All posts by Teri

D-Day June 6, 1944: Before, During, and After

To mark the momentous occasion of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing, the blog post below was taken from my father-in-law’s journal. It describes some of what he experienced as a US soldier in World War II, in the lead-up to D-Day, on D-Day, and after D-Day.

Eighty years ago today, my father-in-law stormed the beaches of Normandy. Just a year or so prior, he and my mother-in-law had arrived in the US after a four-year odyssey through Europe in their effort to escape the Nazis.

Soon after arriving in New York, he was drafted into the US Army and, along with more than 150,000 fellow Allied soldiers, stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

He helped to liberate untold numbers of towns and villages in France, as well as untold numbers of fellow Jews in Concentration Camps.

To my husband, Peter—the son of two Holocaust survivors—D-Day is a sacred day. This blog post is dedicated to him. 

Many of us in the baby boom generation are concerned that succeeding generations have learned little about the incredible heroism of the generation before us, the “Greatest Generation.”

It is our responsibility to ensure that the stories of the generation that saved our freedom are passed down to our children, our grandchildren, and to the generations beyond.

In the words of the songwriter Graham Nash:

“Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by…”

Here, then, is a portion of my father-in-law’s incredibly courageous story, in his own words, of how he helped keep freedom alive for all of us.

I was in the US First Army, VII Corps, Signal Intelligence Service Unit, under the command of General Omar Bradley.

The US First Army had three corps. In May of 1944, the three corps were placed geographically right next to each other running north-south along the British coast, facing the English Channel. The III Corps was 20 miles or so north of us; we, the VII Corps were in the center; and another corps, I think the V Corps, was south of us.

What we were trying to accomplish was to locate German signal stations. This was done by using trucks which contained large receivers connected to huge antennas. Those radio receivers were manned by experienced operators in eight-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, continuously searching, listening to and monitoring the facing German Army radio transmitters across the Channel in France.

My section was the nucleus of the SIS Company (Signal Intelligence Service). Every one of our twelve men had a rank, no privates or PFC’ s. We had captains, 1st and 2nd lieutenants, we also had some warrant officers with us and the rest all non-commissioned officers from master sergeant down to me, by then already a corporal (and later a Tech Sergeant).

In May, 1944, experienced radio operators joined us in England, coming from their victorious North African campaign against Rommel’s Panzer Corps. In North Africa, these radio operators had gained valuable experience on how to analyze and determine the enemy’s transmissions.

We established our operations in the vicinity of the Bournemouth in south England, right on the coast facing the Channel. There we were able, already prior to the D-Day invasion, to receive German signals. Our direction finders were sending out radio emissions, similar to radar. From the way our signals bounced back, we would determine the distance and the direction of the German stations.

Being that we had one Army corps north of us and one south of us, we were able to locate German army locations. We then telephoned in those directional findings to VII Corps Intelligence headquarters, which then could coordinate and pinpoint a German location. If the returning signal was strong, it meant that the signal came from a major German outfit like a regiment or division. So we could detect almost every location facing us and we could determine its importance.

VII Corps headquarters, in turn, would inform the 8th Air Force Command, located in our neighborhood. Almost immediately they would send out planes to bomb and destroy the enemy areas we had detected.

After we located an enemy radio station, we received their messages either in code or cipher, all of them in Morse Code. Our section was for de-ciphering, de-coding and analyzing these messages. After I translated the German messages into English, we derived their meanings and intelligence, by examining maps of the area, captured materials and any other available references. (Our section was called the crypto-analyst department.)

This was a very reliable way to find out where the enemy was located and what their intentions would be. The German positions were well hidden and camouflaged, so they could not be discovered by our observing piper cub planes. Besides, it was very risky for us to send our airplanes over enemy German territory, for danger of being shot down. Also, if it was too dark or foggy, there was no way we could discover Nazi positions from above.

Around the middle of May, 1944, rumors started to fly around that a big move was imminent. We were given more intelligence instructions, and now, also, more combat training and pep talks too. However we were never told when and how we were going to go into action. I didn’t get any more mail, neither from Mami at home, nor from London.

However, I kept writing to Mami almost every day. After I came home from the war, I found out that, from the beginning of my time in England in early 1944, my letters to home arrived heavily censored by the US military. But then, from about the middle of May until long after the invasion in June, 1944, all of my letters were held back altogether. That is when Mami got scared and thought that I might not be alive anymore. She had heard about the invasion from the newspaper reports. She knew that I was attached to the First Army and that we were in the invasion, so she feared the worst. And when she stopped getting letters from me, she became even more upset.

At the end of May 1944, we were alerted and transported to a nearby English port. We were told not to bring all of our equipment along because it would be too heavy. We then boarded a small destroyer. We stayed on that ship at the port for a while, until June 4, when we sailed into the English Channel, getting closer and closer to the French coast.

By then the English Channel was jammed from wall to wall with all different types of ships and boats. I remember seeing huge warships and flattop aircraft carriers, cruisers, patrol boats, attack boats, destroyers, submarines, even small motor boats, ferries, freighters and oil tankers which were converted into troop ships and cruise ships too. Every one of them was stuffed with troops from all of the allied forces. We were at all times required to wear steel helmets, ammunition belts and uniforms, all ready for action, and we were all looking very serious and anxious.

The entertainment we had on the ship while we were waiting in the Channel, was playing cards with rather big stakes and shooting craps and occasionally getting high on liquor, which our boys succeeded to bring aboard against army regulations. But our officers didn’t pay much attention, and they got drunk every day themselves.

The sober ones, like me and most of my immediate group, mostly Jewish, went into long sessions of discussions. And we played chess and other games.

The weather was lousy with rain and fog. We were shivering from the cold and the excitement too, most of those days.

But on June 5, we saw the skies clearing up, the stormy rain was abating, and we got more nervous and tense in anticipation of the danger to come.

I only slept in intervals the night of June 5 to 6th. At about 4 o’clock in the morning, I was awake anyway, when I heard some increasingly ominous noises from all sides and a lot of airplanes flying overhead. I jumped out of my bunk and climbed upstairs. There were a lot of flashes of light and thunder, and what seemed like the biggest lightning and thunderstorm ever. But, actually, it was the cannons from our ships and from the English shore opening up against the French Coast where the Germans were located.

The Germans in turn had automatic mechanical batteries. They were shooting from the French Coast at the Allied ships in the Channel. In fact, there were so many of our ships, that wherever an explosive came down, it always hit a ship and a lot of our soldiers got wounded and killed right there on the boats.

On our ship, I knew right away the danger, but I didn’t want to go back down to my bunk. Instead, stayed on top of the boat, but I lay down flat behind the ship’s offices, which was a slightly safer location on the boat.

Some of my friends, Sgts. Feinstein and Siegal, went up front to look at what was going on. Another bomb fell down and shrapnel penetrated through the ship’ railing. Marty Siegel was immediately killed. Feinstein’s left arm was blown off. They were both brought back to England, where Sid Feinstein also died.

I observed the entire action. It was a horrifying experience, a tremendous view of real war. We watched the entire initial beach landing from our deck on the boat. From five o’clock AM on, a large armada of American and English warplanes came from the English Coast. The sky was full, like a big swarm of mosquitos and we saw those unending big flashes caused by our bombs hitting the French Coast. I can’t imagine how the Germans must have felt when all that fire came down on them from the sky.

Our parachute troops from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions jumped down from overhead planes behind enemy lines, and they were quite successful with their surprise attack, although many of these troops were killed or wounded. Many of these parachutists got stuck in the fields, many were shot down, and many just hung on trees and church steeples until the succeeding infantry troops came in to rescue them, if they were still alive at that point. Those parachutists, when rescued, then started to fight all over again.

Our army and the other allies (mainly British and Canadian) came ashore on landing ships with their flat bottoms opening up towards the beaches, just as the ships approached the shoreline. Our troops had to get out into the very cold Channel waters which were at least waste high, and sometimes much higher. We had to slowly wade through the rough waters, holding our rifles high up overhead so they would not get wet. All the while, the Germans were bombing, strafing and shooting our troops even from the moment that our ship captains opened the front of the landing ships. Then, once the troops made it to the shore, the Germans continued to bomb and shoot our soldiers, and many of our boys were severely wounded or killed right there in the Channel waters or on the beach.

Fortunately for my troop detachment, we were not among the first allied assault wave on the Normandy Beaches. Instead, we were transferred from our transport ship to an LST (Landing Ship Transport) in the early afternoon of D-Day. As our landing boat approached the shore, the front of the boat opened up, and we jumped into the rough Channel waters. Wading through deep water, up almost to my shoulders, I was holding my carbine rifle high up in the air.

When we hit the beach at about four o’clock in the afternoon, the first allied assault wave had already cleared the beach and most of the German fortifications at the top of the beach. But it was still quite dangerous, with some bombing and shooting still going on in and around the landing beaches.

It was a sandy beach and innumerable soldiers of all kinds were laying there, some wounded and crying out in pain, but most dead. There were also a lot of dead German soldiers on or near the beach. We joked that they were “good soldiers”, because they were dead.

As we marched inland from the beach, we picked up some souvenirs, some pistols and medals, from the dead German soldiers. But then we were warned by our officers and by the military police not to pick up anything at all because some of the stuff could be booby trapped.

We were guided into the nearby hedgerows, all the time being strafed and fired on by machine guns, artillery fire all around us to the left, the right, above us, behind us, in front of us, there was shooting going on for about twenty-four hours and still our forward troops pressed on all the time. We had with us the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne Division.

The 1st Infantry Division landed; the 9th Infantry Division too, and the 3rd Armored Division, a tank division under the command of the Jewish General Maurice Rose, who was later was killed in a forward action in Germany.

The section where the VII Corp invaded was called Utah Beach, near St. Mere Eglise in Normandy.

The next morning after D-Day, we set up our big antennas and started operations to receive messages. In the meantime, our navy brought over our trucks that we had prepared in Bournemouth, and we were set up for complete operation within about 48 hours.

Our operators started to receive messages from the enemy front, from the different units of the Germans facing us. We were busy practically 24 hours a day. There were always some technicians on duty, then we would analyze and decipher and decode these messages.

The other translator we had with us was a teacher from Philadelphia, also Jewish, Sgt. Frost. His knowledge of German was not entirely faultless. He was from Chicago. His parents who had come from Poland advised him to learn German, just in case, but his German was not too perfect. So, many times, when he tried some translations, he had to come to me for assistance. Every once and a while when he started to break a code, there was some missing interpretations, so with my total knowledge of the language I knew where a certain meaning would fit in. The whole exercise was a tremendously interesting sort of crossword puzzle, except we didn’t play this game with letters or with words. We played with entire sentences which were of enormous and exciting importance.

The military campaign went on, and our troops proceeded further and further inland in Normandy. What we had first was only a small perimeter southwest and north of Ste. Mere Eglise, but soon we expanded further. Other beachheads were formed and joined together like a jigsaw puzzle. We took some more towns and this perimeter expanded from a beachhead into the occupation of the entire Normandy peninsula.

When I was off duty, I started to look around in the vicinity of our bivouac area. One day I got my jeep and decided to go to Ste Mere Eglise. We drove on, and I was joined by Warrant Officer Bernholz and Harold Wolfson. On the way we noticed again many dead animals, cows, chickens, pigs and horses. Being that they were laying around for almost a week, it was a terrible stench. We had to hold our noses and it was an awful stink. But at least the soldier corpses had been removed and buried by now.

Ste. Mere Eglise was occupied by our 9th Infantry Division. Sgt. Wolfson met his younger brother at Division Headquarters there. He had come in with the first shock waves unharmed. The two brothers cried in relief and it was a wonderful reunion. We drank some wine and celebrated this good fortune.

We found out where the new mayor of the town was. The old mayor had collaborated with the Nazis and was arrested and killed. The Free French underground forces had given this new man the charge to be the mayor now. Warrant Officer Bernholz and Sgt. Wolfson expressed their desire to get some postal stamps. Until the invasion, Southern France was occupied by the Germans too, like Northern France.

Southern France, a few years prior to that, about 1942, had made a pact with the Nazis and there was an unoccupied France then under the leadership of Marshal Petain, a traitor and collaborator with the Germans. He formed, with other opportunists, the so-called “Vichy” regime. Their excuse was that it was necessary to save Southern France, which however was later occupied by the Germans anyway. The Prime Minister was Laval. Therefore, all the currency of the original French Republic was changed and also there was a new issue of “Vichy” stamps, which had the pictures of these collaborators, Petain, Laval, Girand and other leading functionaries who were nothing but “Quislings”.

These stamps, of course, once the allies had occupied France, would be discontinued. So we thought it would be a good deal to get them now.

We knocked on the Mayor’s door. A heavy-set man greeted us with a big smile and asked in French what he could do for us. Fortunately, I could speak almost fluent French, which I had learned many years before, after being in France for a little while long before World War II started.

I explained to the Mayor our interest in stamps. He invited us in, and his wife served us tea and bread with jam. He said, “Well, if you are stamp collectors, I will surely want to help you. That is the least we can do for your success to liberate us from the “sales Boches” [“dirty Germans”]. The post office is closed, since there is no mail going in and out nowadays, and with this war going on, who needs stamps anyway. When we open up the mail service again, we surely won’t use Laval and Petain stamps anymore. “Grace a Dieux”, so you can have them if you want.” He gave us a big bunch of keys, pointing out which key would open the post office.

So we walked over to the post office, unlocked the door, opened drawers and removed quite a lot of sheets of these stamps. Not just single stamps, but whole sheets of it. Later when our APO (army post office) started to operate, I sent those in big envelopes to Mami. She sold them soon downtown in New York for whatever she could get. This was rather sad, because by now those stamps would have increased many times their value. But this too is past history, Mami sorely needed the money at the time.

Also, because of my knowledge of the French language, I had a chance to go quite often, with the jeep that was assigned to me, to exchange our K-rations and the C-rations for real food. These rations contained powdered coffee, powdered milk, powdered eggs, spam, a small pack of cigarettes, hard tack and some dried figs and prunes. We exchanged these “exotic” commodities with the French peasants. I brought back fresh eggs, chickens and some French apple wine, and the famous apple brandy called “Calvados”.

I made acquaintance with the two pretty daughters of the resistance mayor. I still have some correspondence from them which was sent to Mami from Ste. Mere Eglise; the letters are still in existence since 1944.

In one of my excursions, which I did quite frequently on my off time, I had the jeep available again. I had my own driver and Sgt. Wolfson came along too, and we ventured forth toward Cherbourg. By then, the entire Normandy peninsula was already liberated by the allied soldiers, except that the Germans had held on to the Port of Cherbourg, which they defended heavily for another week.

Cherbourg is a large seaport. As we were sitting in our jeep on the road to Cherbourg, we had some refreshments, which we had gotten from the French, again for the exchange of our chocolate bars and a few cigarettes.

As we were relaxing there, we perceived martial music. Soon a US Army band marched by in step and then a large US Army formation followed. By then it was the middle of June and it was very warm. Still they all wore OD woolen dress uniforms, schlepping along all the equipment on their backs. Although perspiring profusely, they kept on marching in real tight formation.

One of our fellows nudged me and exclaimed “No question about it. This must be the Third Army under Patton.” General Patton was known as a strict disciplinarian. We, ourselves, were then dressed in sloppy Army fatigues. We were quite dirty since we had not had bath since June 6. We didn’t wear the full helmets, only helmet liners which were light weight. Some of us were bare headed. This was not the case with the Third Army. They had to be in full dress uniforms. They even wore ties. That’s how we saw the Third Army marching out from Cherbourg. It was a heroic sight, but a bit ridiculous all the same.

Now we had already two armies on the Normandy Peninsula. Our fighting troops had eliminated all the German pockets, so the entire Normandy peninsula was cleared.

By the way, I might want to mention that the natives, the Normans [i.e., the Norman French] that lived in that particular part of France, did not favor the American invasion. They claimed that under the Germans, it had been very peaceful. When the Germans arrived there, they didn’t offer any resistance and they let the Nazis fraternize with their daughters and even with their wives, and it was all very pastoral and polite.

The Normans exchanged trinkets with the Germans, and nothing was really destroyed. The real destruction came when the Americans attacked, and many of the Normans’ houses, villages, animals and crops were heavily damaged. They absolutely didn’t appreciate the Americans.

Our two US armies and an English army then prepared for the next phase; i.e. to drive the Germans further north and eventually out of the rest of France. Until the middle of July, 1944, not much happened. Our operators received quite a lot of radio signals, and every once in a while, our infantry caught a German soldier, whereupon they would call me right away to interrogate him. I was the only one in my entire company who spoke a fluent German.

I was driven by military police to the prisoner of war camps and I started to question German army prisoners. This happened quite often. I still remember these incidents where I would ask them to hand over to us the “Schlusseltafel” (the key table for the solution of their changing daily codes). Most of them, of course on German army orders, refused to give them up or had destroyed them already. But I did find some sensible fellows who hadn’t destroyed them, like they were supposed to, but handed them freely over to me, because I had promised them that I would give them a good meal with schnapps and cigarettes, and I would also see that they would get favorable treatment. These were the smart ones.

During the entire campaign, I interrogated maybe a hundred of them. Every one of them denied having been a Nazi. They all claimed they had only acted under orders, and that they had no sympathy at all for the Nazi Regime.

One prisoner of war I spoke to was from Bavaria. He found that my German accent was similar to his. He asked: “How do you speak such an excellent German?” I said: “I learned it back in Vienna where I was born. I was 25 years old when I had to leave, and that is how I know German.”

He then asked me, very politely: “Sergeant, will you permit me one question? How do you feel fighting against your own Fatherland?” Then I really let him have it! I told him how, as a Jew, I was thrown out and I now was so glad to come back to take my revenge.

It was July 25, 1944, when once more I ventured out with our jeep with some other fellows to look at the countryside. As we drove on a narrow dirt road through a forest, all of a sudden we discovered there were a lot of GI’s hidden behind the trees with their faces blackened, and carrying leaves on top of their helmets, their big cannons and tanks heavily camouflaged. The military police stopped us and said, “Where the hell are you going? You are not supposed to be here. We are about to start another big attack, it is imminent. You’d better get back because you are not fighting troops anyway.”

We turned around as quickly as we could. Within about twenty minutes we heard this tremendous bombardment with hundreds of allied planes knocking the hell out of the Nazis. This then was the breakthrough of St. Lo. This breakthrough was accomplished by sending in our crack divisions against the Germans who were forced out of the bottleneck of Normandy. The famous war columnist, Ernie Pyle got killed there by our own bombs. Our Armies then filtered out in all directions into France proper.

Within a few weeks we advanced very far, spearheaded by Patton’s Third Army into the center of France. We were soon near Paris. Our US troops did not go into Paris first. We let the French, under De Gaulle, do it. The First Army went south of Paris to Melun and Reims and then towards the Belgian border.

Now, all this sounds very easy. We advanced and advanced and advanced. However, we suffered a lot, even our own noncombatant company had quite a few losses. We were observed and shot upon everyday by artillery and overhead by the German Stukas and Yaeger airplanes. They would bomb us and strafe us often. Every time we advanced, we had to gather up all our equipment. When we stopped at a new point, we had to erect our antennas and re-establish our communication connections, so we could receive and transmit the signals.

We had to be very near the front all the time. These German radio emissions were not too strong. The closer we got to them, the clearer our reception would be.

We were quite successful. Decoded and translated messages and important intelligence was going out from our company to VII Corps headquarters every day and I was quite helpful. I was not too well liked by some of my colleagues in my immediate section, and I sometimes suffered more jealousy from my own Jewish fellows than I had from the non-Jews.

If there was a problem to solve, I sat with the paperwork for hours. I just wouldn’t leave it alone. I had to finish it up and not wait for the next shift, while the rest of our section would have their eight hours shift, pop out, have their chow, and later on they would disappear into the towns to fool around, get drunk and fraternize with any available shiksa. If I had a task to do, I just stayed with it until I solved it, even if it took me a whole night.

I didn’t feel like working in a union shop, punch the clock after eight hours and you are finished. I had a job to do and I did it, until I finished.

Now, a short re-capitulation of our advance into Germany. As we had taken the Port of Cherbourg and thereby enabled the Third Army under General Patton to join our First Army, we were able to drive through St. Lo in masses. Our VII Corps, with the 1st and 9th infantry and the Third armored divisions, which were our usual divisions in most of the campaigns, attacked northeast in an attempt to make a juncture with the British and Canadian forces, and to thereby cut off the retreating German 7th Army.

With Allied artillery and air pounding the fleeing German troops, enemy losses were very heavy. The roads were strewn with the wreckage of hundreds of tanks and thousands of vehicles. Further east, the allied air attacks also destroyed large number of barges and ferries loaded with troops attempting to escape eastward across the Seine River.

After we crossed the Seine River at Melun, we came into the battlefields of World War I, places famed for the glorious fighting of the American troops in the previous World War I in 1917 and 1918. There were places that we hit again like Soissans, Chateau Tierry. We passed the fortified cities and the VII Corps dashed quickly in with their flying columns, so that the German Command did not know where to expect them next. German motor convoys were often overtaken as they tried to escape to the east. Railroad trains loaded with troops, supplies and vehicles were surprised and destroyed by our armored spearheads.

Everybody in France saw that the German army was in chaos. There was no safe place for them to reorganize short of the German border.

On August30,our troops were the first to cross the international boundary into Belgium. Long columns of German motor vehicles and horse drawn equipment were fleeing from the west towards Germany. This was the famous German 7th army, retiring under orders to occupy the Siegfried Line to keep the American forces out of Germany.

Our artillery and airplanes pounded these long columns, and the German retreat became a smoking ruin. Elements of twenty enemy divisions were captured and killed as they moved straight into the fire of our troops.

Our own Company, the 3251st Signal Service Company followed very closely. We moved across the Belgium border with them, through Charleroi, Liege and towards the Ardennes. The enemy had planned to hold a defensive line on the frontier to keep the Americans off the sacred soil of Germany, but our rapid advance disjointed such ideas. We were there before the enemy could do anything about it. German mine fields and strongly defended road blocks slowed our advance momentarily, but no definite organization of defense was encountered.

The lack of German first line troops was apparent. They were using home guards, composed of high school boys and very old veterans. They involved their retired security, auxiliary police, military police and even training units in a vain attempt to stop the advance of American fighting men.

While we were in Liege and later in Verviers, I found a chance to go out once again (I always had my own jeep and my own driver) to explore these liberated Belgian towns. I searched for and found some Jewish survivors who invited us into their homes. They cried for joy to have Jewish American soldiers finally join them.

Only then did I hear for the first time personally about the terrible crimes that the Nazis had committed against humanity, against the Belgians but mainly against the Jews. The occupation in these places was very drastic. Many of the Jewish people had been evacuated into Germany and then into the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, etc.

I contacted our mess sergeant who was a Chinaman from New York, and I implored him to save the food that was left over after the meals, to hold onto it for a few hours at least. Then I invited the Jews I knew to come to our mess area with small pots and pans. They picked up all the food that otherwise would have been thrown in the garbage.

Our mess sergeant was sort of hesitant to do this at first. “It is against orders”, he cried. However, I was able to convince him that this was a really good deed. In order to compensate him for his cooperation, I would ask these Jewish escapees to clean the kitchen, mop the floors, wash the pots and dishes, and prepare everything for the next meal. Everybody was happy; the cooks, the K P’s (G. I. kitchen helpers), the poor DP’s (displaced persons;) but I was the happiest. I had accomplished something worthwhile, a mitzvah maybe. I didn’t deprive the American army of any essential supplies and I helped those poor people to survive for the next few weeks.

 In September of ’44, we were able to penetrate the Siegfried line in quite a few places and we were advancing through the defense fortifications towards Aachen.

A few days later came the time of Rosh Hashana. We formed a group of about twenty-five to attend the religious services. We had some tallesim and sidurs with us. One of our sergeants, Lou Frost, conducted the services right in the middle of the Siegfried line. It was quite emotional and we had tears in our eyes while intoning our prayers. We were fortunate to conduct those services on German soil for the first time since Hitler came to Germany. I assumed this, since our VII Corps troops were the spearhead of the US Army penetration into Germany proper.

In Stolberg, which was a suburb of Aachen, after a few days of street fighting, we were able to establish our headquarters there. Our cavalry by then had infiltrated the pill boxes of the Siegfried line, deep in the forests.

But then we had to stop our advance. There were supply problems beyond the control of the Corps. So the advance had to be held up temporarily. We were going so fast across France and Belgium, that this advance could not be sustained. Ammunition shortages developed; food and fuel for our fighting troop ran out.

Although we had captured quite a lot of German rations, it was hardly enough. Our Corps, as usual, was leading the 1st US Army, but we had outrun our supplies and our drive was stalled.

The German air force reappeared for a few days of very heavy activity. It was at the beginning of October, 1944. They came over and did some damage, but our anti-aircraft destroyed quite a lot of them.

Then a very bloody battle started for the possession of the Roer River. The Germans were trying to block us because the Roer River had a big dam. They thought they could open it up, and then a lot of water would be released to flood the area and block us altogether.

Finally, our air force came over. It was on a clear day and they began a systematic reduction of the defenses. For five consecutive days, the enemy launched counter attacks, and a lot of people got killed, but finally we were able to capture this obstacle too.

In the beginning of December, there was very little action. Some of our troops were released and went back to Belgium for rest and re-organization. I too went back to Liege for a few days. We had some USO shows there and I met my new Jewish friends once more, until I had to return to the front on about December 10.

The front became very quiet and we were trying hard to search the airwaves for enemy radio transmissions but we couldn’t find anything. We were told by headquarters that the Germans had started a “funkstille” which is complete transmission silence. They wouldn’t send anything at all because they didn’t want to give away their movements and their plans.

Then we heard rumors, all of a sudden, that the German patrols had infiltrated into our rear areas. We were very confused and embarrassed because we still couldn’t receive any signals. So we were not aware of what the German plans were.

Enemy air force now came over quite often and was active with bombing and strafing. Then we heard that some German parachutists were dropped behind the American lines, they were dressed in American uniforms which they had captured.

This was the Battle of the Bulge.

[My father-in-law’s journal describing his experience during WW II continues for many more pages. I will provide more of his story at a later date.]

 

Nova Music Festival: The Screaming Girl

October 7, 2023—the day is forever seared into my psyche.

The day that Hamas terrorists and Palestinian civilian animals descended upon the Nova Music Festival and stalked, chased, massacred, raped, mutilated, and kidnapped innocent people.

Never again happened again. Never again was happening in real-time.

That deadly October 7 day and the subsequent nightmarish days that followed, when I heard the deafening silence of so many and saw the true colors of too many.

Those so many and too many were people I respected—some of whom I thought were my friends who have said nothing or “but.”

This past Thursday I attended the Nova Music Festival Exhibition in New York City, an in-depth remembrance of the brutal October 7 attack. The exhibition heartbreakingly recreated a music event dedicated to peace and love that was brutally cut short by Hamas and other Palestinian civilians and  terrorists on Israel from Gaza on that horrifically fateful day. For more information about the Nova Music Festival Exhibition click here. 

I knew walking into a small side room in the exhibit would be horrifying because of the warning signs posted outside the entrance.

As I entered the dark menacing room, a young girl in front of me referred to it as “the rape room.” The video monitor was draped with dark-stained and ripped men’s boxer shorts. Were they ripped or were they bullet holes? I wasn’t sure. I was so overwrought that I lost my footing and fell into someone who awkwardly propped me up.

Some of the translated footage was bone-chilling. The Palestinian butchers were saying, “She is the one for rape, so let’s put her back inside for rape.”

One Nova attendee’s interview talked about how he wanted to save a beautiful young blonde girl who was surrounded by Palestinians dressed in civilian clothing, laughing and touching her. But he knew he couldn’t. And he knew what was about to happen to her.

I watched an uncut video of Palestinian civilians cheering, spitting, and stick-beating 22-year-old Shani Louk as her defiled body was traipsed through the streets of Gaza in the now infamous Hamas-filled truck bed.

But it was the cell phone video of a handsome young man lying in the brush, tears flowing down his face, that’s seared into my memory. He was voiceless and motionless—the sounds of gunfire in the background.

And the screaming girl. Her screams were unabatingly otherworldly and so horrific that I will never get them out of my head.

Rat a tat tat. Rat a tat tat. But it was the screaming of that girl that I continue to hear over and over again. Screaming like I have never heard before. Screaming that I pray I will never hear again.

Screams that I can’t get out of my head because I know goddamn well what was happening to her. As long as I live, I don’t think I will ever forget the screams.

The heartbreaking exhibit included remains salvaged from the festival grounds, including scorched cars,

cell phone audio, text messages, bullet-riddled bathroom stalls,

photographs of the murdered and kidnapped, and thousands of personal belongings left behind.

A child’s shoe had me trembling, and I leaned against the wall for support.

The New York City exhibit included video testimonies from survivors, volunteers, and family members, as well as raw footage taken on October 7 from both festival attendees and Hamas and Gazan terrorists.

One young mother talked about hiding in a flat-top ice cream refrigerator for hours. She was saved from freezing to death only by the fact that the terrorists machine-gunned the generator, shutting off the electricity. She wanted to die, but she knew she had to live for her young, fatherless son. Except now, her desire to live is gone. Her son is now living away from her with family, while she struggles every minute of every day to convince herself that life is still worth living.

I learned that some survivors had taken their own lives since October 7, and many others are suicidal.

I listened to phone calls from terrified kids to their parents, saying goodbye.

One mother soothed her daughter with quiet words of affection, comforting her until the sounds of shooting got closer and closer, and then Arabic shouting from not one but many men cut them off forever. How does a mother survive that kind of last call?

Donations from the exhibition go to the Nova Healing Journey, an initiative that supports mental health treatment for victims and families of the October 7 massacre.

The Nova Music Festival exhibit is something everyone needs to see. Maybe then—I say “maybe” the pro-Palestinian, Hamas-loving apologists will get it.

Maybe. But I’m not holding my breath.

I’m just trying to hold it all together and get that screaming girl out of my head.

Chimera


In the wee hours of this morning, I had a nightmare that brought me back to my younger years when I was living with my grandmother, great-grandmother, and mother in a tenement railroad apartment on Huron Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

My recurring nightmare back then was paralyzingly frightening: a smirking animal monster hiding at the bottom of the front door stairs of that crummy apartment waiting for me. I was never clear about what kind of animal it was, but it still scared the bejesus out of me.

That damn dream did the trick because I never dared to enter the long, dark hallway leading to the bottom of those filthy stairs for fear that something would be lurking there and, indeed, waiting for me.

And anyway, a padlock the size of my head was bolted onto the front door, making it impossible to get in or out. The only way in and out of our apartment was to climb up several levels of outdoor stairs to get to the back door of the fourth-floor tenement — one way in and out — a real fire trap.

I haven’t had that dream for over 60 years, but the evil-looking monster in this morning’s nightmare was eerily similar — except this dude was clearly a mixture of a lion and a goat.

The dream was so startling that at 3 am, I grabbed a pad and pencil and then typed the words “part lion and part goat” into my phone.

And there it was: Chimera.

According to Greek mythology, the Chimera was a female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Ooh, my monster dude was actually a dudette. Now, this female monster was my kind of animal.

One definition described a chimera as something hoped for but illusory and impossible to achieve in reality. This definition resonated with me.

Another relatable description read: “The Chimera represents the coexistence of opposites, such as strength and vulnerability, courage and fear, and life and death.”

Whoa. Maybe my dream was a sign and not a nightmare at all.

When I rehashed how I felt when I first saw the lion goat in my dream, I wasn’t afraid of it per se. It was more of a feeling that I needed an added level of removal or protection, if that makes any sense.

After mulling over the dream’s interpretation, I asked myself: Was I the Chimera?

I tried to get back to sleep, but all I could think about was this Chimera and the duality of her existence. Was she a conflicted role-player of sorts? Who was this Chimera to me?

Trying to get back to sleep was useless, so I made a strong cup of coffee and then parked myself at my desk for hours, searching the Internet to learn more about my Chimera.

According to Wikipedia, Homer depicted Chimera in his epic poem, The Iliad: “Her breath came out in terrible blasts of burning flame.” Hmm, according to Homer, this Chimera character had a big mouth. I was starting to like her, but unfortunately, she met a violent demise.

Also, as told in The Iliad, King Iobates of Lycia, who despised Bellerophon, the son of Poseidon, ordered him to slay the Chimera, hoping the she-monster would kill him instead.

I was fascinated by the myth and wanted to know why King Iobates despised Bellerophon so much. According to one source, Iobates received a letter from Proetus, the King of Argos and Tiryns, instructing him, “Please remove this bearer from the world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter.”

Okay.

Chimera’s hot breath made it impossible for Bellerophon to get close enough to kill her. So he took a large block of lead, mounted it on his spear, and using his winged horse Pegasus, he flew over her and then shot it into Chimera’s mouth.

Chimera’s fire breath melted the lead, blocked her air passageway, and suffocated her. YIKES. I guess that shut her up.

But Bellerophon got too big for his britches when he sought to ascend to heaven in a vain and foolish attempt to join the gods on Mount Olympus, angering Zeus, the God of the sky.

According to my research, Bellerophon’s demise went one of two ways:

In one scenario, Zeus orders Pegasus to drop Bellerophon from the sky to the ground, instantly killing him.

In the other, Zeus orders Pegasus to drop Bellerophon from the sky to the ground, but he doesn’t die.

Instead, he falls onto a thorn bush face-first and is blinded and paralyzed, causing him to live out his life in misery, “devouring his own soul,” until he eventually dies. Call me a monster, but I much prefer this scenario.

Eurovision 2024 Song Contest


The Eurovision Song Contest is an international songwriting and singing competition organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). It serves as a global celebration of unity in music, promoting diversity, artistic impression, and inclusivity. The singing competition has been held every year since 1956, making it the longest-running annual television contest on record.

The selection process varies by country. Sometimes, a country selects the artist, and the public chooses a song for them through a national final. Alternatively, EBU member broadcasters choose the song, and the public votes to decide which artist will perform it.

Eurovision 2024 will be held live in Malmo, Sweden. The Contest format comprises three live shows: The first semi-final will occur on Tuesday, May 7; the second semi-final on Thursday, May 9; and the grand finale on Saturday, May 11.

There is a comprehensive set of rules for the competition, but the main three relating to the artists and their songs are:

  • Songs must be original and no more than 3 minutes in length
  • The lead vocalist must perform live
  • No more than six performers are allowed on stage during any one performance

A total of 37 countries will compete in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest:

Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The event is attended globally, with the United States and Australia among the top ticket buyers.

You can watch Eurovision 2024 in the United States on Peacock TV.

I have my personal favorites, so here are my top six choices. I tried to narrow it down to five, but Georgia’s “Firefighter” was too amazing not to highlight.

#1:

Israel: Edie Golan ~ “Hurricane”

There is continuing condemnation and talk of banning Israel from Eurovision 2024, although so far, they are still part of the competition. So much for inclusivity and unity through music. Israel submitted the song “October Rain,” which Eurovision immediately rejected and disqualified, deeming it “too political.” The song was then renamed “Hurricane” and significantly altered to make it more politically acceptable. Every time I watch the music video for “Hurricane,” I get full-body chill bumps. Twenty-year-old Eden Golan, who has faced serious death threats,  sings the last two lines in Hebrew: “Don’t need big words, just prayers. Even if it’s hard to see, you always leave one single light.” It’s my favorite entry, but rest assured, Israel will NEVER win.

#2:

Serbia: Teya Dora ~ “Ramonda”

Ramonda is a resilient flower native to the Balkans. It’s known for its remarkable ability to recover and bloom even after exposure to the harshest conditions. The song opens with the words: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” “Ramonda” is overflowing with political innuendoes, but whatever.

#3:

Albania: Besa ~ “Titan”

“Titan” is a song about empowerment, survival, resilience, strength, and determination. Titan’s message is to stand tall and unwavering in the face of adversity. Besa is a force to be reckoned with and a true “Titan” in disguise.

#4

Germany: Isaak ~ “Always On The Run”

In this song, Isaak acknowledges that there is privilege in being privileged, but he’s tired of running away from who he is. For me, “Always On The Run” is about the highs and lows of self-discovery and the pain of having to live up to the expectations of others.

#5:

France: Slimane ~ “Mon Amour”

I’m a sucker for all things French, and this Eurovision entry does not disappoint. Slimane waits and waits for his amour. It’s a simple song of love and hope—something I know a thing or two about.

#6:

Georgia: Nutsa Buzaladze ~ “Firefighter”

My personal experience with firefighters and one devastating fire made it impossible not to add “Firefighter” to my top 6 list. My favorite line in “Firefighter” is, “Did we build empires just to watch them burn?” Oh no, we didn’t. The song expresses a metaphorical fight against wars, envy, and hate.

You can stream the complete entry of songs by clicking here.

Let me know your favorite in the comments.

My Stolen Diaries — Chapter 30: Mom’s Engagement

CHAPTER 30

 MOM’S ENGAGEMENT

August 15, 1966

Today was my worst day ever. Mom asked for my blessing to get engaged and marry “Rob,” explaining that getting married to a wealthy man and moving to an affluent town like Westport is everything she has been dreaming about her whole life.

I found it brazenly annoying that she would “ask” for my blessing while shoving her left hand with a diamond the size of our apartment into my face.

Mom is getting ready to live out her dream while I’m still trying to get used to Roberto’s new name. What a joke. What about my dreams?

According to Mem, Roberto goes by “Rob” in Westport because his given name is too Italian for the town. Why would Mom want to live in a place where having an ethnic name is a problem?

And Nick? That would be it for Nick. He would be banished forever — I couldn’t let Mom do that. So, I courageously told Mom, “No, I won’t give you my blessing,” even though the next day was her 28th birthday.

“I really want you to want this for me.” Mom looked at me so pathetically that I almost gave in. But I didn’t. I felt like there was nothing more to say, so I stood up to leave the kitchen table. “That’s it?” she asked me sarcastically.

“What about Nick?” I asked nervously. She glared up at me with a frown and a smirk. “Seriously, Tony? Your precious Nick can’t give us what Rob can, and you know it. Do you want to live as a poor person for the rest of your life?”

The look on her perfectly made-up face told me all I needed to know. There was no use trying to talk Mom out of marrying “Rob.” All Nick could give us was love. And while love was enough for me, I couldn’t say the same for Mom.

I told her I thought it was a terrible idea. I told her that “Rob” wasn’t good for her. I was reluctant to say anything more but knew it was my last chance to change her mind.

“So that’s it for Nick? We’re never going to see him again? And Nick or no Nick, I don’t want you to marry Roberto — oops, excuse me, Rob.”

Mom’s mascara eyes were squinting angrily at me when she said, “Nick is gone; I told him it was over.” I forced myself not to cry in front of her, and my hands were sweaty and shaking. But Mom didn’t even notice. I’m forever caught up in her drama, but she couldn’t care less. It’s always been about her.

I told Mom I wanted to say goodbye to Nick, and that’s when she got unbecomingly loud. “I said goodbye to Nick for you. That’s it for Nick. And I don’t want to hear his name come out of your mouth ever again.”

“Okay, so go live with your Rob in his fancy house in Westport, and leave me out of your drama and your dreams. I have dreams of my own.”

Mom looked puzzled. “Wait, you think I’m leaving you in this crummy apartment? I’m marrying Rob next August. We got engaged last night, and you’re coming to Westport with us, little missy.” And then she stormed upstairs, muttering, “Tony has dreams. Please.”

Wait what? I’m moving to Westport with those two immature lovebirds? Mom thinks I’m leaving Mem and Mere Germaine? Oh no. Mem would never stand for that.

Here, I was worried about living without Nick. And now Mom wants to take me away from Mem? How will I ever survive without Mem?

Stay tuned for Chapter 31: Bridgeport Hospital

International Women’s Day: Me Too, Unless You’re a Jew

This post is dedicated to:

Ofra. Arbel. Inbar. Maya. Noa. Carmel. Shiri. Judith. Eden. Shani. Doron. Amit. Emily. Daniella. Na’ama. Karina. Agam. Liri. Romi.

Fourteen of the 19 women named above are still presumed to be alive, while five of them were killed in captivity — their bodies rotting in Gaza.

On this International Women’s Day, don’t be afraid to say their names and pray that they come home soon like you would if they were your daughters, granddaughters, or sisters.

Until October 7, 2023, I never felt unsafe being Jewish. I now know better.

My in-laws, may they rest in peace, were Holocaust survivors and heroes to countless people whom they saved.

As a result of her trauma, my mother-in-law was obsessed with Israel, Zionism, and watching out for the enemy, which was anyone who wasn’t Jewish.

And she told me horror stories of what happened to the prettiest Jewish women and girls at the hands of the Nazis.

Her Holocaust accounts of rape, humiliation, assault, and murder of women and young girls were beyond my comprehension — until October 7, when all her fears were realized — by me.

My mother-in-law was convinced that the Holocaust could happen again and warned me to watch out for it. “It starts small,” she prophesized. I thought her paranoia came from her unfathomable Holocaust nightmare.

But now I get it.

What shocked me the most about the brutality of October 7 was the silence from so many people. People that I respected and looked up to. People I considered my friends.

But not anymore.

Women and girls were brutally raped and tortured on October 7.

Just say it.

And please don’t insult my intelligence with a “but.”

There is no but.

Speak the truth.

What the hell are you afraid of? Or maybe it’s not fear — but distaste for Jews — the others, unlike you.

If Hamas ever came into our country and raped and mutilated our women and girls, our government would annihilate them — collateral damage be damned.

And you would agree. We would all agree.

You can be against Israel. But it doesn’t give you the right to frighten and torment American Jews on American soil. How can you possibly condone Hamas terrorists sexually torturing and raping women and girls to death?

And to all those MeToo spokeswomen whom I admired and who helped me through my own nightmarish experience, your silence is heartbreakingly deafening.

In failing to condemn the raping to death of young women and girls, you MeToo bigots have shown your true colors and brought shame to yourselves and the movement.

Another Lost Year

I’ve gone ahead and moved forward in life with those I can.
But I still treasure the frozen-in-time memories of those who ran.

Today, I wished for something I know, at least for now, can never be.
She’s still young, so I have faith that one day she’ll reach out to me.

I see the resemblance in her fly-away hair and heart-shaped chin.
With tiny hands planted firmly on her hips, she’s my mighty munchkin.

Then I asked myself how many years it would take — nine or maybe ten.
Add them to my already ancient self; no respite for the unwitting tragedienne.

One day, you will wonder if I ever thought of you or who you were to me.
Every day, I think of you and curse the deliberate chopping down of our family tree.

Comfort

To feel his arms around me was
as healing as anything I have
ever felt.

He took me by surprise,
when he came behind me
as I sat reading a self-help
book and gently enveloped
me in all of his pubescence.

I held back tears as
my little guy held me
tightly and wrapped me
up in his loving innocence.

Somehow, he felt my sorrow,
and he knew just what to do
to take the pain away.

If I died in that moment,
it would have been the most
beautiful of endings.

My Stolen Diaries — Chapter 29: Naomi

CHAPTER 29

 NAOMI

July 1966

I haven’t written in a while, because I made a new friend, and we’ve been spending a lot of time together. She’s my first real girlfriend since Yolanda from Father Panik, who I haven’t seen since we left White Street.

A couple of weeks ago, a bunch of us kids were hanging out in the Success Park playground near Court B when we noticed a plain, black-haired girl watching us from a distance. My friends said it was Naomi, a Jew girl, and chased after her, calling out, “Beat it, dirty Jew, Jesus killer.” One of them threw a rock that just missed her head.

Their hatred reminded me of the cruelty against Rebecca, the Jewish girl, in Ivanhoe, one of the books I just finished in Adam’s classic collection.

Naomi tried to run away, but she was slow, and when my friends caught up to her, they formed a circle around her and screamed, “Go back to your Jew house and never show your ugly Jew face around here again.”

I got into the middle of the circle with Naomi and loudly shouted that they were acting like horrible monsters. That stopped them long enough for me to take this poor whimpering girl by the arm.

Then Chris jumped in and ordered them all to leave. Ever since I plunged out of his dad’s car, we’ve become close. But I refuse to kiss him again until he breaks up with Juliette because I listened loud and clear to Mem’s words about “the chase.”

And just so you know, I’m still limping around from that horrible nosedive. And I still haven’t told my family about what happened — and probably never will.

“I’ll take you home,” I told Naomi while yelling at all my friends except Chris to “Get lost.” Chris moved everyone out of our way like he was a cattleman straight out of Gunsmoke. I was impressed.

A woman was running in our direction, terrified. As soon as she reached us, she hugged and thanked me for “my courage.” She also said that I must have extraordinary parents.

Extraordinary indeed.

Naomi asked if I wanted to come to their apartment for a snack. Her mom served up some delicious pastries called rugelach, which, by the way, is pronounced nothing like it’s spelled. I met her father and two brothers; they seemed kind and moral, just like the Jews in Ivanhoe.

I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I asked one of Naomi’s brothers if the Jews killed Jesus, as my friends said. He answered that Jesus was Jewish, which I didn’t know, and that Pontius Pilate ordered him crucified, which I did learn at St. Ambrose.

Naomi and I have become very close friends, and I have a ton of respect for her family, who are wonderful people. And since Jesus was Jewish, I’m sure God is okay that we’re friends, even though the rest of my gang refuses to speak to me when Naomi’s around.  Well, everyone except Chris, who I’m still playing “chase” with.

One of the girls accused me of being a Jew lover, and I put my fists up and yelled for her to come closer to me and say it to my face, but she didn’t dare. They all know I might be skinny and scrawny, but I’m tough as nails.

One of the best stories I can tell you about being friends with Naomi is that her father, Mr. Grulnik, took us to a place called McDonald’s on Main Street in Bridgeport, not far from where Mem used to work at Woolworths.

And in case you’re wondering, I stayed in the middle of the back seat, nowhere near the car doors. And I planted both feet firmly against the front seats just in case Mr. Grulnik made a sharp turn.

Everyone was talking about this burger joint with towering golden arches and delicious hamburgers and fries for hardly any money and served up in under one minute.

You could get a delicious and affordable all-American meal in this McDonald’s place for just 45 cents.

When we pulled up, there was a line, but it went fast — and all the food was waiting for us under hot lights. I had a vanilla milkshake, cheeseburger, and fries. From the first bite, I told Mr. Grulnik that I had never eaten anything so delicious and that McDonald’s was my new favorite place. He laughed and said, “You and every other American.”

Mr. Grulnik also told us not to tell her mother where we had eaten because it wasn’t kosher.

On the way home, Naomi told me all about what keeping kosher meant, what foods she could and couldn’t eat, and explained that being Jewish meant having to follow a whole lot of rules.

I felt horribly sorry for Naomi, not because she was Jewish, but because I could never survive in life without bacon, and I told her so.

Click here for Chapter 30: Mom’s Engagement

The Best and Worst of the Teri Tome in 2023

I have been beyond thankful that over 15,000 people per month come to my blog, The Teri Tome, to read what I have to say.

Since launching The Teri Tome on 3/18/15, I’ve had over 1.4 million readers and over 3.2 million page views.

And I suspect some of those readers are deeply unhappy or nervously afraid about my postings or what I might post next.

But frankly, my dear…

Writing helps me make sense of life’s stuff. It’s like talking to myself but in written form.

Anyway, the marked increase in traffic to The Teri Tome has me writing like a crazy person. And for every written post I publish, you should know that I also write a post that is most definitely unpublishable — at least for now.

I’ve put all those unpublished posts in a safe place on my computer, so to my family, if you’re reading this: When the time comes that I am no longer, please carefully and thoroughly comb through my computer files. There is a treasure trove of everything you mostly didn’t know about Teri because you never asked. I can only hope that when I reach the other side, you will honor me and my memory by reading every word.

In 2023, I wrote 38 blog posts, resulting in over 200,000 collected page views for those posts alone. Additionally, The Teri Tome garnered close to another 200,000 page views for posts written before 2023.  And please don’t think I’m bragging, but that’s a whopping 400,000+ page views in one year.

Of the 38 posts, fifteen were chapters of my novel-on-a-blog, primarily written decades ago, titled: “My Stolen Diaries.” Speaking of my novel, I first started posting it on The Teri Tome on 1/12/20. To date, I have posted 97 of my book’s total 159 written pages. However, I will tell you a little secret: I still haven’t figured out the ending.

According to the writing assistant Grammarly, I’ve achieved grammar greatness — the cloud-based program has already analyzed over 63.2 million of my words since the 2015 launch of my blog. Per Grammarly, I was more productive than 96% of their users, 93% more accurate, 96% more unique words, and my top mistake? Missing commas.

And now for the big reveal.

My LEAST VIEWED POST IN 2023


MY DELTA WINGS: I’m constantly trying to figure out why some of my blog posts garner thousands of page views and others in the hundreds. Maybe it’s the title, maybe it’s the content, and maybe it’s both. Whatever the reason, this poem was my least-trafficked post in 2023, but I hope you give it a read because it’s very near and dear to me, mostly because at 20 years old, Delta Airlines freed me from my MeToo nightmare.

#1 HIT IN 2023


MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 16: IN OVER MY HEAD: I was pleasantly surprised to see that Chapter 16 was the #1 post of 2023. How many of us have been in over our heads? For years, I’ve asked myself, “What if this?” or “What if that?” which is what I was thinking about when I sat down to write this Chapter.

#2 HIT IN 2023


MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 23: SHE’S AN AWKWARD GIRL: The #2 spot honors another chapter of my novel-on-my blog. My Stolen Diaries is a work of fiction, but I know a thing or two about being awkward and being bullied for it. I’ve come to accept that were it not for my awkwardness and the bullies, I would not have had the empathy to write Chapter 23. My lead character, Tony, is shy but unafraid to speak the truth. And as of late, don’t think me crazy, but she often talks to me. Many readers have asked me if there is any truth to the fiction I write. I can only answer by saying that there is no fiction without truth.

#3 HIT IN 2023


MY DAUGHTER DREAM: The popularity of this #3 blog post didn’t surprise me at all because my unicorn daughter was the inspiration. When my daughter was around five, she told me she was my guardian angel, and oh yes, she is.

#4 HIT IN 2023


MY STOLEN DIARIES —  CHAPTER 22: O HOLY NIGHT: I channeled the female solidarity of growing up in an all-women household when I wrote this chapter, so I’m happy to see it’s the #4 post of 2023. Those precious women taught me strength through adversity, and I will forever be grateful for their grit and resolve.

#5 HIT IN 2023


THINKING OF YOU TODAY: I was more introspective than happy about the popularity of this #5 post. And I was also a bit anxious because rereading it touched something raw in me. It also made me question if I should continue writing about my house of glass, pane by pain. For like a minute.

#6 HIT IN 2023


I SEE YOU: Just so you know, I’ve been second-guessing my writing purpose for a while now, so the popularity of this #6 post of 2023 left me nostalgic and longing for what was. And yet, I know deep inside that what was will never be again.

#7 HIT IN 2023


MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 25: THE TONY TELLING:
I wrote Chapter 25 in the late 80s while undergoing intense life-altering events. The fact that it made it to #7 and garnered so many page views in 2023 lifted my spirits and gave me the impetus to continue posting my novel no matter what or despite who.

#8 HIT IN 2023


MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 20: HELP!: Chapter 20 made it to the #8 spot and reminded me that I’ve been adept at helping but have never been one to ask for it. And yet, I still believe what is meant for someone will never pass them by.

#9 HIT IN 2023


MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 15: ROBERTO, ROBERTO, ROBERTO: Although I wrote this chapter decades ago, I gave it a written facelift in 2023. I did so because I felt the need to expand the concept that our choices and decisions are often our undoing. We make our choices, and then our choices take over and make us. And then there are the choices made for us by someone else — a life shaped by decisions made by other people. How many of our lives are the consequences of a series of decisions made for us instead of by us? That’s how Chapter 15, my #9 hit in 2023, came to be.

#10 HIT IN 2023


I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS: It was no surprise that this post made it to #10. In many belief systems, ten signifies completion — the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Soon to enter my 71st year here on earth, I can’t help but wonder, “Will this be the year my nightmare chapter ends?” So that you know, I can take a verbal hit better than most. And I’ve heartbreakingly closed life chapters I never wanted to end and will never forget. But I still haven’t figured out how to close that one ugly chapter I’ve spent fifty-six years trying to erase.

THE NUMBER ONE VIEWED POST OF ALL TERI TOME TIME (2015-2023):


WEDDING CENTERPIECES THAT CAN SAVE THE WORLD: From 2015 to 2020, my all-time most-viewed post was about bullies and bullying behavior. I sadly equated it with the 2014 election and that certain powerful someone who, through his own ugly and hate-filled words, permitted bullies to crawl out of their holes. At the end of 2021, and at first analysis, I thought my blog post about brides beating out bullies was a positive outcome — a possible new world order. Mostly because I naively thought that fewer people needed to read about bullies — because perhaps fewer people were being bullied. But I have come to the sad realization that since 2020, it has become way more commonplace to bully and to be bullied. People no longer need to research or understand bullies and bullying, mainly because so many of us have been experiencing the hatefulness of it in real-time — day in and day out, with no one able or willing to stop it. So, for the past three years, weddings have far surpassed bullies as my number one most-viewed blog post, garnering hundreds of thousands of page views. Although it took me a while, I now sadly get the fact that weddings come and go, while hate only begets more hate.

And just like that, another year was over and done.

As I said goodbye to 2023, I also said goodbye to a childhood friend in mid-December. My dear friend was a particularly tough loss and the culmination of a sh*tstorm of a year.

2023 has often felt like a movie trailer to me. And while there was no spoiler alert, the preview and glimpse of the plot, characters, and tone, combined with nonstop political and anti-Semitic horrors, have done a relatively good job of keeping me up until the wee hours of the morning.

Like I needed anything more to add to my sleepless, restless nights.

I can only wish that 2024 brings all of us the plot twists we’re hoping for, although there is no doubt that some of us will be apoplectic.

I sure hope it’s not me.