Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mother!

She has the heart
that cares so completely.
She has the hands
that do things so sweetly.
She has the wisdom
that families treasure.
She has the love
that brings joy beyond measure.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Dear Friends

I heard the bells on Christmas Day,
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet, the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thank you, Frank.

Frank H. Chambers
(Photo: The Journal Star)

* * *

Sixty-five years ago, on December 16, 1944, one of the greatest battles in American history began: The Battle of the Bulge. Seven hundred thousand troops, mostly American, participated. And when it was over, on January 25, 1945, 19,000 Americans were dead, 47,500 were wounded, and 23,000 missing.

Fast-forward fifteen years: It is a cold, dark morning in 1960. I am nineteen years old and beginning my first full-time job. As I gaze at the tall, intimidating building at 43 East Ohio Street in downtown Chicago, I consider hopping on the next south-bound Greyhound and heading back to Kentucky. What's in store for me? Can I do the job? Will I mess up and be fired the first day? What will my boss be like?

As it turned out, I had two bosses: Cullen B. Sweet and Frank Chambers.

Mr. Sweet was a laughing, gregarious man with white hair. He was very kind, but I was a little uncomfortable around him, reluctant to ask questions, afraid of doing something wrong.

Frank Chambers immediately put me at ease with his open, friendly manner. He took an interest in me as a person, wanted to meet Carroll, hear all about my family in Kentucky. When I needed help, he told me what I needed to know, how to do it. When I was ready to throw up my hands in despair, he appeared and made things right.

"You're doing a great job, Brenda," he often said, "This letter is perfect!"

"I'm glad you changed the wording in this report, Brenda. It reads much better!"

He took Carroll and me under his wing, invited us into his home; he and wife Doris treated us like family. (I will never forget what fun we had one Saturday night playing cards, their two little ones, Margie and Johnny, giggling and playing nearby.) After we relocated with the company to Bloomington, Illinois, we often dined out together, went to their home for cook-outs.

In the mid-seventies, Frank took a position with the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation and he and Doris relocated to Lincoln. A few years later, Carroll and I parted ways and Suzanne and I moved home to Kentucky.

After exchanging Christmas cards and letters every now and then, we lost touch. But I'm happy to say Frank and I recently reconnected and are corresponding frequently, catching up on each other's lives, reminiscing about days gone by. He is 86 years old now and still going strong. He has changed little in the thirty years since I last saw him.

I knew Frank had served in the Army in World War II, but I had no idea he had participated in The Battle of the Bulge. He kept a journal during the war and his younger brother saved all of the letters Frank had written him while he was overseas. He recorded his experiences on DVD and sent me a copy; he also sent me this story, which made the front page of the Lincoln Journal Star on December 16th.

Thank you, Frank, for your service to our country. And thank you for being such a good friend to me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Life is a process of becoming,
A combination of states we have to go through.
Where people fail is they wish to elect a state and remain in it.
This is a kind of death.

~Anais Nin~
All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley