Monday, December 21, 2015

Quilt Found at Shaka Chic Kea'au Hawaii

I couldn't wait to share with you this delightful old quilt, I found at a little second hand store, not far from us in Kea'au, on the Big Island of Hawaii. I usually don't waste my time on such places but Gregg was buying some veg., at the market, and this little place is attached to it. I wanted to kill some time while he was talking numbers with the produce venders, so I wandered in to have a look. I didn't see much and was about to leave, when this lovely little old quilt draped over a chair, caught my eye. I went over and began to look at it more closely, and tried to hide my gathering excitement, for it was a genuine all stitched by hand, antique quilt, in very excellent condition.

The tag said 100 dollars, but as I looked at it more, the lady of the store said she would give me a better deal, so I was able to pick up this wonderful gem for just 80 dollars. As you will see by the pictures it is done in a crazy quilt or scrappy quilt style then cut into squares, and I would date the fabrics from the 1920's to the 30's. I asked the lady if she knew anything about the quilt, and she kindly gave me the name and the phone number of the lady who had put it on consignment with her. Sadly, the lady I called didn't know much about it, other than it had been made by her grt. grandmother, Mary E. Montgomery-Hodges.

UPDATE: Just received this week this lovely picture of Mary Hodges from the Douglas County Oregon Historical Society. I was told that Mary was known as "Mamie." What a sweet nickname for such a talented lady. Doesn't she have a lovely smile?!

Here is the quilt front and back. It is done in the loveliest of pastels.

Here are closeups of some of her squares. Some bits of fabric are less than an inch wide.
The technique used in this style of quilt, is done by hand piecing strips of cloth, then taking a block template and cutting out square's from the cloth, and stitching those together to form the quilt. You can clearly see the labor of love this was. I was so impressed with this lady's work and simply astonished by her quilting abilities. The back of the quilt shows clearly just how amazing her skills were.

Mary E. Montgomery-Hodges, from what little I could find of her, by doing a bit of on-line research, lived in Olalla, Oregon, just South of Roseburg. She was born however about 1884 in either Oklahoma or Texas, and lived many years in both states, before moving to California and then Oregon, about 1936. She was the wife of Albert E. Hodges, who was a farmer. She was very active in local affairs. One of the things we know she did, from an article I found in a Roseburg Newspaper dating circa 1949, was that she was the Vice president of the Upper Ollala Women's Club called the, "Busy Steppers."

I found this picture of the ladies of the Upper Ollala Ladies Club, "Busy Steppers," and I have no doubt that Mary E. Hodges is in it, for it dates from the period when she was Vice President. It may also have her daughter, Mary Inez Hodges-Carson, in it too, for she lived in Roseburg along with her husband, Sgt. Samuel Erbert Carson, who would sometime circa 1940 move his family to Bremerton, Washington, where he would take up the duty as Harbor Master for the Navy Ship Yards.

I wish I knew more about what the Busy Steppers did as a ladies club? I know they held all day gatherings and luncheons, but the paper doesn't say what their organization did. Were they quilters for the war effort? I don't know. But if anyone has a clue, please feel free to post a comment.

UPDATE: I found by the News Review, a Roseburg,Oregon newspaper that the, "Busy Steppers", often got together for needlework, games, and visiting. They were a sewing club! YAY!!! There is my answer!

I am just thrilled to add this quilt to my collection, and am not the least downhearted that it wasn't actually made in Hawaii, as I first thought. It is an Oregon made quilt, and as my roots run deep in Oregon, it makes me very happy to be able to call this quilt my own.

I am hoping to find out more about Mary Hodges and her quilting, and will add updates as I find out more about her. I do know that her husbands grt. grandfather, Andrew Carson, was a half brother to "Kit" Carson, the famous frontiersman.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Grandpa, Daniel Autrey Hanners, Hero at Pearl Harbor

Today is the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. We have our own Pearl Harbor Survivor, so I thought it only right to put up the story, that grandpa, Daniel Autrey Hanners, helped me to write, about his part in it.

For many years I had heard grandpa mention that he had been at Pearl, but he would never say exactly what he was doing, or where he was, during the attack. In the final years of his life, I finally got to sit down and really talk to him about it. I told him how important it was for the family to know his part in it, as a witness and a survivor.
By this time grandpa was pretty much bed ridden, and couldn't talk at great length, but together we wrote his story, he only making me promise that I wouldn't publish it, until after he was gone, because he didn't want to be accused of bragging. He hated those men that used their supposed status as a war hero, to make a career for themselves, or inflate their own importance. He believed in hard work being its own reward, and never wanted to be counted among what he called, "The braggarts!"

To give you the proper background, Grandpa Hanners joined the Navy in 1939, and was sent when his training ended in Chicago, out to the Bremerton Navy Shipyards in Washington state, to join up with the USS Ramsay DM 16, a destroyer mine layer that was stationed out of Port Angeles. It did anti-submarine duty, guarding the West Coast, from Bremerton to Astoria, Oregon.

By the spring of 1940 he had moved up the ranks from Apprentice Seaman, to Ships Fitter 3rd Class, and his ship was now stationed at Pearl Harbor, in the sunny South Pacific. Grandpa was a go getter, and he was forever looking for ways he could improve his career. He was well liked by his captain, and the crew of his ship, for he was cheerful and very good at his work. It didn't hurt that he stood six feet in his sox and was handsome to boot.

Here is a picture of Grandpa, taken right around the time of the attack. This is the uniform he wore when on shore patrol duty.

This is the type of vehicle he drove as a shore patrolman, tho in much better condition of course. He called it his, "Paddy Wagon."

The day before the attack, grandpa had finished his studies, as a Police Officer, with the Honolulu Police Department. He was supposed to become a liaison officer between the Navy and the Police. Here is his certificate of graduation. On the 7th he was supposed to have his graduation ceremony, of course it did not happen, for the attack came instead.

Here is his notification of his certificate, when it was sent to his ship, after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Here is his commendation for taking the education courses, on his own time.
This is the belt Grandpa wore, which was part of his Shore Patrolman's uniform, that survived the attack. All other parts of his uniform had to be burned, for they were too polluted to keep.

This is  the USS West Virginia on Battleship Row, with other ships burning too. Notice the open whale boat, on the right. This was the exact type of boat Grandpa took out into the harbor.

This is an enlargement of that same picture. The men in the Navy photo are not identified, but it could very well have been Grandpa and the other sailor he mentioned.

This is Grandpa's story as told to me, January 11, 2006

The morning of the 7th broke warm and bright and I awoke with joy. A part of me could still not quite believe it. I had finally completed the University of Hawaii, Honolulu Police Departments, Police Training Course. I had received the permission and recommendation from my Navy Captain, to take this course, but had done it on my own time. That morning nothing in the world could have made me happier. I had proved to myself that I was capable of anything I set my mind too. I was no longer just that poor stupid farm boy from southern Missouri. It was the proudest day of my life, and as I prepared to go to work, I knew that, that afternoons graduation ceremony, would take me one step closer to reaching my goal, of rising as high as I could up the ranks of the U.S. Navy.  
At the time that I began my studies at the University of Hawaii, I was a proud member of the Navy with a rating of SF3c, (Ships Fitter third class), having passed my test April 25, 1941. I had come pretty far from my lowly rank of Seaman’s Apprentice when I had joined my ship in Bremerton, Washington in 1939. My ship had been at Pearl Harbor since December of 1940, so I had applied myself to learning as much as I could.
I was living at that time at the old Naval Station, at Honolulu, in a big old house with five or six other guys. We had a couple of native cooks that lived with us, and they could cook us up anything. We lived like kings.
I was on permanent Shore Patrol duty for the Mine Fleet, so did not live on board my ship, the USS Ramsay DM16, hull number 124. She was a four piper Destroyer that was converted to a Minelayer. With a speed of 32 ½ knots, she was one of the fastest ships in the fleet. She and her sister ships the U.S.S. Gamble, U.S.S. Breese, and the U.S.S. Montgomery, were docked together at Pearl Harbor, near Battleship Row.
On the morning of the 7th, I had not been on duty long, when  I was called to a disturbance at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, in which some of the Navy were involved. There had been a Christmas party going on there the night before, and it must have spilled over into the morning.  I arrived on the scene, and arrested a couple of Navy Officers, on charges of drunk and disorderly conduct. I placed the men in my, "Paddy Wagon", and proceeded to take the road out of Honolulu towards Pearl Harbor, with the intent of placing them in the brig at the Submarine Base. This being the main brig for all Navy personnel.
My destination there, was the Headquarters CINCPAC building, at that time located right on the harbor. I was just within sight of the Base, when suddenly I began to observe planes flying over our ships on Battleship Row. I couldn’t believe my eyes, when the ships began to receive bomb and torpedo hits. I stepped on the gas and tore toward the Sub Base, as fast as my truck would go. I didn’t yet grasp fully what was going on, my only thought was to do my duty, and drop off the men. There had to be some mistake, but the big red zero’s on the planes soon told me, it was no mistake, we were being attacked by the Japanese!
I arrived without incident at HQ, where the men were taken into custody. I was then sent with another sailor across the road to the harbor wall, there we commandeered a twenty foot motor whale boat, and set off as fast as we could.  The planes were coming in over and in front of us, strafing as they came, bombs were dropping all around us, torpedo’s tore through the water near us, and it seemed as if all hell had broken loose. 
Battleship Row looked like a flaming inferno, burning oil and fuel was spreading everywhere over the water. The screams of men and rending mental filled my ears, the clouds of burning fuel choked my throat and nostrils, making it hard to breath, and at times impossible to see.
Men, dead and alive, were everywhere in the water. We saw men jump from the ships into the burning oil, it made us sick to see it, but we  pressed on. The other sailor and I, began to pull men from the water. Our boat was not large, and we had to be careful not to overload and swamp it. When it came to entering a smoke cloud we held our breath, ran into it, grabbed around in the water for whatever we could find, dragged it aboard, and dashed back out again, in order to catch our breath.
Sometimes it was difficult to tell what were men, they were so badly burned and covered in oil.  We just grabbed for anything that was in the water, that felt human. It was still pretty early in the morning, and it being a Sunday, many of the sailors had been caught still asleep, and had leaped from there ships clad only in there underwear, or were completely naked. These were especially hard to pull from the water, as they were as slick as, “greased pigs." They were almost too slick, to drag into our boat, and kept slipping from our hands, back into the water.
The burn victims were the worst, great care had to be taken, for when we first attempted to pull them from the water, their skin came off in our hands. Others not so badly burned were vomiting from ingested fuel and salt water. There was no time to check for how severe the men's conditions were. We hauled them in as fast as we could, some to the harbor wall at Ford Island, and others back to the Sub Base, where men on shore took over their care.
The dead we hauled in, were lain along one part of the harbor wall. I don’t know how many boat loads we took in, or how many men we saved. There was no time to think about that, or about danger from the enemy, it was just go, go, go to try and save as many of our sailors as we could. It was a living nightmare that just seemed to go on and on forever. 
Later when it was finally over, all of our cloths had to be burned for they were ruined. I did manage to save my Shore Patrolman’s belt, which I cleaned and re-whitened with shoe polish. I didn’t want to burn mine, as I had decorated it with steel studs, for I was something of a snappy dresser.
Meanwhile the Japanese were still blazing and bombing away, and soon those of our ships that could,  responded with guns of their own. I can not adequately describe the sights or sounds; the blasting of gun fire, the horrific sounds of explosions, the screams of the wounded and dying, and rending of metal. Nothing that I experienced in the rest of the War, could ever compare to those hours,  I spent assisting with the rescue efforts at Pearl.
One other thing I witnessed while out in the harbor I will never forget. As we were going along Battleship Row, pulling men out of the water, we looked up and saw the U.S.S. Nevada. She had gotten under way and was coming down the Row right towards us. The men in the water struggled to get out of her way and so did we. She went on past us, and as we watched, the Japanese just went crazy trying to bomb and torpedo her. Suddenly she turned into the shore and beached herself. Still the Japanese attacked and attacked, but she did not sink. They were not able to use her to block up the channel as they intended, for if they had, the fleet would have been even worse sitting ducks.
I did not know that my ship had left the harbor uninjured, nor how my fellow crewmen fared. I did not see my ship again for two weeks, but there was little time to dwell on it, as the attack had made things a seriously chaotic mess. There was so much wreckage and destruction,  it boggled the mind.

When my ship finally came back, one of my buddies told how he had manned a fifty caliber gun, and was shooting at the torpedo's, which were skimming across the top of the water towards the ship. He had never heard of torpedo's that could do that, but he was shooting them out of the water. The 1st Lieutenant yelled at him to stop, saying, " You can't shoot those things!" but he yelled back, "What the hell do you think I've been doing?!" He was never brought up later, on charges for insubordination either.
After the attack order had to be restored, ships repaired, and salvaged for further service. I was trained in Ships Salvage and Repair, so my skills were sorely needed. I had in recent months completed training in underwater welding and torch work, so for the next two weeks, until my ship returned to Pearl, I worked night and day using my skills, to aid in the rescue and salvage at Pearl. We had little rest, and as sleep was full of nightmares, those of us working, were glad to have something to distract us. We were driven with purpose, fueled by our anger, and an intense wish for revenge on our enemy, we pushed ourselves to the limit. Every man there, working toward one goal, the salvaging of our pride, and our Pacific Fleet, so we could get back to sea and destroy those that had so underhandedly attacked us.

Thus ends the account of grandpa's  story of the Attack on Pearl Harbor 74 years ago today. But here is another, which he told me several times, which I will include here. He never wanted to dwell on the horrors he saw that day, but would always tell me this story instead.

Here it is in grandpa's own words:

Two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I returned to my ship the U.S.S. Ramsay. She had just returned from doing anti-submarine and escort duty, for re-supplying. She needed to be inspected for possible damage to her hull, received during the attack, so they suited up the Chief Bosn’s Mate in the deep sea diving suit, roped him up, and prepared to drop him over the side. Just as they were getting ready to put on the diving helmet, he leaned down, to take a look over the side, and his glasses fell off into the water, so he couldn’t see a thing. I had the same training in salvage and repair work that he did, so was suited up and lowered over the side instead. 
I got below the surface, and the water was still so dirty from the attack, that I couldn’t see a thing, so I had to inspect the entire hull by feel. I had gone completely around the ship, which had taken some time, and as I came back to where I had started, I felt an object in the water, so I grabbed a hold of it to bring it topside. When they pulled me back up onto the ship, what do you suppose I’d found, but the Chief Bosn’s Mates glasses. We all had a good laugh, but the Chief  was really relieved, as it was his only pair of glasses, and he couldn’t see a thing without them.

Here are a couple of guys in suits similar to what Grandpa would have worn.

Now you might think, given that he had endured such a thing, that grandpa would ever after hate the Japanese. If you thought this, you would be wrong. Grandpa went on to become an officer in the Navy, having the rank of Chief Warrant Carpenter. He was with the first Marines, who landed at Amori Japan, after the surrender. He walked along the streets and saw flowers growing in their gardens, just like the flowers in his mothers garden back home in Missouri, and realized that the every day Japanese people, were not who he had been at war with.

He came to have a deep respect for them, and when the Japanese troubles continued in the Hood River Valley, after the war, as a banker, he refused to follow the path of bigotry, and gave loans to them, and went to court to testify on their behalf, to help them get honest prices for their land.

Grandpa, today we remember you, and all those other boys who lost their lives, or lived through Pearl as you did. You and they truly were hero's, and we thank you for preserving our freedom.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Christmas Poem

 Every year about this time a madness sets into the populace. It is a man made tradition, that sets the whole country on a frenzy. This poem was inspired by a short time I spent working in retail, in a small variety store during one Christmas season. I had never experienced such a madness in all of my days, so this is for all of those poor shop keepers and shop assistants, who have to go through this year after year.

The Shop Keepers Christmas Nightmare

‘Twas just weeks before Christmas, and all through the Valley,
the shops were stuffed full, from their rooves to the alley.
The workers were tired, their faces were dreary,
the mountains of boxes, had made them all weary.
But shoppers were coming, their voices so merry,
they chattered away, like some tinsel toed fairy.
They ooh’d and they awed, as they snatched up the toys,
and many were not, very good girls or boys.
They broke many things and they hid them in places,
that made owners angry, put frowns on their faces.
They picked up the pieces and glued them together,
then glared at the shoppers and cursed at the weather.
For snow had been falling, the roads were now icy,
without much more shopping, the intake was dicey.
It snowed up a blizzard for many a day,
‘til shop keepers wished, for old Santa and sleigh.
Then just when they thought, that it couldn’t get better,
it started to rain and got wetter and wetter.
The shoppers returned, but their purse strings were tight,
and they wanted to haggle, well it just wasn’t right.
The lines were now endless and tempers were flaring,
the shop keepers meaner, the helpers uncaring.
For time was now ticking, the weeks swiftly passing,
the ham's in the freezers, the families amassing.
The tree’s in the thickets, or one’s from the boxes,
were mounted and garnished, hung up were the sox’s.
Yet many were out, just to find one more bargain,
and they were not buying, just any old jargon.
Now sales signs were many, they flourished like roses,
but shoppers were now, like blood hounds, with good noses.
They fought and they wrestled, they tossed all the racks,
‘til cloths on the floor, were piled up in great stacks.
They clawed through it all, just to reach one small jacket,
I don’t think hyena’s, could make such a racket.
The end of each day, left the shop keepers gutted,
from treading on toes, and one even head butted.
By now all the pleasantest, signs of the season,
were taken away, by the mob without reason.
Thank goodness it now, was just one day ‘til Yule,
to keep up this pace, one would be such a fool.
The shops were by now, in a very sad state,
and they couldn’t last longer, if left to their fate.
When the clock finally stuck, on the closing last minute,
the shops still had numbers, of shoppers left in it.
To get them to leave, was a terrible fright,
the clutching and begging a terrible sight.
The shop keepers pushing them out of the doors,
while the shoppers fought back, going down on all fours.
But finally ‘twas done, by the stroke of the clock,
the doors were all shut, the keys turned in the lock.
And then with a sigh, at the end of the day,
they wished that this holiday, would go away.
For tho it came only, just once in a year,
it took too much work, and it caused too much fear.
For everyone knew, when they went to their beds,
no visions of sugar plums, danced in their heads.
But just after Christmas, with all its concerns,
would come all the shoppers, with many returns.


Christmas Poem

 Every once in a while I get bit by the poetry bug and so I write a bit of it. This poem came to me one cold winters day, when it struck me that no one really looked at Christmas Eve, from the Reindeer's point of view.  So I thought about it, and this is what I found out. Santa really should have been more considerate of his Reindeer.                           

The Historical Truth Of What Happened To Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and out in the snow,
the Reindeer were freezing, 'twas forty below.
Their breath came in shivers, sent sleigh-bells a tinkling,
but what happened next Santa hadn't an inkling.
He'd gone down a chimney, his usual voice merry,
but Dasher was fed up, the others mad, very!!!
When Santa'd come back, once more covered in soot,
the deer kicked him over and gave him the boot.
They said they were sick, of this over-fed troll,
that was suited in red and lived at the North Pole.
Who ate endless cookies and drank endless cream,
who grew ever fatter and broader of beam.
It was really too much, that he sat by the fire,
then told them to fly ever faster and higher.
Well the final straw, was that very same night,
when they'd ask for a raise, he'd said, "It wasn't right.
They should give of themselves for the girls and the boys,
and freely deliver the sleigh full of toys."
Well that pissed them off, they had, had quite enough,
pulling this fat guys sleigh full of stuff.
So they tore off their traces, their voices weren't merry,
they called him a nasty, fat, fumble bum fairy.
They said,"You pull the sleigh, all alone Christmas nights,
'cause working for you all these years really bites."
Then they took to the air, and they flew right away,
which is why all our gifts come from stores, to this day.