The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Most of us get luckier

May 6th, 2016 · No Comments

“The way to fame is a hard one. You must suffer and be the butt of jealousy and ill-informed criticism. It is a lonely matter.” – Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (quoted by  Rick Atkinson in The Guns at Last Light)

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Darling little bastards

May 5th, 2016 · No Comments

“Despite War Department assurances that ‘men who refrain from sexual acts are frequently stronger, owing to their conservation of energy,’ so many GIs impregnated British women that the U.S. government agreed to give local courts jurisdiction in ‘bastardy proceedings’; child support was fixed at £1 per week until the little Anglo-American turned thirteen, and 5 to 20 shillings weekly for teenagers. Road signs cautioned, ‘To all GIs: please drive carefully, that child may be yours.’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

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The dirty dozens

May 4th, 2016 · No Comments

“In April 1944, the War Department decreed that inductees need have only a ‘reasonable chance’ of adjusting to military life, although psychiatric examiners were advised to watch for two dozen ‘personality deviations,’ including silly laughter, sulkiness, resentfulness of discipline, and other traits that would seemingly disqualify every teenager in the United States. In addition, the Army began drafting ‘moderate’ obsessive-compulsives, as well as stutterers. Men with malignant tumors, leprosy, or certifiable psychosis still were deemed ‘nonacceptable,’ but by early 1944, twelve thousand venereal disease patients, most of them syphilitic, were inducted each month and rendered fit for service with a new miracle drug called penicillin.” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

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The average Joe

May 3rd, 2016 · No Comments

“The typical soldier stood five feet eight inches tall and weighed 144 pounds, but physical standards had been lowered to accept defects that once would have kept many young men out of uniform. A man with 20/400 vision could now be conscripted if his sight was correctable to at least 20/40 in one eye; toward that end, the armed forces would make 2.3 million pairs of eyeglasses for the troops. The old jest that the Army no longer examined eyes but just counted them had come true. A man could be drafted if he had only one eye, or was completely deaf in one ear, or had lost both external ears, or was missing a thumb or three fingers on either hand, including a trigger finger. Earlier in the war, a draftee had to possess at least twelve of his original thirty-two teeth, but now he could be utterly toothless.” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

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G.I. Joe

May 2nd, 2016 · No Comments

“The average GI was twenty-six, born the year that the war to end all wars had ended, but manpower demands in this global struggle meant the force was growing younger: henceforth nearly half of all American troops arriving to fight in Europe in 1944 would be teenagers. One in three GIs had only a grade school education, one in four held a high school diploma, and slightly more than one in ten had attended college for at least a semester.” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

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Over there, again

May 1st, 2016 · No Comments

“Down the gangplanks they tromped, names checked from a clipboard, each soldier wearing his helmet, his field jacket, and a large celluloid button color-coded by the section of the ship to which he had been confined during the passage. Troops carried four blankets apiece to save cargo space, while deluded officers could be seen lugging folding chairs, pillow-cases, and tennis rackets. A brass band and Highland Pipers greeted them on the dock; Scottish children raised their arms in a V for Victory. Combat pilots who had fulfilled their mission quotas, and were waiting to board ship for the return voyage, bellowed, ‘Go back before it’s too late!’ or ‘What’s your wife’s telephone number?’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

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Couldn’t say

April 30th, 2016 · No Comments

“It is quite pleasant to be famous. Probably bad for the soul.” – General George S. Patton, Jr. (quoted by  Rick Atkinson in The Guns at Last Light)

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Not even so much as a scratch in the dust

April 29th, 2016 · No Comments

“Writing a book is usually a humdrum affair. You read a lot of other books and articles in your field, produce a draft, polish it, send it out, wait anxiously for reviews, gnash your teeth over the reviews (or the lack of reviews), compulsively check the book’s Amazon ranking for a month or so, and finally sink back into oblivion and despair, vowing never to write another one.” – George Scialabba

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Which one are you?

April 28th, 2016 · No Comments

“Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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Not so wild a dream

April 27th, 2016 · No Comments

“The working of democracy is boring, most of the time, and dull compared with other systems, but that is a small price to pay for so great a thing.” – Eric Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream

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Nothing and everything

April 26th, 2016 · No Comments

“Nothing is so beautiful, marvelous, ever new, ever surprising, so full of sweet and continual delight, as the good. Nothing is so barren and dismal, monotonous and boring as evil. That is the way with real good and evil. Fictional good and evil are quite the opposite, though. Fictional good is boring and flat. Fictional evil is varied, interesting, attractive, profound, and seductive. This is because in reality, there is a necessity, like gravity, governing us that is missing in fiction.” – Simone Weil, “Literature and Morals”

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Just go back to sleep

April 25th, 2016 · No Comments

“More than anything else, what makes totalitarianism possible is a people’s submissiveness to authority: its slowness to perceive and unwillingness to resist injustices committed not by distant villains and official enemies but at home, by those with the power to make resistance dangerous.” – George Scialabba, “An Enemy of the State”

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Same as for creative writers

April 24th, 2016 · No Comments

“Emphasis, omission, and distortion rather than outright lying are the tools of the war propagandists.” – I. F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War

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Keeping clean

April 23rd, 2016 · No Comments

“It is simply good intellectual hygiene to reject politically-motivated demands to devalue art or arguments by citing the real or alleged failings of their author.” – George Scialabba, “An Enemy of the State”

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The theory, anyway

April 22nd, 2016 · No Comments

“Artistic originality emerges only after a lengthy assimilation of many traditions. The artist surrenders his individuality, and it is returned to him enriched. The tradition too is enriched.” – George Scialabba, “The Critic As Radical”

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Nice work if you can get it

April 21st, 2016 · No Comments

“Don’t come to work just for the paycheck. You want to be challenged, you want to learn, and you want to grow. Break out of your comfort zone and keep an open mind. As long as you’re in a position where you’re expanding your mind and learning new things, you’re going to be fulfilled.” – Nicole Guyer McMurrian, E-Discovery Project Manager

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Liberation celebration

April 20th, 2016 · No Comments

“[Colonel] Howze at twilight led a tank company toward the central rail station to find boulevards empty and windows shuttered. Then a sash flew open, a voice shrieked ‘Americano!,’ and Romans by the thousands swept into the streets despite the occasional ping from a sniper round. Delirious citizens flung themselves on to Howze’s jeep and ‘kissed me until I threatened to shoot some of them,’ he reported. ‘Vino offered in glasses, in pitchers, in bottles, and even in kegs,’ the 88th Division noted. “Kisses were freely bestowed by both male and female citizens and suffered or enjoyed by the recipients accordingly.’ Signoras offered plates of spaghetti and bowls of hot shaving water. Italian men with ancient rifles and red sashes clapped their liberators on the back, then stalked off in search of Germans and fascists. Communists and Blackshirts traded potshots, and the pop of pistol fire near the colosseum signaled another summary execution.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle (emphasis in original)

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New positions opening all the time

April 19th, 2016 · No Comments

“All troops were at risk, but none more than infantrymen, who accounted for 14 percent of the Army’s overseas strength and sustained 70 percent of the casualties. A study of four infantry divisions in Italy found that a soldier typically no longer wondered ‘whether he will be hit, but when and how bad.’ The army surgeon general concluded that ‘practically all men in rifle battalions who were not otherwise disabled ultimately became psychiatric casualties,’ typically after 200 to 240 cumulative days in combat. ‘There aren’t any iron men,’ wrote Brigadier General William C. Menninger, a prominent psychiatrist. ‘The strongest personality, subjected to sufficient stress a sufficient length of time, is going to disintegrate.’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle (emphasis in original)

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The hand of fate is on me now

April 18th, 2016 · No Comments

“Everything is in the hands of the fates, and many of the boys have met theirs already. I badly want to get home to my wife and son. I want to be able to enjoy something of the beauty of life again. Here we have nothing but terror and horror, death and damnation.” Unidentified German machine gunner (quoted by Rick Atkinson in The Day of Battle)

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All watched over by virgins of loving grace

April 17th, 2016 · No Comments

“The Guards’ command post occupied the crypt beneath a Catholic church, entered only on hands and knees through a hole scratched in the rubble. A decomposing German soldier lay near the entrance and those passing in and out would subsequently bow to him for luck, whispering, ‘Good evening, Hans.’ Shell fire and bombs had sliced open the burial vaults in the upper walls, scattering skeletons about the nave, and Tommies hung flypaper in a losing battle against insects. Pickets occupied three forward outposts, known as Jan, Helen, and Mary, in wrecked buildings barely a hundred yards from the German line. Sentries cradled their Bren guns beneath cockeyed wall prints of the Virgin, whose eyes remained fixed on heaven.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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Matters worth fighting over

April 16th, 2016 · No Comments

“Berlin had always considered Mussolini to be weak-kneed on the Jewish question, and on September 24, 1943, with the Duce reduced to a pathetic puppet, the Reichsführer-SS, Heinrich Himmler, secretly ordered the Gestapo chief in Rome, Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappler, to arrest all Jews in the city. The thirty-five-year-old Kappler, gray-eyed son of a Stuttgart chauffeur, had lived in Rome since 1939. He was described as ‘intolerant, cold, vengeful, unhappily married and with interests in Etruscan vases, roses, and photography’; when he grew annoyed, the dueling scar on his cheek reddened. Two days later, Kappler gave Jewish community leaders thirty-six hours to deliver fifty kilograms of gold or face the deportation of two hundred men. On September 28, a convoy of taxis and private cars pulled up to the Gestapo headquarters at Via Tasso 155 with the ransom, which was laid on a scale pan amid much haggling over the last gram. Three weeks later, at dawn on Saturday, October 16, storm troopers swept through the Roman ghetto anyway, seizing twelve hundred Jews; sixteen of them survived the war. Most were promptly shipped to Auschwitz and gassed, including an infant born after the roundup. Mussolini on December 1 ordered the arrest of ‘all Jews living in the national territory.’ Italians showed admirable pluck in sheltering Jewish compatriots: nearly five thousand hid in Roman convents, monasteries, and the Vatican. More than forty thousand Jews in Italy would survive the war; nearly eight thousand perished.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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Not a glamour shot

April 15th, 2016 · No Comments

“Daily life in combat units resolved itself into noise, filth, isolation, confusion, fatigue, and mortality; everything else seemed extraneous. Soldiers distrusted the gung ho, the cocksure, and anyone less miserable than themselves. ‘We learned to live as perhaps once we were long ago, as simply as animals without hope for ourselves or pity for another,’ wrote John Muirhead, a B-17 crewman. The conceits of fate, destiny, and God comforted some, but believers and nonbelievers alike rubbed their crucifixes and lucky coins and St. Christopher medals with a suspicion, as Muirhead said, that ‘one is never saved for long.’ They saw things that seared them forever: butchered friends, sobbing children, butchered children, sobbing friends.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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Adults only

April 14th, 2016 · No Comments

“At 3:30 p.m. on February 7 [1944], a Luftwaffe bomber chased by a Spitfire jettisoned five antipersonnel bombs over the 95th Evacuation Hospital, where four hundred patients lay in ward tents. Newly wounded soldiers had just arrived by ambulance, and operating rooms were jammed when flame and steel swept the compound. . . .  Twenty-eight died, including three nurses, two doctors, and six patients; another sixty-four were wounded, and the blasts shredded twenty-nine ward tents. . . . ‘God help us,’ a 1st Armored Division mess sergeant prayed after the hospital bombing. ‘You come yourself. Don’t send Jesus. This is no place for children.’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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Where the fault lies

April 13th, 2016 · No Comments

“Ninety percent of the trouble with Negro troops was the fault of the whites.” – Lieutenant General Ira C. Eaker, Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, 1944 (quoted by Rick Atkinson in The Day of Battle)

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But it still takes so long

April 12th, 2016 · No Comments

“Before the war, only nine black Americans possessed commercial pilot certificates, and fewer than three hundred had private licenses. Training began at Tuskegee Army Air Field in July 1941; the first pilots received their wings the following spring, then waited a year before deploying to North Africa as the only black AAF unit in a combat zone. Commanding the squadron was Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the thirty-year-old son of the Army’s sole black general. Young Davis at West Point had endured four years of silence from classmates who refused to speak to him because of his race, reducing him to what he called ‘an invisible man.’ From that ordeal, and from the segregated toilets, theaters, and clubs at Tuskegee, Davis concluded that blacks ‘could best overcome racist attitudes through their achievements,’ including prowess in the cockpit.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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Going to the mountaintop

April 11th, 2016 · No Comments

“Under pressure from black civic leaders and a crying need for fighters, three black Army divisions had been created: the 2nd Cavalry, which arrived in North Africa only to be disbanded to provide service troops; the 93rd Infantry, shipped to the Pacific; and the 92nd Infantry, which would arrive in Italy in late summer 1944 as the only African-American division to see combat in Europe. Officered above the platoon level almost exclusively by whites, the 92nd would endure trials by fire that only partly involved the Germans. Training was halted for two months to teach the men to read, since illiteracy in the division exceeded 60 percent. A black veteran later described ‘an intangible, elusive undercurrent of resentment, bitterness, even despair and hopelessness among black officers and enlisted men in the division.’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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Studies reveal . . .

April 10th, 2016 · No Comments

“Among the prevalent stereotypes was a belief that blacks were too dumb, too lazy, or too apathetic to serve as combat troops. An Army study decried their ‘lack of education and mechanical skill,’ as well as ‘a venereal rate eight to ten times that of white troops, a tendency to abuse equipment, lack of interest in the war, and particularly among northern troops a concern for racial ‘rights,’ which often culminated in rioting.’ In the summer of 1943, only 17 percent of black soldiers were high school graduates, compared with 41 percent of whites. In Army tests that measured educational achievement rather than native intelligence, more than four in five blacks scored in the lowest two categories compared to fewer than one in three whites.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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Fear of flying

April 9th, 2016 · No Comments

“The 1940 Draft Act banned racial discrimination, but only 250 blacks sat on the nation’s 6,400 draft boards; most southern states forbade any African-American board members. White America’s treatment of the hundreds of thousands of black volunteers and draftees ranged from unfortunate to despicable. The Mississippi congressional delegation asked the War Department to keep all black officers out of the state for the duration. Discrimination and segregation remained the rule in military barracks, churches, swimming pools, libraries, and service clubs. German and Italian prisoner trustees could use the post exchange at Fort Benning, Georgia; black U.S. Army soldiers could not.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle (emphasis in original)

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High flight

April 8th, 2016 · No Comments

“The brightest news awaiting [General] Clark at Anzio was not on the beachhead but a mile above it. On January 27 and 28 [1944], an obscure fighter unit, known formally as the 99th Fighter Squadron (Separate), made its first significant mark in combat with guns blazing, shooting down twelve German aircraft. . . . [T]he contributions of a couple dozen black pilots—known collectively as the Tuskegee airmen, after the Alabama field where they had learned to fly—would resonate beyond the beachhead, beyond Italy, and beyond the war.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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All we are is . . .

April 7th, 2016 · No Comments

“We are only specks of dust that have settled in the night on the map of the world.” – Winston Churchill (quoted by Rick Atkinson in The Day of Battle)

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