Art Lym and the Flying Tigers
by Hilary Stabb
My great-great uncle Art Lym was born in 1890 in San Francisco and died in 1962. [Ed. Art died in Hong Kong of heart failure, and is buried in Oakland, California’s Mountain View Cemetery.]
He was the first Chinese pilot ever (although for some reason, the second licensed).
He was part of the Baohuanghui (in Chinese, “Protect the Emperor”), a society begun in 1899 in Victoria, Canada for Chinese outside of China to promote constitutional reform. They were very connected to Madame Chiang Kai-Shek through Christianity.
Art and his friend Tom Gunn (also Chinese) went to China at request of Chiang Kai-shek prior to 1920 to combat Japan.
Art founded the Republic of China Air Force. He was their first Minister of Aviation and opened the first school of aviation in China. The first fleet of planes were financed by Chinese warlords. Art taught bombing and scouting at the school. He and his squadron were the first to ever bomb Canton to blow out the bridges to keep the Japanese at bay.
At the behest of Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, he put together the Flying Tigers (American volunteers protecting China from Japan, headed by Claire Chennault). Art served as Brigadier-General for the Flying Tigers. They protected the Burma Road and were known for their high kill rate against the Japanese. The Flying Tigers painted Shark Faces on their airplanes.
Hilary Stabb is a producer and creative consultant for the entertainment industry, and the mother of a wonderful young scoundrel who makes her think innovatively every day.
by Linda East Brady
My mother-in-law, Margaret Josephine Sherman Brady, known as Peggy, is the oldest of nine children. The Great Depression hit the Sherman family exceptionally hard. They lived in Long Beach (they were there for the 1933 quake) and Safford, Ariz., during those years, as father Ralph worked as a traveling auto parts salesman trying to literally put enough food on the table. When Peggy’s toddler brother contracted tetanus, there wasn’t the money for the medicine needed to save him from a brutal death.
Those years marked Peggy, making her determined to be able to care for herself. She enrolled at the University of Arizona, working to put herself through school.
After the war started, Peggy wanted to both help her country and earn money to complete college. She returned to Long Beach to work as a secretary in an auto factory that had been commandeered to build munitions. As her secretarial skills were second to none (she could type 100 error-free words a minute) she was of better use to the office than the assembly line. Peggy lived there first with her grandparents, and later with a few other girls from the plant.
“It was fun to be a little independent — but those were worrisome times, of course,” she said. “We couldn’t know what was going to happen.”
When the war ended, the plant Peggy worked for again returned to making Chevrolets. Peggy’s father, a true motorhead, talked her into taking some of that Long Beach savings to buy one of the first cars to come off the line after victory — a ’46 coupe in dark blue with a backseat as big as a walk-in closet. Peggy’s mother talked her into driving it home for a visit.
“And then she wouldn’t let me go back!” said Peggy.
Eventually, Peggy did return to the University of Arizona, and after graduation, took the ’46, as the family calls that old coupe, to Douglas, Ariz., where she became the secretary to the president of the Phelps-Dodge copper smelter.
Soon after she was hired on, a smelter worker spied her on a visit to the executive offices. The blue-eyed, black-haired vet had earned medals he won’t talk about to this day for his heroic deeds in the 82-day Battle of Okinawa. Several years her junior, Peter “George” Rainsford Brady (named for his great grandfather, a founding father of Arizona and one of the first Texas Rangers), was utterly smitten by the posh secretary. Soon the feeling was mutual. Peggy and George were married, and she left her job when their first child, a daughter, arrived. They would have another daughter and three sons, and also raise Peggy’s three youngest siblings after the death of her mother.
All eight of the kids learned how to drive in the ’46 on the dusty border roads of the high Sonoran.
My brother-in-law still has that car, tucked away in his Tucson garage. It awaits restoration to its post-war glory.
Linda East Brady is a rocker at heart, and a writer by trade. She has written for numerous artists’ web sites and national music magazines, and currently works as the music feature writer for the Standard-Examiner. She hosts Sunday Sagebrush Serenade, an Americana radio show broadcast on KRCL in Salt Lake City.
Piece of Cake
by Shea Elmore
Marian Kurtz was 28 years old when she joined the war as a nurse. She was inspired to follow in the footsteps of her sister Nelda, who was younger by one year to the day. After her training in England, Marian was sent to Paris near her sister and best friend, easing any feelings of homesickness.
It was in Paris where Marian met soldier Raymond Wilcox, which quickly turned into a close relationship. They were together whenever possible, and before too long, they decided to get married during the largest war in history.
Inevitably, Marian and Ray ran headlong into several challenges. The only priest willing to marry them, a Calvinist, refused to conduct the ceremony without a red pillow at the altar. (A solution was reached by wrapping a red towel around a white cushion.) With the difficulties of sending civilians overseas, other family members couldn’t attend. A congratulatory note and small dowry from Marian’s parents were the best they could expect. But this was a generation known for their fortitude, and Marian and Ray were no exception.
One of Marian’s responsibilities was getting the cake. Due to low rations within the country, she had to supply the baker with every ingredient, along with a stack of francs. They settled on a traditional three-tiered cake that was to be picked up on the day of the wedding. Marian left the shop, confident that at least the reception would mirror something closer to home.
On the morning of the wedding day, Marian, Nelda and a friend with a driver’s license headed to the bakery. When they arrived, a young woman greeted them from behind the counter.
“Bonjour,” she said.
“Bonjour,” Marian said. “Is the baker here?”
“No, he is gone. I am here today.”
“Very well. I’m picking up a cake. I’m getting married today, and he made a cake especially for me.”
The woman furrowed her brows and said, “No. I’m sorry, there’s no wedding cake here.”
“This can’t be. I was in last week. I gave him the ingredients and the money and he said it would be ready.”
“Oh, well, we do have something.” She went in the back for a moment before returning with her arms full. “Perhaps these are them.”
She had within her arms two identical cakes, each about a foot tall, with what looked like donut holes stacked into pyramids.
Marian froze, but just for a second. “This can’t be right,” she protested. She explained in detail her talk with the baker the week before, but the woman was only able to offer sympathy.
With every other baker in town facing a shortage of ingredients, and with only an hour until the ceremony, Marian and Nelda decided to make do with the oddest cakes they had ever seen.
The donut holes didn’t fare well on the unpaved roads. As their chauffer sped towards the church, pieces of cake started to crumble in the laps of Marian and Nelda.
Marian shouted over the engine, “Is there any way to hold them together?!”
Nelda said, “I’ve got some gum!”
“Well, let’s put some use to it!”
And as Marian neared what many consider the most joyous day of their life, she and her sister were ripping off chewed bits of gum to mend a pair of cakes.
The ceremony took place with Marian and Ray kneeling in silence, and shock, before their chastising guide into unity.
They survived and were excited to move on to the reception. The cakes were set in place for all to see, but the Parisian guests were taken aback.
One whispered to Marian, “But you cannot use those. Those are little boys’ first communion cakes!”
* * *
Marian and Ray were married for 66 years until Ray passed away in 2010. They’ve had many delicious cakes throughout the years and passed down this story with joy. They decided that the baker sold the wedding cake to someone else and hid until the war ended.
Shea Elmore is the founder and director of Playing with Reality, a performance company aimed at empowering through interactive experiences. (They can also be found on Facebook & Twitter.) Shea has attempted making several cakes over the years, the most successful being a 4-layered dark chocolate raspberry cake.
Tell us your story, or the story of a relative’s experience during the war – military, civilian, heroic or mundane. Your write-up should be between 500 and 750 words, and if you include a photo, it should be in jpg or tif format.
Please provide a caption and/or permission for the photo, for example, “Private Jack Sparrow at training camp in 1941, courtesy of Sarah Sparrow.”