The scene: Paris, France~ June 1940. Two women–Etta, an American, and Kitty, an Englishwoman, are fleeing Paris as the German army invades France. Unable to get out of the city, they are forced to return and live under Nazi rule. There is only one problem: they have an English pilot in the luggage compartment of their car. Hiding him in their apartment is dangerous enough, but when other English soldiers start to use their apartment as a station on their escape route, normal things become deadly risks. Especially when a German soldier takes a shine to Kitty, and at unexpected times shows up at their apartment!
This book is written by Etta Shiber, and was first published in 1943, after she was exchanged for a German prisoner that the Americans held captive.
A tense, gripping story. It reads like a novel, but was all too true. An amazing portrait of Paris and first had account of what life was like in France under the Nazi regime. It is also a story of great personal courage and noble, selfless living.
A favorite quote of mine from the book is when an English pilot who is in hostile territory and surrounded on all sides by his mortal enemies who want to slaughter him, finds the kindness of a friend:
He sighed. “You’re both wonderful,” he said “I guess the world hasn’t gone to the dogs after all. No matter where you go or what happens, you always find nice people everywhere.”~Lt. Burke
When Mother reads aloud, the past
Seems real as every day;
I hear the tramp of armies vast;
I see the spears and lances cast;
I join the thrilling fray;
Brave knights and ladies fair and proud
I meet when Mother reads aloud.
When Mother reads aloud, far lands
Seem very near and true;
I cross the desert’s gleaming sands,
Or hunt the jungles’ prowling bands,
Or sail the ocean blue;
Far heights, whose peaks the cold mists shroud,
I scale, when Mother reads aloud.
When Mother reads aloud, I long
For noble deeds to do—
To help the right, redress the wrong;
It seems so easy to be strong,
So simple to be true.
Oh, thick and fast the visions crowd
When Mother reads aloud.
One of the best loved poets in America during the 1900’s was Edgar Guest. His ability to express the feelings and experiences that we all know is, as far as I have found, unsurpassed in the realm of poetry. Two of his books are among the treasured volumes in my library, and I always relish the time spent in them.
He captures aspects of humanity with such skill and cleverness that it is genuinely amusing to read. The very best way to describe his work is as an astute friend of mine once remarked:
“Edgar Guest is to poetry what Norman Rockwell is to painting.” ~S. M.
Both of them are masters at depicting, in their respective mediums, the feelings, hopes, and dreams of Americans and the idiosyncrasies that are common among us. One of Edgar Guests poems (just like one of Norman Rockwell’s paintings) is a piece that you can just sit there and study, a remarkable preservation of what our culture was like because it catches the spirit of of the people. His poems often are on themes of honor, friendship, character, manliness, family, small-town America, and humor.
I would recommend finding a copy of the handsomely bound antique “Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest” to start your collection. It is a large collection of many of his poems, selected by himself, and the perfect introduction to this worthy poet.
Below are are two of Edgar Guest’s most loved poems: “Myself” and “Somebody Said It Couldn’t Be Done” “Myself” was a favorite of my Grandpa who always carried an old newspaper clipping of it in his wallet.
I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I’ve done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of man that I really am;
I don’t want to dress myself up in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
But here in this struggle for fame and pelf,
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to think as I come and go
That I’m bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see,
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself—and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self—respecting and conscience free.
Somebody Said It Couldn’t Be Done
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.
Every era in history is important to study. I must admit though, I have a partiality for the settlement of the American west and cowboy history. Below is a list of 7 great first hand accounts of life in the west, several of which give western films a run for their money as far as entertainment goes! They are vivid stories of the kind of men and women that came before us, the culture they lived in, and the work they did.
Little Britches by Ralph Moody. This book takes place in Colorado, 1906, originally published in 1950. This book and the next two below (also by Ralph Moody) are among my all time favorite books, if I had to pick only a box full of books to keep, this series would be in it. These books set down on paper in authentic colors the story of growing up in a rugged western land, learning character, working with cowboys, and paint a portrait of a family who work together to build a life. Absolutely fantastic series of books. Illustrated by Edward Shenton
Man Of The Family by Ralph Moody. Sequel to Little Britches, originally published in 1951. Illustrated by Edward Shenton
The Home Ranch by Ralph Moody. 3rd book in the series. Originally published in 1956. Illustrated by Tran Mawicke
A Bride Goes West by Nannie T. Alderson. Originally published in 1942, this book takes place in Montana during the late 1800’s. It is about Nannie, who leaves the her well-to-do Virginia comfort for a land of hardships and ranch life with her husband. Drawings by J. O’H. Cosgrave II
No Life For A Lady by Agnes Morley Cleaveland. Originally published in 1941. This book takes place in New Mexico (There is a splendid map in the front of the book) and is the story of a lady and her three children who run a ranch, Agnes was one of the children. Illustrations were done by Edward Borein
A Frontier Lady by Sara Royce. This tale of California during the early gold rush days was originally published in 1932. It ends with these words: “California as a state has rallied from numerous shocks, and is now smiling in prosperity; while her first flock of adopted children many of them, have grown old, and look back on years of wonderful experiences which they sometimes wish they could be recorded along with the history of their adopted State; for their children and their children’s children to read, that they might learn to love and reverence the God who through all the devious paths of life ever guides safely those who trust and obey Him.”
Letters Of A Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. The original copyright was 1914, it was illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. The book is a compilation of letters written from 1909-1913 from the state of Wyoming on the life there.
Character, sound principles, hardihood, quite a sense of humor, zest for living, and a lack of fear of hard work, physical pain, or financial risk is what you will find in these books. Our ancestors were far from perfect, but they had a moral courage, bravery, and grit that many of us today would do well to learn from. These books allow you to sit down and hear them tell you about it first hand. A priceless collection of books.