“If only I had a dad…” Abandoned by his father as a small child, Rick Amitin survived a heartbreaking relationship with his mom and endured three stepfathers before he was nine years old. At fifteen, he set out on his own, traveling the world, searching for his dad, and finding it impossible to live happily without one. One misguided decision and painful consequence after another, Rick made his way through the military and answered the calling to ministry. He lifted people across the country and around the world while the wound of fatherlessness wreaked havoc on his relationships and pursuits, making him grapple with his lack of identity and sense of worth at every turn…that is, until his grand boy dropped out of heaven and into his arms and catalyzed his journey of healing. In If Only I Had a Dad, Rick’s raw-polish approach to sharing his story and hard-earned wisdom will help other fatherless men and women to: · Identify the True Cause of All the Messy Dysfunction · Discover the Power on the Other Side of the Pain · Become the Whole Person They Never Thought Possible If you have been searching for an answer to your father hunger, wanting the pain to stop, this book is for you. Turn your Wandering into Wonder and Your Longing into Love.
When I started to read this amazing true story, you could relate to Rick with a dysfunctional family no dad in his life. He always had hope that he would have a relationship with his dad. Rick put his feelings in this story it was sad, and the way he loved his grandson was so beautiful. Read Rick’s journey of his life you won’t be able to put your kindle or book down. Rick also wrote beautiful poetry in the book that you will fall in love with so breathtaking.
I started reading this book today, and was immediately drawn into the warm writing style. I couldn't put the book down. I had to finish it.
Rick writes from experience. He writes well and his words form emotions and pictures in your mind. He writes in a clear, conversational style that draws the reader into the story. He describes his experiences so that you feel as if you experience it with him.
Rick's story is masterfully created as two stories in one: Him as a child, and experiencing his grandson and his love for him. He tells of his childhood that created the illusion that he is not loved, and not wanted, and how this illusion shaped his life until he was able to see through the lies and start living his reality. Through these stories he shows how anyone can overcome feelings of worthlessness and despair. If you feel unwanted and unloved, and especially if you don't think you're worth loving, you need to read this book to see how Rick overcame those feelings and how you can too.
Thanks, Rick, for a great read.
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Travel with Beth on a journey through machine guns & mafia, romance & heartbreak, dreams & struggles and find keys to unlock your destiny all along the way. "Beth Olson is a great friend of mine. I know her well. In her new book, you can follow a life story of difficult decisions she made in following her passion, knowing God intimately. You'll also learn how to apply what she learned for practical use in your own journey.
I wish the world had more than just one Beth Olson in it." -Bob Phillips, Former Pastor with David Wilkerson at Times Square Church, Teaching Pastor and Director of Academy for Cultural Transformation at Heartland Church "Diary of a Missionary Kid by Beth Olson is a must read for anyone who desires to live a wide eyed adventure with God. The journey of Beth Olson is the ripe fruit of a life courageously and honestly lived." -Leif Hetland, Founder and President of Global Mission Awareness, Author of Seeing Through Heaven's Eyes
“William Charker, for your part in the burglary of the dwelling of Thomas Evans at St. Mary Lambeth and stealing goods to the value of £33.60 you are hereby sentenced, along with your accomplice, to 7 years transportation to the colony of New South Wales.”
William Charker was born in Winchester, Hampshire, England on 16th of December, 1774. The fourteenth child of a family of fifteen, his father, Edward Charker, a Tallow Chandler and his mother Elizabeth (nee Barr). The Charkers were wealthy traders and yeoman farmers and so William well educated and independent. On the 7th of December, 1800 he inexplicably became involved (with an accomplice) in a substantial burglary at the dwelling house of Thomas Evans at St Mary Lambeth stealing goods to the value of £33.6.0.
The two were arrested and tried on 25th of March, 1801 at the Surrey Assizes. Each sentenced to only seven years even though their crime being a capital offence. At his trial, his name given as William Charker, alias William Chalker, was is the first known use of the alias which became his general name in Australia, except on Legal Documents and Government Correspondence where he always used Charker.
William had known a little about New South Wales. He had said to Thomas “my knowledge amounted to little more than that after being discovered by the explorer James Cook in 1770,” New South Wales had become an alternate for transportation destination of convicts as the Americans were no longer willing to have convicts dumped there after their War of Independence in in1776.
Transportation had become a viable alternate both physical and financial to storing the excess prisoners that there was no longer room in the overcrowded prisons. The short term solution of holding prisoners in prison hulks moored in the rivers of southern England.
Hulks were retired naval or merchant ships that would still float but considered unseaworthy. In most cases, all the upper superstructure (Masts, etc.) had been removed and most of the below deck space converted into gaol cells. Because of the poor condition of the hulks, more guards were necessary as well as the continual outbreaks of disease created an unacceptable risk to the greater population.
Transportation costs would be about the same cost as keeping prisoners in hulks but once they arrived in New South Wales they could be put to work and the colony would become self-sufficient in a short time. Additionally, as there was no danger of escape back into the English general population, it became possible to cut a large number of guards.
On the 6th of December 1785, Orders in Council were issued in London for the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales, on land claimed by Britain by explorer James Cook in his first voyage to the Pacific in 1770.
The First Fleet is the name given to the 11 ships which left Great Britain on the 13th of May 1787 to found a penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships, and six convict transports, carrying more than one thousand convicts, marines and seamen, and a vast quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay, arriving in mid-January 1788, taking two hundred and fifty-two days from departure to final arrival.
William went first to the County Gaol and then on to the prison hulk HMS Protée. Protée started as a sixty-four gun ship of the line of the French Navy, launched in 1772. Captured by the Royal Navy on the 24th of February 1780 and converted to serve as a prison ship in 1799, then finally broken up in 1815.
William surveyed his surroundings and later he would recall to his children.
“The conditions on board the floating gaols were appalling; the standards of hygiene were so poor that disease spread quickly. The living quarters were so bad that it was like living in a sewer. The hulks were cramped, and we had to sleep in fetters. We had to live on one deck that was barely high enough to let a man stand. The officers lived in cabins in the stern.”
“When on arriving on board, we were all at once stripped and washed in two large tubs of water, then, after putting on a suit of coarse slop clothing, we were put in irons and sent below with our own clothes being taken from them.”
“We now were poorly dressed as well as unhealthy. They were supposed to give us a linen shirt, a brown jacket and a pair of breeches but the men who controlled the ships usually pocketed the money the government had given for our clothes.”
“Six-hundred of us were confined in this floating dungeon nearly, most of us were double-ironed, and I saw the horrible effects arising from the continual rattling of chains, the filth and vermin naturally produced by such a crowd of miserable inhabitants, the oaths and execrations regularly heard amongst them…. The sick were given little medical attention and were not separated from the healthy.”
“I felt elated when finally in January 1802, I was transferred to the convict transport Coromandel. Us convicts were housed below decks on the prison deck and often further confined behind bars. In many cases, we were restrained in chains and only allowed on deck for fresh air and exercise. Conditions were cramped, and we slept in hammocks.”
“We departed from Spithead in company with the Perseus on 12 February 1802.”
As soon as they cleared, England conditions aboard improved. They were now no longer considered a threat of escape, and so the restrictions were somewhat eased.
As they sailed south to and past the Canary Islands, the daily routine was beginning to set in. At four in the early morning, the prisoner cooks (three in numbers) were admitted on deck and at five-thirty. The captain of his division (the convict nominated as a senior convict) joined the other captains on the upper deck for the purpose of filling wash tubs while the remaining prisoners commenced taking up their beds and hammocks. By six, William and the first half of the prisoners were admitted for the purpose of washing their person. Within half an hour the other half were allowed to wash. Breakfast was at eight and during breakfast, the ship’s crew were cleaning upper deck and water closets
While heading southwards across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro, they ran into the first of many storms.
William managed to keep his food down, but the ship became awash with vomit. The seasoned sailors joked about how convicts predicament. It must be realised that the majority of the convicts had never been to sea and were still recovering from the cramped conditions aboard the prison hulks.
Aboard the Ship were several families of free settlers, but as they were kept separate from all the convicts, William knew nothing about them. He wondered what people would voluntary take their family to this unknown place that reportedly had very few refinements and facilities.
“The clouds seem to rise from the water, turning day into night. Then suddenly the wind began to howl, and initially the ship lurched dangerously to starboard before the helmsman could correct the list. I thought that we were goners. Then came the driving rain, It was so fierce I was sure it was cutting into the deck timbers above them. The unbearable stench of the vomit from my fellow prisoners seemed to cover the whole deck. We would have preferred to be on deck instead of in that hell hole we were confined.”
The storm abated after about 10 hours and then the weather calmed. The days were becoming warmer as the travelled through the tropics and the many tropical storms did not seem as bad as that first one not long after they sailed past the Canary Islands.
The daily routine continued and to Williams first surprise as well as cleaning and general “housekeeping duties” there was a regular schooling and religious instruction. He could not figure out if this were to subdue the convicts and keep discipline or did the authorities think that a better education and religious training would cause them to “change their bad habits.”
Not long after he sighted land off Brazil, he noted that the course turned to south-eastward and followed the westerly winds across the Atlantic to the Cape.
The seas were beginning to roughen up, and the temperature had dropped, but it was still a lot warmer than when they had left England.
The journey across the southern Atlantic was reasonably uneventful until they drew nearer to the Cape. The wind increased dramatically causing the ship to pitch and roll. Even the sight of land on the port side did little to raise the spirits of William although after they had sailed a day into the Indian Ocean, the weather improved.
It was during this time that one of the convicts became violently ill and despite the efforts of the crew, he passed away.
It amazed William to how all the crew and every convict lined the decks while the poor soul was given a decent burial at sea.
“We all lined the deck. Prisoners, officers, crew as well as the free settlers. The body was on a plank leaning over the side and covered with the Queen’s flag. As the captain said those words that committed the body to the sea, two of the crew raised one end of the plank, and the lifeless body slid from underneath the flag and into the deep.”
In reflection, William pondered as to how different the voyage was as compared to the horrific stories that had been circulation in the gaols and prison hulks in England.
He noted that the crew at no time had acted as guards, and a few of the crew showed great symphony for the convict’s predicament. He had also admired the respect that the crew had shown the female convicts and how some of them entertained the children of the female convicts.
By the end of May they had crossed the Indian Ocean and at times over the next few weeks, they kept seeing land to the north of the port beam.
The land kept on appearing as they turned north and there was an air of excitement mixed the in trepidation of what lay ahead.
Finally, on the 13th of July 1808, they sailed into Port Jackson.
As they sailed through the heads, the captain decided to allow groups of convicts on deck. Each group was allowed fifteen minutes. The captain knew that if he kept them confined he would run the risk of rioting because if they saw a glimpse of their destination, they would start to relax and possibly an air of excitement would replace the feelings of despair some must have been feeling.
“It was unbelievable.” William later recalled “This big harbour that seemed to go for miles. The soft green grass behind the mixture of rocky shores and small golden beaches and the thick bushland behind the shores made this place seem like paradise.”
They had sailed nonstop, the first convict ship to do so, Governor King on the 9th August 1802 was so impressed with the treatment and the condition of the prisoners that he wrote the following report:-
“The healthy state in which the Coromandel and Perseus arrived requires my particularly pointing out the masters of those ships to your notice. It appears by the log books, surgeon's diaries and the unanimous voice of every person on board those ships that the utmost kindness to the convicts. This, with the proper application of the comforts Government had so liberally provided for them and the good state of health all the people were in, induced the master of the Coromandel to proceed without stopping at any port. He arrived here in four months and one day, bringing every person in a state of high health, and fit for actual labour.And although it appears that the Perseus necessarily stopped at Rio and the Cape, yet the convicts were in as good condition as those on board the Coromandel. Nor can I omit the great pleasure felt by myself and the other visiting officers at the thanks expressed by the prisoners and passengers for the kind attention and care they had received from the masters and surgeons, who returned, an unusual quantity of the articles laid in by Government for the convicts during the voyage.”
William’s first sight of Sydney Cove was as they were disembarking at the rickety wharf.
“I was amazed at how the settlement had developed after only 14 years. Although rudimentary it was a thriving village.”
William was at first extremely unsteady on his feet due in part to a long sea voyage on rolling seas but also with the cramped conditions on board.
“The smells of shore are amazing. Clean, crisp air, the pleasant aromas of real food cooking but most importantly the lack of stench from humans living so close for so long. I could begin to see that it wasn’t going to be as bad as I had thought to live in this so called hell hole. I see that it may be possible eventually to have a real life in this colony if I behaved myself.”
Much of the town's buildings and infrastructure were centred on the military. The stores and trade were managed mainly be members of the New South Wales Corps and the whole town had a “garrison town” feeling about it.
“My initial thoughts are that the officers New South Wales Corps, seem to have too much influence over the running of the colony and appears that the governor’s office is just to rubber-stamp their decisions. Even the granting of pardons, as well as the allocation of land, seemed to be in the hands of the Corp’s officers.”
“My first night on land is an eerie experience. The lack of movement of the sea along with the entirely different sounds makes falling asleep terrible.”
“Awaking in the morning to the sounds of the native birds chirping along with the clatter of a bustling colony preparing for the task of the day was music to my ears.”
William was assigned shortly after his arrival, to work as a farm labourer for Jonas Archer and Mary Kearns at Mulgrave Place in the Hawkesbury district.
As he travelled to the farm, he was bewildered by the sights and sounds that he encountered.
“My first glance of kangaroos and other native animals give me discomfort although the aboriginals are causing me even more.”
As it turned out before long, he would build a bond and understanding with the local tribes that would lead to a long and peaceful relationship. It was unfortunate that all the settlers were unable to establish this relationship, and distrust disintegrated into bloodshed on many occasions.
Mary Kearns had been convicted of theft in Dublin in 1792 and was sentenced to 7 years transportation. She arrived in Sydney on 17 September 1793 aboard the "Sugarcane".
After completing her sentence, she was granted 65 acres of land in the Hawkesbury area at Green Hills, now known as Windsor.
She had been joined by her lover Jonas Archer and together they had started up clearing for the farm. Jonas was subordinate to Mary as he probably was reminded on many occasions that it was Mary’s grant and, therefore, her farm.
“It was incredible that in two short years, Mary and Jonas were able to clear the land and build a moderately successful farm on these river flats about 20 miles away from Sydney Harbour. Mary was a hard worker, and yet at the same time a very attractive woman, who was trying to build a real future regardless of her poor start.”
Having William assigned to their farm was a Godsend. William was a hard worker and built trust with them. He was always able to make positive improvements, and because he had been raised on farms by his yeoman farmer parents he had a natural gift for mixed farming. “If we plant the vegetable patch between the house and the storage shed, we should have more control over where the animals may roam,” he remarked to Mary shortly after his arrival.
Jonas, on the other hand, had a dislike for farming as well he was proving to be a liability with an extremely bad business attributes.
This untimely led to in 1803, Jonas Archer fled to avoid his creditors and Mary became the sole owner of the farm. Mary always had a liking for William, so it was no surprise that in a short time after Jonas left, she married William. The farm was then known as Chalker’s Farm.
The Rum Corps vs. Governor Bligh
Governor William Bligh reached Sydney on 6th August 1806. He had been sent to replace Governor King, who was looking forward to returning to England. (It was thought that he was disappointed that during his time in office, the officers of the corps had overridden his authority and left him somewhat dejected.
Bligh had a reputation for being extremely autocratic, and he did suffer insubordination from anyone at all.
Losing control of the HMS Bounty to his crew 20 years previous had made him even more ruthless.
Bligh had discovered to his dismay on his arrival that the New South Wales Corps ran most of the commerce under the command of Major George Johnson with the close cooperation of a former officer and now grazier and merchant John McArthur.
Resident farmers of the Hawkesbury region, in particular, had complained to Bligh about the high prices being charged by the Corps for staple goods. The restrictions on availability of mutton by McArthur and, therefore, the high prices for meat further raised their concerns along with the fact that the Corps had attempted to introduce alcoholic liquor (that the Corps had full control of) as a currency. This led the Corps being often referred to as “The Rum Corps” The name being a misnomer as whiskey was the only alcohol used as currency.
Bligh started to attempt to stop these practices and tried to restrict the commercial activities of the Corps but had little success. The impasse continued until on the 26th January 1808 Major Johnson (egged on by McArthur) led a troop in full military regalia accompanied by the regimental band to government house and arrest Bligh. Major Johnson installed himself as the acting governor.
For just under two years Bligh remained under guard until Lachlan Macquarie arrived to assume the position of Governor.
Macquarie was the first non-naval governor and just before his arrival the New South Wales Corps (now known as the 102 regiment of foot) was recalled to England and replaced by the 73 regiment of foot. Major Johnson was court marshalled in England while McArthur was put on trial in Sydney.
Through all this William mostly ignored what was happening in Sydney as he was still a convict and he needed to keep away from controversy for fear of being relocated to another work area. He did, however, hold contempt for the Rum Corps and even more for Bligh, who seemed too weak to control them.
By 1806, they were prospering, but all was about to change with a devastating flood in March of that year in which the settlers lost everything that could not be quickly moved to higher ground. William was driving his stock when he heard the call “HELP.” Looking toward the overflowing river, he saw three of his neighbours struggling in the torrent along with a small child. Without pausing, William ran to the riverbank where his little boat was tied up and rowed out to the middle of the river. He rowed to the child first and after he was aboard William then rowed to save the three men in turn. When it overturned, the adults drowned, but William swam to the shore with the child on his back.
He was rewarded with a Conditional Pardon in August 1806. Conditional pardon meant that although free he was not able to leave the colony until his pardon became absolute. To be pardoned said that William was no longer to be regarded as a thief sentenced to 7 years, but instead, a free man whereas Mary was always to be considered as an ex-criminal.
The Blue Mountains
After the harvest of 1806-7, their marriage ended with a legal separation notified in the Sydney Gazette of July 1807.
The marriage had endured only three years. When it ended, William left took only his horse and left all other property and goods with Mary.
William was granted an Absolute Pardon on April 7th, 1808.
He was now free to return to England but instead chose to remain and enter employment with Gregory Blaxland as his farm overseer, probably at his Brush Farm property and later at his more extensive South Creek holding. William made a good supervisor and had built himself a reputation as a hard worker and a very honest employee.
Along with his Absolute Pardon, William received a grant of 30 acres of land at the Cooks River but did not take up the grant. Instead, in August 1812, he applied for and received a grant of sixty acres at South Creek. The South Creek farm was used mostly to raise cattle while he pursued his other sources of income.
After leaving the employ of Blaxland, he also worked as an overseer for William Lawson at Prospect from 1810 to 1814.
Lawson and Wentworth, as well as being neighbours, were good friends. They were both visionaries who saw the need for the colony’s further expansion in the area. The Blue Mountains to the west had become a barrier to this development of the settlement which was now requiring more farming land to meet its needs, particularly after the droughts of 1812 and 1813.
“The local Indigenous people know at least two routes by which to cross the mountains,” William told Blaxland. The first was along Bilpin Ridge, later followed by Archibald Bell with the assistance of the local Darug people (now the location of Bells Line of Road), and the second was along Cox’s River.
Unfortunately too many of the landholders and free settlers would not believe William as they had all come to distrust the aboriginal people.
Some even believed that the aboriginals were of a sub-human race and therefore not capable of knowing such things. William had long since made friends with a lot of them and as such he appreciated their knowledge of the land. However, he was unable to influence those around him to allow the aboriginals to show the way.
Until 1813 however, the settlers remained unaware of how to cross the mountains, despite several attempts, including two by Blaxland himself. Early in 1813 Blaxland, who wanted more grazing land, obtained the approval of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and approached Lawson and Wentworth to secure their participation in a new exploratory expedition following the mountain ridges.
“Mr. Lawson was able to go with the other two knowing all too well that his farm was being looked after by me,” William told his son at a later date.
Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson led an expedition party, which included four servants, four pack horses, and five dogs. Two of the four men who assisted the party have been identified as James Burne, a guide and kangaroo hunter, and Samuel Fairs, a convict who arrived in Australia in 1809. The two others also thought to be convicts, remain unidentified.
The party left from Blaxland's South Creek farm near the modern suburb of St Marys in western Sydney, on 11 May 1813 and crossed the Nepean River later that day. They made their way over the mountains, following the ridges, and completed the crossing in twenty-one days. The explorers' success has been attributed to the methodical approach and decision to travel on the ridges instead of through the valleys. The three explorers and two of their servants would set out each day, leaving the other two men at their campsite, and mark out a trail, before turning back later in the day to cut a path for the horses and allow the rest of the party to progress.
The party first saw the plains beyond the mountains from Mount York. They continued to Mount Blaxland 25 km south of the site of Lithgow, on the western side of the mountains. From this point, Blaxland declared there was enough forest or grassland “to support the stock of the colony for thirty years,” while Lawson called it "the best-watered Country of any I have seen in the Colony.” The party then turned back, making the return journey in six days.
She was trying to slip out of the house in Geelong when David caught sight of her. “Where are you going to all dressed up in your finery?” he sneered.
“I'm getting married,” she said, in defiance because an argument was inevitable.
“You’re not old enough to marry without Mam's permission.”
“Well she's away in Melbourne, so she's not here to give it.”
“You'll break her heart again. Don’t you think she’s had enough trouble of late?”
“No, she'll be pleased when she meets John. He's a good catch.”
“You’re just another of his children to bring her sorrow; Hannah, Jacob, James, Sarah and now you. You're all the same,” he said, in disgust.
“That's not true,” she was angry. “You’re just a loser and always will be, but I'm going to make something of myself, so I can look after Mother.”
“Make something of yourself! A convict’s daughter with such airs and graces, well you can leave Mother to me. I'll be the one looking after her.”
“Convict, what do you mean? Father wasn't a convict?”
“Where do you think he got those stripes on his back?”
“The navy, Mother said he'd been in the navy and they flog sailors, don't they?”
“A chain gang, that's where he got the lash, hundreds by the look of his scars. Mother too, she came to Australia as a convict. Do you think your fancy man would marry you if he knew he was marrying a currency girl, the daughter of convicts?” David was scornful.
“How do you know they were convicts?” Jane cried, on the verge of tears. “They never mentioned it.”
“I lived in the bloody convict orphanage for four years, didn’t I? Do you think I can forget that misery? But don’t worry I’ll not stop you from marrying this fellow. I suppose you’ve already lied to him about your age and religion because you wouldn’t be rushing to marry him if he were Catholic, or are you in the family way? No, I’ll not stop you because I don’t care what you do.”
He stormed out of the house, banging the door behind him, while Jane shook with rage and horror. If it were true, it explained much, but if John found out would he call off the wedding? Jane stood in the hallway of the house wondering what to do and then she decided to act as if nothing had happened.
On Friday the 23rd of October 1987 my husband Patrick and I closed the door on our London flat and embarked on an adventure that was to last for 27 years. At the end of it, our lives would be transformed beyond all recognition. Of course, we knew none of that at the time. All we knew was that we were setting out, with enormous excitement, to complete the formalities and furnish and settle in to our new holiday home in the Languedoc.
Three hours or so later we reached Calais, with our van and trailer loaded to the gunnels with household goods. We lumbered off the ferry and, ignoring a small official with a large hat who kept bellowing ‘Fret! Fret!’ at us, we made our determined way to the domestic immigration channel. The small official pursued us, and when he paused for breath I explained politely that, no, we weren’t freight: we were an inoffensive English couple taking some household goods to a maison secondaire. We had all the paperwork, I added helpfully. For a second this gave the small official pause, then he brightened. ‘Douanes, Douanes’ he said, gesturing towards a dilapidated hut off to one side of the docks. Dutifully, we made our way to the Douanes, the customs shed.
The customs officer peered disdainfully through his little window at the dusty Ford Transit sagging on its springs, at the laden trailer with here a chair leg, there a lamp shade poking out from beneath its insecurely tied tarp. Ignoring the fact that I had spoken to him in French, ‘Do you heff an eeenventory?’ he sneered.
Luckily a savvy friend had put me wise. ‘You’ll need an inventory,’ she said. ‘And make sure it’s detailed, if you want to get through customs without too much delay.’ It was good advice. So, taking a deep breath and a large notebook I plunged into the depths of what had been our dining room, but now looked very much like a furniture repository. Two hours later I emerged, bleary-eyed but satisfied with my labours. ‘Two arm chairs, leather,’ I had written. ‘One sofa, matching arm chairs; three side tables; two lamps with brown ceramic bases; two lamps with orange ceramic bases, five drinking glasses, green, small; six drinking glasses, green, large; six knives with red handles; six forks with red handles; six dessert spoons with red handles; five tea spoons with red handles…’ and so it went on, for page after page, and all copied, in triplicate, illicitly on the office photocopier.
We produced the document. It ran to 27 pages; it was written in English with a French translation for each item. It landed on the ledge with a satisfying thump.
‘Mon dieu!’ The customs officer smoothed his moustache with an agitated finger, ‘Passez, passez!’
We waited until we were a kilometre or two beyond the docks before we allowed ourselves the explosion of laughter we felt was our due.
The aid workers fed the children and were attending to the needs of the mothers when Frank noticed a group of small boys kicking a football. He commented to John, “No matter how grim things may be, kids will always find a way to play.” One of the mothers told him that they had found the ball in one of the deserted, burnt out villages they passed through.
During a break, Emile was able to share a coffee with some of the aid workers. He was told that the North Vietnamese had set up overnight camps close to the Ho Chi Minh trail, right through the border region. They were usually under heavy vegetation cover and usually near fresh water. This particular camp was not used as it didn't have enough cover. However, it was used a few times. It was common practice for their camp to be surrounded by several land mine fields. The fields are usually well defined with signs in Vietnamese, along with “skull and cross bone” signs. They were made because they figured that any enemy would attack under the protection of darkness, and if this happened, they would not see the signs.
While Emile talked to the aid workers, Frank and John looked around the camp.
A group of small boys was kicking the ball when suddenly a gust of wind blew the ball into the land mine area. One small boy ran after it. He grabbed the ball and turned to the other boys. The huge grin on his face showed how proud he was. He then heard the other boys shouting at “Stand Still!” He looked bewildered until he saw the skull and crossbones sign. His grin turned into a look of horror as he realised where he was standing.
John was the first who heard the commotion and ran to see what was going on. Frank followed him. When they saw the boy in the mine field, John shouted to the boy. “Vẫn bình tĩnh, và chúng tôi sẽ đưa bạn trở lại đây một cách an toàn, nhưng bạn phải ở lại vẫn rất yên tĩnh.” which meant “Stay still, and we will get you back here safely, but you must stay very still.”
The boy nodded. John ran back to the Land Rover and grabbed a long piece of rope. When he returned, he tied one end around a large tree and the other end around his waist. He then said to Frank, “Feed the rope out as I go towards the boy, but make sure you keep it taunt.” He then shouted to the boy in Vietnamese that he was coming for him.
John carefully and slowly edged towards the boy, at the same time he was looking for any signs of the boy’s footprints. There were very few as the ground was fairly well compacted over time. Finally, he reached the boy who at this time was clearly frightened and a stream of urine running down his leg was obvious.
In one movement he picked the boy up and turned around and faced Frank. By now the entire camp had gathered at the site, including Emile.
John then shouted to Frank to pull the rope tight and tighten it around the tree. No sooner had Frank tied it around the tree, he walked out to John and the boy, using the rope as his guide. When he reached John, he took the boy in one arm and the rope in the other and slowly edged back out of the mine field. As he reached the edge, the whole camp roared into applause. He handed the boy to Emile and turned back to John.
John called to him to untie the rope from the tree and to place it on the ground. John then undid the rope around his waist and placed it the ground. He then took a step towards Frank and then another. Everyone was quiet until he took the third step and the sound of a “click.” John froze, and everyone else gasped. John had stepped on a Jumping Jack land mine.
John had a little knowledge of how it worked. He remembered his father telling him years ago that when someone stepped on it, the fuse was dislodged. Then, as the target person stepped off it, the main fuse ignited the first charge and propelled the unit about 2 metres into the air, where it then exploded. This way one mine could injure everyone within range.
He also remembered his father once telling him that, if you lie flat on the ground and a grenade was set off next to you, you would be unlikely to be hurt. This was because of the angle of the explosion. Provided that both you and the grenade were on the ground.
With this in mind, he shouted to Emile, “move everyone away for at least fifty metres, no, make it a hundred metres.”
“I am going to jump down and lie flat on the ground, If I am lucky, the explosion will go above me, and I should be alright. You both move back a bit!”
As soon as they moved back, John jumped forward, but before he reached the ground, the device exploded in the air.
John was killed instantly!
Frank and Emile were also struck! Emile had several shrapnel wounds on his arm, chest and leg. Frank had his left leg severed. Several of the aid workers gave first aid while their leader had called over the radio for help!
The lighter weights always fight first. The place was filled up now. My coach holds the ropes open and I step into the ring. He tells me this, "He didn't warm up. He's cold. Knock him out." The ref asks me how I feel. I tell him I'm dying. He laughs and says, "You'll be all right."
Now all this time, the fear is indescribable. It had nothing to do with this kid or anything. There is something about getting into a ring surrounded by people watching you and fighting.
I'm thinking it's him or me. Over and over, like a drumbeat in my head. I felt like a cornered rat. Scared mean and viscous. The bell rings. Like most fights I just remember fragments. It was the same combination, the whole fight, three quick, hard jabs and a right hand. The first knock down I thought he slipped. I didn't feel any contact. It felt like I was punching a sheet hanging on a line -- I was punching right through him. The second knockdown was -- I started to get excited. I realized that I could get out of there right now! I never wanted anything so bad in my life.
And then it really hit me, I could win!
This kid was backed up on the ropes getting an 8 count.
The ref had waved me to a neutral corner. I looked to the corner where the judges were and there was a lady judge sitting there, she was blond, and good looking.
Her lips were parted and her eyes were shiny. She looked hungry. They all did. I felt this huge rush of adrenalin. I started to jump up and down in place. The murder came up in my eyes and I turned my eyes on my opponent. I had picked up the count at five.
The ref waved me in and as I closed the distance I felt my head lower and my chin tuck and it was like I was outside of myself and within at the same time. But the point is that I was being careful.
I saw the brass ring. I had him on the hook and I wasn't going to let him off, it was him or me.
Three hard jabs and he brings his gloves in front of his face. He's trying to hide behind his gloves.
Now here is the peroration of my whole story. I saw an opening, a space between his head gear and his gloves. It was like the clouds parting for the sun. Time warped, slipped away, disappeared, it was a moment frozen in time. I was in hyper focus.
I decided that my glove would fit through that little opening. I pulled the trigger and knocked him out. At the moment of impact I twisted my hip into the punch. I put my ass into it. A perfect right hand and the hardest punch I ever threw and I could really punch. That punch would have knocked out any amateur anywhere.
He went down and his neck was on the bottom strand and his eyes were wide open but sightless, he was out cold, out of this world. The doctor came running.
I looked into the audience. Two teenage girls, about 18, were looking at me, their eyes shiny with lust. I thought: so that's the way it is – power!
There was such a confluence of feelings going through me -- deep, deep pathos. I thought: this is one fucked up world.
I didn't prance around with my gloves held high. He was just a kid. But it was me or him. And I decided it had to be me. So I hug this kid. He looked resentful. My coach is spreading the ropes for me. I tell him, "I still don't like it." Then I start snickering, "I could learn to like it." He tells me, "They won't all be this easy." I beat the next guy. He ran and held.
There was a three hour break until the finals. I was tired, I was emotionally spent. I didn't want that last fight. And I had seen the guy fight and I really didn't know how I was going to beat him.
I later learnt that he had lied to get into the tournament. He had 7 fights going in, instead of five. I had one, as I said. One of the guys he beat told me that.
He stopped me with a right hand that hurt me and I got an eight count and I rushed in and got caught again. I never went down. RSC.
Referee stops contest and he stopped it in the second round. I was taking a beating.
Yes, I felt ashamed. A lot of people wanted me to win. There is a lot of racial shit in the states.
I'm not really a fighter. I made myself do it. I wanted to be like my friend, Jamie Ollenberger. I admired fighters. I got a very late start and what success I did have was because I had very heavy hands.
Once I asked a very good retired fighter and trainer, Hedgman Lewis, a welterweight active in the late sixties, if I could even call myself a fighter. He said, "You got in there. You fought."
I didn't have much of a career. I was basically 50/50. End
I was with three dogs, all from the same household: Ozzie, a bouncy, athletic and energetic bearded collie cross; Gem, a lovely-natured little Staffordshire bull terrier; and Sam, a rather overweight, but ultra-sociable Cairn terrier whose short, stumpy legs struggle to keep his belly from trailing the ground.
In a country park, high in the hills that overlook Paisley and Glasgow, we were following our regular route. As normal, I checked each field for sheep and cattle before entering. Except, on this occasion the cattle were not apparent from the entrance and were actually ensconced in an obscured dip, around a bend.
The three dogs were off-lead and slightly ahead of me as they charged through the open ground. Well, Ozzie and Gem, at least – Sam was mooching his way around as usual, searching for scraps of discarded picnic food and leaving his scent-mark on just about every raised tuft of grass that he passed.
I knew something was wrong the instant all three stopped what they were doing and stood still. Gem threw me a look from over her shoulder which I loosely translated as:
“We’ve got a problem …”
Confronting us now, and quickly rising to their feet, were about twenty cows. Worse - they each had their young with them.
I returned Gem’s look, hoping she’d interpret it as:
“Keep calm, and walk slowly towards the woods.”
At least in there, I reckoned, the cattle would have no room to charge us, and if we were seen to be walking away from them, hopefully they’d realise we intended no harm to their calves.
The most vociferous of the herd was by now no more than four metres from me. She was snorting and stamping her front hooves on the ground. The others were becoming more animated and vocal as they circled us. I shot a look towards the wooded area, some fifty metres away.
The alarmed baying of the group in front of us had alerted a splinter-herd, who had been resting-up in the shade of the very same woods.
Gem slowly turned her head towards me, a quizzical look on her face. I think she was saying:
“What now, wise-guy?”
‘What now?’ indeed.
Well, Ozzie, being of nimble foot, had already made himself scarce and scarpered towards the bottom end of the field. Gem, ever so trusting, was still awaiting instruction.
Sam, completely unaware of any possible danger, decided he’d like to make friends with the cattle. This was not helping, at all.
A car stopped on the road that bisects the park, and the driver came to the fence around a hundred metres away. From his vantage point, down the slope from where we were cornered, he could see a gap forming in the herd. He shouted to me and pointed to where we should run.
And run we did – Gem close by my side.
It was, as I’d read in magazine articles, ‘every man and dog for themselves,’ as we, the faithful Gem and myself, raced through the break in formation. Sam, however was still dithering around with his new ‘pals.’
“Come on Sam” I hollered. “BISCUITS!”
That did the trick. His little legs were a blur as he tried to catch up, more afraid of missing out on a treat than the danger of being trampled and kicked to death by an irate cow or two.
We quickly reached the sanctuary of the road, where Ozzie was waiting:
“What kept you?” I could imagine him panting.
It was late winter in 1935, when the young Jewish girl gave birth to her baby girl, in the German town of Kitzigen. The child’s father, a soldier who decided that being the father of a Jewish child would not help his progression through the ranks of Hitler’s army, deserted her. Her family was not critical of her; instead, they showed understanding and supported her through the pregnancy. She named the child, Ruth. Ruth’s grandfather ran a successful civil engineering company that dealt with the British manufacturer, Sir William Bromfield. Sir William spent most of his time visiting German enterprises that dealt with his engineering supply companies. Their business relationship had developed into a genuine friendship.
For Jews, life became unbearable in Germany as it became the practice for any senior German Officer to just take whatever Jewish belongings they wanted. The ‘brownshirts’ were even worse. Claiming to be patriots, they were nothing but organised hooligans and thugs with no respect for human life or belongings, especially if Jewish. The government followed Hitler’s ranting that all of Germany’s troubles had been brought about by the Jews and now, payback time!
When they seized Ruth’s grandfather’s house, the family had nowhere to live so he moved them to nearby Frankfurt, some 130 kilometres away. Their British friend, Sir William, helped them as he seemed to have influence because he found rooms for them in Frankfurt. Ruth’s mother never knew what he did for a living, but Sir William travelled a lot, and she overheard him and her father mentioning his brother in England. His brother was a Church of England minister in a country town about three hours north of London.
By early 1938 the situation became unbearable for the Jewish community. Besides the constant harassment and beatings, many were arrested and thrown into prison for not showing allegiance to the Nazi party. Also, it was now impossible for them to leave Germany. Ruth’s grandfather suffered many beatings, and her grandmother became a nervous wreck. They had not been able to go to a synagogue for over six months, and the grandfather feared for Ruth and her mother.
One day a fight developed just outside the building they lived in, and the police arrested Ruth’s grandfather. Shortly after his release from the police, the Gestapo came and arrested him, and they never saw him again. Ruth’s grandmother pleaded with Sir William to help. He tried to find some information, but as he began to attract attention to himself, he stopped his inquiries. Realising that she would never be with her husband and unable to bear the pain, Ruth’s grandmother climbed to the top of the five-storey building and jumped.
Ruth’s mother was distraught. She had now lost both parents whom she loved, and she held fears for Ruth’s safety. She contacted William and pleaded for help and advice. He told her about the ‘Kinder transport’ movement being set up by the Jewish and Quaker communities in England, which rescued Jewish children.
The laws had been changed to allow unaccompanied Jewish children to enter England, provided they had a sponsor who would care for them. If Ruth’s mother surrendered Ruth, it would mean she would see Ruth again until after the war. After several excruciating days, she asked Sir William to find out what arrangements he could make.
Sir William took only two days before he returned with an answer. His brother, John Bromfield, would accept the responsibility for raising Ruth until they were reunited after the war.
Although a minister in the Church of England, John Bromfield promised that Ruth would learn about the Jewish faith during her upbringing. If she accepted the offer, John would meet them at Frankfurt railway station the following Friday. He would not be allowed to leave the train, and she would have to place Ruth on the steps of the train where John would take her. John should be able to talk to her through the window before the train left for Holland and the channel crossing. She agreed to this arrangement.
However, this arrangement tormented her over the next few days. What if she never saw Ruth again? Is it best she should be brought up by strangers than risk the horrors the Nazi regime seemed to pose?
Ruth’s mother was troubled further by a big question. How did William arrange everything so fast? William told her that when he was in England last, his brother told him that
“On 15 November 1938, five days after the devastation of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in Germany and Austria, a delegation of British Jewish and Quaker leaders appealed in person to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain. Among other measures, they requested that the British government allows the temporary admission of unaccompanied Jewish children, without their parents,"
John indicated to Sir William that he would consider accepting one of these children into his family.
When Ruth’s mother told Sir William to make arrangements he got a message to his brother, John, and the reply came back. Sir William then told her he had contacts within the English defence community. What he did not tell her was that he was in effect an undercover intelligence agent.
Early that Friday morning Ruth’s mother packed a small bag of clothes along with a little amount of food for Ruth’s journey. Ruth thought that she was going on a train with a nice man for a long holiday and one day soon, mummy would join her. Sir William walked to the station with them. He was particularly on edge that morning and kept looking over his shoulder. Ruth had her identification card with a ribbon around her neck and seemed happy like any three-year-old would be, going on a holiday.
As there were many parents there to say goodbye to their children, the station platform was crowded. Most realised it would be the last time they would be with their children, and yet they held out hope for the future. A larger than usual contingent of soldiers on the station worried no one.
A cold chill came over the whole platform as the train pulled into the station and almost at once the engine detached while another hitched at the other end. Sir William sighted John at the open carriage window and then with Ruth and her mother approached the window
In a brief conversation, John reassured Ruth’s mother that he and his wife, Madeline, would take good care of Ruth. He also told her he would make arrangements for a Rabbi to help with her education. Ruth’s mother finally felt relieved that Ruth would be taken care of by good and understanding people. Sir William had previously told John about Ruth’s family, so he was aware of the trauma she may have experienced.
Two soldiers stood at each of the carriage steps and checked the identification of the children before they boarded the train. Two additional soldiers were on each set of steps with their rifles at the ready in case any of the adults tried to board the train or, any of the passengers attempted to leave the train. John took Ruth into his arms, and they returned to his seat so Ruth would be able to wave goodbye to her mother.
The soldiers kept a three-metre gap between the parents and the train, but they could still talk to each other, but not touch.
As the train departed, three Gestapo officers grabbed hold of Sir William. John saw this in horror from the carriage and was even more horrified when Sir William broke free, and the Gestapo men shot him. If that was not distressing enough when Ruth’s mother leaned over William, they shot her through the head, and he heard them laugh and call out, “Die, Jewish whore!”
A new life begins
John was grateful Ruth had been distracted and did not see her mother murdered. Ruth noticed John muttering almost silently with tears in his eyes and making the sign of the cross. He hid his grief for Ruth’s sake.
The journey to Rotterdam became the first chance for John to get to know Ruth. He was grateful William taught Ruth some rudimentary English even though while at school he had learnt a practical knowledge of the German language. He thought she should know him as “Uncle John,” and he would introduce Madeline as “Aunt Madeline.” It was a slow journey and relatively quiet until they reached the border crossing near Het Kwartier. The Dutch border police were very civil while the Germans extensively examined the documents of every passenger. They seemed to glare with disgust at every child.
John was glad they did not search his bags as he had documents that included Ruth’s birth certificate, along with that of her mother and grandparents. Amongst the other documents was a declaration William had smuggled into Germany that would give John and Madeline the authority to act as Ruth’s guardian. Ruth’s mother had signed this and had it witnessed by a well-respected Rabbi in Frankfurt. Ruth wore a German Identity card around her neck, endorsed for one-way travel out of Germany.
When they arrived in the port of Rotterdam, the Dutch Quaker community organised tables full of hot food. John saw this as another example of good organisation in place.
The ship taking them to Folkestone in England was an old ship. A British member of the Jewish community had paid for the charter out of his own pocket.
Ruth slept on the boat, and when they arrived in England, Madeline was waiting at the dock for them. The immigration official, realising the trauma the children had experienced, looked only briefly at each child’s identification before stamping it and letting them into England. Their only concern was that appropriate responsible people were on hand to care for them. Ruth and the Bromfields boarded the train for the two hours journey to London, where they had a three-hour wait for their train to Millbrook.
It had been an unusually long day, and three-year-old Ruth was completely worn out. Even the excitement of a new home with a bedroom all to herself was not enough to keep her awake. John and Madeline looked at her asleep in bed, then knelt down and prayed that Ruth would not have to witness any more horror.
The next morning, Ruth woke to a brand new world. From her room, she saw daylight, and she heard birds chirping outside her window. She slept in a room all by herself for the first time in her life, and it was a beautiful place. A vase of flowers on it in the corner and the chair in the other corner sat a huge teddy bear. The door open and in came Aunt Madeline. “Goog morgen darling,” she said, “Haben Sie eine gute sleep?” Ruth laughed at the strange accent and replied in English, “Yes, thank you, I slept well.” Madeline knew at once that language would not be a problem.
She took Ruth to the bathroom and after washing her and cleaning her teeth, they went down to the kitchen. John was sitting down with his bowl of porridge, and he said to her, “Sie sehen schön Heute morgen.” She laughed and replied. “Mummy said that I must always try to speak English now, and I must learn twenty more words every day.” John smiled and replied, “Well, from now on it will be English only.”
Madeline put a bowl of porridge with a glass of juice in front of her, and Ruth replied. “Danke schön–er thank you.” They all laughed.
After breakfast, Madeline suggested that she take Ruth into nearby Bedford and go shopping for a new wardrobe for Ruth. Her mother had tried to look after her, but, new children’s clothing along with toys were luxuries in Germany. It had been hard enough to gather food. The only toy Ruth owned was the shabby rag doll that she carried with her. She did, however, have two dresses, a coat, and a pair of gloves. She also had the shoes she wore and three sets of warm underwear.
Madeline dressed Ruth, and they walked to the bus stop and caught the bus into Bedford. Ruth remembered in later years' how people were all smiling and laughing. Frankfurt people never smiled!
Ruth liked Aunt Madeline and clung close to her with her hand held tight. Madeline loved the feeling as well. When they went into any shop, Madeline asked her every time what she thought of each item. At first, Ruth said she loved everything. Madeline realised that although she was only three years old, Ruth had been taught to appreciate every gift and not to “turn her nose up” at anything she didn’t particularly like.
Madeline took her out and into a cake shop. She told Ruth to choose the cake she would like to eat. Ruth walked up and down the row of cupcakes many times. Madeline saw the smile she gave towards the cakes and the frown towards others. When Ruth finally made her choice, they sat at the table and Madeline ordered it along with tea for herself and a fizzy drink for Ruth.
Madeline then explained to Ruth that just like the cakes, she must choose the dress and shoes she liked best. Ruth could have four dresses and two pairs of shoes. She could also have two pairs of slacks and some singlets and underpants. She could also have a swimsuit. Ruth would choose carefully, and Madeline was grateful that Ruth was now beginning to show her individuality.
Although English was not Ruth’s natural language she chatted endlessly, and although she had a broad accent, Madeline understood most of what she said. After a morning’s shopping, they were heading back to the bus when Ruth saw all the dolls in the window of a toy shop. She said nothing, but she stopped and smiled as her eyes browsed all over the window display. Madeline smiled and said to her, “Uncle John may get mad at me, but you should have one new doll.” Ruth jumped for joy and said “Danke! Can I have that one please?” She pointed to a small doll in the corner. Madeline bought it and all the way to the bus stop Ruth held it tight. Madeline thought it was probably the first new toy she ever had.
When they arrived back at the vicarage, Ruth ran inside with the parcels and shouted, “Uncle John! Look what Aunt Madeline bought for me. Clothes! Dresses! Shoes! Gloves! A doll! Underpants! All for me! I am so lucky Uncle John, to be living here with you and Aunt Madeline.”
John smiled and winked at Madeline. The joy this little girl was bringing into their life overshadowed the events that developed overseas,
While they had been shopping John made arrangements for the Rabbi from Cambridge to visit them the following week. As there was no synagogue in Bedford, the Rabbi who was based in Cambridge, made regular visits and said that he would call on John during his stay.
John also had called his Bishop. He needed to be clear on the direction he planned to take on Ruth’s upbringing. With both the Bishop’s and the Rabbi’s blessings, John thought that Ruth should be baptised as soon as possible and attend Sunday school. At the same time, she should spend a part of Saturday with a Jewish family and occasionally join them on Friday evening for “Shabbat-dinner”.
It was decided that it would be nice although not essential if John and Madeline both accompanied her. Then when Ruth approached the age of twelve, she should be prepared for her “Bat Mitzvah” When Ruth became thirteen, she should be allowed to take her confirmation into the Church of England, if she wanted to.
If the Bishop and the Rabbi agreed, this ensured that Ruth has a spiritual upbringing, exposed to both faiths.
On taking her Bat Mitzvah when twelve, Jewish traditions are such, that she would then assume responsibility for her faith and morals. She would be able to be confirmed if she wanted to.
The next morning, after breakfast, Madeline took Ruth for a walk around the church grounds and the church. She explained to Ruth that she could play anywhere on the grounds, but not to go out of the gate, without a grown up!
The church itself fascinated her. Ruth loved playing outside, and she took three days before she had explored the entire grounds. Madeline made it appear that she was by herself, but, while she played outside, Madeline watched her like a hawk from the rectory windows.
Their first Sunday was significant, and yet Ruth went about things as normal. She woke up, went to the bathroom, cleaned her teeth and dressed for breakfast. All by herself! Ruth loved choosing what clothes to wear, especially as they always smelled nice and clean.
After breakfast, she heard the church bell for the first time. Madeline explained to her that John was the priest of the Village and on Sunday mornings people came to pray and learn about God in the church. John helped them pray and learn.
Ruth’s eyes widened, and she asked if she could learn to pray as well. Madeline laughed and told her, “of course you can.”
As they walked over to the church, Ruth saw many people going in. She noticed some children as well. They sat in the middle of the church, and most of the ladies waved to Madeline and smiled at Ruth. Ruth thought this was exciting. Whenever she was in a crowd in Germany, everyone was frowning and looking around. In this place, no one frowned, and everyone smiled.
Suddenly everyone stood! Then a voice from the rear of the church spoke. Immediately the church filled with music. She didn’t know it at the time, but that was the organ starting. Then everyone started singing, real loud! Ruth looked around (Madeline had sat her at the end of the pew so she could see everything). Some people were walking in from the door, holding books and singing.
She saw Uncle John immediately after the man holding a wooden cross high. She tried running to him, but Madeline held her hand tight. After that, she did not take her eyes off him for the whole service.
Near the end of the service, everyone walked to the front where Uncle John and two other people stood.
Everyone knelt down, and Uncle John gave them something to eat, and the other two people gave them something to drink from a shiny glass. She knelt next to Aunt Madeline, and when Uncle John came in front of them, he gave Aunt Madeline a piece of the bread (it was a tiny bit). He then put his hands on Ruth’s head. Ruth didn’t know what it meant but was sure it must have been significant.
Finally, during what was to be the last song, the people who were with Uncle John, started walking out of the church while Uncle John followed. All the other people moved and followed them. When they came to the door, Uncle John stood there shaking everyone’s hand and talking to them. Madeline held her hand tight as she spoke to the other women outside the church.
A couple of the ladies asked Ruth her name. Then a small boy came up to her and said. “Little girl, can you play with me sometimes?” she looked up at Madeline, who then said. “Of course, you can”. Ruth turned to the boy and said, “My name is Ruth, what is yours?” Ruth had made her first English friend.
The Bishop called on John the following Wednesday. After the pleasantries, John outlined to him the plans he had for raising Ruth and that he had hoped to gain the Bishop’s approval.
The Bishop agreed with his motivation but said that he had reservations about a priest of the Church of England, raising a child as a member of the Jewish faith. John pointed out to him that he thought the protection of the child was his first responsibility as well as the promises he had made to her mother.
The Bishop pondered for a while, then he advised John. “If we baptised the child, her soul would be safe. If she were exposed to the Jewish faith and eventually took her Bat Mitzvah, it would not be a sign of rejection of Christ, as Jesus was a member of the Jewish faith. When a Jew turns to Christ, he is not asked to reject Moses’ teachings.”
“Although I still have grave reservations about your plan, I cannot fault it spiritually. I question the possible confusion for the child and the reaction of your peers and congregation.”
John replied that as long as there was no hiding the reasons for this journey, his peers being kind and loving Christians, would accept this. If he and Madeline adopted Ruth after the appropriate waiting time, and he addressed the congregation, he felt it would be a living example of Christian love. The Bishop agreed and suggested that after John met with the Rabbi, a meeting should be arranged between the three of them and an unofficial memorandum of understanding be drawn up. John agreed.
The meeting with the Rabbi the next day went even better. The Rabbi liked the approach that John proposed and did not find fault with it. He appreciated that John had taken Ruth in, and he agreed with her being baptised. If John were to be her father as a child, she should be raised in a Christian family. Exposing her to the faith of her mother and grandparents was the right thing. After Ruth’s Bat Mitzvah, she should be free to accept either faith or both.
The Rabbi thought he knew of a local Jewish family, the Goldberg’s, who would be glad to have John, his wife and Ruth join them sometimes for their Shabbat-dinner and other Jewish festivals. John thought to himself how lucky Ruth would be, to be able to share a Passover meal each Easter.
The Bishop and the Rabbi joined John, Madeline and Ruth the next week, then formulated the private memorandum of understanding. In a surprising move, the Rabbi asked the Bishop if he could attend Ruth’s baptism. The Bishop agreed and asked could he attend her Bat Mitzvah. They then all prayed for guidance and asked for God’s blessing on this unusual arrangement.
They arranged for Ruth’s baptism to take place in a month’s time. John advised his congregation of the agreement and announced that Rabbi Jacobs would be present. The Bishop would perform the ceremony. This way the congregation would know the Bishop’s approval and the Rabbi’s acceptance. They also would invite the Goldbergs, the Jewish family who would be sharing the Shabbat-dinner.
In less than three weeks of Ruth’s arrival in Milford, she had developed a small circle of friends. They were mainly children of John’s parishioners, but through Madeline’s sewing club, Ruth was also exposed to other kids. Madeline also allowed Ruth to play with other children in their homes. Her English was becoming perfect, and she rarely used German words. Her best friend was Jody, whose Dad was in the army.
John spoke to Charles Wilson, a solicitor and a member of his congregation, about the process to adopt Ruth and whether she would need to be naturalised. Charles advised him that some obstacles existed as there was no evidence of Ruth’s mother’s death.
The solicitor then made enquiries, and he advised them on the direction to take. It would possibly take six months to sort out. It seemed that after studying the rules, Ruth would need to be declared “abandoned” and made a Ward of the State. John and Madeline could then adopt her. All the preliminaries would need to be in place and all relevant declarations in the hands of the court. At the court hearing, there would be three separate rulings. Ruth would be declared abandoned. Then the court would appoint her a Ward of the State, followed by the granting of John and Mary’s adoption of her. All three rulings would take place in the same court and immediately follow the previous hearing. English law could be cumbersome, but with correct steering, the desired outcome could be achieved.
When John first addressed his congregation, he saw the confusion on the faces of some of them. They all praised and supported John for taking Ruth in and saving her from certain death, but some were confused about the “duel religion” situation. Madeline listened to their reaction and told John later. The one comment that amused both of them was that one woman had been overheard saying, “Being a Jew is not as bad as being a bloody Catholic!”
John brought them all around by ensuring all the readings over the next few weeks mentioned that Jesus came from a Jewish Family, and all the early disciples were Jews. The most convincing readings came from the Gospel where Jesus prayed in the synagogue. He drove this home further with Paul’s letter to the Hebrews.
On the day of Ruth’s Baptism, Madeline prepared a celebration feast. She was careful not to have any food that could be objectionable to the Rabbi and other Jews present. Madeline was already aware of the need to avoid ham and bacon from the day Ruth first arrived.
They had asked two members of the Parish Council to be Ruth’s God Parents. They did not expect many to attend the Baptism, but they did expect the Goldberg’s to be there.
John decided that he would not be wearing his robes as the Bishop would conduct the service. Ruth wore a new dress that Madeline had been saving for the occasion, and Madeline asked one of her friends to take photos with her Brownie box camera.
When they entered the church, they felt honoured to see it packed. Rabbi Jacobs and the Goldberg’s sat in the front pew. (The Bishop had discreetly told the usher to keep two pews for any members of the Jewish community)
John also noticed the Roman Catholic Priest and some of the nuns also there. They all wore street clothes because Catholics at that time did not go into Protestant churches. Other churches also had representatives mixed in with the congregation.
The support given to Ruth made John feel so humble, on this most spiritual occasion in her young life.
Even though John and Madeline had taken pains to explain the Baptism and the significance to Ruth, she was still in awe of the proceedings.
When the Bishop said “Ruth–er I baptise you in the name of...” Ruth said, “My name is Ruth Bromfield!”
Madeline smiled and wondered how Ruth knew their surname. It appeared Ruth had overheard a parishioner refer to John as Father John Bromfield.
The reception developed into an exciting affair. Everyone (except for the Catholic Priest and nuns) stayed for it. John made an extra effort for Ruth to meet the Goldbergs and their son Jacob. Jacob was just a little older than her.
The Bishop and the Rabbi seemed to get along with each other and, John was somewhat surprised when the Methodist and Presbyterian pastors joined them. By the time John joined them they were in deep conversations wondering what their responsibilities would be when the war started.
It later became apparent this occasion would become a starting point for discussions that will need to happen regularly between them if war broke out. Ruth’s presence had become a constant reminder of the evil that Hitler’s Third Reich was spreading in Europe.
Sir William Bromfield
Although John was genuinely shocked to witness his brother being murdered at the railway station, he was not surprised. William had known of the dangers, but his hostile hatred for the Nazi regime had driven him to take risks for his country.
The Bromfield family were wealthy industrialists who for the last three generations ran Bromfield Industries, a group of engineering and manufacturing companies. Traditionally, the family kept only a small proportion of their wealth to themselves. Most of the profits went to the Bromfield Charitable Trust, which supported many charitable organisations.
The company’s structure allowed for William as well as his brother, John, to be uninvolved in the daily running of its enterprises. John had entered the Church, while William pursued his interest in innovating machinery development. William had developed a reputation as a leading designer of farming equipment and other mechanical methods of farming. He had travelled extensively studying farming methods all over Europe and had established an extensive network of agriculture equipment manufacturers.
With the rise of the Third Reich and Hitler’s expansionist plans, many German farm equipment factories developed weapons and military vehicles. In time, British manufacturers followed suit.
William had been contacted by the War Department early in 1934 and asked if he would be willing to continue to travel to Germany. By using his connections, he was to note what developments were taking place. With the passing of time, this would be the basis of vital intelligence should war break out.
William could also use this information in the development of any equipment that the family companies may be required to manufacture for the British Government. Initially, it would be a low-key operation, and there would be minimal risks to William’s personal safety.
Later on, the War Department asked him to map out the locations of the German factories. Doing this increased his risk as he would then be conveying military information. They gave him a small camera, but he committed most of the information to memory and placed the locations on maps each time he returned home.
William did not raise any suspicion with the Germans until he was seen drinking coffee with Ruth’s grandfather. Although it was a casual observation, a minor official thought it worthwhile to find out who and why this foreigner was having coffee with a Jew. It then became apparent that as William’s business caused him to visit manufacturers, he warranted further investigation.
William remained under surveillance for the rest of that journey. The Gestapo continued their investigation, so they arrested the Jew William had been seen having coffee with. They grilled him with all the force that they could. Even though he knew nothing of William’s activities, other than being an English manufacturer. He was thought to have died under interrogation
On William’s next visit, (somehow the Gestapo missed him at the border) he noticed that his friend was not at the usual coffee shop. He did, however, run into the Jew’s troubled daughter who told of his arrest and her mother’s apparent suicide.
That is when William told her about the possibility of getting her young child out of Germany. He sent a message to England requesting the paperwork that would be needed to admit Ruth into England. When the woman agreed to send Ruth away, William crossed the border to France, where he met with a British courier. He also sent a message to his brother. His brother replied almost immediately and made arrangements to be on the next “Kindertransport.”
When William crossed back into Germany, the Gestapo expected him. Their agents in Paris had seen him receive a package from the courier. They followed him to determine where he was going before they apprehended him, planning to investigate what the messenger gave him.
Leaving the train at Frankfurt William caught a taxi, and the Gestapo followed him. Three blocks from the station a truck carrying a full load of bottles failed to stop at an intersection and crashed into the car carrying the Gestapo. The last thing the truck driver saw was the flash of the pistol, the injured Gestapo member held in his hand.
William, being unaware he had been under surveillance, met with Ruth’s mother and gave her the documents. He arranged to meet her in two days’ time at the station where Ruth would go with William’s brother John to England.
The Gestapo searched everywhere for William but had no luck until they saw him on the platform at the railway station. As there were guards at every door of the train, there had been no need to check everyone going onto the platform.
William met up with Ruth and her mother and then, after he briefly spoke to his brother through the carriage window, passed Ruth to him at the door.
William and Ruth’s mother returned to the window, and as the train started to pull out, one of the Gestapo agents recognised William. Realising it was the Gestapo, William wanted to move away from the train and Ruth’s mother so she would not appear to be with him. They called out for him to halt, but he kept moving.
Three shots rang out, and the Englishman lay dead on the platform. Ruth’s mum saw all this and ran to help William. As she bent over him, she was shot with one bullet in her head.
Between John’s account, along with another agent’s (who was on the station at the time) report, the British developed an exact account of what happened.
The maps that William had provided turned out to be extremely valuable to the British after the war started.
The lessons William learnt and passed on to his company enabled a new division to be set up specialising in water storage and transportation, (Dams and Pipelines).
John needed to address the board of the company to inform them of William’s death and to assume the role of “non-executive president of Bromfield Industries.”
John would only need to attend board meetings four times a year and therefore, would not need to have any active role in the daily running of the company. He did, however, received regular reports and kept a keen interest in the “Water Storage and Transportation.” division.
In Destined for Destiny, George W. Bush offers readers an intimate, plainspoken, and often readable look at the character-shaping achievements that led to his inevitable rise to the office of President of the United States.
Written from the heart, not from the brain, this definitive autobiography takes readers on a journey through the 43rd President's life, including his hardscrabble beginnings as the child of West Texas oil millionaires, the remarkable academic performance that earned him entry into the finest East Coast schools, and his proud service to the country as an occasional member of the National Guard sometime around 1972 or 1973.
He proudly recounts his years as a successful oil-business failure and the owner of a baseball team. He even dares to dream the ultimate dream: to become Commissioner of Baseball.
The great man we meet here displays his mother's steely resolve and vindictive temper, his father's keen mastery of language, and his own unique gift of deciding.
His gripping life story deepens when a faith in God hits him one day "like a bottle of Jack on an empty stomach," and he has an encounter with the Prince of Peace that sets George W. Bush on a path to become the greatest War President in history.
To help craft this lasting account of his life and leadership, George W. Bush turned to two writers who have earned not only his trust but his deep friendship: Scott Dikkers, editor-in-chief of The Onion and coauthor of the #1 bestseller Our Dumb Century, and Peter Hilleren, former producer for public radio and some of the nation's finest public-access cable-television stations. Dikkers and Hilleren call on their finely honed journalism expertise every week to write and record the President's weekly radio address on WeeklyRadioAddress.com. Their work on such stirring addresses as "June Terror Update" and "The Pope Is Dead" made them the ideal choice to meet the challenge of chronicling the visionary mark left on history by its shining light, President George W. Bush.
* * *
Free from all the filters, handlers, and facts . . .
I tell the untold story of my inspirational life. You will struggle with me in my strugglesome youth. During the Vietnam War, you will be right there at my side as I face down the terrible enemy of my sinful partying. Together, we will meet and fall head over heels for the love of my life -- Jesus. And through me you will become a beloved, terror-fighting hero in the greatest hour of my presidency, September 11, 2001.
I embarked upon this important and historical work against the advice of my advisors. Come what may, I wanted you to hear my story from me, in my own talking.
George W. Bush
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