Friday, July 01, 2011

Short, hot weekend at the boat ...

Pen and I went over to St. Petersburg on Saturday, after celebrating her and her twin sister Patricia's birthday on Friday night.  Drove part of the way through a driving summer thunderstorm ... this is the rainy season in Florida and you can almost count on afternoon storms ... but otherwise it was a nice scenic drive.  We didn't plan to go sailing, since the temperatures are in the 90s and the humidity makes it feel much hotter, but we did have some hurricane preparation to do: removing the headsails and taking them into a loft for new leach sunbrella, taking the dinghy Bertha off Alizee and putting her in dry storage for the duration of hurricane season, flushing the water maker (which must be done monthly), and making final arrangements with Jeff of Ohana Sailing Services to prep the exterior teak for varnishing in the fall and to wash, wax and polish Alizee.

Meantime, during the heat of the day, we did a lot of reading.  Pen has been scanning and transcribing her father's War two letters home (over 150 of them) and we've both been doing research on his experiences.  He served in the 60th Field Artillery, 9th Infantry Division from 1941 to mid-1945, landing with Patton in Morocco in 1942, then in Sicily in 1943 and in Normandy in 1944.  He was just a dog face, not winning awards but always there, steadfast through four years of war.  He rarely talked about it and when he did only talked about hi-jinks and his getting busted from corporal to private and getting the rank back more than once.  But we've found an amazing amount of material on the web and gotten in touch with another daughter of a fellow who served in his battery in the 60th and kept records which she's shared with Pen.

All this led us to read the first two volumes of Rick Atkinson's history of the European theater: Army at Dawn, the north Africa campaign (which won a Pulitzer Prize in history), and The Day of Battle, the Sicily and Italy campaigns.  His third volume, on France and northern Europe is not scheduled to be out until 2013.

Anyway, we spent the weekend on the boat reading the first two volumes and cooking some nice meals.  It was quite wonderful.

If you're a fan of really good writing and interested in War two, then you real should treat yourself to Atkinson's work.  You'll find a nuanced understanding of all the big names from Churchill and Roosevelt to Patton, Eisenhower, Clark, Rommel, et al., and you'll be stunned at what a cluster-fuck the whole thing was from start to finish.  For our parts, we're wondering anew why anyone ever wants to fight wars.  What a dreadful waste!!


Anonymous Ginger Kauppi said...

Another amazing WW2 book, although in the Pacific theater (where my dad fought): Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

5:17 AM  

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