the collapse including Castaic, Saugus, Santa Paula, Saticoy, and Filmore. It was estimated that 1,200 homes were destroyed with damages in the $7 million range.

Investigations into the collapse found that issues with the dam’s foundation were at fault. It was also later reported that the dam may have been built on the site of an old landslide that could have contributed to the foundation issues. The collapse ended Mulholland’s career, because many people blamed him for the catastrophe, partially because he and his assistant had personally inspected the dam just 12 hours before the failure and had deemed it safe. It was determined that the dam would not be rebuilt, and what was left of the Saint Francis Dam was demolished in May of 1929.

With each new story of disaster, pandemic, or even murderous scare tactics, the news media splashes the newspaper, internet, and television with sensationalistic stories of doom and gloom. Yes, these things are serious matters, but sometimes I wonder if the news media are the only ones who are doing well throughout the crisis. It’s not that the news media doesn’t have a job to do so that the people are well informed, but even the doctors are saying that they have far overdone the current news stories. The news media has led people to believe that this is going to get so bad that entire cities are going to be quarantined for extended periods of time. The news reports are so bad, that it has prompted people to run out and buy up every necessity to the point of shortages. Things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfecting wipes, and rubbing alcohol are in seriously short supply. People are buying far more than they could possibly us in more than a year. There have even been people who won’t drink Carona beer, because of the similarity to the name of the virus. The insanity is astounding!!

I’m not saying that people don’t need to know about the situation, but when you turn on the news and all you hear is the fear mongering of the news media. The drama seekers need to set aside the need to “make their entire career” with the latest crisis, and instead give the information needed, in a clear non-dramatic manner so people have the ability to make sensible decisions about their own health. The way the latest media-managed crisis is being handled is like yelling “fire” in a packed event center. Yes, you’ll clear the place out, but lives will be lost in the process.

For some time now, the news media has been throwing out so much fake news that people no longer believe the news media. That is a dangerous place to be, because, like the boy who cried “wolf,” after a while nobody is listening anymore. They already know that the news media is just sensationalizing the story, so it’s probably all a lie anyway. If there ever is a serious crisis, it will arrive before anyone can prepare, because the screaming of the news media into the wind, is no longer being heard. It’s time for the news media to get back to the “honorable,” “fair and balanced,” “we report, you decide” way of reporting again, so they can begin to rebuild the people’s trust, which they lost long ago. Since the news media can’t stop the sensationalism, it’s time for the people to use common sense, and show that we are wiser than the news media. There are so many ways to protect ourselves, without mass hysteria.

As the Allies were planning the massive D-Day assault which was intended to end World War II in Europe, some strange “coincidences” happened that almost threw a monkey wrench into the whole thing. The planned assault on Normandy, France, in 1944, was to include over 5,000 ships, 1,200 planes, and almost 160,000 men. They were set to invade Europe from the British Isles, when something almost put a stop to it…a series of crossword puzzles. Personally, I hate crossword puzzles. They are boring in my mind, so if I were to find a clue in one, it would likely be a miracle.

The problem began with the Dieppe Raid on August 19th, 1942. Dieppe is also in Normandy, but further North. In Dieppe, over 6,000 Allied troops, mostly from Canada, attacked at 5 AM. “They had four main goals: (1) to prove that it was possible to capture a slice of Nazi-occupied Europe, (2) to boost Allied morale, (3) to gain intelligence, and (4) to destroy coastal defenses and other sensitive installations.” The mission failed miserably, with the loss of, capture of, or retreat of almost 60% of the invading forces by 3 PM. This couldn’t have been just coincidental, and the Allies wanted to know what had happened. It seemed quite likely that the Germans had been warned of the attack. How could this have happened. Somehow, the suspicion fell on The Daily Telegraph, a British paper still in business today. I’m sure there were a number of newspapers over the years that were used to pass coded messages to the enemy. And I guess it would take a spy’s mind to figure it all out. It had to be discreet, because the paper can’t just give advance warning notice to the enemy, but they did (and still do) have a crossword puzzle section. What better avenue for coded messages. The thing that really triggered suspicion was that two days before the Dieppe invasion, the clue, “French port” was given. And the solution was “Dieppe,” given the following day…the day before the invasion. When I think about the 6,000 men that walked into an ambush because of that one puzzle, I feel furious. This wasn’t a coincidence, this was deliberate, and it was criminal.

The intelligence personnel quickly focused on Leonard Sydney Dawe…the headmaster of Strand School, who was responsible for the crossword puzzle. They were surprised to think it might be him, because he was a veteran of World War I. In addition, nothing linked him to Nazi Germany. In the end, MI5 concluded that it was just that a chilling coincidence, but was it…really? The Strand School for boys in south London, which no longer exists, still stuck out as being somehow involved. It was learned that when the Germans began their bombardment of the city in 1939, Strand was moved to Effingham in Surrey, which was close to where many American and Canadian forces were based.

The French invasion was called Operation Overlord. It was to take place on June 5th, 1944 and involve a series of joint sea and air landings along the Normandy coast. Rather than mass themselves at one spot, however, they were to land at five different areas according to nationality. The Americans were to land at two places. The first was on the left bank of the Douve estuary…codenamed Utah Beach. The second was the stretch which included Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, and Vierville-sur-Mer…referred to as Omaha. The British were also given two landing sites – the first along Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer to Ouistreham…Sword Beach, as well as the strip from Arromanches-Les-Bains, Le Hamel, and La Rivière…Gold Beach. As for the Canadians, they were assigned the stretch from Courseulles, Saint-Aubin, and Bernières…Juno Beach. To ensure the quick off-loading of cargo, portable bridges called “Mulberry Harbors” were built. Ships would tow these to France, assemble them at sea, then drive equipment onto the beaches.

The massive size of the invasion, made it almost impossible to keep a complete secret from the Germans, so the plan was to keep them guessing as to exactly when and where the invasion would take place. It was then that the Allies launched Operation Bodyguard…a series of diversions which convinced the Germans that Normandy was simply a distraction, while the main invasion was to take place elsewhere. The Germans bought it, they didn’t want to take any chances. As a result, they stretched their forces thin in a desperate attempt to cover all of their bases. To keep them off balance, absolute secrecy was vital.

Then, in February 1944, one of The Daily Telegraph’s crossword answers was “JUNO.” The following month, it was “GOLD,” and the month after that, it was “SWORD.” Coincidence? MI5 thought so. Then, when the next puzzle included the clue, “One of the US,” they began to wonder. The next day, the answer given was “UTAH.” This was really too much, and MI5 was getting worried. As soon as the May 22nd edition came out, MI5 anxiously grabbed a copy. Scanning the crossword section, they found yet another suspicious clue…“Red Indian on the Missouri River.” And what was the answer given the next day? “OMAHA.” Lets just say, they were getting nervous. Still, it got worse. The May 27th edition had another damning clue…“Big-Wig.” And the answer was? “OVERLORD.” The clincher came on June 1…four days before lift-off. The solution to 15 Down was “NEPTUNE.”

Dawe was arrested at his school to the astonishment of the students and staff. They then banned the paper’s next publication in case “DDAY” appeared in the next crossword. The US Coast Guard manned USS LST-21 unloads British Army tanks and trucks onto a “Rhino” barge during the early hours of the invasion on Gold Beach, 6 June 1944. Dawe was released after the invasion but refused to speak about his ordeal till 1958. He admitted that they did turn him “inside-out,” and had D-Day turned into another Dieppe, he might have been shot. Many people thought it was all just a coincidence…at least till 1984 when Ronald French, a former student at Strand, came forward. As it turns out, Dawe didn’t create crossword puzzles. He instead had students arrange words on a grid, and when he was satisfied, provided clues to solve them by. Then he’d send the finished work to the paper, taking credit for the work. According to French and other former students who later came forward, everyone in Surrey knew the code words. It seems that because they all hung around the Americans and Canadians, the words had leaked out. The French didn’t know what the words meant, only that the servicemen often said them. So when told to work on the crossword puzzles, he included the codes. After his release, Dawes confronted French and accused him of putting the entire country at risk, but how had this happened. It seems that despite their own secrecy, the MI5 had apparently forgotten to tell the army to keep their mouths shut. It all came about because when the Allies believed that the war was turning in their favor, the Third Washington Conference…also called the Trident Conference…was held in Washington, DC in May 1943. It was there that plans for an Allied invasion of Sicily, France, and the Pacific were discussed. The careless soldiers that spilled the code words almost cost the Allies the victory. D-Day was a battle that cost the Allies many lives, but it could have been much worse, if the secrets had been passed to the enemy in a way that they could have understood them.

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