Monday, July 21, 2008


I plan to do something a little different here. I have ofter wondered about the planning and the trip here by Hyppoliet and Leonie Broidioi but I have always kept my thoughts in my head. I have sketchy details and I have mentally filled in the gaps. For the nest posts I want to take a little "writer's privilege" and tell their story in "their" words. Here goes.........................
They stood in awe as they looked up at the massive ship sitting dockside in the early morning sunshine with the word "Lusitania" at the top of it's bow. Even though it had been in service for a year it still looked new as the sun glistened off the top decks that were painted snow white. This day was much brighter than the previous days when they took a ferry from Calais to Dover. After that they boarded a train for the 250 mile trip through the heartland of England to the city of Liverpool. Since they left Calais the day before there had been a steady foggy drizzle, which dampened their spirits, but today was much brighter. Their trip thus far had been trying on the couple with a young son at their side but they knew that their ordeal had just begun.
As they looked at the ship you could see the strength in the eyes of Hyppoliet. He was a handsome man with dark hair and piercing blue eyes that showed his resolve regarding the journey they were about to embark on. Beside him were his young attractive wife, Leonie, and their one-year-old son, Kamile. Leonie was small in stature with long black hair and a natural beauty that Hyppoliet found irresistible. She was looking up at him feeling a deep love as he observed the giant ship sitting dockside. She was twenty-five years old and he was twelve years her senior which was a common theme during this period of history. It was easy to see that she loved and respected his judgement with every fiber of her being. Her father had died at an early age and her stepfather was a cruel abusive man. She had found just the opposite of her stepfather in Hyppoliet. He was a strong powerful man but he was gentle and caring in his relationship with both her and Kamile.
As they stood at the ship their minds went through the years previous to the present moment.
More later - hope you find this interesting. A lot of this is fact but I took the liberty to fill in the gaps. From conversations with both while I was growing up I believe that I am close to how it really happened.
I should have more pictures of their life in the next couple of days. They should really help out with their story.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Language has always fascinated me. I guess growing up around my grandparents with their mixed languages made me conscious of language both spoken and written.
When I entered the USAF my testing indicated that I had an aptitude for learning foreign language. For a kid from the Tennessee hills I was impressed with myself.
Studying from the bible God started all this at the tower of Babel when He "confused" the current language and gave each little group a separate language so they would spread out about the earth. Those folks must have had an "aptitude" for language also?
As a young teen I remember listening to a World War II vet from the Normandy campaign telling stories at the "liars" bench at the local gas station regarding his confusion with how to communicate with the French people in the area. This line of talk really appealed to me since I knew it was possible that he could have had contact with some of my relatives. At that time we had not made contact with our people there but I was aware of them.
Anyway, this guy in all seriousness, was telling about his fondness for the French people and how smart and imaginative they were. He said, "Even their children are super intelligent - even the very small ones speak perfect French." I was waiting for him to laugh but he never did????
Hyppoliet and Leonie both spoke with a combination of English, French, Flemish, and German. In fact Grandpa used the more gutteral German language for his occasional swear words.
I was constantly in trouble with my mom because she did not know what the words I was repeating meant but she knew that they were probably bad.
My grandpa had to be my favorite person in my life. Even though he died in the early 1960's I still miss him.
I remember sitting in his home-made porch swing (grandpa was a craftsman with wood) and looking down on the valley while grandpa puffed his pipe Sometimes we might sit for over an hour without talking. He always used Grainger pipe tobacco that he ordered by the case from Chicago I think. None of that sweet smelling tobacco for him. Grainger had a great masculine aroma but it was not sweet by any account. It was hard for me to be quiet but that's what he liked to do and I respected his peace. I think that's why he enjoyed my company because I never bothered him with unnecessary small talk. He had a great sense of humor but most of the time he appeared serious even though you could still see the gleam in those blue eyes.
Now I sometimes wonder what was on his mind back then? Was he thinking of his youth back home in Belgium/France? I will now never know but I will always wonder what stories he could have related to me if I had just pressed him?
Anyway, more next time regarding life growing up in an immigrant family.