Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reunion Planning Post #5

Thank you for the great response to our request for "Registration" for our May, 2010, Reunion. We've acknowledged responses from 90 of you......84 Yes......6 No. And you've told us to expect 140 people at the Friday "Hangar Social," and 146 at the Saturday Banquet. That's an awesome start!!

We don't plan to publish an "expected attendee's" list, but some of you are interested in who's planning to attend. If you have individual names of your colleagues that you'd like to know about, let me know, and I can tell you if we've heard from them.

Below is a letter to all of you from our Planning Committee Chair, Sandy Sandstrom. It's all about "group rate" accommodations at Dover Downs where we'll have the Banquet. If you want to stay there, you need to confirm reservations ASAP, as they're asking for room guarantees. Let me know if you have questions about accommodations. Separately, I'll also be publishing a list of other local accommodations, but we're not arranging other "group rates." Can't do them all.

Letter from Sandy Sandstrom, Planning Committee Chair:

Here is what we have come up with so far in regards to accommodations.

The hotel rates for Dover Downs are as follows:

Friday $159.00

Sat. $169.00

Sun. $ 125.00

For those that would prefer to stay at Dover Downs, they should call (800) 711-5882 and make their own reservations. Be sure to inform the reservationist that this is for the C-133 event. As an aside, we have 20 rooms already blocked off and we could have more if the crew wants them...but individuals need to make their own guarantee. For those that do stay at Dover Downs, they never have to leave the building. There is a plethora of activities to do, to include several restaurants and of course, the gambling (scan their website below).

Click on the red link for the Dover Downs website, and the guys could use e-mail to reserve the rooms.

That about covers it. I know you will have questions, so we're standing by to try and get those answered.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

C-133 Engines

A Boeing B-17 used as the testbed for the Pratt & Whitney T-34 tuboprop engine. In 1945 the U.S. Navy funded the development of a turboprop engine. The T-34 was produced from 1951 to 1960, but never used in a U.S. Navy aircraft. The best known "user" was the Douglas C-133 Cargomaster. Date: 1950 Source: U.S. Navy Naval Aviation News October 1950

Thanks to Andy Fleming for pointing out this interesting post in Wikipedia.

Then Cal Taylor replied that he "used that photo as the header shot in Chapter 6, Engines and Propellers" of his book
Remembering an Unsung Giant . And he adds, "That airplane was later restored to a WWII B-17G configuration by an outfit in Florida. Sorry, can't recall their name."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November Book of the Month

Suite Française

by Irene Nemirovsky

The Random House Group

In the June 2009 review of The Shameful Peace I raised the question about fiction as truth and its relationship to the telling of history. It turns out that much good history is written within the context of a fictional story. Generally, the story is more interesting for a non-historian; and, the truth is told if the facts are held. The October 2007 review of Life and Fate is a sterling example and I declared it as one of the best novels I had ever read.

However, Debra in a comment about the June review challenged that assumption in a clever way by saying that Suite Française was one the best ever fictional histories that she has read. I could not resist the challenge so I have read it and I am in total agreement about its all-consuming story. Knowing her for some years I never doubted that would be the case. Interestingly, both novels are set in about the same time frame, WWII, and are about the life of the ordinary citizen in France and Russia coping with the War and their vile governments. The authors lived the life they wrote about.

Suite Française is the story of the initial 1940 German occupation of France largely from the viewpoint of the women and families left behind, as most of the men were prisoners or in the Army. Despite Nemirovsky’s Jewish roots, her novel focuses on the fates of the French non-Jews during the War. I was barely into the first story about the evacuation of Paris when I knew I was reading something special. The descriptive prose was Russian in its nature, as the Great Russian novels were Nemirovsky models for a planned 1000 page book encompassing five novels. Note the sarcastic play on Hitler’s 1000 year Reich. Click here for an introspective review of The Third Reich.

Every element of a civilization under stress comes alive under Nemirovsky’s hand. “Christian charity, the compassion of centuries of civilization, fell…. She needed to feed and protect her own children. Nothing else mattered anymore” is an example of the thin line that separates egoism and altruism in society as it is collapsing. The clash becomes palpable as the people become more desperate.

Altruism becomes what it is, a philosophy of misery, suffering, poverty, and the hatred of man for man as civilization is founded on the philosophy of egoism and individual rights. Civilized society endures the false promises of altruism when it can afford them, under wartime stress it cannot, families cannot, and a country cannot. Click here for a full discussion of George Reisman's "Real Right to Medical Care"

The story about the long delayed publication of Suite Française and the author is a story within itself. In 1918 Nemirovsky was a fifteen year old Russian émigré Jew to France turned Catholic; a prolific writer during the lead up to hostilities, married with two children, and subsequently sent to Auschwitz where she died in 1942. Her husband was gassed the same year. Her two young daughters were hidden and survived the War. Since the age of twelve and then for over sixty years, one daughter had the care of her mother’s leather bound notebook with the impression that it was a diary. To her amazement, when finally read, it turned out to be an unfinished novel in meticulous handwriting that, when published, became an immediate world wide best seller.

In reading Suite Française I would suggest that you begin with the appendices, which are from the handwritten notes on the situation in France and her plans for the novel, taken from her notebooks. They begin, “My God, what is this country doing to me? …let us watch as it loses its honour and its life.” Therein, the author bares her personal thoughts during the occupation as she confronts the hypocrisy, the compromises, and the hope.

The translator notes that Nemirovsky was writing from the depths of the French countryside, with a sense of urgent foreboding, nothing but her memory as a source, her immediate family suffering from financial ruin, and with an unknown but suspected dread for the worse. From that comes this most wondrous novel where Nemirovsky turns her truths into fiction to better tell the story of this brutish time in world history. Suite Française is now a well-deserved masterpiece of French literature

Unfortunately, she was able to complete only the first two novels of her planned series of five before her death, but they show the depth of her skill that was lost to mankind as she created, “…one of those rare books that demand to be read.” Suite Française is a most devastating indictment of French morals.

I was somewhat confused about the title so I asked my Nephew who lives in France and speaks like a native Parisian the meaning of it. His response is, “’Suite’ in the French sense means the ‘follow up’ or “what comes after’.” That was Nemirovsky’s fear as she saw the country coldly rejecting her and she would have to harden her heart and wait as would all others.

The novel is at a time and place, the beginning of WWII, when most C-133 crewmembers were young men with some already serving. Again, Debra was correct, it is transfixing and a must read. Enjoy!

Richard Spencer

39th ATS, KDOV


P.S. Go here for complete worldwide reviews in several languages: Suite Française Reviews

P.P.S. Most of the books I review for this site are mainly of interest to C-133 crew members and their experiences. However, the wives of our crew members will enjoy this novel, maybe more so, as it focuses upon the plight of the women and children who are left to cope with the ravages of a war that enters their immediate life. Let me know your thoughts.

Rick Spencer