Monday, September 30, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You-Prompt 4: Favorite Season(s)


A favorite memory

Close your eyes and imagine your favorite season - write down what you see, feel, hear

My favorite season is Autumn. Living here in the San Francisco Bay Area, that is when summer comes to visit. The cold, damp fog goes away, the air warms up but not too hot, and wind is not as fierce and the evenings are cool.  Our fall colors are beautiful, not like you get back east, but they do last longer. Here is a sample. The trees are just starting to get they fall colors.

These are the Liquid Amber trees that line our streets and are the first to really show their colors.

Autumn is also the time to bring out the soup recipes.  I love a good hearty soup for those cooler evenings.

Halloween was a fun time. Dressing up in costumes and trick or treating in the neighborhood. When I was old to trick or treat, I loved handy out candy to the kids that came to the house. I also loved to take a "Halloween walk" with my dad. We walk  among the trick or treaters and see the decorated houses. When we first moved to Novato, I can remember there being a haunted house in "the old white house" that my church owned. There was also a Halloween parade that usually happened on the Saturday before Halloween. One year my Brownie troop entered a very large witch float. We happened to win first prize.

I don't do much for Halloween now, but Autumn will always be my favorite season. With Pumpkin Spice lattes, Soups, beautiful colors. leaves falling to the ground so I can "kick" my feet through them. Also, Autumn is much better when my Orange and Black San Francisco Giants are in the post season. Alas, better luck next year!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

World War II Letters Home September 25, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                    No. 2 Flying Training School
                                                                                                    Royal Air Force
                                                                                                    Brize Norton, Oxford  
                                                                                                    September 28, 1938

Dear Folks:

Today is damp and everything feels cold and clammy, so I don't feel much like writing a letter, but if I don't do t now I might leave it go for the rest of the week.  This problem of writing seems to be getting worse and worse - I hardly know what to say.  You must be getting terribly tired of reading about aeroplanes all the time.

We are having a big dance party here some time next month for the officers.  There will be about 300 people here altogether.  It is a full dress affair - that is we wear our mess kits.  A buffet supper will be served and drinks and dancing will continue until 2 or 3 a.m.  he estimated cost of this dance is 100.  I don't know where all the money will be spent, but they say it will.

The new mess and living quarters will not be finished until about April so I see where we don't get a chance to live in it.

I have about 14 hours flying in Oxfords - about half of it is solo.  After we get 12 hours solo in we will start taking night flying.  We are only allowed to make one circuit, with about half an hours' flying and one landing in this term.  Next term (after New Years) we will get more of it.  When night flying is going on they have all sorts of landing lights and a powerful chance beam which shines over the field, and also there is a big red light that is used for visual signaling Morse code.  They send out B.N (-...-) for Brize Norton.  I can receive 8 words this term in I.T.S.

We have to buy another service jacket sometime within the next 4 or 5 months, so that will be another 7 out  of our pockets.  We have 2 pairs of trousers already.   with 2 uniforms we will have 1 good one for special occasions, parades, etc.  Our uniforms are made of real strong material and they sure were.  I guess they have to made like iron the way some of the boys treat theirs.  After dinner (nights) the Senior Term loosen the straps under their boots (because you can bend very well if you don't) then they start fighting around and somersaulting on the chesterfield - which are leather upholstered,  Then they grab the table cloths off one of the tables in the lounge and scrap each other up.  Honestly, the way they tear around, it is a wonder they have any clothes left, but they seem to take the gaff pretty well.  I would rather take care of mine and have something left at the end of 4 years.

I haven't seen Emery Fennell yet - according to the Air Force list he is at Manston taking his navigation course.  This navigation and bomb sighting is real interesting; we have all sorts of instruments by  which you calculate your speed, drift, height and everything.  On one of these instruments if you know any 4 of the following  6 things: airspeed, course to steer, actual track, wind speed, wind direction, or ground speed, you can find the other 2.  Then with the bomb sighting device, you can find, while you are in the air, the wind speed and direction.  It is really marvelous the way these instruments work.  Most of these tings cost from 6 to 20. Talking about instruments - you ought to see the instrument panels in Oxfords - it's just a mass of dials, switches, controls, etc.but after you get used to them it is easy just to glance at them and know what you want to.

Friday I was scooting around the sky alone so I wen to see some of the neighbouring towns.  I went on a square about 20 miles each way in about half an hour.  It is lots of fun diving into a cloud, you can't see anything so you fly by instruments until you come out the other side.  I haven't taken any pictures from the air since I have been here but will one of these days.  It is against the law to take pictures from the air,  but as long as you don't advertise it no one knows what you do when you are alone.  I am getting a cloud filter for my camera so that the clouds will show up better.

It takes so long for the mail to go back and forth, by the time you write back about something I have told you it is a month old.  I am sending you a few more pictures - I thing you'll have to get an album to put them in because in 4 years you'll have quite a few of them, sort of a history in pictures.  I am getting some enlargements of the one of myself by the Oxford with an E. on it.  This isn't actually my solo plane; It had an F on it, but it looks the same.  I don't remember whether I sent you a picture of myself - if I did you can send it to Uncle R. or some - I send Esther most of the same pictures I send to you.

What has happened to Richard?  I haven't even had a note from him in a couple of months.  I am going to supper now will mail this.  Don't forget to tel me all the news, and don't work too hard.

                                                                                              With Love To All,


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

World War II Letters Home September 18, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                    No. 2 Flying Training
                                                                                                    Royal Air Force
                                                                                                    Carterton, Oxford
                                                                                                    September 18, 1938

Dear Folks:

I had a sleep this afternoon so I don't feel very sleepy tonight.  I don't know what I am going to write about but I may think of something to tell you.

I got that painting and a couple of other pictures wrapped up at last and you should get it about the same time as this letter.  I had some of our menus, etc. from the ship so I sent them along too, also some of our uniform samples and prices.  Overalls mean just plain trousers, except the mens' overalls, they are elongated tights. Wellingtons are four wear with our mess kit and look something like this; those hooks mentioned are to pull them on with.  Our trousers go over the outside of them and are strapped under the boot.  When we have our mess overalls on there are no wrinkles in them, being tied down at the bottom and being uncomfortably pulled up by the braces.  I took some pictures of my mess kit and greatcoat but unfortunately they did not turn out good so I'll take some more, if the sun comes out long enough.

Before I forgot - about the radio, I think the best thing to do is take it to Oscar Olson and let him get one of those resistors for it and put it on.  Also I think you should get one of those propellers  from Eaton's or Macleods to put on the windmill.  Do it this fall, then when winter comes it will be all set up.  Richard can put a couple of condensers on it to the ground so it doesn't make a noise on the radio when it runs.  I guess that should be enough instructions for one day.

I am saving picture cards from cigarettes of Royal Air Force Aeroplanes and when I  get the set of 50 I will send them to you.  Actually there are about 75 different planes used in the R.A.F.

About the middle of December we get 2 weeks leave, then in January we go to armament camp for a month in North Wales along the sea coast.  There we practice machine gunning and actual bombing on targets on the water.  After that we come back here and finish our 3 months of advanced flying.  Then sometime in May we go to Manston - somewhere on the east coast in Kent and we have a navigation  training.  I think it is for about 3 months, maybe 1;  anyhow, when we leave here I will have my 2nd Class Navigator's Certificate.  Then we get posted to a Squadron somewhere and I don't know what all we do then.  We sure get moved about plenty the first year.  I ought to know England by heart by the time we are through.

I am Duty Pilot tomorrow so I don't have to go to classes. I think I explained some more about the Watch Office and Duty Pilot before, anyway we have to watch the planes take off and land, time, etc., and take care of any visiting aircraft.   I haven't done any amendments for the last couple of days so I'll have to get busy this week and try to finish them up before we get some more.

Is Harold going to stay all winter or is he going into town? How much fruit have you put up this year?  etc. etc.  How is the garage work going, Richard, do study the manuals and leaflets to help you.

It is after 11:00 o'clock so  suppose I should go to bed now . the big Albatross that broke in 2 at Hatfield is repaired and is flying again.  It is going on a trans-Atlantic air-route.

Tell me all the news you can.  I like to get your letters, although sometimes i am slow in writing back.



Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You-Prompt 3: Your Physical Self

I am participating in a new project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. This is a great way to get to know ourselves and capture our own memories. We all need to remember that our family stories do include us, the family historians, not just our ancestors. Thanks Julie for this great project. I am sure to have fun with it!

Prompt 3: Your Physical Self
  • Your size – clothes size
  • Scars
  • Eye colour
  • Draw your hands
  • Finger Prints

Where Do I begin? I really have never thought of what I look like. I have been pondering this question since prompt 3 was published and I am ready to give it a go.

when I was born I was 20 inches, fairly big girl. I have since grown to 68 inches or 5' 8".  I really have no idea how much I weigh. My drivers license says 130 lbs. but I believe it to be more in the range of 140-150 lbs. I don't own a scale. I don't want to be enslaved to the scale. I try to keep myself in my size 12 clothes, which works well for my height.

I will start the inventory of my physical self with my feet, which I have two size 9s. Attached these feet are ten toes, two of which are pinkies which I think are really small. These feet are attached to two legs. On my right ankle there is a small scar. I obtained this scar from a childhood water fight. Yep, someone threw a bucket with water and hit me in the ankle. I have long legs. I have always had trouble finding pants long enough. Yes, I was always asked, "where's the flood?". I can remember my mom buying some corduroy pants in the boys department. They were longer than girls pants. Oh, well I didn't care. I wasn't into fashion in those days. On my right thigh there is a scar that I received from riding my bike. My hips are slim and my bottom is flat. I have rounder tummy I call my little friend. At times I wish I could turn my head around, because then I would have a flat stomach and round bottom. Ha Ha. I have two hands with ten fingers. The pinky on my right hand has a scar. A little memento from carving pumpkins. Let's just say I am not to adept with knives and carving pumpkins. I feel that my hands are not very attractive. I used to bite my finger nails. However, I think I may have kicked that habit. I currently have nails growing.  Attached to my hands are two arms and two shoulders. When I was 10 I broke my collar bone with the assistance of my sister. There is a non-descript neck on top of my shoulders. This neck holds up my head. On this head is a mouth, a nice nose, two pierced ears (these are the only things pierced), and two green eyes, which have become very near sighted. I was in 7th of 8th grade when I started wearing glasses. In my senior year of high school I started wearing contacts. Now I just wear glasses. My complexion is fair. I do sunburn easily. This probably due to my northern european heritage. I am part Norwegian.  I have saved what I think is my best feature for last. My hair. I was born a red head. My grandmother called it golden, I do have blond highlights. As I have gotten older, the blond is more prevalent. If you met me you would say it is strawberry blond. All I know is that I have been asked over and over what I do to my hair to get it this color, I say that is what God gave me. This color does not come from a bottle. 

Well, I guess that about sums it up. I don't think I missed anything important. I am not a perfect person, I may have a few scars, freckles and moles. but I don't have any tattoos.

My left hand
My right hand

Saturday, September 14, 2013

World War II Letters Home September 14, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                       No. 2 Flying Training
                                                                                                        Royal Air Force
                                                                                                        September 14, 1938
Dear Esther:

This afternoon we are all supposed to take part in 'Organized Games', but it I don't get caught I am going to stay in my room and write letters and probably take a nap.  I got your letter today write letters and probably take a nap.  I got your letter today that you wrote on August 3 and sent to "Canada House" and according to it you haven't heard from me yet;  by the time you get this there should be 4 of 5 letters for you.

We don't get much flying here as at Hatfield.  Yesterday I went solo in our big Oxfords after 5 hours of dual instruction.  They sure are different to handle than our Tiger Moths.  The Tigers are so flexible and fully aerobatic while these Oxfords fell cumbersome, heavy, and you cannot do any aerobatics in them.  they are classed as medium bombers.  They have 2 375H.P. motors, the wing span is 53 feet and the length 34 feet 3 inches.  Empty they weigh 2 tons, 800 pounds and will carry a load (including 80 gallons of petrol) of 1 ton, 500 pounds. the average cruising speed is 1800 m.p.h - the maximum top sped is between 225 and 270 m.p.h depending on the condition of the motors.  The way they are equipped now they carry a crew of 4, Pilot, Bomber, Gunner and Wireless Operator who also is the Navigator.  I haven't any photos yet, but expect to get some this week, so I am sending a picture of one from a magazine.

The Albatross that cracked in 2 was at Hatfield.  It had an overload of 3,000 lbs. in it.  They were testing it out.  In a plane like that (Monocoque construction) the covering carries most of the load of the fuselage so they will probably repair and reinforce it where is is weak.

We had quite a few Harts (fighter planes) written off here.  some of them just for a few days and some for a re-build.  It is mostly the undercarriage that gives way on them.  When they do they usually stick their noses in to the ground and rest on one wing.

The Oxfords I fly will swing too, if you don't watch them but having their wheels so far apart and being so heavy they won't go on their noses.

Harts are one of the "Hawker" planes, the smallest - 37 feet wing span, 2 seater.  There are about 12 kinds of Hawkers.  One of them is the Hawker Hurricane, which you have probably read about making a world speed record for land planes - 400 m.p.h.

I am going to work hard to get my Navigator;s and 2nd Class Engineer's Certificate while I am here.  It will mean a when I get back to Canada.  I'll be able to get a good paying job.  We have quite a large syllabus to cover here so it means a lot of studying.  I have had to brush up on Trigonometry.  Besides the different subjects I have written about before, we also have meteorology (weather).

I haven't any pictures of myself to send you now - but hope to get some soon.  I sent Mama a R.A.F. pin.  When I find out whether she got it or not I'll send you one - you can were it on your scarf.

One of the boys broke a few ribs in a canoe last Sunday for this Sunday he and I are going to paddle it into Oxford, 40 miles, to get it fixed.

I don't know what else to write about now so I'll quit.  You can send one of those solo pictures to Uncle Richard if you wish, and what is his address?  I don't know any one's addresses, so I can't even write to them.  I'll write next  Sunday.

                                                                                             As Ever, Your Brother,


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

World War II Letters Home September 11, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                         Brize Norton
                                                                                                         September 11, 1938

Dear Folks:

As this is Sunday and I have just finished dinner I'll try to write a few words.  After breakfast 4 of us boys went for a walk out in the country 10 miles.  We started out walking on a country road, then it ended so we just cut across the country, over stone walls, fences, through groves, meadows etc.  It sure was pretty.  We found an old stone water-mill and saw a lot of old country houses and huts, as they are called here.  The next time I go out I am going to take my good old box camera with me.

There are a lot of big trees here, oaks with ivy climbing up the them (not poison ivy), elms, holly, ash, huckleberry bushes, fir,pine and a lot of others I don't know the name of yet.  Some of the maple trees are starting to turn color, beautiful red, orange and yellow leaves.  It seems impossible to realize that some sort of season known as winter is soon coming.  There are still a lot of green and half-ripe apples and pears growing.  Nearly all of the roses have quite blooming.

Doug, Grant and I went into Oxford yesterday afternoon and looked the town over.  I am sending a folder of it - everything is colleges and churches.  I'll get some pictures of some of the places later on.  We have Saturday afternoon and Sunday off here.

Have you read about the new S.S Queen Elizabeth that is to be launched this month - it is bigger than the Queen Mary.

Do you remember the big Albatross planes I told you about?  One day they were testing one of the new ones and had it heavily overlooked.  When it landed it broke into 2 - this was at Hatfield.  Also a few days ago a fellow from the voluntary reserve from Hatfield had a forced landing in a town.  He hit a house; his plane exploded and it wrote off 11 people and injured 8.  Of course that doesn't happen everyday.  We had two planes here stand on their noses on the landing field within 20 minutes one afternoon.  They we flown by the senior team.  We are just the Junior team.

I am enclosing a few pictures;  they are not very good - but will get some more to send to Esther.  I haven't much to write but I think with all the papers the envelope will be full.

                                                                                             With Love,


N.B. R.A.F No. 2 F.T.S. Brize Norton, Oxfordshire

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You-Prompt 2: Your Birth

I am participating in a new project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. This is a great way to get to know ourselves and capture our own memories. We all need to remember that our family stories do include us, the family historians, not just our ancestors. Thanks Julie for this great project. I am sure to have fun with it!

Prompt 2: Your Birth

  • Do you have any baby photos?
  • Where were you born?
  • Who was present at your birth?
  • Dimensions?
  • What day was it? Time?
  • Did you have hair? Eye colours
  • Are you a twin?
1. Do you have any baby photos?

2. Where were you born?

I was born at Saint Luke's Hospital in Spokane, Washington

3. Who was present at your birth?

I know that I was there and of course mom was there.  I know Dr. Joseph Thaler was there, because he delivered me. Dad was probably in the waiting room.

4. Dimensions?

I weighed in at 8 Lbs 0 oz and I was 20 Inches. 

5. What day was it? Time?

I was born January 23, 1961 at 11:34 p.m. 

6. Did you have hair? Eye colors?

My hair was red (or sandy colored) and my eyes green.

7. Are you a twin?

No. but I do have an older sister.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You-Prompt 1: Who Are You?

I am participating in a new project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. This is a great way to get to know ourselves and capture our own memories. We all need to remember that our family stories do include us, the family historians, not just our ancestors. Thanks Julie for this great project. I am sure to have fun with it!

Prompt 1: Who Are You? The prompt for week 1 is a recognized psychology test: Ask yourself 20 times “Who are you?” Each time you should give yourself a different answer, and if you can easily go beyond 20 entries then that is fine too. This prompt is about how YOU see YOU.

1. I am Sandra Jo Smith
2. I am a daughter
3. I am a sister
4. I am an aunt
5. I am a cousin
6. I am a niece
7. I am curious
8. I am funny
9. I am a family historian
10. I am an Angel Island State Park docent
11. I am a cat guardian
12. I am a music lover
13. I am a hard worker
14. I am loyal
15. I am a reader of books
16. I am a traveler (if only in my arm chair)
17. I am a knitter
18. I am a cross-stitcher
19. I am a walker and hiker ( I love to be out of doors)
20. I am a friend

Thursday, September 5, 2013

World War II Letters Home September 5, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                       No. 2 Flying Training
                                                                                                      Brize Norton
                                                                                                      Chaterson, Oxford
                                                                                                      September 5, 1938
Dear Folks:

Well, here I am at another school now and hope to be here for about 6 months.  We got here Saturday afternoon and loafed about on Sunday looking the place over.  This is surely an Air Force base.  As far as I can make out everyone within about 2 miles has something to do with the R.A.F.  There are very few stores around here and no theatres less than  miles away.  I should start off by saying that this place is rather isolated after a sense.  It is about 70 miles from London (west and a little north).  I think it is about 20 miles from Oxford.  This isn't exactly a new place, but to see all the huge buildings under construction you would think it was just being built.  The cost to build and run a place like this, with paying everyone salaries, etc. must run into millions of pounds.  There are 7 immense hangars here, besides there are 6 extra immense hangars that are built with a rounding roof and are going to be covered with earth to camouflage them.  They look something like this:-

I really have no idea how large they are but I believe I could be safe in saying they are approximately 80 feet wide, 30 or 40 feet high and 300 or 400 feet long.   They are situated a little distance from the landing field.  A couple of them are about 1/2 mile away.

This morning we got 15 more text books issued to us.  They add another 2 feet of space on the shelf anyway.  Also we got our parachutes and lockers assigned to us.

The best news of all is that i have got into the type of plane I have been trying for.  I worked real hard at Hatfield on my navigation so that I could get on multi-engined planes and boy!  I made the grade.  There are about 40 in our junior group and about 2/3 of them are on fighters. I am one of the third that was recommended for bombers or heavy planes.  Oh, I am so glad that I got what I wanted.  The fellows are going on fighters start training here on Hawker "Harts".  they are somewhat bigger than the Tiger Moths we had at Hatfield.  Their cruising speed is about 120 m.p.h.  Then after they are advanced and leave here for a squadron they fly these Hawker "Hurricanes".  They are the planes that travel up the 400 m.p.h.

We, who are on the heavies start here on Airspeed Oxfords.  they are a 2 engined non plane, light bombers with a gunner's cockpit about half way back on them.  I'll have plenty of pictures soon to send to you so you can see what they are like.  Our instructor took us out and showed us as much of them as he could,  just on the ground; we fly them tomorrow.  They are simply marvelous.

If I am not mistaken, I think the top speed of  these Oxfords is 270 m.p.h  They are cabin planes and have a retractable landing gear - you know - the wheels pull up into their tummies.  After about 5 or 6 hours of dual we will be doing solo in them.  I can hardly believe all of this is true; it seems like a wonderful dream.  Anyhow, after we leave here for a squadron we get to fly some real big planes.  I don't know how big yet so I'll leave them alone for now.

Our living quarters here are long wooden buildings (1 story) about 28 rooms in each section, and each of us have a room to ourselves.  The furniture consists of: 1 bed (about 30 inches off the floor) but very comfortable, 1 small coal stove (and I mean small), a wardrobe for hanging suits in (I only have 6), a dresser for putting my shirts in etc. 9 I only have 14 shirts and only 8 pairs of boots and shoes), and a writing desk with lots of room for books, one ordinary chair and a fibre easy chair, and also there are 2 rugs on the floor.  The room is quite small, about 11 x 12' but is really quite comfortable.  We all eat in a big mess with long tables and we get very good food here.  Our mess bill is only 3/6 a day, compared to the 8s we paid at Hatfield it is quite a difference.  We get about 18 quid (or pounds) a month and our mess and sports, batman (servant) comes to about 6 pounds.  So i should be able to save about 12 pounds a month - it's not so terribly much but when you think of getting paid to learn something- it is quite a bit.  Besides when our 4 years are up we get about 300 in one lump sum, so I should have enough to get home on.

We have our uniforms now - we get an extra allowance of 50 to pay for them.  My bill comes to slightly over that with 2 trunks I bought.  There are quite a few things I have to get yet, a dressing gown, and a pair of patent shoes.  I am keeping a ledger of all my income and expenditures, so I will have at least a faint idea of how I stand.

Now to get this straight about the letters, I think I got them all.  I got sent to Canada House, and 3 from Esther (2 in one day).  It takes from 12 to 14 days for me to get them.  I'll send the big pictures and some small ones this week, I can't get them ready tonight.  I have a steady source of time killing to do on my studies, that means every night, so please try to realize that I can't always take a couple of hours off to try to write a nice long letter, especially since that is what everyone expects.  Our time is fully occupied here.  I can't site down and write letters because I have no work to do.  We have to put in some of our time at sports, and sometimes it is nice to take a walk out in the country for a couple hours.  This life would be drastically monotonous if we didn't get away from it sometimes.  I got the letter in which various people wrote a few lines  quite a long time ago,  and from J. McKay.

That sure is too bad about the grain being so rusted,  but I guess there isn't anything that can be done about it.  I hope you get enough oats so that you'll have lots of feed anyway.

Did I tell you I made an average of about 76% on my final exams at Hatfield.  I was 6th from the top out of a class of 25.  I was going to send you a schedule of what we do in a week but will have to leave it go this time.  I think I have written quite a bit. I don't know whether is is very interesting or not.  Oh yes, when we are not on duty I am called Wick to airmen; other officers, etc. I am Sir, or Acting Pilot Officer Wickenkamp.

About dances - I have gone to a few public dances at Hatfield, but the few dances i have gone to are mostly club dance.  It's different over here.  Last Friday I went to a club dance at a grand place - 2 orchestras, footmen, waiters, etc., etc., in my tux - you know - swell joint.  It cost only 2/6 to get in.  Will tell you more about it next time.  I know Esther will be interested.

As it is a quarter to 11 and 6:30 comes early I must close.  Tell Harold to be good boy.  Dad, how about you and Richard writing once in a while.  I haven't had rheumatism since I have been here, and have sort of gotten over my sleepiness.  I weight about 12 stone, 8 lbs.

                                                                                          Best Wishes and Love,