Friday, July 11, 2014

The WW II Airborne Clicker

By Harold Ratzburg

History of the Clicker,  a.k.a. the "Cricket"

    Back in the 1920's, the clicker was designed and produced as a handy pocketsized signal device which band and orchestra leaders used to keep time for their players, and according to the records of the Acme Company who made the crickets, most of them were shipped to band leaders in the USA.  The official  company nomenclature was "THE ACME No. 470 CLICKER"
Come the WW II, and a vast amount of planning and preparation was being put into  figuring out how to launch the invasion into France in 1944.  One of the problems to be considered for the Airborne troopers was how to recognize friend from foe in the dark of night and surrounded by enemy forces.  Hollering out loud was NOT a good option.          
It is my understanding that some lowly Lieutenant in the Headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division, who probably had some musical background, suggested that a clicker would do the job, one click meaning "Who the hell are you/" and two clicks signaling "I am a friend, you Jerk, DON'T SHOOT!!!!"
An order was immediately placed with the English Company, J. Hudson and Co. (operating under the name of "Acme") for 10,000 clickers, and the factory jumped into production.  The Acme company had approximately 3000 clickers in stock which were nickel plated but to rush production, they started making them out of brass.  When they ran out of brass material, they made them out of biscuit tin metal.
The clickers were used during the night of June 5th / 6th, 1944, by the troopers of the 101st with the intention that they could be discarded after  that.  They were not issued to the 82 Airborne Division who also jumped that night, which must have led to some fatal confusions in the dark.  I have seen a photo or a museum display somewhere, where the clicker was taped to the stock of a Tommy Gun so that it would be handy in the dark.  Most photos however show that it was hung on a chain or string around the troopers neck.

Many of the men kept their "crickets" long after the war and the crickets have since become iconic symbols of the U.S. airborne brotherhood and indeed of D-Day itself.  Crickets have appeared in a couple of well-known feature films (The Longest Day) and the TV series (Band of Brothers) and other documentaries and they are now recognized the world over.

Crickets as a Collectible
Original Crickets are very rare because they were made to be discarded after the night jump on June 6th.  The remaining original ones bring very high prices because items from elite units like the Airborne always bring the best prices.
Because of mistakes in the earlier movie productions like "The Longest Day", where John Wayne is shown instructing the troopers with the use of a  toy cricket,------like the ones we used to get as prizes in Cracker Jack Boxes,------ the misconception was formed that toy crickets were used in combat.  Not so, only the Acme clickers were issued to the 101st.  At militaria shows I have seen toy crickets, painted OD, being passed off as issued equipment, and as recently as this week, a toy cricket, painted a bright orange, was listed as "Airborne" on Ebay.
Reproduction (repro) crickets are appearing on the market.  I found my first one in a museum store in Normandy, France, several years ago.  It did not click, but it kinda looked like the real thing.  Others have appeared from time to time and I'm sure they were and are being produced in India or China.
The best repro on the market is produced by the original Acme Company that produced them for the 101st.  These repros are produced on the original dies in England and they are so marked just like the originals.  (One wonders if this is the same "Acme" Company that produces all the Acme stuff that Wiley Cyotote uses to try to catch the Road Runner in all the "Road Runner" TV cartoons that are made for kids but what us growed up folks also enjoy tremendously.)
To minimize the chance of the new clickers being passed off as originals the manufacturers have stamped in an additional discreet pressing into the body of the clicker which can only be seen by looking inside the cavity.  (So, what does this discreet pressing look like you may ask.  It beats the heck out of me cause I looked, and without an original to compare it with, I have no idea.)
This measure does not detract in any way from the totally original appearance of the clicker which looks entirely authentic externally.  These genuine J Hudson and Co (Acme) clickers are the best available and are the must have items for the really picky airborne collector or re-enactor.
I bought my Acme cricket when I visited the Currahee Military Museum in Toccoa, Georgia, where the 101st got their Airborne basic training.  It cost $32.00 but it is the best and most authentic of any on the market.
If you gotta have one, and you are computer savvy, you can also find them for sale at:

You will also find more information on the crickets on that site.

copyright 2009 by Harold Ratzburg

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Blog Tour

My Thanks to Tibby Plants for inviting me on the Blog Tour.  Happy to be aboard.

I’ve been writing creatively for about 8 ears, but during my prior career I wrote often on technical topics.  Today my favorite subjects are whatever comes to mind.  For me, that is usually memoir and humor with occasional stories that often have a tinge of fantasy. My work has been published in hardcopy anthologies, magazines and online journals.  I self publish an anthology of my work each year, usually consisting of about 25 stories with a few essays mixed in.

What am I working on?    I continue to produce short stories and memoirs of about 1 to 2,000 words.  If the content of an article warrants, I call the piece an essay.  But frankly I'd rather write fiction or fictionalized “slices of life.”  In addition to short-shorts, I write an occasional 5,000 word short story and have turned a few of them into novellas, publishing these as individual hard-copy volumes and on Kindle.  

How does my work differ from others of its genre?    I should know, since I publish the work of other authors right here on the More Stories Place.  But I really would find it hard to differentiate.   Besides, I'm not sure I care.  We should write about what's inside us in the most honest way possible, practicing the best principles of our craft.  Who cares if it sounds like anyone else?

Why do I write what I do?   I'm retired.  I self-publish and I write what I want.  I don't expect Stephen King's agent to call me and I don't believe I’ll ever make any serious money from  writing. I have no need to be famous and therefore I am completely free to write what pleases me.  Maybe that's why I find writing relaxing and usually not a chore.  I’m simply a narcissist with a pen.

How does your writing process work.    I wait for the urge to write to descend upon me. I can feel it.  Ideas begin to drop into my mind and I begin to look forward to practicing the craft of writing.  Putting it down on paper, revising, making it sing.  (This blog entry will probably not sing; I’m writing it in a bit of a hurry.)  I start writing and I quit when I’m stuck or run out of enthusiasm.  I give the piece a working title, store what I have written on my computer and enter it into a log of “Starts.”  I have around 200 starts all stored in PC files and backed up.  Each Start may be a plot idea, some dialog or even a mostly complete story lacking a key ingredient.  When the urge to write strikes me with no accompanying story idea, I open up my Starts file and pull a few out on the screen and work on them.  The process often yields a story or at least some progress. 

I find I can make the characters sing more fully rounded notes when I let them take over the plot.  What results may be a story completely different from what I originally intended. And so, much of what I write is stream-of-consciousness.  As you might imagine,  I spend a great deal of time going back and making the pieces fit together into a sensible story.  Sometimes it works.

My master story list is here:

My Writing Blog is here:

And the Front Door to my website is here: 

Information on next blogs on the tour will be available by the end of this week.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Marksburg Roses

                           Photography by Clarence Wolfshohl

The Rose Garden of Marksburg
In May of 2011, Patricia and I went on a cruise of the Main, the Rhine, and the Moselle rivers with our old friends, Mark and Betsy Vinz. As you can only expect, the event was wonderful and the scenery was  picturesque. The vineyards climbing up the slopes from the rivers, some at 45 ̊ angles; the cliffs along the Rhine Gorge or the Upper Middle Rhine Valley; the many castles along all three rivers, but especially the over twenty castles in the Rhine Gorge; and all the other sights from treacherous waters of the Lorelei to the statue of Germania high above Rudesheim were spectacles that enchanted us. But one of my favorite spots was the rose garden of the town of Marksburg below the medieval castle of Marksburg. The roses, many varieties of many colors, could not go unphotographed.

To see the remarkably beautiful photos, click here: 2.pdf

Clarence Wolfshohl is professor emeritus of English at William Woods University. He has published  both creative and scholarly writing in small press and academic journals.  He is a member of AAPA and operates El Grito del Lobo Press.  A native Texan, Wolfshohl now lives with his writing, two dogs and one cat in a nine-acre woods outside of Fulton, Missouri.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Holding My Breath

 by June T. Bassemir

      Addiction comes in all sorts of disguises.  Right now I am addicted to Ebay selling and I am grateful the addiction is only that and not of another kind.  Still, I get up in the morning, slip into my slippers, race to the computer; click on “my eBay” to see what has sold and what hasn’t.   It’s compelling, surprising and fun!

     This strain of addiction comes from having too many things in the house that I have collected over the years and displayed to family and visiting friends.  But now my friends are moving on and hardly anyone visits anymore... so what’s the point?  At the height of my addiction I remember being jolted by the remark of one new friend when after glancing around the walls of my den she said “Where do you rest your eyes?”    
     When I moved into my new house I cut down on the decorations and stored many of these items away.  Now with Ebay selling, the treasures are being unwrapped, pictured and put up for the auction.
     It has been an education in many ways but mostly in listing everything with the right description.  I have found with the right words things that didn’t sell the first time around will, the second time around.  For instance. I had a beautiful, flawless, colorful Royal Bavarian plate that graced my china closet for years.  I listed it as such but for days no one bid on it.  It was in danger of remaining in the china closet until I revised the title with these words:  “Nude Aphrodite and Poseidon Royal Bavarian plate”.  It sold within days of the new listing.  This, along with a 1945 Esquire Varga calendar of scantily dressed women that sold for over fifty dollars, proved to me that in our world today, erotica sells. 
     One might wonder why I just don’t leave it all for the kids to clear out but unless I leave notes on everything they won’t have a clue who wore the old wedding shoes or who was the dandy that carried the gold headed walking stick.  So all this selling helps me clear out the closets of things that long ago held fascination for me.
     There is another thing that I discovered selling this way and it’s about wedding gowns.  Do you know there are over 1,800 listings on eBay of wedding gowns?  That’s because every bride keeps their wedding gown presumably for the next generation to use but in most cases the daughter is either the wrong size or she wants her own design.  Now, the brides are getting smarter and selling their gowns after just a few short years when money is needed for the growing family or... for the divorce.   
     Right now my 1948 wedding dress in its original box is up for grabs on the eBay auction site... along with a picture of the bride. In the meantime it limply lies in the box surrounded with pink tissue paper waiting for someone to buy it for whatever reason.  It carried me down the aisle to marry a good man producing four wonderful kids and 9 terrific grandkids (plus a bonus step grandchild. ).  Now it waits for whatever is in store – either the dust bin or a theatrical group.

Part II   Going, Going ... Gone!

     I’m holding my breath... twenty two minutes to go.  Twenty two minutes and then the item I listed on eBay will NOT sell.  Yes, I am sorry I listed it.  This desire to bring in more money to pay the dentist bill has overtaken my senses.   
     I have scoured the bureau drawers, the closet shelves and carefully hidden boxes with anything that I think is rare and saleable.  That’s when I came across the small 2” x 3 ¼” book that once belonged to my grandmother who received it from her father when she was 18 yrs. old.  His writing is in English but the book is all in German.  He states that the book ”belonged to her great great grandmother”.  It was published in 1647.  It is the oldest thing I have in the house.  How could I have been so greedy for money that I would sell this to a stranger?  True I put a heavy price on it...a dollar a year... but it has generated much interest.  24 people have looked at it and one person is watching it.  
      Oh Dear.....Six minutes to go.....Of course I could decide not to send it if someone does bid at the last minute but then I would never be able to sell on eBay again.  Did I mention what the book was about?  Well I don’t read German but I have determined that it is the New Testament and there are pictures in it as well.  Please.... let me keep it....dear Lord...... time is slipping so slowly....surely the six minutes are up.... why hasn’t eBay notified me that the auction is over?............should I go for breakfast and then check back? I’ll just wait.... ahhhhhhh.... I heard a click.... eBay notified me that it DIDN’T SELL.  WOW... I am so glad!  Thank you God. 

 June Tuthill Bassemir is the widowed mother of four and grandmother of 10.  An artist and writer, she  volunteers as a docent in a 1765 farm house.   June loves old cars and antiques, and has also enjoyed furniture stripping and rug hooking.  "I used to say I was a stripper and hooker.but with so many trips around the sun, no one raises an eyebrow anymore. They only laugh."  June has given up furniture stripping, but is still an avid rug hooker.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Feeding A Woman.


 by David Griffin

   We talked.  We dozed, I think, because I remember waking while I listened to her speak. And again nodding off when neither of us spoke.  I listened to her breathe.  It sounded so nice. Warm and inviting, the more so the closer one could get. I’d never listened to a woman breathe before.  I was falling in love with her breath, I suppose.  Love always begins somewhere.     We had spent Friday night together.  Early in our relationship, we were chaste.  In our deeds if not in my thoughts.  We stayed up all night and talked in her tiny apartment.  She sat cross legged on the day bed turned couch.  I lounged in the old high backed Queen Anne chair.  I don’t remember what we talked about.  What do a couple of nineteen year olds talk about when they’re getting to know each other?  Everything under the moon, I suppose.
   The tall windows in the Brownstone ran almost to the ceiling and dark wood shutters hung a bit crooked on them. Two pair for each window so the bottoms could be opened in the day time and the tops at night. One small lamp gave out a dim light.  I noticed it was snowing outside.
   I got up from my chair and opened all the shutters. The snow gently drifted down into the cone of light beneath the street lamp. The sidewalk was lightly covered, as were the tops of the cars lining the city street.  I turned back toward the girl. Feeling bold, I stooped to turn off the lamp.
   “To see the snow better,” I said as I sat down. 

   She didn’t object. With the lamp off the room wasn’t much darker anyway. The street light gave the falling snow flakes a sparkle and painted our faces with pale light. Navy blue shadows lie between us. Even faux moonlight was romantic. A summer evening’s moon could not have done better. She unfolded her legs and lay on her side. 
   Eventually the snow stopped.  The sky lightened.  The street lights dimmed and a buzz in the street I hadn’t noticed all night shut off with a click.  Across 92nd Street, a blanket of grey clouds hung in the sky over the junior high school, quiet on a Saturday morning.
   I had not had a girl friend since high school. I’d never stayed up all night with a young woman. This cloudy and cold morning I felt grown up, but allowing those words to form in my mind would have admitted I was not much more than a boy.
   I was now a man and there was what came naturally to consider. It nudged me. I really liked this girl, but I knew what a part of me wanted. I wondered what she wanted. The phone rang. She sat up and answered it.
   “Hello?” she said into the old black phone.

Continued, click HERE.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014



By Delores Miller

Digging deeper in the  family archives, found receipts and vouchers from automobile and truck purchases and repairs.  Paraphernalia.  Equipment.  Tax papers from 1952, with farm expenses and income.  Property tax statements going back to 1880 Michael Zillmer owner. $4.19.  By 1893 it was   $7.30 plus a 31 cent collection fee. At one time five parcels of land at 40 acres apiece.   1934 was $134.00.

Doctor and hospital expenses.  Dr. Mulvaney, February, 1931. $6. Dr. R. E. Van Schaick, March 14, 1923 for surgery, $48.50.  Linda Schewe was the nurse.  Doctors made house calls out to the farms in those days.

Harvey and Mary Luschow Feed Mill vouchers, cow, heifer, pig and chicken feed.  Trekked to town almost every day. (Harvey belonged to St. John Lutheran Church, Mary to the Catholic church.  For fund raising, Mary, each Saturday morning made kolaches and sold for a dollar a dozen. Oh, how good they were, my favorite was a prune filling, topped with strudel.)  I often rode along to town when they went feed grinding, two thin dimes clutched in my grubby paw, enough to buy a cherry, chocolate or butterscotch malted milk at Mees Drug Store, with Glenn Draeger as the soda jerk.   A February 1953 written slip showed expenses for the month at $143.57 and income of milk $237.89, calves $272.70,  (how many calves was that?)  and hogs sold of $310.20.  A profit of $677.22.  They were rich and able to pay off the farm mortgages, liens and other loans.  And get an indoor toilet, to replace that outhouse.

Delores Miller lives with husband Russell in Hortonville, Wisconsin.    In the summer of 2007 they  celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party hosted by their five children and ten grandchildren.  It’s been a long road.  Dairy farming until retirement in 1993, they continued to 'work' the land, making a subdivision of 39 new homes on their former hay fields.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mattress Buying in 1948

 by June T. Bassemir

Buying a mattress in 1948 was a major purchase     and we chose a Beautyrest double mattress and box spring.  It was well made with wrapped inner  springs and it was heavy.  A very comfortable mattress that lasted over 25 years, and then  passed on to a daughter for another 10 yrs.  In those days we were told the mattress would last  longer if we flipped it over every six months and  this we did quite regularly.  It took two of us to do  it but no doubt that helped to lengthen the life of it.     

  There have been many beds bought since 1948  but that Beautyrest remains in my memory as the best made.  Today when you buy a mattress  you should be aware of several things.  The  sales pitch that is used today is that “You don’t have to flip” their mattresses.  And the reason is there is no padding on the underneath side, so if  you flip it you will not be doing much sleeping. It is not that you don’t have to flip them…it’s that you can’t flip them.  How clever of the industry to create a cost saving design and thus enhance their  profit.  This they do and then pitch it as if they are doing us a favor.     

   One nationally known company promises a ten year  guarantee but that only means you are tied to them  for the next purchase because you see the mattresses  they are selling will not last 10 yrs. Indeed it may not last a year and a half.  This was my experience.  Sure, they stood behind their guarantee BUT I had to pay  for an upgrade (I didn’t want the same mattress),  delivery and tax.  This second mattress has lasted four  years and again I am back at the same store. “Surprise”….as a former customer, I am entitled to a discount and yes I can go through the whole process  of having an inspector come to my house to do some  measuring of the mattress to see what my credit would  be, but do I want to go through that whole process  again?  No. 

I would like a mattress that is better than that….  I would like a mattress that it is built so well that  you don’t have to depend on a guarantee.  I would  like a mattress that you can flip to extend the life of it.  Sadly, there is no such thing.   

Actually, this subject of mattresses is one that fills  my essay file with many stories.  I suppose it’s  because my earliest recollection of sleeping was  on a straw mattress in a cold alcove... not even a bedroom.  By today’s standard we were poor but I didn’t know it, so I was happy.  When the  Beautyrest mattress came along with someone to  share it, I rested in Heaven every night.    

copyright June T. Bassemir  2013 

 June Tuthill Bassemir is the widowed mother of four and grandmother of 10.  An artist and writer, she  volunteers as a docent in a 1765 farm house.   June loves old cars and antiques, and has also enjoyed furniture stripping and rug hooking.  "I used to say I was a stripper and hooker.but with so many trips around the sun, no one raises an eyebrow anymore. They only laugh."  June has given up furniture stripping, but is still an avid rug hooker.