Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The "One For The Money" Trailer On TV!!!

At long last, Lions Gate has starting running a version of the "ONE FOR THE MONEY" trailer on TV.
So far I have only caught it when watching late shows on Lifetime. (Cut me some slack - I like sappy Christmas movies).
After a year plus of keeping the movie "Top Secret" this is a milestone!
Now I need to find out who is running a sneak preview in Bryan or College Station.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

97 Years Ago Tonight - The Christmas Truce

I want to offer a special thanks to my friend, James "Hangman" Hale for requesting this story.

One of my favorite stories is the Christmas Truce of 1914. I believe it was at an evening Christmas Eve church service when I was a little boy that I first heard this wonderful story. The story told by the Reverend sounded like something from a TV show. I have since discovered that most of the strangest, and best, stories are true.

For the best part of fifty years I have collected versions of the Christmas Truce Story and learned another universal truth - when an event is attended by hundreds, maybe thousands of individuals details vary. Having said that, I don't think one can do better than the account of someone who was there.

I am indebted to Mr. Tom Morgan for providing not only an excellent article about the event, but also several first hand accounts.

Captain Sir Edward Hulse, Bart., 2nd Scots Guards

"At 8.30 a.m. I was looking out and saw four Germans leave their trenches and come towards us. I told two of my men to go and meet them, unarmed, as the Germans were unarmed, and to see that they did not pass the half-way line. We were 350 - 400 yards apart at this point. My fellows were not very keen, not knowing what was up, so I went out alone and met Barry, one of our ensigns, also coming out from another part of the line. By the time we got to them, they were
three-quarters of the way over, and much too near our barbed wire, so I moved them back. They were three private soldiers and a stretcher-bearer, and their spokesman started off by saying that he thought it only right to come over and wish us a Happy Christmas, and trusted us implicitly to keep the truce.

He came from Suffolk, where he had left his best girl and a three-and-a-half horsepower motor-bike. He told me that he could not get a letter to the girl, and wanted to send one through me. I made him write out a post card, in English, in front of me, and I sent it off that night. I told him that she probably would not be a bit keen to see him again.

We then entered on a long discussion on every sort of thing. I was dressed in an old stocking-cap and a man's overcoat, and they took me for a corporal, a thing which I did not discourage, as I had an eye to going as near their lines as possible. I asked them what orders they had from their officers as to coming over to us, and they said none; they had just come over out of goodwill.

I kept it up for half-an-hour and then escorted them back as far as their barbed wire, having a jolly good look round all the time, and picking up various little bits of information which I had not had an opportunity of doing under fire.

I left instructions with them that if any of them came out later they must not come over the half-way line, and appointed a ditch as the meeting-place. We parted after an exchange of Albany cigarettes and German cigars, and I went straight to HQ to report.

On my return at 10.00 a.m. I was surprised to hear a hell of a din going on, and not a single man in my trenches; they were completely denuded (against my orders) and nothing lived. I head strains of "Tipperary" floating down the breeze, swiftly follwed by a tremendous burst of "Deutschland Uber Alles," and, as I got to my own Company HQ dugout, I saw, to my amazement, not only a crowd of about 150 British and Germans, at the halfway house which I
had appointed opposite my lines, but six or seven such crowds, all the way down our lines, extending towards the 8th Division on our right.

I hustled out and asked if there were any German officers in my crowd, and the noise died down. (At this time I was myself in my own cap and badges of rank.) I found two, but had to speak to them through an interpreter, as they could talk neither English nor French. I explained to them that strict orders must be maintained as to meeting half-way, and everyone unarmed; and we both agreed not to fire until the other did, thereby creating a complete deadlock and armistice (if
strictly observed.)

Meanwhile, Scots and Huns were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner. Every sort of souvenir was exchanged, addresses given and received, photos of families shown etc. One of our fellow offered a German a cigarette; the German said, "Virginian?" Our fellow said, "Aye, straight-cut." The German said, "No thanks, I only smoke Turkish!" (Sort of 10 shillings a hundred man, me. It gave us all a good laugh.)

The Border Regiment was occupying this section on Christmas Day and Giles Loder, our Adjutant, went down there with a party that morning on hearing of the friendly demonstrations in front of my Company, to see if he could come to an agreement about our dead, who were still lying out between the trenches. The trenches are so close at this point, that of course each side had to be far stricter. Well, he found an extremely pleasant and superior stamp of German officer who arranged to bring all our dead to the half-way line. We took them over there, and buried 29
exactly half-way between the two lines. Giles collected all personal effects, pay-books and identity discs, but was stopped by the Germans when he told some men to bring in the rifles; all rifles lying on their side they had kept carefully.

They apparently treated our prisoners well, and did all they could for our wounded.
this officer kept on pointing to our dead and saying, "Les braves, c'est bien dommage." When George heard of it he went down to that section and talked to the nice officer and gave him a scarf. That same evening a German orderly came to the half-way line, and brought a pair of warm, wooly gloves as a present in return for George."

I would like to think of Captain Hulse sharing this story with his grandchildren years after the war, but I believe this was his last Christmas.

There are many British views of the Christmas Truce, but Mr. Morgan also perserved this account from a German participant.

Leutnant Johannes Niemann, 133rd Royal Saxon Regiment

"We came up to take over the trenches on the front between Frelinghien and Houplines, where our Regiment and the Scottish Seaforth Highlanders were face to face. It was a cold, starry night and the Scots were a hundred or so metres in front of us in their trenches where, as we discovered, like us they were up to their knees in mud. My Company Commander and I, savouring the unaccustomed calm, sat with our orderlies round a Christmas tree we had put up in our dugout.

Suddenly, for no apparent reason, our enemies began to fire on our lines. Our soldiers
had hung little Christmas trees covered with candles above the trenches and our enemies, seeing the lights, thought we were about to launch a surprise attack.

But, by midnight it was calm once more. Next morning the mist was slow to clear and suddenly my orderly threw himself into my dugout to say that both the German and Scottish soldiers had come out of their trenches and were fraternising along the front. I grabbed my binoculars and
looking cautiously over the parapet saw the incredible sight of our soldiers exchanging cigarettes, schnapps and chocolate with the enemy.

Later a Scottish soldier appeared with a football which seemed to come from nowhere and a few
minutes later a real football match got underway. The Scots marked their goal mouth with their strange caps and we did the same with ours. It was far from easy to play on the frozen ground, but we continued, keeping rigorously to the rules, despite the fact that it only lasted an hour and that we had no referee. A great many of the passes went wide, but all the amateur footballers, although they must have been very tired, played with huge enthusiasm.

Us Germans really roared when a gust of wind revealed that the Scots wore no drawers under their kilts - and hooted and whistled every time they caught an impudent glimpse of one posterior belonging to one of "yesterday's enemies."

But after an hour's play, when our Commanding Officer heard about it, he sent an order that we must put a stop to it. A little later we drifted back to our trenches and the fraternisation ended.
The game finished with a score of three goals to two in favour of Fritz against Tommy."

There are many other eye witness accounts in Mr. Morgans excellent article at the following link.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tips for Visiting Santa

For many of us Christmas isn’t complete without visit with Santa, and a picture with him with the kids.

I spent a number of years as Santa at a mall here in Texas and had a wonderful time, and I would like to share some of my experiences.

To start with there’s a good chance the little ones are going to be scared, and for good reason. From the time they can comprehend language we warn them about strangers and read them stories about Big Bad Wolves. The little’s known good and well they’ve never seen anyone like me before. They also figure anything with that much hair on its face just might be a wolf!

If they are nervous, one of the best things to do is just stand near Santa’s stage and let them watch for a bit.

The worse thing to do is force then. The result is a screaming, hysterical child. I would think no one would want a picture of a terrified, crying baby begging its parents to save it from Santa. You would be surprised how many of them I posed in.

Another problem is that crying is contagious. You can watch the ripple effect in Santa’s line as one child after another starts crying. Santa doesn’t get upset with a frightened child, but its coal and switches for those parents.

Everyone knows Santa is magic. He see’s all, knows all, and never forgets a face, and then there’s me. I believe the slowest day I ever had, I saw one thousand children. There are those who stand out, but for the most part it a blur.

Most of the time Santa listens to a kid’s wish list, gives them a candy cane, and sends them on their way. Other times it’s a fact finding mission, and that’s fine, but tell us first. A father once asked me after his daughter left the stage what she wanted for Christmas. The only thing I could remember what that she liked horses.

Santa has posed with his share of high school foot players and cheer leaders. Personally, I never objected to teenagers visiting with me, provided they kept things respectful and didn’t spoil the fun for the little’s.

Last, please understand sometimes, visiting Santa takes a little longer. There was the little boy who wanted his father to come home from prison. There was the little girl who wanted her late grandmother back. Both of these were young enough to think I could actually help. You don’t shove a candy cane in their hand and kick them off the stage after that. Santa also needed a moment, folks shouldn’t see him cry either.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

...And The World As We Knew It Came To An End.

As I look at the clock it occurs to me it was almost exactly seventy years ago that the Japanese Fleet launched the first wave of warplanes to attack Pearl Harbor. The largest air armada to ever hit American soil climbed into the dark pre-dawn sky and made their way to a small cluster of islands more than two hundred miles away.

In fairness, the Japanese had not intended the attack to be a complete surprise. The plan had been to declare war when it was too late to do anything about it. It was problems at the Japanese embassy in Washington D.C. that delayed the formal presentation.

The War was old news to Europe and China. Our government was giving as much aid to England as possible, and China under the table. With that attack the United States was not just in sprite, but in fact in World War Two.

The Generals and Polications made no grand claims, like "The War To End All Wars". The world knew better by then.

Still, there was a profound change that came over people all over the world. The generation that survived it knew "The World as we knew it came to an end." If you were five years old or seventy five, your live was split into two parts - before and after World War Two.

You might find my eariler post on this subject interesting.