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Love Letters of WW2 blog contains 1940s photos

Arline Helen Densmore Memorial Day 2020

Posted by on May 25, 2020 in All Blog Posts, LOVE LETTER, Medicine, Photo, Vintage Style, Vintage Video, WW2 Letters | 6 comments

Portrait of Arline Densmore

Arline Helen Densmore

June 25, 1924 – May 16, 2020

Dear Friends, This is a historic time. Years ago I made the decision to take in my mother, and provide her care myself. I nursed her through her delicate years right up to the process of active dying in the few days before she passed. A natural death was something I had wanted to witness. I wanted to see what a natural death looks like. I wanted to have a home death, a home funeral with a doula at my side. Natural, not medical. Natural, like a home birth. God blessed us both when it was time. During the last days I went in and out of her room to give her morphine around the clock for comfort as her systems gently went through the final shut down. I had put on some orchestral music. But it was not what I wanted. I had quickly looked for hymns, but the classical was peaceful enough. Then with family coming and so many things I had to manage, the same music was left on a couple days. As usual, I was left to manage everything alone, after hospice instructions and other basic support. My dear death doula was there for the important parts. She knows about flowers, brought several arrangements, helped facilitate Arline’s last call to my brother and his family to say their tearful goodbyes. And she helped me bridge to the sacred atmosphere with candles and oils. She also came to wash the body after. But she also needed a day off, the day Arline died. So everything was even, quiet, efficient, perfect, just the two of us as usual, softly passing shared hours. I had to change her position every few hours and be up through the night. Then on the last afternoon, with sunlight beaming through closed curtains, she opened one eye just a crack and seemed to be looking at me. She might have murmured. I gently changed her position from side lying to make her comfortable on her back. I stretched her legs, one by one, out straight over the sheepskins to rest them. She’d been in excellent health just a few days before walking on the road. I took pride that there was no scratch or scar left from the ordeals of slips, falls. With her looking at me I got it together to bring in her CD player. I grabbed a CD, Frank Sinatra hits. It had played through once. Then I came back in again to comfort her. This time I was singing with the song, whatever it was at that moment, dancing around her bed. With every kiss and words of reassurance I felt the keen awareness that just next-door at a nursing home the elderly are basically in lock-down in their rooms, room numbers are posted on windows to find them from the outside, their family members required to stay outside, doing their best to communicate through the closed windows which must always be closed. Weeks and weeks and weeks and that still goes to this day. So my kisses to my mother’s neck, my touch and whispers in her ear, our closeness in the moment was extra appreciated. Her breathing was regular. I massaged the back of her neck. Whispers of reassurance. Then in a moment her breath ceased. The music was swirling and I was telling her Morris was there, and Ruthy, the family names. Like we were all dancing at a wedding, and my father cut in. She passed away in my arms. It took a couple minutes to fully register. Yes, the pulse was gone. This was it. After some tears during some song or other suddenly “That’s Life” came on. It struck me, clear like a bell. Clear like a message from angels. She stole my heart! You just had to be there. The message. The synchronicity. It was everything I had wanted to know. It was just what she wanted to say to me, perhaps to all. God bless you Mom. We’ll always be together, a duo, but you, Arline, are the Star Queen. Such a class act. Love, Martha

 

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Love Letters in the South Pacific – A Boatload of WW2 Army Nurses

Posted by on Feb 14, 2018 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Holiday, Media, Navy, Photo, South Pacific, Vintage Style, WW2 | 0 comments

Happy Love Letters Valentine’s Day America!
If a picture’s worth a 1000 words
This love’s for you. It will endure.

Morris took quite a few snapshots when he was deployed in the South Pacific during WW2.
I recently got into his photo scrapbook. Quite a few amazing pics. Here’s a peek.

Photo ofMorris Densmore and crew S. Pacific WW2

Morris Densmore and crew S. Pacific WW2

Some things must never change. WW2 pin up art is one of them.

Insignia of LCT 753

Insignia of LCT 753 & friend

Nurses looking like Rosie the Riveter arrive as a boat load.

Photo of load of army nurses South Pacific WW2

Your load of army nurses finally arrives!

God bless America! Will post more soon.

Love,

Martha D.

 

 

 

 

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Love Letters goes to Maine, USA

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in All Blog Posts, Media, Photo | 0 comments

The last couple years I’ve nursed my mother, Arline, to fully recover her well being. We moved a few times. This included Arline going in and out of an assisted living place. She also had a short stay in a memory care facility. Lot’s of drama and decline in these places. Every senior who needs a nurse deserves a nurse. Lucky Arline.

I pulled Arline out of two places. Even the best are problematic. After dealing with a slimy back stabbing corporate mentality that works to drug seniors, I made a decision to rent a house for my mother and to hire and train private caregivers myself. She’s not on any medications other than CBD medical cannabis to help with relaxation and sleep. She lives a fairly normal life and that makes all the difference.

By pulling mom out of managed care and caring for her myself with good help, I got her life and mental health back. It’s not often a nurse gets this much satisfaction. Even so much health here we’re getting ready to fly to Love Letters, USA – Maine.

Today Arline’s usual charm with gentlemen got her ordained as a Junior Officer of the Santa Barbara CHP.  She’s got the sticker to prove it too.

Arline charms the Santa Barbara CHP

Arline charms Santa Barbara CHP photo by Mike Halford

Arline gets a send off from Santa Barbara fireman

Arline gets a send off from Santa Barbara fireman photo by Mike Halford

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King Chapel at Bowdoin, June 2016

Posted by on Jul 4, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Photo, WW2 | 0 comments

Bowdoin campus is quiet in mid-June. I wanted to get with the old guys of my father’s day, away from current campus culture. Of course you can’t escape campus culture. The first thing I encountered was a poster on the inside of every toilet stall door (in every restroom) to remind me, again and again, even after I just passed the same poster on the restroom wall–the only poster in the bathroom–that a long list of names of specially trained students is on stand by to help me come out of the closet and or if I think I might be the victim of a sexual assault. Every time I had to use the bathroom there was the missive that had nothing to do with me.

Bowdoin College, King Chapel Doors

King Chapel Doors at Bowdoin

Anyway, I slipped through two great old doors leading into the chapel. Antiques and art are everywhere at Bowdoin and always have been since the earliest days of the college.

When I got there a lady was playing the organ. The chapel is dark from absence of many windows. In place of any large stained glass, the chapel has gorgeous museum quality murals.

Bowdoin's College King Chapel

Bowdoin’s King Chapel

Bowdoin has been always the greatest of art collectors. The interior chapel is walled on its two long sides by giant murals of bible scenes. To compare, I thought back to my trip to St. Petersburg, to castles and cathedrals I’ve visited. And to rare Byzantine murals of Jesus and the Apostles on cave walls in Turkey. None is more perfect than the King Chapel at Bowdoin. It’s so well preserved it’s almost like a dreamscape. Absolutely awesome. Later I picked up a brochure about the chapel.

Just today, the 4th of July, the chapel brochure informs that I’m a Bowdoin community member. Yea! Bowdoin community is defined as alumni and their immediate family members (that’s me!), active or retired faculty and staff and their immediate family members, and members of the Association of Bowdoin Friends. I’m proud to be Bowdoin.

Bowdoin College King Chapel Centurion, stained glass

King Chapel Centurion

In homage to a bible story is the great centurion today. He stands as a stained glass window high above the chapel’s front doors.

Waiting for a campus tour, I picked up the “The Orient”.  An article by a self-described minority female student is about how it badly it feels to be subjected to Bowdoin’s oppressive colonialist imposition in portraits of old white men in Hubbard Hall. Rather than scholarship, four years of college for her was about a matter of feeling at home. She wants social justice. She wants the walls to reflect diversity, modern Bowdoin. Though I love Bowdoin’s heritage I understand how she feels because I used to feel the same way when I’d vist the bio-medical library at UCLA. In the lobby are huge portraits of founder white men in black scholar robes. Feels imposing, presumptuous, oddly out of place.

Bowdoin College King Chapel

Bowdoin College King Chapel

Excessive political correctness vs. free speech on college campuses directs me back in time to Bowdoin’s founding principles. Liberal arts at Bowdoin is defined best historically. True liberal arts is a science that trains Man how to think. No more, no less.

I noticed, and I may be wrong, but it seems there’s a mistake in the brochure. The description of the murals on the North Wall, starting from the door states “mostly” New Testament themes. That wall is ALL New Testament themes. The stained glass centurion is from the New Testament too. They’re all one theme. All Bowdoin.

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Writer Scores Victory Scrapbook 1943

Posted by on Jan 3, 2016 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, High School Years, Historical Portland, Media, Photo, Portland Maine, Vintage Style, WW2, WWII Letter | 0 comments

Writer Scores Victory Scrapbook 1943

I remember as a child my father coaching me to catch the ball. “Keep your eye on the ball,” he’d always say. I was fortunate to spend several days with my mother over Christmas. I was organizing her front closet and delved into another old trunk. I found a scrapbook. I’d seen it before. We all have. It needs care and preservation so I brought it home to look at. I’m sure glad I did.

My dad made it. It commemorates his sports life at Deering High and Bowdoin College during 1942-1943. It’s ironic because I’m the one person in my immediate family that didn’t become a jock. Not for lack of talent. In high school I excelled in ballet and modern dance. I was also an equestrian in high school. But I preferred the pleasure of riding my horse to the hassle of competitions. I won a ribbon here and there in sports, one for swimming, a couple with my horse. But I never followed baseball or football. And I went to an all girls high school so that put a damper on things…I wanted to be a cheerleader. But not for all-girl volleyball.

My two older brother’s were basketball jocks in high school. My cousin Pete Ladd (on Arline’s side, her sister Ruth’s son) pitched for the Milwakee Brewers in the 1982 World Series. Nothing is more thrilling than watching your cousin pitch on TV.

So here I am, a non-sportsperson writing about my dad’s sports life in high school and college. Thank goodness Dad made this extraordinary catalogue of newspaper clippings from important games and turning points during the war.

Newspaper clipping 1942

Densmore Celebrates Birthday Beats Blue in a Post Stadium Tilt.

How much help can a writer expect? It’s amazing to think that in those days being a high school sports star would get you regular press coverage in the local news. My parents were both featured in the local Portland newspaper at various times including Arline with the headline “The Deering Girls had a Hoop Season”. I never realized she was that serious a player.  It’s super to see my dad like a Titan god killing the competition in a “hurling duel”. Dad in a duel! He truly is a star.

And then it’s incredible to look at his selected clippings from that most historical year at Bowdoin including watching each athlete leave, alone or in groups, called away to service. There’s a clipping of Mrs Roosevelt from the speech she gave at Bowdoin. Eleanor declared that the war would make you a better citizen.

Newspaper Clipping 1942

Densmore Best in Hurling Duel

Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks to 1200 at Bowdoin College

Eleanor Roosevelt Speaks to 1200 at Bowdoin College

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WW2 Joy of Peace! Armistice Day 2015

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in 1920s and 1930s, 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Holiday, Media, Photo, South Pacific, WW2 | 0 comments

Wishing all war veterans everywhere peace and joy today. Armistice Day on the 11th of November commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I. It took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of eleventh day of eleventh month” of 1918. The end of World War II in Asia occurred on August 14 and 15, 1945. On August 23, 1945 the last Japanese troops on Shumshu surrendered to Soviet forces. Here’s a happy clip from the trove.

Peace brings Mardi Gras spirit back to New Orleans Aug. 23, 1945

Peace brings Mardi Gras spirit back to New Orleans. Aug. 23, 1945

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