Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 9: Hallowen

Have you ever participated in an Halloween event?
When was it?
Where was it?
What did you dress as?
Trick or Treat?

Hundreds Take Part in San Marin Costume Parade, that was the headline in the Novato Advance, November 5, 1969.

The Halloween event I participated in, was the Annual Halloween Parade that took place on San Andreas in  the San Marin neighborhood of Novato, California. My Brownie Troop made this very large witch float, which happened to be the grand prize winner. As you can see we just dressed as Brownies and no we did not trick or treat. That is me in the front row, middle.


"Members of Brownie Troop 1662 pose with their float, which was awarded the grand prize trophy in last weekend's Halloween parade in San Marin.  The float boasted a high-rise witch - 15 feet high.  The troop, which is led by Mrs. Forest Van Vleck, also won the community spirit award".


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

World War II Letters Home October 30, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                              No. Flying Training School
                                                                                              Royal Air Force
                                                                                             Brize Norton, Oxford
                                                                                             October 30, 1938

Dear Folks:

Thank you for the nice birthday cards, they are swell.  I didn't even send you any, all I did was write a letter.  I would like to send something but I didn't know what to send.

If everything turns out all right Doug Morris and I may get a long week-end this week and go into London and do a bit of shopping.  Since i have spent very little money all month I think I can squeeze in a trip to town (which means London to everyone here).

Tomorrow Richard is 24 - you will soon be a big boy:  I hope you ate a piece of birthday cake for me.

Friday we had out 'big dance'.  It was a huge success.  I think everyone had a wonderful time.  I don't know how many people were here - probably 200 including ourselves.  There were all sorts of Officers, Lords and Ladies etc.  The whole mess (which includes dining room and lounge ordinarily) was beautifully decorated and all the lights were covered by Chinese lanterns.

Our dining was converted into a ballroom and the lounge was divided into 3 parts, one end was the bar, the other was the buffer where all sorts of cold foods were served, ice cream, shrimps, salads, olives etc., trifle, cold meats, sandwiches, and i don't know what else.  In the center part there were small tables around which everyone sat during intermissions and smoked, drank and talked.  the hallway between the anterooms of lounge and the ball room were lined on both sides with plants.  They sure went to a lot of work fixing everything up.  The ladies all wore long evening gowns (frocks over here), some of them trailed on the floor for other people to tread on.  The dance broke up about 3:30 a.m.  We danced the famous "Lambeth Walk", Penny Glide, and other silly English dances.  They know that none of us would be any good in class so all our lectures for Saturday morning were cancelled so we could sleep in.

I saw a picture in one of the papers today of the first snowfall in Ontario, so I suppose you have had some snow too, and frost.  We haven't had any frost yet and the prospects for snow, I thin, are quite slim.  It seems funny that winter is coming and all the difference it makes is that there is more constant fog and drizzle.  Some days there isn't any flying at all on account of fog.  Probably by spring I will be used to it.

The Senior Term from here are going hear Woodstock to an Armament Camp for practice bombing and machine gunning for 5 weeks, so just Junior Term will be left.  There will be about 200 airmen recruits coming here soon.   About all they will be doing for the first couple months is drill.

The other day there wasn't a plan for me to fly so I went along with one of the boys and our instructor.  This boy was having an instrument flying test (under the hood) so after he flew around for about an hour and passed his test, the instructor took us up above the clouds and shot them up.  We dived down at about 250 m.p.h. then zoomed up over the tops of these heavy rolling clouds that looked like mountains.  We went through the top of one as son as we got in it, the plane sort of shook all over as the air is 'rough' in these clouds.  I didn't know we were going up above them or I would have taken my camera along, because below the clouds was foggy and dark and I couldn't get any pictures of the ground.  It sure is beautiful above the clouds, it's hard to explain,  it is just like coming into a sea of white mountains.  Actually one gets quite a thrill being up there just for the view.

I have just found out that we are allowed to stay in camp during our Christmas leave, so unless I can find some cheap place to spend the 2 weeks, I think I'll stay here in camp.  Time seems to fly here and it won't be long until spring, so I'll save up and go on a holiday when we get our 2 months leave next summer.

Most of the boys here go into Oxford or some other town every Saturday and spend 1 or 2 quid (pounds) just loafing around, etc. but I don't get any kick out of that so I am going to save those extra pennies and buy a cheap motorbike so I can putt-putt around the country and see some of the sites.  I can get a good bike and new tires on it for 5 pounds - the same bike in Canada would cost about $100.  One of the boys in the Senior Term has it and I can pay for it a pound a month - so I won't even notice that.  I wouldn't think of getting one but I figure it's the cheapest way of getting around and you don't have to be buying bus tickets every time you want to go anywhere..


Friday, October 25, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 8: Time Capsule

  Prompt 8: Time Capsule

1. You can choose you to create the time capsule for for that will influence what you will put (or would put into your time capsule)

2. The creation of a time capsule
     a. you can do it in a literal sense or
     b. you could simply write what you would place into you time capsule and why. It is much        more fun to create though!

You may choose to create a time capsule for your children, or a niece/nephew for grandchildren - A physical item that you will give to a named person.

Why have you chosen that person, and when do you intend for them to have it?

You may choose to create a time capsule of your home and leave it for someone in the future to find.

You may want to create a time capsule relating to an actual event or anniversary.

If you create physical time capsule, what did you choose to use as your capsule and why?

My mother had a cedar chest to keep all the family keepsakes in. This cedar chest lived in our guest room in my childhood home. You could say that this cedar chest was a "Time Capsule" it contained family treasures such as the veil my mother wore on her wedding day along with the bible she carried; she also kept the dress she wore on her first date with my dad. In the chest was my dads Army jacket and hat. She placed her college sweater there. I also found bibles that belonged to my great grandparents (Charles E and Sybilla Koch) and the bible that belonged to my great grandmother Elisabeth Drollner Wickenkamp. There were letters that mom saved from my grandparents, when they wrote to us after we moved to California.  There was the quilt that belonged to my grandma Smith (Viola Dahl) along with what remained of the "Smith family Civil War" quilt. I next found the baby books for my mom and dad, a lot of embroidered linens, my grandma Flo was an excellent embroiderer, you couldn't tell the front from the back. This cedar chest was in the family for many years, when mom and dad moved to Medford, OR, it went with them and was in the guest room in their cottage at the Rogue Valley Manor, then when mom downsized again to go to the apartment, it went there too. But alas, after the last downsize, there was no room for the cedar chest, so I had take out the important family treasures I wanted to keep and I have those in plastic storage bins (I had no room for the cedar chest in my small apartment).  So now I am creating a virtual time capsule with the help of my family history blog and pinterest.

Please visit my virtual time capsule and some of my family treasures that used to lived in the cedar chest. 

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

                                                                                             No 2. Flying Training School
                                                                                             Royal Air Force
                                                                                             Brize Norton, Carterton
                                                                                             October 25, 1938

Dear Folks:

I have forgotten just how long ago I did write to you, but it can't be very long ago.  Anyhow on the occasion of your birthday the least I can do is to wish you a very "Happy Birthday" with many more to come.

I haven't been able to get a R.A.F. broach for you in Oxford so I will send for one for you.

I suppose you often wonder why my letters are very disconnected sometimes.  It seems that trying to write to a number of different people I get mixed up about what I have written, and trying to think of something to say on the spur of the moment.  Our time is sort of all chopped up, I find it quite inconvenient to write during the week, so I leave it generally until Sunday, then on Sunday I don't want to stay in all day writing half a dozen lengthy letters, so I sometimes just call it off and try to postpone it all. But that only makes matters worse, so I'll have to try to do my letter writing on some other night.  I got 6 letters today and a few a couple days ago so you can see them pile up on me, then if I happen to lose one - someone patiently waits for a letter that doesn't come or else if they do get it I probably haven't answered some questions.  Better I find me a stenographer.

 I am still waiting for the Air Ministry to refund my R.R. ticket money - they seem to be taking their own sweet time.  I have some money in the bank, but not an awful lot, I think about 6.  I paid up most of my insurance, except $9.99 which I hope to pay in a month or 2.

There wasn't much left out of last month wages as I had to pay 1 1/2 months board out of it.  It will be much better this month.  I should have about 10 left.  Once I get all straightened out I will be able to put aside about 6 to 8 pounds a month (I hope!).

I am buying a cheaper uniform for working in, to save my good one.  I am going to pay about 1 a month on it.  It only costs 3-10 -0.  That sure is an awful difference in price; my good service jacket alone cost me about 7, so I think it is worth it to get another now.  One uniform would never last 4 years anyway.

We have a test exam coming off in a couple weeks s I guess I'll have to do a little "swotting" as they call it here.  so if during the next few weeks my letters are sort of ragged you will know why.

Saturday I took the day off (we have classes in the morning) and went to the International Car Races with a friend, Fraser.  We went as far as Oxford in his care, then from there we went with his sister and her boyfriend in their Buick Coupe.  The races are in Donnington Park just a few miles from Derby (pronounced Darby). It sure was exciting.  The roaring of these cars as they flashed by at about 200 m.p.h., whipped around the corners, then roared on again.  It is hard to explain what it sounded like, but there was certainly some terrific roaring and whinning, with some of those motors turning up to 6 and 7 thousand revs per minute.  I borrowed a real fast camera with a 1/1000 of a second shutter speed and took 34 pictures; there were on one roll, as this type of camera uses narrow film with 36 exposures on it.  Anyhow, as soon as I get some of the pictures I will send you some.  I suppose by now you have all about it.  Nuvolari, the Italian driver won the race in an Auto Union car (German make).

I sent a big R.A.F. map home to the folks.  It is a map of the southern half of England; it is on the scale of 10 miles to the inch. I borrowed it from the Navigation room.  Now they will be able to follow all of my maneuvers.

We are having a big dance here this Friday.  I imagine there will be about 300 people attending. I'll send full details on Sunday - that is if I get sobered up by then,

It is after 10 o'clock and I have to do some bomb-sighting and wind speed and direction calculating questions so I'll have to get busy.

Will write again Sunday.


N.B Again may I say - "Birthday Greetings, old deah".

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

World War II Letters Home Oct 23, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                   Brize Norton
                                                                                                   October 23, 1938

Dear Folks:

Well, this is the end of another Sunday - the time seems to fly.  Another 7 weeks and I will be through Junior Term and be in the Senior Term or A.T.B. (Advanced Training Squadron).  It seems like only yesterday that we came to this place.  I seemed to have lost your last letter so  don't remember what was in it - whether you asked me any questions or not.

Saturday mornings we always have lectures, but yesterday I got leave for the whole day and went with a friend to Donnington Park (near Derby) to see the International Car Races.  It is about 90 miles from here; we went by car. When we got in the park we could hear these terrific whinnings and buzzings, it just sounded like an amplified mad hornets nest.  So we walked up to the fence right beside the race course, we could hear a car coming, then it came over the hill top and with a we-e-aw it came past us and was down the straightaway at about 200 m.p.h.

They had a winding course about 3 miles long through the woods and around.  Those cars just came up to the corners and opened up the throttle and with a roaring whine they skidded around and away they went again.  At one place they came up a fairly steep little knoll at a corner and sometimes they came up the hill and around so fast that all 4 wheels were off the ground.  It sure was exciting - I even forgot about dinner and tea.  I borrowed a real fast camera with a shutter speed of 1/1,000 of a second and took 34 pictures (all on one roll).  I haven't got them developed yet but as soon as I can I'll send you some of those action pictures.  An Italian driver by the name of Nuvolari won in an Auto Union (German Car).  It was incredible they way they even kept on the track the way those cars went - the front wheels seemed to be off the ground half the time.

After the race was over we had lunch and then went to Reading to a cocktail party that some high mucky mucks (friends of the chap I was with) were having. We met the very 'charming' hostess, and stayed there for a couple of hours, then left for home.  Besides sherry and cocktails there was a table just loaded down with all kinds of what-nots, etc.  All sorts of cheese, nut and fruit mixtures, etc. on little wee biscuits or whatever they were, also olives, salted nuts, stuffed prunes with cheese inside them and quarter of a walnut on top.  Anyhow, whatever they were I sampled nearly all of them.  Oh yes, there were some anchovy rolls, you know, little anchovies or maybe slices of them (I don't know) rolled in a sort of pastry.  This sort of informal affair is only supposed to last from 6 to 8 o'clock. it was all quite interesting besides being another new experience.  It sure breaks up the monotony of camp life to be able to get out once in a while.  The English people have a wonderful manner of talking about trivial nothings for hours and you would actually think they were talking about something.

We have been trying to get in some night flying for the last week but it hasn't been very successful - fog usually settles in about 10 o'clock and ruins visibility.  I got one trip of dual flying.  We land by flares on the ground as we come in close to the ground we switch on the landing light which throws a powerful light down the landing area.

Also on Friday we started formation flying.  Our instructors took us up for one trip and told us all about it, then we went up solo - 2 planes at a time and flew formation.  We changed about from leading to following on either side.  It is quite goo fun.  It isn't quite as easy as I had thought it would be - you have to keep opening and closing throttles to keep you correct distance.  Dick Lascelles (the fellow I was formatting with) and i got along quite well for the first time.  I suppose we shall be getting more practice this week again.

The Maintenance Officer was giving us a lecture the other day and he said that on an average 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of petrol were used each flying day at this station.  Isn't it a terrific figure that all this flying business cost the British people.

I am going to try to get a map rolled up and send it to you this week (it's one I borrowed), so you'll be able to sort of follow our maneuvers.  This map is on the scale of a4 miles to the inch, so the landmarks are all quite easy to read.

I have to disappoint you but I won't be sending any birthday presents.  I'll try to send them later on, but I wish you, Mama and Richard, very happy birthdays with many more to come.

I must crawl into bed now and I'll get that map and a few other papers away this week.

I think Richard should try to write me a letter once a week, even if it isn't a long letter -- if you know how I look forward to getting letters you wouldn't write so seldom.



Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Prompt 7: Grandparents

What were their names?
Where were they born?
Were they related? - Cousins perhaps?
Where they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them, have you researched about them?

My paternal grandfather was born Francis Percival Smith    ( he was always known as Frank P. Smith) 17 December 1897 in DeKalb, Illinois to Joseph Clinton Smith and Josephine "Josie" Payton. He had an older sister, Marie and two younger brothers, Chauncy Marion and Robert Peyton Smith. He enlisted into the Army in 1917 and was sent to France. Where he was injured. His injuries plagued him throughout his life. After the War, he worked for the railroad. In 1927 he worked in the parts department of Riegel Brothers Dodge in Spokane, Washington. Throughout his life he had many jobs. He and his family moved around a lot until they were able to buy land in the Jump Off area of Stevens county, Washington.

He married Edith Viola Dahl 9 May 1926 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. In December 1929, they had their fist son, Don Francis Smith, my dad; and in May 1934 they had another son, J. Douglas Smith. 

He died 3 January 1965 in Spokane, Washington. I really did not know him. I was only about 4 years old when he died. Here is a picture of me with my grandpa on Easter Sunday 1961. This was the day I was baptised. One memory I do have of him, he loved the candy orange slices. When I see those in the store, I think of him.

 My paternal grandmother was born Edith Viola Dahl on 14 March 1899 in Winona, Minnesota to August Dahl and Anbertina Olstad. She was the middle daughter. Her older sister was Lillian Marguerite Dahl and he younger sister was Ruth Lenore Dahl.

After graduating from Winona High School, she attended Minnesota State Normal Schools, where she received an advance diploma. She was now authorized to teach in the public schools.  She had an independent streak in her, she headed out west to Spokane, Washington. I remember hearing how she meet my grandfather. He was the one who taught her to drive a car. I guess the lessons went well, since they were married. She had to keep her marriage a secret, since in those days teachers could not be married.

I have memories of her driving around town in her pink Rambler.  She was always such a lady. She would wear her
"house dress" around her house, but when she went out to the store she always dressed in her best.  I did not get to see my grandma very much, we moved to California when I was 6 years old. I did see her every summer and when she would come to California to visit. A memory I will always have of my granddma is when I would hold her hand it was always cold. She would tell me, "cold hands, warm heart".  I will always remember that and I use that saying often in remembrance of her.

She died 24 July 1983 in Spokane, Washington.

My maternal grandfather was born William George Wickenkamp, he was always known as Bill, on 9 January 1898 in Dorchester, Saline, Nebraska. He was the 7th child of  Georg Heinrich Andreas (Andrew) Wickenkamp and Elisabeth Drollner. I heard a story that when he was young he almost burned down their house on the homestead in Dorchester. I was lucky enough to see the house still standing and uninhabited. In 1919 the family moved to Casper, Wyoming. That is where he met Florence Sybil Koch, who he married 7 June 1930. To this union they had one daughter, my mother Jerry Lynn. In 1941 he moved his family to Lincoln, Placer, California where they had a fruit ranch. In 1951 the family moved to Valley, Stevens, Washington where they had a small dairy. It is here where they lived adjacent to the Frank P. Smith's, and I think you can guess the rest. My grandpa Bill loved to fish as you can see in the picture. I also like to watch birds. I have a bird book that was his. Also, from a letter he wrote us he talks about going to the pond on his property to watch the swans that came to swim. He died 9 December 1970 in Chewelah, Stevens, Washington.
I don't have a lot of memories about him, but her is a picture of my grandpa Bill holding me. I am learning more about him from the letters that my mom saved. These letters he sent to us after we moved to California. They are written in his hand and I will always treasure them.

My Maternal grandmother was born Florence "Flo"  Sybil Koch, the eldest daughter of Charles Edward Koch and Anna Sybilla Steingruber, on 4 April 1907 in Billings, Yellowstone, Montana. She had sister, Frances, who died as an infant; a brother, Charles Frederick Koch, my Uncle Chuck; and a sister, Ruth.  The family moved to Casper, Natrona, Wyoming where Flo attended high school. she later attended the University of Wyoming at Laramie, where she got her teacher credentials. She later taught in the schools in Casper. My grandma Flo was a wonderful cook and baker. She would when prizes for her baked goods at the county fairs.  She also had a wicked sense of humor. She was a great practical joke player. 
I thought this picture kind of sums it up. This was an Ogopogo garbage can in British Columbia, Canada. No, she really wasn't in the garbage can, just pretending. When my family would come to visit in the summer, my mom, grandma and I would play cards, 
Chinese Checkers and Rummy-O together.  In 1974, she married Bill Bassett and they had a good 5 years together until he died in 1979.  She died on 26 November 1986 in Spokane, Washington. I will always remember grandma Flo, and I miss her calling me "Pink" or "Pinkie". This due to me having red or "golden" hair as she called it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

World War II Letters Home October 16,1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                               No. 2 Flying Training School
                                                                                               Royal Air Force
                                                                                               Brize Norton, Oxford
                                                                                              Sunday, October 16, 1938

Dear Esther:

I have before me letters from you dated September 14th, 23rd and 28th - they seem to be coming quite regularly.  Your last letter is quite amusing in several respects.  I don't see why you haven't received all of my letters as they were all addressed the same,  and I have written to you nearly once a week for the last 3 months or so.  And besides that I enclosed a bunch of pictures in almost every other letter.  Let me know what pictures you have that I have sent and any you didn't get.  I will try to get some more  made.  It keeps me guessing to remember what pictures I send and who gets them.

Yes, we take up wireless, I can receive up to 10 and 12 words a minute now.  a word consists of 5 letters.  We use Trig. for calculating triangles of force, velocity, etc. and other engineering maths.

The next time I get into a place where I can get R.A.F pins I will, and send it to  you.

We haven't got our refund on our tickets yet.  I sure hope they hurry up because I know you will be wanting you money soon.

Have I seen the famed Oxford College yet?  Ha! Ha!. Now my dear girl which one do you mean.  I can't just place it - you see there are only about 2 dozen famous colleges in Oxford.  I'll try to get a list of the names for your future reference.

The next time that dummy gets after you -just give her an aeroplane spin that will keep her woozy for a bit.

Thanks for the addresses.  I have been waiting a long time for someone to send me some.

You asked me in one of you letters how long it takes to complete our flying course - well, it's night on foah yeahs.  By that time I hope to be a Flight Lieutenant and have my Navigators 2nd class, and Ground Engineers' Certificates.

I have a chance to get a good motor-bike from one of the boys in the senior term who is going to another camp.  He wants 4 quid (pounds) for it and I can pay him sometime after New Years.  I wouldn't think of buying it but it gets so damn monotonous staying around here without being able to get away, except on a bus or peddling a push-bike. I haven't had any week-end leave yet because I have no place to go.

By the way, you haven't told me whether Mom sends my letters up to you to read.  If she does I won't have to repeat myself and probably I could write about something different to you.

We set our clocks ahead an hour last week no it's dark at about 5 o'clock now.

I wish you could see some of the pubs over here.  Some of them are fixed up quite nice inside.  There is one near here with a lot of old sea men's lanterns hung up, and old heavy plank tables and benches.  It looks quite antique.  Of course you know that every one goes into a pub here and you get everything from mineral water (soft drinks to you) to Benedictine.  Instead of saying "Let's stop in here and have a cup of coffee?" meaning a beer.  beer costs threepence ha penny a glass.  Mineral waters about tuppence (which very few people drink).  I don't spend much time in the pubs - probably once in a week or 2.  We can get all the beer we want here in our mess (dining room and lounge room).  We can't spend any money here in the station (R.A.F.) - everything we get in the mess is just put on your account.

All of our pay is put into our bank.  We pay mess accounts by cheque, and if we want any cash we have to cash a cheque.  There is never much left after we pay our mess bills.

After Christmas we will get our wings, then I am going to get a real photograph taken and send it to you.

I have been writing letters all day and am getting "browned-off" - expression for fed up, as I haven't been out walking or anything today.  It gets terribly irksome and dull here sometimes.  If it wasn't for flying I'd throw this life up in 2 minutes.

Of course, when I realize how much it would cost to get a course like this at a civil aviation school, I know I never would have learned to fly even, so I guess it really is not so bad.  It isn't that I mind working hours; it's times when you don't have anything to do that gets you down.  It must be the people or the atmosphere of aloofness of dumb-headedness that irritates us Canadians.  The C.O. (Commanding Officer) of this station is a typical two-faced English hypocrite and he sure gets under my skin.  He doesn't seem sincere as far as I make out.

I am not going to send any of you folks any birthday presents, sorry, you will have to wait until Christmas; there won't be so much duty then.  I really haven't the slightest idea what to send anyone for Christmas.  Like a good little sister maybe you could give me some hints or ideas.  I want to send something real nice to dear Mom;  she always writes every week and I know she is always wondering how I am getting along, etc.  I hope she doesn't worry about me; everyone seems to think Air Force is a dose of poison because there is always someone getting killed and they make sure it goes into the paper.  There are hundreds more getting killed every day in cars, etc.  but no one thinks anything of it.  No matter where you are or what you are doing you never know when you'll get it in the neck, so why worry!

I went on a cross country solo on Friday for about 350 or more miles.  It took me a little over 2 hours.  I sure saw a lot of territory. I went to Portsmouth, then to Bristol and back.  I sure love navigation. It is a lot different in these high speed machines than our "Moths", going 3 miles a minute.  It doesn't take long to get off your course if you aren't careful or if you can't read a map correctly.  The main thing when you get lost is to keep cool and try at least to figure out where you might be, then if you can't find out - well - land.

I think I am running out of petrol so better I should sign off.

                                                                                     As Ever, With Love,
                                                                                     Your Brother, Estelles

P.S How about maybe some snaps?


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

World War II Letters Home October 16, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                     No. 2 Flying Training School
                                                                                                     Royal Air Force
                                                                                                     Brize Norton, Oxford
                                                                                                     Sunday, October 16, 1938

Dear Folks:

I received your letters, all 3 of them, yesterday.  I wondered why I hadn't heard from you, I thought probably you letter had been lost.  It was raining this morning but the sun is shining now and it is quite nice outside.

Yesterday afternoon Doug and I borrowed our Batmen's push-bikes and rode up to Tissington, another R.A.F. station where some of our friends are.  We stayed there for tea and came back home for supper.  I must be getting the cycling habit.

That Dundas boy in the picture is from Pelly - he is in Egypt now.  I didn't get much flying last week, only on Monday and Friday.  On Friday I went (solo) on a cross-country trip of about 300 miles.  I left there at 2:15 p.m. for an aerodrome near Portsmouth on the south coast.  About half way I "shot up"  Basingstoke, meaning I was doing some "reco" (reconnaissance work), drawing a map of the town, etc., counting trains, trucks. After I got to Tantmere I went along the coast eastwards, (on my own),  then I altered my course (compass) in aline for  Bristol on the Severn River.  About half way there I was supposed to land at Boscome-down.  Well, I stayed there for about 10 minutes and realized I would be overdue if I didn't make up for lost time, so from there to Bristol and back here I opened 'er up to about 190 m.p.h. (ordinary cruising speed speed is about 160 m.p.h.)  so I got back here right on the dot - I was away 2 hours 15 minutes all together.  Anyhow, I passed my test, and that is more than most of them did.

Before we go on a cross-country we go with the Navigation Instruction for a test.  Two of us went with him.  The first fellow piloted the first half of the trip, then I took over and the Navigation Instructor only let me fly for about half an hour (our trip was 2 hours), then I guess he thought I was getting along too well so he told me to get in the back and change with the other chap.  he didn't follow his course so well and didn't pass it, that is why quite a few of the boys didn't get to go on a cross-country solo.  I sure love to do navigation - it's great rambling about the country - reading maps.  On my trip I used a nice sum for me to go joy riding.  It will cost them more than that before i am through with this course.

You asked about a Navigator;s Certificate.  That means besides just being able to fly, that you have qualified in map reading, calculating courses, calculating wind speed and direction, and to pin point your location while flying.  To get this Navigator's Certificate we go to Manston which is on the north-east corner of Kent near Dover.  There we fly with a navigator - that is 2 of us change about piloting and navigating - out over the North Sea. While out there we get instructions by radio that we are to change course and to some other point to intercept a ship.  After we get more instruction by W/T (wireless telephone) and in that manner they send us all over.  That is navigation - not map reading, the water has no land marks.

We have had several machine-gun practices on the range.  We get belts of cartridges with bent and dud rounds in them so that we learn how to clear stoppages, and what causes them.

I can receive about 10 to 12 words a minuted in Morse Code.  A 'word' is 5 letters. We don't use telegraph clicker keys - we use a buzzer with a key - that is so we can send and receive while in the air.  Our planes are equipped with radio.

Some of the boys got a little dual night flying on Saturday.  I was supposed to go up at 11:30 but it got too foggy.

We had what they cal a "Guest Night" last Tuesday.  There weren't any outsiders, just all of us Officers.  The Junior Term had to provide some entertainment for the Senior Term; if it wasn't satisfactory you had to go in the pen ( a corner of the room).  After the entertainment was all over they made those in the pen run the gauntlet, which meant crawling under 2 tables and run between two lines of Seniors armed with knotted towels and newspapers rolled up.  As they were getting ready for for this, everyone, and I mean everyone, stripped  of their jackets, shirts, right to the waist, loosening the straps under wellingtons so our trousers were loose, then went through the works.  As we went under the tables we had soda water and beer squirted at us, what a turmoil - then -the fight (which everyone was anticipating) started - Juniors vs. Seniors.  You couldn't imagine such a transformation - with in 10 seconds there were about a hundred of us scrapping on the floor and all over the lounge room.  Of course it was all in fun.  Some of the boys thought they could leave their shirts on, well, they have to buy new ones now!  After we were too tired to go any more we sang a few group songs and went to bed.  Everyone was so tired they could hardly walk.  That's what they call "Guest Night".  The whole thing was really silly but I guess it is the only chance we let loose all our pent-up emotions and energy.  Oh yes, the Seniors threw one of our chaps in the bathtub before we got through we had 3 of them in the water, clothes and all.

We are having our big dance her on the 28th.  I don't know ow sophisticated it is going to be.  I'll leave that until I find out.

I wrote a letter to Vernon.  I got a letter from him and I guess he sure has his noes to the grindstone.  He says Lyons is real good to him and helps him all he can.

I think am just about out of news, so I think I'll start a letter to Esther.  She said in her last letter she has only received 2 letters from me and she should have about 10 by now,  so apparently some of them have been lost.  You seem to get all of mine.  I am glad you got plenty fair crop this year.

I suppose you were all quite worried over the prospects of war - well, I couldn't see how there could be a war - although everyone was or acted awfully scared.  Nearly everyone in England has had gas masks issued to them and the parks in London and all over are dug full of trenches and gas-proof chambers.  About half the school children were sent out to the country, and a lot of people moved out.  During the scare none of us could get week-end leave,  and those on holidays were all recalled to their units.  Well,  it's all over with so there's nothing to worry about.

Take good care of yourselves and don't work too hard.  I suppose you will soon be having snow and frosts.

Will write again next Sunday.

                                                                                              With Love,


P.S. Thanks for the letter, Dad and Harold.  Keep on writing. E.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 6: Journals and Diaries

Do you keep a journal or diary?
How far back to they go? What do you record?
Where do you keep them?
Do you always buy the same one, or vary them?
Have you inherited any?
Do you intend to pass along your journals or destroy them?
Pictures - do you have a favourite?
What do you use to write with - biro, pencil, ink or fountain pen?

I am not a journal or diary writer. However, I did write in a journal my first year of college from September 11, 1979 to September 11, 1980.  I also did a little writing from September 22, 1980 to February 17, 1981.

In 1970, I acquired the "Daily Diary" on the left. It is the standard diary most girls of my age probably had with the little key to lock it up. I didn't write anything in it then. I went to Shasta College (Redding, CA) in the fall of 1979, the first time I was away from home, so I decided to write my experiences. They were not to exciting. I was homesick a lot. So in the Spring of 1980, I enrolled in a school closer to home, Santa Rosa Jr College. In the journal on the right is my first year of college. 

I didn't use any special implement to write with. I used a standard ink (Bic pen) or pencil.

My mom was the journal writer in the family. I knew she wrote done all of our travels we took as a family in our Cessna airplane, and my parents travels to Hawaii and to Europe. 

As you can see she just used an assortment of books. She also just wrote with the standard ink (Bic) pen. 

The most treasured journals my mom wrote were these.......

The journal on the right starts June 23, 1963 when the cornerstone of our cabin in Idaho was laid. Every time we went to the cabin, my mom wrote what we did and the progress on building the cabin. The journal ends March 26, 1967. We sold the cabin and moved to California.

The journal on the left starts June 1967 after we moved to California and goes to June 8, 1984. This journal chronicles all the friends and family that came to visit us and what we did. 

 These journals are precious to me. I keep these journals in a small suit case the belonged to my grandmother. I intend to transcribe them to share with family. I have a big job ahead of me, but it should be fun going down memory lane.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

World War II Letters Home October 10, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp


I didn't finish my letter the other day so I'll see what I can tell you now.

Today Corporal Linthune and I went on cross-country flight flight with our instructor. L.A.C - Leading - Aircraftman, Corporal, Sergeant and Flight-Sergeant are below us in rank - they are non-commissioned Officers and are Airmen. Anyhow, I piloted the first half of the journey down as far as Bristol - on the Severn River, then the Corporal piloted the last half.  The instructor sits beside the pilot - so when I wasn't piloting I sat in the Navigator's seat about half way back in the plane and facing backwards - it sure seemed funny.  We cruised at 160 m.p.h and weer up for 1 hour, 50 minutes so you figure out ow many miles we went.

Yesterday Doug Morris, another Canuck and I borrowed some push-bikes and rode up to Little Rissington - 13 miles, and saw some of the other Canadian Boys that we came over with.  Little Riss is another F.T.S.

I went into Oxford after tea today with our Ensign (one of the junior pupils with a P.C. - Permanent Commission).  He has a little M.G. (Morris Garage) care.  It is real low and long and we just scooted along these winding highways, corners and all at about 70 m.p.h  It is amazing how these small cares cling to the road.

The classes were started up again so you see a lot of queer looking mugs gadding about the streets there - with their school ties, gaudy scarves, and some with their black gowns.  Some of them have long hair to their shoulders, and other crazy ideas such as carrying two umbrellas, wearing a sort of shepherd's toque and carrying a crook, (just between you and me and the sea, I think they must be afflicted with an epidemic of "nerts".)

I've been trying to find an envelope large enough to send some enlargements to you but they don't seem to exist.  Anyway, I'm sending a few more snaps.  There is a badminton court in Whitney,  a few miles away so I think I'll start playing again.

I got a letter from Esther today, so will have to answer it.  I suppose threshing is all over by now, and the plow is going again.

I'll write again soon.



Monday, October 7, 2013

World War II Letters Home October 7, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                          No. 2 Flying Training School
                                                                                          Royal Air Force
                                                                                          Brize Norton, Oxford
                                                                                          October 7, 1938

Dear Folks:

This Friday night I am going to start a letter, if I can, and finish it on Sunday.

We have been having oodles of rain here and lately we have some real high winds.  For 6 days i was unlucky enough to be on flights when it had to rain so I didn't get any flying until yesterday.  I went up on a height test solo.  We are only supposed to go up to 15,000 feet and stay there for about 10 minutes.  That didn't seem very high up to me so kept going.  I got up to 18,500 feet and saw that i had to be down in half an hour so i quite there.  It was about 10 degrees or 15 degrees below zero at that altitude.  The sun was shining into the cabin so I was quite warm except my feet and they sure were cold.  I glided down at 90 m.p.h to about 15,000 feet, then I wanted to go faster so I put the noes down and opened the throttles about 1/3.  The motors made a funny whine because they run so fast when you dive.  All the boys in the class heard it.  Anyhow I got it going about 240 m.p.h the I shut the motors down and pulled the nose up again.  Some of the boys suffer from earache and find it hard to breath even at 16,000 feet, but it didn't bother me - only it made me belch a couple of times.

I was doing some forced landing practices and some low flying with my instructor today,  but it was quite windy and so it was really too rough and bumpy to do much low flying, so my instructor got out and I did some circuits and landing practice for 3/4 of an hour.  I haven't taken my camera up with me but will try to remember to sometime next week.  I would like to get some good pictures of the country around here, also of the aerodrome from the air.  There is only one other boy here that I have talked to that has gone up to 14,500 feet. There may be a few more but I don't this there are many.

The storms and lightning put a few planes from other places out of commission this week.  One Harrow Bomber with 5 men in it was struck by lightning about 10 miles out over Channel; the engine stopped and the instruments were haywire but they glided over to land and they all bailed out safely in their parachutes.  This happened at night.

We haven't started our night flying yet, but probably will this coming week.  As I told you before we only get one solo at night this term, until after New Year's.

(To be continued October 10)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 5: My Childhood Home

Prompt 5: Your Childhood Home

Your childhood home

When did you leave home?

Where was it? 

Where did you move to?

Was it rented or owned? - parents/Grandparents

Was it inherited?

What was it like - describe it- each room

Were there a favorite room?

Is there anything you particularly remember from the house?


The road and area

I was born in Spokane, Washington, where I spent the first 5 1/2 years. In 1967 my family moved to California and bought a house in Novato.  As you can see it is a typical suburban home. It is located at the top of a cul-de-sac.  Come along and I will give you a tour of my house. Walk up the drive way to the front porch, look to the right you will see the bay window my dad put in to expand the living room. Let me open the door, notice the beautiful grandfather clock my dad built from a kit. He built that in the basement of our house in Spokane. Turn to the right into the living room and walk towards the fireplace, which was converted to gas. On holidays dad would put a real log on the fire for a special treat.  In the bay window alcove is the sofa. This sofa we had in Spokane when I was born. It has been recovered a few times but still in good shape. In front of the sofa is large square table and opposite the sofa is the "hi-fi" cabinet that once again my dad built and my sister helped stain it.  Now turn left into the dining room. It is not large, there is a table with six chairs and a hutch for dishes. Look out the window at the view of the hill across the way. We had a lot of special holiday dinners, birthdays and other dinner parties in this room. My mom new how to entertain. Now we will turn left through the pocket door into the kitchen. Once again it is not large but my mom made a lot of wonderful meals in this kitchen. Yes, in the 1970's we had avocado green appliances. Next to the kitchen is the breakfast nook. Step down two steps to the family room. Our first TV was the Muntz that came with us from Spokane. I remember it being painted green. My dad recovered it with faux wood grain contact paper. There was another gas fireplace a sofa and the upright piano. My sister was the piano player in the family. My dad could play by ear, he didn't read music. I still can hear him playing Alley Cat on that piano. Open the door and step into the small laundry room. On the left is the half-bathroom and on the left is the door to the garage. Now let us go upstairs. We need to retrace our steps through the family room, up two steps into the breakfast nook and turn to the right through the foyer towards the front door. The stairs are on the right.  At the top of the stairs is one bedroom, that was my sisters (and later mine when she moved out). Turn right to the bathroom I shared with my sister. Turn left and the next bedroom was mine, AKA the city dump. I was the sloppy one in the family. My room was always messy. My dad found a sign that said city dump and put it on my door. I wish I still had that sign. I am still pretty sloppy. These two bedrooms are on the back of the house. Across from my room was the guest room and at the end of the hall was the master bedroom, my parents room.

I guess you could say my favorite room in the house was my room. It was my sanctuary. It was messy but it was mine.

I moved out in 1988. However, I didn't get very far. I still live in Novato. My parents sold the house in 2005 and move to Medford, Oregon. That was hard on me, because that was my house. When we had to clean out 40 plus years of stuff that was not easy.

Every once in awhile I drive up the street to the end of the cul-de-sac and look at my house and to see if the new owners are taking care of it. I miss the old place. There were a lot of memories there.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

World War II Letters Home October 3, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                            No. 2 Flying Training School
                                                                                            Brize Norton, Oxford
                                                                                             October 3,1938

Dear Folks:

When  I woke up this morning it was pouring rain so I stayed in bed until 10 o'clock.  It has slacked off a little now but is a dreary day.  We are allowed to have fires in our rooms now so I got my batman to light mine this morning.  It is nice and warm now. I have been going to to tell you about the batman we have.  They are are our servants. Each batman has 3 officers and their rooms to take care of.  The first thing in the morning he brings in some hot water, lays out our uniforms and shoes and wakes us up.  When we are out me makes up our beds, puts all of our clothes away and straightens our our rooms.  In the evening he lays out our mess kit or whatever we have to wear for supper.  He keeps our boots cleaned and polished, polishes our buttons, presses our clothes, lights our fires, takes care of our laundry, etc.  He even unpacks your trunks when you come here - anything you want done - the batman does it - even brings you tea in bed on Sunday mornings if you don't get up for breakfast.  So you see we get well cared for - all you have to do is ring the button and he's there with a "Yes Sir?"

Tomorrow I am Orderly Officer under instruction. The O.O. is responsible for the following duties:  supervision of the guard, inspection of ration store on their arrival at the ration store, tour airmen's dining rooms during breakfast an dinner meals to receive any complaints, the maintenance of order and discipline in the institute, attendance at payment of airmen, ensuring of "lights out", attendance at the fires and inspection of fire guard., etc., inspection of detention rooms and visiting of occupants, etc., etc.  So I won't get any flying or studying done tomorrow.

I got the Free Press.  I got a letter from Vernon; it only took 10 days.

The situation with the Czechs looked pretty serious for a while but it seems to be all peacefully settled now.  We were all confined to camp and no one was allowed to leave the camp on week-ends and we couldn't go any farther than 20 miles. Everyone on leave was recalled.  In London they started to dig trenches in all the parks and are still doing it.  Gas masks were issued to everyone in England - all sots of Air Raid Precautions were taken.

On the picture I sent you of our Civil School class you will find a boy names James.  Friday afternoon he was up with his instructor and they got caught in the rain.  Instead of climbing up high, they flew low and crashed into a telephone post or pillar of some kind and both of them were killed.  They say that the instructor was a little reckless.  If he had gained altitude he could have got out of the rain because they were just local showers, but no one really knows what he was doing so there isn't much that can be said about it.  They have been very few accidents in the last 3 or 4 months.  No one figures on accidents here any more than you worry about a car accident.when you go to town.  Considering all the men that are flying there is a small percentage of accidents or deaths.  There are about 70 pilots here and about 20 instructors, and we all fly nearly every day., doing on an average of 3 or 4 take-offs and landings.  I figured it up roughly one day and there are about 1,500 or more gallons of petrol used here in one day.

I imagine there are about 50 or 75 training schools in England and about 120 squadrons, so you could probably figure what it must cost the British Government for Air defense alone, and then figure on top of that about 6 times as many airmen as pilots.  It runs into millions of pounds a year.

About the ranks now - well, in another couple of months we get our wings, then after our 6 months here we become Pilot Officers.  After we are in a squadron for 18 months we get promoted to Flying Officer.  If we are fortunate enough before we get out we might get to be a Flight Lieutenant.  That is as far as we can expect to get, unless you get a P.C. (Permanent Commission), then you advance through the various ranks, Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, Group Captain, etc.

That is too bad about Wesley Belous but it can't be helped now.  The J.P.'s job seems to be a nice helpful side line on the farm.  Apparently the garden turned out pretty good this year - well I guess you won't starve anyway.  As far as I can remember we never did.  I have 2 more cards to get for my set of aeroplanes, then I will send them to you.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

World War II Letters Home October 2, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

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

Dear Esther:

I have received about 9 letters from you and it is nice to get your letters so try to drop me a few lines about once a week, also how about a picture or so once in a while.  Today has been just another rainy Sunday, in fact the last week has been rotten weather for flying and everything else.

I'll answer a few of your questions first.  I haven't been able to locate D.B. Lindsay yet, but probably will sometime this winter.

At all the inland stations we use land planes but at the coasts we have seaplanes and fling boats - I hope  you know the difference.  I don't know how we get to be Officers so soon, but we are!  All the boys are promoted at practically the same time rat.  In an other couple of months I will have my wings and my appointments signed by the King himself.

You can rent some bicycles (I mean "push-bikes") over here for 2 or 3 bob a week.  A lot of these English cigarettes are blended but I don't like them.  I smoke Players Navy Cut.  They are something like a Turrett. - plain Virginia tobacco.  I think I will quite smoking this week.  If I do I can save about 30 bob a month.

I just finished writing a letter home and i sent a few more snaps.  I have to get all my snaps done 3 or 4 times so I can send them home to you,  and have one for myself.  But I don't mind;  I think it's always nice to be able to see what things look like.  The only trouble is that sometimes I forget what pictures I have sent you and what ones I have sent home, so if I send more than one to you and I haven
t sent one home can you send it. I know Mama, Papa and Richard are always anxious to hear from me.  I suppose you all worry about me - after seeing something in the paper about R.A.F. crash, etc.  Richards wants to know whether he should put in an application.  Well, I really don't know what to tell him.  It is nice and all that but there is a lot of red tape and blooey about it all too.  Anyhow i wrote and told him that maybe he should stick it out in the garage and probably I can help him when I get back.

The clocks in England were all set back an hour this morning,  so it is quite dark at 7:30 when we have our supper.

I am on of the Orderly Officers tomorrow so I won't get any flying or classes.  We have to go around the camp and inspect everything to see that all is in order.

It seems as if the big crisis over the Czechs is over with.  It almost looked as if there would be a war.  In the last few days it has cost England about 50,000.00 for A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions).  They are still digging trenches in the parks in London and everyone in England has been issued with gas masks.

I don't feel much like writing tonight, as usual but maybe I'll get in the mood again sometime and write a more interesting letter.