I’m going to keep this post very short because I am struggling with two computers which are not behaving. I telll them one thing and they do another. It’s like coping with disobeying children. My old computer is locked saying its “Logging Off.” It’s been logging off for three hours now. I wish I could give it a pep pill, and order it to work.
My new little baby is also being stubborn. I’ve been trying to load my HP software for my printer/scanner/copier, and I can’t get it to accept the software. Perhaps it’s too old? It works on my husband’s computer so I don’t know why I can’t bring it up on mine. Then I tried to set up an email address and got more frustration. Both chores should have been easy, but today its not. So, I’ve found the best course of action is to wait for another wave of patience and try again later.
If this strategy doesn’t work, I’ll be forced to contact the Geek Squad and pay them to straighten out these two bad boys.
APPLE PIE AND STRUDEL GIRLS – BOOK 5 (CONTINUED)
Lacrosse, Wisconsin — August 7th—Exhaustion ruled Rosalie’s day. The heat stayed oppressive, and her due date sped by without stopping. She thanked God Gina still took an afternoon nap, so she could put her swollen ankles up on the ottoman while she listened to the afternoon soap operas on the radio. Rosalie also .planned their meals around the foods which would be available in the grocery store for that week. Rationing made meal preparation a science, but the government’s monthly meal-planning guides offered menus using the available food, and Rosalie found them helpful. Rosalie made sure dinner was ready when Donna got home. Dining together was good for both of them. Rosalie didn’t need to face the hardest part of the day alone. And Donna’s first two weeks on the assembly line made for interesting conversation. Her keen ability to relate a story in a humorous ways kept Rosalie’s laughing. The other source of joy came from little Gina who gave both of them a constant source of entertainment as she learned how to talk.
As it turned out, Rosalie’s parents got so involved in the war effort they didn’t have time to help her. Eduardo volunteered to head up the scrap drive at their church and worked tirelessly hauling scrap metal, paper, and rubber to the recycling center. He also volunteered to be the block captain for air raid drills. Mama Lombardo ran the restaurant. Rationing deeply affected their menus, but Mama made an arrangement with Mrs. Schneider to get extra eggs from their farm to make pasta. So far, flour didn’t disappear from the grocery shelves. When Mama wasn’t making pasta, she canned spaghetti sauce with the fresh tomatoes, peppers, and garlic they grew in their garden. Eduardo planted twice as many plants this year, anticipating shortages. At night, she “rested” winding bandages for the soldiers with the Red Cross.
The first Saturday in August Donna planned a picnic at the riverfront to help Rosie cool off. Both girls needed a break from the stifling August heat wave. Donna drove Angelo’s truck because Rosalie’s pregnant body no longer fit behind the steering wheel. They parked at their favorite spot along the riverside park and all of a sudden Rosalie held her breath.
“Rosie, what’s going on? Donna’s voice grew concern.
“Nothing. Just little twinge.” Rosie said.
“What kind of twinge?”
“It feels like a little tug across my belly. I’m fine, let’s enjoy our picnic.” Rosalie grabbed the picnic basket and drew in a deep breath as she bent over. “Ow!”
“Tell me when the next one comes, okay? Promise me, even if the twinge is a little one, you’ll tell me.” Donna ordered.
Donna answered. “Because I want to time them. I think your twinges are the beginning of labor.”
“But, I don’t feel anything in my back like last time.”
“Of course, not silly. Labor isn’t in your back.”
“Gina’s labor was.”
Donna reminded her. “Every baby is different. Maybe this one wants to come into the world face down.”
Rosalie grabbed her belly. “Oh–Wow!”
Donna stood up on the blanket and picked up the picnic basket. “Come on! We’re going. I’ll drop Gina off at the restaurant with your Mom, and then you and I are going to the hospital.”
Rosalie protested. She wanted to be at the beach all week. “But–”
“No buts, I’m not arguing with you.” Donna piled everything back into the truck, picked up Gina with a kiss, and got behind the wheel. “Get in the car, Rosie.”
Gina kicked and screamed, “No, Auntie Doe-Doe. Go Swim!”
Donna smiled at the sweet child. “I’m sorry, sweetie. Mommy needs to go to the hospital to bring your new sister or brother into the world..”
“No! Go swim!” Gina stomped her feet and cried until Auntie Doe-Doe gave her a gentle swat on her butt and wedged her between herself and Rosie. Gina cried all the way to the restaurant.
Donna took the wailing child into Lombardo’s restaurant and found Rosalie’s mother in the kitchen. When Mrs. Lombardo saw Donna with the distraught Gina, she wiped her hands on a towel and motioned to Donna to hand over the child. “Donna, what are you doing here? Come here, bambina. Nana will fix. Do you want a cookie?”
Donna gasped for a breath. “Rosie’s in labor. I’m taking her to the hospital.”
“Oh, my God!” Mrs. Lombardo said. “I must call Eduardo. You go. He will come to the hospital and meet you.”
“Okay.” Donna ran to the truck, patted Rosalie’s hand, and squealed the tires as she left the parking lot.
A nurse shortage required Rosie to be put in a labor ward with a dozen other women. Moans and screams echoed through the halls as mothers and sisters stood by trying to coach the woman in the bed through her agony. Only one man held his wife’s hand.
Rosie promised herself she wouldn’t scream this time; instead she planned to offer up her pain up God so He might protect Angelo.
Donna wiped the sweat off of Rosalie’s forehead and shared every labor pain as they ripped through Rosie’s body. She wondered if Angelo experienced the same helplessness she felt now. Donna held Rosalie’s hand and told her to squeeze hard when the pains came. After two hours, Rosalie appeared surprised.
“What’s wrong, Rosie?” Donna asked.
Rosalie whispered. “I feel like I need to poop!”
Donna said, “Do you mean you want to push?”
Rosie nodded yes.
“I’m going to get the doctor.” Donna ran from the ward and flagged down the only nurse in the hallway.
The nurse gave Rosalie a quick check. “Mrs. Armani, you’re ready to delivery your baby.” She helped Rosalie into a wheelchair and headed for the delivery room.
Like all good husbands, Donna got banished to the father’s waiting room.
Fifteen minutes later, the nurse came back with good news. Rosalie had a boy.
Donna stared at her. “A boy? What the hell are we going to do with a boy?”
The nurse gave her a strange look and took Donna back to Rosalie’s bedside.
“I hear Angelo put the stem on the apple!” Donna said.
“What?” Rosalie said with weariness.
“The baby’s a boy!” Donna exclaimed. “And everything is all right?”
“Everything is perfect.” Rosie whispered as a single tear rolled down her face. “I want Angelo, Donna. He needs to hold his son.”
“Oh, Rosie. What can I do?” Donna said as Rosalie cried and held her son close.
Donna bent down and peaked at the baby. In a soothing voice she spoke to the new mother. “Holy Cow! He’s about as big as a loaf of Wonder Bread! Can I hold the little tiger for a minute? You look so tired.” Donna consoled.
“Sure.” Rosalie handed the baby to Donna with a smile. “You’re his Auntie Doe-Doe after all.”
Donna cradled the new born with a surge of love she never experienced before. She peeled back the blanket to reveal a perfect baby. The nurses arranged his dark curly hair in a kewpie-doll twist on the top of his head. She counted his fingers and toes and noted he came with the right number of digits. “He looks just like his Daddy, Rosie.”
“I know. I see Angelo’s eyes when I gaze at him, so he’ll get his Daddy’s name, too.”
Donna whispered. “Welcome to the world, little Angelo.” She kissed the baby’s forehead. His newborn scent settled in her nose. Donna wondered at that moment whether she might want a baby of her own someday.
Eduardo entered the room as Rosie slept, and Donna rocked the baby boy at the side of her bed.
Donna whispered, “Mr. Lombardo, come in.”
Eduardo crept into the quiet scene.
Donna pulled back the blanket to reveal the baby’s chubby face. “Meet your Grandson Angelo.”
Eduardo’s chest seemed to expand two sizes. “He looks just like his Papa.”
Donna smiled. “Yes he does.”
Eduardo faced Donna and said, “Thank you for taking care of my Rosie. I will always be indebted to you for your kindness.”
“No thanks is necessary, Mr. Lombardo. I love Rosie, too.”
Eduardo hugged Donna and finally understood why Rosalie considered her such a dear friend.
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands – South Pacific—On August 7, 1942 at 0600 hours the American Navy started shelling Guadalcanal Island. Intelligence told the Americans the Japanese intended to finish an airfield, so their planes didn’t need to rely on their aircraft carriers. The Americans needed Guadalcanal airfield to begin bombing Tokyo and other major cities in Japan. Angelo and his unit ate a hardy breakfast of Spam and powered eggs before the first marine division landed at 0730. Securing Red Beach seemed simple enough during the briefing, but most men on the ship never faced combat before. Most hid their fear in bravado or silence. Their unknown future proved to be more of a threat than the enemy.
Angelo fidgeted and paced the deck. After weeks of sea sickness, tedious work, night watches, plus drilling every waking hour, the time finally came to put his killing skills to work.
The only Marine who didn’t appear anxious was Angelo’s young friend Bobby. He sat alone taking deep drags on a cigarette. His youth and inexperience blinded him from the realities of battle. Angelo guessed Bobby viewed their assignment as a game. Or, maybe Bobby didn’t give a damn if he died because he thought nobody loved him.
The Marines descended the net ladder to the Higgins boats which bobbed in the surf. When the unit filled the boat, the driver headed for shore. This time the ramp would lower. This time they all would run for the beach. This time they would encounter the enemy. Everyone stared ahead with their private thoughts.
After the ramp dropped close to the beach, the marines jumped into the waist-high water with guns held high. They expected bullets to impede them, but no shells or bullets greeted them. Angelo breathed a sigh of relief. His first landing proved to be a cinch. No enemy. No casualties. No death. He looked up to the sky and said under his breath, “Rosie must be doing some hardcore praying.”
Bobby scowled with disappointed after the quiet landing. The sergeant in charge yelled, “Hey kid. Put your rifle down and get busy unloading supplies.” Bobby saluted and walked back into the water to accept supplies coming ashore.
The beach became cluttered with too many men and too much equipment. Chaos ensued because inexperienced steersmen in the landing boats didn’t get specific instructions as to where the supplies should be located, and men on the beach stood together with their hands in their pockets clueless what to do first.
A couple landing parties advanced inland toward their target—the Japanese airfield. Angelo served in one of the units selected to enter the jungle. The marines knew the Japanese were still on the island. But where? As the men advanced into the jungle thicket every sound seemed threatening. Angelo and his unit felt like they were stalking a ghost.
Once in the jungle, the men met an enemy they didn’t expect. The climate. The oppressive tropical heat and steamy humidity defeated the unprepared soldiers in many ways. Men who carried rocket launchers and other heavy supplies stumbled and collapsed from heat exhaustion in the first hour. The officers discovered the dampness and humidity raised havoc with the radios. Messages from the jungle to the beach didn’t get through. Worst of all, everyone suffered from dehydration which produced weakness, headaches and a powerful thirst none of them experienced before.
While Angelo’s unit moved closer toward the airfield, Bobby and his unit continued to haul ammunition from the battery to the ammo dump near the beach. The first action the boys on the beach encountered happened at noon. An air raid siren warned the men to take cover when a few Japanese planes were sighted. Three planes strafed the Americans working on the beach, while a few more Japanese zeros dropped a payload of bombs near the ammo dump. On sea, the transport ship named the USS Elliot took the fire of a suicide bomber who flew his plane into the ship killing its crew and sinking the ship.
When darkness fell, a pesky sniper fired from the foreboding perimeter of the jungle. These small skirmishes sent a message to the American boys the Japanese still occupied the island, and they intended to fight to stay there. These tedious pesky attacks put fear into everyone on the beach. The boys got jumpy at the slight sound or movement. They wildly fired into the jungle even when they couldn’t see the enemy. The Japanese held a psychological edge over the untested Marines. Not being able to pinpointing the enemy’s location got to be unnerving causing the Americans to keep alert at all times. Bobby remembered the officer’s warning on the ship about being thankful for a clean rack and a good night’s sleep. He realized it might be a long time before he’d ever sleep in a real bed again.
The marines had to cut through the jungle in order to make a road to get to the airfield. The first day of swinging machetes cutting down the thicket of tropical plants took the sap out of the young soldiers. They fell into foxholes at sundown and slept until the morning sun poured the heat on them. The second day brought more of the same tedious work, but the second night, brought them the ugliness of a tropical storm. A downpour went on for hours, making sleeping in foxholes impossible. Once the rain stopped, the marines emerged muddy, wet, and sticky. Even thought the Japanese hadn’t attacked, throngs of mosquitoes and ants did. Soldiers were peppered with irritating bites that burned and itched. Angelo never remembered a miserable time in his life.
Cutting through the thick jungle with sharp machetes proved to be slower than estimate;. it took three days to cover six miles. In some places, the dense tree canopy prohibited the sun from shining through, making the jungle even more foreboding. The deeper into the jungle they went, new animal sounds and different musty scents made every man wonder what was really in this place. A peculiar sweet, musty odor surfaced after the rain. As the unit slugged through the jungle, they discovered the source of the peculiar odor; it came from rotting coconuts which fell beneath unattended coconut groves.
With all of the challenges the jungle provided, the unquenchable thirst proved to be the worst. The small amount of water in their canteens needed to last until a water purification system could be installed on the banks of the Lunga River. Angelo’s dry lips cracked and his parched throat nearly choked him as he longed for a tall, cold glass of Rosie’s lemonade.
Angelo’s unit arrived at the airfield on the third day of their trek through the jungle. The marines thought for sure they would encounter the Japanese as they secured the half-finished air strip, but the enemy still remained a ghost. The truth was the Japanese didn’t expect the American landing on Guadalcanal and they didn’t possess enough weapons or manpower to overcome a large landing party. The few soldiers that occupied the island retreated deep into the jungle. In their hasty retreat, they left behind several useful pieces of heavy equipment. The Americans confiscated bulldozers, wheel loaders, and excavators and went to work to repair the runway. Completing this strategic airfield needed to be accomplished as quickly as possible so American planes could launch air attacks on other Japanese-controlled islands.
When Washington D. C. and Canberra in Australia learned the Marines captured the Guadalcanal airfield in such a short time, the brass celebrated. Little did they realize the Japanese possessed no intention of giving up the island without a fight.
While Angelo labored in the jungle, Bobby experienced the war he dreamed about on “Red Beach.” A bomb fell from a Japanese plane, landing near his position. The island shook hard enough to make men fall, and the deafening explosion pierced his eardrums. Bobby escaped the bombing unhurt, but he now realized war was no game. His fertile imagination gained an inkling of what future attacks might hold in store for him. Strikes like these put the Marines to work digging four-foot deep foxholes for protection. As days went by, it was not usual for men to lay in their foxholes thirteen or fourteen hours per day waiting for the enemy to appear again. Daylight bombings and night time skirmishes got to be tedious as they all wondered when the big fight would come.
Bobby hated night patrols, comparing this duty to fighting the boogie man in a bad dream. He wished he and Angelo hadn’t been separated because Bobby conceded he was stronger with Angelo at his side. When Bobby went off on an imaginary tangent, Angelo always brought him back to reality. Now he was alone. He stayed alert, cataloging his surroundings. He learned to let flies, birds, and insects alert him to head for cover. Every time the air raid sirens sounded, he ran to his foxhole where small animals and insects already occupied were there. He called them his advanced warning system.
Because the Japanese Navy controlled the sea around Guadalcanal, the Marines on the island were trapped with no other American support. Japanese “zeros” took off from carriers and impeded progress the marines had made the day before. Again, the Japanese held the psychological advantage. Marines working on the landing strip got frustrated and discouraged when one pass of a Japanese plane undid their hard work.
Like Bobby, Angelo made mental notes of his surroundings. He recognized the tat-tat-tat of sniper fire at night, and the high-pitch whine of the Japanese Zeros in the distance. Instead of watching the animals and insects like Bobby, Angelo believed if he stayed attentive to the sounds around him, he could anticipate the enemy’s attack and stay alive by heading for cover with time to spare.
Angelo operated an excavator or bulldozer, leveling the sandy, rocky land to complete the runway. As a little boy he dreamed about using such equipment, and this duty looked a lot easier than a host of other jobs on the island. Unfortunately, the loud grunts of the heavy equipment drowned out the very sounds he wanted to hear. Air raid sirens cut through the equipment noise, but they limited his time to head for cover.
On August 10th, the air raid sirens blasted and Angelo looked up. Three Japanese zeros appeared out of nowhere. He shouted and waved to his workmates “They’re coming! Run!”
All three men ran for the ditch beside the runway, but they couldn’t out run the bomb the plane dropped. The force of the blast threw all three of them into the air, leaving Angelo writhing in pain from shrapnel and burns. Body parts of the two other men littered the airfield. Angelo felt his life drifting away as he lay in his own blood.
After the bombing ceased, a small patrol of corpsmen accompanied by a medical officer jumped in a jeep ambulance to survey the airstrip for any wounded men. By the time they reached Angelo, the medic moved quickly to keep him alive. Blood poured from the shrapnel wounds all over his body. In an instant, the medic removed the sulfathiazole tablets in the medical kit, lifted Angelo’s head and forced him to swallow the pills. Then the medic sprinkled sulfathiazole crystals into the multiple wounds to help prevent infection. Two corpsmen stuffed sterile gauze into Angelo’s abdominal wound to stop the bleeding, and after a shot of morphine to ease the pain, the corpsmen lifted Angelo onto a canvas stretcher and secured him onto the ambulance.
The driver raced to the northeast end of the airfield where a make-shift wooden building served as a field hospital. They sprinted into the building with their unconscious patient. A doctor immediately started an IV and plasma flowed into Angelo’s right arm. Then he started another IV in his left arm to administer saline and other drugs necessary for surgery.
Angelo’s survival now depended upon whether the surgical team could win the race against the clock. If Angelo got through surgery, his will to live needed to take charge.