Code Talkers

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L-R: Fleming Begaye, Donald Trump, Thomas Begay, Peter MacDonald, Nov. 27/17

In the early part of World War II, the enemy was breaking every military code that was being used in the Pacific. This created a huge problem for strategizing against the enemy. Eventually a suggestion was made in early 1942 to use the Navajo language as a code.

The Marine Corps recruited 29 young Navajos, not telling them what they are being recruited for because this was a top secret operation. They were just asked ‘you wanna join the Marines? You wanna fight the enemy? Come join the Marines.’ Then they were separated from all the rest of the Marines. Took them to a top secret location. That’s where they created a military code to be used in the Pacific.

After creating 260 code words, the 29 young Marines – half of them were sent overseas to join the 1st Marine Division. On August 7th 1942, 1st Marine Division hit the beaches of Gaudalcanal. This was the first battle where the Navajo code was to be tested in actual battle.

Three weeks after the landing, General Vandegrift, Commander of the 1st Marine Division, sent word back to United States saying, this Navajo code is terrific. The enemy never understood it, he said. We don’t understand it either, but it works. Send us some more Navajos. So that opened up the gate for United States Marine Corps San Diego to start recruiting more and more Navajos, using the same tactics.

The 13 of us, we still have one mission. That mission is to build National Navajo Code Talker Museum. We want to preserve this unique World War II history for our children, grandchildren, your children, your grandchildren.

Why? Because what we did truly represents who we are as Americans. America, we know, is composed of diverse community. We have different languages, different skills, different talents, and different religion. But when our way of life is threatened, like freedom and liberty that we all cherish, we come together as one. And when we come together as one, we are invincible.

-Peter MacDonald, Sr., Navajo Code Talker

This is part of what Peter MacDonald Sr. said at the White House on Monday. Mr. MacDonald, Fleming Begaye and Thomas Begave are Marine Corps veterans of World War II, Navajo Code Talkers. It played on Wednesday’s As It Happens on CBC Radio (beginning of Part 3).

Navajo US Marine Corps code talker recruits, Fort Wingate NM wikicommons
First 29 Navajo US Marine Corps code talker recruits being sworn in at Fort Wingate NM

This was a rare opportunity to hear about the history of the unit directly from those involved. But Mr. MacDonald’s speech didn’t get a lot of television coverage. Yep, President Trump opened his mouth.

So thank you, CBC, for playing this excerpt. It made me go look for the full speech, which I found on Real Clear Politics – both transcript and video.

Corrie Street 26 Nov. 2017

Oddball

mary-meets-jude-at-doorOddball, Jude calls Mary. That, he says, was his defence of her when Angie complained to him about Mary’s interference and criticism. He goes on, while having it out with his mother, to tell her that she’s a freak, evil and should never be allowed near children. Wow!

jude-tells-mary-how-upset-he-isYes, Mary may be an oddball and her actions can be harmful despite being gussied up as love. But dangerous? I think not, but she did almost abduct baby George. Dev points out to her that she is wonderful with his twins and they love her dearly. But she points out to him the clincher: Dev’s children are his children, baby George is her grandson. So while she is able to maintain a normal and healthy distance with Asha and Aadi, she goes right off the deep end when it’s her own mary-says-she-found-a-pamphletflesh and blood (my words, not hers).

I don’t know how either Angie or Jude have tolerated her behaviour for as long as they have. Angie has let her animosity show, which is hardly surprising. But Jude has been happy, peacemaking and a loving son and husband. I’ve wondered what’s wrong with him. How could he subject himself and his wife to Mary’s overbearing presence in their lives? Also, how could he not know how upset Angie was about it? A quiet word with mother, perhaps, maybe you should back off a bit. After all, Norris and Dev have both said it straight out to her. Toyah has hinted at it.

Had Jude been a bit more proactive at drawing boundaries, maybe his scene with Mary on Tuesday could have been avoided. She will jude-calls-mary-an oddballpush and push until she is made to stop. He doesn’t know that, not having known her for long. But still, the damage she is doing had to be pretty evident. But he hasn’t known her for long – therefore hasn’t become inured to her ways as most people do with their parents. ‘Oh, that’s just Mom’ isn’t something he knows from years of exposure. Yes, he’s mary-dismayed-by-verbal-attacktrying to get to know his mother. He’s happy that his childhood dream has come true, to know his ‘real’ mother. And he’s trying to accept and love her.

Unfortunately, all those conflicting elements and emotions caused jude-says-mary-should-stay-awayhim to bury his head in the sand until they – and he – exploded. He was very cruel to Mary. I hope he apologizes and they can get on some kind of even track. But that will be up to Mary too.

In this storyline, she has not been the Mary I like, even admire. But I happened upon an old scene of the week, and saw Mary really hasn’t changed. In 2012 she pushed Roy over the edge. Then, as now, mary-devastated-by-judeshe justified herself by saying ‘I’m doing it for you,’ ‘I only meant to help’ – self-serving excuses for self-serving behaviour. Poor Angie has even been subjected to it second-hand. “She means well”, Toyah has told her. How can you argue with that, without sounding like a selfish cow yourself?

Cauliflower Cheese

I made baked cauliflower cheese with cherry tomatoes for supper cauliflower cheese with tomato-photo-d-stewartone night. It was so pretty that I had to take a picture. It tasted so good that I thought I should make it again right away while I could remember how I did it. I still had half a cauliflower but no cherry tomatoes so I used mushrooms instead. Just as good.

Cauliflower Cheese recipe

  • ½ cauliflower head, cut in bite-size florets
  • 1-2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tbsp onions, chopped
  • 6-10 small mushrooms or cherry tomatoes
  • (1-2 tsp pesto, if you like)
  • breadcrumbs or croutons
  • Parmesan cheese

casserole-ready-to-cook-photo-d-stewartMicrowave cauliflower florets about 2 minutes, so they’re partially cooked. Put them and all other ingredients in a greased 8×8 inch casserole. Pour cheese sauce over veggies and gently mix it in with a spoon.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs or croutons on top. Add a bit of grated parmesan if you wish. Bake at 350℉ for about 30 mins until the top is nicely browned and the cheese sauce is bubbly.

Cheese Sauce

¾ – 1 cup marble or medium cheddar (melts well) cut in small cubes
1 cup milk
2 tsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water (or blending flour without water)

partially-made-cheese-sauce-photo-d-stewartPour the milk in a large enough microwaveable bowl. Mix the flour paste in, then add cheese cubes. Microwave for 3 minutes at 70% power, stir, then nuke another 1½ minutes at 80% power. (More in ‘Microwave Magic’ near bottom of Helpful Hints)

You can also make cheese sauce on the stove top or pour it ready-made out of a jar. Use about 1½ cups.

baked cauliflower casserole-photo-d-stewartIf you like the idea of this meal but it seems like too much work, there’s an even easier way of making cauliflower cheese. Steam or microwave the cauliflower pieces fully and pour cheese cheese over them. Ta-da! You’re done.

Corrie Street 19 Nov. 2017

Benign

rita-relieved-gemma-notDoctor: “The tumour was benign.” Gemma, head down: “Flippin’ heck.” Rita: “No, that’s good news.” Gemma: “Oh!” And then the tears and hugs and laughter. Wonderfully touching. Brought tears to my eyes, so happy that our Rita is okay.

benign is good newsOne of the best moments between her and Gemma too. Gemma barging into the doctor’s office, claiming to be her “daughter”. Rita apologizing to the doctor for her “daughter’s” behaviour, making invisible air quotes around the word. The doctor recognizing Gemma’s lie but knowing too that it really isn’t fiction.

gemma-throws-her-arms-around-ritaThey go from the doctor’s office to the Rovers, ready to celebrate. Already there, just by happenstance, are Gail, Audrey and Jenny. They talk about how worried they are about Rita and how they should react to whatever her news is the next day, when she’s said audrey-and-jenny-contemplate-bad-newsshe has her doctor appointment. A party is called for. Obviously, if the news is good. But what if it’s not? What if the tumour is not benign? What then? Audrey gives it a think, decides a party will still be okay. Rita will want her friends around her, will want support and cheering up.

Then Rita and Gemma come in. The others hold their breath when they realize she had lied and has already got the results. You could almost feel the exhalation of pent-up breath when Rita said she’d got audrey-reacts-to-newsthe all-clear. The rejoicing starts, and party plans are on.

Later in the week, two more moments of significance. Ones that should have been at least as emotional for characters and viewers. Norris’ last shift at the Kabin, and the celebration in the Rovers of his retirement. All the right people were in both scenes, all the right words were said. But somehow both fell flat for me. It was as if the writers had a checklist of “characters needed for momentous occasion” and cinematographic shots needed.

celebrating-good-news-in-roversLeaving the Kabin, Rita gave the lingering look at her little empire, eyes scanning the shelves and jars of sweets. Then eyes forward, to the street and her future. At the Rovers, Ken Barlow gave the obligatory quote from Shakespeare. But he looked as uncomfortable as everyone else. That the others did is not surprising – Ken’s declamations can have that effect on people. But him looking like a schoolboy forced to recite words at the front of the classroom? Not like Ken at all.

On Friday, we saw the new Kabin management in action. Colin. I haven’t liked him so far. But I thought the exchange between him and Moira was brilliant on both their parts. And then Rosie! Absolutely fabulous rita-calls-for-a-party by her, Colin and Moira. They were the bright spots of the week for me. That’s aside, of course, from Rita’s tumour being benign. And, flippin’ heck, that’s good news.

Eden Line

My grandmother wrote this short history of the Burwell family on Eden Line in Bayham Township, Elgin County, Ontario. My guess is she wrote it about 1966. I came across it on the Elgin County Archives site.

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The Burwell Family (Contributed by Mrs. Chas. Burwell, Tillsonburg, Ont.)

Among the pioneers of Eden district was Joseph Norton. He was born in Boston Mass. and came as a young man, after the death of his parents, to these parts and lived with the Dobie’s for some time. From them, he bought land which he cleared and built up into the old homestead on which his great-grandson Wilford Burwell now resides, west of Eden about 2 miles.

He married a young Highland Scottish maiden named Mary Younglove who was at Simcoe. He, taking among other provisions for the journey, bread baked by Mrs. Dobie and going by ox-team and sled down the Talbot road which had been surveyed out by Col. Thomas Talbot and Col. Mahlon Burwell. He brought his bride back to this farm home and farmed successfully for many years. He died in 1895, at the age of 90 being pre-deceased by his wife in 1888.

The couple had two daughters, Melissa Jane and Ada Ann. Melissa married William David Stilwell. To this union were born four children, Joseph Norton Stilwell, Mary Helen, Agnes and Rachel. The first two died very young. Agnes married Charles Moore and Rachael died suddenly and was buried on her 18th birthday.

Across the road from the Norton’s lived Mr. and Mrs. Howard Johnston the latter nee – Maria Burwell whose brother Hercules while visiting them, became acquainted with Ada Ann Norton. And in course of time, the two married, he being the son of Lewis Mahlon Burwell and Levonia Williams, sister of the Thomas Williams who founded the Thomas Williams Home in St. Thomas. Lewis Mahlon was first cousin to the above mentioned Col. Mahlon Burwell.

To Hercules and Ada were born James Silas, Ada Larreau, Levonia (Mrs. Chancy Clark), Lewis Mahlon, Charles Hercules, Merritt Lee, Frederick William (Wilford’s father), Wilson Garfield, Peter Dwight and a baby not named. Ada Larreau, Lewis Mahlon and the baby died very young.

Their parents settled on a farm about a mile west of Eden, in fact next farm west of the Fred Chandler place. They cleared it and built buildings and set out fruit trees, making it into a nice, comfortable home. Then when the great epidemic of influenza swept the country in 1890 he died on Pneumonia on Feb. 14th at the age of 41 leaving his wife with five young children to raise alone. This she faithfully did, and when the boys were grown they decided to move the buildings out to the front of the place. They had been back on the side-road before, and the place never looked so homey afterward. Their mother died from Diabetes in July 1912, in her 64th year. This family of 8 children are now all passed on.

Mr. and Mrs. Howard Johnston lived many years on the farm across from the Norton’s or where Grover Ketchabaw lives now. They sold it to Silas Burwell, who was then a young man. They moved to Fingal where Mr. Johnston died. Then Mrs. Johnston came back to Eden again and lived with her daughter Mrs. Charles Allemand, south of Eden, until her death in her 103rd year.

Norton-Burwell Farm

My Old Valley Home, poem by C. H. Burwell, and photographMy grandfather wrote about the farm on the Big Otter Creek where he grew up in his poem My Old Valley Home (see more poems)

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Norton-Burwell farm (marked Wilford’s) above, Johnston farm (marked Silas’) below

Here is what it looks like today, from Google satellite. Looks like the old house has been torn down and a new one built. Wilford Burwell lived in the original house until his death in 2004. It was sold after his wife Madge died in 2009. So, nearly 200 years after Joseph Norton cleared the land, the property is no longer in the hands of his descendants.

Johnston-Burwell-Ketchabaw Farm

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Human pyramid, top, Harry Howey and Merritt Burwell, middle, Silas Burwell, bottom, Charley Burwell, Fred Millard, Joe Kennedy

Silas Burwell bought his Aunt Maria’s farm across the road and rebuilt the house about 1915. His wife was Alice Kennedy, whose siblings were Joseph, Clara and Ida May.

Joseph Kennedy was friends with the Burwell brothers ( more photos here). Clara and Ida May Kennedy married Chandler brothers Edward John and Alexander. Fred Chandler was their brother, so brother-in-law by marriage to Silas.

Burwell, Kennedy and Chandler – Eden Line

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click or tap chart for larger view

After Silas and Alice Burwell died, Grover Ketchabaw bought their farm. Silas and Alice had no children but still their house managed to keep connected to his family. One of Grover’s sons married Wilford Burwell’s sister. The son of Grover’s daughter now owns Silas’ farm.

A mile west of Eden

The mystery for me in Grandma’s story is in the second last paragraph. “They” moved to a farm about a mile west of Eden,  just west of Fred Chandler’s farm. Who moved? It sounds like Hercules and Ada Ann, whose dates of death match those Grandma gives in that same paragraph. But their son Fred, who took over their farm beside the Big Otter, didn’t marry until 1916, which was after the death of both his parents. I never knew that the family lived anywhere on the Eden Line other than in that house.

Two stories about the Chandler family are also in the Elgin County Archives. They start on the fourth page of the pdf. Here is my grandmother’s story and more on the Chandlers.

Corrie Street 12 Nov. 2017

Shoot

Thursday Phelan, Andy and Vinny in an abandoned paper mill somewhere. Phelan’s handgun. Time to shoot or be shot. Tense, dramatic. And so long overdue that I just didn’t care. Just please shoot somebody, anybody, so this can finally end!andy-turns-gun-on-pat

Phelan forces Andy to shoot Vinny. Andy turns the gun on Pat, but crumbles and hands it back. Phelan then shoots Andy. We don’t see that, just hear the shot while seeing the outside of the mill. We see Phelan dump the bodies in a pond, then walk through the rain to his van. Back behind the wheel, he watches his hands tremble.pat-points-gun-at-andy

Of course, the shootings won’t end the storyline. The whole thing will have to come out, and Phelan be caught. I am not looking forward to it. I’m even thinking about how much time Coronation Street consumes in my life. And wondering if that time could be better spent.

The scenes with Andy and Vinny in the cellar and the van were great. It crossed my mind that add a bit to them and you would have a great short play. But a good Corrie? Not for me. The basement business went on too long. I’d come to dread seeing those stairs or that lightbuib. Please, no, I don’t wanna go down there again!andy-pleads-with-pat

Pat Phelan is a wonderful character and Connor McIntyre is brilliant at portraying his many sides. So I can sympathize with the writers’ problem. They have created a great character and fan favourite. But he is a villain. He cannot switch to being Nice Pat and just go on living on the street. He must have his comeuppance. I don’t know how long that’s going to take. Or how much more convoluted it’s going to get. Too long, too much, I suspect.pat-after-he-shot-andy

It would be ok with me if they just did a “Dallas on Phelan and have it all be a dream. He or Eileen would wake up and say “what a horrible dream I had. I was (you were) a really clever conman who ripped off a whole lot of people and held nice Andy prisoner for a year then killed him and my (your) evil partner Vinny. Wow, won’t they get a good laugh when I tell them!” There, problem solved.pat-in-van-hands-shaking-after shoot

Passchendaele

The Battle of Passchendaele ended 100 years ago today. It is also called the Third Battle of Ypres and the “Muddy-est, Bloody-est of the whole war”. The latter is what Alberta infantryman Arthur Turner called it in his diary.Frank-Hurley-Australian-4th-Div-duckboard-29-Oct-1917-Chateau-Wood

Passchendaele is a small village in Belgium near Ypres close to the border with France. British troops came to the aid of the French there in July 1917. Australian and New Zealand divisions were brought in early in September, then the Canadian Corps in October.

The Canadians weren’t supposed to be involved. They’d just come off the terrible Battle of Vimy Ridge in July. They were assigned to diversionary attacks on the Germans occupying nearby Lens, France. But the British Commander, General Douglas Haig, ordered them in over the protests of the Canadian Commander General Arthur Currie. Too much of a mess, too uncertain of a strategic gain, and the likelihood of too many casualties.

Be that as it may, General Haig was Commander in Chief and so his plan went ahead. And that meant reinforcements. The British and ANZAC troops were exhausted and their numbers drastically depleted. They pulled out and four divisions of the Canadian Corps moved in.pilckem-ridge-31-jul-1917-imperia-war-museum wikicommons

General Currie decided the first thing to do was clean up the place. The Canadians had fought two years earlier at the 2nd Battle of Ypres, and Currie and the men could see the bodies still there. Bodies of men, mules and horses had been churned up from their shallow graves by the renewed fighting. So they reburied the dead, built roads and board walks, brought in supplies.

Battle of Mud

Passchendaele Battle-of-Pilckem-Ridge-brushwood-track-St-Eloi-11-Aug-1917-John-Warwick-Brooke-imperial-war-mus_Q5944The 2nd Battle of Ypres was marked by gas warfare, the 3rd Battle by mud. Complete desolation of the land from the years of battle and heavy rains caused the drainage system to collapse. “The mud is a worse enemy than the German” said NZ divisional commander Sir Andrew Russell.

Two months of horrific fighting and losses by both sides, but the Canadian troops prevailed. The Germans were pushed back and the battle ended November 10th.Second Battle of Passchendaele Cdns-survey-German-Bunker_public-domain-in-Bostyn-and-Van-Der-Fraeden

Then in December, General Haig pulled out the Allied troops guarding this patch of land won at such expense. The Germans moved in again. After two more battles of Ypres, the Allied Forces won it back by the end of the war a year later.

British soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon was not at Passchendaele. He was in hospital, but could well imagine what it was like. He could imagine too the process of ‘king and country’ that took so many young men to fields of slaughter like it. In October 1918 he wrote Memorial Tablet.Cambridge U Library The Siegfried Sassoon Literary Estate via First World War Poetry Digital Archive http://ww1lit.nsms.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/item/9660

Corrie Street 5 Nov. 2017

A Few Genuflects

“Just say a few genuflects and you’ll be fine.” Todd tries to restore normality to his new household. What better way than to be irreverent, especially toward his Reverend? Wednesday, Todd and Summer try to play happy families, make everything right again. todd-suggests-meal-out

Billy, sitting nearby, doesn’t even hear their chatter. He is immersed in mental and spiritual conflict. A vicar, and now a dad. But a dad whose child can be taken away from him at any time. He and Todd have custody of Summer but social workers and the legal system can still deem what is best for her. That might mean her going to foster parents or to her grandparents.summer-looks-at-billy

And Vicar Billy has just punched the lights out of Peter Barlow. Simon blabbed that to the social worker. Fortunately, Simon told Peter what he had done and Peter did his best to be proactive. He told the social worker that it was nothing, that he’d asked for it, that it was just two fathers steamed up about what their kids had done. No problem, no official complaint, let’s forget it, eh?

That was enough for the social worker, for the time being at least. She made that clear. We’ll be watching you. It was not enough for billy-faces-summerBilly himself, though. He also has to answer to his God. Set an example, live by his principles. Letting a rage come over him to the extent that he batters another person nearly to a pulp before he regains control of himself? He can’t reconcile those two parts of himself so easily.

just-say-a-few genuflectsTodd tries to jolly Billy into getting over it. He knows how important it is for Billy to forgive himself, for Summer to feel secure in their love for her and for each other. He also knows the tenuousness of their situation as her guardians.

Summer also wants Billy and Todd to be happy with each other and with themselves, as well as with her. She knows she jeopardized all of that. Her sorrow about her late dad Drew was brought up afresh summer-looks-worriedon his birthday, and that coincided with Simon’s stupid dare about the “spice” drug. And Billy and Todd being at odds with each other. She knows she risks losing her new happy home.

So Summer and Todd team up to show Billy all is well with their world. That he should not rock the boat by not accepting Peter’s smoothing over the waters. Peter understands, God understands, it’s only social services that you can’t count on. Take the support you’ve been given and hope that’s the end of it. Keeping their family together is now the most important thing to Todd, and genuflects won’t work with social services. Unfortunately, it won’t work for Billy either.billy-deep-in-thought