Chickenhouse Chronicles: 1950 Holy Land Visit

  My great grandmother, Katherine Thomas Philips, had a younger sister named Alice, who married Edmund Garstin.  They had two daughters: The eldest, Martha “Pattie” Thomas Garstin, born 1888, died in a mental institution, Normansfield Hospital, Teddington, in 1935. The second daughter, Eloise “Emily” Thomas Garstin, was born in 1889 and died in 1970. Eloise, a name …

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Chickenhouse Chronicles: WWII Letter about my Grandfather’s Ship sinking

I discovered this terribly water-stained letter in a packet I am currently reading. The tone of the letter seems fatalistic. Frederick Pierce, the author, has a son on a coastal patrol craft in the Mediterranean—perhaps one of WWII’s famed PT Boats. Fred Pierce is my great uncle, an elusive link to our past. The Pierce family …

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Chickenhouse Chronicles: Whidbey Island, Washington

My great grandfather, Calvin Philips, owned several thousand acres on Whidbey Island, Washington in the early 1900s. Over the course of several decades it was sold. Today his original Greenbank Dairy Farm is a community center. http://greenbankfarm.biz/history/ Ironically, I craweled across the the Naval Base land he once owned during my SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, escape) training …

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Operation Comfort Warriors Donation

      American Legion National Commander Jim Koutz, I had the honor of meeting you while you were visiting Bemidji, Minnesota. I donate this case (24 books) of Muddy Jungle Rivers for your Operation Comfort Warriors program. Feel free to use the books in whichever way you think most fitting. (Mailed to National Headquarters …

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“Muddy Jungle Rivers” Book Reading and Discussion

Blackduck Community Library and AMVETS have teamed up to host a book reading and discussion by Wendell Affield, author of Muddy Jungle Rivers, a Vietnam War memoir. The event begins at 6:30 PM, March 14, at Blackduck Good Samaritan Senior Living in the “great room.” The public is invited. Muddy Jungle Rivers is a close-up …

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Chickenhouse Chronicles—World War II Memories

Tomorrow I’m invited to speak to residents at a local nursing home. As I reflected on how to present a Vietnam War memoir to a group of World War II era citizens, I decided that I should focus on a formative event from their past. I will mention Muddy Jungle Rivers but then I will read a …

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My Grandmother Studying Abnormal Behavior, Circa 1953, New York City College

Sixty years ago my grandmother began attending a psychology class at New York City College, studying abnormal behavior. For over half a century she searched in vain for a cure, trying to understand why her daughters had been cursed with mental illness. She left behind thousands of pages of New York City Mental Health booklets, …

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Have You Thanked A Teacher Who Influenced Your Life?

The first paragraph on the Acknowledgements page of Muddy Jungle Rivers reads “This memory journey began with a series of essays I wrote while attending writing classes taught by Dr. Mark Christensen at Bemidji State University (BSU). His suggestions and prompts were instrumental in illuminating those nocturnal conversations I had with “Buddha” Ed Thomas. Mark’s …

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