Surgery and Side Effects

I had major surgery last March to reconstruct my ankle. I have CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth Atrophy). It has destroyed a lot of nerves and muscles in my feet and hands. There is no cure and no treatment but new advances can help correct the damages of the disease. Because of the weakness and instability in my ankles, I was walking mostly on the side of my right foot. They cut a bone, straighten the ankle and screwed everything back together. It has been a long year. I no longer have constant pain in that foot and now walk on the sole and not the side. Thank God.

I was prepared, somewhat, for the post surgery pain. I wasn’t prepared for the depression. Facing limitations have always been hard but facing a future with a crippling disease was something I wrestled with this past year. Besides having the surgery, in the last 2 years I have lost the use of my little fingers and most of my ring fingers. This might not seem like a big deal to most, but as a writer it’s hard to adjust to typing with five fingers instead of nine.

I was also following the blog of Julianna Yuri. A precious, precocious little five year old. Her mother wrote her outrageous, hilarious comments. I enjoyed her wit and wisdom. Julianna also had CMT. Probably the worst case known. The sweet child passed away this past year. I felt her loss as if I were a close companion.

But with all this year has thrown at me, I am alive and will continue to go on and adjust when it’s needed. I will try not to mourn the losses ahead but be creative to overcome them.  I face reconstruction of my other foot in the fall but know it will give me more mobility. I wish my dad could have had the advances that I am enjoying. I also know some great writers only typed with two fingers. God is still in His heaven and all is well with my soul.

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My Greatest Regret

We went to Elementary School together, played hop-scotch and jump-rope. She was a beautiful platinum blond with a friendly smile and a kind heart. In junior high I moved away for a couple of years. When I moved back, we were in our third year of High School. We attended Norwich Free Academy which had a school body of about 3300 students. She, being from a well-to-do family, was in the upper crust clique. I was a natural loner and belonged to none. When we ran into each other, our childhood friendship would emerge and we would have wonderful conversations. Sometimes I felt she was dissatisfied with her life. She once shared that she rarely dated. I was shocked. She was gorgeous. She said it seemed guys were afraid to ask.

Thinking of her always made me smile. That is until a couple of years after graduation, when I found out she had died, trapped in a horrific fire in a disco in Connecticut. I realized in my immortal-minded youth, I had never shared the most important information in my life. I don’t believe in forcing God on someone but I didn’t even give her an opportunity to decide if God was who she wanted.

Poems are not my forte, but I  wrote this one to help me deal with the loss of my friend.

Cindy

 By Carolyn Torbett Johnson

 Why did she have to go so fast

Her very life slipped from my grasp

 

I did not realize that she

Was part of mere humanity

That’s gone before us through that door

Marked death to live forevermore

 

But I was blind, I would not see

Her fate it seems had rest on me

 

I always meant to tell the plan

That God gave down to fallen man

I never seemed to find the time

The blood-stained hands I see are mine

 

Why did she have to go so fast

I would have told her at the last

 

I would have told of Jesus’ birth

Of why He came to us on earth

Of heavenly scenes, of beauty rare

Of hope, of joy beyond compare

 

But life is gone, she can not hear

And I am left here with my fear

 

Why did she have to go so fast

Her life is gone, my chance is past

Sgt. Stubby – Dog Hero of WWI

Born in 1916 he was an average mixed breed with signs of Boston Bull Terrier. Just a homeless mutt who attached himself to a training unit at Yale University in Connecticut. Little did the troop realize, when they befriended him, how beneficial this little dog would be to the troop.

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He became the most decorated war dog of the first World War. He was the only dog issued a rank and became a sergeant due to combat. He became the mascot of the 102nd infantry division, assigned to the  26th Yankee division. He served for eighteen months and was in seventeen battles.

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Though the regiment befriended him, he had one special friend, Corporal Robert Conroy. Conroy hid Stubby on the troop ship when they were deployed and smuggled him into France. When he was discovered by the commanding officer, he was given a salute and permission to stay.

Stubby entered combat February 5, 1918. He was under constant fire, day  and night, for over a month. In April, he was wound in the leg by a grenade. He was sent to the rear to recover. While there he raised the troops morale. When he recovered, he went back to the front.

That year, he was also injured by mustard gas and issued his own gas mask. With his sensitive nose, he learned to warn the troops at the slightest detection of mustard gas. His dog hearing also allowed him the ability to warn the troops of incoming artillery. He also would find injured soldiers in the trenches and signal for help, while staying with the soldier.

He was once approached by a soldier, who he attacked and held till troops came and found him to be a German spy.

Then he was once more injured in the chest and leg by a grenade.

After the eighteen months, Conroy smuggled Sgt. Stubby home. Sgt. Stubby had been in many newspapers and came home a hero. He marched in parades and actually met Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding.

In his retirement, he went to Georgetown University Law Center with Robert Conroy and became the school mascot.

Sgt. Stubby died in his sleep in 1926. His obituary was printed in the New York Times.

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Original caption: Washington, DC: Meet up with Stubby, a 9-year-old veteran of the canine species. He has been through the World War as mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division. Stubby visited the White House to call on President Coolidge. November 1924

 

The Promise – Chapter One

IMG_5662For all who have shown an interest in my books but have not yet purchased. I have uploaded a sample for you to view. I hope you will enjoy this true to life story of the orphan train riders.

THE PROMISE chap 1

Books may be purchased at Amazon.com or you may send a check for $12.95 ($9.95 plus $3.00 shipping) to Carolyn Johnson, PO Box 311, Arapaho, OK 73620. If you would like it autographed, please include name.

 

 

Chickasaw Tribes -American Allies

Not all Indians fought the new influx of European people.  The Chickasaw people had good relations with the new white people. In 1670 the Chickasaw traded with the British. The British traded guns for captured Choctaw Indian slaves. When the French supplied guns to the Choctaw the slave raids stopped. The Chickasaw fought with Britain against the French but had not fought against the Americans.

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When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Chickasaw allied with the Americans. In 1791, they fought hostile tribes in Ohio for the colonists. In 1794, their chief, Piomingo, was invited to visit George Washington in his home. Washington thanked the tribe for their loyalty by giving gifts. A peace pipe was smoked between Washington and the chiefs present. Also a document was written showing the boundaries of the Chickasaw territory, which included the western half of Tennessee, parts of Mississippi, and Alabama. It provided protection for the Chickasaw people against white abuse. Washington also assured the tribe that they would never lose their land. Unfortunately, the following presidents did not honor Washington’s pledge.

The Chickasaw Nation was viewed as one of the five civilized tribes. They had integrated with white people and many were mixed race. Originally from the southeastern part of the United States, they were forced to sell their land and move to the Indian territory of Oklahoma in 1832. This happened as part of the Indian Removal of the 1830s. The Chickasaw people were part of the terrible Trail Of Tears. Unlike the other tribes, the Chickasaw negotiated with the government to sell the land for three million dollars. The government did pay the amount but it took thirty years for the payment to arrive.

During the Civil War, the Chickasaw joined with the confederacy. Owning black slaves, resentment of lost land and suggestion by confederacy of making a Indian state lead to this partnership.

The Chickasaw today are a proud and prosperous tribe. I am proud to say my husband is a member of the Chickasaw tribe.

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Traditional paint. Tattoos were given for bravery.

 

Canis Majoris

Canis Majoris (or in English – Great Dog) is our galaxy’s largest known star. It was discovered March 7, 1801 by Jerome LaLande. It is known as a red Hypergiant.

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This is an actual picture of Canis Majoris from the Rutherford Observatory Sept. 7, 2014.

If Canis Majoris was our sun it would extend beyond Jupiter’s orbit. Our own sun is but a pin prick on the surface of Canis Majoris. An airliner would take 1100 years to fly around the star.

The following clip will give you an idea of the immensity of the universe.

https://youtu.be/1Eh5BpSnBBw

 

 

 

An Appeal To Heaven

Appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free. Gen Joseph Warren 1775.

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In 1775, this flag was used during revolutionary times. The flag was ordered by George Washington and designed by his secretary Colonel Joseph Reed. It was first used by a squadron of six schooners commissioned by George Washington, who reportedly paid for the schooners out of pocket. These ships were skilled at capturing British schooners.

In 1776, the fleet of twenty-five naval vessels sailing out of Massachusetts adopted the flag.

1885_History_of_US_flags_medThe pine tree was a symbol in New England, dating back as far as 1686. During Revolutionary times it became a symbol of  colonial outrage and resistance.

The white pine in New England grew to heights topping 150 feet. They were sought after for sailing masts. The English king, knowing the value of the trees, placed a mark on the larger trees claiming them for the crown. Colonist could not harvest these trees. They also had to get a surveyor and a license to cut the trees not marked. Not surprising, the colonists did not like being told what they could and could not do with their own trees. In 1775, this anger led to the Pine Tree Riot in New Hampshire.

This was not the only flag, at the time, with a pine tree. The flag that flew over Bunker Hill was red with a green pine tree in the top, left corner.

an appeal to heaven

The words, “An Appeal To Heaven”, was a common phrase in those days. It was used several times in historical documents, including Second Treatise on Civil Government by John Locke in 1690 and by Patrick Henry in his famous, Give me liberty or give me death speech.

In 1968, a United States stamp was issued commemorating Washington’s flag.

 

Stagecoach Mary

In 1832, she was born a slave in Tennessee, she was freed in 1865 at the age of 33.

When she was freed she worked for Judge Dunne, who some believe had been her owner. When his wife died in 1883, Mary took his children to their aunt’s home in Ohio. The aunt was Mother Mary Amedeus the Mother Superior of a convent. Mary stayed near Mother Mary Amedeus until the Mother Superior was transferred to Montana to start a school for Native American girls. In 1884, Mary heard of Mother Mary falling ill with pneumonia. She traveled to Montana to nurse her back to health.

So far this sounds like a loyal slave caring for former owners. But Mary Fields was no subservient ex-slave. Unlike most slaves, she had been taught to read and write. She stood six feet tall and weighed 200 lbs. To say she was an imposing figure, would be putting it lightly. If the persona didn’t intimidate you, be aware, she carried a pistol under her apron and a shotgun in her hand. She smoked hand-wrapped big black cigars and usually had a whiskey jug someplace close by her.

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Mary Fields was not afraid of anyone or anything. And was know to not back down from a fist fight. She stayed at the convent, when the Mother Superior got well, to help out. She hauled freight, chopped wood, did laundry and cared for the chickens and garden. The Native Americans called her White Crow because she acted like a white woman but had black skin.

In 1894, her temper got the better of her when a male worker made derisive comments concerning a black woman getting higher pay than him. Mary grabbed her gun and went after him. They had a shootout behind the convent. A bystander was slightly wounded by a stray bullet which was the only injury after Mary and the male worker had emptied their six guns. The Bishop told Mary she would have to leave, he was tired of her temper and foul language.

The Mother Superior helped her open a restaurant but it went broke in ten months. Mary made a habit of feeding people whether they paid or not.

Then in 1895, at the ripe old age of sixty, Mary found her calling. Having the fastest time hitching up a six horse team, she won the job of US postal carrier. This made her the first black woman postal carrier and the second black woman ever hired by the US postal service. She delivered mail with a team or with her mule, Moses. If the snow was too deep, she’d put the mail on her back and hike the trail in snowshoes. She once walked ten miles through the snow. She never missed a day. Her dependability earned her the name Stagecoach Mary.

When she hit seventy, she quit the postal service. She started doing laundry and ran an eating establishment. At seventy-two, a man tried to stiff her on a laundry bill. She reared back and laid him on the ground with one punch. Mary was still a force to be reckoned with.

I am Mary Fields.  People call me “Black Mary.”  People call me “Stagecoach Mary.”  I live in Cascade, Tennessee.  I am six feet tall.  I weigh over two hundred pounds.  A woman of the 19th Century,  I do bold and exciting things.  I wear pants.  I smoke a big black cigar.  I drink whiskey.  I carry a pistol.  I love adventure.  I travel the country,  driving a stagecoach,  delivering the mail to distant towns.  Strong, I fight through rainstorms.  Tough, I fight through snowstorms.  I risk hurricanes and tornadoes.  I am independent.  No body tells me what to do.  No body tells me where to go.  When I’m not delivering mail,  I like to build buildings.  I like to smoke and drink in bars with the men.  I like to be rough.  I like to be rowdy.  I also like to be loving.  I like to be caring.  I like to baby sit. I like to plant flowers and tend my garden. I like to give away corsages and bouquets. I like being me, Mary Fields.

Mary Fields

Oldest Bridge in Connecticut

I’d like to share another fascinating bridge in Connecticut. It’s called the Mill Brook Bridge. It actually was on the edge of our neighbor’s yard. Our neighbor’s daughter and I used to play under this bridge when the water flow was low in the summer. Sometimes we would sit in the four foot high cavity and let the water flow over our legs.

mill brook bridge 2

This is a stone arch bridge that was built with no mortar, just the stone. It’s ten feet in length and 18 feet in width. As fascinating as that is, it’s not the most important aspect of this bridge.

This bridge, that I innocently played under, was the oldest bridge in Connecticut and one of the oldest in the entire country. It was built in 1790. That was when George Washington was president! Did George ever cross it? There’s a good chance he might have walked across it and over the property where I lived.

A couple of things point to this possibility. First, that was the main route in the area and second is the secret no one in the area cares to talk about. You see, I grew up in a small rural town called Lisbon, CT. About five miles away is the city of Norwich. Now the shameful secret of Norwich (which the town people are reluctant to tell) is that Norwich is the birthplace of Benedict Arnold. And no, there is no monument to him in Norwich, which is actually against the law seeing as he was declared a traitor.

But I like to think George and Benedict may have traveled over my bridge on their many journeys.

mill brook bridge

Unfortunately the bridge was destroyed by a flood in March 2010.

Frog Fight Of 1754

I grew up in Connecticut and visiting my sister in Mansfield, we had to cross the Frog Bridge of Willimantic. Now, you may think having 11 foot bronze frogs on the four corners of the bridge ridiculous but to the people of Willimantic it’s a badge of honor.

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In 1754, having done battle with the French and the Indians, the militia were on the alert. One night in June, they were awaken by a cacophony of noise. Some were sure it was the French, others just as sure it was Indians. The noise was so terrifying some were convinced it was the Day of Judgment and fell to their knees.

Many brave militia men grabbed their muskets and ran to the battle. Though they searched and even fired rounds toward the noise, they did not come in contact with the enemy.

In the morning an investigation began. It was soon discovered that the horrendous noise had not come from the French, Indians or even God. The town people had been in a drought for some time and most ponds had dried up. There was one pond left in the area and masses of frogs had converged and fought a huge battle over territory. Hundreds of frogs lay dead and dying at the pond.

News spread of the silly Willimantic residents being terrified by a bunch of frogs. They were shamed for a couple of decades. Then someone pointed out that they could have been being attacked and they had been armed and ready. The frog fight lost it’s shame and became a symbol of honor.

So, in Connecticut, we look at the Frog Bridge with pride for the New England spirit of readiness it symbolizes. And we secretly smile because nothing is better to a New Englander than a good joke on ourselves.

frog bridge

ps The frogs sit on thimbles of thread because Willimantic was a thread mill center at one time.