Thursday, June 22, 2017

When the World Went Dark

By Marilyn Turk

For the past two years, I’ve been immersing myself in World War II history while writing The Gilded Curse, which came out in March 2016, and now it’s sequel that comes out next year.

I’ve discovered so many interesting facts about the era – strange to us now, but familiar to our parents or grandparents. One of the things that most impresses me about that period of history is the way the people of the United States (and Great Britain as well) supported the war effort in their everyday lives. Patriotism was at its highest, and everyone – from school children to homemakers to factory workers and farmers – contributed as they could, sacrificing comfort and more to demonstrate their loyalty to their country.

One of the wartime practices that affected many people, especially anyone who lived near the coast, was the requirement for blackouts or dimouts – putting out or covering all lights outside and many inside so the enemy would not see where to strike. 

Here are some facts I discovered about the blackouts.

As early as the day after Pearl Harbor, the city of San Francisco went black after receiving a report of approaching enemy aircraft. Two days later on December 9, 1941, New York City sounded its first alarm.

To begin with, blackouts were ordered during air raid drills. But by March 1942, dimouts were required in coastal areas. An article in the March 12, 1942 East Hampton newspaper stated that "a 'Lights Out' order for Long Island has been issued by the Suffolk County Civilian Defense Council ... the plan is to reduce lights along the Long Island shore so as to eliminate the silhouetting of ships against a lighted background, which would be a very fine set up for enemy submarines operating offshore."

All outdoor advertising lights were shut off, including neon lights around buildings like diners and marquees. New York City dwellers tried to maintain their lifestyles in the dark. An example was written in an article in the New York Times, "The opening night of Ray Bolger’s new musical saw theatergoers completely baffled by the lack of … landmarks, as they felt their way from Sardi's to the Shubert Theater and back by an elaborate system of navigation based on the Braille system and dead reckoning…”

Car owners covered or painted over the upper part of their headlights. 

Automobile drivers failing to dim their lights were subject to one-year jail terms and $5,000 fines.

Unfortunately, car and pedestrian accidents occurred because of the blackout, resulting in authorities reducing the speed limit to 35 mph at night, painting curbs white and in general, warning people to stay off the roads at night.

Blackout shades and curtains were bought or made to cover windows on homes and apartments to keep lights from shining outside. 

Campfires were not allowed on beaches, and even cigarette smoking was not allowed outside at night. Most citizens readily complied, but for those who violated the regulations, they received fines or sometimes, jail sentences. 

Family listening to the radio (box on right)
Jack Benny broadcasting a radio show

Due to the blackouts, Americans entertained themselves at home more than before. Books sold in record numbers as did the sale of playing cards that rose 1000 percent. Radio listening grew by 20 percent as they listened to their favorite big band entertainers like Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller, crooners like Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra, or shows that starred Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Arthur Godfrey and others.

Do you know anyone who experienced the blackouts in World War II?

Marilyn Turk loves to study history, especially that of lighthouses and the coast of the United States. She is the author of Rebel Light, a Civil War love story set on the coast of Florida, A Gilded Curse, a historical suspense novel set on Jekyll Island, Georgia, in 1942, and Lighthouse Devotions - 52 Inspiring Lighthouse Stories, based on her popular lighthouse blog. (@

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Five Myths Surrounding the American Revolutionary Period

Were New World colonists only upset about high taxes demanded by England, the mother country? Their true issue was taxation without representation, a right of every British citizen. Many colonists were very incensed against an indifferent king who spoke more German than English. Some were angered to the point that their cry was “No king but King Jesus!”

Paul Revere by J.S. Copely, 1768-70 {PD}
We often picture the patriot silversmith, Paul Revere, as a lone rider who yelled, “The British are coming!” to warn the colonists. Since all of them would still be considered British citizens, Revere likely called out something more such as, “The Regulars are coming!” to refer to the red-coated troops. 

And did Revere ride alone? No, in fact two other men, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, accompanied him on his ride. While Revere was detained near Lexington, Prescott finished the ride in Concord.

Thomas Jefferson, official presidential portrait
by Rembrandt Peale, 1800, {PD}

What about the statement of “separation of church and state?” Was this statement part of the Constitution of the United States? Actually, no! Thomas Jefferson was communicating the point of the federal government not having the right to establish a church (religion) or prohibit the exercise of religion in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.  

John Hanson, President of the Continental
Congress, c. 1770, {PD}
David Barton of Wallbuilders in his study of the Founding Fathers and their writings determined that the word religions referred to the different Christian denominations. And unlike England, where the government had established the Church of England as the national religion, the United States government was to allow freedom for the individual to choose their own denomination. At the time, though, some states did have their own declared denomination.

John Turnbull's painting of the drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence
presenting their work to Congress, 1819, {PD}
We accept George Washington as the first president of the United States, but did you know that another man held the office for a brief time before Washington? After the Articles of Confederation were ratified, a president was elected in November, 1781 for a one-year presidential term. The man elected was John Hanson, a patriot and politician from Maryland. George Washington was the first president elected after the United States Constitution took effect in 1789. So who was the first president of the United States? You decide!

For more interesting facts surrounding the time of the Revolutionary War, check out these websites:  

Kathleen Rouser is the author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and the novella, The Pocket Watch. She is a longtime member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of 35 years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

One Night in Wilber

Traveling the Oregon Trail Backwards, a Road Trip Adventure, Part 7

This article is brought to you by Janalyn Voigt.

Two women traveling alone with our children, we arrived late at night in Wilber, Nebraska. We’d crammed a lot into the day, having toured the ranch, driven past Scotts Bluff, and visited Chimney Rock before making the rest of the journey here. Part-Czech, my traveling companion (a relative) and I had set a trip goal of sleeping in the Hotel Wilber, so we pushed past exhaustion to reach this citadel. 

We made our way inside the massive brick building with stately columns and a red heart painted in a Czech folk style on the front door. Raised voices from a nearby bar had us hurrying the last couple of steps inside the building, but what we found inside displayed a touching faith in humanity.
Hotel Wilber in Wilber, Nebraska; seen from the east. The 1895 building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It currently serves as a bed-and-breakfast. Image by Ammodramus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A wallpapered lobby with original wood floors, antique furniture, and lace at the windows greeted us, but the owner was nowhere in sight. We retrieved our room keys from a pre-arranged location and made our way up the elegant staircase to the second floor. After locating our own rooms, we went down the hall, admiring the other rooms. A local family of Czech origin had decorated each one with precious antiques, and the doors had been left open to show them off. We had the place to ourselves, apparently. The pride in ownership and degree of trust the owner displayed by leaving these rooms open to view spoke well of the town.

Platted in 1873 and named for founder Charles D. Wilber, an Illinois geologist and friend of President James A. Garfield, Wilber is both a farming community and county seat. Prestigious visitors to the town include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather; suffragette Susan B. Anthony; movie star Robert Taylor; and then-presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed a decree proclaiming Wilber the Czech capital of the United States. The town celebrates its heritage every August with Czech Days, the largest ethnic festival in Nebraska. Parades, an art show, dancing, museum displays, authentic costumes, Czech food and drink, bands, and an old-world atmosphere attract 40 to 50 thousand visitors. We’d arrived too early for that event but treated ourselves to sausages at the Wilber Meat Market before leaving town.

Road-weary and with cranky children, we debated whether or not to stop at the Sod House Museum before leaving Nebraska. I’m so glad we didn’t skip it. This road trip memoir continues next month with our visit to that museum. Meanwhile, whether or not you are of Czech ancestry, I thought you might enjoy this video of the current Miss Czech America singing "Going Home" at the Miss Czech Slovak US Pagaent. The music is by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák.

Note from Janalyn on this series:
I seem to approach everything backwards, and traveling the Oregon was no exception. A few years ago I set off from Washington state to a family reunion in Missouri, following the route of the Oregon Trail backwards. The trip sparked an idea for an Oregon Trail series which finally came to fruition with the release this spring of Hills of Nevermore (Montana Gold 1). My historical romance series is set in Montana during its gold rush, and each of the heroines travels part of the Oregon Trail.

Last chance to download a free ebook by award-winning author Miralee Ferrell in the 
Hills of Nevermore Launch Special.

Hills of Nevermore

Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish circuit preacher bent on helping her survive? 

In an Idaho Territory boom town, America Liberty Reed overhears circuit preacher Shane Hayes try to persuade a hotel owner to close his saloon on Sunday. Shane lands face-down in the mud for his trouble, and there’s talk of shooting him. America intervenes and finds herself in an unexpectedly personal conversation with the blue-eyed preacher. Certain she has angered God in the past, she shies away from Shane.

Addie Martin, another widow, invites America to help in her cook tent in Virginia City, the new mining town. Even with Addie’s teenage son helping with America’s baby, life is hard. Shane urges America to depart for a more civilized location. Neither Shane’s persuasions nor road agents, murder, sickness, or vigilante violence can sway America. Loyalty and ambition hold her fast until dire circumstances force her to confront everything she believes about herself, Shane, and God.

Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, Hills of Nevermore explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.

Read the first two chapters free.

About Janalyn Voigt

My father instilled a love of literature in me at an early age by reading chapters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Robinson Crusoe and other classics. When I grew older, and he stopped reading bedtime stories, I put myself to sleep with tales I 'wrote' in my head. My sixth-grade teacher noticed my interest in storytelling and influenced me to become a writer.

I'm what is known as a multi-genre author, but I like to think of myself as a storyteller. The same elements appear in all my novels in proportions dictated by their genre: romance, mystery, adventure, history, and whimsy. Visit

Monday, June 19, 2017

Oklahoma History: Fort Supply: The Grocer of the West

Fort Supply, Photo Courtesy of the OHS Photo Archives

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

For this blog, I was able to get my history-loving-does-research-better-than-I husband to join me. I hope you enjoy this next installment of Oklahoma Forts.

In the Indian Territory, there were a series of forts that helped supply the numerous demands of not only the infantry, but the cavalry. In this series of articles we have named the “Forts of Oklahoma”, we have covered several so far. Now, here is the next. Fort Supply: Grocer of the West

In 1868, the Indian Territory looked much different from what the state of Oklahoma does now. The primary difference was the lack of the panhandle. A supply camp was established by the Department of the Army close to the northwest corner of the Indian Territory on November 18th 1868, to support General Sheridan’s war against the southern plains tribes. Original maps describe it simply as “Camp of Supply”. 

Opera House, Photo Courtesy of OHS Photo Archives

This camp was situated close to the opening of the Cherokee Strip, on the banks of a creek. The camp was located approximately fifteen miles northwest of current-day Woodward, Oklahoma. Approximately ten days after its formation, General Custer rode out of the camp with the 7th Cavalry, to suppress the Washita tribe led by Chief Black Kettle in the now famous—or rather infamous—Battle of the Washita. It was also called the Massacre of the Washita.

From 1868 through 1870, the primary function of Camp Supply was to protect the border from both the whites and the Cheyenne and Arapaho. It was also the home of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency, under the name of the Darlington Agency. The camp lay largely unmanned from about 1870 until roughly 1874, having only a skeleton crew to support the Darlington Agents.

During the Red River War, from 1874-75, the camp once again served as grocer for the Department of the Army. In December 1878, the camp changed from Camp Supply to Fort Supply, again signifying the change in status from being a temporary camp to a permanent fort.
Custer & Sheridan's home at Fort Supply (now a duplex), Western State Hospital, Photo Courtesy of OHS Photo Archives

This also helped to ensure that Fort Supply held a much more significant role in the area. The troops escorted settlers, cattle herds, expelled illegal boomers—people who tried to enter lands before it was time—out of the Cherokee Strip and provided security on trains in southern Kansas against bandits and marauding plains Indians.

The troops maintained security and trade going to the Cherokee Strip throughout the 80’s until 1893, when the Cherokee Strip was opened for settlement in one of the last Land Runs in which Oklahoma is famous for.
Fort Supply Building, Photo Courtesy of OHS Photo Archives

One of the last missions troops from Fort Supply performed was bringing an end to the violence of the Enid-Pond Creek Railroad War during the summer of 1894. Troops from both Fort Supply and Fort Reno, under Marshal Dix and his deputies, had been unable to quell the wrecking of trains, destruction of tracks, and demolition of trestles by residents from both communities.

The fort was officially closed in September 1894 and turned over to the Department of the Interior (DOI) in February, 1895. The DOI owned the location until statehood in 1907, when it was turned over to the State of Oklahoma.
Fort Supply Hospital Building, Photo Courtesy of OHS Photo Archives

In 1908, the first patients arrived at the new mental health facility housed in the remains of the old fort, creating the first official insane asylum in Oklahoma. The site remained an asylum until 1988, when the Oklahoma Historical Society bought it and named it the Fort Supply State Historical Site. Soon afterwards, a part of the historic grounds was purchased and used to create the William S. Key Correctional Center. 

The Historical Society maintains 5 structures, which include Ordnance Sergeant’s Quarters, Civilian Employee Quarters, Commanding Officer’s Quarters, Duplexed Officers Quarters, and a Guard House. They also maintain a stockade, Army supply wagon, Mountain Howitzer, Cheyenne tipi, as well as numerous exhibits of artifacts and photographs.

It is well worth the trip if you are anywhere near the location or plan to add it to your route.

Building with a vertical log wall, part of one of the original buildings built at Camp Supply in the fall of 1868, Photo Courtesy of OHS Photo Archives

Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Alanna loves the history of the state and relishes in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna lives with her husband and parents in the Edmond area. She is currently working on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Waterloo, Oklahoma.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day and a Giveaway

With Nancy J. Farrier

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day were first celebrated in the same decade—the first of the 1900’s. Mother’s Day became an official US holiday in 1914, but Father’s Day took much longer to become official.

There are many possibilities for how Father’s Day first began in the United States, but the most popular story surrounds Sonora Smart Dodd and the idea she conceived of honoring her father after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon. Sonora’s father, a Civil War veteran, earned her respect by the way he provided and cared for his children after his wife died giving birth to their sixth child.

Notman Photo Co.,
Boston, Mass
The first Father’s Day celebration took place June 19, 1910, the third Sunday in June. Sonora tried to have the holiday on June 5th, but a delay put the celebration on the third Sunday instead. Several communities embraced the idea and the holiday began to spread across the country.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved the idea. President Calvin Coolidge pushed for Father’s Day to become a national holiday in 1924, but didn’t received approval. President Coolidge wanted to, “...establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children...” He also wanted to help father’s to understand the, “...full measure of their obligations...”

Arnold Newman (WHPO)
Four decades later, President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation that the third Sunday in June would be Father’s Day. In 1974, Sonora Dodd was honored at the World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington for her part in the instigation of the holiday. Ms. Dodd passed away in 1978.

Many countries around the world have followed suit and started their own celebration for Father’s Day. Over forty countries chose to use the 3rd Sunday of June as their day of celebration too.

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images
Many notable people have given tribute to their father’s and believe their encouragement and instruction to be the reason they are who they are. President Theodore Roosevelt said this of his father, "He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardic, or untruthfulness. As we grew older he made us understand that the same standard of clean living was demanded for the boys as for the girls; that what was wrong in a woman could not be right in a man. With great love and patience, and the most understanding sympathy and consideration, he combined insistence on discipline …”

Anthony Berger, photographer

Another notable father is Abraham Lincoln. It is said he gave his children free reign in the White House and even allowed them to interrupt important meetings. The deaths of three of his children devastated him. He was reported to be “remarkably fond” of his children.

Photo by Howard Coster
A.A. Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh books, loved his son, Christopher Robin so much that he wrote books with his son as the main character. He based many of the animals in the books on the stuffed animals Christopher Robin owned. Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger were all taken from his son’s toys. Winnie the Pooh was based on his son’s bear, Edward, but renamed after a Canadian black bear, a mascot in WWI. Milne didn’t like that his Pooh books became so popular, but I picture his interacting with his son as he made up stories.

J.R.R. Tolkien was another author who wrote for his children. He had four children, three boys and a girl. Each year, Tolkien wrote illustrated letters to his
J.R.R. Tolkien 1916
children from Father Christmas. The stories grew with more characters added, and Father Christmas had to battle against goblins who rode on bats. He also wrote his famous book, The Hobbit, first as chapters to entertain his children.

There are many stories of fathers who do a remarkable job raising their children. I once met a man who mentioned raising eight children on his own. His wife died a week after the youngest was born. I stopped the conversation and made his repeat what he’d said and questioned him about how he managed. I also met some of his nearly grown children, who were wonderful young people. I think of him as a hero for doing such an amazing job as a father.

Do you have any stories of father’s who have done something amazing for their children? Maybe your own father has had a profound influence on who you are. Please share something on this blog to be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card for a special father you know. Be sure to leave your email address to be entered.

Nancy J Farrier is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children and two grandsons. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: