Posted in Answers, Reality by waldopaper on July 11, 2014

Rosa and Me   

RosaandmeA ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea like me she had a dream to fly  —Mitchell 

The most jaw-dropping part of the whole trip was “Christian radio.”  For several hours… over a couple hundred miles… two or three different stations… your tongue will dry out from jaw-dropping open two or three times a minute.

Their mission is:  “nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide.”  From patently absurd to blatantly false “biblical truths” according to whatever the marketing department pulls out their ass.

For example, God used to be “ok” with slavery… because of bible durble derp.  Now, God has decided we have “grown out” of slavery because of some rambling doodle in Ephesians or someplace, which by itself is usually innocuous enough.  The ass part comes when they relate it to abortion or gays or immigrants… which is not mentioned anywhere in the text or anything   But it has to be the truth because “God said so,”  including “marriage is between one man and one woman” and that the US is being invaded by “illegals.”  But it’s ok for the Israelis to invade because God gave it to them. see?

Rosa’s mother was a beautiful woman.


Know-Nothing stereotype back in the day was that German women were masculine and stupid.  Irish women, of course, were sluts.  Yerdle derp blah just like today.  Xenophobic, racist, sexist and all the cysts on the butt of reality.  Germans like to make long words, and one is lazygoodfornothing.  Serene Rhinelander woman, Elizabeth Mosser was no lazygoodfornothing.   Tough as any man, but a woman nonetheless.  And it is reasonable to suppose that Rosa was very much like her mother.  Maybe the Thorn family story will unfold in time.  Now is Rosa’s time of awakening.

Scene 1:  three months before Rosa is born.

Tenth man in left file break rank left and wait beside the pike.  We joked about what was ahead, to warm the rebs up til we get there.  It took almost an hour for them to file by before we could see the other side of the road.  Dust settled and air hot and humid. The smell got to us.  All the bacon, hardtack and coffee I had for breakfast came gushing out my nose.  I went down on my hands and knees and pressed  closer to  cool ground.  Blowflies got louder and louder.  Closest corpse had his guts blown back behind and they was covered with flies. We shivered…  sweating in stinking heat.

Scene 2:  two weeks later…

The Judge had picked himself up a fine Enfield rifle that day, and saw a woman who appeared to be digging graves. A voice told the Judge to drop the rifle.  It was joined by other voices with sharp bayonets at his back.  A young man cursed and swore at the Judge, showing no respect for a Supreme Court Justice of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The Judge was given a shovel and told to join the burial detail or “I will put my bayonet in you.”  The Judge worked the shovel until his hands were blistered and bleeding.  The boys wondered if the Judge ever had a blister in his life.

Scene 3:  Rosa is ten years old.

Elizabeth is washing upstairs, and Rosie is well and strong enough today to carry buckets upstairs for her mother.  Rosa waited outside the door, and asked her mother again about the lady on the hill.  Her mother had seen the lady on Halloween night before Rosa was born.  It was one of Rosie’s favorite stories.  “Mutti… du Mutti… erzalst mir Hugel Konigin… bitte schoen?”  Papa was in town… but hearing little Rosie’s deutsch would have made him smile.  “Unsere geheim,” said her Mother’s whisper… our secret.  Do you see her still… the Queen on the Hill?  That was one secret Rosa kept for herself.

Why should we care about a young girl’s secret… especially one who passed so long ago?  Because the story we have all been told about the Battle at Gettysburg in 1863 is not what it appears to be at all.  It is a story of pestilence and death from a time when death was only a toothache away.  Typhoid took Rosa in her early teems.  A few of her siblings didn’t even make it that far.  We should care because we should have evolved beyond the storybook faith that sustained people in those days.  We have microscopes and satellites and computers in our pockets.  Yet we are no more than carrion crows.

Rosa was a new birth of freedom.  She toddled and played on a hilltop that was once a war’s meat-grinder.  Divots thumped by iron balls had grown over.  Had she lived to be an old lady, Rosa would have learned about mustard and phosgene gas shells that would leave  holes and still kill a century after they were fired.  Maybe Rosa saw that coming in her own way.  Maybe Rosa chose to follow Queen Mab into the world of the unseen.  We carved Lincoln’s words  in stone and stared at them like Nipper the dog.  He said, “…for us, the living…” knowing how small that minority truly is.

Rosa will have visitors from all states on the hill.


She heard a man singing…

Look out dar now

We is goner shoot

Look out dar don’t you understand

Babylon is fallen… Babylon is fallen… We is gonna occupy der land!

Henry saw the little girl coming down the hill behind without turning his head.  Eye learned how to do that on picket duty.

Guten Tag dir klein Schwester.

Papa says I am only allowed to talk Dutch at home.

Your Papa is wise.

Meine Vati knows that song.  Sing it for me… bitte schoen?

Don’t you seed them black clouds… Rising over yonder… Where ole massa’s plantation am… 

Neber you be frightened… Them is only darkeys… Come to jine and fight with Uncle Sam… 

Look out dar now

We is goner shoot   (Rosa giggles)

Look out dar don’t you understand

Babylon is fallen… Babylon is fallen… We is gonna occupy der land! 

Why do you have on your old sojer clothes, Henry?  The war is over now.

Not for old Henry.  That war will never be over for me.  Not until der verdamt… excuse me, child.  The war is over for you, little girl.  That’s what we was all fighting about.  So all you little boys and girls can grow up safe and free.  I was here during the battle, you know.  Right up there on that hill.

Henry looked toward the gate house.

The windows glowed warm and inviting under cold sharp stars rising behind Culp’s Hill.  Sleep tight, little girl.  Rest easy with your ma and pa and your brothers.  Old Henry never wanted to see this place again, and here he is on picket once more.  Gott im Himmel!  The noise…

It was just a false alarm. 


























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  1. robinonfoot said, on July 12, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I suppose we need heroes.   Maybe they become icons in our minds, the perfection we strive to be.    Rose is a hero, isn’t she?   Her short life was all we hope our own children’s life is NOT, born into a war with a not-so-healthy body.   Her mama is a hero, because in all her work, she persisted in doing well, in keeping her family alive, in giving bread to the hungry soldiers. 

    Maybe heroism is akin to patriotism, and all the isms we grab for in that they help us categorize and put order into a world that would otherwise be difficult to understand.   And we are the animals who must understand.   We ate the apple.   

    So, I guess my questions that are trying to bubble up begin with what we teach ourselves, and then, in doing so, teach others (especially our children).   Question 1:   What makes us begin to see our own significance?   

  2. robinonfoot said, on July 12, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Wow, Jeb…  you had a powerful trip to Gettysburg.   It makes me sad to think of what they had to “endure”, although they probably didn’t think of it in those terms (except maybe for the time Elizabeth and her father were burying the dead, or during the war times).   But they endured so many things we take for granted, like that our children will grow up, even old; that there will be water in the faucet; that war is far away and we are safe.   Of course, none of those things we take for granted will always be so.  And I’m not sure how time works anymore.    

    I was curious about this, though — what kills a century after being fired? (  Rosa would have learned about mustard and phosgene gas shells that would leave and holes and still kill a century after they were fired.   ) 

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