Sunday Open Forum – Mailboxes and Old Barns
Originally posted on January 9, 2011 by sundancecracker
Because of the anger and fear I’ve experienced since 2008, my thoughts have gone back repeatedly to the Yalta Conference of 1945, what my parents knew about Yalta and when they knew it. Here’s why:
My brother was 12 and I was 10 in March of ’55. We were accustomed to hearing the 9 pm news from WHO, Des Moines, Iowa. Loud and clear over the Montana prairie we’d hear Gabby Heatter’s classic opening line, “There’s good news tonight, folks!” even when there wasn’t. Radio, with Fibber McGee and Molly on Saturday night, was the center of our world on short winter days.
As we flew through the kitchen after pounding up the stairs that particular March morning, the unusual daytime scene of Dad and Mom standing in front of the kitchen radio listening intently didn’t register. So along with our clatter, we chose that moment to do our version of “Did not!” “Did, too!” Mom’s angry glare quickly silenced us. Seeing our parents listening to the news in the middle of the day (and being openly angry toward us) was foreign ground. A little frightened, we just stopped and stood there.
May I describe to you some of my mother’s Mailboxes and Old Barns? Being aware of what they were may soften the edges of this Portrait of Angry Mother.
In 1915, when she was ten years old, her Danish-born mother tried to explain to her why the Turks were murdering the Armenians and told her that the Danes were trying to help them. She cried because it scared her. A year or two later, her one older brother (in a family of 11 girls and two boys) came back from the trenches of France after being gassed by the Germans ~~ he was never the same again.
Grandfather (the only emigrant from his Danish family) died of heart failure near the end of the depression after losing his homestead farm and land because he couldn’t pay the taxes: no rain/no crops/no money. My Granny, also the only emigrant from her Danish family, lived through the anxieties of silence, slow news and slow mail on the Montana prairie during the war, waiting for a once a month or so letter from her family: Was Denmark still safe? No, it wasn’t. Would Hitler’s armies come? Yes, they would. In April of 1940, the five year occupation of Denmark began, and they waited for scarcer news: were Grandmother and Grandfather’s families in Denmark safe? Have you heard anything? Are they still safe?
In the early 1940′s when my three oldest brothers were in their teens, the older sons of other farmers went off to fight in the Pacific and in Europe. Then Dad and Mom attended the funerals in the little country church for three of those farm boys who didn’t come home. My childhood church memories include a small dark blue banner hanging in the little church. It’s bordered with red fringe and displays one gold star for each of those three farmboy lives. Then my oldest brother served as a combat photographer during the Korean War from 1950-1953. So Mom feared for his life when I was 6. And 7. And 8.
The 1945 Yalta Conference had opened as Germany lay open before the advancing Allies: the Brits and the U. S. Army from the west. The Russians from the east. So the Big Three (Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill) met at Yalta, a resort on the coast of the Black Sea, in Soviet territory, to carve up the pie called Europe.
Franklin Roosevelt’s foolish confidence in Stalin, that “…if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything” ….failed the test of events almost immediately. By 1946, Churchill had famously described Stalin’s behavior after Yalta as “dropping an Iron Curtain across Europe”…. and so the Cold War began, Stalin’s murders continued and the exhaustion of Eastern Europe went on until 1991~~all a part of the catastophe called Yalta.
The results of the Yalta Conference were held in tight secrecy until, as reported in Time Magazine in the March 28, 1955 issue, “In a sudden, historic move the U. S. Department of State last week released the text of official documents relating to the ill-fated meeting of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in the Crimea. The documents were crammed with illuminating (and often appalling) details of the mood and manner in which the Big Three sliced up the world.”
Several days before that Time Magazine issue would have showed up in our rural mailbox, a summary of Yalta is now to be broadcast~~thus my parents are “listening to the news in the middle of the day” and now they hear it: Eastern Europe is legally… internationally…intentionally… officially… abandoned. Now they learn that during the very same hours in 1945 that Polish soldiers had been cheered as liberators in the streets of Italy’s Piedimonte, Ancona and Bologna…their homeland had been signed away to the Soviets. Now they know that the plight of East Germany is open-ended. Now they know that Stalin actually did get away with murder.
Their worst fears are confirmed…and my brother and I understand nothing. As the broadcast ends, the two of us are still standing there as Dad grimly goes down the stairs and silently returns to his farm chores. The screen door at the bottom of the stairs closes behind him and Mom snaps at us, “We’ve waited years to hear about Yalta and then you had to make noise!”
The harshness of her comment stuck with me. All I remembered from that day was “We’ve waited years to hear about Yalta….” As an adult I pieced together the historical events, but not until this past week did I go back and put it all in the context of her Mailboxes and Old Barns and now I see what happened: She was wondering….how many more lies? She was tired. She was angry. And she was afraid.
We aren’t the first generation to walk with a certain courage, but get worn out anyway; we aren’t the first generation to have bad memories of things gone wrong; we aren’t the first generation to be lied to by national leaders; we aren’t the first generation to be sickened by confirmation of things we already know; we aren’t the first generation to feel fear and anger because of these things; but by the grace of God, neither will we be the first generation to fail to fight for what is good and true and right.
59 Responses to Sunday Open Forum – Mailboxes and Old Barns
1. AFinch says: January 9, 2011 at 7:22 am Emma, I know you have been working on this piece for a while and that its publication today was planned more than a week ago. The message today, after the terrible events in Arizona yesterday and the shameful reporting of those events, is especially poignant. Again, thank you for sharing these memories and your wise perspective with us. Reply
◦ emmajeri1010 says: January 9, 2011 at 9:36 am Yeah, I thought about that last night…the way they “push events,” they want trouble, they lie…and it all keeps coming so fast and furious there’s never time to completely process and deal with one distortion or trauma before the next one hits. They keep everyone so busy just trying to stay on their feet, it’s hard to focus on the new “incoming.” And so, for today, we stand in place. It’s a fresh place to realize for a fact that our mere existence infurates them. Our refusal to stand down is opposition. And our increasing willingness to speak up is something they will not tolerate. All of this exposes who they are. Reply
▪ integrity1st says: January 9, 2011 at 11:10 am As Sundance would say FRILLIANT. Even the post in response to AFinch. You have such a way of expressing the obvious beyond anything I am capable of. What you wrote immediately above is EXACTLY what they do to me in the courts, EXACTLY. I could never explain it so well. Reply
◦ sundancecracker says: January 9, 2011 at 10:54 am Thank you Emma for allowing us into your home and sharing your memories. Indeed, there are quiet mornings like today when the wise and steady countenance of reflection is even more profoundly appropriate. Thank you for the peaceful frilliance of your wise reflection. Food for the soul. Great job. Reply
▪ Jennifer H says: January 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm Perfectly said Sundance, and it’s exactly how I feel after the sensless tragedy that occured yesterday. Reply
2. MRM says: January 9, 2011 at 8:51 am God bless you Emma. Thank you for sharing this here. Reply
3. PhillyCon says: January 9, 2011 at 9:03 am Emma: That was a great piece. I will go back and read it again. Just want to say to everyone about yesterday’s shooting was absolutely horrible and an act of evil. It’s so sad that these events are used to silence the opposition. But look at what we are dealing with, these people will do anything for power and their leaders basically advocate for such things. Please, don’t be alarmed. Keep on fighting for the truth. B/c if this is how they silence us and other political leaders, then we are truly living under tyranny. They want to take out Palin for a reason, she’s represents conservative America. As I have said all along, they are not after Palin, but what she represents. Please keep the faith. Thank you. Reply
◦ GracieD says: January 9, 2011 at 9:19 am Philly, you are correct about why the Oppressives want to take out Sarah. She knows that, and will likely fight harder rather than walk away. She has good Security, and should be OK. Reply
◦ PhillyCon says: January 9, 2011 at 9:24 am Gracie: As usual we think along the same wave length. You are right about Palin, but I wanted to give us “common” warriors a pep talk, and not back down from the truth. We need to stand together and back Palin from this viciousness. The Left’s goal is to “scare” or intimidate us into not backing her. We are at a crossroads here, and need to see this through for the sake of our kids, grandkids, and our country. If they can do this to Palin, they will do this to the next conservative/leader to come onto the scene. If they can do this to Palin, they will do it to any one of us. Reply
▪ AFinch says: January 9, 2011 at 9:33 am Well said Philly. Reply
4. GracieD says: January 9, 2011 at 9:16 am Emma, I knew about Yalta, because my grandparents were from Germany, and had relatives there. They disliked Roosevelt intensely for allowing the division of Germany. Contrary to popular opinion, German people are Conservative, Christian, and Patriotic. What the German Government does is another matter entirely. I was born in the 60s, but heard about Yalta from my earliest memories. When I was very young, I thought Yalta was a curse word. Reply
◦ emmajeri1010 says: January 9, 2011 at 9:39 am My parents’ parents all being Danish immigrants, they were close to all things German as well. Isn’t it interesting that “East Germany” flows easily off everyone’s tongue today as a historical entity~~most of us grew up studying “the country of East Germany”~~and there was no such thing before Yalta. Reply
▪ GracieD says: January 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm I agree, Emma. My grandparents NEVER referred to Germany as East or West Germany. It was always Germany. I can remember my grandfather referring to FDR as a g.d. Communist. It strikes me as strange that the very people who love Communism tend to be the wealthy, who would be little affected by actual communism, as they have theirs and do not care about anyone else. Reply
5. emmajeri1010 says: January 9, 2011 at 9:52 am At a fundraiser in Philadelphia (June, 2008) where he was flanked by PA governor Ed Rendell, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, and Sen. Bob Casey, Barack Obama said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” I’m sure that’s being quoted all around the innertubes and on the news by the MSM and I’ve just missed it. Right? Reply
◦ Pat P says: January 9, 2011 at 10:09 am Sure, Emma. Just as they are all talking about the ‘targets’ on Daily Kos, Right? I was watching Fox last night – with Geraldo – and was so angry, as Geraldo villified Palin, even though he acknowledged that this shooter had nothing to do with Palin. It was the ‘tone’ of her rhetoric, and that she would be negatively impacted by this act, even though she did nothing to cause it. The ‘rhetoric’ is too hot, he said. I know Geraldo is a fool, but I had to change the channel. Reply
◦ Pat P says: January 9, 2011 at 10:10 am You are so right, Emma. We cannot stand down. Our very existence is a reproach. Reply
◦ Patriot Dreamer says: January 9, 2011 at 10:42 am Obama: Also “hand to hand combat” or referring to political opponents as “enemies”. Not to mention the recent calls to violence from the Left in the forms of riots, etc. Reply
6. Auntie Lib says: January 9, 2011 at 10:03 am Wow. I had never had any kind of personalization of Yalta like this. It’s always been just an historical event in my head. I knew what happened as a result, but this piece shines an entirely different light on it. Thank you, Emma, for sharing this dynamic family story. Reply
7. emmajeri1010 says: January 9, 2011 at 10:27 am http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/11904.html This link will take you to a column regarding a speech about Yalta given by George W. Bush in May of 2005, and documents media response to that speech. Reply
8. maryohsocontrary says: January 9, 2011 at 10:41 am Good Sunday morning all… Prayers for the victims and their families from yesterday’s horror in Tuscon; and prayers for our Country. Upthread, Emma you mentioned former PA Governor Ed Rendell. I live in PA, and have never been a ‘fan’ of Fast Eddies…but I will say he handled a tragedy here in Pennsylvania exceedingly well…and did NOT (surprisingly) enter politics into the fray. When a lone, crazed gunman shot up an Amish schoolhouse (about five years ago) national alphabet media was all over the known anti-gun Rendell for that ‘money’ quote. He didn’t go there. Instead…and I have requoted this many times, he said bluntly ‘you cannot legislate against crazy.’ Period. Loughner is beyond unbalanced (his AZ community college classmates are coming forward with their experiences with him in class). This has to be brought forth repeatedly. NO RHETORIC made this unstable person do this…other than the rhetoric from the voices in his head. Reply
◦ emmajeri1010 says: January 9, 2011 at 10:57 am That’s a good report on Ed….upthread mention was only to put obama’s comment in context…I remember that Amish schoolhouse nightmare as well. Reply
9. maryohsocontrary says: January 9, 2011 at 10:47 am And one more addition to the Sunday thread. Again from, Free Republic has been a wealth of back ground, research information. Here is a link to a thread (repinged) last night. It dates back to March of 2010…back when Palin’s ‘Target List’ came out. Much discussion was placed (and Palin was vilified then as well) for the ALLEGED use of ‘crosshairs’ except…an astute FReeper published the symbols used by Palin were SURVEYOR’S MARKINGS (ie, ‘surveying’ the political landscape). Here is the info and comparison of the symbols: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2482716/posts The reason WHY the original ‘crosshairs’ controversy waned came down to the LACK OF USE OF ACTUAL CROSSHAIRS!!! Reply
◦ Ting says: January 9, 2011 at 11:11 am Yes, my husband is a builder, who does some surveying as a part of that job. At the time of the original controversy, he said those were surveyors’ marks, and standard on every map/plat with which he deals. I think he said something about it being an automatic symbol in computerized drawing programs for the industry, too. Reply
10. Bijou says: January 9, 2011 at 10:53 am Emma, I am always thrilled when I see your ‘Mailboxes and Old Barns’ headline, because they are such a treat to read and ‘digest’. The way you can remember the ‘details’ of these tableaux, combined with your skillful writing, produce the most wonderful visuals and we readers feel as if we were there with you. And thank you for doing your own research in ‘fleshing out’ the significance of the whole Yalta ‘deal’. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of how we got where we are. Reply
11. WeeWeed says: January 9, 2011 at 10:59 am Thank you, Emma, for another excellent-as-always piece and some further education! I had been “taught” the standard lesson on Yalta in school and had no idea of the actual cluster that is was until years later. I am curious about the family in Denmark – how did they end up faring? (the amateur genealogist in me, I guess! always nosy, no matter whose family! ) Reply
◦ emmajeri1010 says: January 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm I’ve never heard any details about exactly how things went down for them as individuals. By the time I understood enough to want to ask, the “old Danish aunts” were gone from the scene. I suspect there may still be some 3rd cousins or something in Denmark (and I do have contact points where I could find them) who might have “stories handed down.” Reply
12. JRD says: January 9, 2011 at 11:10 am Alger Hiss, a confirmed Soviet spy was right at Roosevelt’s side and along with confirmed Soviet spy Harry Dexter White were the architects for Yalta. Both of these communist cretins were educated at Harvard I might add. There were many, many communists who were loyal to Mother Russia in Roosevelt’s administration. Harry Truman instituted the cover up and the oppressives continue to cover it up to this day. Roosevelt didn’t refer to Stalin as “Uncle Joe” for no reason. Reply
13. integrity1st says: January 9, 2011 at 11:15 am ‘you cannot legislate against crazy.’ ‘you cannot legislate against crazy.’ ‘you cannot legislate against crazy.’ ‘you cannot legislate against crazy.’ ‘you cannot legislate against crazy.’ and yet the left politicizes it, and blames it on Palin. THAT’s CRAZY. Reply
14. PhillyCon says: January 9, 2011 at 11:24 am Guys, How true is this? Doesn’t this put the Left’s agenda into further prospective? http://www.foundingbloggers.com/wordpress/2011/01/once-again-tea-party-afforded-less-benefit-of-the-doubt-than-radical-islam/ Reply
◦ WeeWeed says: January 9, 2011 at 11:55 am VERY true, Philly! I ran up on that one a little while ago and American Thinker has a good one as well, though I’m loathe to post the link because of a mentioned website. I’ve been trying to find something on removing that idiotic Clarence Dupnik from office – ran up on an article by a Jon Justice (the comments were mostly the usual left-wingnut-rants just trying to overtalk anyone with any common sense) but haven’t hit up all the big dogs, yet. Reply
15. PhillyCon says: January 9, 2011 at 11:32 am Guys: Another good post. Also, in the Legal Insurrection post, remember some Dem operative said that Obama needs an OKC bombing? How sick are these people and yet the right wing is called out? They are the ones who use violent imagery, not us. Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have seen this type of reaction. The meme that opponents of Obama are crazy and dangerous has been an explicit Democratic Party campaign strategy for over two years. Here is just a partial list of events in which the left-wing and Democratic Party media operation has immediately blamed right-wing rhetoric, only to be proven wrong when the facts finally came out: Bill Sparkman, Amy Bishop, The Fort Hood Shooter, The IRS Plane Crasher, The Cabbie Stabbing, and The Pentagon Shooter. http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2011/01/two-sicknesses-on-display-in-arizona.html Reply
◦ Amsterdam Expat says: January 9, 2011 at 5:02 pm Sorry Philly, didn’t see that you had posted it already. Reply
16. Mrs Compton says: January 9, 2011 at 11:38 am As soon as I stop crying I’ll be back to hopefully add something to this insightful post. Thank you Emma. Bless you. Reply
◦ Bijou says: January 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm Hi, Mrs. C. Nice to see you! Reply
17. Bijou says: January 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm Here’s a little something from Steve Martin: Reply
◦ WeeWeed says: January 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm That was hilarious, Bijou! Reply
◦ NeeNee says: January 9, 2011 at 2:32 pm Good one, Bijou! Just forwarded it to my kids and select choir members . . . Reply
◦ violet says: January 10, 2011 at 12:09 am Love this!! Reply
◦ WaltzingMtilda says: January 10, 2011 at 12:15 am LOL…awesome Internet score! Thanks for sharing. Reply
18. sundancecracker says: January 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm Reply
19. Jennifer H says: January 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm Apparently the left’s degree of hate is so large and their sense of honor so non-existent that the death of a 8-year-old girl and a federal judge is just another club to hit republicans in general and Sarah Palin in particular. Listening to CSPAN this morning the template has already been made and it will be used against talk radio, the Tea Party etc. Facts be damned. What despicable people. http://datechguy.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/my-thoughts-on-yesterdays-shooting/ This is what has angered and sickened me beyond any words I have to express right now. Reply
◦ sundancecracker says: January 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm Reply
20. NeeNee says: January 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm Gee, how do you suppose Russia, China and the Muslims would carve up our world?? The Ruskies & Chi-Coms need to stop supplying Iran & other muslim countries with weapons & raw materials. Aligning with Nazis never really worked out for Japan & Italy, now, did it? Think Hiroshima and piano wire . . . . Reply
21. PhillyCon says: January 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm Remember when Eric Cantor had death threats against him? Did the media care or blame it on left-wing rhetoric? Reply
22. sundancecracker says: January 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm Who is Jared Loughner? Doug Ross has exceptional analysis. http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2011/01/who-is-jared-loughner.html Reply
23. Menagerie says: January 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm You’re gonna wish this one was for real. Reply
24. Felix says: January 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm Wow, Emma. I figured we had stuff in common but… wow. Danes, Vietnamese, Cubans… after a while, history sounds so similar. I am sorry. And, I do understand. I understand how something like that is not washed away even after decades of waiting. If it means anything, you DID make me cry and that never happens anymore… Or, hardly ever, anyway. Reply
◦ emmajeri1010 says: January 9, 2011 at 6:11 pm Thanks for your comment…and you do realize, I suppose, that now I have questions……did you have some participation in the abandonment of the Vietnamese and/or the Cubans? Clarification: was on the run earlier, and realize when I look at this that my question could be taken as some kind of accusation, which of course it is not. My reference is to our government’s abandonment of the Vietnamese at the end of the war and the Cubans at Bay of Pigs mess….. Reply
▪ Felix says: January 10, 2011 at 9:32 am Cuban. My grand-dad was an elected official under Batista and a political prisoner under Castro. My parents were able to get out in the early 60s. My grand-father was lucky enough to finally escape through a clerical error. But, a lot of family stayed behind. My mom and I still send them care packages since, for the most part, they don’t have a pot to piss in. I also have a grand-aunt who was also a political prisoner for 15 years. She, has never been the same. During a family gathering about 8 years ago she came face to face with one of her female guards [and a communist revolutionary] and I thought she was going to kill her on the spot. I did a lot of begging that day. I remember a lot from my early child-hood. Politically speaking, my grand-dad was the one that made sure I understood what communism was, where it comes from and how to detect it when you hear the rhetoric. From my little corner, yes. I always felt [as did my grand-dad] we were sold out. The Bay of Pigs may have turned out differently. [Grand-dad did NOT like JFK!] Reply
▪ Integrity1st says: January 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm Thanks for sharing Felix. That was quite illuminating. Hope others get back here to read it. Reply
25. TNWAHM says: January 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm Thank you Emma. You are among the many treasures here at Honeytrail. Another example of God’s Providence is the timing of your piece. Reply
◦ emmajeri1010 says: January 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm Thank you…it is interesting how things come together sometimes. Reply
26. Debra says: January 9, 2011 at 7:12 pm Emma, I want to echo everyone else’s comments – I’m so thankful that I get to read your writing, along with the other honey trail contributers. Reply
27. WaltzingMtilda says: January 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm Okay, A) all I wanted to do here tonight was post about my new shoes, but then Emma went and wrote this amazing post and now I am all mad and jealous of what a good writer she is. Evocative is the word I think I want. And 2) Did y’all here how Sarah Palin shot a Congresswoman? I am shocked. And ii) My new shoes: http://www.zappos.com/unlisted-file-complete-purple-satin Reply
◦ yomotley says: January 9, 2011 at 11:52 pm ‘Tilda – First, You may be jealous of Emma’s writing but I am jealous of your new shoes! They are to die for! Second, I love the shoes. I want them. And Third, what the outfit ya got picked out for them shoes? Reply
◦ AliRose says: January 9, 2011 at 11:56 pm I love shoes…That’s what I get from hubby instead of jewlery and flowers…sexy sandals! As much as I miss the snowy winters in MI, I love how living in FL means you can wear sandals just about year-round. Reply
▪ yomotley says: January 10, 2011 at 1:01 am Ail, is that a wordpress-issue gravatar or your very own original. Either way, I like it. Besides you must have been getting tired holding that kid for so long. Reply
▪ AliRose says: January 10, 2011 at 1:09 am Apparently, that is my WP-issued default gravatar for HoneyTrail. I tried to put up a new Gravatar, but it’s not showing up here for some reason. I guess it’s just delayed. Reply
◦ Integrity1st says: January 10, 2011 at 8:43 pm O.M.G. Not the shoes, the post. I want to hang out with you like – forever. Reply