26 May 2013

My Take: Finding Frances ... Love Letters from a Flight Lieutenant

I've met some incredible people in this world of Irish Dance. And it's not just the dancers that share their passion and talent...

Catherine Harris, AKA as E.C. -- English Cathy, a former rock band agent who managed a teenage band called Van Halen, gives much of her heart and time to the Irish Community here in Tucson. Somehow, while working with the  St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee, the Celtic Academy of Tucson, her family business, and her other responsibilities, she found time to research and write the book "Finding Frances... Love Letters from a Flight Lieutenant."

From the publisher's website:
"Eric Hutchin was 17 when he joined the Royal Air Force to fight the Nazis in World War II. He trained as a fighter pilot at Falcon Field, a Hollywood-financed military base built in Mesa, in the Arizona desert, and there he fell in love with 17-year-old Frances Mackenzie. For the remainder of that savage war, Eric flew iconic Spitfires and Typhoons, protecting the shores of England, intercepting V-1 rockets, liberating Holland. And writing to Frances. Clever and poignant, his love letters, sketches and photos form the personal chronicle of one young flight lieutenant and his love for his special girl, but of course this is also a universal story — the coming-of-age tale of every young man who goes to war."
Through Catherine's careful arrangement of her uncle's letters and photographs,
I witnessed Eric's love grow for his girl Frances. Whether stationed in Arizona, England, or unspecified locations, Eric's words reminded me that love doesn't recognize political boundaries or edicts issued by commanders or tyrants. Be it the incessant waiting, rolling the dice with Death each time he got in that cockpit, or losing friends, Eric's love for Frances helped him navigate the day-to-day ugliness of war.

While primarily a love story, Catherine weaved factual tidbits throughout the book. Such as explaining how Hollywood financed a military site, complete with a swimming pool, that allowed the US to collaborate with England in training pilots before the US had officially joined the war. Catherine also included glimpses into how locals, regardless of location, supported the US and English soldiers.

This story captured my heart because of the love shared between Eric and Frances, for Catherine's tribute to her Uncle, and for showing one young man's dedication to his country and family.

This Memorial Day Weekend, I thank Catherine for sharing her tribute to her Uncle Eric. I also thank the many men and women that sacrificed much for their countries in the name of freedom. Including Eric Hutchin.

(edited 5/26/13 to add Photo of bookcover.)

03 May 2013

#FridayFlash: Says The Master

Two years ago, my older daughter, lured by the pretty dresses and tapping shoes, pulled us into Irish Dance. When she began classes, this hispanic family knew absolutely nothing about Irish Dance. Reel? Jig? Hard shoes? It all might as well have been Gaelic as far as we were concerned.

The dance school family embraced us with open arms. The dance instructors, the dancers, and the parents helped our daughter, and the rest of the our family, to understand and love the sometimes crazy, but always fantastic life of Irish Dance. Now, our younger daughter has joined the ranks, we've made life long friends, and we know more about trebles than I think possible.

Recently, a fellow Irish Dance parent/writer challenged me to write a piece for something like an Irish Dance Storytime. So, me being me, I searched the internet for the history of Irish Dance. I came across information about Dance Masters, instructors that traveled across the land teaching villagers Irish Dance.

That history, as well as Darren Maguire's commitment to Irish Dance and his students, are the inspiration for this little poem that I wrote for my 21 Moments writing challenge.


Says The Master

To the beat. With grace.
This foot here. That foot there.
Dance with your heart.
Says The Master.

Dancing gets the chores done.
Dancing brings the neighbors to call.
Dancing starts the ceili.
Says The Master.

In the morn, Dance to school
In the eve, Dance in the streets.
In the night, Dance in your dreams.
Says the Master.

Dance to forget.
Dance to remember.
Dance to love.
Says The Master.

Dance is life.
Life is Dance.
Love Life. 
Love Dance.
Says the Master.