Wednesday 30 April 2014

The Fall of Saigon

"I remember the tail gunner on the helicopter -- they look like giant bugs -- and it was the prettiest thing I every saw -- when I saw that guy sitting at the back of the helicopter, I knew we'd made it then." (Doug Potratrz, U.S. Marine in Vietnam)

"The temperature in Saigon is 112 and rising" said the broadcaster on the radio in Saigon, Vietnam on April 29, 1975.  The weather report was followed immediately by the playing of "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas".  Was it Christmas in April?  No, this was the cue that Operation Frequent Wind had commenced, the evacuation of American and South Vietnamese civilians from South Vietnam in the closing hours of the war.  The iconic image, captured by Hubert Van Es, shows the desperate souls climbing up a ladder onto the roof of the U.S. Embassy to board a helicopter to freedom.  

When "White Christmas" stopped playing on the Saigon radio, busses started arriving at key points in the city ready to load up with refugees.  The goal was to take as many civilians as possible to two escape locations, the American Embassy and the Defence Attache Office.  Helicopters, their propellers whirring, sat ready to transport the refugees from these locations to the South China Sea where they were picked up by aircraft carriers.  

The plan went so well that American military personnel were able to load each bus three times rather than once.  The overflow of refugees was evident when they reached the South China Sea:  pilots on the U.S.S. Okinawa and other ships were given the order to dump already emptied helicopters overboard or even ditch them in the sea since there was no more room for them on the aircraft carriers.

Operation Frequent Wind participants were successful in evacuating 7000 refugees in a two day period.  In all, 675,000 refugees were evacuated from South Vietnam in the dying weeks of the war, double the number evacuated at Dunkirk.  Sadly, 400 third-country civilians were left behind at the embassy and/or the Defence Attache Office.  The musical Miss Saigon, inspired by the iconic rooftop photo, is based on a couple who is separated during the final days of the war.  

Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.  The ladder used to evacuate hundreds from the rooftop of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon sits now in the Gerald Ford Museum.

Note:  For more information, read Last Men Out:  The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam (Bob Drury & Tom Clavin).

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Linda the Llama in Times Square

Underrated Iconic Photos Llama Time Square

Inge Morath's photo "A Llama in Times Square" courtesy

Linda the Llama poked her head out the window of her taxi as she headed down Broadway in Times Square,  on her way from ABC Studios.  The story would run in Life Magazine on December 2, 1957 under the caption "High Paid Llama in Big City".  The llama lived in a Manhattan browstone with her trainer.  But the story didn't end there:  the brownstone also housed cats, dogs, birds, a pig, a kangaroo and a miniature bull.  

Linda the Llama's photographer was Inge Morath, known for her surreal images.  Morath was also known for other offbeat photos:  a driver with a poodle as a passenger, Chinese soldiers climbing a giant statue of Buddha, and frantically dancing girls from Iraq to Iberia.  Nonetheless, "A Llama in Times Square" became Inge Morath's most iconic photo.  It would appear in classrooms, calendars, museums and magazines (Oprah Winfrey's "O").  

Morath did a series of photographs of Marilyn Monroe on the set of "The Misfits".  On the set, she met Monroe's husband Arthur Miller.  Later, the two would marry.  

Monday 28 April 2014

Leningrad Maestro Saves Cello

During the siege of Leningrad, which lasted 872 days, 1.2 million civilians died.  The survivors lived a ghost city in which buildings were destroyed, food was scarce and disease was rampant.  One source of joy was music. Leningrad, known for its symphony, was desperate for music.  The symphony continued to perform from 1941 to 1944, despite the siege.  Symphony Seven, which later became famous, was a product of the Leningrad Siege. The photo below shows a man recovering a cello in almost pristine condition from the rubble of a bombed out building.  

Note:  For more information, read Leningrad:  Siege and Symphony (Brian Moynahan).


Sunday 27 April 2014

The First 3-D Film

Women dress up in their finest dresses, jewellery and hats.  Men wear their dashing suits and ties. Patrons pay for their tickets and are handed a pair of glasses, glasses that they have never seen before.  Then they promptly take their seats in the palatial theatre, a theatre that is full by showtime.  The lights are lowered, the curtain rises and the patrons don their 3D glasses.

It is December of 1952, the premier of Bwana Devil, the first full feature 3D film.  Directed by Arch Oboler and starring Robert Stock,  Barbara Britton and Nigel Bruce, the movie is set in British East Africa early in the 20th Century.  Men are hard at work building the Uganda Railway.  But there is one problem:  lions. Two lions are on the loose and railroad workers are being attacked, even killed.  Three big game hunters are hired to hunt down the lions.

The scariest part of the movie is the fact that it was based on a true story.  The Tsavo maneaters were lions who terrorized and killled many railroad workers in Uganda at the turn of the century.  British engineer Lt. Col.l J. H. Patterson was hired to hunt them down, which he succeeded in doing.  His book The Man Eaters of Tsavo, was published in 1907.  

Ninety seven minutes after the movie starts, the credits run and the curtain descends.  The patrons remove their 3D glasses and slowly exit the theatre.  LIFE photographer J.R. Eyerman packs up his camera and returns to the photo studio where he develops the now iconic photograph of the audience at the premier.  

First 3D Film 1952 Photograph

Life photo by J.R. Eyerman courtesy

Saturday 26 April 2014

Nixon Says Goodbye to the White House

"Defeat does not finish a man, quit does.  A man is not finished when he's defeated.  He's finished when he quits." (Richard Nixon)

The White House staff stood waiting.  The reporters had their microphones ready.  The cameramen had their cameras focussed.  The helicopter was warming up.  Finally, President Nixon walked the longest walk of his life:  the one from the door of the White House, across the green lawn, to the helicopter which would take him into exile.  For two years, Nixon had been haunted by the nightmare of Watergate.  Two reporters from the Washington Post discovered a story which would be featured on the nightly news for months.  The media wanted to know:  Did he or did he not know about the break-in at the Democratic headquarters in the months leading up to the last election?  Try as he might to deny it, the White House tapes revealed that he did in fact know what went down at Watergate.  And he would pay for it dearly.  While he was the only President to date to visit Communist China, he was also the only President to resign.  But if he was going to leave, he was going to do so on his own terms.  The President and his wife walked to the waiting helicopter, their heads held high.  Just before Nixon boarded, he turned to the waiting crowd and made a gesture that Winston Churchill made famous during World War II -- the V for Victory salute.  The world had not heard the last from Richard Nixon.  

Note:  For more information read All the Presidents' Men by Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward.

Friday 25 April 2014

Rescuing Italy's Art Treasures

"[It was] a large and important undertaking in terms of giving pleasure to a people that have suffered and in establishing happy relations between these people and and their present military governors."
 (Captain Deane Keller, Monuments Man)

The Helen-of-Troy like horse made its way through the streets of Florence escorted by military vehicles.  The townspeople, umbrellas perched over their heads as the rain pummelled them, cheered as they watched the giant statue make its way back to its rightful place.  "Cosimo tornato!" yelled one carriage operator.  The Equestrian statue of Cosimo, which had sat in the Piazza della Signoria since 1598, was removed and stored for safekeeping in the 1940's.  After V-E Day, it was dusted off and returned, along with its rider in a separate transport, to the piazza.  After being ruled by a Fascist dictator for two decades, and then occupied by the Germans, the Italians were relieved to see their art treasure returned in one piece.  It went a long way to lifting their spirits after a vicious war on which, at different times, they sat on both sides of the fence, the Axis and the Allies.  Viva Italia!

Thursday 24 April 2014

Breakfast at Tiffany's

"Moon river wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style someday
Oh dream maker, you heartbreaker,
Wherever you're going I'm going your way."

Her iconic hairdo would set the fashion for the 1960's:  the beehive with the frosted bangs, set high on her head with the shiny tiara.  Her eyes are doe-like.  Her lips form a bow.  Her classy black dress with matching elbow length gloves is understated.  Her pearl necklace completes the ensemble.  And her foot long cigarette holder, also a trademark of the Sixties.

Audrey Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.  She portrays a Manhattan socialite who befriends a starving writer in her apartment building, played by George Peppard, who hasn't had anything published for months.  Soon after meeting the handsome writer, Holly's ex-husband appears, from the backwoods of Texas, claiming that they married when Holly was only 14.  Holly sends her ex packing, claiming that she's in love with someone else.  

One day, the writer catches a break and finds out one of his short stories is about to be published.  He rushes to tell Holly.  They spend the day together, touring Manhattan and doing the things they always dreamed of doing.  At Tiffany's, the writer has a Cracker Jack ring engraved and presents it to Holly as a gift.  While the writer knows he is falling in love, Holly is not convinced she feels the same way, claiming she wants to marry a wealthy man named Jose.  Will true love win out?

Wednesday 23 April 2014

The King is Dead

"Wherever his people suffered, he came." (BBC broadcaster)

A nation mourned the death of their King on February 6, 1952.  Londoners read the headline "The King is Dead", shock and awe spread across their faces.  But no one was more shocked than the Duke of Edinburgh, who received the news four hours after the fact while he was vacationing with Princess Elizabeth in Kenya.  The couple had flown their a week before on official business as the King, suffering from a lung disease, was too sick to do so.  The Windsor's stayed at a treetop resort, where they filmed elephants, baboons and warthogs, from their terrace.  The Princess was so enthralled with her filming that she asked that her tea be brought outside.  Sadly, the duke had to then break the news to her that her father had passed away in his sleep the night before.  Overnight, the Princess had become the Queen.

Back at Sandringham Castle, the King had gone on a hunt the night before and seemed spry enough.  He had played with his two grandchildren, Charles and Anne.  He had dined with his youngest daughter Margaret.  But years of smoking, coupled with the stress of six years at war, had taken their toll on the King. The staff at Sandringham notified Prime Minister Churchill of the King's death, who closed the Parliament for the day.  Londoners dutifully made their way to Westminster Abbey to pay their last respects.  President Truman summed it up with his words:  "He shared to the end of his reign all the hardships and austerities which evil days imposed on the brave British people."  

Tuesday 22 April 2014

A Photographic Elegy to the Last Great Steam Train

On first glance at the photo, one sees a couple huddled together in a convertible, one of several cars whose occupants are watching a movie at the Drive In.  However, this photograph, taken by O. Winston Link, shows much more.  One can't help but notice the giant steam locomotive belching smoke as it makes its way past the Drive In.  And, of course, one sees the airplane in the middle of the movie screen.  Link's photograph shows how, in the middle of the 20th century, America's landscape was changing from one dominated by trains to planes and automobiles.  

In 1946, 78% of rail freight in the United States was shipped by steam.  Within five years, that number had dropped to 31%.  And by 1959, that number had dropped to only 1%.  Three states, however, held out --Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia -- where the Norfolk & Western Railway continued to run on steam until 1960.  Because these states produced most of the country's coal, which fueled the "belching beasts", it was advantageous for them to keep them running.  

Photographer O. Winston Link spent the latter half of the 1950's capturing images of what some call "one of the finest locomotives".  He gives us glimpses of small town America, of towns where the railroad station was the centre of the community, where houses were built right beside the railroad tracks, where workmen toiled in roundhouses to maintain these giant beasts.  There was something romantic about the steam engine:  the sound of it passing in the night, the look of the smoke puffing from its roof, the rhythm of its engine.  Life would not be the same without the locomotive.

Note:  Read O. Winston Link:  Along the Lines (Abrams).


Monday 21 April 2014

Elizabeth Eckford Enters Central High

"Blood will run in the streets if any Negro tries to defy me!" (Arkansas Governor)

Elizabeth Eckford called it "the longest block I ever walked".  One of the Little Rock Nine who planned to integrate Central High School in 1957, Elizabeth was well prepared for school on that sunny September day, or so she thought.  Her parents didn't own a telephone so she was not aware that the Little Rock Nine had changed their meeting place the night before.  She dressed in a pretty white dress, tucked her books under her arm, and set out for school.  As she approached the building, she was surrounded by an angry mob of white parents screaming "Lynch her!"  Elizabeth spotted a group of soldiers and sped up, thinking that they would escort her the rest of the way.  But at the school, they just blocked her entrance.  With the crowd continuing to shout insults, Elizabeth spotted a bench and sat down.  Suddenly, a white woman guided her by the hand to a nearby bus station.  Elizabeth could not stop crying as she waited for the bus.  A reporter, with a daughter the same age as Elizabeth, tried to comfort her.  Finally, the bus arrived.  Elizabeth climbed aboard, relieved to escape the angry mob.

Days later, Elizabeth returned to Central High School.  This time, she was accompanied by the rest of the Little Rock Nine, along with members of the National Guard.  It would be a rocky start to a rocky year.  But Elizabeth Eckford would persevere.

Note:  For more information, visit my post "Little Rock Nine" at

Sunday 20 April 2014

Hindenburg Disaster

"Oh, the humanity!  It's just laying there, a mass of smoking wreckage."
(Herbert Morrison, Chicago broadcaster)

It was May 6, 1937.  The dirigible Hindenburg had just arrived from Frankfurt, Germany.  Due to bad weather, however, the airship killed time by sailing over Manhattan and touring the New Jersey seashore. Finally, the airport was ready for the Hindenburg to land as it hovered over Lakehurst, New Jersey.  The rain seemed to have subsided, but the headwinds were still strong.  The airship got into position for docking. Radio reporters had their microphones in hand.  Cameramen had their cameras ready to shoot film footage. Family members of the passengers waited on the runway.  

Then, the unthinkable happened:  the dirigible ignited, turning into a ball of fire.  A fuel tank burst.  Its tail collided with the ground.  In 34 seconds, the airship turned into a giant metal skeleton. Reporters were stunned.  Cameramen were reeling.  And family members wept in horror.  

When the death toll was confirmed, 35 passengers and crew were dead; miraculously, 62 survived the accident.  Questions remained about the tragedy.  Was it Nazi sabotage?  Was the airship hit by lightning? Or was it a physical problem like a static spark, engine trouble, incendiary paint, a puncture, structural faults or a fuel leak?  No one would every have all the answers.  The Hindenburg disaster marked the end of the airship era.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Adlai Stevenson Presents Cuban Missile Photos

"Well, let me say something to you, Mr. Ambassador -- we do have the evidence.  We have it, and it is clear and it is incontrovertible.  And let me say something else -- those weapons must be taken out of Cuba." (Adlai Stevenson, October 25, 1962.)

One of the most memorable moments to ever take place at the United Nations happened on October 25, 1962, when the world was on the brink of nuclear war.  Adlai Stevenson, American ambassador to the U.N., had been kept out of the loop when the Americans invaded the Bay of Pigs in Cuba.  Now it was time to question the Soviets about possible missiles in Cuba.  This time, Stevenson was front and centre.  After asking Soviet representative Valerian Zorin if such missiles did exist, he got nothing more than a blank stare. The American's response was:  "I'm prepared to wait until Hell freezes over [for an answer]."  In the meantime, he pulled out enlarged photographs taken by a U-2 spy plane which showed incontrovertible evidence that these missiles did exist.  A hush went over the leaders sitting at the giant circular table. Ambassador Stevenson offered the Soviets a deal:  if the U.S.S.R. would withdraw all missiles from Cuba, the Americans would withdraw their missiles from Turkey.  The Soviets agreed and the world breathed a sigh of relief.  Stevenson got his footnote in history.

Friday 18 April 2014

Workers Atop Woolworth Building

"[Its cruciform lobby was] one of the most spectacular of the early 20th Century in New York City."

New York City, 1926.  Two men dressed in overalls and caps, hanging casually over the side of the Woolworth Building, painted its exterior, while an onlooker stood on top of a nearby spire.  

The Woolworth Building, at 792 feet high, was one of New York City's first skyscrapers.  Located at 233 Broadway Street, the building cost 13.5 million to build.  Cass Gilbert's design included 60 stories and 5000 windows.  The cruciform lobby included mosaics, stained glass and bronze.  President Woodrow Wilson turned on the building's lights from his office in Washington D.C. on April 24, 1913.  Not until the Chrysler Building was erected in 1930 did any structure stand taller than the Woolworth Building.  In 1966, it was declared a National Historic Monument.  On 9/11, the skyscraper suffered some structural damage, but remained intact.  Today, the building is home to New York University, among other tenants.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Lyndon Johnson Watches Apollo 11 Lift Off

"Lift off.  We have lift off.  32 minutes past the hour, lift off on Apollo 11." (NASA commentator)

They came on busses and trains.  They came in trailers and campers.  They came in station wagons and sedans.  They came on motorcycles and bicycles.  They staked their claims in the sand under the Florida palm trees.  Campers popped their tents.  Station wagon owners popped their tailgates.  Motorcyclists parked their bikes.  They unpacked groceries and built bonfires.  They set up their telescopes and opened up their binoculars.  They put on their sunglasses and focussed their cameras.  And then they waited.

At dawn, the launch pad lights came on at Cape Canaveral.  Television camera crews worked to set up for the launch.  The ground crew prepared the spaceship.  And the trio of astronauts prepared their bodies, eating their last breakfast on Earth.  With a "common sense of purpose" the crowd of 1 million gathered around the launch pad at Cape Kennedy.  At its centre was former President Lyndon B. Johnson, who proclaimed the rocket launch to be "a new era of civilization".  

"Ten, nine, eight..."  At 9:32 am, the Saturn V rocket ignited, sending a sheet of flames over the launch pad and over 20 acres of marshland surrounding Cape Kennedy.  As the rocket rose into the azure sky, the spectators craned their necks, then erupted into a chorus of applause.  

Within minutes, Apollo 11 was nothing but a puff of smoke.  Slowly, the crowd dispersed.  The television crews dismantled their equipment.  The campers flattened their tents.  The station wagons closed up their tailgates.  And the motorcyclists revved their engines.  With the Florida marshland in their rearview mirrors, the visitors returned to their hometowns, witnesses to history.  

Note:  For more information, visit my post "One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind" at

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Ingrid Bergman at Stromboli

She played the wife of an anti-Nazi hero in Casablanca (1942), her most famous role.  She played a woman driven close to madness in Gaslight (1944), a role for which she won an Oscar.  But it was her role as a Lithuanian who marries an Italian POW to escape an internment camp in Stromboli (1949) that gave her the most publicity.  During the making of Stromboli, she had an illicit affair with the film's director, Roberto Rossellini.  Pregnant with his child, she was banned from Hollywood, not to return for several years.

The Swedish beauty, Ingrid Bergman, named after Princess Ingrid of Sweden, was born to a Swedish father and German mother.  Her mother died when she was only 3 and she was raised by her father.  Always knowing she wanted to be an actress, she tested the waters in her late teens.  

Ingrid married a Swedish dentist named Petter Lindstrom in 1938 and they had a daughter together. However, the two were separated much of the time due to her movie roles.  Bergman's big breakthrough came with the film Casablanca in 1942, in which she fell in love with Humphrey Bogart's character, Sam.  In 1944, Bergman starred in Gaslight, a role for which she won an Oscar.  

Bergman had always admired the Italian director Roberto Rossellini.  She wrote a letter to him, suggesting that she star in one of his movies.  Although the director's studio later went up in flames, the letter somehow remained intact, and Rossellini responded positively.  It was on a volcanic island, Stromboli, where the Italian director and the Swedish beauty met.  And volcanic was the best way to describe their relationship.    

Rossellini believed in neo-realism.  For the film "Stromboli", Bergman was required to live on the primitive island without modern conveniences.  In one scene, she had to climb to the top of the volcano in sandals, her feet scorched by the hot lava sands.  During the filming, the two fell madly in love.  It was during this time that photographer Gordon Parks, was invited by Bergman to take some photographs on the set.  One day, while the actress sat down for a rest, three elderly Italian women walked by and stared at her.  The picture said it all.

The film "Stromboli" was released in February of 1950.  The same month, Ingrid Bergman gave birth to an out of wedlock son, Robertino Rossellini.  Back in the United States, Ingrid Bergman was denounced on the Senate floor by Edwin Johnson.  She was officially a "persona non grata" and retreated into exile in Italy. Two years after the birth of Bergman's son, she gave birth to twin girls, also fathered by Rossellini.  It would be over six years before Bergman would be accepted back into Hollywood, with the release of "Anastasia". The Swedish actress and her Italian husband would divorce the following year.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Born Free and Equal

"The purpose of my work was to show how people suffering under great injustice and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and despair by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment..." (Ansel Adams)

One hundred and ten thousand people.  Ten camps.  Two hundred and forty four photographs.  Born Free and Equal, a book of photographs compiled by Ansel Adams, illustrates the internment of Japanese Americans at Manzanar Internment Center during the Second World War.  Ansel Adams, invited by camp director Ralph Merritt, caught unforgettable images:  a football practice, a baseball game, a farmer proudly displaying his cabbages, a corporal dressed in his military uniform, a chemistry teacher, a biology class, a commercial artist, an electrical crew, and trucks driving down the main street.  One of the most famous photos shows workers picking vegetables in a field, the majestic mountains rising in the background.  
Manzanar became a city of its own where life went on, despite tremendous adversity.  And Ansel Adams was there to document it all.  

Monday 14 April 2014

Hungary: The Picnic That Changed the World

"[It was in Hungary that] the first stone was knocked out of the Berlin Wall." (Helmut Kohl)

The Berlin Wall did not come down with hammers and chisels.  It came down with sandwiches and hot dogs, served at a picnic in Hungary on August 19, 1989.

A Pan European Picnic was suggested by the Austrian Euro MP, Otto Von Habsburg (remember the Habsburg Empire?) and Hungarian Minister of State Imre Pozsgay.  The plan was to open the border between the two countries for a few hours to test the tolerance of the Soviet Union.  The suggestion came on the heals of a gesture by two foreign ministers who had clipped the barbed wire, which represented the Iron Curtain between Austria and Hungary, two months before.  The incident was caught on film and viewed around the world.  

Ten thousand people attended the historic picnic which was held in Sopron, Hungary, a town of medieval and baroque architecture dating back to Roman times.  Lieutenant Colonel Arpad Bella was on duty that day at the Sopron Park.  His orders were to wait for the official delegation to arrive and then open the wooden gate, giving the picnickers free access to Austria.  But to his surprise, it was not an official delegation that arrived at 3 pm but a group of six hundred East Germans, who had been camping in local campsites, parks and churches, intent on gaining entrance to the West.  Bella's orders were clear:  if anyone tried to pass through, he was to fire warning shots, and then shoot them.  

But on the day of the picnic, Bella did not shoot:  he simply let the East Germans pass through the gate to freedom.  The picnickers who remained inside the gate that day enjoyed sandwiches and hot dogs.  But it wasn't the food that they remembered.  It was the kindness of the Hungarian border guard.  While the guards re-closed the border later that day, a chain of events was set into motion that could not be altered.  As Laslo Magas explained:  

"It was a stroke of luck that the East Germans could flee in this way.  At that time, we were threatened with prosecution, but by the next day, I already felt that we'd set the world on fire."

Soon, the barbed wire marking the Iron Curtain between Austria and Hungary was permanently removed. What remained was only a wild woodland and a solitary watchtower where soldiers used to fire at anyone who attempted to flee.  

Three months after the Pan European Picnic, the Berlin Wall fell.

Note:  For more information, visit

Sunday 13 April 2014

Faith and Confidence

It was September 11, 1957.  Washingtonians lined the street to watch a parade hosted by the Chinese Merchants Association.  One little boy, excited to see the dancing dragons, climbed off the curb.  A young policeman, clad in pressed pants and polished shoes, bent over to plead with the little boy to get back on the sidewalk.  Photographer William C. Beall, a combat photographer who was on Iwo Jima the day the American flag was raised, was ready with his Speed Graphic camera to snap a picture.  William raced back to the newsroom to develop his film.  The photograph ran on the front page of the Washington Daily News. Later, it was reprinted on the back page of Life magazine, taking on a life of its own.  

The photographer, who was on the wrong side of the island the day the American flag raising photo was captured on Iwo Jima, got his own iconic photograph right in his hometown.  Resembling a Norman Rockwell painting, it tugged at the heartstrings of the nation.  The photographer went on to win the Pulitzer Prize the following year. The policeman, Maurice Cullinane went on to become Washington D.C.'s Chief of Police in 1974.  And the little boy, Allen Weaver, grew up and moved to California where he worked in the entertainment industry.  

Note:  A statue duplicating the famous photograph "Faith and Confidence" was erected in Jonesboro, Georgia.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Kent State Massacre

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

(Neil Young)

"Four dead in Ohio" screamed the headline on May 4, 1970.  It took only 13 seconds and 67 rounds of ammunition.  When the smoke cleared on the Kent State Campus, four students were dead, another 9 wounded.  John Filo snapped a photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, screaming over one of the slain victims. One of the most famous anti-Vietnam pictures, it would win a Pulitzer Prize and rally a nation.

When Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, he had promised to end the Vietnam War.  But by 1969, the war was escalating.  Changes to the draft laws saw more and more college students and even teachers going off to Southeast Asia to fight.  The Mai Lai Massacre made more and more Americans weary of the war.  

Then, President Nixon did the unthinkable and bombed Cambodia as well.  Five hundred students protested at Kent State University on May 1, 1970, a direct response to the Cambodian campaign.  To show they meant business, some of the students buried the American Constitution.  A crowd of 120 committed acts of vandalism.  

The destruction escalated the following day when the ROTC building was burned; when firefighters attempted to extinguish the blaze, they were pelted with rocks by the protesters.  Late that night the National Guard arrived and some arrests were made.  They used tear gas was used to disperse the crowd.  

On May 3, Ohio Governor Rhodes commented on the disturbance:  "We've seen here at the city of Kent especially, probably the most vicious form of campus oriented violence yet perpetrated by dissident groups." Later he said:  "They're worse than the Brownshirts [Nazis]."  Kent residents were given an 11 pm curfew that evening.

On May 4, another rally was planned on the Kent State campus.  One protester rang the campus's iron Victory Bell, normally reserved for football games, to signal the rally's start.  After a few speeches, the scene turned ugly.  Protesters pelted rocks at the patrolmen who asked them to disperse.  The latter were forced to retreat.  However, at 12 noon, the guardsmen returned and asked the protesters again to disperse but they refused. The guardsmen threw gas canisters which were ineffective because the wind simply blew the gas away.  They advanced forcing the protesters to retreat over Blanket Hill. While the protesters stayed on the verandah of Taylor Hall, the troops stood on the practice field.  It seemed like there was a lull in the fighting.

All of a sudden, the guardsmen marched in a column up the hill and turned to face the students.  Sergeant Pryor pulled his pistol and fired, followed by 29 of the 77 guardsmen.  Four people were hit, none of whom was closer than 71 feet from the guardsmen.  Two were protesters, two were simply walking to their next class.  Nine others lay wounded on the ground.  

Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14 year old runaway, screamed when she saw one of the victims, Jeffrey Miller, lying face down on the ground.  It was at that moment that Kent State photojournalism student John Filo snapped the now famous picture.  Kent State Professor Frank, knowing that there could easily be more bloodshed, pleaded with the students to return to class.  After 20 tense minutes, the remaining protesters dispersed.  

Reporters nationwide covered the story "Four Dead in Ohio".  Photographer Filo's photo ran in dozens of newspapers.  And Americans, who were already questioning the Vietnam War, became more polarized than ever before.  

Note:  For more information --

1.  Listen to Neil Young's song "Four Dead in Ohio".
2.  Read Garry Geddes poem, dedicated to one of the victims, called "Sandra Lee Scheuer".
3.  Watch Chris Triffo's documentary "Kent State:  The Day the War Came Home" (2000).

Friday 11 April 2014

Kentucky Flood

It left four hundred Americans dead.  It left 1 million homeless.  It cost 20 million dollars.  And it made Margaret Bourke-White's career.  It was the Great Ohio River Flood of 1937.

Eighteen inches of rain fell in sixteen days in Kentucky, one of five states hit by the flood.  Sheets of ice that had formed on the Ohio River over the winter, began to melt, adding to the river's volume.  At its peak, the river was 60 feet above normal by February of 1937.  The city of Louisville, the hardest hit city on the Ohio River, was 70% under water.  Louisville's home and business owners fled to higher ground.  Some older buildings in Kentucky still bear the decades-old water marks; Ginn's Furniture Store, a two storey building, has water marks that reach within three feet of the roof.  

In 1937, Kentucky residents didn't just face the Great Flood; they also faced the Great Depression.  Life's photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, who had photographed victims of the Dust Bowl in 1936, was able to snap a picture of a bread line in Louisville, Kentucky during the flood.  But it wasn't just any bread line.  It was a bread line of blacks in front of a giant billboard of a white family driving in their automobile with the caption:  "There's no way like the American way."  

In one shot, Bourke-White captured the damage inflicted by the flood and the Depression, as well as the inconsistencies of the American dream.  As Life's Ben Cosgrove noted: 

"...that picture has, for generations, been the Great Depression photo, somehow distilling in one frame the anguish that defined the economic cataclysm of the Twenties and Thirties."

Thursday 10 April 2014

Spectators Watching Negro Elks Parade

"Therefore, this black city within a city exerted a magnetic pull for blacks from all over the world.  Harlem loomed large as the 'symbol of liberty' and 'a promised land' in the black imagination."
(Monique Taylor, Between Heaven and Hell)

The Great Migration, the movement of Blacks from the American South to the North, which had started during the First World War, was in full bloom.  Harlem was one of the most famous of all of the black neighbourhoods in the North.  Author Locke explained:  "Harlem has to play for the new Negro the same role as Dublin has had for the New Ireland or Prague for the New Czechoslovakia."  Harlem rose to the occasion:  it had experienced a Renaissance in the 1920's and early 1930's during which blacks had created a social and cultural life of their own.  Part of Harlem's social scene were the Elks, similar to the Masons, who met in a local lodge.  

On August 22, 1939, the Elks held one of New York's biggest parades of the decade.  Blacks gathered at an ornate three storey building on Lenox Avenue in Harlem to watch an Elks Parade.  Spectators poked their heads out of windows, perched on balconies and sat on front porches.  Under the blazing sun, men rolled up their shirt sleeves and women sported parasols.  Children sat on the curb out front to get a better view.  The parade would be one of the last innocent times in New York City for within ten days war would break out in Europe and within two and a quarter years, America would join in.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Charles Lindbergh Pays a Visit to Crowd in England

"Not since the Armistice of 1918 has Paris witnessed a downright demonstration of popular enthusiasm and excitement equal to that displayed by the throngs flocking to the boulevards for news of the American flier, whose personality has captured the hearts of the Parisian multitude."
(New York Times, May 21, 1927.)

The Parisian multitude waited anxiously at Le Bourget airport on that foggy night of May 21, 1927, for the arrival of the pilot, Charles Lindbergh.  Orteig had offered a 25,000 dollar prize to the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  Two French aviators had tried a couple of weeks before but had disappeared. Now it was the American's turn.  

Automobiles jammed the French boulevards ten abreast.  Thousands of spectators had already been waiting for six or seven hours at Le Bourget for the arrival of the Ameircan pilot.  Darkness had fallen, the wind had picked up and a few stars had appeared.  But still there was no sign of the Spirit of St. Louis.  The drone of an engine broke the silence and the crowd was ready to erupt in cheers.  However, it was only a plane from across the English Channel.  People were beginning to wonder if Charles Lindbergh had disappeared.

Finally, at 10:15 pm, another plane appeared in the sky above Le Bourget, this one a white and gray monoplane.  It was Lindbergh!  Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis skillfully.  The crowd cheered "Vive Lindbergh!" and "Vive l'Americain!"

With unkempt hair and bags under his eyes after a 33 hour journey, the American pilot exclaimed "Well, I made it!"  He attempted to get out of his plane, but several men were ready to pull him out of the cockpit, hoist him on their shoulders, and parade him around the air field.  The enthusiastic crowd, unable to contain itself, broke through the lines of bayonet carrying soldiers, through the ranks of policemen, through the iron barrier, to engulf the new hero.

In order to prevent a complete mob scene, two men whisked Lieutenant Lindbergh away in a Renault automobile.  In the meantime the mob now seized the opportunity to steal souvenirs from his plane; anything that was removable was taken.  

Lindbergh was a celebrity overnight.  He received 700 cablegrams congratulating him on his successful flight. Still riding a high from the flight, he stayed in Paris for a week, then flew to Brussels, Belgium, then to London, England.  There, he was greeted by 150,000 fans.  A photographer captured an aerial photograph of his London reception.  

Lindbergh sailed home on the USS Memphis along with his disassembled plane.  Parisians would never forget his feat.  The world would never be the same.  

Spirit of St. Louis, June 1927, London, England courtesy

Tuesday 8 April 2014

They Fight a Fire That Won't Go Out

"The Civil Rights Movement should thank God for Bull Connor.  He's helped [the cause] as much as Abraham Lincoln."
(President John F. Kennedy)

Just as the Bus Boycott crippled the city of Montgomery in 1956, Project C crippled the city of Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.  Blacks, of course, were front and centre in the protest.  However, behind the scenes were photographers who captured images which turned middle class whites against the racist police, and in turn, against segregation.  Charles Moore was present to snap photos of Birmingham during that volatile riot, a riot that would lead to the signing of the Civil Rights act the following year.

In 1960, Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the United States.  While its population was at least 40% black, there were no black police officers, firefighters, bus drivers, bank tellers, sales clerks or cashiers.  The unemployment rate was two and a half times higher for blacks than whites and the average black's income was half that of the average white's.  Only ten percent of blacks were registered to vote.  Any black churches which held meeting about civil rights were targetted for bombings.  In fact, Birmingham had been given the nickname "Bombingham" due to the 50 unsolved racially motivated bombings in recent years.

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was designated the headquarters for the organizers of Project C, for Confrontation, which would include:  sit-ins at public libraries, kneel-ins at white churches, a march to the county building to register black voters and a boycott of downtown stores.  Many blacks refused to patronize the shops.  However, one black lady entered Loveman's Department Store to buy her children shoes for Easter and was chastised by the salesclerk for not supporting the blacks outside:  "Negro, ain't you ashamed of yourself?"

It was downtown, therefore, that Charles Moore and other photographers set up shop in April of 1963. Armed with cameras, film and flash bulbs, these photographers put themselves in the direct line of fire as they snapped photos of the protest, a protest which started out peacefully.

Fifty protesters were arrested on Good Friday and carted away to the Birmingham Jail.  Among them was their leader, Martin Luther King Jr., who along with his fellow prisoners, sang protest songs to rise above his oppressors.  It was in prison that he was inspired to write "Letter from a Birmingham Jail".  

Outside the prison, the crowd of protesters swelled.  One thousand students from the local high school joined forces with the original group.  Birmingham police chief Bull Connor did not wait long before he turned his snarling police dogs on the protesters.  The fire department unravelled their fire hoses, capable of taking the bark off a tree, on the protesters.  On May 3, Charles Moore captured an image that stunned the world:  three high school students pinned up against the doorway of a building by a powerful surge of water. Life magazine published the photo, along with several other pictures, in a feature titled:  "They fight a fire that won't go out."  

Business in downtown Birmingham's stores came to a virtual standstill.  Alabama state troopers arrived and blacks started to riot.  Bull Connor ordered more arrests. Birmingham jail overflowed with inmates.  Bull Connor had a makeshift jail set up at the fairgrounds to accommodate more arrested protesters, a group that would total 2500. President Kennedy, sickened by the images he watched on television, considered sending in the National Guard.  He urged the United Auto Workers and the Steelworkers to raise bond money for the jailed protesters and they responded in kind. 

By June of 1963, the Jim Crow signs above Birmingham's public facilities finally came down.  Charles Moore packed up his camera.  Martin Luther King went home to his family.  He was named Time's Man of the Year and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.  But the fight was not over.  The following September four young black girls were tragically killed in a bombing at the Sixteenth Street United Church. Blacks would not back down, however.  The fire would not go out.  

Note:  For more information read:

1.  "Ballad of Birmingham" at
2.  Powerful Days:  Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore (Charles Moore)
3.  Birmingham 1963:  How a Photograph Rallied Civil Rights Support (Shelley Tougas)

Three teenagers protest in Birmingham, Alabama circa 1963 courtesy

Monday 7 April 2014

Cross Burned on Martin Luther King Jr's Lawn

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it."
(Nelson Mandela)

It is Spring, a time when mild temperatures bring homeowners outside to rake up old grass or tend to new flowers poking up their heads.  But no one expects to find what Martin Luther King Jr. found on the front lawn of his new house in April of 1960 -- a burned cross.  Clad in a dark suit, tie and dress shoes, with his little boy standing beside him, Dr. King nonchalantly bent down and pulled out the calling card of the Ku Klux Klan.  Most of us would not do such an act with nonchalance.  However, given what the black civil rights leader how already endured in his young life, it was completely within his character.  

Martin Luther King Jr. received dozens of death threats due to his role as a civil rights leader.  In 1956, Dr. King's Alabama house was bombed, blowing the windows out and damaging the front porch.  King was just relieved to hear that his wife and children were unharmed; speaking to an angry crowd after the bombing, he warned:  "He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword...We must meet hate with love."  In 1958, Dr. King travelled to New York City for a book signing in Harlem where he was stabbed by an assailant and rushed to the hospital.  Death threats were part and parcel of his job:  Dr. King would not be intimidated.

Martin Luther King Jr. knew the world was watching on that day that he found a burned cross on his lawn. If he had shown fear, he would have succumbed to fear.  He would not have sat at a lunch counter and waited for his order to be filled while onlookers spat on him in 1960; he would not have written his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in 1963 or delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech to a sea of protesters in Washington D.C. in 1963; he would not have marched over the Edmund Pettus Bridge to face a wall of Alabama state troopers on Bloody Sunday in 1965; he would not have faced the bricks, bottles and firecrackers thrown by a jeering crowd as he led a march through an all-white suburb of Chicago in 1966; and he would not have roused the crowd with his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech in 1968, only hours before he was assassinated.

Yes, a burned cross wasn't exactly how Martin Luther King Jr. expected to be welcomed to the neighbourhood back in 1960.  But his response spoke volumes.  

"So do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good."  (Romans 12:21)

Martin Luther King Jr. pulls a burned cross out of his lawn while his little boy stands beside him circa 1960 courtesy

Sunday 6 April 2014

Woman with Gas Resistant Pram

"My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour.  I believe it is peace in our time." 
(Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, 1938)

Most of us have heard of the bomb shelters that residents of Britain's big cities used as protection during the Blitz.  Most of us have heard of the gas masks.  But who has heard of the gas resistant prams?  Here is a photo of a woman pushing her baby in a gas resistant pram in 1938, the year that Germany occupied the Sudetenland.  While Prime Minister Chamberlain had proclaimed "Peace in our time" after appeasing Hitler, the general consensus was that war was on the horizon.  And the public wanted to be prepared.  However, the gas resistant pram, which resembled a coffin more than a baby carriage, never really took off.    

Hextable, Kent, England circa 1938 courtesy

Saturday 5 April 2014

Burst of Joy

"Every time I look at it, I remember the families that weren't reunited...and I think, I'm one of the lucky ones." (Lorrie Storm)

It was St. Patrick's Day 1973.  Four hundred family members, who hadn't seen their loved ones for years, waited expectantly at Travis Air Force Base in California for the landing of a flight from Vietnam.  A group of journalists had been dispatched to cover "Operation Homecoming", the return of 20 POW's, part of an exchange between the North Vietnmanese government and the Americans. One family, the Stirm's, were about to get their father back.  And one photographer, Sal Veder, was about to get his Pulitzer prize-winning photograph.

As Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stirm walked down the steps of the airplane and crossed the tarmac, he watched a beautiful scene:  his wife and children, whom he hadn't seen in almost six years, were rushing towards him.  His teenage daughter, Lorrie, wearing a light blouse and a dark miniskirt, was running so fast she was almost in flight, her siblings not far behind her, her mother bringing up the rear.  According to one witness:  "You could feel the energy and raw emotion in the air."

It was this scene that hat kept the lieutenant alive for five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton, a concentration camp in Vietnam where he endured gunshot wounds, torture, illness and starvation; where he had eaten sauteed sewer greens and ground pig remains; where he had lived in solitary confinement, his only means of communication being a tapping system like Morse code (each night their last exchange was "Good night and God bless!").  To keep his mind active, Lieutenant Stirm  had recited twice daily the 250 names of his fellow American POWs at the camp.  Today, a total of 591 POWs would be coming home.

Photographer Sal Veder took a flurry of shots on the runway, then hurried inside to the washroom to develop them in a makeshift lab; but the men's room was full, so he moved to the ladies' room.  Within half an hour, he had six viable photos which he wired to the Associated Press.  And within days, the photo, titled "Burst of Joy" was published in newspapers across the United States.  Within the year, Sal Veder was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

Lorrie Stirm and her three siblings were thrilled to have their father back.  For so many other children, their father's never came home from Vietnam.  But Robert Stirm's wife, Loretta, did not feel quite the same.  She had fallen in love with someone else while her husband was in prison.  By 1974, the Stirm's were divorced, the oldest two children living with their father, the youngest two, with their mother.  While Lieutenant Stirm miraculously survived the Hanoi Hilton, he had a harder time surviving the end of his marriage.  All four of his children have a framed copy of "Burst of Joy" hanging in their homes, but Robert wall remains bare.  His marriage remains another casualty of the Vietnam War.

Friday 4 April 2014

Raising the Red Flag over the Reichstag

Berlin's Reichstag circa 1920 courtesy

As a little boy growing up in the Ukraine during the 1920's, Yevgeny Khaldei dreamed of becoming a photographer.  He made his first camera out of his grandmother's eyeglasses.  In the course of his career, he would take thousands of photographs.  But the most famous one would be taken on the Reichstag rooftop as Berlin burned in the dying days of World War II, one of the most recognizable images in the world.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they had little affection for the Reichstag (German Parliament) building, a symbol of democracy built in 1894.  The same year, a fire broke out in the building and it was closed, never to be reopen.  It was in that same building that a vicious fight ensued between the Soviets and the Nazis in the closing days of the war, part of the Battle of Berlin which would cost the two nations millions of lives.

Back in the Ukraine, photographer Yevgeny Khaldei was working for the Red Army.  He had asked his uncle to fashion a gigantic Soviet flag out of tablecloths.  He packed up the flag, along with his Brownie camera and large flashbulb, and headed for Berlin.  Soviet Mikhail Mini climbed to the top of the Reichstag on the night of April 30, 1945, and planted the Red Flag.  However, it was dark and impossible to take a picture. By the next day, the Nazis had ripped it out.

Reichstag circa 1945 courtesy

Khaldei still went ahead with his  plan to capture an image comparable to that of the American marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima.  On May 2, the fighting ended.  Red Army soldiers Kantaria and Yegorev climbed to the top of the Reichstag, this time in daylight, and planted the flag that Khaldei's uncle had made.

Khaldei snapped the photo and promptly developped it.  He did not like the fact that one of the two soldiers was wearing two watches, on on each wrist, a sign of looting.  So he doctored the photo slightly to eliminate the second watch.  At the same time, he added more background smoke to make the image more effective.  On May13, Raising the Flag over the Reichstag was published in the Soviet magazine Ogonjok.  Soon the image was reprinted in hundreds, and eventually, thousands of publications.

Khaldei worked at the Nuremberg trials the following years, capturing images of some of the top Nazis being grilled by the Allies.  He later left the Army and was hired by Pravda magazine in the 1950's.  While he took rolls and rolls of film, he was never able to recapture an image as surreal as the one of May 2, 1945 of the Soviet soldiers raising the red flag on the Reichstag rooftop as Berlin burned.

20060402202418!Reichstag Flag

Raising the Red Flag over the Reichstag courtesy

Thursday 3 April 2014

One Doctor's Miracle

"Everyone in the room went silent, not a sound.  If it were night, you'd only hear the sound of the crickets singing their songs." (Jack Bradley)

Jack Bradley got into photojournalism to travel the world.  He was a combat photographer in Korea and had seen it all.  So it was quite an adjustment when he came back to the United States and had to settle for a job with a small town newspaper in Illinois.  It had been 20 years since he started working for the Journal Star.  He wrote human interest stories, accompanied by pictures taken with his Brownie-like camera with the stereotypical giant flash bulb.  It seemed like his boss gave him the same humdrum assignments day after day, week after week, year after year.  

But all of that changed on what seemed like an average day in February of 1974.  Jack and his colleague were dispatched to a doctor's office in Peoria.  Jack grabbed his camera, his colleague grabbed his notepad and pen (there were no laptops back then) and they headed out the door.  

At the doctor's office, Jack noticed a group of burly men whom he assumed were from the Medical Board. A doctor stood ready for the test to commence.  A nurse stood beside him ready to assist.  And the patient, a 5 year old boy with light brown hair and brown eyes, sat waiting in anticipation.  Jack raised his camera ready to shoot.  The doctor placed a small ear piece in his ear.  The little boys eyes almost popped out of his head: He could hear for the first time in his life!  "No one spoke for several minutes after that doctor pulled that switch."  They had witnessed a miracle.

According to Jack, in his 25 year career as a photographer, this was the "most magnificent photo" he had ever captured.  He didn't need to travel the world to get the scoop -- it happened right in his own backyard.

Harold Whittles hears for the first time courtesy

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Wait for Me, Daddy!

"From what I understood from the photographer, he was trying to get a picture of how many soldiers there were, but then this kid made the getaway." (Jack Bernard)

It's the most famous photo ever to be taken in Canada during World War II.  It appeared in Life, Time and Newsweek.  It hung in every school in British Columbia during the war.  And it was used to sell Canadian war bonds.  It's called "Wait for Me, Daddy!".

On October 1, 1940, a column of Canadian soldiers marched down Vancouver's Columbia Ave. to the train station.  Their uniforms freshly pressed, their hats tilted on their head at just the right angle, their boots freshly shined, the new recruits were ready for battle.  But one little boy wasn't ready for them to leave.  The white-blond haired boy broke away from his mother's grasp and ran after his father who was part of the column, reaching out his little hand as if to say "Wait for me, Daddy!".  His father responded by reaching out his own hand. His elegantly dressed mother reached out for her son's hand, trying to keep up.  

All the while, photographer Claude Dettloff was snapping photographs of the column of soldiers on Columbia Ave.  Unprepared for the scene to follow, he captured a once in a lifetime moment on film.  His photograph would be published in The Province newspaper,  later to be picked up by several magazines including Reader's Digest.  Dettloff would become famous over the heart-grabbing image of the white-blond haired boy chasing his war-bound father down the street.


The little boy, Warren Bernard, returned to his Vancouver home that autumn day with his mother, Bernice.  His father, Jack, along with the rest of the British Columbia Regiment, boarded a train for Nanaimo where he underwent military training.

Later Jack fought on the battlefields of France and Belgium.  On the home front, Bernice and Warren lived out the war on a modest income in a rented apartment.  Since money was scarce, Bernice agreed to let Warren participate in a war bonds tour in 1943.  Dressed in a smart blue blazer and short grey pants, Warren toured the province with war bonds that featured the famous Dettloff photo.  The young boy, who had to take time off from his schooling at General Wolfe Elementary, delivered the same speech every time, ending with the line:  "Help bring my Daddy home!"  The teary-eyed audience usually responded generously to his plea.  When Jack Bernard returned home in October of 1945, Bernice and Warren were there to meet him, as was Claude Dettloff, ready to photograph the happy reunion.  

The white-haired boy grew up, married in 1964 and in the 1980's, became mayor of Tofino, British Columbia.  A sculpture honouring the moment the Bernard family said goodbye, was recently erected at the corner of 8th Street and Columbia Avenue, the spot where the original photo was taken.  Canada Post has issued a two dollar coin with the famous image.

The reunion between father and son courtesy

Tuesday 1 April 2014

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest, keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Robert Frost