Memories a Mouse-Click Away

Yesterday was December 6, a common enough Friday with a personal attachment: the 14th anniversary of my father’s death. The gloomy winter weather made for a perfect day to stay in, bake yummies and reflect on a good man.

Today is December 7 – the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor – and another reminder of Daddy, but as a young man gone to war.

He enlisted rather than be drafted and within months was at sea.

Daddy on bike w_ enlistment announcement cropped

His travels around the world fueled a future love of geography and history, but of his actual military service, he was very quiet. Through old newspaper clippings, we learned the details of Daddy’s surviving the sinking of a destroyer on D Day and a second destroyer’s sinking off Okinawa.

Daddy_first charlestonian D Day cropped

I asked him once what it was like at war, and he answered I was scared…just like everyone else. Scared, until his shipmates’ lives were at stake.

A letter typed on the thinnest of onionskin and delivered at the war’s end, alluded to his bravery.

Daddy_navy pic and orig letter about commendation cropped

A formal letter of commendation spelled it out. And the mystery of the Daddy_medals commendation letter cropped

green and white striped “ribbon” answered – a lapel pin for “acts of heroism…”

Thank goodness for these bits of fragile news clippings and letters, because they are the tangible links to the character of a great guy, who never sought the limelight.

Daddy’s two anniversaries have me whoozy with nostalgia, and for whatever the reason, as I sit here writing this, I googled him, and whattaya know…he’s out there!

What’s so fabulous is Daddy is speaking about his days at Beaufort High School as a football player, when he and his friends were lauded as the town’s heroes, and still years from a war.

The piece was written in 2011 and Daddy’s interview from much earlier, before he was ill and then gone.

In a paperback about Beaufort, I found this photo and relevant caption:

Daddy_Beaufort HS football team cropped

A hero on the field and a hero in the field…that’s Bertram “Bookum” Levy.

I’ve been such a pain to my own sons about my need for their real, actual, handwritten notes, so down the road, I might have something real to hold and read, which emails are not. And then, through the simplest internet search, I am gifted my father’s long-silent voice.

What I’m just now accepting is that all forms of communication have value and while I may never see a grandchild write his/her name in cursive, I will treasure whatever their means of expression. And should they ever be curious about who we were “back in the day,” a google search will do it.

xx EllynAnne

The Vow of a Lifetime

Bert was from a small southern town, where his family had been a presence since the late 1800s. He’d attended college for two years on a football scholarship, then enlisted in the Navy rather than be drafted.

Daddy in sailor uniform www


Barbara was first-generation and her parents wanted her to have a better life than theirs. She went to a New York City college on a scholarship and made a promise to her parents she would not marry during the war.

Mama bathing beauty 1940s www

The war ended, and Bert followed a job opportunity to New York City. Visiting a cousin at his office in a high rise, he met Barbara. She was a beautiful Yankee, and he was smitten. She’d never met a southern gentleman before, and she was quite taken. She gave him her phone number.

Daddy Address Book with Mamas info www 


He called. She answered. They wasted no time.

Mama Daddy wedding pic www (Medium)


He built a business. She raised a family of six children and worked alongside him. He fished. She ketched about cleaning his catch. She wanted to go to the opera. He wanted to take a nap. So different, how did it ever last? But when the goings got tough, they stayed tough together, until there was one, and then she was gone, too.

A wedding anniversary is my favorite celebration, and today we’ll be toasting my parents for showing us how it’s done.

Nostalgia at its best.

xx EllynAnne