Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Burl Revealed

This post has been a long time in coming but I've been justifiably sidetracked for the last month. Four days before Christmas, I was able to load the large burl (that I wrote about here) into the back of my van and drive down the road a ways to a fellow who had a portable bandsaw mill. (Wipes drool of envy from my mouth right now.) I had never met the fellow and didn't know what to expect but found him outside stoking a wood fireplace. We made idle chit chat for probably three minutes as he threw wood into the fire and at last he closed the door and asked what he could do for me. I mentioned that I had called him a week earlier and made this appointment to get a burl sawn up into pieces and he finally figured out why I was there.

I quickly learned that I had cut the burl about two inches too short to easily fit on his machine but with some trial and error and lots of blocking, we were able to get it secured into place and within about five minutes, I had my burl cut into four thick slabs. I had been thinking that he would cut it into boards for me but perhaps I hadn't been clear about my desires and since I still don't know what my future plans are with the wood, perhaps slabs are better. I think I can process them into usable boards if I desire in the future with a jig or two.

When I started this venture, I figured I had a less than 50% chance that the burl was even salvageable since it had been dead almost two years at this point and most are harvested when they are still green. When we cut it down and removed it from the rest of the tree, the wood was pretty punky above the burl but at the burl is started feeling solid again. Even then there was a rotten void large enough for me to stick my hand into after it was removed from the tree. As you can see in the picture above, there are still voids here and there but the wood was largely solid throughout and best of all, the burl went deep into the trunk. The grain patterns in the black cherry burl are extremely beautiful even in this rough cut state. Once it has been sanded and finished, it will probably be mind blowingly beautiful.

For now, the slabs sit on my workbench gathering dust and lustful stares whenever I go to get into my car. It has been above freezing outside less than two days since sometime way back into December probably when I had the burl cut from the tree. Because I work in an unheated garage, it is just too cold to work out there more than ten minutes at a time. Plus I have an unfinished corner bookcase for my grandparents still taking up a lot of space. Fortunately we have a warm stretch predicted so hopefully I can get some work done on the bookcase so when spring rolls around, I can make something creative out of the burl.

Monday, January 29, 2018

One Soldier's Experience: Going Home

For a squadron history book, it leaves a lot to be desired about events after the armistice. Pretty much the only information I have is that in February of 1919, my great grandfather was shipped to Camp de Souge for a time and in March, their commanders left for other places. There is no mention of when or what method the soldiers used to get home.

Based upon how they got to France, I'm guessing it involved several train rides. I don't know if this picture is one of those coming or going but I really like the photo.

Here is a picture showing an old locomotive.

Towards the end of my great grandfather's war photo album, there are lots more photos appearing that show everyday life especially in urban areas. I'm assuming that while the soldiers were waiting for orders to return home, they got time to see the countryside so to speak. Alcohol may have been a big part of that because there are several pictures showing large casks on wagons and even larger ones on train cars being hauled around.

This is another photo that I don't know whether it was taken going or coming but I like it because it shows the soldiers on a boat passing time.

I'm fairly certain that my great grandfather returned home via the port of New York City based off several similar pictures all showing the Statue of Liberty at various distances.

There are also many pictures of boats full of people welcoming the soldiers home.

I can imagine that the soldiers really loved seeing these welcoming committees.

Loved seeing this photo of the ships and docks. I guess I had in my mind the flat open sorts of docks but these are large buildings on docks.

The final moments of the journey as they pulled up to the dock. The last word in the history book was that they were still in France on March and judging from the coats on everybody, it was a chilly day in New York when they arrived on April 18th, 1919 according to military transport logs. After being discharged in Garden City, New York, Victor came directly home according to the previously posted newspaper article and didn't waste any time. Exactly two months later on June 18th, he married my great grandmother.

Friday, January 26, 2018

One Soldier's Experience: Self Portraits

This post is all about my great grandfather and pictures of him.

I have always loved the above picture which was taken at a rest camp shortly after they landed in France. This is one of the photos I inherited through my great uncle a number of years ago.

Not sure what the purpose of this room was but I suspect it was a place to go to write/type letters home. Perhaps more likely it is his office when he was a supply sergeant. There is another similar picture below but this one showing him smoking.

Some sort of official war pose perhaps?

I'm guessing this one is of my great grandfather in a flight suit and that looks like a flight helmet. I don't know how much he flew if at all. As I have always heard, he lost a couple friends during the war who crashed in planes and thus he preferred to work on them over flying.

One of only a few pictures in which my great grandfather (on the right) is holding a rifle. I suspect from the background, they may have been fairly close to the actual front line.

Grandfather is on the right holding his pipe in his right hand.

Another picture of my great grandfather holding a rifle. He is on the left this and wearing glasses this time.

Similar to a picture above but this time he is smoking his pipe.

A picture of his Aero Repair Squadron. My grandfather is in the backrow, third man from the right.

I would love to know the story of these two pictures. Soldiers out having a good time? My grandfather is fourth from the right between lade with light colored top and another soldier standing behind the young boy.

This time my great grandfather is standing between the two ladies with light colored tops looking every bit the ladies man.

My great grandfather is second from left. Several of these fellows occur in many photographs so must have been good friends.

My great grandfather on the right in his traveling cloths and holding a cigar.

Holding a rifle.

I'm pretty sure this is my great grandfather sitting in this plane. Since it has a machine gun, I suspect it was a plane from the front lines.

Another group photo but this time my great grandfather put an X by his head to aide in identification.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

One Soldier's Experience: Wrecked Planes Everywhere

They say the easier part about flying is taking off because it is optional. Landing is hard because it is mandatory. That said, these pictures in this post are all about the hard part of flying. I don't know how many of these were repairable but I suspect many were since planes and materials were in such tight supply.

Just a reminder from my previous post, most of these planes were used in the flight school to train incoming pilots for duty on the front lines. My great grandfather's squadron was tasked with assembling and maintaining these planes for the flight school.

I suspect this picture is one of the hangars used to store parts of aircrafts

I think this picture is similar to the one above and shows where the airplane parts were stored

Monday, January 22, 2018

One Solider's Experience: Front Lines

I don't know if my great grandfather every saw action on the front lines of the war. There are lots of pictures of the front lines, or what I suspect were "old" front lines as the war moved back to the east. They show total devastation to the land around them. The squadron history book makes no mention of trips to the front lines but I'm guessing that was certainly possible. Whatever the case, I have picked this selection of photos and have added any labels attached as they were worded.

Foald In Iowa, Raise in France by Big Bertha

Interior of opera at Rheims

Ufuhrur(spelling is very hard to read) residence demolished

Interior view of cathedral

Familiar views of front

Friday, January 19, 2018

One Soldier's Experience: Camp Life

I don't know much about camp life other than what I described in one of my previous posts but here are a group of photos showing what the camp looked like and the condition it was in. The above picture and most of the pictures show lots of mud around so 1918 must have been a fairly wet year for that area.

I'm guessing the above is a picture of the "motor pool".

Drilling grounds or airfield or perhaps both.

There are literally a dozen or more pictures showing soldiers lined up for meals carrying they utensils. I'm not sure if they had to wait in line for a specific moment or there was just that many of them that the line quickly backed up. But judging from the number of photos, my great grandfather wasn't near the front of many lines because he was off taking pictures of them.

I don't know which picture represents my great grandfather's quarters but I suspect it was the upper one based on the last picture of this post. It shows just a single cot which I assume is the one my great grandfather slept in because I can't imagine why someone would take a picture of someone else's cot. The picture below I'm guessing was on the actual base itself and appears to be much more densely packed.