Personal Stories

Hey, this one’s not about the debate! AIDS Walk Austin has another match today

Matching donations begins at 10am central

I don’t know who won the debate. I think they all made some good points, and there’s not a one of them that I wouldn’t vote for. But today, or lucky Friday the 13th, there’s $13,000 in matching funds for the AIDS Walk & I’m asking for donations to get some of that money. My goal is to raise $5,000 & I’m almost to $3,000 with 9 days left. So any amount you can give — starting at 10am this morning, will be doubled. And if you’re all tapped out, can you please share this diary? Maybe you know someone who can pitch in $5. That five bucks will become ten — and maybe that person will share this diary, too.

AIDS Walk Austin is just 6 weeks away

Yikes!

orange version of this goes up at 7am tomorrow

Hi there. I’m not used to panicking about AIDS Walk Austin this time of year, because it’s in October. Last year, it was even in November. This year, it’s September 21. So I have to work harder earlier than usual. My goal is $2,000. More would be better because of course Trump has cut funding. If you want to skip the “what your money does” and music, and go straight to donating, here ya go: https://give.classy.org/helpBeckyraisemoney.

The Ride benefits 9 agencies that help people with HIV & AIDS. As one speaker put it this morning they go from prevention through helping people live with AIDS to people who need hospice care.

AIDS Walk Austin is early this year

AIDS Walk postcard

Hi — so, I’ve been thinking I’d have a normal, relaxing summer (well “normal & relaxing” by Trump era standards) and not be too concerned about the AIDS Walk, since it’s not till fall. Then I got this postcard. Yikes! September 21! And my goal is $2,000. Double yikes. So, can we get my fundraising for the Walk started?

For my birthday on Friday, I’d love $55 donations for the Hill Country Ride For AIDS

My birthday is Friday, I’m doing the Hill Country Ride again this year & I’d really love $55 donations, but really any donation is more than welcome. My goal is $2,000 this year. They really need it. With the cuts the Orange One’s administration wants — and when he’s gone, we’ll have President Pence who will be even worse, especially for AIDS services — they really, really need it. Please donate at my Hill Country Ride page.

Tuesday in Moosevillle – Memories, Meals, Traditions, and Gifts 12/25/18

I’m looking for the pickle…

I’m sure some of you were opening this post with some trepidation, wondering if I was going to cover some depressing aspect of our history. Surprise! Even though I recognize that Christmas is not a holiday or holy day for all of us, it is part of my tradition. Taking a break from our seamier side is the least I can do; there’s enough ugliness in our current reality without piling on for one day. But history is all about stories, so today, I’m sharing some of my holiday stories and ask you to feel free to do the same. If Christmas isn’t part of your tradition, I’m sure you still have holiday stories, so don’t feel limited. But most of all, enjoy…and Merry Christmas!

A Boyhood Memory of World War II London

Jack, left, and Don, right in 1939

Tradition says that anyone born within the sound of Bow bells is a true Cockney. My husband Don certainly qualifies on that score: he was born at Lambeth, not far from the church of St. Mary-le-Bow. “Grandpa is walking, talking history,” I tell our grandchildren. Recently he shared his boyhood memories of wartime London with us.

“I had just turned nine three weeks before Britain declared war on Germany,” Don recalled. “The news was broadcast on the wireless that Sunday and the next day the teachers announced it at Lowther Road Primary School, which I attended.”

Soon after the announcement Don’s school was evacuated by train to Burnham, 30 miles from London. He was evacuated with his brother Jack, who was two years older. When the children arrived the organizers of the evacuation arranged for them to be placed in people’s homes. As Don and Jack were the last two evacuees, the organization didn’t have a place for them, so finally the boys were billeted with a family who lived in a row of cottages.

Asked what it was like living with strangers, Don replied, “It wasn’t very nice. My brother and I had to share a blanket, even though it was quite cold. The place was a real pigpen. After every meal what we didn’t eat was scraped back into a pot and we had it the next day. We went to the local school, which was set up for the evacuees to attend in the morning and the local children in the afternoon. My older brother Bob, who was 14 and therefore hadn’t been evacuated, came to visit us. After he told our mother about the conditions we were living in she complained bitterly, so a nicer house was found for us. When the owner found out she would be raking lice out of our hair, she said she would never have taken us in if she’d known. The war was little in evidence at that time, so our parents brought us back to London at Christmas 1939.”

After Don and Jack returned home, Don’s school was bombed. When the schools finally reopened nine months later, Don attended Barnes Central School with Jack.

All three boys helped their father dig an Andersen shelter in the back garden of their house. “He had to go down three feet to dig the six-by-eight feet shelter,” Don remembered. “The dirt we dug out was put back on top of the corrugated steel roof. It was damp in the shelter, which is how I developed bronchial problems. Dad never came down there, so after a while we simply stayed in our house during air raids. We lived in West London and the worst bombing was in the East End.”

Asked if he ever saw a dogfight between the RAF and the German planes in the searchlights at night, Don shook his head. “No, when the planes were dropping their bombs the searchlights were used to aid the anti-aircraft guns on the ground. We used to jump on our bicycles after an explosion to see if we could pick up any shrapnel, mainly from the big guns fired by the army. Later in the war we saw and heard the V-1 and V-2 rockets, also called ‘buzzbombs.’ The engine made a droning noise. One of them fell at the back of the Regency Cinema in Hammersmith, obliterating my dad’s truck that was parked there.”

When V-E Day was declared in May 1945 Don was nearly fifteen. “Everyone was overjoyed that the war was over. We all went to the West End and stayed around Trafalgar Square among the huge crowds.”

During the “austerity” that reigned in Britain until 1954, Don attended Kingston Technical College in Richmond-on-Thames, served two years in the Royal Air Force, and later spent some time working in Rhodesia. In 1965 he emigrated to America where he married, became a U.S. citizen, and brought up a family.

It’s easy to forget that from 1939 to 1942 it was not a foregone conclusion that the Allies would win the war. The threat of a German invasion of Britain was all too real. We Americans must remember that we owe Britain—standing alone against Germany until America entered the war in December 1941—our undying gratitude.

 

Don today

All my armor comes from you (an AIDS Walk Austin diary – there’s another match Wednesday)

So, first thing, there is another $100 match Wednesday, and another chance to win South By Southwest wristbands if I raise $250. If I get to $250, and if I win the wristbands (2 big ifs) I’ll put the names of all of today’s donors in my own drawing & give someone the other wristband, since I can’t use 2.

Here is my AIDS Walk Austin page.