1. Revised Article: Alumnus Joel Lewis's Visit to Auschwitz, Where Relatives Were Murdered.
2. NEW Article: CNC's First Dramatic Productions: "Spring—1622" and "Cold Harbor—1864”: Part 1.
3. Article & List (updated):Honoring CNC's First Decade Veterans: Air Force.
4. NEW humor: Living Life Backwards, by Woody Allen.
5. NEW cartoons: Allusions.
"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." John D. Rockefeller
American Business Magnate and Philanthropist (1839 - 1937)
Alumnus Joel Lewis's Visit to Auschwitz: Where Relatives Were
Revised slightly, January 15, 2021
by A. Jane Chambers
With personal information from Joel Lewis
January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the genocide that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 6 million Jews, 200,000 Romani (Gypsies), 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators (Wikipedia).
Above are the railroad tracks to the main entrance of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where 6,000 people were murdered daily in five gas chambers. Visible left and right are the 13-foot tall electric fences surrounding the huge complex close to Krakow, Poland. All photos here are from the Internet.
CNCalumnus Joel Lewis was always aware of his Polish roots. He grew up eating foods from "the old country" and looking at pictures of, and listening to sad remembrances of, family killed in the Holocaust simply because, like him, they were Jewish. In high school and college, studying about World War II and the Holocaust, he recalls that "while recoiling from what I read and the pictures I saw, it was still more academic than real to me"-- maybe because "the horror was so enormous" that his mind could handle it only by turning "the pictures and words" into "bad fiction."
When a woman from Poland, Kasia, who had married into his extended family, invited Joel and his wife, Gail, to spend two weeks visiting Poland with her and her husband, "We leapt at the chance," says Joel. Kasia also offered to be their tour guide, planning the trip in detail and providing histories for every stop. Joel was eager not only to find where his family roots were established, but also to "see, feel, and experience history instead of relying on academia or news reel footage."
The German words above this infamous gate to Auschwitz-Birkenau, ARBEIT MACHT FREI, translate as "Work liberates" or "Work makes one free"--a popular Nazi slogan posted in many concentration or death camps. How ironic! The few prisoners in each trainload that entered Auschwitz and were not immediately killed, male and female, labored as much as 12 hours daily on starvation rations until they died of disease or starvation or just collapsed, at which point they were shot dead. The first building on the left was a brothel for SS officers and special "hard-working" (but non-Jewish) prisoners. In his book, Auschwitz, A New History, Laurence Rees says that the women brothel workers, supposedly non-Jewish prisoners, had to have sex with approximately 6 men daily (15 minutes per man) and were given "good food" and allowed to "take walks." Did any of them believe this Arbeit would lead to their freedom?
Joel's family group did not immediately go to Auschwitz; first they enjoyed some of the country's beauty and its people, whom Joel found "industrious, friendly, and eager to engage." Restaurants served foods he ate as a child and people used expressions used by his parents and grandparents. "Many of the Yiddish words" his family spoke when he was a child, he learned, "had Polish as well as Germanic roots. I promptly felt I had come home." He found it "wonderful having these connections repeatedly." When the time came to visit Auschwitz," that hell on earth," he felt "much trepidation about going there," but knew he had to go.
Joel's group spent over three hours touring Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most infamous concentration and death camp of some dozen such camps in Poland. Originally built as a Polish army camp, the compound includes over 20 brick barracks that survived WW II essentially intact, plus numerous wooden barracks built by prisoners, most of them now in ruins. The barracks were designed to house several thousand Polish soldiers, but the camp eventually had some 1.5 million souls pass through it, most killed and then cremated. Below is a photo of the inside of one of the wooden barracks, where men were packed like sardines into mattress-less bunks. There were skylights but no windows, no electricity, little or no heat in winter, no water, and only a few buckets at each end to serve overnight as toilets.
Joel describes how he felt during this time: "The day was very hot. I felt myself sweating both from the heat outside and from what I felt inside, my body crying for the souls that were so tortured and died in such horrible ways. As we walked from place to place, seeing more evidence of man's cruelty to mankind, the hot wind rustling the leaves of trees made me feel the dead were whispering 'Never forget what happened here, what happened to us.' The abomination of what took place there was overwhelming. I wondered how could this happen? How could some humans do such horrible things to other humans? I thought surely nothing else I could see could disturb me further. That is, until I headed into the gas chamber."
In the photo above, the opening in the thick wall (left) is where a doorway was once. The gas chamber was originally a morgue for holding bodies that were to be cremated. When prisoners exited the cattle cars that had transported them to Auschwitz, they were divided into two groups: those who were fit enough for labor, and those who were not--the sick, the elderly, mothers of young children and their children. The latter were told they were going to take showers. They undressed outside, then entered one of the 7 gas chambers at Auschwitz, each of which could hold hundreds of people. They were killed with Zyklon B, a cyanide-based pesticide. It was a horrible death, causing suffocation. Any who were still alive when the room was opened were promptly shot.
Joel remembers seeing on the walls "scratch marks that are still very visible," made by people "desperately trying to survive," to find a way out. "Touching those marks made these people real to me, as real as if I could see them struggling to get out, their way again of saying 'Do not forget what was done here and do not forget us.' I promised them I would never forget them and that I would be their voice in letting people know the monstrous evil that was done in Auschwitz."
Most of the five crematoriums and gas chambers at Auschwitz were destroyed, or partly destroyed, when the Nazis learned the allied forces were coming to free the prisoners. This last picture shows four ovens and the trolleys that moved the dead prisoners to the ovens, which operated virtually non-stop, burning thousands of bodies daily. The ashes were removed from the doors below the openings of the furnaces. The ashes were thrown into the nearby river, or buried, or used as fertilizer.
Joel remembers that when the tour ended and he was returning to the tour bus, "I was struck by the thought of how many doctors, inventors, authors, Nobel laureates, and other wonderful people died at Auschwitz. Their needless deaths deprived humanity of countless wonders and treasures. This realization served to increase my sorrow, not just for my family's loss, but for the loss to humanity."
Published again (slightly revised) January 15, 2021
DRAMATIC WORKSHOP SERIES
Dramatic Workshop Series, No. 2
CNC's First Dramatic Productions:
"Spring—1622" and "Cold Harbor—1864"
by A. Jane Chambers
with Dramatic Workshop Scrapbook materials
Off stage awaiting their cue in the Fort Eustis theater (photo above) are "Cold Harbor" actors Larry Herman (as a Confederate soldier) and Norman Blankenship (as a wounded Union soldier). All photographs in this article are from Dalton Kelley Blankenship's Dramatic Workshop Scrapbook.
The first plays produced by students in CNC's first theatrical group, were two one-act historical dramas written and copyrighted by Frances Kitchin, director of CNC's Dramatic Workshop and wife of CNC English and speech instructor William W. Kitchin. Both plays had been performed at other venues earlier and had won awards. Workshop member Norman Blankenship recalls that Frances Kitchin was "a true theater professional and a gracious lady" and that "the only reason we were able to perform 'Spring—1622' and 'Cold Harbor—1864’ was that Mrs. Kitchin had written them"--thus the group did not have to adhere to "rights and royalties."
Director Frances Kitchin gives her Dramatic Workshop students some last minute pointers before their February 26, 1965 opening performance at CNC.
The two dramas were excellent choices for CNC's theatrical debut on Friday evening, February 26, 1965 in Christopher Newport Hall's Lecture Room. Each was based upon brutal historical events in Virginia that had occurred relatively close to Newport News and about which most educated Virginians had some knowledge.
The title and setting of "Spring—1622," described in the program (cover right) as "a few miles outside Jamestown," allude to the Indian Massacre of 1622--a daylight slaughter of colonists--men, women and children--on March 22, 1622. Powhatan warriors suddenly attacked English settlements all up and down the James River in retaliation for similar violent acts the colonists had committed against them. They burned and looted the settlements and killed 347 colonists--then 25% of the English population of Virginia. Warned of the pending attack by colonist Richard Pace, who was warned by an Indian youth living at his home, Jamestown had time to increase its defenses and was fortunately spared (Wikipedia).
The title of “Cold Harbor—1864" and the setting, anevening "behind Confederate lines" at "an isolated guard post,” allude to the Civil War's Battle of Cold Harbor (May 31 - June 12)--one of the "bloodiest, most lopsided battles" of that war. Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, attempting to reach Richmond, ordered “a hopeless frontal assault against the fortified positions of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army" near what is now Mechanicsville, VA. Approximately 7,000 Union soldiers and 1,500 Confederate ones were killed (Wikipedia). Grant later wrote in his memoirs, "I regret this assault more than any one I have ever ordered."
THE PERFORMANCES AT CNC
CNC’s one-act plays of course did not stage the historical events described above, but depicted how they might have influenced the lives of some people during those periods. The March 10, 1965 article below from CNC’s student newspaper, The Captain’s Log (Vol. 2, Issue 3, p. 1), included the names of all the student actors, directors, musicians and others involved in presenting “Spring—1622” and “Cold Harbor—1864” and called the performances “a tremendous success.”
In the 1964-65 academic year, the only building on the CNC campus on Shoe Lane was the first one: Christopher Newport Hall. The Lecture Hall in Newport was where these first two plays were performed. With theater-like tiered seating for about 225 people, the hall was used for numerous events: class lectures, faculty meetings, community events and, beginning in 1965, commencements and theatrical performances. There was no elevated stage—just a floor area at the front of the room. “Cold Harbor” actor Norman Blankenship remembers that since the audience “was right at the edge of the stage,” the student actors “thought we were ‘avant garde’ even though we really did not know what that meant.” Behind this “stage,” Norman recalls, was “a small supply room,” very narrow, which doubled as “backstage” for scene and costume changes—fortunately, in these first plays, quite minimal.
Not only were the two plays CNC’s first dramatic productions, they were also CNC’s first dramas to be performed at an off-campus venue: the Army base Fort Eustis, located in upper Newport News. The above photograph with a caption probably appeared in one of the newspapers printed then by the Daily Press—most likely, the afternoon paper, The Times-Herald, which almost exclusively covered CNC news in the college’s early decades. Part 2 of this article, to be published January 29, 2021, will cover the Fort Eustis performances of “Spring—1622” and “Cold Harbor—1864,” with photos and memories of some of the students involved in that historic event.
Honored first in this series were CNC's 61 First Decaders who served in our nation's Army, plus the two who were killed in action. That article required 2 parts. Honored second were the 23 who were in the Navy and the 2 in the Coast Guard, plus CNC's first president, H. Westcott (Scotty) Cunningham (Navy, WW2). The third article saluted our 12 Marines, including Pat Giguere (KIA) in Grenada, and CNC's second president, James C. (Jim) Windsor, who fought in Korea. This last article honors those who served in the Air Force (19). As in the other articles honoring CNC's First Decade veterans, photographs and information were provided by the veterans themselves and the full LIST of veterans in this branch is published separately.
After one academic year at CNC (1965-66), Joseph F. (Joe) Hutchko joined the USAF, serving 1966-70. Happily, at his first base assignment, in Syracuse, New York, he met Bobbi, also stationed there, who soon became his wife (photo of them right). Later, Joe spent a year (1969) stationed in Saigon, Vietnam. His last USAF assignment was at a small base in Kansas City, Missouri. He left service honorably as a Staff Sergeant. Joe then returned to CNC and completed his BS degree in Management Information Science in 1974. His is a CNC family, with 13 years of attendance invested there. Wife Bobbi attended three years, their son attended two, and their daughter earned her BS in biology at CNC in four years.
The photo left above is of a 4-man Titan II ICBM combat crew of the late 1960s. The young man on the right is James R. (Jim) Watson. After completing two years at CNC (1964-66), Jim served in the USAF 1966-70. Stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ, he and his crew pulled 24-hour alerts (around eight per month) in remote underground missile sites located 20 to 30 miles from their base. Their job was to keep their Titan II ICBM, with its nuclear warhead, on alert status, ready to be launched (as in photo two) if the order came to go to war. Jim was "so glad that never happened." Overall, he wrote, "The job was very easy, so we had lots of time to read. I read a lot of books and took a correspondence college course during the time I served." After leaving service as a Staff Sergeant, then completing studies at the University of Arizona, Jim became an architect.
Edwin J. (Ted) McFalls, Jr. served in the Air Force both before and during his attendance at CNC. He served 1961-65 on active duty at Langley AFB, Hampton. The photo in his dress blues was taken at Christmas time in 1962 when he was home on leave. The second picture, in work clothes, was taken at Langley, where Ted was assigned to the 4500 Transportation Squadron Log Air section. He took a moment to smile at the photographer while waiting for a C130 aircraft to land so it could be loaded with cargo going to Vietnam. Ted went immediately from active to reserve duty, serving 1965-67 while also attending CNC, where he was active in track and flag football. He left the USAF at the rank of Airman First Class.
The photo right shows Dr. Herminio Cuervo, MD, in his flight suit while he was serving with the 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Torrejon Air Base, Spain, in 1990. After attending CNC, then completing his BS at William and Mary in 1968, Herminio earned his MD & PhD at the University of Salamanca-Spain in 1974. Then he served actively in the USAF 1974-82 in Germany, Italy, and Turkey. In Wiesbaden, Germany, he was Chief of Neurology, USAF Europe. Back in America, in 1979 Herminio earned another medical degree at Harvard University's Medical School. In January 1981, he participated in the Rescue of 52 American hostages held in the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran.
Herminio then served in the USAF Reserve 1983-88, deployed to Central America in support of the Contras in Nicaragua., and in 1988, he earned a third medical degree from Florida International University in Miami. He served again actively 1988-93, deployed to Spain, Morocco, Italy and Turkey--during which time he participated in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.He left the Air Force as Lieutenant Colonel. Currently, he is Chief of Neurology at Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Lakeland, FLA.
After completing two years at CNC (1966-68), Michael B. (Mike) Witty served on active duty in the Air Force seven years (1968-75), then spent an additional year in the AF Reserve, ending his service as Tech Sergeant. The photo left above shows him receiving an AF Systems Command Certificate of Achievement in September 1971, at the rank of Staff Sergeant. The second photo, made recently, proves that there are some who can still fit into their 50-year-old dress uniforms. Mike posed with his youngest grandsons at their elementary school's annual Veterans and First Responders Parade in Winchester, Va.
Mike served 14 months overseas at Wheelus AFB in Tripoli, Libya (Dec. 1968 - Feb. 1970). The rest of his service was primarily at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland AFB, TX, and Air Force Systems Command Headquarters, Andrews AFB, MD. He took college courses on and off base everywhere he was stationed. A Boot-Strap Degree Leave of six months to attend Culver-Stock College full time in Canton, MO enabled him to complete his BS in Business Administration there in December 1973.
Luther (Lew) Richardson (photos above) served 7 years (1955-61) in the USAF in England, Germany, and Virginia. While stationed in England Lew met Patricia, from Liverpool, and married her December 6, 1958. Photo left above shows him in winter dress uniform the day of the wedding. After Lew's deployment in Wiesbaden, Germany ended, the couple moved to Virginia, where Lew was stationed at Langley AFB, Hampton, with the USAF Second Weather Group.
On May 5, 1961, Lew participated in an historic event. Astronaut Alan Shepard was piloting Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7, 90 miles above the Earth, in the first manned orbital flight of Project Mercury. About three minutes after launch, Shepard reported the weather conditions he saw from Cocoa, FLA to Cape Hatteras, NC. Lew heard and taped Shepard's report and immediately sent it to all USA weather stations. It was the world's first pilot report from space. The Daily Press article "LAFB Weatherman Sends Space Pilot's First Report On Conditions" included the second photo above, showing Lew at work. That fall, he enrolled at CNC. Later he enrolled in NASA's Apprentice School and eventually became a computer programmer at NASA.
Stationed at Langley AFB 1965-69, Robert J. (Bob) Tutton (photo left) began his academic studies part time at CNC in 1968. After leaving the Air Force, he enrolled full time at CNC, where he completed an AA degree in 1971 and a BA in psychology in 1973 which, he writes, "truly changed my life." His BA, followed a year later by an MS in counseling at VCU in Richmond, started him on a career path in higher education. Bob joined the Army National Guard in 1981, serving as a personnel officer, but also, between periods of active duty, working at John Tyler Community College as a counselor.
He completed two more advanced degrees while continuing to serve John Tyler CC--an Educational Specialist degree (William and Mary, 1999) and a Doctor of Arts degree (George Mason, 2003). He retired from the Guard in 1999 as a lieutenant colonel. He was promoted in 2005 to academic dean at John Tyler, where he served in that office until retiring in 2008. He wrote that he is "grateful to CNC for giving me the opportunity to launch my education and my career as a professional counselor and academic dean."
A member of CNC's first baccalaureate degree class, William Keith (Keith) Kahle (Air Force photo right) completed his BS in Biology in 1971 and his MD at UVA in 1975. During his medical studies, Keith also served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, beginning in 1971. He completed his medical internship at Kessler AFB, in Biloxi, MS, his orthopedic surgery residency at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta, and a fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City. He also was stationed in England for three years. After 20 years as an orthopedic surgeon in the Air Force, he retired in 1991 as a Lt. Colonel. Then he joined the Dean Health System in Madison, WI, practicing spine surgery.
Updated January 1, 2021, this list includes 19 CNC First Decaders thus far known who served in the U.S. Air Force. It also gives (where known) their overseas deployments and ranks they held when they left service.
(D) = Deceased, (KIA) = Killed in Action, (PC)= Photo(s) & Content in article.
RAEFORD CLIFTON (RAY) BARNES Taiwan SR A
RICHARD L. BURNEY, Jr. unknown
HOWARD HUNTER CLARK , Jr. Thailand MAJ
L. LAUGHTON (BUDDY) COCKRELL, Jr. SSGT
JAMES STANLEY (JIM) CRANK: med. corpsman
HERMINIO CUERVO (PC)Germany, Italy, Turkey;
Central America; Spain, Morocco. LT COL
WILLIAM TALBOT (BILL) EUBANK III unknown
PAUL WILLIAM FISHER TurkeySSGT
ALEC L. (SKIP) GAINES III: (D) Thailand unknown
JOSEPH F. (JOE) HUTCHKO (PC)Vietnam SSGT
KEITH KAHLE (PC)England LT COL
THOMAS L. TOM KLUMP Thailand SR A
EDWIN J. (TED) McFALLS Jr. (PC) A1C
GARY P. MORGAN AIR NATL GD BRIG GEN
LUTHER L. RICHARDSON (D) (PC)England & Germany SR A
ROBERT J. (BOB) TUTTON (PC) USAF & ARMY NATL GD LT COL
JAMES R. (JIM) WATSON (PC) SSGT
JOSEPH ERNEST (JOE) WINN LT COL
MICHAEL B. (MIKE) WITTY (PC)Libya T SGT
Living Life Backwards
by Woody Allen
Woody Allen in 2015. Wikiwand photo.
In my next life I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people's home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day. You work for 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement.
You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous; then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities; you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm!
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