Thursday, July 30, 2009

Too hot to write

Sorry, the summer heat has fried my output for the past few days!

Yesterday, was the Hottest day ever recorded in Vancouver. It's been like that for days, and is expected to continue.

I'll get back at my memoirs when I cool off.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ronnie's Baby Years

Number one son. Well, at least I was firstborn of the three sons born to Edward and Tina Unruh. Home was the town of Hepburn, Saskatchewan. My two siblings stole the show when they finally arrived. Pictures reflect that life was simple. The homes were wood frame on the open prairies and before required insulation standards. These photos are part of the inheritance that comes to the sons when the parents are gone after eight or more decades of life. Octogenarians and ninety year olds have seen so much change during their lives and I thought my folks handled all of it well. Dad was in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the first years of my infancy and childhood. World War II waged overseas. I got a lot of attention from mom and from the extended family since I was the only little squirt around at the time. As lean as the economy may have been I had a great looking pram, a wash tub and a tricycle but not much understanding about where I should ride this three-wheeled machine. Here I am in the thick stuff which I have found a good deal of the time in my adult years when I golf. I love seeing my dark haired young mom in these early pictures. My brothers didn’t know her this way because she was prematurely grey by age 30. Yes I know what some might say, that it was me who did that to her during my first five years. The photo with the little dog was taken in Mountain Lake Minnesota during a trip my mother took to see her brother Pete. Her visit was taken during one of my father’s deployments with the RCAF. I had great natural curls didn’t I? For as long as we can remember, mom kept our pressed curls, all three of us, in separate paper envelopes in her dresser drawer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ronnie and the Great Sturgeon

How could I know that eventually one day I would live in lower mainland of British Columbia close to the Fraser River where some of the largest Sturgeon fish in the world swim for centuries. Even recently one was caught by a family and brought to the shore for viewing before it was released to swim again. They are distinctive for their elongated bodies, lack of scales, and occasional great size: Sturgeons ranging from 7–12 feet (2-3½ m) in length are common, and some species grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m). Tim Swain caught and released an eleven foot four inch long sturgeon on August 2, 2006 in the waters of the Fraser. If you want an adventure like this, you can contact Cascade Fishing Adventures.

Sturgeon can be eaten. Not everyone wants to try however because most sturgeons are anadromous bottom-feeders. There is concern about the toxicity in the meat.

I don’t think that anyone knew or cared for that matter when I was a boy in Hepburn because people occasionally caught a sturgeon in the Saskatchewan River and it became a celebrated event because it could feed so many if it was a good size. Here I am standing with my Aunt Annie with a reasonably sized fish caught that day. You can see that it’s all I can do to hold my end of this mammoth.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Milk Horse

Young people will not remember the delivery of milk to individual homes by a horse pulled wagon. I do. In fact I have another true story from my childhood that I converted to an illustrated yarn in my grandchildren’s story book.Here it is.

One day Ronnie's mother asks Ronnie to do her a favour. She needs some bread to make lunches.
Mommy gives Ronnie some money and she tells him to walk to the corner store where he can buy a loaf of bread.
Ronnie is a polite boy and inside the store he says to the storekeeper, "May I have a loaf of bread?"
The storekeeper brings him a loaf of white bread wrapped in plastic. Ronnie gives the man the money, and the man gives Ronnie some money back. Ronnie says, "Thank you," and then he puts the money in his pocket.
He slides the loaf from the counter and says, "Goodbye." He leaves the store and starts to go home.
On the way, he sees the milk wagon. The milkman is carrying milk bottles to some houses.
In front of the milk wagon is a milk horse. The milk horse pulls the milk wagon. While the milkman is gone, the milk horse stands still.
Ronnie looks at the horse. "Hi, horse," says Ronnie. "Are you hungry?" Ronnie thinks the horse looks hungry.
The only thing that Ronnie has to feed the horse is bread. Ronnie opens the loaf of bread and gives the horse a slice of bread. The horse likes it.
Ronnie gives the horse another piece, and another, and another.
Soon, there is only half a loaf of bread. The milkman comes back to the milk wagon. "Bye, bye horse," says Ronnie.
When Ronnie arrives at home, he gives his mother the loaf of bread. Where is the rest of the bread?" she asks. "Did you eat it?"
"Oh no!" Ronnie says. "I didn't eat it."
"Then who did eat it," asks mother.
"The milk horse ate it," says Ronnie.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Will Be Bagiki

This is one of my childhood stories that I have written for children and illustrated in a small book that was a Christmas gift to my grandchildren. While it is a true story it has been embellished through the years. I recount it here as reliably as I can recall it.

When I was between three and four years of age, my parents, Ed and Tina owned a coffee shop in our home town of Hepburn, Saskatchewan. The year would have been 1945 or 46. The shop fronted on to the Main Street and it had a back door into a laneway. Behind the coffee shop was a well, probably unused and also uncovered. It would certainly hold interest to a boy like me.

As I was peering into the depth of this well a man in a pickup truck passed by in the lane and seeing me, out of concern said to me, “If you fall in that well, you will be bagiki.” Bagiki was a word with which I was unfamiliar and with both the rebuke and the mystery word I ran inside to tell my father what happened and to ask him what bagiki meant. He didn’t know but he assured me with a smile that it wouldn’t be good. My father never forgot that word and as he retold the story through the years, the word became synonymous in family parlance with anything that might be nasty or unpleasant in the extreme.

When I wrote the story, I wasn’t sure how one should spell the word, and when asking family members I received a variety of opinions. For many years I envisioned its spelling as I have recorded it here. BAGIKI. When we presented the gift book, Christine and I also gave each grandchild a T-shirt with the caption, “you will be bagiki.”

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bob Skates

Winter temperatures in Hepburn, Saskatchewan can be as low as -30 to -40°C and wind can make temperatures feel even colder. Skating and Hockey was popular during the days of my early childhood yet these were outdoor sports.

I remember my bobskates. Have you heard of these? If that name is not familiar to you, you will nonetheless have likely seen these convenient attachments that enable a child to learn how to skate on two blades rather than one. I may have been three years old when I pushed my shaky little body around the slippery surface of the outdoor rink close to Main Street and close to my Uncle Harry’s hardware store.

The name bobskate derived from the same word used for bob-sleigh and bobsled. A bob was one of the wooden runners on the sleigh or skate.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Pink Wedding – My Mom and Dad

It was 1941. The war was on in Europe. Who knew what the future would bring. Mom was in love with Dad. He was the youngest son in a respected church going family. He played hockey and ball on local teams. He completed grade eleven before beginning work at various jobs in the community. Then he owned and operated a gas station, well the one and only gas station in Hepburn. His brother Harry owned the local hardware store. His father was the town Reeve. Dad, Edward by name and known as Eddie, was a debonair man, prematurely bald, with a manicured pencil mustache. He whistled everywhere he walked. Church was not on his priority list. For that reason, when Mom fell for him, the counsel she received was cautious.

Mom had worked ever since she was a teenager. Compelled to work for the sake of the family she had to end school after grade 9. She always regretted this and bore a sense of educational inferiority through her adult years. It was against the general will of the Christian community for her as a committed Christian to marry someone who had not yet settled eternal matters with God as far as anyone knew. Dad and Mom loved each other. He was 26 years of age and Mom was 22. So on June 12, 1941 Edward Unruh and Tina (Doerksen) Willems exchanged wedding vows. Mom couldn’t afford a traditional wedding dress, white and clearly sanctified. She wore pink and she wore a hat. They honeymooned in Saskatoon. They were very happy.

Ed and Tina wasted little time in beginning a family which began with me, firstborn, on Sunday, September 13, 1942. WWII was raging and Hepburn’s inhabitants were primarily Mennonite people with a pacifist position with regard to conflict. They would be exempt as conscientious objectors. Dad was not bound by such religious strictures. My father had already made up his mind that he was a Canadian and he bore responsibility for the nation into which he was born and into which his child was born. Against the predictable community behaviour he and a handful of young townsmen enlisted. Dad joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and Mom became a war bride who would spend much of the next years on her own. Dad was never shipped overseas. When he was sent to Gananoque, Ontario, Mom was able to accompany him. When he was sent to White Horse for an extended time, she felt his absence. They would remain in love and together for 66 years.

• Mom in her wedding dress and hat June 12, 1941
• Mom and me in the Hepburn Central Office and residence where mom and dad operated the switchboard.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Grandpa Unruh – Cornelius K. Unruh

Only a few recollections of Grandpa remain to me from my early years, but I do recall as a four year old, riding along with Grandpa in the pickup truck to deliver a barrel of kerosene to a farm. I recall 73 year old Grandpa hoisting the barrel and placing it on the bed of the truck. We drove to the Saskatchewan River where Grandpa drove the truck aboard a ferry boat. Once on the other side Grandpa piloted the truck to the farm where Grandpa lifted the barrel and set it on the ground. On the way home, we stopped at a small store and Grandpa bought an ice cream cone for each of us. I remember his large hands with which he handed me my cone and with the other tussled my blond hair. I had no idea then about my Grandpa’s life.

My paternal grandpa’s name was Cornelius Kornelius Unruh. He was born on May 2, 1873 and he lived in Timirbilat (now Razdalnoye), Crimea. According to custom his middle name Kornelius, was the same as his father’s first name, whose entire handle incidentally was Kornelius Kornelius. Cornelius K. Unruh was one of three of the Unruh siblings to emigrate from Soviet controlled Crimea. When Stalinism became violent against Mennonites, the other four family members were almost certainly taken to Siberian labour camps.

In 1893 at age 20, Cornelius Unruh emigrated with his older sister Aganetha (Agnes) and her husband (Henry Kroeker) and lived in South Dakota for three years. There he met and married Katherine Loewen of the Jacob Loewen family and they lived in a log cabin with a dirt floor which was regularly swept and kept smooth. Their daughter Annie was born in Marion, South Dakota. They moved to Harney, North Dakota for seven years. C.K. Unruh as he was known or simply C.K., at the age of 30, purchased for the price of $10.00, a ¼ section of land northeast of Hepburn, Saskatchewan. His sister Annie and her husband homesteaded in Herbert, Saskatchewan. All three of his sons, Neale (Cornelius), Harry, and Edward were born on the Hepburn farm. Edward my father, was born when C.K. was forty-two and he was 69 years of age by the time I arrived.

CK was well known as a farmer, then a school board trustee, a Reeve, an active churchman, International Harvester agent, Hardware store owner, an auctioneer, a hail adjuster for the province of Saskatchewan and later a helper in Harry’s (his middle son) hardware store (delivering Kerosene among other things). He was on the original Mennonite Central Committee and on the committee that sponsored Russian Mennonites to emigrate to Canada. In 1927 the Unruhs moved into town and also took time to travel to South Dakota to visit Grandma’s sister Marie (nee Unruh) Kunkel as well as her brother Jacob in Kansas. Two of their children predeceased them, Harry age 40 in 1948 and Annie also in 1948 at the age of 49.

In August 1955 Grandpa and Grandma sold all of their belongings and moved into a single bedroom in my parents’ house in St. Catharines, Ontario. I was thirteen and I recall my surprise at his appearance. His posture was bent and this large barrel-chested man was bent short with huge arthritic knees visible through his trousers. His hands trembled much of the time, even to feed himself. Grandma was diabetic and required a daily injection which he was in the custom of administering with his shaky hand. Grandma lived with us for sixteen months and died of a heart attack on December 14, 1957 at the age of 83. I pulled my pillow over my head to subdue the sound of the old man’s agony as he cried, “Oh my Tina, my Tina!” On May 16, 1959 he passed away at age 86.

1. Grandpa Unruh, me (Ronnie), and Dad (Edward) outside the Saskatoon railroad station. My father was 5’6” and Grandpa was noticeably taller. This was the occasion when my father and mother made the move off of the Prairies to settle in Ontario, probably 1947.
2. The Unruh men. From the right is my Uncle Neale (arrived from B.C.), my brother Murray (5 yrs younger than I), my brother Neale (11 yrs younger), and my father Edward.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Low German Language, Grandma and Sugar Bread

I understand the unique dialect known as Plautdietsch, otherwise known as Low German. It is my lifelong regret that I cannot speak it. Here is how this came to be.

I knew her in the formative years of my childhood, my father’s mother, Katrina Loewen, my Grandma Unruh. We lived in the prairie town of Hepburn. Grandma and Grandpa lived in town having moved from their farm years earlier. They were now in their seventies. I surprise myself with the clarity of my recollection of that small house. During those years when I was three and four I was at her house a lot. My parents ran a coffee shop on the town’s main street. Inside Grandma’s back door one entered the kitchen which had a large wood burning stove. There was a small pantry on the right in which Grandma kept her jars of preserves, jams and much more. All of this was done during summer months in preparation for the long severe winters. I remember particularly the large Mason jars with white cooked chicken preserved in liquid. In the depth of winter this meat would be baked or roasted and one would never know it had spent so much time swimming in its Mason aquarium.

When I was at her home we talked together. She spoke the Low German dialect that all the townspeople spoke and she required that I speak to her in English. She wanted desperately to learn how to speak the dominant language in Canada long before mandated French/English bilingualism. While I liked anything Grandma Unruh made for me, I was a sucker for home baked bread with butter and white sugar sprinkled on top. She could keep me there for hours. As I fed my sweet tooth I heard and learned Plautdietsch but I never spoke it. Years later when I was twelve and thirteen, Grandma and Grandpa left their Hepburn home to live with us in Ontario. They were in their eighties then and Grandma still did not speak English.

What a privilege to have a second language, even one as uniquely peasant and appealing as Low German. No translation does justice to some of the nuances of this language when telling stories and sharing jokes.

Mennonite communities settled in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada using Low German in their religious services and communities. These people were largely ethnic Germans whose ancestors moved to newly acquired Russian territories in Ukraine before emigrating eventually to the Americas in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The type of Low German spoken in these communities and in the Midwest region of the United States has diverged since emigration. The survival of the language is tenuous in many places and has died out in some places where assimilation has occurred.

If you are interested:
* A Learning to Speak Plautdietsch Site:
* A Low German Grammar is a very helpful site
* Listen to a podcast called plautcast
* Historical Society Site
* Elmer Reimer has produced a Plautdietsch New Testament in both written and spoken form, and both are available on the internet and the Biblegateway site and can be used simultaneously.
* Canada’s only low German radio station

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hepburn’s Elevator #901 and Me

Hepburn was my home for the first five years of my life.

As it was in 1942 it is still a small farming and bible college town located 40 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. A rail line was constructed and was operating in 1909. After a local farmer named Rowitt Hepburn applied for a post office permit on his farm, Hepburn became a recognized village in 1919. Within ten years the town population reached 800 people. Located beside the rail line was Saskatchewan’s Grain Elevator No. 901, which was built in 1928. It served the grain farming community for decades until the great depression and the drought years of the thirties when the population dropped to less than 300. Today there are 500 residents. The rail line was shut down by the province in 1989 and subsequently most provincial elevators were torn down. Hepburn’s elevator No. 901 survived because of enthusiastic local plans to turn it into the Museum of Wheat.

At the age of three, a friend and I ventured where small children do not belong. We peddled our tricycles to the yawning open doors of the elevator, walked inside, found a large platform that moved up and down with the flip of a large brass handle fixed to the wall, and we took turns riding it until a large man confronted us. No doubt he was terrified that two children were so close to danger and he rapidly terrified us as he told us the perils of falling into a bin of grain. I have not set foot inside an elevator since that moment. I would love to visit Hepburn’s museum one day.

I have written and illustrated children’s stories based on my childhood experiences and in fact printed a simple copy as a Christmas gift for my grandchildren.The Wheat Museum Page

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This Blog will Change - Look for it on July 13

For the next several days, I am reconsidering and redeveloping this blog. The site is undergoing changes. For the past year it has served as an outlet for me to express many of my observations about retirement. Yesterday I realized that in many of my postings I had digressed from this purpose to comment about numerous other day to day and world events and people. That confuses blog readers.

I intend to refocus this site and to assist this, I have begun a new blog called GPS. GPS will allow me to speak to the issues of the day as well as to general topics of interest, all within the framework of a biblical world view. You will see the link to it on the right sidebar. Please bookmark and try it and I will welcome your examination of the first few subjects of interest, the first of which was about the person who dominated the news that day, July 8 2009, Michael Jackson. Memoirs will now contain bio stories only.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Personal Branding

I met an interesting man the other day. He and is wife made the decision many years ago to live on a sailboat at False Creek in Vancouver. A 42 foot sailboat is their home and also their RV when they choose to navigate coastal waters and beyond. It can also serve as an office for his new employment as an environmental real estate agent. Having retired from a different occupation he is now seeking to market himself effectively and that is why he came to mind now.

I alluded yesterday to the importance of personal branding in order to enhance one’s reputation, credibility, recognition as an expert and to advance one’s career. Personal branding describes a process where individuals differentiate themselves from a crowd by articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leverage it across platforms with a consistent message to achieve a specific goal.

And here is the stunning reality. At 66 years of age if I want this kind of recognition, I either have to research the ways or higher someone to assist me. Other responsible adults similarly find personal branding impossible to fit into already busy lives. Generation Y however knows how to brand themselves instinctively using media tools such as blogs and social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Brazen Careerist. They become well known this way.

Gen Y is marketing itself without thinking about it. It goes online more than any other generation and cell phones are an extension of their hands. It instant messages and Skypes and podcasts and blogs and twitters and YouTubes and is getting the word out about themselves and so are we every time we use one of these networks. The fact is Generation Y needs to be good at these marketing tools because as it matures, jobs are declining, industries are downsizing and cutting back. They are under pressure to rethink how they are perceived and how they can stand out from the pack.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Is it Important to be Better Than Anyone Else?

In reflecting on Roger Federer’s monumental achievement on Sunday, I asked myself, “What must it be like to be better at something than everyone else in the world?” Accompanying questions might be, “Is it important to be better than everyone else?” or perhaps, “Am I better at something than everyone else in the world?”

I came to some conclusions. It’s more important to some people than others to be better at something than anyone else. It becomes the dominant motivator of competitive people regardless of the contest. It is enormously beneficial to careers and advancing oneself in the world.

Roger Federer was better this year at Wimbledon than all other male tennis players. Federer won the Men’s Single Trophy for the sixth time, and in the process won his fifteenth grand slam title, one more than Pete Sampras who retired in 2002. He did it by beating Andy Roddick in the thirtieth game of the fifth set, the longest title match in history. He made history at many levels. All of this success has branded Federer, which is a good thing monetarily. His father wore a ball cap with a classy signature RF logo that now extols Roger’s celebrity. He and Nike have partnered to produce a catwalk style of apparel for the man – what a racket! His monogrammed shoes are sold at the Bay.

Some further conclusions. It is never too late to try to find that something in which you are better than anyone.

For instance, Mike Flynt is the best sixty year old college football player ever. Well he is the only grandfather to ever play college ball. He missed his fourth year of eligibility thirty-seven years ago, and at age 59 asked for a chance to make the team again. He made it in 2007 with Sul Ross State University in Texas. Flynt has given new meaning to being a college senior. Flynt is a strength coach by trade and was a conditioning coach at Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M. He is the inventor of the Powerbase Fitness exercise equipment. He is a grandfather and is retired. He has written a book called ‘SENIOR.’ Here is his personal and fitness website.

Ron's Opinion: I am not better at anything than everyone else, and it is no longer important for me to be better than anyone else but I will strive to do what only I can do and to do it so well that it makes a positive impression or contribution within my influence circle.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tim Hortons Returning to Canada

In spite of the fact that Timmy’s has been owned since 1995 by U.S. hamburger chain Wendy’s International Inc., Tim Hortons is securely linked to the Canadian identity. After all, its founder was the legendary Tim Horton, Hall of Fame defenseman for Toronto Maple Leafs, who died tragically in a vehicle accident in 1974. Horton’s coffee shops are familiar landmarks in our communities for as long as most of us can remember.

Well, Tim Hortons is coming back to Canada. It is not nostalgically motivated but entirely business. Currently incorporated in the Unites States, the company filed notice with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, stating that it proposes to reorganize itself as a ‘Canadian public company’ in order to take advantage of the decreasing Canadian corporate tax rates. The new company would maintain the name Tim Horton’s Inc. The Canadian federal government is whittling down the federal corporate income tax rate to 15 per cent by 2012 from 22.12 per cent in 2007 and the current rate of 19 percent. Good for you Harper. The U.S. rate is presently 33 percent. You blew it Obama. The company has also considered that 90 percent of its revenue comes from Canadian operations. The company has 2,930 restaurants in Canada making it Canada's largest restaurant chain, 527 restaurants in the U.S. and a presence in Ireland and Britain, primarily through self-serve outlets in grocery stores. Hortons plans to open 150 to 180 new stores in 2009. The company reported a profit of $66.4-million or 37 cents a share in the first quarter of 2009, up 7.5 per cent from $61.8-million or 33 cents a year earlier.

I know people who dislike Hortons coffee and many more who are dedicated drinkers. I did not say addicted but dedicated because urban legends take care of the addiction references. One dated urban legend claimed that Tim Horton’s coffee contains the secret additive of nicotine and another that Tim Hortons coffee contains higher than normal levels of caffeine. An alternative conspiracy theory about Tim Hortons coffee rumors that Tim Hortons coffee has MSG in it. All of these implications have been disproved by independent testing as well as those done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Their website asserts that there is no truth these urban legends.

Shareholders must approve the reorganization. D-Day is September 2nd.

In comparison to Starbuck’s customarily bold enjoyable flavours, Hortons is an unexciting but pleasant beverage. People who prefer Hortons generally do not like a strong coffee taste but love the lower per cup cost.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

George Sand and the Hotel Named After the Author

In the city of Loches in the Loire Valley, Christine and I stayed at the George Sand Hotel, the guest house that carries her name. Yes, George Sand was a woman. She was born Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin and she became the most famous female writer of 19th century France. She authored novels, stories, plays, essays and memoirs. She was the epitome of French romantic idealism and in her literature she questioned sexual identity and gender destinies in fiction. She demanded for women the daily freedom of life that men took for granted. She wrote "The world will know and understand me someday. But if that day does not arrive, it does not greatly matter. I shall have opened the way for other women."

As brilliant a writer as she was recognized to be, she was prominent as much for her lifestyle and personality. The time in which she lived, with its restrictions and conventions, drew notoriety to her way of life. Aurore was married to a baron, scandalously left him, taking her two children to live on her own. She became friends with many artists, writers, and musicians like Eugène Delacroix and Franz Liszt and had romantic relationships with others, most notably Frédéric Chopin. She was loud, lewd and shocking. She was anything but the typical Parisian lady of the 1800’s. Her protest of treatment of womankind was manifest in her dress, that is no dress. She wore men’s clothing, suits, pants (long before that was acceptable), ties and a top hat. She smoked cigars. She became iconic because of her fame as a writer.

And Christine and I stayed in a charming hotel named after her, an aged old building, with a tiny entrance off a seamy street, with rooms, on three levels to which you climbed with luggage round and round the tightest circular staircase with head bumping low spots in the ceiling. And of course, our room, because we chose to pay less, was up with the pigeons or whatever else requires less oxygen. It looked like the attic with the structural support beams serving as obstacles en route to our beds each night. Ours is the tiny gable window in the roof. It did have a great view over a waterfall and the sound of running water 24/7 and it had a fine restaurant with good food. Then we learned that Paris has a George Sand Hotel with an elegant environment and beautiful furnishings which would have set us back a few Euros. Oh yes, on the outskirts of the city there is another less elaborate one with the same name, Hotel George Sand, Courbevoie, France; and another at 26 rue des Mathurins

The pleasant French proprietors knew nothing about George Sand.

At Hofstra University in 1976 Friends of George Sand founded the George Sand Association as a literary society, the purpose of which is to encourage and foster research and scholarship on George Sand.

Sand's "Story of My Life" is available from Amazon

Friday, July 3, 2009

Madness at Oradour Sur Glane (2nd part of 2)

Christine and I learned as we walked the empty streets and read the literature that in 1944 Oradour was unmistakable from other nearby French villages and it was known for its pleasant surroundings and its prosperous Limousin market. Residents would have heard within a day about the June 6th Allied landing in Normandy but those beaches were distant and Oradour was calm. Then the Panzer division arrived. German units throughout France were on high alert as soon as the Allies landed on the Normandy beaches. German mobile units advanced north to stop the Allied advance into France. French Resistance groups stepped up activity to thwart the Germans. On June 7th to slow the Panzer division, Resistance partisans blew up a railway bridge at Saint-Julien 10 kms from Oradour and several soldiers were killed. Das Reich ignored St. Julien and marched to Oradour, perhaps because it was non threatening.

As the armoured vehicles and troops entered the village, the people were curious but unalarmed, so when the village drum was sounded, all inhabitants calmly made their way to the village green, ostensibly to have their identity cards verified. Once there, they were divided into groups, men in one, women and children in the other. Fear developed now. Women and children were herded to the church and secluded there. The men were divided and led into three barns, two garages and one hangar. Women heard machine gun fire as the men were massacred in these buildings. Soldiers covered the bodies with combustibles and ignited the piles of corpses. Remarkably several men under the bodies, Mathieu Borie, Clement Broussaudier, Marcel Darthout, Robert Hebras and Yvan Roby survived the bullets and fled into the bushes.

Several hours later, soldiers entered the church to light fuses to a large container near the altar which upon their departure exploded, filling the church with suffocating smoke. As the women pushed through a sacristy door, soldiers cut them down with gunfire, entered the church killing everyone and then set the church on fire. One woman known as Madame Rouffanche survived by jumping from a window was wounded by gunfire but lay motionless in the church garden.

After killing all the townspeople that they could find, the soldiers set the town on fire and early the next day, laden with booty stolen from the houses, they left. The soldiers journeyed to Normandy and joined the rest the German army divisions attempting to throw the allied invasion back into the sea. They failed.

Yesterday I speculated that God may again be disappointed with the humanity that populates our planet. While he is the God of infinite attributes including mercy, are we approaching a moment when God will once more take decisive action of some kind? We must be grateful that after the universal flood recorded in Genesis, when God wiped out humanity because they were continuously and only evil, God made a promise never to repeat this universal aqua catastrophe.
Genesis 9Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 ‘I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.’" In view of human wickedness, God did something full of grace - sent his son to substitute himself in order to bear our punishment, from the worst of us to the best.

That's why good news (gospel) sounds like this. John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."

Can you tell that the evidence of madness I observed in Oradour affected me? I have merely repeated what the Bible tells me.