Yellow Star

yellow star

Yellow Star written by Jennifer Roy is another book that I picked up in the children’s section at the library.  I was interested to see how the Holocaust was going to be presented to a non-adult audience.  I was surprised to see that once I had opened up the book, that it was actually a true story of the author’s aunt.

The author’s aunt was named Syvia (Sylvia) Perlmutter, and like many of the Holocaust survivors, she didn’t talk about her experience very much until later in life.  She was only 4 years old in Poland at the begining of the war and 10 when it ended.What made Syvia’s story so remarkable was that she was one of twelve children to survive in the Lodz ghetto.  Here are a few statistics:

  • Before WWII 233,000 Jews lived in Lodz, Poland
  • This was 1/3 of the total population and the 2nd largest Jewish community in Poland
  • 160,000 Jews were isolated from the rest of the world in the Lodz ghetto
  • Only 800 survived
  • 12 of the survivors were children

In the introduction, the author described her struggle with how to write this story.  She tried in both third and first person accounts, but found that it didn’t flow very well.  She finally settled on transcribing her interviews with Syvia’s the same poetical way it was relayed to her.  Sometimes, she only had a few words describing a memory or situation.   Thus the book is 227 pages of short stanzas of free form poetry.

Here is a small selection from the book that I chose to demonstrate this (page 59)

No Friends

Last night with Itka was so happy
but today is the saddest day ever.

Papa took me on his lap and told me this:
On his way home from work,
he passed the train station
and saw Itka’s face in one of the windows.
She was looking out
as the train pulled away.
Itka’s family had received a summons,
Papa told me.
It had come earlier that week.

I think of Itka
in a train car
packed with people
and Hava
disappearing from the street.
I have to friends anymore.


Eventually the Nazi’s began to thin out the ghetto and many Jews were shipped out of Lodz via train to concentration camps.  Those left behind were tasked with the job of cleaning up the ghetto and sorting out all the possessions left behind.  Syvia’s sister, was technically still a child, but passed herself off as a young adult and got a job so she wouldn’t be separated from her family.

Later on the Nazi’s decided that no more children were allowed in the ghetto and rounded them up.  Syvia and a few other children, including her cousin, were hidden in a basement.  She couldn’t go outside anymore.  One time, when the Nazi’s were doing random checks, Syvia and her father had to escape from the house and try to find a safe place to hid.  I had never heard of this before, but they ran to a nearby cemetary and dug a shallow hole and laid down in it so they were flush with the top of the ground.  I couldn’t imagine how scary that must have been as a 7 year old to have to lay in a grave, completely silent while the Nazis are running all over the city shouting and trying to find you.   That was just one of the times, Syvia was forced to be brave and only one of times that her Papa was a hero for saving his family with this idea.  Syvia always felt that she as insignificant and not brave.  Her time to step up came right before the liberation of Lodz.

Near the end of the war, Lodz was bombed.  Syvia woke up in the middle of the night when she heard things exploding.  She woke up her family.  If she had cowered in the corner no one would have made it out alive.  The slow destruction of the city was a chance for the rest of the Jews to escape.  They had been hiding in a building directly across the street from where the Nazi’s had their headquarters because Papa said, “it would be the last place they would look for us.”  However, the buildings were the targets for the bombs so the Jews had to get out fast.  Most frantically ran around the city without any plan.  Syvia’s Papa gathered everyone he could and herded them to an open field.  He told everyone to lay down in the courtyard and be still.

The bombs continued to fall and destroy all the buildings.  When it finally had stopped everyone stood up and tried to figure out what to do next.  That’s when they heard voices speaking a familiar language.  It wasn’t German shouting, but Polish and Hebrew and Yiddish.  It was the Russians who were bombing Lodz.  Papa found out that the Russian pilot was also a Jew and as he flew his bomber over the city, looking for targets, he noticed the courtyard where everyone was laying down.  It was the numerous cluster of all the yellow stars of David that had been manditorily affixed to the Jews’ clothing that caught his attention when they glowed in the spotlights.  He then called off the bombers and found a place to land in order to rescue the survivors.  What luck !  I could not help but cry when I read that.

I really enjoyed this book.  It was a great story of heroics and survival for sure, but when I read how they were rescued, I couldn’t help but cry.  My emotional person transfers into being an emotional reader too… as you can tell if you read my Wake of the Wahoo review.

 On google books you can preview parts of the book.  Click the link below


Charles Nelson Reilly

I love collecting autographs in person, but sometimes the autograph that I want is no longer obtainable so occasionally I will have to purchase them.  It’s always a challenge to figure out if what you are buying is authentic or not. 

This time I wanted to get Charles Nelson Reilly’s autograph.  At the time, when I searched Ebay a lot of what was available was pictures of him as Hoo Doo from his TV kids show, Lidsville.  I wanted a picture of him, but couldn’t find him so I went for the next best thing.  This is one of the more irregular autographs that I own.  


I suppose anything could be faked these days, but I’m pretty sure this is authentic.  Because I’m so interested in autographs, even before I started searching for it, I would always watch his handwriting (as well as my other favorites like Richard Dawson) on the Match Game cards he wrote his answers down on.

In this screen shot you can see the capital F is the same as the check.

I haven’t put it together in a collage in my scrapbook yet, but when I do I’ll update this with a picture.  

Charles Nelson Reilly has been one of my favorite performers since I started watching the Match Game. Boy did he have some crazy outfits ! He was just so funny, even when he wasn’t picking on Brett.  If you haven’t seen Lidsville before, he’s a perfect villain.  You’ll have to watch it on YouTube or spend over 160 bucks on Ebay for the vhs tapes.  

Speaking of YouTube, his one man comedy show called The Life of Reilly is available to watch in segments.  He talks about his childhood and life. This is the best recording of it.  



Liberty’s Kids

Liberty’s Kids is one of my favorite cartoon TV shows.  I found my DVD collection while doing some Spring Cleaning today.  The show is about 3 kids who work for Ben Franklin in the newspaper business and they get mixed up in all kinds of events before and during the Revolutionary War.  

I like the theme song (minus the rap part)

Looking at Life Through My Own Eyes (Liberty’s Kids theme song)

Sung by Kayla Hinkle and Aaron Carter (I’m not sure of the writer, this was transcribed from the opening— Video below)

I see a land with liberty for all

Yet still I know the truth will rise and fall

That’s just the way it goes

A word now to the wise

The world was made to change

Each day is a surprise

I’m lookin’ at life through my own eyes

Searchin’ for a hero to idolize

Feeling the pain as innocence dies

Looking at life through my own eyes

I take my heart into battle

Give that freedom bell a rattle

Get my independence signed

Declare it on the dotted line

In Philadelphia freedom ring

And patriotic voices sing

Red White & Blue

never give up

We represent America

I’m hoping and praying for a brighter day

I listen to my heart and I obey

How can I see it any other way?

I’m looking at life (looking at life)

Through my own eyes


Custom made T-shirt Design Using Bleach

I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it was something that I could re-create.  It’s a T-shirt where a picture was created by using bleach around a pattern.  I pinned it on my craft board, but this shirt was actually for sale on Etsy so I had to guess on the instructions.  I felt it had a more definite result than tye-dyeing.



  • T-Shirt
  • Bleach
  • A spray bottle
  • Stencil design
  • Plastic to protect the surface you are working on
  • Gloves to protect your hands
  • Goggles to protect your eyes
  • A washing machine to finish your design


The design I wanted to use was the old Amtrak logo because they have since changed it to a new design and it is hard to find the vintage look.

I went on the computer and enlarged the logo to the chest size of my T-shirt and then went ahead and cut it out, using an exacto knife. I then placed it on the front of my shirt and taped it down. 

I wanted to make sure that the shirt was completely flat.  I used a large piece of cardboard to insert inside the shirt, and I also covered it with a plastic bag so that the bleach wouldn’t soak through to the back side. 

Next I wanted to make sure that I didn’t spray any bleach on parts of the shirt that didn’t require it so I taped another bag around my design to cover the other parts of the shirt.

Next I got the bleach treatment ready by pouring a bit of liquid bleach into a spray bottle.  I also bought a bleach pen to make sure I got clear lines. 

I took the shirt outside to the back yard and did my spraying on the pavement. I saturated the T-shirt and the stencil.  And let it dry outside in the sun.  Next I put it in the washing machine and dryer to set it.


Looking back at the design I saw online, I can see where I went wrong by reversing the negative and positive spaces on the shirt with my design.  If I try again in the future I’ll know to do it the opposite way. Where they used an outline and sprayed the bleach around it, I sprayed the bleach into my outline.  That’s where it came out looking like a sweat stain.  But at least I got the logo nice and straight with the help of the bleach pen.  I failed on this project and ended up using the shirt to wash my truck with. 


Keepsake Crimes

Keepsake Crimes by Laura Childs

I heard about this book on Facebook from a group made for people who want to buy and sell scrapbooking and rubber stamp supplies.  One lady happened to be selling her collection of Scrapbook Mystery books by this author.

I didn’t purchase them but went to library to check out #1 in the series.  

It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and the book would only rate 2 stars from me.  I don’t read a lot of mystery books, but I at least expected that I might be able to gather some clues from the text that might help me figure out who done it.  This book did not do that.  Toward the end the murderer was revealed and the book wrapped up quickly like a TV show that had run short on time. 

In the book, the main character is named Carmela and she owns a scrapbook store in New Orleans near the hot Mardi Gras happenings. Carmela has regular customers coming in to her shop for classes and tips on scrap booking.  That’s where the craft theme part of the book comes in.  She has an eccentric neighbor who owns a Gothic style/voodoo shop near by.  

Carmela is recently estranged from her wealthy husband, Shamus, who has run off to try and find himself away from the world of banking and the grip of his family.  He is the one who is the murder suspect.  An acquaintance of his had died suddenly on a Mardi Gas parade float that he was riding on.  The last person he was seen arguing with was Shamus.  Since he has run off, every one approaches Carmela for answers so she begins some of her own investigating wile being watched by others herself.

The author goes into detail about Mardi Gras and New Orleans, the French Quarter area and the bayou.  In my opinion it seemed all a little flat.  I’m not really interested in that.  I would have been more engaged if she described a new place, not an existing setting.  One thing I learned in my college creative writing class was that simply by giving characters interesting and off-the-wall names does not make them interesting.  In fact it’s sometimes a put off.  I may be wrong because I have never been to New Orleans, but I don’t think that everyone there has that many unique names.  

Despite this review full of complaints, I would most likely give book #2 a try in the future.   Perhaps the author was just getting into the genre and the next installment might be better.  I read the synopsis and it looks like it contains the same characters in the same setting so at least I’ll know in advance what to expect there.  


Lily’s Crossing

I won’t deny that I like to read young adult books and frequently browse through the Children’s section at the library.  I run my fingers across the spines of all the books until I find on with a sticker on the side that says historical and I know that I have stopped on something that I’m sure to like!!

historical fiction

The book I chose this week was called Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff.

What makes this a historical fiction book is that it takes place in the WWII era around the time of D-Day.  

(I don’t mean for these blogs to be a spoiler, but I will tell the plot details.)

Lily is an only child who lives with her father and her grandmother.  It’s summer vacation and Lily always looks forward to spending the summer away from home at Rockaway beach, where her Gram has a summer cottage on the ocean.  (I always wished as a child that I could have spent my summers somewhere else.)  However, with the war on, this summer would not be the same as those in the past, and nothing was going Lily’s way from the beginning of her vacation.

The story had a lot to do with friendships and relationships and then WWII was a secondary plot which impacted Lily’s young life.

Her best friend Margaret would not be able to spend the summer with her as planned.  Her family was packing up the house the first day Lily got to Rockaway because her father was going to take a job in Detroit at a manufacturing plant.  Also her older brother was in the war and reportedly missing after the Normandy invasion. 

Lily’s 2nd bit of bad news came when her father told her he was going to have to go overseas with the Army because they needed engineers to help rebuilt Europe.  Lily was so angry at her father that she didn’t even bother to say goodbye or see him one last time before he departed.  

Her new friendship came in the form of an immigrant boy named Albert from Budapest.  He had to leave his sister behind in France on his journey to America because she was ill.  The Aunt and Uncle he was staying with said he could be friends with Lily.  

Lily has a wild imagination and thought Albert with his accent was a Nazi spy.  She daydreamed about being a hero in the war and capturing Nazi’s and saving the world.  Her day dreams were helped by the fact that there was a military base nearby where planes were practicing their maneuvers and ships would be coming and going from the port near by.  Sometimes she turned her daydreams into lies and she convinced Albert that they could swim out to the ships one night and stow away on board and go over to Europe themselves.  Eventually Lily had to tell Albert the truth, that it wasn’t going to be possible.  

Though the correspondence with her father, he was able to secretly communicate to her where he was through the titles and plots of books he recommended she read.  Fortunately enough, he was in France and she pleaded with him to look for Albert’s sister. 

The summer ended and she and Gram had to go back home, and Albert would return to Canada.  It was uncertain if she would see him again.  They had grown to be best friends.

In the end, her father had returned home safely and had located Albert’s sister.  As for Margaret’s brother, he remained MIA.



Ralph Clark Huston Jr.

By chance this year, February 27th lands on a Friday, thus it’s a perfect time for me to add a post to my “Famous Person Friday” page.  This person might not be famous in the sense of academy award winning actors or platinum selling recording artists, but still I chose to feature him on this page for being a World War II hero.

* Rank/Rate: Seaman, First Class
*  Service Number: 755 96 96
* Birth Date: September 27, 1925  
*   From: Parkersburg, West Virginia
  *  Decorations: Purple Heart
  *   Submarine: USS Cobia (SS-245)
  *   Loss Date: February 27, 1945
  *  Location: Near 6° 02’S x 114° 0’E
  *  Circumstances: Killed in surface gun action
  *  Remarks: USS Cobia is on display in Manitowoc, Wisconsin
  info from:


On 2/27/1945, Ralph Clark Huston Jr. lost his life on board the USS COBIA while in a surface battle against he Japanese.  He was not yet even 20 years old.  In 6 war patrols he was the only fatality on this submarine.  So on this day, I commemorate his courageous service to the United States by volunteering for submarine duty.

It was Ralph’s job when called to battle stations to assist with the loading of the 20mm gun ammunition. According to Doc (Herbert L.) Starmer’s medical examination as written up in his book War Patrols of the USS Cobia SS-245, pages 80-84, (ISBN 978-1-105-37342-8), Ralph was shot in the left shoulder leaving the bone in his upper arm shattered.  He was also hit in the upper left rib cage and the bullet exited in the lower portion of his back on the right side.  Doc did what he could to control the loss of blood, which included removing Ralph’s arm.  He treated him for shock and was hopeful that he could save his life if they could just get him to a hospital.  Unfortunately his condition deteriorated over night and he passed away and was buried at sea the following morning.  

The logs pin point his burial at Near 6° 02’S x 114° 0’E.   With modern technology these days, it’s possible with Google Earth to see the location.  He was committed to the deep in the Java Sea.RCH1

Doc had to weigh Ralph down with several fire bricks from the crews mess and encased him in mattress covers, which he sewed closed.  He was wrapped in the American flag and taken up to the deck of the submarine, where they held a Protestant service, played a recording of taps, and ceremonial rifle fire.  The photo below can be found on the website, as well as in Doc Starmer’s book.


Today this is the plaque that sits near the 20mm on the COBIA


Image of Ralph Clark Huston, Jr. on deck of the Cobia.

Image of Ralph Clark Huston, Jr. on deck of the Cobia.