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Silent Guns on Christmas Eve

On Dec. 25, 1914, five months into World War I, British and German troops on the Western Front stopped fighting in a spontaneous ceasefire; soldiers from opposing nations put their weapons aside to enjoy carols.

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The crushing German advance had been checked by the allies before it could reach Paris. The opposing armies stared at each other from a line of hastily built defensive trenches that began at the edge of the English Channel and continued to the border of Switzerland. Barbed wire and parapets defended the trenches and between them stretched a “No-Mans-Land” that in some areas was no more than 30 yards wide.

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Life in the trenches was abominable. Continuous sniping, machine gun fire, and artillery shelling took a deadly toll. The misery was heightened by the ravages of Nature, including rain, snow and cold. Many of the trenches, especially those in the low-lying British sector to the west, were continually flooded, exposing the troops to frost bite and “trench foot.”

On the German side, soldiers began lighting candles. British sentries reported to commanding officers that there appeared to be small lights raised on poles or bayonets. Although these lanterns clearly illuminated the German troops, making them vulnerable to being shot, the British held their fire. Even more amazing, British officers saw, through binoculars, that some enemy troops were holding Christmas trees over their heads with lighted candles in their branches. The message was clear: The Germans, who celebrated Christmas on the eve of December 25th, were extending holiday greetings to the enemy.

Frank Richards, an eyewitness, wrote in his diary, We stuck up a board with ‘Merry Christmas’ on it. The enemy stuck up a similar one. Two of our men threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads as two of the Germans did the same, our two going to meet them. They shook hands and then we all got out of the trench and so did the Germans.

Richards explained that some German soldiers spoke perfect English with one saying how fed up he was with the war and how he would be glad when it was over. His British counterpart agreed.

German soldiers starting singing “Silent Night.”

When it ended,” eighteen-year-old Alfred Anderson, a Scottish soldier recalled,”there was a short time of silence. Then one of ours began singing `The First Noel.’ Halfway through, it was as if our entire regiment was singing.” When the British followed with “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful,” German soldiers joined in with harmony of the Latin version,”Adeste Fideles.

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The Germans seem to have made that first move. During the evening of December 24, they delivered a chocolate cake to the British line accompanied by a note that proposed a cease fire so that the Germans could have a concert. The British accepted the proposal and offered some tobacco as their present to the Germans. Enemy soldiers shouted to one another from the trenches, joined in singing songs and soon met one another in the middle of no-mans-land to talk, exchange gifts and in some areas to take part in impromptu soccer matches.

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The truces ended that night or the following morning.

A British captain wrote of how the Royal Welch Fusiliers resumed the war: At 8.30, I fired three shots in the air and put up a flag with ‘Merry Christmas’ on it, and I climbed on the parapet. He [the Germans] put up a sheet with ‘Thank you’ on it, and the German Captain appeared on the parapet. We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again.

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Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright. Round yon Virgin mother and child. Holy Infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.



Ingle Men Respond in World War II

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 2017. It is the 76th anniversary of Japan’s attack on the US in Hawaii. 4,000 miles from Japan and 2,000 miles from the US, the Japanese attacked the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. This surprise attack began at 7:55 a.m., and five additional attacks followed throughout the day until 9 p.m. More than 2,400 American sailors, soldiers, and civilians died during the attack, and another 1,000 were wounded.

Officers' wives head to their quarters after hearing explosions and seeing smoke in distance. Mary Naiden, the woman who took this picture, is said to have exclaimed, "There are red circles on those planes overhead. They are Japanese!"

Nearly 20 American naval vessels were destroyed in the attack, including eight massive battleships. More than 300 airplanes were also lost.

At the scene of the attack, a small boat rescues a USS West Virginia crew member from the water after the Japanese bombing raid.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation at a joint session of Congress the next day calling December 7 “a day which will live in infamy” and called on legislators to approve a declaration of war against Japan.


All over America, civilians reacted to this news that seemed so very far away.

In the streets, people buy newspapers reporting the Japanese attack on U.S. bases in the Pacific Ocean.

Ernest Ingle enlisted in the Navy, but ended up in the Marines. His service was mainly in China and Burma. A plane dropped him and his fellow Marines into China; then they fought their way down the Burma Road.

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Image result for photos of burma Road

The Burma Road linked Burma with southwest China and was the only overland supply route. American soldiers walked and traveled in trucks on this high, rugged,  mountainous road; two of Ernest’s drivers were shot. Switchbacks made it impossible to find cover from the Japanese, and there was one stretch of 21 solid curves.

This road was 717 miles long and was built to bring supplies to beleaguered China, to help them resist the Japanese invasion. Not much of the original road survives today, but parts of the route can still be traveled.

Fighting the elements, the jungles, and enemy diseases, including malaria and dysentery, those Marines kept the Japanese at bay, as well as keeping this road open; they protected China from their enemy.

Buck Ingle proposed to Nora, and she accepted before he went into the Navy.  She wanted to wait until he came back from the war to get married, so they did. Buck was stationed on a LST/Landing Ship Tank, and his battle station was a gun.

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They were ships built during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying tanks, vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto shore with no docks or piers.

Rather than being a deck gunner, which was his assignment, Buck wanted to be a cook.

One day his ship was attacked by a kamikaze pilot, Japanese military aviators who committed suicide by crashing their planes. One of the cooks was killed, and an officer asked Buck to replace him.

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Only a few days later, another kamikaze pilot hit the ship, and the ship sank. Buck had a severe head wound and floated in a life raft for eleven days before being rescued. After returning home and marrying Nora, he had several surgeries on his head because the scar tissue kept returning. Eventually he died from the wound.

Oliver Ingle left Union, SC to hitchhike to Ft. Jackson in Columbia to enlist in the Army. He followed in the footsteps of his older brothers, who had also enlisted.

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On June 2, 1917, Camp Jackson, a new Army Training Center was established to answer America’s call for trained fighting men the early ominous days of World War I.

The initial site of the cantonment area consisted of almost 1,200 acres. The citizens of Columbia donated the land to the federal government, thereby initiating the long tradition of respect, cooperation and friendship between the city and the installation.

Named in honor of Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, a native son of the Palmetto State and the seventh president of the U.S., Camp Jackson was designated as one of 16 national cantonments constructed to support the war effort.

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Starting out on Hwy. 176, he hadn’t walked far before a car slowed down ahead of him. Running to catch up, Oliver jumped on the running board. There was a loose strip of metal molding that ran through his leg. The stranger took him back Union. Undeterred and with a healed leg, he arrived at Ft. Jackson to enlist on his next hitchhiking trip. Because he was disabled, the army declined his services. He worked for the rest of World War II in the cotton mill, making sure that cotton was available for the soldiers.


The Greatest Generation, as they have come to be called, fought hard against their enemies. All were not on the battlefields, but all were against tyranny. With their victory gardens and sacrifices with rationing, some did their duty by doing without.

Bas relief of farmers harvesting wheat

Sir Winston Churchill said in the midst of World War II, “Never in the field of conflict has so much been owed by so many by so few.”

On this Pearl Harbor day, I am grateful for those men and women who fought for my freedom. Aren’t you?

Daddy’s Story: First Time Under Fire in WW II

“I got sick crossing the English Channel. All the men got sick because the waves were high and kept crashing into our boat.

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Our ship was full of men, vehicles, equipment. We landed in Rouen, France, on December 1, 1944, and we disembarked on December 2.

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We set up our general headquarters in a small building next to the main house on a large farm. The smell of the former inhabitants, cows and horses, permeated the space, but we were grateful to be out of the cold.

The small box that held my switchboard needed to be protected. I sent and received messages during my shift with it. As a radio operator, I transmitted to the battery and division headquarters. Those messages kept up connected with one one another at all times.

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Sometime earlier, the farm had been attacked; the fields and buildings were badly damaged. My unit was called the 334th Field Artillery Battalion. Our mission was to support the 345th Infantry. As we unloaded the trucks, we could hear the light and heavy artillery in the east.

There were hills around that farm. All night long, the booming of the cannons pounded our ears from those hills. Their howitzers and our howitzers were in a relentless drumming contest. Sometimes they sounded like thuds and then like whams. I could recognize the sounds of our American cannons. Our howitzers sounded stronger to me. No one slept.

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I had been on duty taking and sending calls since midnight. My switchboard was set up about ten feet inside the building. It was early morning, and I was ready for breakfast and a break. Suddenly enemy bombing started again!

I was in the Coast Artillery at the Citadel.; I had trained on the large artillery and recognized their sounds. The Jerries had zeroed in on us right at breakfast time. Many soldiers were standing in line with their mess kits to get breakfast from the mess truck.


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I heard the whine! My training kicked in, and I hit the ground. Before I covered my head, I saw dirt flying up in the air and men running for cover.

Men fell, where minutes earlier they were standing, drinking coffee, and talking. Several soldiers piled in around me, and others ran under trucks and toward the cellar for protection.

The enemy had us We were in the sights of their artillery at chow time with no cover. In minutes, the barrage was over. Our howitzers began firing back; the firing wasn’t one-sided any more.

We all ran to help our buddies. A shell had fallen on a truck cab; it had instantly killed the me inside. medics grabbed stretchers and carried the wounded from the breakfast line to a makeshift clinic. We put out fires. Order reigned again, but lives had been lost.

Within feet, I saw friends die. It was all about where we were standing.

I have never forgotten.”

Samuel Moore Collins

Thank you for your service, Daddy!



Five Things About Me


A couple of weeks ago, my publisher, Ambassador International of Tales of a Cosmic Possum, asked me to write about five things that most people don’t know about me. It was fun, so I thought I would share it with you.

I love movies! Whether it is Disney, James Bond, a romance, a musical, a mystery, or a history, movies entertain me. Going to a theater or watching on TV, I become mesmerized into the story. There have been times that I have wanted to become part of the fantasy, because it deeply touched my emotions. My preference is for happy endings, but the reality check of those with unresolved conflicts or some form of estrangement is also thought-provoking. Though identifying with the characters is fun, movies also stretch my mind/world view to see life through someone else’s lens.

When I was around four, I met President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In a long line of people, my parents and I were outside a church in Augusta, Georgia. (Since then, I have found out that it was the Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, where the President attended in that city.) I can still remember that it was Daddy, then Mother, then me. As the President walked by, he shook Daddy’s hand and then smiled and patted me on the head. It makes no sense that I can still visualize this occasion, but I do. I guess I am supposed to have this one in my memory bank.

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Pulitzer prize-winning photo of Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower.

My grandmother Lulu used to regale my brother and me with stories of our relatives, both the unknown and the infamous. Over and over, we would ask for her version of our cousin, Jesse James. He was the son of a Baptist minister, but he robbed banks and trains. Supposedly, his crimes were payback for the way he and his family were treated during the Civil War. (Perhaps this scenario was similar to the legends of Robin Hood.) Jesse James had staunch friends and family that protected him during his life of crime. So interesting now as an adult that I was enamored with the romanticized thoughts of a cousin that chose to be a thief, so he could provide for his impoverished family.

Jesse and Frank James, c. 1872Jesse and Frank James, c. 1872

Robert Ford (Credit: The Print Collector/Getty Images)

Both my grandmothers and mother made jelly and preserves every year. They started the spring season with strawberry preserves, following that with peach and blackberry preserves, and ending with apple jelly in the fall. It saw that it was hot work, as they all dealt with the steam from the jars boiling and the fruit being brought to a boil. But it wasn’t long after I married that I chose to follow in their footsteps. There really isn’t much enjoyment from the process, but there certainly is in eating the finished product. I, also, enjoy sharing them with friends and watching their eyes light up with anticipated pleasure. If I could only bake biscuits, like those three ladies, to go with those preserves, I would be truly be a happy camper.

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Crime or mystery novels have always been a favorite of mine. Patricia Cornwell, Louise Penny, Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, John Hart, and Tom Clancy are some of my favored authors through the years. To go along with this choice of reading, one of my uncles worked for the CIA. Somewhere it became part of my outlook that I would make a worthy agent. In my imaginings, I would capture Russian spies, save America, and never be taken prisoner. Traveling from one exotic place to another, I would make friends on every continent, but remain savvy as I found traitors and enemies. No, this never happened. In real life, I research to find truth about my characters and and use my creativity to construct and shape the worlds they live in, that I will never see.

Louise Penny has one of her characters say,

“The four sayings that lead to wisdom:
I was wrong
I’m sorry
I don’t know
I need help”

Sounds like wise statements to me. Do you agree?


Happy Birthday, Daniel Boone!

Daniel Boone
The above 1820 portrait is the only known portrait of him created during his lifetime.

American explorer and frontiersman Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734, in a log cabin in Exeter Township, near Reading, Pennsylvania. His father, Squire Boone, Sr., was a blacksmith and a weaver who met his wife, Sarah Morgan, in Pennsylvania after emigrating from England. They were Quakers. Daniel Morgan, famous for his win at the Battle of Cowpens, was a first cousin to this Daniel.

Daniel, the couple’s sixth child, received little formal education. Boone learned how to read and write from his mother, and his father taught him wilderness survival skills. Boone was given his first rifle when he was 12 years old. He quickly proved himself a talented woodsman and hunter, boldly shooting his first bear when most children his age were too frightened.

Boone Home in Pennsylvania

At age 15, Boone moved with his family to Rowan County, North Carolina, on the Yadkin River, where he started his own hunting business.

Daniel Boone did not attend school. His older brother’s wife taught him to read and write. Though he mastered the basics, Boone’s grammar and spelling remained poor. Boone could sign his name, though, which set him apart from most frontiersmen, who used an “X” for their signature.

Boone traveled the frontier wearing buckskin leggings and a loose-fitting shirt made of animal skin. On his leather belt he attached ahunting knife a hatchet, a powder horn, and a bullet pouch. Many images portray Boone wearing a coonskin cap, which was popular with trappers. Boone preferred wide-brimmed beaver felt hats to keep the sun out of his eyes.

In August 1756, Boone wed Rebecca Bryan, and the couple set up stakes in the Yadkin Valley. Over a 24-year period, the couple would have 10 children together. At first Boone found himself content with what he described as the perfect ingredients to a happy life: “A good gun, a good horse and a good wife.” But adventure stories Boone had heard from a teamster while on march ignited Boone’s interest in exploring the American frontier.

1778 depiction of Boonesboro

Boone’s fame stems from his exploits during the exploration and settlement of Kentucky. One time he said, “I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.” He first arrived in the future state in 1767 and spent the better part of the next 30 years exploring and settling the lands of Kentucky, including carving out the Wilderness Road and building the settlement station of Boonesboro.  His son, Nathan Boone, was the first white man born in Kentucky.

 Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (1851–52) is a famous depiction of Boone by George Bingham.

After his death, he was frequently the subject of heroic tall tales and works of fiction. His adventures—real and legendary—were influential in creating the archetypal Western hero of American folklore. In American popular culture, he is remembered as one of the foremost early frontiersmen. The epic Daniel Boone mythology often overshadows the historical details of his life.

Walt Disney hired Fess Parker to bring Daniel Boone to life in a series by the hero’s name. It ran for six seasons, and my brother and I enjoyed each episode. The theme song described this hero as the “the rippin’est, roarin’est, fightin’est man the frontier ever knew,” and we believed it.

As Daniel Boone said, “I was happy in the midst of dangers and inconveniences.”

On September 26, 1820, Daniel Boone died of natural causes at his home in Femme Osage Creek, Missouri. He was 85 years old.

“Cotton Mill Colic”

Doffers and sweepers, 1908. Lewis Hine. New York Times

Doffers and sweepers in 1908

McCarn wrote “Cotton Mill Colic” in 1926. Released on record in August, 1930, it was soon being sung by striking Piedmont mill workers. Absolute truth about the lives of mill workers was real to the cotton mill families. Probably it is McCarn’s best composition; revealing with wry humour the often grim situation of the millhand unable to get straight financially.

When you buy clothes on easy terms,
Collectors treat you like measly worms.
One dollar down, then Lord knows,
If you can’t make a payment, they’ll take your clothes.
When you go to bed you can’t sleep,
You owe so much at the end of the week.
No use to colic, they’re all that way,
Pecking at your door till they get your pay.
I’m a-gonna starve, and everybody will,
‘Cause you can’t make a living at a cotton mill.

When you go to work you work like the devil,
At the end of the week you’re not on the level.
Payday comes, you pay your rent,
When you get through you’ve notgot a cent
To buy fat-back meat, pinto beans,
Now and then you get turnip greens.
No use to colic, we’re all that way,
Can’t get the money to move away.
I’m a-gonna starve, and everybody will,
‘Cause you can’t make a living at a cotton mill.

Twelve dollars a week is all we get,
How in the heck can we live on that?
I’ve got a wife and fourteen kids,
We all have to sleep on two bedsteads.
Patches on my britches, holes in my hat,
Ain’t had a shave, my wife got fat.
No use to colic, everyday at noon,
The kids get to crying in a different tune.
I’m a-gonna starve, and everybody will,
‘Cause you can’t make a living at a cotton mill.

They run a few days and then they stand,
Just to keep down the working man.
We can’t make it, we never will,
As long as we stay at a lousy mill.
The poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer,
If you don’t starve, I’m a son of a gun.
No use to colic, no use to rave,
We’ll never rest till we’re in our grave.
I’m a-gonna starve, and everybody will,
‘Cause you can’t make a living at a cotton mill.

5. According to the photographer, everyone in this family photo works at the mill.

According to the photographer, this Spartanburg family all worked in the cotton mill.

16. This photo taken in May 1912 shows a young boy walking ahead of some adult workers.

The boy above was Eddie Norton, who worked in Saxon Mill, Spartanburg. He has just completed a twelve-hour shift, along with those behind him. He probably made around 40 cents an hour, but this contributed to the family’s finances.

High hopes and dreams of a weekly pay check, a home, and a steady job brought the first workers to the cotton mills. Leaving the Appalachian mountains, their lives became controlled by a mill whistle, but the families stuck together. Both young and old might stay “worn slap out,” but “if your blood kin, then ye stick together no matter what.”

The Mill Village Company Store

When new mill workers left their homes in the Appalachian mountains. they brought little. A farm wagon carried both the family and their household goods. The mills provided houses to rent, schools for the children, sometimes a rec hall, and a company store.

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Image result for photo of company stores at mill village

Looking back at his childhood memories, Gerald Teaster recalls the  Company Store where his parents worked.

The best way to describe the Company Store is to say that it was a smaller version of a Wal-Mart store today. It was way before its time. It had many more items for sale than a typical small town general store of that era. It was a combination hardware, furniture, grocery, clothing, shoe and sporting goods store, all under one roof. 

There was no other store anywhere close to Pacolet that had the variety and quantity of things for sale that the Company Store had. In looking back, there were almost no stores in the city of Spartanburg that had the variety of things it did. Probably, the only store that could have come close to matching it would have been a Sears store. Spartanburg did have a Sears but I don’t think that it was opened until the early 1950’s.

As a child, I remember my parents taking me to the Company Store to buy me shoes and boots, usually when school started. (Many children, myself included, went barefooted almost all of the time from about May 1 until the first day of school in the fall.) 

When I came to the store with my parents for other things, I always left them to go and look at the sports equipment, particularly the baseball gloves and bats. The store also sold all sorts of fishing equipment, and if I remember correctly, rifles and shotguns, .22 bullets and shotgun shells. I think that you could also order coal for your fireplace and ice for an icebox at the store.

During the Depression, the mill sometimes paid their employees with their own script. These paper coupons could be used in the company store just like money. Also, employees could set up a charge account at the store. Charging items one week would be subtracted from their pay checks the next.

John’s mother bought most of her staples at the company store at the Union Mill. Lois had a twenty-five pound bin in a kitchen cabinet with an attached sifter, so she would buy that size bag of Martha White flour to fill it up. She bought five pounds of dried beans, ten pounds of sugar, salt, hog feed all in cloth bags. All these cloth bags were recycled into either clothes or household uses.

She filled her own metal cans from an available metal drum; Tom and John lugged it home for her. The Excelsior Mill made socks and threw away the tops when they were trimmed. All the women went to the mill’s trash bin to gather up the sock tops. Then they made hot pot pads with them. The boys used those pads to carry the kerosene can. (Those pads also made good Christmas presents.)

King Syrup was another staple in her household. This maple syrup in a one gallon can didn’t last long with four sons. Lois baked biscuits every morning, and they were drenched with homemade butter and syrup. A church key opened the can, and it had to be wiped clean after use to keep the ants away.

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Sewing notions were a popular item at the company store. Lois bought material, buttons, snaps, zippers, and thread. Using her pedal-driven Singer sewing machine, she was a whiz at creating clothes from her own patterns that she had made from newspapers.

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Mason jars were another staple in the Ingle household from the Company Store. Lois put up everything from her garden and fruit trees. Then whatever anyone else shared was canned for use later.

John and Tom owned a Radio Flyer. Each time, Lois went to the store, the wagon traveled with her. Empty on the way there, but filled to overflowing on the road back home.

Tomorrow, I am meeting some friends at a restaurant here in Spartanburg. The name is The Standard, and it is located in the old Company Store at Drayton Mills.”The building has a cruciform layout, a slate hipped roof, and pressed tin ceilings inside. During the mill’s heyday, the building housed a grocery store, post office, business offices, and other operations.”

Isn’t it a good thing when buildings can be restored? I believe I will wonder where the King Syrup and bolts of cloth once were available.