Tuesday, July 19, 2022

McGovern’s landing skills

‘On our takeoff today we had a tire blow out - the right main gear tire, but it went out after we cleared the field or rather just as we left the field. We went on to the target knowing that we had a rough landing and perhaps a crack up waiting for us on our return.’ This is from a diary kept by US Presidential Nominee George McGovern during his Air Corps days in the Second World War. In the same diary entry, McGovern, who was born 100 years ago today, goes on to explain how he managed to land ‘O.K. without damaging the plane in the least’.

McGovern was born on 19 July 1922 in Avon, South Dakota, to the local pastor and his wife. He was schooled locally, developing an enthusiasm for debating, and then enrolled at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. In mid-1942, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps, flying many combat missions in Europe (earning himself the Distinguished Flying Cross). He married Eleanor Stegeberg, and they would have five children together. He was discharged from the Air Corps in mid-1945; he then returned to Dakota Wesleyan University, graduating in 1946. He earned a Ph.D. in history at Northwestern University, Evanston, and later taught at his alma mater.

McGovern was active in Democratic politics from about 1948, and by 1957 had been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. After losing an election for a Senate seat in South Dakota in 1960, he served for two years as the director of the Food for Peace Program under President Kennedy. He won election to the Senate in 1962 and was reelected in 1968. By then he had emerged as one of the leading opponents to US involvement in Indochina.

McGovern helped enact party reforms that gave increased representation to minority groups, and supported by these groups he won the Presidential Nomination. However, he failed to hold onto many traditional party supporters, and the incumbent Richard Nixon was able to defeat him by a sizeable margin in the 1972 presidential election. McGovern was reelected to the Senate in 1974, though lost it in 1980. After a return to lecturing, he declared himself a candidate for the 1984 Democratic Presidential Nomination, but dropped out after the Massachusetts primary. 

In April 1998, President Bill Clinton nominated McGovern for a three-year stint as US ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture, serving in Rome. In 2000, he set up - with fellow former senator Robert Dole - the Congress-funded International Food for Education and Nutrition Program. In 2001, McGovern was appointed as the first UN global ambassador on world hunger by the World Food Programme. He continued to campaign on political issues, and to write political/history books, not least his last, a biography of Abraham Lincoln. He died in 2012. Further information is really available from Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica or the US Congress website.

There is no evidence that McGovern was a diarist, but for a brief period, during the war, he kept a lively journal. This was only published posthumously as My Life in Service: The World War II Diary of George McGovern (Franklin Square Press, 2016). The publisher says: ‘[The book] features a facsimile of the diary George McGovern kept from his first days of basic training until the end of the war. Hastily jotted down in his exacting hand whenever he had the impulse to put his thoughts on paper, the pages convey the immediacy of McGovern’s wartime experiences. Each lined sheet is decorated with illustrations, alongside aphorisms on battle and democracy from some of history’s greatest minds. This document powerfully evokes an era, while it predicts the man George McGovern would become.’

Publishers Weekly says: ‘The bravery McGovern demonstrated in wartime, displayed in this unique diary, was mirrored in his service of over two decades in the House of Representatives and Senate, in his 1972 campaign for President, and in his drive to speak out against the Vietnam War, making him a valiant spokesman for a nation in troubled times.’

And a review in the Middle West Review provides some details: ‘The South Dakotan’s diary entries were expansive early on, describing train travel, housing facilities, fellow recruits, rifle training, bayonet practice, gas mask drills, guard duty, weather, and food. As his training continued in several different places in 1943 and 1944, the entries became shorter and less descriptive. Once in combat, McGovern recorded almost every flight in plain, straightforward language, omitting heroics and seldom referring to feelings and emotions or offering comments on the ultimate meaning of it all. Readers get a good sense of the seriousness, sense of purpose, and matter-of-fact dedication that American aviators like him brought to the task.’

There seem to be no previews of the book online, nor can I find any extracts from the diary - other than this one in The Smithsonian.

17 December 1944
‘Another oil refinery today - the one at Oswiecim and Odertal in the Blechhammer flak area. This makes nine missions for me. We really got this one the hard way. On our takeoff today we had a tire blow out - the right main gear tire, but it went out after we cleared the field or rather just as we left the field. We went on to the target knowing that we had a rough landing and perhaps a crack up waiting for us on our return. While going to the target we lost our manifold pressure on no. 2 engine but pulled enough power on the other three to go into the target and get back. The air force lost ten ships to fighters and several to flak but we came through without a scratch. When we got back to base I had everybody but the copilot, the engineer, and myself go back to the waist and brace themselves for the landing. We made sure that all the loose objects were tied down securely. As soon as we touched the runway I chopped the throttle on the side of the good wheel and advanced the throttle on the side of the blown tire at the same time holding down the left brake. We made the landing O.K. without damaging the plane in the least. Needless to say old terra firma felt plenty good. My copilot today was Lt. Brown and the bombardier was Lt. McGrahan. These two boys and Sam recommended me for the D.F.C. because of the landing but I don’t feel as though I deserve a medal as yet.’

Friday, July 15, 2022

Comparing church services

James Robert Hope-Scott, an English lawyer and member of the Oxford movement, was born 200 years ago today. While still in his 20s, he travelled to Germany and Italy, and kept a diary of his journey. Some parts of this are quoted in a ‘life-and-letters’ biography put together not long after he died. The quoted diary entries demonstrate his fervent interest in the practical and spiritual practices of church services, an interest that would soon lead him to Rome metaphorically as well as geographically.

James Robert Hope, later Hope-Scott, was born on 15 July 1812 in Great Marlow, Berkshire, the third son of General Sir Alexander Hope and his wife. He attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where his father was Governor, and was educated at Eton College. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was a contemporary and friend of William Ewart Gladstone and John Henry Newman. He was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1838, and in 1840-1841 he travelled to the Continent, particularly Italy, visiting Rome. On his return, he became one of the leading members, along with Newman, of the Tractarian or Oxford Movement, a deeply conservative group which fought against a perceived secularisation of the English church. The group evolved into Anglo-Catholicism and many of its members converted to Roman Catholicism - Hope was received into the Roman Catholic church in 1851.

Early in the 1840s, Hope helped found the Scottish boarding school, now known as Glenalmond College, and during his later years he would go on to fund the building of other schools and churches in Scotland. In 1847, he married Charlotte Lockhart, granddaughter of Sir Walter Scott. Thereafter they rented Scott’s Abbotsford House, but in 1853, Charlotte inherited the property - this is when Hope changed his name to Hope-Scott. In 1852, he managed Newman’s defence in a libel action, and in 1855 he conducted the negotiations which ended in Newman accepting the rectorship of the Catholic University of Ireland. However mostly he brought his legal expertise to parliamentary matters, especially standing counsel for railway companies seeking to expand their networks.

Charlotte died in childbirth in 1858. A few yeas later, Hope-Scott married Lady Victoria Fitzalan-Howard, a god daughter of Queen Victoria, but she too died in childbirth, in 1870. Hope-Scott himself is said to have never recovered from this second tragedy and himself died in 1873. Further information is available from Wikipedia, Scottish Places, and the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Within a decade of his death, the classical scholar Robert Ornsby had put together a two-volume ‘life-and-letters’ biography: Memoirs of James Robert Hope-Scott (John Murray, 1884). Both volume 1 and volume 2 are freely available online at Internet Archive. Here and there, through the first volume mostly, Ornsby refers to diaries kept by Hope-Scott kept at various points in his life, when travelling or to help record his religious life. Occasionally, Ornsby quotes from these diaries. The following examples - which demonstrate a more than keen interest in the conduct of church services - were taken by Ornsby from Hope-Scott’s tour diary in Germany and Italy in 1840-1841.

24 September 1840, Coblentz
‘In the eilwagen from Coblentz to Frankfort, met an educated young man, apparently intimate with many of the officers whom we met on our way out of the town. Asked whether Strauss had any followers there? ‘Es bewahre!’ was the reply. ‘But Hermes?’ ‘Ah, yes, many. All the “aufgeklärten,” including many young priests.’ ‘But his principles are, at bottom, the same as Strauss?’ ‘No, no, Strauss goes too far.’ ‘But Hermes has been condemned by the Pope.’ ‘What care we for the Pope?’ He said, however, that the Hermesians did not give unnecessary publicity to their opinions. (Substance of conversation.)’

27 September 1840
‘Being uncertain as to the relative position of the two Communions, I resolved to attend both, not, however, designing more than to hear the sermons. Went accordingly at 9 A.M. to the Frauen-kirche (the only R. C. Church, and that, I was told, only conceded about A.D. 1817). Some previous service was unfinished when I went in, but soon after, preparation was made for the service. The church filled rapidly, and a priest appeared in the high stone pulpit. He began in the name of the Blessed Trinity, and declared the need in which we all stood of the help of God’s Holy Spirit, which he therefore prayed us to invoke. This was done in an hymn accompanied by the organ. After this, he read the first eleven verses of Luke xiv., and then proceeded to preach upon the subject of the first six, viz. the observance of the Sabbath. He then traced its first origin to the rest after the creation; its confirmation and full establishment to the law; its present day and character to the apostles, showing the selections of the day to have arisen from the Resurrection and the Descent of the Spirit. He pointed out its beneficial purposes both for soul and body, giving a priority to the latter as (in their kind) most necessary, but insisting on the impossibility of safely following them, without some countervailing spiritual discipline. The mode of observing the Sunday, he said, resulted from its purposes, a mixture of religious exercises and innocent amusement. The former, he showed, should be chiefly, though not solely, carried on in church, and spoke eloquently of the claims which that holy place has upon us - our baptism, our communions, absolutions, marriages, &c.; and then of the distinct blessing, attendant on the meetings of the Church, the living Presence of Our Lord under the form of bread; the authority of the priesthood; the brotherly sympathies of one assembled family; and urged these against the pretence of prayer at home. (It put me in mind of S. Chrysost. ap. Bingh. 20, c. 2, s. 11.) He also alluded to the practice which he said existed of master-manufacturers carrying on trade either the whole or half of Sunday, and warned them that God would not give His honour to another. The whole was well arranged, and, with the exception of those passages relating to Transubstantiation, such as I would gladly often hear in England. The language was more generally sensible and manly than eloquent; the manner was artificial, but not very disagreeably so, and was dignified. The preacher was some thirty-eight years old, or less. While actually preaching, he wore the clerical cap, but put it off when he paused, and (I think) did not wear it while reading the text. After the sermon, he announced the hours of mass, prayers, &c., published banns, and then recorded the deaths which had taken place during the week, commending the deceased persons to our prayers, adding (as I understood him) a particular reference to the ensuing mass. After this, the consecration of the Host ensued. I could not see the high altar, but joined in the hymns, which I read from a neighbour’s book, and which related to different parts of the service. These were in German, and of a wholesome, devotional kind. The same book contained German prayers. I followed in general the attitudes of those among whom I was, though there seemed a want of uniformity as to kneeling or standing. Bowing the head at Our Lord’s name and using the sign of the cross are surely better than Popish.

The singing was general and manly; the people fairly attentive. In the chancel the stalls were occupied by women of a higher rank. There was a full proportion of men present. The church was not large, but has a good deal of beauty about it, as well as curiosity. Alms were collected during mass.

At 21/2 P.M. went to St. Laurence, which (with the remaining churches) is Lutheran. It is a very fine church, as is St. Sebald’s - and in both of them painted glass, pictures, crucifixes, figures of saints, side-altars, &c., have been preserved. Indeed, it would appear that crucifixes are a Lutheran ornament, for one, at least, seemed new. On the high altar, candles were lighted (as I had seen at St. Sebald’s in the morning), and continued so during the service. The congregation was small, and clustered round the pulpit (Do. at St. Egidien’s Kirche). The service - a hymn, a sermon with a prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, another hymn, and a blessing. An old lady lent me a book, but I could not follow the singing; it was apparently in short verses, with the organ alone between, but the latter was too loud to allow the voices to be distinctly heard. The hymns, of which I read several, were not so much to my mind as the R. C. The preacher was a middle-aged man with a good many rings on his fingers. His dress a black gown with full sleeves close at the wrist. He preached an earnest and fair sermon from the end of ch. 5 and beginning of ch. 6 of the Galatians. His manner also artificial, but inferior to the priest’s. The congregation attentive. The head bowed (at least by some) at Our Lord’s name. The names of sick persons mentioned to be prayed for.

Apparently a new pulpit and altar, both richly carved in stone. English Protestants would stare at the decorations of this church.’

28 September 1840
‘Monday morning. St. Sebald’s bells going at 7 o’clock. Asked Hausknecht, wlio said there was a service, including sermon, every morning in the week at one or other of the Lutheran churches. Scantily attended, he said, otherwise on Sunday mornings.

Note. No Jews may live in Nürnberg. Fürth their residence.

A funeral procession passed the window (Protestant I conclude). Women with baskets of flowers preceded the corpse, which was carried under a pall of black, with a large white cross. Carriages followed. We were told that flowers were used for all ages, but the colours vary for old and young; the former, if very old, quite white; the latter, if in youth, having more bright colours than in middle age. ‘Spargere flores ’ is their purpose, as the relations take and strew them in the grave.’

Sunday, July 10, 2022

First Lady of Texas

‘Decided to get off in Matlock, 6:40 P.M. A mountainous and beautiful place - and a nice hotel - “New Bath” - with a pleasant garden. So many of the lower classes seem to be traveling hereabouts - just tiny little journeys. There is a grand piano here in Matlock. I am aching to touch it!’ This is from the diaries of Miss Ima Hogg, a wealthy Texan, who travelled to Europe several times in her youth. She would go on to become one of the country’s most famous philanthropists - and earn the moniker First Lady of Texas. Her diaries are due to be published for the first time in September 2022.

Hogg was born into a wealthy, political family in Mineola, Texas, on 10 July 1882, though she spent much of her early life in Austin. When she was eight years old, her father was elected governor. After her mother died of tuberculosis in 1895, she attended the Coronal Institute in San Marcos, and in 1899 she began studying at the University of Texas. An accomplished piano player from an early age, she moved to Europe in 1907, not long after her father had died, to further study music in Berlin and Vienna, until 1909. Returning to the United States, she was severely depressed for some years, an experience that inspired her to found - with money from oil strikes on Hogg land - the Houston Child Guidance Center and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health (at the University of Texas).

In 1943 Hogg, a lifelong Democrat, was appointed to the Houston school board, where she worked to establish symphony concerts for schoolchildren, to get equal pay for teachers regardless of sex or race, and to set up a painting-to-music programmes in public schools. In 1946 she again became president of the Houston Symphony Society, a post she held until 1956, and in 1948 she became the first woman president of the Philosophical Society of Texas. 

Hogg was also philanthropic when it came to art: since the 1920s she had been studying and collecting early American art and antiques, and in 1966 she presented her collection (as well as Bayou Bend, the River Oaks mansion she and her brothers had built in 1927) to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. In the 1950s, she restored the Hogg family home at Varner Plantation near West Columbia, and in 1958 she presented it to the state of Texas; and, in the 1960s, she restored the Winedale Inn, a nineteenth-century stagecoach stop at Round Top, Texas, which she gave to the University of Texas. She died, aged 93, in 1975. Further information is available from Wikipedia (which says she was known as the First Lady of Texas), Texas State Historical Association, and East Texas History.

Later this year, Texas A&M University Press is publishing Grand Tours and the Great War: Ima Hogg’s Diaries, 1907-1918, as edited by Virginia Bernhard. Extracts from five of Ima Hogg’s youthful diaries (1907, 1908, 1910, 1914, and 1918) are included in the book which, the publisher says, records ‘her first tour of Europe, a year studying piano in Berlin, a tour of Europe with her brother Mike, a summer in London on the eve of the Great War, and her travels in New York as the war drew to a close.’ Although most of Hogg’s diaries have remained unpublished until now, a few diary extracts, were published in 2016, in The Southwestern Historical Quarterly (Vol. 119, No. 3, January, 2016) - Ima Hogg in Europe, 1914: A Texan Experiences the Beginning of the Great War which can be found online at Jstor (log-in required).

A few brief extracts from the diaries can also be found online at The Ima Hogg Blog, curated by Bernhard, which is the source for the following. 

10 July 1907
‘Windsor Castle. Drove over - coached to Windsor - Left our trunks - two apiece! - at the hotel, taking only suitcases for our tour up through Scotland. Just as we got in. . . down came torrents of rain. But we went on just the same though it was terribly cold, too. Started at 10:30 got to Windsor 2:30. St. George’s Chapel with Princess Charlotte monument & Henry VIII burial place. White Tower where the order of the garter organized, building in which Merry Wives of Windsor was first played. Then the beautiful view towards Eton from the steps - where I turned my ankle & scrambled up by Mr. Scott’s coat sleeves. Dreadfully caught more cold. Holbein’s portrait (one of them) Henry VIII hangs in the castle. . . Started for Oxford at 5:55 P.M. There at 9:00.

And Mr. Scott was no doubt happy to help.’

19 August 1907
‘Monday. Munich. Hotel Linfelder.

Out looking - got lost - having left my dear old Baedecker somewhere - reached hotel 3:30 P.M. tired hot & hungry. . .’

21 August 1907, Munich
‘Four o’clock Tristan & Isolde! Started from hotel in a carriage at 3:30 in plenty of time. . .

[. . .]

Had dinner between 2nd and 3rd Acts....

Came home decided on leaving out Vienna & staying for Cycle - if my ticket could be redeemed.’

3 September 1907, Innsbruck
‘Here in the rain. Rode the train 2nd class with the cook in my compartment of some Frau Grafin who was herself 1st class. My companion and I carried on an animated dialogue in German - most enlightening!

Great to find the crowd here - only the men arrived this morning.’

11 August 1910
‘Stratford. It was warm and the town has not grown in my favor since 1907.

We visited Shakespeare’s birthplace and then his burial in the church. At the Golden Lion (starred in 1906 Baedeker) 

We had an insufficient and poor lunch @ 2/6 and in disgust with everything returned to Warwick on the 2:08 train. That afternoon we read and wrote. I reviewed “Kenilworth.” After our delicious dinner, we walked out to the bridge near the castle. It was some sort of a holiday - a brass band was playing discords, and a happy, well-behaved crowd were running and pushing the poor performers along.’

12 August 1910
‘Off Friday morning. Went by trolley then to Milverton.

Arrived in Kenilworth 10:40.

Drove a mile and a half to the castle /6 d. These romantic and very beautiful ruins we saw to the best advantage, for after a walk about them, we drove on the way to the station, with the tilting ground, had a fine view of the whole castle, where the lake used to be. Merwyn Tower was the scene of Amy’s life in the castle.

In Warwick, by the way, he & the Earl of Leicester are buried.

Left Kenilworth 12:25 noon.

After innumerable changes arrived in Ambergate at 4:30 P.M. to find that we should have to go farther in order to coach to Haddon Hall, & Chatsworth. We spent the time there until 6:18 P.M. - walked, drank tea and admired this promising beginning of the Peak - Bought tickets to Rowsley, but decided to get off in Matlock, 6:40 P.M. A mountainous and beautiful place - and a nice hotel - “New Bath” - with a pleasant garden. So many of the lower classes seem to be traveling hereabouts - just tiny little journeys. There is a grand piano here in Matlock. I am aching to touch it!’