True Stories

It has become habit to bring a stack of books home with me on Friday to read over the weekend. While most of this weekend’s stack come from Patricia Polacco, I also brought two books based on true stories. I often read books like this to second and third graders.

While doing inventory I found When Esther Morris Headed West in the picture books. I re-catalogued it to go in the 320s of nonfiction with the other books on Women’s Suffrage. I had heard that Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote but that was the extent of what I knew about this progressive state’s history of equality. Esther felt that having the right to vote and hold office was useless unless women actually exercised those rights. Not only did Esther vote, she also ran for Justice of the Peace and won! Esther served a term as judge and did well considering she did not have an education in law. Esther’s work, along with many other women and men in Wyoming made the whole territory proud to offer equality–so much so that they were willing to be passed over for statehood.

I think Esther Morris would be a perfect figure for the third grade wax museum. I can picture one young lady who would embrace this opportunity; she is always outraged to hear how life was for women before they received the same rights as men in America.

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot is based on the true story of the Allied air bridge to West Berlin during the first years of the Cold War. Russian blockades would have left the West Berliners starving and freezing but heroic pilots from Britain, France and America flew in supplies nonstop for 15 months. One American pilot,  Lt. Gail Halverson, was extremely kind to the children in West Berlin and began dropping candy with tiny handkerchief parachutes for them. Mercedes and her mother are struggling to survive and hoped that one of those magical pieces of candy will brighten their world. Lt. Halverson could not pinpoint Mercedes home exactly so he sent candy to her through the mail (he did this more than once with other children). The candy worked it’s magic for Mercedes. 22 years later, Colonel Halverson returned to Berlin to be in command at the air force base. He accepted a dinner invitation from a Berlin family who turned out to be Mercedes and her family. She still had his letter and was so excited to have the man who helped the city’s children in her home.
If Colonel Halverson has passed away, he would be ideal for our wax museum (curriculum standards say the historic figure must be American and no longer living.) His generosity to a city of children he didn’t even know went far beyond his duties as a pilot. His work in Berlin helped create the Little Vittles organization that is still in action today. The  organization has delivered candy to Bosnia and Kosovo, just to name a couple.


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