Thursday, October 19, 2017

AMERICAN REVOLUTION | Oct. 19 – Washington Defeats Cornwallis

Redcoats Surrender to George Washington.
October 19, 2017 – At 2 a.m. on this day in 1781, 8,000 British troops and Hessian mercenaries under Charles (Lord) Cornwallis started filtering out of their Yorktown base to surrender to George Washington.

He had scored, with French allies, a decisive victory over the British, who two days before surrendered and sued for peace. Besides giving up troops and seamen, Cornwallis abandoned 144 cannons and nearly 50 naval vessels. 

It had not been going so well before that. Washington’s troops were wearing rags and food was short. Desertions were frequent. During the summer, only a few thousand troops were left at their camp at West Point, New York. 

The British had a large force in New York City under General Henry Clinton, well entrenched and prepared for an attack. But Washington learned that the British forces under the control of Lord Cornwallis were building a naval base at Yorktown in Virginia. He decided on a faking an attack on New York City, then marching his army past toward Virginia, to trap Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown. 

Washington’s 2,500 troops crossed the Hudson River on August 21, united with a French army of 4,000 men under Count de Rochambeau, and headed south to join up with the Marquis de Lafayette in Virginia, who was leading an American army of about 5,000 men. The combined force of 11,500 would attack Cornwallis. 

Washington's army and their French allies covered 200 miles in 15 days, marching every day from 2 a.m. until the troops were too exhausted by the heat to continue. They reached the head of Chesapeake Bay in early September. Few armies in history had ever moved with this speed so far.

Cornwallis got word of Washington's approach, but foolishly decided  that his troops could hold out till the British Navy arrived. To his dismay, he discovered that the large French fleet under Count de Grasse routed the British fleet under Admiral Thomas Graves at the Battle of Virginia Capes on September 5, denying Cornwallis his rescue and exit.

Meanwhile, de Grasse sailed many of Washington and Rochambeau’s men down the Chesapeake to Virginia. They joined Lafayette on September 28 and cut off Cornwallis. De Grasse landed another 3,000 French troops on his ships. During the first two weeks of October, the 14,000 French and American troops overcame the fortified British positions with the aid of de Grasse’s warships... a British fleet carrying 7,000 men was on its way but was too slow in getting there to be of any help.

In the early weeks of October, Washington's troops began their siege, bombarding Corwallis with gun and cannon fire. He sent word of his surrender. Washington required the British to march out of the city, giving up their arms. But Cornwallis didn't show up for the surrender ceremony, pleading illness. He gave his sword to his second-in-command, to be offered to the French general, letting everyone know that Cornwallis considered himself beaten not by the American rebels but by the French. There was truth to that, surely, since half the troops and all the naval force was French. 

Whatever the mix of credit for Washington's victory, England took the defeat of Cornwallis with despair and lost the taste for teaching the colonials a lesson. The government decided not to invest in another army and appealed to Washington for peace. The eight-year Revolutionary War was officially over two years later, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

BIRTH | Oct. 18 – A. J. Liebling (Personal Comment)

A. J. Liebling. He died at 59, the
same year I met him briefly.
October 18, 2017 – This day was born in 1904 in New York City A(bbot) J(oseph) Liebling. As a boy, he loved reading the newspapers:
[M]any of my early impressions of the world, correct and the opposite, came to me through newspapers. Homicide, adultery, no-hit pitching, and Balkanism... 
So he became a newspaper reporter and loved it. He would:
pound up tenement stairs and burst in on families disarranged by sudden misfortune. ... I learned almost immediately what every reporter knows, that most people are eager to talk about their troubles.
To get a job at the New York World, he hired a man to pace back and forth for three days outside the Pulitzer building with a sign: "Hire Joe Liebling." Although nobody at the World ever admitted to seeing the sign, he was hired. 

From The World in 1935 he moved up to a job with the The New Yorker that lasted till he died nearly 30 years later. He wrote about World War II, boxing and food. You might not figure out the first two topics, but you might guess the third by looking at his photo.


I met A. J. Liebling in the spring of 1963 when we were both at the Bircher-Benner Clinic on Keltenstrasse 9 in Zürich. Dr Bircher had an international clientèle, including my mother's Dutch relatives who claimed he cured several of them (including my grandmother) of cancer. His son Ralph Bircher carried on some of his work, and Dr Bircher's Estonian-born niece, Dr Dagmar Liechti-von Brasch, took over the Clinic in the 1940s after the death of Dr Bircher, who raised her as one of his own during and after World War I when the von Brasch family was at risk in Estonia. My mother made sure I was checked out several times at the Bircher-Benner-Privatklinik and I was given many earnest individual and group lectures on the value of exercise and minimally processed food. Modern medicine is catching up with Dr Bircher's régime. When I was there in 1963, I was told that a fellow American from New York I had met, Mr. Liebling, had left early because he didn't like the unprocessed food. Liebling was a gourmet and it showed (see photo above). It's too bad that he didn't learn to appreciate the gourmet qualities of Bircher Muesli. He died before the end of the year I met him, at a young 59 years of age.😕 

As Dr Bircher's son and daughter-in-law aged, the Bircher-Benner-Privatklinik lost some of its energy and it closed in 1994, becoming a government health facility. But as new research confirmed many of Dr Bircher's claims, and as the taste for Bircher Muesli spread throughout the world, the demand grew for the Clinic's return. It reopened in another location (Braunwald) in 2011.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

WED | Eckholm & Fensterer

Bob and Victoria in a magical sea of lights.
Photos by JT Marlin.
October 8, 2017 – Alice and I yesterday went to the wedding party of Bob Eckholm and Victoria Fensterer.

It was at their home on the bay near Maidstone Park in East Hampton Town, off one of those roads with names from towns in the south of England. 
Victoria and Bob cut the
ceremonial cake.

They live in a lovely house overlooking a bay and Long Island Sound, near Folkstone [sic], named after Folkestone on the English Channel.

Bob Eckholm many years ago met Victoria through David Tyson. 
L to R: David Tyson and a cousin.
Photos by JT Marlin.

David's mother had a regular square dance at her home on Tyson Lane off Further Lane (we went to a few of these dances in the 1980s). The one-time family business was Kentile, a product still in use that is a tile bonded with a cork base. One of the guests from the family told me about the feast-and-famine cycles of the company.

I got to know David well during the decade when Alice and I sailed regularly on small boats. David was the Fleet Captain for an impressive array of 26 Sunfish that would race on weekends. He also sailed a 32-foot racing boat that won races regularly in light winds. Since then, heavier boats have become more popular.
The bride's brother, who officiated, looks on
with benevolence. At right is the bride and
Alice Tepper Marlin.

Bob visited and went with David to a party for David's grandmSpother and grandfather.

There he met Victoria and it was love at first sight.

This was a full event. Lots a good food, attentively served by the Springs General Store; a bottomless bar with a super-responsive bartender who was a friend of the couple; lots of toasts, and many, many stories.
Victoria gets a hug from a

It was good to see so many long-time and new friends, and to meet new ones.

I first met Janet Fensterer, the bride's sister, when she was an organist at the Springs Community Presbyterian Church and I was in the choir. 

Alice knew Bob Eckholm through an event where she was on the program with Bill Moyers. Bob was working with on a United Nations project and was interested in her work.
Bob's sister and spouse.

Besides members of the Eckholm, Fensterer and Tyson families, we talked with Joe McDonald, Scott Chwasky and Nina Gilman.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

IRELAND 1955 | Todd Andrews

Todd Andrews (L) and Louis Rhatigan,
in Russia.
I just discovered a couple of books by Christopher Stephen "Todd" Andrews – Dublin Made Me (Lilliput Press, 2001) and A Man of No Property.

Todd got his name because he had a likeness to a comic strip character in The Magnet, Alonzo Todd.

Todd was born in Summerhill, Dublin in 1901. He attended St. Enda's School and Synge Street CBS.

He studied Commerce at University College Dublin with a break in which he participated in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. Afterwards he returned to the university and earned a degree in Commerce.

My discovery of his books has prompted me to post here a letter he wrote to my mother, Hilda van Stockum Marlin, in 1955. I have been sorting through these letters since she died in 2006.

Todd was head of Bord na Móna, which was established in 1946 as a quasi-governmental corporation in order to exploit the fuel potential of turf. In subsequent years it has expanded to include other alternative-energy-related initiatives.

My father was then working for the International Civil Aviation Organization as the Director of Technical Assistance. Of the 1,700 employees of ICAO, 1,500 were technical assistance workers under his direction. He was at that time developing air traffic control guidelines, assisting with airport design, and staffing pilot training centers all over the world – in places like Afghanistan, Beirut and... Shannon.

The training center he set up in Beirut under U.N./ICAO auspices was regional.

It was a substantial structure, called "Spike Marlin's building," later used as barracks for the U.S. marines, who were tragically the victims of a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, my mother was a bit impatient in the late 1940s at the amount of travel that my Dad did while she froze in the Canadian winters (ICAO was based in Montreal), although she made the best of its by writing two books about the family in Canada.

She figured out that a U.N. family with a peripatetic father could live better than we were living in Montreal, and we could live anywhere in the world.

After our Granny (Olga Boissevain van Stockum) died in 1949, Hilda  prevailed in a family move to Dublin, a return to the city where Hilda and Spike met.

We six children were installed first in Blackrock and then for two more years in Dalkey at the top of Harbour Road in a house called "Beulah" (referencing the Biblical Beulah Land, the subject of a lovely hymn with the chorus  "I'm counting all the hours...").

The house is now chopped up into several smaller pieces, but even so "Beulah" is currently priced at about $8 million.

Randal and I went to Blackrock College. Olga was at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Brigid went to art school and the other two sisters went nearby in Blackrock  to Sion Hill.

The two-page letter from Todd Andrews is embedded in this post. It expresses great admiration for Olga's ability to speak French, and disappointment in the progress of Ireland relative to Sweden. Like many Irish people after WW2, Todd was eager for Ireland to prosper from the economic benefits of peace. The Emerald Tiger didn't emerge until the tech boom, and that didn't end well...

(The "John" mentioned in the letter is presumably John Dowling, the dentist. He and his wife Joan were close friends of Hilda and it was John who introduced Todd to Spike and Hilda.)

Friday, September 1, 2017

WW2 | Sept. 1 – Hitler Invades Poland

September 1, 2017 – This day in 1939 Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. He had been aggressive before without provoking a response from the rest of Europe.

Hitler began his plan with a nonaggression pact with Poland in January 1934.

This pact was contravened five and a half years later – Hitler had just been buying time.  The pact was unpopular with his supporters, who resented the Versailles Treaty's giving former German provinces to Poland. Hitler, however, saw the nonaggression pact as a way to prevent a French-Polish military alliance against Germany before the Wehrmacht had rearmed.

In the second half of the 1930s, France and Britain pursued a policy of appeasement toward Germany. Public opinion (especially in Britain) was sympathetic to revising some territorial provisions of the Versailles treaty, and neither Britain nor France in 1938 was militarily prepared to fight the Nazis.  So Britain and France acquiesced to:
  • German rearmament (1935-1937). 
  • Remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936).
  • Annexation of Austria (the Anschluss, March 1938). 
  • Invasion of the Sudetenland and breakup of the Czechoslovak state (March 1939) in violation of Anglo-French guarantees of the integrity of rump Czechoslovakia in what is called the Munich agreement.
The invasion of Czechoslovakia was the last straw. France and Germany responded by guaranteeing the integrity of the Polish state. Hitler's shocking answer to that was   a nonaggression pact with Premier Josef Stalin in August 1939, partitioning Poland between the two powers, giving Germany the western third and enabling Hitler to attack Poland without fear of its defense by the Soviet Union.

One week after the surprise pact with Stalin, at 5:11 a.m., Hitler issued an order for the Wehrmacht to invade Poland, claiming that the Poles were preparing to invade Germany. In fact, the Wehrmacht was massing on the German side of Poland's western border and the Poles were simply moving their army to defend this border.

Britain and France declared war within two days, but it was too late. The German army launched its Blitzkrieg, its "lightning war."  From East Prussia and Germany in the north and Silesia and Slovakia in the south, more than 2,000 German tanks,covered by  more than 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defenses along the border. Within six days they took Krakow and within ten they were outside Warsaw. By early October, Poland had fallen. World War II was on.

Monday, August 28, 2017

VOTES FOR WOMEN | Aug. 28 – Police Arrest Picketing Suffragists

Lucy Burns in Lorton.
August 28, 2017 – On this day in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson is personally confronted, by woman suffragists picketing in front of the White House, with signs opposing American participation in the European war. 

The women had been picketing six days a week, sunup to sundown, since they met with him in January 2017 to present memorials of the death of Inez Milholland Boissevain. 

Back in January, he told them they were politically naive. They responded by vowing to picket the White House six days a week to demand his support of the Anthony Amendment to guarantee women the right to vote. It worked.

Wilson gave lukewarm support to woman suffrage during both political campaigns. During the 1912 presidential campaign against Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson and his opponent agreed on many reform measures such as child-labor laws and pro-union legislation. They differed, however, on woman suffrage. Roosevelt was in favor of recognizing the right of women to vote at the national level and Wilson was not. 

In his reelection campaign, his position was to leave the issue to the states.  He just ignored the daily picketing and peaceful suffrage demonstrators at the White House. As a former teacher at Bryn Mawr, and the father of two daughters who supported suffrage, he was under pressure to support the cause.

However, that changed on August 28, 1917. According to the Library of Congress in its "American Memory" archives, Wilson rode out of the White House gates that morning with his wife (his first wife died and he remarried in 1914) at his side, and tipped his hat toward the protestors as usual.

The suffragists then held high anti-World War I slogans on their placards in addition to pleas for Votes for Women. Later that day, the protestors clashed with outraged bystanders supporting the war. 

Many of the women were arrested and brought to the Lorton Workhouse for Women. The jailed suffragists included the two leaders of the National Women's Party, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, and Vida Milholland, sister of Inez Milholland Boissevain. All three were trained by the Pankhurst suffragettes. Dorothy Day, currently up for sainthood in the Catholic Church, was also there.

The suffragists went on a hunger strike and were force-fed by their captors. Wilson, worried by publicity about the force-feeding, agreed to a suffrage amendment in January 1918. 

Congress soon enough after that passed the 19th Amendment and in 1920 Tennessee voted for the Amendment, bringing the number of ratifying states to two-thirds and enacting the Amendment.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

WELLESLEY | A 1966 Reunion Eclipsed

Watching the Moon Eclipse the Sun. The photo shows three
Wellesley alums and their spouses, plus some other guests.
August 27, 2017 – Three years ago, seven members of the  Wellesley Class of 1966 came to East Hampton in anticipation of its 50th Reunion last year.

They visited the LongHouse Reserve.

This year four alums got together in August:
Karen Ahearn Boeschenstein, Joan Hass, Alice Tepper Marlin, and Ann Liggett (Cinnamon) Rinzler. Two were part of the 2014 reunion, and two were not (Karen and Cinnamon).
L to R: Karen Boeschenstein, Curry Rinzler, Cinnamon
Rinzler, Alice Tepper Marlin, Warren Boeschenstein,
and John Tepper Marlin.

After watching the eclipse this year, the reunion group sang songs with guitar accompaniment and had dinner. 

They also went again to the LongHouse Reserve.