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a rural school transformed into a gift shop

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puzzaddled

Hello again, roseheather. (I went for the schoolhouse for the obvious reason! lol)

I decided to take part of this offline from the rest of Jigidi so that I could share a few stories with you, as I did with Ardy. My husband didn't feel very comfortable using a public forum; he much prefers face-to-face discussion. I am happy that he allowed me to share some of his thoughts. I have great respect for his knowledge in this field (amongst others).

I very much appreciate the dialogue that Ardy and you have generated with the posting of an important memory (via her family radio) and such an important document. With my husband's interest, these historical events have been an important part of our family discussions for our whole married life. Our children were all raised with an understanding of why we need to remember these wars. They also learned to respect the military and those who serve(d), even if they didn't agree with the political policies that the military personnel are/were upholding. (For me, as for all mothers, any soldier could be my son or daughter.)

My daughter reminded me of the time, long ago, when her father, brothers and she were at a park here in Ontario (near a military base) and there was a Sherman Tank on display. My husband was giving them a lesson about the tank (and a bit about the war) and answering technical detail questions that our youngest boy was asking. Unbeknownst to my husband, an small troop of CF men and their Captain came up behind them. (She didn't know if they were regular army or reservists or even cadets.) Apparently several of the men started making mocking remarks and their Captain snapped at them to shut up and listen so that they might learn something. He said that obviously this man knew a lot more than they did and probably more than he (the Captain) did. Our children were proud of their dad with his impromptu training lesson to armed forces personnel.

My great-uncle (by marriage) was a German P.O.W. I don't know where he was held; my great-aunt met him after he had come to Canada. (He never went back to Germany or ever wanted to do so.) Before WW2, he had been a window dresser and an amateur photographer and had wanted to emigrate from Germany to either Australia or Canada. Unfortunately, German regulations of that time required that he have permission from his parents because he was too young to apply for himself. They, not wanting to lose their son, refused to sign. He never got the chance to emigrate; he was drafted. His personal theatre of war in the Panzer Grenadieres saw him in the front lines for the entire war. From the invasion of France to the Russian front (where he suffered severe frostbite) to, at the end, the western front. He was the only member of his platoon (54 men) to survive to the end of the war. The rest died. Please understand that he didn't tell us anything about this until about a year before he died. By that time he had had both his legs amputated (long term damage from that frostbite). During a visit to him, my husband had made a comment about his cute little dog. My great-uncle then said that he always had a little dog with him, even in the war. He brought out his photo albums to show us pictures of the little dogs and my husband was astounded. My husband recognized some of the locations and gently asked questions and so got my great-uncle to talk about his experiences. With his love of photography, he had smuggled his camera with him when he was drafted and took pictures during his whole war experience. He sent the film home to his family by surreptitious means; they kept it hidden for him until his return home. Had he been discovered with the camera and film, he would have been court-martialed and likely shot. The photographs were unique in that they were not official propaganda but rather an insight into the life of the ordinary German front-line soldier. They were amazing. (Sadly, I do not know where these photos are now. He passed away several years ago.) It hardly seems credible but he seemed to actively hate Hitler more than anyone we have met. The only time he pronounced the name, he spat it out with venom! Any other references were to THAT man (same venom) who had caused so much trouble for the world. He said he was ashamed to fight for Hitler in that war but that he'd had no choice. My great-uncle said something about his family being held hostage to his compliant behaviour, especially since he was Austrian and not German. While we had seen Das Boot and considered it to be a powerful film (although my husband did critique a couple of its flaws), we were even more moved by my great-uncle's story. It so exemplified the personal side of the individual soldier's experiences and the realization that we are all human and not really different from one another regardless of nationality.

A few years ago I accompanied my daughter and her best friend (whom I love and consider to be my other daughter) to the Royal Winter Fair, here in Toronto. It was November 11th and we had attended the Remembrance Day ceremonies while there (as we are wont to do). In the afternoon, while walking through the fair, my daughter espied a be-ribboned WW2 veteran who was wearing his full dress uniform. He was very aged and in a wheelchair, being pushed by his wife. My very fair, red-headed daughter went up to him and, very politely and respectfully, asked if she could shake his hand to thank him for his service to our country. He was so very happy to do so and just beamed! (He even gave her a hug as she knelt to talk to him.) However, when her best friend then went up to him and asked him, even more respectfully (if it was possible!), if she could do the same he was nonplussed. Hesitantly, very hesitantly, he said yes. My daughter's best friend is emphatically Canadian (born and raised) but her racial background is Indonesian. As he later explained to us, he had a bad moment where he couldn't reconcile this young woman's appearance to the appearance of the enemy all those years ago. You see, his theatre of war was the Pacific! This was the first time, in all those years, an Asian appearing person had thanked him. He asked if he could hug her too! I think that this was a catharsis for him, all those many years after the war; his wife gave me the most beautiful smile I have ever seen, from behind his chair, while wiping tears from her eyes. (rats...now I'm doing the same, just remembering...) I was just so proud of my girls!

Here I thought that I joined Jigidi just to solve some jigsaw puzzles. Instead, I am not only having fun but meeting interesting people and sharing ideas and experiences. WOW!

Take care, Michelle (& Bruce)

PLG1958

What a wonderful idea! I love it! Thank you, RH!

roseheather

It is on the Old Sauk Trail, or US 12, between Detroit and Chicago.

classof54gal

Looks a lot like Salado, Texas, RH. Salado is a quaint small town full of interesting historical buildings including a wonderful restaurant, The Stagecoach Inn. This could also be in the gold rush area of California. The star on the gate seemed like a Texas touch. Nice puzzle! Carole

JM_Cookie

Very nice pic. Thanks

tampagirl

I like this rose! Thanks

gabecyr

Where is this sweet place?

roseheather

This rural school taught many children in the surrounding area. It was rescued and turned into a gift shop which has been a popular destination for many who have visited it. The windows have deep sills which lend themselves well to display. I can detect some repair in the stone work. A few years back a car missed the curve and hit the school/shop. The owner was unruffled and was determined to be back up as soon as repairs could be made. This same business has converted an old gas station/store across the corner to the east into an annex with even more to offer.

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