Tag Archives: World War II

Happy Birthday To The Girl Who Should Have Been 82 Today


Had she lived, Anne Frank would have been 82 today. I’ve always been a little fascinated with The Diary of Anne Frank, more so as I’ve gotten older and better able to appreciate her obvious budding writing talent, her wit and charm, and her ability to craft such a beautiful volume under unimaginably frightening and difficult circumstances.

Anne Frank would have been phenomenal blogger! Her insightful observations about life, people, and her days and nights in the Annex were clearly well beyond her years. And she was funny too…well, maybe not LOL funny, but witty is the descriptor that comes to mind.

Sometimes I wonder what she would think of it all…personal computers, the internet, social media, texting, and blogging of all things. Really, just a new twist on what came naturally to her. A lot has been written about Anne over the many years since her father turned her diary over to the world, and a good many people have clearly found her as interesting as I do.

What is it about her that captures our attention so, and tugs at our hearts? Well, for me, it’s just how average, and at the same time extraordinary she was. And I guess also the unsolved mystery of what and who she might have become. Would she have been a homemaker and mother? And would her children have inherited her love of writing, and of telling the story of life exactly as she saw it? Or would she have become a dedicated career woman? Continuing to write…perhaps books, or even as a professional journalist of some sort?

We’ll never know now, but one thing that is so wonderful about sharing our words, whether it is in a diary, or a book, or a blog, is that a piece of you really does live on. Our words are our own, and offer a little glimpse into who we really are.  Because our thoughts and impressions, and particularly the way we choose to share them at the point we put pen to paper, or hand to keyboard, are as unique as our fingerprints…

Who knows what sort of life 82 year old Anne would be reflecting back on now as she blew out those 82 candles, or maybe just the big wax eight and two…No doubt she would have some stories to tell of post war Europe, and perhaps her own immigration to the United States, or even Israel.

One thing I know for certain—a woman like Anne would own a laptop, and have a blog. Maybe she’d give her blog a girl’s name too, just like she called her diary “Kitty”. And she’d write about all of the life that she’d lived, what was going on around her at the moment, and she would definitely have a lot to say about the realities and annoyances of being 82, I’m sure.

But, as much as I wish she were still around to share her thoughts with us today, she’ll always be…just a girl…in the writing business…sometimes witty…

“And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren’t any other people living in the world”. ~ Anne Frank

Click the photo of Anne’s Diary to visit the Anne Frank Museum Online. This is a wonderful site with a lot of interactive multimedia, and The Annex in 3D…

When Bad People Do Bad Things to Good People–And Get Away With It


Last night I finished watching a PBS documentary series, Auschwitz; Inside the Nazi State. It was at times difficult to watch…heartbreaking, horrifying…disturbing. At the same time, it’s important for us to never forget what happened, so we can try, collectively, to ensure that it never happens again. In fact, “Never Again” is a phrase which has become attached to the Holocaust..a reminder to be ever vigilant, and to never again allow such atrocities occur in the world, on a grand scale, such as this. The most horrifying and disturbing portion of the multi-episode documentary was the interviews with the former SS Officers, some of whom reminisced fondly, smiled, and even chuckled with a twinkle in their eye as they tittered on in German about the items they stole from Jews, the awful things that they, and those of their ilk did to other human beings. But, as I mentioned this sort of thing, albeit quite a “downer”, is important to see, to educate ourselves about world history and to stay informed about the realities of what has happened and can happen again–if we let it.

 Of course genocide, as the documentary pointed out, has indeed occurred again in the world since the Holocaust. As it would, naturally, because sometimes bad people do bad things to good people—and get away with it. That is really an oversimplification, of course, because who can judge exactly who is bad and who is simply indifferent? Or who is so damaged or mentally twisted that they do bad things that hurt good, or at least innocent, people who did not deserve what they got? When either of those things happens, the direct victim, and all of us are collateral damage. We have to somehow come to grips with the realities of it all, swallow it down, and go on with our lives.

When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time with my grandfather. He’d take me out to lunch, buy me little trinkets at the store, and sit for hours cracking my favorite red painted pistachio nuts, or whole coconuts for me. It was sort of our thing…and come to think of it, he’s actually one of the only people I can remember from my childhood who seemed to think of time spent with me, doing all of those little things just for me, as a joy in his life, not just a necessary chore or a burden. He’d always end up with red fingers from the pistachios, and a glass of coconut “milk” for himself because I only liked the coconut, and the little shell “monkey face” that he’d save for me. My grandfather was a good, kind man who always did the best he could with what he had, and always meant well. He had a lot of things he’d say all the time, that I remember him saying, but one has really stuck with me. He’d say, “It takes all kinds to make a world” True that, Ed Owings, true that…

My grandfather said a wise thing there…simple, but very wise. It does take all kinds to make a world, and some of those kinds are bad people, who do bad things—and get away with it. That last part is the most difficult for me to choke down because I am an individual with a justice oriented personal code of ethics. I like to see the bad guys—and gals, caught, then adequately punished. What adequately punished actually constitutes is unclear, but I’ll know it when I see it. Not all of these bad guys’ and gals’ bad acts rise to the level and scope of the Nazis, to be sure. Nevertheless, there are those who, on a much smaller scale and a daily basis, proceed to tear their way through the world, taking advantage of others, stealing whatever they can for their own gain, hurting good people, humiliating good people for no reason other than the twisted pleasure of watching them suffer, and getting away with it. Or so it seems…These are the folks you want to avoid at all costs and keep away from those you love, but can’t always recognize, at least not until it’s too late. I’ve had to come to grips with a personal situation of this nature recently, and maybe you have dealt with something similar, or unfortunately will at some point in your lifetime.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know one thing for sure. Somehow we all have to live with those realities, and the knowledge that there is no satisfactory resolution, or punishment doled out in this lifetime for what has been done, and all of the collateral damage that is left in its wake, including our own frustrated emotions. Sometimes the best we can do is to spend our time rebuilding our lives as best we can, without all those pieces to the puzzle of the great meaning of it all, or even to that simple unanswered question—Why? We can take comfort in our faiths, in the knowing that there is a Higher Power watching it all unfold, and that justice will be served, if not in this life, then certainly the next. And we can work tirelessly to see that justice is served here on earth, that wrongs be righted, and that we ourselves remain on the side of good, hopefully tipping that great cosmic scale back to the good side again. But, in the end, we all have to find our own way to, as four iconic voices put it so simply and eloquently….Let It Be…


A Day Trip Worth Taking; Manzanar National Historic Site


One of my favorite souvineers from a life of travels…I picked this up at Manzanar’s Interpretive Center gift shop. This Japanese word translated reads, “It Can’t Be Helped”.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced Japanese-Americans to evacuate the West Coast of the United States. To carry out this order, ten Japanese internment camps were established in the states of California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas. Approximately 120,000 men, women, and children, many of whom were actually loyal American citizens, were forced to leave their homes, sell any property they owned at a profound financial loss, and relocate to one of these camps. 

Read More About the History of Japanese-American Relocation

A few years ago, I visited one of the camps which has been preserved as a museum by the National Park Service. Manzanar Internment Camp, now a National Historic Site, housed 11,070 “relocated” Japanese-Americans during World War II. Manzanar is located in the state of California, in the Owens Valley region, at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The specific location of the camp as listed on their website is: “Manzanar is located on the west side of U.S. Highway 395, 9 miles north of Lone Pine, California and 6 miles south of Independence, CA.”

A typical scene from inside a barrack apartment at Manzanar, Photo from the Dorthea Lange Gallery

I visited Manzanar as an adult, and it had a profound impact on me. I grew up in the South, and I don’t remember hearing much about Japanese internment camps, and had certainly never seen one. This is probably due to the fact that Japanese-Americans lived mostly in the West during WWII, and that was also where all of the internment camps were located, except for the one in Arkansas, which I never heard about at all when I was growing up in Tennessee.

One of the guard towers of Manzanar-Photo by Fred Causey… Each guard carried Thompson submachine guns, shotguns, and 30′ caliber rifles…

As I toured the facility, and browsed the many exhibits at the park’s impressive Interpretive Center, I was struck by the incredible strength, tenacity, and grace that seems to lie at the heart of Japanese culture. I was also a little embarrassed that I hadn’t known more about this regrettable bit of American history before that day. Every American who has the opportunity to visit Manzanar should definitely do so! It is a great historic and cultural educational opportunity for both children and adults, and also a moving experience for anyone who visits, as you fully realize the loss and indignity this group of individuals was forced to endure.

Some of the children of Manzanar, Photo from the Francis Stewart Gallery

If you are taking a vacation to California, or if you live in the Western region of the U.S., there is certainly a lot to see! I lived out West for several years of my life and really enjoyed all of the beauty and the history I was able to take in there. My travels would definitely have been incomplete without a visit to Manzanar, however, and I urge you to take a day to see it yourself sometime—I promise you won’t regret your detour from the tourist traps, nor the extra gas (also known these days as liquid gold) you’ll burn to go a little out of your way!

Manzanar’s Website: http://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm

Directions: http://www.nps.gov/manz/planyourvisit/directions.htm

Operating Hours & Seasons: http://www.nps.gov/manz/planyourvisit/hours.htm

A WittyBizGal Authentic Winner E-terview; Photographer Phil Hunt


Phil Hunt has been helping to make the world a more beautiful place by capturing artistic and impactful images for the past few decades now. I had the opportunity to collaborate closely with him on our family genealogy website, On the Rhodes, a couple of years ago and I found him to be not only exceptionally skilled in working with images and web design, but also very meticulous and fully committed to presenting only the highest quality imagery for our site. So, for this 4th in my series of Authentic Winner E-terviews, I looked no further than my own backyard gene pool. Because Phil Hunt is not only one of the best professional photographers in the business, he’s also my cousin, I’m proud to say!

WBG:  Phil, you’ve been taking pictures for a good portion of your adult life, and have been a professional photographer most of that time. When and how did you first discover your interest in photography, and what made you decide to make a career out of it?

PLH:  I think it started when I was around 8 or 9 years old. My mother used to bring home Life and Look magazine. I was always so amazed by the incredible pictures of all the beautiful people inside. I loved the back cover most of all though…The Breck Girl stole my heart in 1955.

Twelve years later, I got drafted and spent a year in Hanau, Germany before I went to Vietnam. Marvin, a friend of mine, used to walk around town and take pictures of things he found interesting just for fun. I asked him one day why he did it. “Well”, he said, “I do it because I like it and someday, I might take a picture that will make me rich”. “How so?” I asked. “The Hindenburg”, he said. “The guy that took the picture of the Hindenburg exploding was paid $10,000 for that one picture!” I bought my first camera on payday later that month and have been taking pictures ever since.

Emporium Capwell Cover 1985

WBG:  Your work is beautiful, and you seem to capture images in moments that the rest of us might allow to pass by unnoticed. What exactly is it that you see that makes your finger snap the photo at just that moment? In other words, in general, what makes a great shot?

PLH: Thank you!  It’s hard to say what makes a great shot. Much of my work has been still life product shots specifically designed for advertising or catalogue purposes. Those types of shots are meticulously set up and meticulously styled by a talented stylist and art director. Most of the work involved is in setting a mood to make them look good to a specific type of consumer. That is done by creative use of lighting and styling, building sets or searching for locations. It’s a compromise between making a nice photo and still showing enough of the product so that potential buyers will know what they are buying–truth in advertising and all that you know. So, to answer your question, with this type of shot you just fiddle with it until it looks right and then shoot two or three frames and it’s done.

Macys Christmas Catalogue Cover 1973

When there are models involved it’s a little different. When they arrive at the studio you start to build a rapport with them so they get to know you, and you them a little. You explain to them what they are going to be shooting and what is expected of them. When the model(s) are out of makeup and properly styled and dressed I escort them to the set and tell them how I like to shoot. I explain that I will take a shot about every two seconds and they are to have a pose or “look” ready for me when the lights flash. It helps to set a rhythm… kind of like dancing.

Christy Turlington for SF Chronicle – Full page Newspaper Ad 1985

I guess great shot is one that fulfills its intended purpose. If you like it and it makes you happy then it’s a great shot. Usually, you know it when you see it go by in the viewfinder. How’s that for skirting the issue?

Rene Russo Outtake From a Macys Jewelry Catalogue 1973

WBG:  During the 70’s & 80’s you worked in the beautiful city of San Francisco, first for Macy’s, and then independently from your own studio. During that time in your professional career, you had the opportunity to photograph several celebrities—some were famous at the time, and some became well known later. Who was your favorite celebrity subject, and why?

PLH:  Without a doubt it had to be Rene Russo. She flew in to San Francisco from New York on the red eye flight and walked into the studio half asleep with her hair looking a little disheveled. Well actually, it was a lot disheveled.  She went straight to the back of the studio where all the mattresses were kept, threw one down on the floor and laid down for a nap.  “Wake me up in an hour”, she said.  When she woke up we had a couple of jewelry shots to shoot which we finished in about an hour and then we went to lunch.  I think what I like most about Rene is that she’s a regular person. That and the fact that she has the most incredible drop dead gorgeous face I have EVER seen.  She wasn’t the least bit pretentious like many of the other models of that era.

Restore and Colorize WWII Fighter Pilot Crew About 1945

Restored for Family 2009

John Slighton (on left) was Awarded the Navy Cross

WBG:  Tell us about your work with photographic restoration. What sparked your interest in preservation of the past, and why do you feel it is important to restore images of days gone by?

PLH:  I am a Baby Boomer. My Dad and Uncles were in WWII and also lived through the Great Depression of the 30’s. My mom took tons of pictures to send to my dad before they were married and Dad sent pictures back to mom when he could. I guess it was a very popular thing to do in those days because I have hundreds if not thousands of old photographs. I grew up looking at those photos over and over until I couldn’t look at them anymore.  Eventually my mom boxed them up with the intent of organizing them and having some of them copied so they would be around for future generations. By then, I was off on my own and had forgotten all about them.  I forget exactly when it was but I think it was the early 80’s when mom sent me a shoe box full of them and asked if i would make copies for her.  I said yes and promptly stuck them on a shelf and forgot about them again.

William Rhodes Date Unknown

Restored 2007

I moved to a new house in the late 90’s.  Lo and behold there were those old pictures again. I just could not escape!  By this time, I had a computer and was learning to use Photoshop.  So, it was a natural…a box of old photos, a computer and Photoshop.  I was in my 50’s by then and I looked at the photos with new perspective this time.  The people in those pictures were my family and all I had left of them was right there in that box.  There will not be enough time for me to restore them all but now and then I pick one out and start working on it. When you work in Photoshop, for those who aren’t familiar with it, you need to work at sizes that make them appear life size on the screen.  It can be a rather eerie feeling.  It may sound strange but I swear that sometimes late at night looking at those familiar faces, I see a little twinkle in an eye and a hint of a smile. It’s probably just eye strain. It’s just something I have to do… The labor of love if you will.

Model Headshot 2007

WBG:  I think my readers will be interested to learn that you are still very much a working photographer. What sort of projects are you involved with now, and what image services do you offer to models, organizations, and individuals?

PLH:  At the present time I’m working with local models {Grand Rapids, Michigan Area} shooting head shots to help them update their portfolios. I am also planning a major change in the direction and scope of my work to something totally different than what I’ve been doing all these years.  Exactly what that will evolve into I don’t know for sure but I do know that an occasional re-invention of one’s self is a good thing.

Model Headshot 2011

WBG: I agree! You know, as Baby Boomers collectively approach and pass retirement age, I’m sure there are many out there who have lived their lives, raised their children, enjoyed a rewarding career, etc., but are wondering what is next for them in this new and exciting chapter of their lives. It does seem that gone are the days when a retiree simply accepted their gold watch and went home to just relax. Characteristically, your generation is currently re-defining social and cultural norms, with a majority desiring to remain vital and actively make new and innovative contributions to society. Since you are in the midst of this yourself, what three pieces of advice do you have for other Baby Boomers looking to re-invent themselves?


1.  It’s easy to lose track of your dreams. Try to find them again and if they are still important to you now is the time to start living them.

2.  Remember what we learned from our parents. They fought the Great War and made tremendous sacrifices for us and generations yet to come. Don’t let their efforts be forgotten. Share their stories with your kids and grandchildren.

3.  This could be the time when your life is just beginning.  Make the most of it.

“Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along. Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone”. ~ I Hope You Dance Songwriters: Mark D. Sanders, Tia Sillers / Performed by: Lee Ann Womack

For Bookings or to Browse More of Phil’s Work, Please Visit His Professional Website At: http://www.plhphotography.com/

To Follow Phil on Twitter: @PLHPhoto

Model Headshot 2007