It isn’t obvious in this photograph, but this is quite a large piece – more than 18″ from stem to tip. It is a very special treasure from our time in Germany just after we were married. David was assigned to Coleman Barracks, located near the Rhine River between Mannheim and Worms. We were lucky to find a small house to rent in the village of Shonaü not far from the Barracks. Our neighborhood was one of Hitler’s housing projects during the Depression. Most of the houses had been updated many times since then, but our landlords were renting to Americans until they could save enough to remodel it and move in themselves. It was small by our standards but quite livable and the small back yard was full of fruit trees and flowers.
For most of that tour we were the only Americans living in the village. The neighbors were quite friendly, tolerating my butchered German with humor and grace. My vocabulary was focused primarily on eating, shopping and gardening. During the summers with their long days, we’d spend most of our evenings outside enjoying this tiny jewel. We weren’t alone – most of the neighbors were enjoying their gardens too. We grilled frequently which attracted lots of comparisons between American and German cuisine.
One neighbor raised champion dobermans which were fed with fresh meat from the local butcher. He took David with him once and both came home with some of Kurt’s “dog food”. What they called dog food is better known here as country ribs and this butcher was selling it for the equivalent of 25¢ a pound! It was absolutely delicious and became the main course at our next Labor Day barbecue – enjoyed by both our German and American guests.
In addition to the fruit trees, the garden was full of grapes, strawberries and rhubarb. Rhubarb is not something you see very often in Florida and my few experiences eating anything that contained rhubarb were not that memorable, but the plant itself is beautiful. When Kurt’s wife, Ingrid, asked if she could cut some rhubarb, I was happy to share – thinking she would be baking something. Instead, a couple of weeks later she presented us with this gorgeous plate she had made by pressing the rhubarb leaf into a slab of clay then cutting it out, modeling it and glazing it. She was taking a ceramics class and this was one of her first big projects. Twenty-five years later it still has a very special place in our home and our hearts.
From August 1975 to August 1979 I was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi where I taught tech school – computer operations. This was one of my classes in 1976. That’s me on the right. As you can see from the tape drives behind us, computers were a tad bit bigger in those days.
To all the men and women who have served this great country – thank you. I’m honored to have served with you.
Mary Katherine Link – Miss Kate – was Lois Link’s aunt. Lois was my maternal grandmother. I inherited grandmother’s archive and one of the items in that collection is a beautiful, but crumbling, autograph book that belonged to Miss Kate. It became one of my first digitizing projects – and one of my favorites. Many of the pages were loose and could be scanned while others had to be photographed. Once the digitizing was complete I decided to reconstruct it as a little booklet which could be shared. I added a short biography written by a cousin who knew Miss Kate and the only photograph I could find. Using Lulu.com, I ordered several print copies which were sent to a couple of elderly Link cousins. I also posted it on Scribd where others could find and download a digital copy if they were interested.
When I first found this beautiful gem in grandmother’s things, Mary Katherine Link was little more than an entry in my genealogy database with a few vital records. My research discovered that not only did she spend her life teaching, but she also was a surrogate mother to my grandmother and her siblings after their mother died. Grandmother was only 5 when her mother died so Miss Kate was obviously a great influence in her life. It also explains why this little autograph book was one of Lois’s treasured keepsakes. And, by looking at the entries in the book, Miss Kate had many admirers.
Written by Ed Long and Brendan Burke and published by the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, this book chronicles 100 years of the shrimping industry in St. Augustine. Not only does it tell the stories of the men who made their living catching shrimp, the book also documents the associated industries like boat building and marine supplies. The stories are fascinating and the photographs are amazing. There are discussions and diagrams showing how the technology behind net design changed over the years. You’ll learn how the familiar design of shrimp boats evolved too.
Shrimp Boat City [$24.95] can be purchased at the Lighthouse gift shop or online. Take a look at the book’s trailer to get a taste of what’s inside.
Before Hurricane Dora ripped up Florida’s northeast coastline, A1A ran right through Anastasia Park. Salt Run ended in a beautiful basin that often was full of youngsters learning to sail. A small trail over the wooded dunes took knowledgeable locals to The Cove and the playground and picnic area was a gathering place for both locals and tourists alike. Mom loved the beach and Anastasia Park was part of the neighborhood so we spent lots of time in the park and on the beach – anywhere from the artesian wells up to the jetties.
Dora changed all that. The stretch of highway from the playground to the pier was destroyed. It cut a channel into Salt Run and although that channel has since silted closed, what once was basin is now marsh. The playground and most of the picnic area is now a parking lot and Conch Island is closed to vehicles. The park is still a beautiful place preserving a piece of natural beach on an over-developed coastline, but it’s no longer the extended neighborhood we enjoyed as children.
It’s hard to take a decent photograph through the porch screen but this sunrise was too amazing not to try.
Henry Louis Gates spent some time here last summer filming an episode of African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross for PBS. Tonight we will see the results of that visit with the current episode, Black Atlantic. Just north of St. Augustine is the site of Fort Mose, the first free black town in what would become the United States. This episode looks at Fort Mose’s place in history and introduces Georges Biassou who was born a slave in Haiti but would become a Spanish general.
Look for it tonight at 8:00 pm (Eastern) on your local PBS station.