The Grand Scheme Of Rattler, Bat, and Salamander

Rattler spoke to Bat and Salamander: "Lure one
To this part of the cave, Bat, with your sleek brown fur;
You lure it too, Salamander, with your skin
Shiny yellow and black, then I'll bite and drop it
And we'll divide among us what it carries."

So past the twilight zone they stationed themselves,
Bat and Salamander, where a carbide lamp's dim light
From an oncoming caver would illuminate fur and skin
So the prospective victim of their ambitious plan
Would walk closer and Rattler would lunge and sink
His fangs into the caver's exposed ankle as it
Bent down to check on two cave dwellers
Who would normally flee from its presence
Fast as bats can fly and salamanders can amble.

Soon Bat could hear, and Salamander and Rattler
Feel, a caver squat down before the cave entrance,
Crawl on hands and knees through it, then stand up
To continue her journey to where she and two others
Had stopped their survey the month before.

Her light suddenly revealed Bat and Salamander
Who fighting every instinct they had looked up,
Still, silent, forcing themselves to seem friendly,
Happy and carefree, and worst of all...cute.
Both of them choked down bile from their bellies.
The caver bent down on one knee to look at them
Even though they'd begun to shiver in fear.

Then Rattler flung himself out from the darkness
He'd hidden within and sank both fangs deep
Into the caver's ankle who screamed and jumped,
Pulled back and away, and cussed the entire second
She took to turn and scramble out the entrance
Knocking aside two cavers behind her. But so
Frenziedly she fled she dropped what she'd carried
In an outstretched hand to attach to her helmet --
A carbide lamp, its first flame of the day already lit.
She left as well her cavepack that Bat and Salamander
Climbed into and rummaged through, each emerging
With a mighty trophy: pulling backwards, Salamander
Dragged forcefully a cloth survey tape in its mouth
While Bat clutched a survey book and pencil.

But Rattler took nothing from the caver's pack
But bags of carbide rocks, for what he wanted
Was the carbide lamp he'd wrapped his tail around.
Then he joined his co-conspirators as into the cave
Each dragged the spoils of their ambush home.

In time they each became the leaders of their kind
In that cave that sprawled beneath gypsum ridges
And held court among their citizens once a year
On the anniversary of their great deed to tell their story
To the young who became frightened, the middle-aged
Whose males acted tough as if they too had faced
A human foe, and the aged who nodded their heads
In wise approval.

                          The caver's spoils they'd taken
From her cavepack they put to good use.
Salamander carried the tape to the higher level of the cave
Then unrolled it to reach the floor below
So salamanders could climb up and down it with ease
From one passage to the other. Rattler lights his lamp
In coldest winter so he and his kind will be warm enough
That they don't hibernate or need to but instead
Eat the mice they'd hunted that fall and stored for later.

And Bat, clumsily holding pencil in wings and paws,
Recorded in drawings the story of The Grand Scheme
As the epic tale of those three heroes of the cave
That all bats, salamanders, and rattlers of the future
Will measure their deeds of braveness against.

(c) Steve Beleu, 2015
Steve Beleu_2015 Bernadine Abbott Hoduski award from ALA in Cali_June2015--250pix

Steve Beleu awarded Bernadine Abbott Hoduski Founders Award

A few years ago, I wrote here about Oklahoma City’s Regional Federal Depository Library and its Regional Depository Librarian, Steve Beleu. Located on the second floor of Oklahoma Department of Libraries, FDL-OKC had received the award for the 2009 Federal Depository Library of the Year.

Bob Tapella, Cliff Broadworth, Steve Beleu, Ric Davis

Bob Tapella, Cliff Broadworth, Steve Beleu, Ric Davis

Steve has, once again, received national notoriety. On June 29, the American Library Association’s Government Documents Roundtable (ALA-GODORT) presented Steve with the 2015 Bernadine Abbott Hoduski Founders Award in recognition of his contribution to documents librarianship.

Steve Beleu Photo courtesy of Bill Young, ODL.

Steve Beleu
Photo courtesy of Bill Young, ODL.

After presentation of the award at ALA’s conference, Steve made the following remarks:

“Thank you for this award. But most of all let me thank the 3000-plus people who’ve attended my 313 workshops. Their desire and/or need to learn the federal government websites that I’ve taught is why I’m here. 

My workshops have focused on training people who – 

… work in industry sectors 

… economists and others who work in economic development 

… those who work in governments, state and local, and the governments of our Indian Nations 

… those who work in non-profit academic libraries 

My goal for these workshops has been to increase my attendees’ knowledge and understanding , and to help them maximize their profits.”

Below is ALA-GODORT’s announcement of the Bernadine Abbott Hoduski Founders Award:

“Steve Beleu is the 2015 winner of the Bernadine Abbott Hoduski Founders Award. This award recognizes documents librarians who may not be known at the national level but who have made significant contributions to the field of state, international, local or Federal documents. Steve has been selected for this award in recognition of his outreach and advocacy for government information at all levels. His letters supporting his nomination highlighted his service and mentorship, as a regional depository coordinator, to librarians in Oklahoma, in the region, and nationally as a member of the Depository Library Council. Working collaboratively with his fellow regional at Oklahoma State University, Steve has been effective in keeping staff at selective depositories informed on current developments through meetings and workshops. He organized a ‘Metrodocs’ group for depositories in the Oklahoma City area; he is a frequent speaker at Oklahoma Library Association conferences; and he writes a column for the Oklahoma Librarian; and his work building close relationships with and advocating for Tribal and Tribal College Libraries in Oklahoma. His colleagues lauded his education and outreach efforts. Steve has taught classes all over Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas. Also noteworthy is Steve’s vigilance in keeping abreast of data issues related to the Census Bureau and other agencies and keeping the national documents community informed as well. His letters praise his talent for mentoring and supporting both novice and seasoned selectives, helping many survive budget cuts. As one letter writer commented, ‘Steve has helped me to advance my career. He has shown me service needs that I would have otherwise overlooked. He has provided partnership opportunities. He has been one of my most esteemed mentors and I consider Steve a friend. He has done much to spread the word and love of government information and is most deserving of this award.’ ”

L - Steve Beleu, Regional Depository Librarian R - Mike Cameron, Administrative Assistant

L – Steve Beleu, Regional Depository Librarian
R – Mike Cameron, Administrative Assistant

My highest regard for Steve Beleu, Mike Cameron, and their award-winning Federal Depository Library is unabated, as I continue my research of primary documents. If you live in this metropolitan area, or are traveling to central Oklahoma for your own research, please visit FDL-OKC and the other valuable research facilities at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

“Ti yi yippee, ti yi yea“

REVIEW:   The Road to Medicine Lodge: Jesse Chisholm in the Indian Nations

Most of us from the babyboom and earlier generations have grown up singing along with Tex Ritter and Gene Autry, western songs like “The Old Chisholm Trail.”  Cattle trails served as beef transportation until rail service expanded country-wide. Award winning author Robby McMurtry’s graphically illustrated novel, The Road to Medicine Lodge: Jesse Chisholm in the Indian Nations, paid homage to a man after whom one of those trails was named.

With his illustrations and uniquely styled text, McMurtry told about events which occurred in the lives of Jesse Chisholm and his compatriots during the first six decades of the 19th century. Some of those compatriots included Comanche Chief Ten Bears, Cherokee silversmith and educator Sequoyah, and Texas politician Sam Houston.

The Chisholm family left their Tennessee lands in the Smoky Mountains, joining thousands of other indigenous people forced by land-lusting intruders to cross over the “Big Muddy,” into the West. By his early thirties, Jesse was married and had founded his first of several trading posts in Indian Territory. Traveling, trading, and a mixed heritage ancestry provided him with knowledge of other tribes’ languages and needs; that enabled him to serve as liaison and translator for whites and The Nations in Indian Territory, Texas, and Kansas.

The Trail to Medicine Lodge also tells of difficulties between various tribes, a fact which McMurtry was not reluctant to address. It was no different than what has continually existed in most countries since the beginning of recorded history. McMurtry shared an observation made by the Greek philosopher, Plato: “Only the dead have seen the end of the war.”

Five years after Chisholm’s passing, Columbus Delano (Secretary of the Department of the Interior) wrote in his 1873 annual report to President Grant that he would not regret the buffalo’s total disappearance. Thankfully, buffalo stayed in view with Robby’s wonderful drawings.  In his graphically illustrated novels, McMurphy captured these majestic thundering animals, along with another of God’s prized creations — the horse.  In The Road to Medicine Lodge, readers will be captivated by the flowing manes of celestial white horses from another dimension, and the fierce paws of snorting horses striking terror with their proud daringness against enemies.

The recorded nations who settled this continent merit non-revisionist historical regard. I am grateful that Robby McMurtry stood as a key member of such a corps of writers and artists.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Robby McMurtry at Medicine Lodge, Kansas

Bobby’s spirit now resides in Heaven with our Lord.

REVIEW:   Song of Moon Pony

From the hands and imagination of award-winning novelist and graphic illustrator, Robby McMurtry, comes beauty. There really is no other way to describe his creative legend, Song of Moon Pony.

It is a truth that when one re-reads a book, even the bible, new feelings are invoked, new understandings. Such was my experience while re-reading McMurtry’s adorable story of two young people discovering beauty.

Song of Moon Pony took place centuries ago, when ponies were scarce, but buffalo ranged the prairies in “numbers beyond counting.”  It was a time when “… the white man and the black man were only stories told and hardly believed.”

We are reminded by the two stars of this lovely story that blindness is not an impediment to feeling the beauty of God’s creations; and one’s external features do not define inner spirit and integrity. What a treasure this graphically illustrated novel is for young and old, alike.

Your home library and generations of your family will be enhanced with Song of Moon Pony.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Robby McMurtry

Robby’s spirit now resides in Heaven.


The Queen’s Endgame

Review of Aldric & Anneliese

Before reading Chapter One, I knew this novel would be an understandable and enlightening read.  The succinctly-written Prologue provides all the details necessary to be up-to-speed with the story’s opening passages.  

The Western Roman Empire had collapsed about one hundred years earlier, but the Eastern Roman Empire (aka Byzantine Empire) was still up and running (as were the barbarians).

Aldric & Anneliese is told with words and expressions familiar to us today, which I found appealing and helpful in understanding the events in this 6th century story of Slavic society and history. There are numerous bends and turns — just when you have everything figured out, the next page brings an unexpected turn leading to deceit, intrigue, or murder.

The setting is described as“… a fragmented territory … populated by a variety of [six] tribal groups … compressed between the Christian nations to their west and the barbarian  hordes to their east.”  The tribal groups/regions were autonomous, each with a Chieftan. All six of the regions were suffering from invasions by the western Christian nations and barbarians coming across the eastern border.

The story begins with leaders from the central region — Reinhardt and his son, Edmund — using their military forces to form a united kingdom, with Edmund as King. But, as the book’s title reflects, other individuals eventually take center stage.

Dr. Gilleland’s descriptions of the aftermath of battles are  a stunning contrast against today’s clinical, practically sterile environments where soldiers punch “fire” buttons to eject bombs from jets, submarines, and below-ground missile silos.  During one particular battle, he tells of “Arms, legs, and even heads … [being] … lopped off in a gush of blood. Screams from men and horses rent the air. Medieval battle was chaos; it was men dying violently at close hand.”

As the story began, I was anxious to meet 21-year-old Edmund, returning home after eight years of travel and study throughout the western Christian nations. Accompanied by his bodyguard and life-long friend, Aldric, Edmund was given the finishing touches of training by his father, Reinhardt, in preparation to assume the throne as King over all six regions of the country.

With Aldric at his side, Edmund conducted campaigns to bring in line four of the regions. Conquest of the fifth (southeastern) region was to take place without swords, via an arranged marriage between Edmund and Ursula, daughter of that region’s Chieftan. When last seen, Edmund remembered her as being a “barbarian bride” who was a “… fat girl with matted, red hair and unpleasant manner.”

East Europe 500-600 AD

A planned marriage was not the only thing Edmund resented having pushed on him by his father.  He complained to Aldric, “I have no true desire to be king of all the tribes.” Edmund would have preferred to live among western society, enjoying a “simple life devoted to the arts” and Christian religion. With arrival of the much-changed Ursula and her protective brother, Deitmar, intrigue and suspense thickened.  These adult siblings were not in the least excited with the proposition of merging their beloved southeastern region with the rest of the kingdom. Their plans for the future, following Ursula’s marriage to King Edmund, were considerably different from those made years earlier by their now-deceased father and Edmund’s father, Reinhardt.

After Ursula and Deitmar orchestrate Edmund’s final battle and last breath of life, Aldric escapes from the battlefield, into the hands of kindly friends who tend to his wounds while the Queen and her brother assume control of the kingdom.  Once again on his feet, Aldric travels through the kingdom which has been thrown into upheaval.   

While searching for emotional healing from the loss of his friend Edmund and takeover of the kingdom by Queen Ursula and Deitmar, Aldric meets Anneliese, the first to bring him peace and love.  Anneliese advises him to lay aside his grief and “… resume living in this world as a champion for good.” 

Eventually, much-needed support arrives from France and from still-loyal citizens of the kingdom.  After Aldric and his rejuvenated forces vanquish Deitmar and his cohorts in battle, Aldric is designated as king by the council of lords.

Turning from the tragedy of losing yet another beloved friend, Aldric heads for the fortress and his awaiting throne.  Meanwhile, Ursula, imprisoned in the fortress stockade, contemplates his arrival and the next stage of treachery she has  planned for the new king.

Who will be champion of this chess game of life?  That is an answer that will be waiting in the final paragraphs of this Novel.  And the events leading up to that point make this a most satisfying  “page turner”.

More information about Dr. Harry E. Gilleland, Jr., and his work can be found at:

“Harry Gilleland Writes”

From Hawaii: Author Michael W. Hinkle

Michael W. Hinkle, award-winning author
Mike Hinkle

While in Hawaii earlier this year, Mike Hinkle, award-winning author of The Butane Gospel, along with his lovely wife Mary, observed the locals’ annual celebration of the Feast/Festival of the Ass.  The history of this oddly-named Feast/Festival dates all the way back to the era of Patriarch Theophylact of Constantinople (933 to 956). 

Mike, who writes for The Edmond Sun (OK), has graciously agreed to share his report from Hawaii on this unique festival.  To read other articles by Mike (“Hink”), click here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Hawaii, Jan 17, 2011 ……Mary and I were in Hawaii this week celebrating the Festival of the Ass which we usually combine with my birthday observances.  It’s a convenient pairing as the Festival of the Ass is traditionally observed on January 14 and my birthday is January 17.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re wondering exactly how one crafts a joint celebration of the Festival of the Ass and Hink’s birthday.  Well, I’ll tell you.

We have to start with a little history lesson.  Hundreds of years ago, there were a number of holidays all collected around the Christmas season.  One of them was a sort of theatrical deal where men dressed up like old testament prophets and recited how they foretold the birth of the Christ Child.  One of the real crowd pleasers in the show was Balaam.

According to the script, the actor playing Balaam came out on stage riding a wooden hobby ass that was all fitted out with gorgeous ass trappings.  Balaam wore spurs and, at one point in the production, the cues say, ‘let him goad the ass with his spurs.’  As it turns out, there was another actor ‘in asina’ which means ‘in the ass’ and this hidden actor was supposed to ‘protest at length against the cruelty of the rider.’  All great fun.

As years went by, people lost interest in the prophet show, but they were really attached to the ass, so another show evolved where the ass had the leading role and everybody in the congregation had lines.  Here’s how it went.

Prior to the actual festival, the event organizers selected the prettiest girl in town to play Mary.  Then, they’d pick the cutest baby (or toddler) to be baby Jesus.  Last but not least, they’d choose the most appealing jack ass in town to be the star of the show.

On the day of the performance, the ass would be adorned with the most beautiful ass decorations in the town’s possession.  The girl and baby would be seated on the ass and they would be led through the town to reenact the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt.

Everybody in town followed the ass as it was led to the church, where it had a place of honor to the right of the altar.  The priest said a special ‘Festival of the Ass’ mass.  If you translate part of this special mass into English, it goes like this: ‘From the eastern lands the ass is come, beautiful and very brave and well fitted to bear burdens.  Up! Sir Ass, and sing.  Open your pretty mouth.  Hay will be yours in plenty, and oats in abundance.’  Then, according to the script, ‘In response, the people will bray thrice saying ”’hinham, hinham, hinham”’ ‘ which, I guess, is French or Latin for ‘heehaw.’

Over time, people lost interest in following the ass around and braying thrice.  Except in a few isolated pockets in France, England and Washington, D.C., the Festival of the Ass has pretty much disappeared.  But Mary and some of my close friends happen to like asses and so they thought it would be nice to rediscover this special day and connect it with my birthday.

So, how do we celebrate the Festival of the Ass?  Well, I usually get some really nice clothes, symbolic of the gorgeous trappings that used to decorate the ass.  Then, over lunch, I get to pontificate over the frustrations of the previous year and my anxieties about the year to come.  This is reminiscent of the protests of the actor ‘in asina’ who bellyaches about the guy putting spurs in him.

Later, Mary, my beautiful wife, takes me out to dinner.  I usually drive.  This is the modern take on the beautiful girl riding the ass through town.  At some point in the dinner, the guests say something like ‘From Woodward, Oklahoma, ole Hink has come, ponderous and very loud, well fitted to move up a size in his trousers.  Up! Hink and speak.  Open your bearded mouth.  Pizza will be yours in plenty and barbecue in abundance.’  That’s my cue to get up and bray like the congregation of old.  I know it’s a sad substitute for the venerable Festival of the Ass, but, under the circumstances, it’ll have to do.

So, aloha from Hawaii and I would consider it an honor if, when you hear the Festival of the Ass mentioned, think of me.  I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.”



Best Medicine: Laughter

The Home Instead Senior Care organization was founded in 1994 by Paul and Lori Hogan in Omaha, Nebraska.  The organization has now grown into an international entity with other 900 franchises in the United States, Canada, Japan, Portugal, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Finland and Austria.

A friend of the Hogans, Ms. Mary Maxwell, was a guest speaker during the organization’s 2009 annual convention.  With a mixture of seriousness and deadpan comedy, Mary provided one of the most inspiring and delightful invocations I’ve ever heard.  And now you can share in that joy, too!

A Patriotic Era

World War II.   1939 to 1945.   A patriotic era, for sure.

The government implemented a program to encourage Americans’ sense of patriotism and loyalty, and to generate enthusiasm among the Republic’s workforce.  There was no shortage of huge billboards along the highways and thoroughfares; information concerning the war received mass distribution via radio, movies, and documentary films shown in movie theatres.

But government planners envisioned an additional method for drawing closer to workers, employers, and the public at large — individual, single sheet posters.  They were considerably less expensive than billboards, and could easily be distributed to and placed in schools, factories, offices, store windows, etc.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

During 1941, a nationwide contest was sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art, the Army air Corps, and the U. S. Department of the Treasury.  John C. Atherton, a commercial artist, won first prize in the Defense Bond category.

Prior to Germany’s September 1939 invasion of Poland, artists working for the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) created a new simplified method for producing and reproducing posters — called silk-screen techniques.  Supported by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat), the W.P.A. published a handbook in 1943 advising the public that making posters was a “democratic activity.”

During the decade leading up to Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland, Americans were consternated enough without anything else going on.  Not surprisingly, that did not stop labor unions from continuously instigating uprisings and strikes on the home front.  Meanwhile, soldiers were preparing for their sure-to-come marching orders, and having to deal with a lot of angst caused by thoughts of leaving their families behind, perhaps forever.

Government and business leaders urged unions to “put a lid on it”, at least for the war’s duration.  The war resulted in  major industrial changes – from production of consumer goods to war materiel, necessitating much-needed cooperation between, and sacrifices by, workers and managers.  Increased productivity was imperative in order for the United States to adequately support its military; patriotism was the key element of success.

Some industries encouraged organization of committees composed of labor and management representatives, working together to produce and distribute posters and promote the sale of war bonds.  Many began referring to themselves as Uncle Sam’s “production soldiers.”

The presence of women in industry grew out of necessity; they needed to replace the dwindling working corps of men.  As the female work force grew, seemingly overnight, so did the variety of posters picturing the faces of women working on planes and tanks.  A picture taken by United Press in 1942, made its way into a well-recognized poster published by Westinghouse’s “War Production Coordinating Committee.”  Even back then, image-finishing techniques similar to air brushing were used – note the muscles added in the following poster.

And they certainly did “DO IT”!  Just look at this World War II Boeing B-17 that made it back to base following a battle that practically tore it in half!

In June of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI).  Among the duties assigned to OWI, was the oversight by government officials of all posters and their content and imagery.

These two posters made it through OWI’s approval process, in spite of the spiritual overtones of their content.  Given the accredited benefactor in the following poster, I wonder if the declaration of peace would be on today’s front page?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Post Scripts

Geraldine Hoff Doyle

 One of at least three young women who portrayed, or were the inspiration for, the series of “Rosie the Riveter” posters, passed away just a few days ago.  Her name was Geraldine Hoff Doyle.  At age 17, she was working in a Michigan steelworks factory when a United Press reporter walked through and snapped her picture.  More information is available from James Lilek’s article – here.

Rose Will Monroe

Another young woman on whom the “Rosie the Riveter” posters were based was Rose Will Monroe.  Rose was discovered by the famous actor Walter Pidgeon who, during a bond drive, toured the aircraft factory where she was working.  Rose, who passed away in 1997, was the subject of a nice article in the Ypsilanti Gleanings magazine; see Michelle Kirwan-Woods’ article – here.


A movement was generated by “Rosie the Riveter” posters.  Remaining strong and growing over many years, the movement developed into a Rosie the Riveter Trust, then a Memorial, and approval by Congress of the “Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park.”  The National Park is being constructed where the former Kaiser Shipyards were located along with other wartime industrial and community sites in Richmond,  California.  The law authorizing the new national park was signed by President Bill Clinton on 25 October 2000.  The park and the Memorial honor over “… six million women who labored on the Home Front who are symbolized by Rosie the Riveter…”  This is a tremendous project; please visit the extensive online site – here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Blessings for the new year of 2011….


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


“Produce for Victory”, Smithsonian Institution Online Exhibit.

Dr. William R. Van Osdol, World War II Collection.

“Rosie the riveter Will Always Be Distinctly American: Geraldine Hoff Doyle …”, by James Lilek, RightNetwork.

Rosie the Riveter Trust -and- National Park online site.

“Our Gal Rosie: Rose Will Monroe”, Ypsilanti Gleanings.

Zack and Karlana: A love story

Book ReviewFrom Whence They Fell: A Paradox of Love and War

 This novel, the first in a two-part series, was written by a really great American – William R. Van Osdol, Ph.D.   He has at least four careers under his belt — psychologist, professor emeritus at the University of Central Oklahoma, U.S. Navy veteran, and a prolific author.  I encourage you to visit Dr. Van Osdol’s website, starting with his bio page; you’ll become very aware that the number “four” is an understatement.

From Whence They Fell is a snapshot in time – 19 September 1943 through 9 June 1956, encapsulating the lives of Zack Derream (a lawyer and American officer in the OSS, Office of Strategic Service) and Karlana Leyte (a Dutch member of the resistance and underground in France and Holland). Van Osdol ably scrutinizes the impact of war and domestic trauma on Zack and Karlana, their families, friends and acquaintances.  For readers who prefer non-fiction and historical fiction, From Whence They Fell will be a very satisfying read.

Historical events and locations fill the pages of this novel.  It was interesting to read descriptions of maritime areas as Zack’s AD Destroyer Attender made its way up North America’s northeastern coast to Nova Scotia, then on across the northern Atlantic Ocean to England. I liked the description of Plymouth Harbor (England), where the men disembarked. The journey there from America was far from uneventful; the boiling black waters of the Atlantic created a mind-bender night time accident along the way.

The backdrop for this novel includes World War II with its Operation Overlord and D-Day Invasion  You’ll meet people from the underground, resistance fighters, other OSS men, and Great Britain’s Special Operations Executive forces (SOE).  

With his “Mae West” tightly secured, Zack is chauffered by England’s luxurious RAF Lysanders to his mission destinations in France, Holland, Scotland, and in a B-17 to (almost) Germany.  With his own extensive knowledge, experience, and world travels, Van Osdol brought the text alive with vivid descriptions from scene to scene.  He described the fear and anxiety felt by men like Zack as a “… paradoxical emotional level that tugged at all of his strengths and weaknesses.”

RAF Lysander

Snug in their "Mae Wests"

"Kingfisher" Chance-Vought OS2U, Air-Sea Rescue

For young readers who were only a gleam in their parents’ eyes during the 1940’s and later, Van Osdol’s reminiscenses via Zack and Karlana are eye-openers.  Older readers will smile in appreciation of numerous references to music, films, and entertainers from the mid-1900’s.  Quite interesting is the author’s use of words and phrases associated with this war time era.  I’ve always liked the word “keen”:  “Many times he [Zack] had close contact with German troops, only to be spared by the keen underground techniques of the Maquis.”  Several special moments have been incorporated in the text for those who prefer novels with titillating romance.

Glenn Miller Band


Zack and Karlana fell in love, in that instantaneous way which happens so often to people who are caught up in war, fearing for every second of their lives, dependent upon each other.  Despite his rigid OSS training, when Zack fully focused on Karlana, he recognized the fast-developing feelings, and “His mission objective vanished from mind.”  Lifelong memories were made in the dark basement bowels of Amsterdam’s Schellor Hotel, in a boat floating down the river to another mission, and up in a barn’s hay loft while awaiting an underground contact’s arrival.  Trying to mentally justify his breach of OSS rules, Zack contemplates “… how war caused death; how war had brought two people together; how, strangely, war was love. He’d fall in love and fight the war.  He could do both.”

I was brought up short reading about the slaughter of livestock during the depression of the 1930’s. Researching this later, I was saddened to find that, indeed, the federal government required the slaughter to allegedly help prevent widespread bankruptcy among farmers and ranchers.  In the novel, Karlana observed that while Americans were destroying cows, pigs, and other edible livestock, people in Holland were starving to death.

During the years following World War II, Zack and Karlana encounter traumatic domestic situations — as a couple and as individuals.  Zack joins his friend’s law firm, and Karlana becomes an internationally-renowned model.  The story addresses families torn apart by deceit, crumbling values, and death. Analyzing the resulting recriminations, Zack remembers studying in his college psychology classes about children unconsciously punishing their parents “… by committing some act against the rules of society, law.  It was an equilibrium, something called homeostasis.”

Psychological traumas lead the story’s characters on a journey that catapults toward a dreadful destination.  Will Zack and Karlana hold onto their storybook love?  Or will the novel’s title, From Whence They Fell, be the definitive ending chapter of their lives?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~   

Dr. William R. Van Osdol with his Cessna Cardinal

Dr. Van Osdol can be contacted through his website 

From Whence They Fell: A Paradox of Love and War at Publish America

The Ultimate Human Evil – ODESSA at

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Under Scrutiny: The First Amendment

The 12th Annual First Amendment Congress

“Mean Speech, Emotions, Words….and the First Amendment”

Students from several high schools in central Oklahoma came together on 10 November 2010 to consider the First Amendment of our United States Constitution. Also on the agenda was the question, “Is a lack of civility in our political discourse eroding our First Amendment values?” The event was hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) in Edmond.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dr. Joey Senat

      Question:   Do we have a First Amendment right to be offensive in our speech? How far may we go in expressing our political and religious views?

Dr. Joey Senat, Ph.D., a favorite of students, trotted from one side of UCO’s Constitution Hall, to the other! His microphone was in hot demand by students anxious to express their views on subjects under discussion. Dr. Senat is an Associate Professor at Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK), working at the School of Media & Strategic Communications.

Sitting with other adults, way up high in the “nose bleed” section of Constitution Hall, I was able to watch the entire audience of students competing for Dr. Senat’s attention. With the power point going, flashing one issue after another on the stage screen, he worked hard to let each waving student have her/his say.

UCO Constitution Hall

Dr. Senat challenged the students to consider collateral issues related to numerous court decisions – such as the 1969 Tinker decision, Vietnam, tolerating diverging viewpoints. The Brandenburg case caught the attention of many attendees – advocacy versus incitement.

When the topic of schools’ policies on things such as dress codes and hate speech came up, so did most students’ hands! Many were surprised with the various court decisions in this area, their brains ratcheting up into high gear with all the new information, and what they can or cannot say, or wear, while on their school’s campus.

Dr. Senat also discussed a number of court decisions which, for many citizens like me, have been disappointing – including decisions permitting burning and otherwise disrespecting our United States Flag and Constitution. It was interesting listening to the discussion about Justices Holmes’  and Brandeis’ dissenting opinions in the 1919 Abrams vs. U.S. case, as well as the 1949 case of Terminiello vs. City of Chicago.


Using actual case studies and court decisions, students from Del City, Tulsa, and Edmond took to the stage. They acted out skits, reflecting the circumstances of different cases — a great means of teaching and learning. Lots of initiative, talent, and comprehension in those kids!

Edmond North H.S.

Tulsa Home Schoolers

Del City H.S.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Rita Geiger

        Question: The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, but does that give Americans the right to say anything they wish to say?

Educational Consultant and First Amendment Trainer, Rita Geiger, moderated an interactive session designed to encourage communication between the students, while collectively arriving at decisions on actual case studies. With an excellent background in education, including a teaching career in social studies, Ms. Geiger adeptly guided the students through real life examples of speech which courts have already declared to be either protected or unprotected.
Kay Boies, Exec. Dir. OK Library Assoc., works with students on case studies
Each cluster of students selected a spokesperson to stand before the entire assembly to explain her/his group’s determination on the assigned case study. Most students were anxious to reach a collective agreement irrespective of any decision already handed down by the court. An issue upon which all of the students seemed to be in agreement involved obscenity vs. indecency – – that this is a difficult issue when dealing with the First Amendment.
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I appreciate so much the encouragement of Bill Young who “clued me in” about this annual event — please visit his article about the First Amendment Congress.  Bill’s home agency, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, is a co-sponsor for the Annual First Amendment Congress; the event sponsor is Freedom of Information Oklahoma.The day’s discussion about actual court rulings and case studies exceeded my expectations.  I’m looking forward to the 2011 First Amendment Congress and hope you’ll join us there!