Pages

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.

HERO DOG | Hachikō Wins Contest

Hachikō Dances Around on One Leg.
August 26, 2017 – The 4th Annual Springs Agricultural Fair took place today at Ashawagh Hall.

At noon the "Dog Tricks" event was featured.


A Springs dog, Hachikō, was entered. He is named after an Akita, Hachi-kõ (ハ-チ公, 1923-1935), born on a farm in Japan. Hachi is the Japanese word for the lucky number eight.

The life story of the original Hachikō was the subject of a movie, transposed to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, starring Richard Gere.

Eight (hachi in Japanese) is a lucky number in Asia, having the same Chinese character as fortune or good luck.  Seven in Asia is unlucky.  

This Hachikō (a Pomeranian-Schnauzer mix) was lucky and won second place.

He was trained by Alice Tepper Marlin with the assistance of her husband John and their daughter Caroline, who has trained her own dog Rondo.
Dog Tricks Contest Winners, First (R)
and Second Prizes. Alice Tepper Marlin
is holding Hachikō.

Hachikō won second prize out of a field of about ten dogs put forward as doing tricks at the Fair. 

Hachikō danced a few circles, sometimes on one leg (see photo above).

The first place winner is in the second photo, but we don't yet know the name of the dog or its owner. (To which the owner could reply, paraphrasing the late Mayor Ed Koch, "if I had known being in second place was so important, I would have gone for that.")

The takeaway from the contest for next year is:
  • It is smart to have a routine. Start by having the dog sit, then roll over, the easy tricks. Then get to the harder ones.
  • Most dogs refused to do their tricks in front of a crowd, which was funny but reduced the competition. Best to practice with people looking on.
  • The winner's trainer had an excuse for why the winning dog didn't do the trick the first time. The second time it went as planned. It's good to have a trainer who can cover for lapses!
  • A good time was had by all, including the dogs, who got treats, win or lose.
The full name of Hachikō in Japanese is Chūken - Hachi - kō (忠犬-ハ-チ公), or Loyal Dog - Eight - Little.  The first two characters are kan-ji (Chinese ideographs) and the other characters are Japanese.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

HUGUENOTS | August 24 – St Bartholomew's Day Massacre

St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in Paris
This day in 1572, Catholic King Charles IX of France, encouraged  by his mother, Catherine de Medici, ordered the killing of Huguenot leaders in Paris, setting off an orgy of killing.

Tens of thousands of Huguenots (a Protestant minority in France, followers of John Calvin) were massacred, first in Paris and then all across France. The slaughter is called in French the "Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy".

Two days earlier, Catherine had ordered the murder of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, a Huguenot leader who was advising a war with Spain. However, Coligny was only wounded, and Charles promised outrage Huguenots that he would investigate the attempted assassination.  But Catherine then convinced her son that the Huguenots were on the brink of rebellion. He went along with the plan to murder their leaders, most of whom were visiting Paris to celebrate the wedding on August 18 day of the king's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (who would become   Henry IV of France).

On August 23, 1572, the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle, a list of those to be killed was drawn up. First on the list was Coligny, who was brutally beaten and thrown out of his bedroom window just before dawn on August 24.

However, once the killing started, mobs of Catholic Parisians began a general massacre of Huguenots.

Charles on August 25 ordered a halt to this killing, but the slaughters continued into October, reaching the provinces of Rouen, Lyon, Bourges, Bourdeaux, and Orleans. An estimated 3,000 French Protestants were killed in Paris, and 5,000-70,000 (estimates vary) in all of France.

The massacre marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent leaders, but those who remained became implacably anti-Catholic.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TENNIS | Aug. 22 – Althea Gibson First Black on Tour

Althea Gibson, First U.S. Black
Tennis Winner
This day in 1950 Althea Gibson was the first African-American accepted by the tennis authorities to go on a U.S. tennis tour.

The U.S. Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA, now the USTA) accepted Gibson into their annual championship at Forest Hills, New York, the first African-American player to compete in a U.S. national tennis competition.

Gibson was born in Silver, South Carolina on August 25, 1927, but was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She had to earn her silver.

Her family moved to Harlem when she was young. That is where she started playing tennis in Harlem at 14. Just one year later she won the New York State girls’ championship of the American Tennis Association (ATA), the black alternative (organized by players in 1916) to the all-white USLTA.

With the help of Hubert Eaton and R. Walter Johnson, both doctors, Gibson won ten straight ATA championships in 1947. In 1949, Gibson applied to the USLTA’s National Grass Court Championships at Forest Hills (later called the U.S. Open). When the USLTA failed to invite her, Alice Marble – who had won four times at Forest Hills – bravely wrote on Gibson’s behalf to the editor of American Lawn Tennis magazine, criticizing the “bigotry” of her fellow USLTA members.

Shamed by Marble's letter, someone arranged to invite Gibson to participate in a New Jersey qualifying event, which she won. On August 28, 1950, at Forest Hills, Gibson beat Barbara Knapp 6-2, 6-2 in her first USLTA tournament match. In the second round she lost in a close match with Louise Brough, three-time defending Wimbledon champion. In 1951 she was the first black player of either gender to compete at Wimbledon.

The next few years, however, were difficult for Gibson. Her success was not universally welcomed. For example, she was promoted by Marble and others to compete in the Woodin Ladies Invitational at Maidstone in 1954 but the club was divided on Gibson's participation and she was not invited to play. The Cup was ended the next year, for that reason or other reasons, or a combination.

Gibson, however, came back from her disappointments and won her first major victory in 1956, at the French Open in Paris. The next year she won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open at 30. Gibson repeated at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open the next year but then retired from the amateur tennis and went pro.

Gibson was elected in 1971 to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. She is credited with paving the way for other African-American tennis champions such as Arthur Ashe and currently Venus and Serena Williams. In the early 1960s, Gibson also became the first black player to compete on the women’s golf tour. After a long illness, she died in 2003 at 76.