“I don't know what I think until I write it down.” ― Joan Didion
Author: Melissa Crowe
I’m Melissa: an adventure-seeking, story-telling, internet-loving journalist. I work in Seattle.
You can find my work in the Puget Sound Business Journal where I use data to tell stories about the people, businesses and industries driving Washington state’s economy.
Jutta Schreiner’s childhood was filled with brainwashing, war and faith in the Nazi Party.
As a 9-year-old German girl, she survived the British Royal Air Force’s attack on a German city, her hometown, Lubeck. About that time, she enrolled early in Hitler Youth and three years later, as the war was ending, she helped her mother destroy the last traces of her father’s existence and ties with the Nazi Party.
Ms. Schreiner, now 77 with her white, wispy hair and frail stature, says it was for safety – an effort to protect the family from association with the Nazis if her father ever came home from the war.
Her book, “The Signature Call,” shares snippets of surviving the war – stealing coal, hiding from airstrikes, joining Hitler Youth, and the day her father returned from the war.
She clasps her fragile hands under her chin and peacefully re-enacts her stories’ introduction. “These are war stories that happened in the second World War that I lived through.”
MINEOLA — The unassuming eye could easily ignore the remnants of the past, tucked away in paintings in corners of East Texas buildings.
But these paintings in Kilgore, Longview, Mineola and Rusk post offices represent Depression-era artwork commissioned by one of the federal government’s largest New Deal agencies, the Works Progress Administration.
By assisting professional artists in finding work during the Great Depression, the agency indirectly left behind a trail of history and culture found not in European museums, but in the familiar surroundings of their communities.
“They renewed communities at a time when communities were falling apart,” said Rachel Sailor, an art historian at The University of Texas at Tyler. “I feel like those murals can enact the same kind of community that they were intended to do in the 1930s.” Continue reading Murals serve as symbols of community identity
GRAND SALINE – Dust from Tony Phillips’ sweet potato fields fills the leather creases across the toe of his workboots. Along the soles, salt from his second job cakes the rubber bottoms.
During harvest season, he easily puts in 20 hours a day – a full night at the Morton Salt Mine and a full day in his field.
Like the dwindling number of sweet potato farmers in East Texas, he kept a second job to have a backup to the exceedingly risky farming industry.
“I’ve got to be a farmer, an accountant, a salesman and a weatherman,” Phillips said, standing outside a warehouse stacked floor to ceiling with hundreds of crates of his sweet potatoes. Continue reading Farming for gold
With his white beard and hefty size, Tom Sorrels often is mistaken for Santa Claus.
This summer, he was leaving a Mexican restaurant when a little girl told him he looked like Santa.
The remark left an impression, and that led to him dressing the part and helping the big guy from the North Pole during the holiday season.
Sorrels is among dozens of East Texas men who sport a Santa look not only around Christmastime but year-round or a big part of the year. Their looks garner stares and frequent inquiries from innocent children.
Sorrels said playing Santa now has become his “civic duty.”
He had previous Santa experience – a Santa internship from in the 1970s at Lamar University when he worked for a Rent-A- Santa – but had not given much thought to playing Santa since.
All that changed this summer after one child’s remark.