Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Mom part 1

Beating the drum as U.C. Berkeley 

    My mother was one of three American women (Mary and Eve)  from the Red Cross  to go Japan after the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in a support of role to rebuild. She wanted to be a writer, but was an elementary school teacher.  This is a letter dated 12/26/45 as she flew over Hiroshima, it reads...
"out- he said lots have been
cleaned out already - coming into
the midst of it it's hard for us to
see where.
From the sky the ruins looked
even more extreme. From
outside of Kanoyn to beyond
Hiroshima I navigated us in a 
post in the co pilot seat up
front, map in hand, looked at 
the land below then at the 
map and the pilot radio
operator and I talked to each other 
on the intercommunication phone.
The pilot circled twice over
Hiroshima for us to see the devastation
that had been wranght there
by one bomb - Complete 
Devastation! - Seems incredible"

 Then in 1947 - 48 elementary school ...
She wrote this story in "The MARYLAND TEACHER"
GENERAL EDUCUATION AT ITS BEST has been developed in the classes of Miss Vivian Marshall at the Mt. Rainier Elementary School. Beginning as an imaginative lesson on a colonial Thanksgiving, the project grew into a community-wide activity with national and international implications. Some of the outcomes were: learning to write letters, the spirit of giving, radio appearances, European geography, and international exchange. Even the most backward  child in arithmetic learned to add and subtract! 

Second and Third grades, Mt. Rainier Elementary School

This is the story of three very hungry china pigs- "Bo." "Sky-blue," and "Whitey." It is also the story of Bohars, a small fishing village in France of some 800 persons aged two months to eighty-four years, about five miles from Brest. It is the story of what the 43 children of the second and third grades in the Mt. Rainier Elementary school have done to help the families in this village. 

A thanksgiving Lesson

It all started last Thanksgiving when the children decided that they wanted to share their comparative bounty with the starvation- ridden children of Europe. They finally decided that they would like to help some of the people of France. Assisted by their teacher, they contacted the French Consulate for information on those who needed help the most

Though the Consulate and the American Aid for France Committee, it was found that Bohars was desperately in need of aid; and the size of the town made it more practical than trying to help say - all of the children of France or even all of the children in one large city. 

It was learned that the village had been occupied during the war by the Germans; and that the American boys were among those who helped to liberate it. In doing this, bombs were dropped on the town by our men and by the Germans. The town was nearly obliterated. An American Army tank, bady ridded by the Germans, stands in the town as a memorial to our boys who fell there. 

A Nationwide Search

The school children wanted to find out more about the town and also wanted to make an appeal for funds. They hoped to find men who had been in or near Bohars during the war. Over 100 letters were written by the children ( printed neatly in pencil on lined school paper ) to newspapers in the 48 states, Hawaii, and Alaska in an effort to lacate some of our men who had been there.

Nearly all the newspapers cooperated on the idea. The response was tremendous. Editors sent in contributions for "Bo," short for Bohars, the large china piggy bank which the children are "feeding" in an effort to help feed and clothe bohars. "Bo" is a very hungry pig.

Readers, though they had not been near France, sent in nickels, dimes, quarters, and "folding green" to fill this hungry pig and his family of little ones - "Sky-blue" and "Whitey." Some contributions were sent in memory of loved ones who were lost during the liberation of France. Before long, an account was opened at  the bank in "Bo's name.

A Reply From Tennessee

One of the letters received came from several American men who were there. Here is a direct quote from a boy in Tennessee: 
"Dear Peggy I was reading the peaper tonight Dect. 1 you wonted to now about the little placed in France. I was thire. I was in the Army. I donnt now how to tell you and your school frends about it. the Jerrys had all that place you were asking about. They had all the school knock out and the church too. The Jerrys eat there food they could get thire hands on. The RAF Bob Torn the place in to bits but the German had so much equepent that it took us a long time to save the people from harm. The German burn thire crop of wheat and corn. It was a nasty job for us to run the Jerrys out. It was a chamb (shame) to see women and kids crying for food an a place to sleep. I meet a little girl about 8 years old over thire. She was so weak she could not speak a word. I took her to compound and she was took care of like the others. Peggy the mearest I can till you about it. I hope this will give you an ide (idea) how it was. Love Mr Edward Kincy." 

From another letter:   "where the people live in Bohars and the other villages surrounding Brest I cannot say. With the bomb damage there does not seem to be room for the people. Whole families live in garages. The people are simple, religious and poor but hard working."

Help From Alaska

One of the warmest response came from Alaska. the children in the fourth grade of a Juneau school sent in $5.70. It was money they had collected for a Christmas party. They decided to send it to "Bo" for Bohars instead of exchanging presents this past Christmas. An Alaskan ex-Army man sent in $5 stating that, though he had been in the war six years, he had not been in Bohars. "However," he wrote, "I am so happy you kids are trying to help the kids in Bohars." 

The "Mayor" of "Indiantown," as Miss Marshall's room calls itself, wrote the Mayor of Bohars exlaining what her room hopes to do for the village. Bohars' mayor sent a list of families who comprise the small town and through this list the youngsters will be sure each person gets his individual gift. 

The Voice of America has sent out four broadcasts to Europe telling of the widespread response this Children's proj- 

               ect has received; and most of the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland radio stations have broadcast news stories about the children's work.

    General Eisenhower, General Marshall, Mrs. Roosevelt, President Truman, Drew Pearson, and Elmer Davis are among the notables who have written letters of encouragement to Indiantown. Also Bob Hope, James Stewart, Bing Crosby, and Shirley Temple sent in contributions to "Bo" along with letters commending the work these 7 and 8-year olds have done. 

   The children's hope was that by February 14 contributions of money, food, clothing, and toys would be large enough to materially aid the villagers in Bohars.  One of their greatest hopes was that other schools throughout the country would borrow the idea and would adopt a small devastated European town. As one letter to the children in Miss Marshall's room states: "The Americans here at home ... realize little the hardships that the French underwent, and still are undergoing. Villages were ransacked to such an extent that in many cases the villagers kept only the clothes that they had on their backs. Their livestock was taken. Their homes destroyed." 

                         Hagerstown Depot

   One novel development in the campaign, and a source from which additional supplies have been forthcoming, was the establishment of a "depot" in Hagerstown. Mr. Edgar Berry of Hagerstown became highly interested in the "drive," interested to the point of arranging with Hagerstown officials for the establishment of a collection depot for Bohars. Hagerstown sent a huge quantity of clothing to Mount Rainier for Bohars.

   The project, started by the children of the second and third grades, soon snowballed into a school-wide and a municipal project. The Mayor of Mount Rainier proclaimed the last week in January as "Bohars Week," and, with the help of the service clubs, churches, Boy Scouts, Fire Department, Police Department, and other organizations, a collection was made through the town on Friday night, January 30. the following day, the school children, braving near zero weather and slippery street, paraded through the streets of their community in their campaign to aid the French fishing village of Bohars. 

    Pulling decorated wagons and sleds, all loaded with gifts and food for the French town which was badly damaged in the war, the children marched, and sometimes ran, over the nearly two-mile route through Mount Rainier. The parade was climax of the "Bohars Week" project. 

    Last Thursday the American Aid for France Committee opened wide the doors of their New York warehouse to house our contributions for our "adopted village." Our contributions included 40 barrels of clothes, 122 boxes of clothes, 8 barracks bags of clothes, and 178 boxes of foods (over 2 1/2 tons ). Because the children felt that the people of Bohars were very special friends of theirs, they wanted to do something special for them; so they decided to adopt individual French friends to whom they would send belated Christmas presents. 

 From the Mount Rainier Post Office on the fifteenth of February almost 300 individual packages were mailed to Bohars. Also, there were some larger boxes that contained a present for each man, woman and child in the village for we didn't want anyone to be left out. The packages contained such things as a bar of soap, a few candles, toothbrush and toothpaste, a towel , a toy, pencil, paper, crayons or maybe a can of of candy. We also sen $160 to New York that food might be bought at wholesale rates. The International Red Cross will distribute the fruits of our collection to the people of Bohars. 

  Our contributions are on their way to France, but we haven't forgotten Bohars. We expect to hear from them very soon and hope to correspond for some time with our new friends. Because of the Bohars' project, our community is more important to us and we shall soon set out to explore it and to learn more about it. 

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