In my last post, I mentioned my granddaughters, remembering them as babies rolling in the bluebonnets. I also mentioned Comanche, and posted part of my novel in process. That made me think of writers I have met, like Kinky Friedman, who has a small cameo in the book, and Earl Staggs, because he is a great friend of my dear friend Kaye B., and Jeff Cohen, who I first “met” online because of our mutual interest in autism, who writes some of the funniest mysteries around, and Chris Grabenstein because he writes a series about two wonderful characters who protect a small town on the Jersey shore, as well as a darker series about an FBI agent and another series for kids, and I happen to have pictures of all of them on my latest photo cd – I HATE to delete my special photos. So this seemed a good time to post some of those photos. Here goes.
Posts Tagged ‘Texas’
Posted in friends, mysteries, Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, tagged Chris Grabenstein, Comanche, Earl Staggs, granddaughters, Jeff Shelby, Jeffrey Cohen, Kaye Barley, Kinky Friedman, Texas on April 9, 2009| Leave a Comment »
November 11, 2008: on a bright, sunny day, friends and relatives of 2nd Lt. Hulbert H. Robertson came to the little country cemetery at Taylor’s Chapel, near Comanche, Texas, to honor one of their own. In one of my early posts, “Gone but never forgotten,” I told the story of how my half sister Gwen and I went to England and Wales to visit her father’s grave at the Cambridge American Cemetery, and to see the mountain in Wales where he and three other crew members died on 4 June, 1943. Our mother had known little about the circumstances of his death, until the day Steve Jones came into our lives. Steve, a Welsh firefighter, hang-glider, mountain climber, scuba diver, aviation historian, and one of the world’s nicest young men, wanted to honor the Americans who died in accidents in Wales during WWII. He studied and researched and contacted family members to share what he’d learned. Gwen and I took two trips to the UK, first in March 2004, and again in June 2005. Steve and his lovely companion, Sabina, took excellent care of us. In 2005, Steve arranged a memorial service for the crew members near Carn Llidi, the site of the crash.
Fast forward to 2008. Mother had always had a wish to put a memorial to Hulbert in the cemetery where his parents, grandparents, and other family members rest. Mother is now 87 years old, so we knew the time had come to fulfill that wish. The monument was purchased, and we put together a program for Memorial Day. Various problems and delays caused several postponements of the ceremony, and those planning to go probably began to wonder if it would ever happen. Then it did, and everything turned out just fine.
Our cousins Beth and Sharon set up a table for the scrapbook of the trips to the UK, the box with the flag from Hulbert’s funeral and his insignia, and a small blue tin with pieces of the aircraft and a rock Gwen and I had gathered on Carn Llidi, along with a copy of the story. We placed flowers on the marker, and I put an American flag on one side of it and a Welsh flag on the other. The stage was set, and it was time for the next part. Because I know how to research and write and speak (reluctantly) in public, I was chosen to do the talking. I didn’t know what I was going to say, but I opened my mouth and the words came easily. I talked about his early years, his family – he was the baby of a very large family, and they all adored him — and his desire to serve his country. He was, to all accounts, a brilliant young man, and he applied to West Point. He met all the criteria, but the slots alloted for his county had already been filled. He decided he and Mother should just go ahead and get married, and they did, at the Robertson’s old dog trot cabin. Shortly after the wedding, a letter of acceptance to the Naval Academy arrived, but married men aren’t eligible to attend. Mother says he didn’t care, he wanted to fly, and that’s what he did, first as an enlisted man, then as a 2nd Lt. He went to Barksdale Airfield, La., to train as the navigator of a B-26 Martin Marauder named Lil’ Lass.
One of the best parts of the ceremony was when I told the story of how the crew flew from Louisiana to Texas for a training run and did a flyover of Hulbert’s family home. His father was on his tractor in the field, and when he saw the big warplane flying low, he knew who it was. He got off the tractor and put his hand over his heart. They went on and flew over my mother’s parents home too. This was not something the Army encouraged, but fliers often made their own rules. When I finished the story, two or three of the relatives chimed in and said their homes had been buzzed too. Hollie Stewart, son of Hulbert’s sister Wilma, said the plane was so low he could see the crew in the cockpit. That brought some levity to the ceremony, as they remembered what a cutup Hulbert was and what fun it was to see that big plane cruising along at treetop level, waggling its wings at them.
My part was done, and I asked Michael Robertson, son of Hulbert’s brother Eugene, to read a poem written by a Canadian RAF pilot in 1941. He died, as did Hulbert, in an accidental crash a few months after writing this ode to flight.
By Pilot Officer John G. Magee Jr.
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlight silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”
At the conclusion, Chance Pruitt, a student at Comanche High School stood on a nearby rise and played Taps. A professional bugler could not have done it better.
Dec. 10: I just came across this quote, and it seems to fit the occasion
” When the flag is unfurled, all reason is in the trumpet. -Ukrainian proverb ”
Tears turned to smiles as we took photos and exchanged hugs, then went to the church hall for more photos and refreshments – thank you, Carol and H.R., for all you did for us. Other Robertson relatives who came were Charles Stewart, Sharon Beck, and Beth James, children of Hulbert’s sister Loez, Kathryn and Lola, daughters of his sister Doris, H.R. (Hulbert Robertson) Helm, son of his sister Marie, and Gwen’s daughter Becky.
Hulbert’s great niece Margie, a major in the Air Force, had arrived late because the general had a project for her. Even though it was short, we had a nice visit with her anyway. She was wearing her uniform to honor her uncle. As we were leaving, she went down to the cemetery to pay her respects. I’m sure he is very proud of her.
Welcome home, soldier.
I was googling my name, as I sometimes do, and came across this story I found in the Comanche Chief, my hometown newspaper. I re-wrote it and submitted it to Rootsweb, and it was published in the Rootsweb online newsletter. I’m very proud of my version of the story:
Death by Catfish or a Sad Fishy Tale By Shirley Wetzel in Houston, Texas, USA I don't know what the cause of death was given on the death certificate (if they issued them back then), but here's what happened From the Comanche Chief (Texas) Nov. 9, 1879 "We have recently heard of the death of John FRANKLIN, a nephew of Col. William STONE. He and a brother were camped near the Colorado [River] and catching a large catfish in the river, started to carry it to their camp by running a loaded rifle through its gills. "The fish floundering struck the hammer of the gun, caused it to fire, and discharging the ball into his left side, he fell to the ground a corpse."