‘Scratch your family tree . . . ’

 “Scratch your family tree, and you will find either a Jewish gangster or someone who paid off a Jewish gangster.”

— Nancy Fishman, film curator of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival


Two Teenagers in Ohio

Years ago, two teenagers in Ohio would sit underneath an oak tree and share their ideas and dreams. And for four years they sent one another letters.

Mary Jane Schriner met George Steinbrenner for the first time on a nice summer evening in 1949.

I was sitting on the grass beneath a splendid oak tree in our front yard when a streamlined, powder-blue Plymouth convertible sporting the license plate G7S pulled into the driveway across the street, at the home of the football captain. Lo and behold, a handsome young man got out of the car. Then for no apparent reason he looked in my direction and waved.”


The War Poets

Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly . . . ”
T. S. Eliot, ‘East Coker’

While visiting Borders — the big, evil box store of a book store — last night I decided to peruse the poetry section to see what some of bards had written about war.

Joyce Kilmer, the poet-soldier of World War I who was in the Rainbow Division alongside my great uncle Leslie Darling, had a couple of his in one anthology. And upon reading both I was impressed. Kilmer was a good writer. His prose and ability to ‘paint a picture’ is great, at least in the two samples of his work I discovered. Kilmer and Darling were wounded and died within days of each other.

Of course the most famous poem out of war was “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. Just as Darling and Kilmer, McCrae was killed in action in 1918.


Two of the Rainbow

I just discovered that a 42nd Division veteran of World War, Kenneth Joseph Parow, who became a firefighter, died at the age 48 while fighting a fire. He was killed March 26, 1943.

Kenneth Parow was appointed the fire department June 11, 1923, and was a hoseman attached to Engine 3, Mill Hill. Brother Parow was a veteran of the 1st World War and served overseas for 18 months with the old Rainbow Division. He was a member of Chelsea Post American Legion and was President of the Firemen’s Relief Association in 1939.”

A ‘green beret’ once worn by a soldier in the Fighting 69th, the New York outfit in the Rainbow Division, is up for sale on eBay. It belonged to my uncle Lawrence Reilly who was in this division and fought in many battles in France. This dates back to 1917-1918 and has been in my family all of these years. It is made of 100 percent wool and is in good condition for it’s age. It does have about 3 moth holes in in that I have tried to capture in picture 4 and 5. I auctioned off some other items of his in 2008.”


However, most computer text-editing programs provide a

A Fallen Soldier Finds His Way Home

Much like what my great-great grandfather experienced, Mrs. Nora Grady of New York received a letter on June 8, 1921 from an Army captain that officials had been unable to find the grave of her brother, Thomas D. Costello, who had been killed during the world war. In 2006, more than 85 years later a group of relic hunters stumbled across his remains in eastern France , along with several other soldiers, and artifacts.

Prominent genealogist Megan Smolenyak works with the U.S. military on repatriation cases. It’s known as JPAC (the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command). She wrote about Costello and his family on The Huffington Post.

He was “[h]astily buried” and “remained undiscovered for 88 years until locals on a metal-searching expedition came across the site.” On Monday, 89 years after his death, he was given a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

Costello “was an Irish immigrant. Born in County Galway in 1892, he, a sister and two brothers had come to America, but only the sister married. She was swiftly widowed, so had only one child, who in turn, had only one child.”

She eventually tracked down Michael Frisbie, Costello’s great-grand-nephew. He, his wife and daughter attended the service at Arlington. The story was featured on CNN and in The Washington Post.

My great-great grandfather, Jerome Harvey (J. H.) Darling, lost his son Leslie in the war. He is still referred to as Grandpa Darling to this day by his descendants, a tradition started by grandmother and her siblings.

Leslie was buried in France initially in a well-marked grave, but somehow his remains were lost, probably while relocating him to an official American cemetery. Even in the 1930s his father wrote letters to Army officials asking about his son. Unfortunately the response was always polite and professional, but with no positive developments. Perhaps one day, as my relative Gordon Heber has mentioned, Leslie Warren Darling will follow Costello’s path.


Crumb’s ‘Genesis, Illustrated’

Mr. Crumb
Mr. Crumb

Graphic artist (pun-intended) R. Crumb has an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. The Oregonian’s coverage of it was just plain awesome, including some of his great artwork. I have been meaning to write about it ever since I came across the story. It’s all about Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Crumb inked a graphic novel, The Book of Genesis, Illustrated.

. . . Crumb has produced an abundance of zany and irreverent characters, including the iconic Fritz the Cat. His impact on the underground comic world is immeasurable and his drawings have been highly influential to countless artists working in the contemporary art field today.”

The exhibit was organized by the Hammer Museum at UCLA. There are more than 200 drawings, pen and ink on paper, and sketches in pencil. It “is the culmination of four years of labor by Crumb to illustrate every word of the fifty chapters that make up Genesis in the Bible.”

God & Chapter 1
God & Chapter 1

Crumb’s been working as a cartoonist for 45 years. Douglas Wolk, author of Reading Comics, discussed “Crumb’s artistic evolution from radical underground cartoonist to godfather of the art-comics world” in a symposium in June.

Illustrated in his signature bawdy style, Crumb’s version puts an entirely new twist on the Bible. Labels and text panels will guide visitors to their favorite stories—from the Garden of Eden to Noah’s Ark—and will explore drawing techniques and comic book production.”

Check out some of his other work using Google’s image search. Anyone want to go see it with me?


Stormtroopers Hit Big Apple Subway

Stormtroopers have hit the New York City subway system, arresting Princess Leia apparently after somewhat of a chase, according to folks at The Escapist magazine.

[D]espite misjudging his helmet’s height and banging his head on the train the first time around, Darth Vader stole the show: ‘One thing we learned is that almost every human will immediately take out their camera when they see Darth Vader … [at] one point, a young guy came up to him and said, “Sith Lord, would it be OK if I took your photo?” It’s a good thing he wasn’t Force-choked on the spot.’”


The Uniqueness of Your Innards

Here’s a story on poop and the unique stuff in your gut. Seems your intestines are different from mine.

Like a fingerprint, the virus communities in the human gut are unique to each individual . . .”

I had no idea about viruses living in my lower intestine, encased in bacteria.

The study sheds light on the largely unexplored world of viruses living in the lower intestine. Most of these ‘friendly’ viruses, which don’t cause diseases, make their home inside bacteria already living in the gut. These viruses are thought to influence the activities of gut microbes, which among their other benefits, allow us to digest certain components of our diets, such as plant-based carbohydrates, that we can’t digest on our own.”


Jailhouse DNA

Fallout from the expanded role the cops (and others) want for DNA among prisoners and databases continues. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) “challenging a California law that requires police to collect the DNA of all suspected felons.”

Note the word suspected. It will be interesting to see what the judges say and courts decide. The issue is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The New York Times has a debate between two professionals, Mitchell R. Morrissey, the district attorney of Denver, and Jeffrey Rosen, a legal scholar and author.

Another case of a killer in Australia named Elmer Crawford brings the question of familial DNA to the fore down under and in the United Kingdom. Two male relatives live in Northern Ireland and Aussie investigators want to test their DNA and compare it with that found in the remains believed to be Crawford. Several people have come forward claiming to be relatives and offering their DNA.

Crawford may have been hiding in Texas, dying after a heart attack in 2005. Newspapers in Australia and Texas, including The Houston Chronicle, have been reporting on developments in the case.

[F]acial recognition experts compared photos of fugitive Elmer Crawford with snapshots of the unidentified man who died. The experts concluded the man who died, after an apparent heart attack while in a store, ‘is almost certainly’ Crawford.”