Friday, May 11, 2018

V-E DAY | East Hampton Star, May 3, 2018

Remembering V-E Day Guest Words | By John Tepper Marlin [Reposted by Permission]

Charles Miner Jr., World War II bomber pilot, investment banker, and summertime East Hampton resident, died in March at the age of 96. John Tepper Marlin
May 8 will be the 73rd anniversary of V-E Day, when World War II ended in Europe. I am on my way from London to Holland, where the 1945 liberation is celebrated on May 4. That day, I plan to be at the Cemetery of Heroes in Amsterdam to remember my relatives who gave their lives to fighting the monster Adolf Hitler through the Resistance.
East Hampton contributed many fighters to this effort. Some survived World War II with powerful stories. Charles Miner Jr., who died at 96 in March, was a bomber pilot in World War II. When he died, he was one of 480,000 surviving veterans of that war, out of more than 16 million Americans who served. 
Charlie was not related to me, but he was extremely helpful to my understanding his grandfather William H. Woodin, who was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first Treasury secretary, and my own family during the war. 
As we talked one day, I became interested in his life story. Charlie had to leave Princeton before he graduated to join the Army Air Forces. “I was studying engineering and they wanted engineers, so I was called up,” he told me. “I went to a single-engine flying school, graduated in March 1943, and from there was sent to a sub depot in Charlotte, N.C., where they rebuilt planes that had crashed. I was given the job of test-flying the rebuilt planes before they were returned to their home bases. I got flying time in many types of aircraft.”
While assigned to the base, Charlie married in October 1944 a Southern belle, Mae Hoffman, who was called Maisie. “But just two weeks after we married, I had to report for combat training in two-engine bombers at the Greenville, N.C., Army Air Forces base. We were trained on the B-25 Mitchell bomber. We had three months’ training, doing mock bombing runs over Myrtle Beach at night.”
The B-25 has been described as the most versatile bomber in World War II, named after the air power advocate Gen. Billy Mitchell. Nearly 10,000 of the bombers were built between 1941 and 1945. It was the most heavily armed airplane in the world, used in the historic Doolittle raid over Tokyo in 1942.
“We had a crew of five,” Charlie said. “Besides me, the pilot, we had a co-pilot, bombardier, radio operator, and gunner. Boeing strengthened the plane by adding a gun in its nose, which allowed us to shoot back at targets, but lowered the plane’s maximum speed.”
When was his first combat run? “After my training in Greenville, I was first sent to Corsica to be instructed by the more experienced [Royal Canadian Air Force] and especially [Royal Air Force] pilots who had been flying the B-25. Some of the R.A.F. and Italian pilots were daredevils. They didn’t seem to care whether they lived or died. We had the Mosquito, a laminated-wood plane that could break the sound barrier. The pilots loved it, and they would dive from 5,000 feet. But one day a pilot tried this and one of the wings just came off. The pilot, of course, went straight down with the plane and was killed.”
Miner paused and continued in his jaunty rat-a-tat style (he was a superb joke-teller): “We started flying missions out of Corsica. The Germans were pushed north in the Italian boot, so we relocated closer to the targets, in Fano, on the Adriatic in eastern Italy, about 150 miles south of Venice. My squadron flew 18 missions at 15,000 to 18,000 feet over the Brenner Pass in the Alps between Italy and Austria.”
How did he feel on these missions? Charlie slowed down. “Of course, the Alps were a majestic sight to look down on, but each flight was nerve-racking. We had to stay perfectly in box formation during the bomb run so that the bombardiers could be accurate. We had to keep to it so long as we had more bombs to drop. We could see yellow puffs below as anti-aircraft guns tried to shoot us down, but we were not allowed to take evasive action until our payload was dropped. As soon as we released the last bomb, it was a relief, we were all out of there in every direction, helter-skelter.”
It is easy to visualize Charlie keeping his formation while the flak was flying. His cousin Woody Rowe, in an interview with me, compared Charlie (whom he calls Chas) to his mother, Libby Woodin Rowe. She was a patient mother, although neither of her sons inherited her patience. But Woody told me that Charlie never seemed to be mad at anyone. Asked about it, Charlie thought and said, “I guess you’re right. Disappointed, perhaps, but not angry.”
I asked Charlie whether the anti-aircraft fire found its mark. “Yes,” he said. “We would find out when we returned to the base when a plane and crew were gone. We all paid our respects. But after that, we didn’t talk a whole lot about the ones who were gone. It was just the risk you took.”
Again, Charlie’s usual fast-paced speak­ing style became slower. He looked at me with the closest I ever saw him get to a tragic expression. “There was one pilot who seemed immortal. He was a major in the Army Air Forces. He finished 50 missions, which meant he could retire and go home. But he wanted to keep flying a couple more times, even though he didn’t have to. On his 51st mission, his plane was hit by flak and he bailed out. I remember seeing his parachute going down over the Alps. If he was lucky, he was rescued by one of the partisans below.”
“Did you ever find out what happened to him?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I never did.” He was silent for what seemed like a long time.
That was a personal moment for me as well, because my Dutch-born uncle Willem J. van Stockum worked hard to put himself in harm’s way. He was a bomber pilot for the R.A.F. and was hit by flak over France on June 10, 1944. I was 2 years old then, so I never got to find out from him what it was like being on the front lines of the air war against Hitler. He was flying with 10 Squadron, one of 126 squadrons serving with the R.A.F.’s Bomber Command. They were bombing a Luftwaffe airfield in Laval, France. His plane was hit by flak.
Bomber Command in World War II recruited 125,000 aircrew, of whom 57,205 were killed. That’s a 46-percent death rate. The queen unveiled a monument in 2012 to the extraordinary bravery of these R.A.F. aircrews.
My uncle Willem, a mathematician who worked in Einstein’s institute in Princeton, understood these numbers. He just had to do something about his country being occupied. His story is told in “Time Bomber” by Robert Wack. His crew of seven and another that came down on the same mission are buried in Laval. I have visited three times, including in 2014, when the French locals erected monuments to the two crews. A survivor of the bombing, of course a child at the time, said that my uncle’s flaming plane steered away from the house where she and her family lived, into an orchard.
This year I went with my wife, Alice, to see for the first time my uncle’s base, R.A.F. Melbourne near York, England. I am grateful to the 10 Squadron Association volunteers who helped us make the visit.
And I am grateful to the late Charlie Miner for helping me understand better what was facing this uncle I never knew. Whatever questions we have about the morality or effectiveness of indiscriminate bombing of civilians in World War II, our appreciation of the bravery of those who looked in the evil face of Hitler’s guns will never be sufficient.

John Tepper Marlin, a regular contributor to the “Guestwords” column, has had a house in Springs since 1981. He is writing a biography of William Woodin and a book about his Dutch relatives’ work in the Resistance.
Postscript: From the May 10 Issue
East Hampton
May 3, 2018
Dear David [Editor of the East Hampton Star], 
 John Tepper Marlin’s “Remembering V-E Day” beautifully conveys the stress, horror, and pride felt by soldiers and their families during World War II.
I thank him for writing it.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

HOLLAND | The WW2 Honorary Graves Revisited

This is the section (33) of the cemetery that includes the executed
Resistance fighters who were referred to in Jan Campert's poem,
"De achttien dooden" ("The Eighteen Dead"). The graves of Gi and
 Janka are at the far end of the row. I have posted the poem at the end.

When I visited the Honorary Cemetery, the Eerebegraaf-plaats, in 2015 with Charles Boissevain (b. 1934), few other people were in the cemetery.

Yesterday, I went with many others to the cemetery, because it was May 4, Remembrance Day.

New Stories – Hans Nieuwenhuijzen

Since 2015, Charles has passed on to me during the period since he and I visited.

In particular, he wrote to me about a talk that Hans Nieuwenhuijzen gave to the Verzets Museum.

Starting Point to Cemetery. Road closed
to motor traffic.
Like Charles (and my eldest sister Olga), Hans was born in 1934. His father was in the Resistance together with Walraven "Wally" van Hall, about whom a Dutch film has just appeared. It won a prize, Aad van Hall told me on Thursday (May 3), for the first Dutch movie in 2018 to sell 100,000 tickets. He thinks they are now past 350,000 tickets and closing in on 400,000. That is a lot of tickets in Holland.

The movie, which is in Dutch, shows how Wally and his brother Gijs had two main ways of raising money.

One was borrowing money from Dutch people and giving them worthless old bonds – there would have been many of them after the Occupation – in exchange, keeping careful track of the numbers for use after the war. The Queen promised on Radio Orange to honor these debts and after the war every penny was repaid.

The other way they raised money was to rob the Nederlandsche Bank (the Dutch Central Bank).

They stole for the Resistance an enormous amount of money, perhaps the largest bank heist in history, by printing up counterfeit money or bonds [I am still trying to find out exactly what was done], and substituting them for those in the bank vault, while taking out the genuine cash or bonds for distribution to Resistance workers and onderduikers (literally "under-duckers" or "under-divers") such as Jewish refugees.

Dutch flag at half mast, before
 the silence.
Wally, along with the father of Hans and others, was caught in January 1945 and they were shot on February 12, 1945. They are buried at the Eerebegraafplaats Bloemendaal, which although named after nearby Bloemendaal is accessed only from the long road from Overveen. Charles and I visited the graves together in 2015.

Hans knew Charles Boissevain’s uncle Jan “Canada” Boissevain and his aunt Mies and their five children, who were living at Corellistraat 6, base of the deadly CS6 armed-resistance unit. His sons Janka and Gi, caught working for CS6 on Oct 1, 1943 and shot by the Nazis.

Hans told the story that Janka and Gi tried to escape to England on a home-made boat in the summer of 1940. At the Waddensea, just west of Friesland, they were caught by the Germans. They could have been killed for this.

Bell ringing started the remembrance. The
participants stood in silence for several
minutes. At the end, the nationally observed
minutes of silence. (Trains were stopped.)
Fortunately, their uncle Tom de Booy (married to Hilda Boissevain, sister of my grandmother Olga and Charles' grandfather Charles E. H.)  worked for the Dutch Boat Rescue Society at the place where Janka and Gi arrived as prisoners.

Uncle Tom had the presence of mind to tell  the Germans, laughing loudly, that this was just a student joke, that the boys had a bet that they could reach one of the Wadden islands on their home-made boat. Now they had lost the bet, and would have to pay for a lot of beer for their friends. The Germans saw this was plausible and they let Janka and Gi free.

Visiting the Eerebegraafplaats in 2018

On the way from the Overveen station to the Eeregraafplaats, I met a well-known Dutch (and German) actor, Chiem van Houweninge, and his wife Marina. Chiem is writing a script about another Resistance leader, Cees de Jong. He is a friend of Cees's son Jan. I wondered whether Loe de Jong, who wrote the 24-volume history of World War II in Holland, was related, and was told not to their knowledge.

Flag restored to top of the mast after the
minutes of silence.
Chiem wrote several film scripts that were made into movies, including:
  • "Storm en Mein Hoof" (Storm in My Head)
  • "Die Inbreeker" (The Burglar)
  • "Dear Boys" (about Central Heating[?])
Chiem also wrote perhaps 500 situation-comedy scripts for Dutch and German television, many of them centered around a female doctor.

Chiem and Marina's son is also named Chiem and is also an actor. He played the part of the bad guy in the Walraven van Hall movie, Ross von Tonningen, the collaborator who headed the Nederlandsche Bank for the Reichscommissar Seiss-Inquart. After the war, von Tonningen was hanged and his wife was called the "Black Widow."

Two Brothers (Gi and Janka) and Their Co-Worker,
Walter Brandligt. Under Janka's name is the family
motto, which he scrawled on the wall.
"Ni regret du passé, ni peur de l'avenir."
Then I met Dr. Hildebrand de Boer, who gave me a lift up to the Eerebegraafplaats and also gave me a copy of his fine book of poems, one for each year he has been volunteering to drive older people some or all of the 4-km. trip to the Eeregraafplaats.

At the cemetery, I took a lot photos and show some of them here. In front of the graves of Gi and Janka, I was informed that the grandson of Walter was there, and we shook hands, took some photos and said we would be in touch!

The Poem by Jan Campert – Song of the Eighteen Dead

The poem by Jan Campert (1902-1943) is probably the most famous poem in Holland about World War II. He was a journalist and did theater reviews. After his country was invaded in 1940 and occupied by the Nazis, he helped Jews in trouble. He was arrested and taken to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he was killed or died in 1943. 

With the grandson of Walter Brandligt.
Published illegally in 1943, his poem, “De achttien dooden” (“The Eighteen Dead”), tells of the execution by the Nazis of eighteen resistance fighters. These Eighteen, I was told, refer to those shot with Gi and Janka Boissevain. 

Jan Campert was the father of today's  popular Dutch novelist and poet, Remco Campert, who said: "Resistance starts not with big words but with small deeds."

The following English translation of Jan Campert's poem is by Cliff Credo; it is the only one I could find.

A cell is but six feet long
and hardly six feet wide,
yet smaller is the patch of ground,
that I now do not yet know,
but where I nameless come to lie,
my comrades all and one,
we eighteen were in number then,
none shall the evening see come.

O loveliness of light and land,
of Holland's so free coast,
once by the enemy overrun
could I no moment more rest.
What can a man of honor and trust 
do in a time like this?
He kisses his child, he kisses his wife
and fights the noble fight.

I knew the task that I began,
a task with hardships laden,
the heart that couldn't let it be
but shied not away from danger;
it knows how once in this land
freedom was everywhere cherished,
before the cursed transgressor's hand
had willed it otherwise.

Before the oath can brag and break
existed this wretched place
that the lands of Holland did invade
and for ransom her ground has held;
Before the appeal to honor is made 
and such Germanic comfort
our people forced under their control
and looted as a thief. 

The Catcher of Rats who lives in Berlin
sounds now his melody,—
as true as I shortly dead shall be
Graves of Hendrik de Jong and Walraven van Hall.
my dearest no longer see
and no longer shall the bread be broke
and share a bed with her—
reject all he offers now and ever
that sly trapper of birds. 

For all whom these words think to read
my comrades in great need and those who stand by them through all
in their adversity tall,
just as we have thought and thought
on our own land and people—
a day does shine after every night,
as every cloud must pass.

I see how the first morning light
through the high window falls.
My God, make my dying light—
and so I have failed
just as each of us can fail,
pour me then Your grace,
that I may like a man then go 
if I a squadron must face.

Comment by JTM: "Squadron" on the last line doesn't seem to be the right word. It was used of cavalry or airplanes, not firing squads...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

EDINBURGH | Visit to The Lord Lyon

Coat of Arms of The Lord Lyon King of
Arms of Scotland.
Oxford, April 29, 2018–I was in Edinburgh earlier this week and visited the offices of The Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland.

The office is centrally located in Edinburgh, on West Register Street. 

Unlike most other countries where the heraldry authorities are private or nonprofit and honorific, the Scottish heraldry office was made part of the government. The heraldry code has the force of law in Scotland, and The Lord Lyon can prosecute, which is rare or unique in the world (South Africa can prevent use of a coat of arms).
Approach to the National Records of Scotland,
on West Register Street. There is construction.

The portrait in the lobby of The Lord Lyon is that of past Lord Lyon Sir Malcolm Rognvald Innes of Edingight KCVO WS FSA Scot. He held the post for 20 years, 1981-2001. The current Lord Lyon is the third since 2001.

He was born on May 25 in a year ending in 8. His portrait shows him in the tabard of The Lord Lyon. He is now Orkney Herald Extraordinary.

I had contacted The Lord Lyon's office to ask about the possibility that the stars in the Stars and Stripes were inspired, directly or indirectly, by the mullets in the Douglas or Murray (Moray) coats of arms.

Elizabeth Roads, Snawdoun Herald and Lyon Clerk at the Court of the Lord Lyon kindly responded to my query, wondering how I would associate with Scotland the Washington family, which prior to the emigration of two sons of Lawrence Washington lived in Sulgrave Manor, Northampton, way down south, not far from Oxford.
The National Records of Scotland.

I responded that the family originally lived in Washington on the River Wear, then part of the Palatine Principality and See of Durham, near Scotland. 

Before George Washington's ancestors were called Washington, they were Wessyngton, and before that Hertburn, after the places they resided, near what became the city of Newcastle. 

George Washington's Ancestors

The Ur-Washington was Sir William fitz Patrick de Hertburn, eldest son of Sir Patrick fitz Dolfin Raby and grandson of Dolfin fitz Uchtred. 

Sir Patrick fitz Dolfin Raby was born before 1136 at Hertburn, a younger son of Dolfin fitz Uchtred. Upon his marriage to Cecily de Offerton, he became known as Sir Patrick de Offerton and Le Hirsel. The Le Hirsel land lies on the north bank of the River Tweed two miles NW of Coldstream. He died c. 1190.

Sir William fitz Patrick de Hertburn was born c. 1150 in Hertburn, near Stockton-on-Tees (about halfway between Newcastle and York). He married twice, gaining Stockton lands with his first marriage and gaining royal relatives with his second marriage to Marjory (Margaret) de Huntingdon, Countess of Richmond. Sir William and Countess Margaret were close in age, although this was her third marriage.

Margaret's brothers were William the Lion, King of Scotland, and Malcolm IV, the Maiden King of Scotland. Her father was Henry, Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon, and her paternal grandfather was David I, King of Scotland and saint. Her youngest brother, David Earl of Huntingdon, was ancestor of the de Bruce and Balliol families. Countess Margaret's four times great-grandparents were Beatrix, Queen of Scotland and Crinan the Thane. 

So Hertburn acquired new lands and noble connections  with his new bride. He assumed tenancy of the Wessyngton  lands from the Prince Bishop of Durham at a cost of four pounds per year. He had received the Wessyngton property in trade for his Stockton lands – a good move, since he was already heir to the lands at Offerton, just across the River Wear from Washington. Given his huge step up in status, Hertburn took on the name William de Wessyngton in 1183. He died c. 1190.

Sources for the above include: 1. Audrey Fletcher, Posting as Washington Lass 
2. Archaeology Data Service, UK, 1960 


  • Today The Hirsel is the seat of the Earls of Home, and the 14th Earl, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, was British Prime Minister in 1963-1964 when I was a student at Oxford – he contributed an article to a magazine I edited, Oxford Tory. I served as General Agent of the Oxford University Conservative Association when Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, now Baron Selkirk of Douglas, was President.
  • George Washington's hero was General William Braddock of the Coldstream Guards. Together they attacked Fort Duquesne, which was renamed Pittsburgh, after Pitt the Elder, who was the patron of the war against the French in North America. Braddock gave Col. Washington his sash and Washington is shown wearing it in several portraits.
Visit to the office of The Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. L to R: (1) Snawdoun Herald and Lyon Clerk, Elizabeth Roads. (2) Portrait of Immediate past Lord Lyon, Sir Malcolm Rognvald Innes of Edingight KCVO WS FSA Scot, with a magnificent estoile above. (3) Your blogger with what seems to be a tiny coronet in chief.

Visit to The Lord Lyon

Snawdoun Herald again was kind enough to respond and wondered why a family so well-connected by marriage would wish to connect to the humbler (at the time) Douglas arms.

My answer is that the Washington coat of arms was not created until after the Battle of Crécy, by which time the Douglas family was ennobled and well established.

At this point there are so many clues and question marks that I am pausing in my quest. A good time to visit Snawdoun Herald and the office of The Lord Lyon!

Also see: My Visit to the College of Arms in London

CLUBLAND | Some Good Ideas

I have been staying at some Reciprocal Clubs in Scotland and England, and a couple of ideas make a lot of sense to me:

1. Open. Insert chain goes through the sleeve
of a coat and the loop on an umbrella. Put the
bottom of the chain through the locking hole.
REPLACE A CLOAKROOM ATTENDANT.  Instead, use chains and keys. Some clubs in New York have two cloakrooms or add a cloakroom for special events. Surely one cloakroom could be self-service, for people who are not worried sick that someone will steal their coat (has never happened to me in 50 years of using a New York club). 

Every club of course needs a concierge for people with valuables like a computer in their bag, or a suitcase. One club in New York seems to be  totally trusting about books and book bags. 
2. Lock, after first putting a £1 coin in a 
slot (it can be recovered when the coat is 
picked up).

Here's what a London club does. It has a long wall of coat hooks, and you protect your coat from theft or careless coat pickup by locking the coat to the hook with a chain.

With modern computer advances, there must be a more efficient way of doing this that does not require a coin.

Maybe a credit card could be used to close and then reopen the lock. It would also provide evidence if the club had problems with their system or there was a dispute about ownership of the coat.

3. Take away the plastic key, which
opens the lock on your return.
IPHONE RECHARGING. Another innovation I saw at a London club was the use of an iPhone recharging station. 

It looks like a set of post office boxes but inside each one is a plug to recharge an iPhone. This is valuable for people who can leave their iPhone while they have a meal or a drink, and pick it up recharged on their way out.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A HAPPY MARRIAGE | Tomás and Paquita (with Postscript by Brigid)

Paquita (L) Dominguez and Tomás Alvira, seated, with their children..
I have just received a copy of a book written by my sister, Olga Emily Marlin. Titled Our Lives in His Handsit is based on Olga's translations of two books in Spanish by Antonio Vázquez, as well as her own research and her lifelong working association with the youngest of the couple's nine children, Concha Alvira.

New Book by Olga Emily Marlin
(New York: Scepter, 2018)
Just released by New York City-based Scepter Publishers, the book has 33 chapters on the life shared by this Spanish Catholic couple – Paquita Dominguez and Tomás Alvira. They are Concha's parents, and the case for their beatification is being made in Rome. They were the first married members of Opus Dei. The book is a defense of the institution of marriage as well as a celebration of married life as the center of the traditional social network.

The Foreword by Harvard Law School Professor Mary Ann Glendon (former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See) puts the book in the context of the fraying of the threads of a society challenged by those who believe that traditional marriage is constricting rather than enabling.

This book deserves more thought than I have given it so far in the few hours since it arrived in my mailbox from Scepter. But I am impressed enough to order two more and I am sure I will order again in a larger quantity.

The book is about the parents of Olga's co-worker and friend Concha. Olga earlier wrote about her own story, with Concha featured in it, in To Africa with a Dream. It was published by Scepter in 2002 and was republished in a revised second edition by Boissevain Books in 2012.

Olga herself is featured as the eldest daughter in fictionalized family biography, The Mitchells trilogy, published originally by Viking Press and republished by Bethlehem Books.

Meanwhile, here is a short YouTube clip about the couple. It is in Spanish.

Postscript (May 8, 2018): Here is a review of the book by my sister Brigid, to whom I brought a copy of the book on my visit to England in April:
I'm so proud of my sister Olga! 
I have finished her book on Concha's parents (Our Lives in His Hands, Scepter 2018), Tomás Alvira and Paquita Dominguez and was deeply moved. She has done such a good job, turning each chapter into a slightly different subject, and grouping it all to tell an ongoing story which flows so well that the book is hard to put down.
Paquita with baby José Maria.
It is a heart-warming testimonial to two really great people, one working in the world and pouring out his love to all those he met, and the wife giving up her individual personal ambitions to create a perfect home for husband and children. 
I am glad that their case for being beatified is going forward in the Vatican. The world needs such an example of spiritual life, especially when traditional family life is being challenged!
When I finished the book I felt very proud to have such a talented sister! 
I loved the photos and found the one of baby José Maria ecstatic in his mother's arms (see photo) so moving, knowing how short his little life was going to be.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

CHARLIE MINER, R.I.P. | Vero Beach and East Hampton

Charlie Miner (R) enjoying his great-nephew and great-great-
niece and her (unrelated) Angry Bird. (Photo by JT Marlin.) 
March 20, 2018 – Charlie Miner interrupted his studies at Princeton (Class of 1943) to sign up with the U.S. Army Air Forces.

He served in Europe as pilot of a B-25 bomber.

He died yesterday, according to his daughter, and Vero Beach resident, Charmaine Caldwell.

memorial service in Vero Beach is planned for May 3 and another one in the summer in East Hampton. 

The following is a slightly edited version of an article I wrote about Miner for The Vero Portfolio, May-June 2015 issue, p. 24. The ending is, of course, updated.

Charlie Miner was one of seven grandchildren of his illustrious grandfather, FDR’s first Treasury Secretary, Will Woodin. His mother was Woodin's eldest daughter, Mary, who married an infantry captain, Robert Charles (Charlie) Miner, Sr., grandson of famed anti-slavery Federalist Congressman Charles Miner

Miner divided his time at the end of his life between Vero Beach and East Hampton until his cousin and constant companion Anne Gerli died in 2016. 

He was born in New York City in 1921 and prepared for college at Buckley School and Choate. At Princeton he studied engineering and joined the war effort as pilot of a B-25 Mitchell twin-engine bomber, which had a crew of three or more. Miner flew many of the 18 bombing missions of his squadron over northern Italy. [More about his contribution to the war effort here.]

He was lucky to have survived. Of 16 million American veterans of World War II, fewer than one in 16 were alive in 2015, only 80,000 in Florida. That year Miner was one of only about 250 World War II vets left in Indian River County, when he may have been Indian River County's oldest surviving European-theater WWII bomber pilot.

Miner told me how much he loves Vero Beach. Years ago in the 1950s and 1960s, he spent time with his mother (who divorced Charlie Sr. and did not remarry) in the Riomar social life. It  revolved, he said, around rotating dinners and celebrations among the original 12 houses. The 30 residents took turns throwing parties. The Riomar clubhouse facilities came later. John's Island—where Miner and his late wife Maisie lived—opened in 1970 and he said was at first resented because it drew people away from Riomar (and then became successful, and was imitated by the Moorings).

Charlie Miner’s grandfather, Will Woodin, was the man who dealt with the Wall Street and banking panic that started in 1929 and was not put to rest until FDR came into office in March 1933. FDR's first Treasury Secretary was given wide latitude in addressing the problem. 

Will Woodin was born in Pennsylvania and settled in New York after a successful career as the CEO of a huge business selling railroad rolling stock. He had four children. The eldest and youngest settled in Vero Beach — Mary Woodin Miner and Libby Woodin Rowe. Libby’s husband, Wally Rowe, and a brother bought homes in Riomar. Mary and Libby eventually lived in Vero Beach most of the year. Charlie’s mother lived in John's Island after Riomar and died in 2007 at 102.

Charlie remembers not just the bridge that connected the two sides of the Indian River, "Beachland Boulevard" where Route 60 crosses, before the concrete-arch Barber Bridge.  He remembers the drawbridge that was built earlier, in 1995. Before that, back in the 1930s, there was a bridge made of wooden railroad ties and swung around horizontally to let boats through the Indian River. 
Charlie (R) and me in 2014. Photo by
Alice Tepper Marlin.

Back in those early days Beachland Boulevard was the northern edge of Vero Beach, and there wasn’t a Riverside Theater. Charlie says the money was raised in several ways. Rosie and Sterling Adams organized a dance every year. He and his cousin, Bill Rowe, used to sell season tickets and organized an auction of donated prizes to raise money for the theater. The Theater is, of course, now a central  institution in Vero, contiguous to the Vero Museum of Art.

What Charlie Miner liked about Vero is that it is quiet. That was one of the original motivations of the developers, along with the availability of rail transportation and ocean beaches. There is no strip with night clubs, no airport. As Charlie says, “I’m not a teenager anymore.”

Charlie’s Advice at 93 for a Long and Happy Life:

  • For a Long Life: Every morning a meal of two eggs and tomato juice or V-8 (with or without the hair of the dog). 

  • For a Happy Life: “Enjoy life while you can. If you want to do something, don’t wait. Do it while you can because life goes by quickly. You may never get another chance.” He says his years have “Gone… Boom!”

  • During the many recent years that I have been studying and writing about FDR's forgotten first Treasury Secretary, Charlie's grandfather, I and my wife Alice have been amused and impressed by Charlie's joie-de-vivre and his sharp recollections of his long life. It was a sad moment when I learned of his death, just two months after he celebrated his 96th birthday.

    Postscript, May 3, 2018: The East Hampton Star just published my "Guest Words" on the passing of Charlie Miner, remembering him and others who have bravely faced the guns of Adolf Hitler.

    Thursday, February 15, 2018

    HAPPY YEAR OF THE DOG | Good Luck Year, But Not for Trump

    Happy Chinese New Year!
    It will be the Year of the Dog in the zodiac calendar. It is the Year of the Earth Dog. (The twelve years of the zodiac cycle within a larger 48-year cycle governed by the four ancient elements, fire, water, earth, air, similar to the length of the Kondratiev cycle.)
    This can be a lucky year, because the dog is loyal. But it is an unlucky year for those born in a prior Year of the Dog.
    Donald Trump was born in such a prior year, 1946 (he, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were born within three months of each other).

    Those who take the feng shui of the zodiac calendar seriously are predicting that Trump will have bad luck in this year, from February 16, 2018 through the beginning of the next year in February 2019, which will start the year of the pig.