Inheritance Books – Gail Barrett

This week’s intriguing Inheritance Book choice is from romantic suspense writer Gail Barrett.

Hi Gail, welcome to Inheritance Books. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Shadow2I guess you could say I’m a language aficionado.  I love everything to do with language — speaking, reading, translating, writing.  I’ve taught Spanish and English as a Foreign Language for years.  I’m also the author of thirteen romantic suspense novels which have won various awards, including the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Book Buyers’ Best Award, and the Holt Medallion.

Thirteen sounds like a portentous number. Let’s hope it wins lots of awards. Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

The book I inherited didn’t start out as an actual book.  Some years ago, my father, Joe Archer, began writing a memoir about his time in World War II.  At first he just jotted down a few paragraphs about the highlights, but then he really started getting into it, revising the story, providing background information and photos until he had compiled a book.three

What’s interesting about my father is that he is a quick-witted, funny man with a great, self-deprecating sense of humor.  He was born in 1920 and grew up in a small farming town in Michigan during the Great Depression.  Like most people of that generation, he works hard, is frugal, and never puts on airs.  What I like most about his memoirs is how perfectly they reflect his personality.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Joe is the man on the far left
Joe is the man on the far left

At the start of the war, he was too young to enlist without his mother’s permission, and since his older brothers were already fighting, she refused to let him go.  He went to work in a local factory instead, where he accidentally chopped off the tips of two of his fingers — and was fired for carelessness!  The accident also disqualified him from military service because it (supposedly) affected his ability to shoot.  Still determined to do his part, he kept his hand in his pocket when he interviewed with the Coast Guard, and they allowed him to enlist.  The guy who took his fingerprints during processing apparently didn’t care, so he was in!

He was anxious to fight the enemy, but first got sent to boot camp in Buffalo, New York.  After boot camp he was stationed on a coal burning ore carrier out of Cleveland, assigned to protect the “Iron ore pipeline” in the Great Lakes — not exactly how he’d envisioned fighting the war.  Ironically, they made him an armed guard, missing fingers or not.

After an endless stint on the coal burner he went to radio school with the hopes of being transferred…and was assigned right back to an ice breaker on the Great Lakes. He was convinced that he’d never see the war.

But then his luck changed.  He was finally transferred to an old, retrofitted Army supply ship in California manned by Coast Guard personnel.  Their ship was in such bad condition and so slow that they couldn’t keep up with their convoy, so they had to cross the Pacific Ocean to New Guinea alone.  They suffered a bad moment when they spotted a submarine periscope, but apparently the Japanese decided not to waste a torpedo on them.  If our own military didn’t care enough about them to provide an escort, they weren’t worth shooting at.  (In an ironic twist, after the war our government gave the ship to Japan to use for a fish canning factory, but they decided it wasn’t seaworthy and scrapped it.)

The man himself. Joe with his book.
The man himself. Joe with his book.

His ship arrived in Hollandia Harbor, which was filled with Macarthur’s invasion force, preparing to take the Philippines.  He went ashore for mail, and while he was on the pier, Macarthur walked by with the president of the Philippines, nearly knocking him down.  My father was so surprised that he forgot to salute.

After surviving Leyte Gulf, he continued ferrying supplies around the South China Sea.  One day they got a message no one could decipher.  The message kept repeating, but they had no idea what it meant.  Turned out it was a warning to take shelter immediately from the coming typhoon… Caught at sea, his ship hit the sea floor twice during the terrible storm.  Luckily, they survived.

At the end of the war, my father found out that their ship’s radio transmitter didn’t work.  Although they could receive messages, the antenna had been tied off during some repairs, keeping them from sending one out.  If they had needed it, he couldn’t have radioed for help.

Throughout the book, my father’s wry comments not only capture the essence of who he is, but provide some levity to what was surely a horrific time.  And to add to the quirkiness, he typed the entire book in capital letters since that is what radiomen were taught to do.

Which book would you leave to generations below? Why?

So that’s the book I’ve inherited, and it’s the same one I intend to hand down.  Certainly there are books that are better written or have more literary importance.  But my father’s book is still inspiring.  It is a great reminder that there are all types of stories — big, small, earth-sweeping or local — and that all of us, no matter who we are, have one that is worthy to tell.

That sounds like a very special book. I love that it’s all in caps too. It’s surprising how someone’s writing can give you an insight into their personality. Thank you Gail (and Joe)for sharing your lovely book with us. Please drop by again soon.

FE high resolutionGail’s latest book Fatal Exposure is out now. You can find out more about her on her website (www.gailbarrett.com) or on Facebook.

 

 

 

Addendum (29 July 2013)- Gail’s Dad, Joe Archer, dropped by in the comments section to give a brief summary of his career in the Navy. His comment is reproduced below (in caps, naturally!)

FROM: JOE Archer

GAIL HAS ENCOURAGED ME TO WRITE SOMETHING FOR THE “BLOG”. THRU A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING  OF THE BLOG NEEDS I WILL INSTEAD GIVE A BRIEF SUMMARY OF MY FOUR YEARS IN WWII. HOPE YOU FIND IT INTERESTING AS IT IS MORE TYPICAL THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT.

I WAS ON SEVEN SHIPS DUIRING THE WAR:  3 MERCHANT  TYPES – 1 CG – 2 US ARMY & 1 US NAVY. I HAD 6 MONTHS OF SHORE DUTY (RADIO SCHOOL) & THE REST WAS “SEA TIME”…THERE WERE TWO PERIODS  (ONE FOR SIX MONTHS & THE OTHER 18 MONTHS) WERE THERE WAS NO R & R ,   –  CONTACT WITH CIVILIAN LIFE – LITTLE OR NO MAIL – ETC –ETC

MY TIME IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC WAS ONE OF CONSTANT APPREHENSION . WE TRAVELED OUT OF CONVOY (ONE EXCEPTION) ON SLOW SHIPS THAT WERE LIGHTLY ARMED.  BECAUSE OF THEIR SPEED THEY WERE CONSIDERED EXPENDABLE & THE US NAVY DID NOT PROTECT US..  MY SHIPS PARTICIPATION INCLUDED COMBAT OPERATIONS AT : HOLLANDIA – LEYTE – MINDORO – LINGAYEN GULF = MAN ILA = CEBU =SOUTHERN LUZON –       PALAWAN –  & AN  ISLAND OFF NORTH BORNEO… WE WERE LUCKY THRU ALL OF THAT WE WERE LIGHTLY TOUCHED ( JUST ONE WOUNDED) & MINOR SHIP DAMAGE. WE DID SHOOT DOWN TWO  LOW FLYING JAPANESE PLANES..AND SEE OTHER SHIPS DAMAGED & SUNK

AFTER THE WAR (AS WITH MOST VETS) I HAVE LIVED WITH PHYSICAL & MENTAL PROBLEMS  ( HEARING PROBLEMS, 40% COMPREHENSION LOSS – A PORTION OF ONE LUNG DAMAGE CAUSED BY JUNGLE ROT – CLOSTRAPHOBIA  –  A PIECE OF METAL IN ONE HAND THAT TOOK 25 YEARS TO MIGRATE SO THAT IT COULD BE REMOVED.)

I WAS PROUD & ANXIOUS TO BE A PART OF THE MILITARY & STILL AM. NO REGRETS – AS A VET  I HAVE NEVER & WILL NEVER LOOK TO THE US GOVERNMENT FOR HELP OF ANY KIND .. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR WHATEVER HAPPENSTO ME…..

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58 thoughts on “Inheritance Books – Gail Barrett

  1. What a great story and heartfelt tribute to a wonderful man! I am so glad I stopped by to read this. I really enjoyed reading Gump’s story.

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  2. FROM: JOE Archer

    GAIL HAS ENCOURAGED ME TO WRITE SOMETHING FOR THE “BLOG”. THRU A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE BLOG NEEDS I WILL INSTEAD GIVE A BRIEF SUMMARY OF MY FOUR YEARS IN WWII. HOPE YOU FIND IT INTERESTING AS IT IS MORE TYPICAL THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT.

    I WAS ON SEVEN SHIPS DUIRING THE WAR: 3 MERCHANT TYPES – 1 CG – 2 US ARMY & 1 US NAVY. I HAD 6 MONTHS OF SHORE DUTY (RADIO SCHOOL) & THE REST WAS “SEA TIME”…THERE WERE TWO PERIODS (ONE FOR SIX MONTHS & THE OTHER 18 MONTHS) WERE THERE WAS NO R & R , – CONTACT WITH CIVILIAN LIFE – LITTLE OR NO MAIL – ETC –ETC

    MY TIME IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC WAS ONE OF CONSTANT APPREHENSION . WE TRAVELED OUT OF CONVOY (ONE EXCEPTION) ON SLOW SHIPS THAT WERE LIGHTLY ARMED. BECAUSE OF THEIR SPEED THEY WERE CONSIDERED EXPENDABLE & THE US NAVY DID NOT PROTECT US.. MY SHIPS PARTICIPATION INCLUDED COMBAT OPERATIONS AT : HOLLANDIA – LEYTE – MINDORO – LINGAYEN GULF = MAN ILA = CEBU =SOUTHERN LUZON – PALAWAN – & AN ISLAND OFF NORTH BORNEO… WE WERE LUCKY THRU ALL OF THAT WE WERE LIGHTLY TOUCHED ( JUST ONE WOUNDED) & MINOR SHIP DAMAGE. WE DID SHOOT DOWN TWO LOW FLYING JAPANESE PLANES..AND SEE OTHER SHIPS DAMAGED & SUNK

    AFTER THE WAR (AS WITH MOST VETS) I HAVE LIVED WITH PHYSICAL & MENTAL PROBLEMS ( HEARING PROBLEMS, 40% COMPREHENSION LOSS – A PORTION OF ONE LUNG DAMAGE CAUSED BY JUNGLE ROT – CLOSTRAPHOBIA – A PIECE OF METAL IN ONE HAND THAT TOOK 25 YEARS TO MIGRATE SO THAT IT COULD BE REMOVED.)

    I WAS PROUD & ANXIOUS TO BE A PART OF THE MILITARY & STILL AM. NO REGRETS – AS A VET I HAVE NEVER & WILL NEVER LOOK TO THE US GOVERNMENT FOR HELP OF ANY KIND .. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR WHATEVER HAPPENSTO ME…..

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    1. That’s a great, positive attitude, Joe. Would you mind if I put this comment in the main blog – as an addendum to Gail’s post? (at the moment it’s in the comments section – not everyone reads the comments).
      Rhoda

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  3. Wonderful interview. Gail, thanks for sharing your dad with us today. I enjoyed reading about some of his war experiences and what a wonderful treasure that he recorded them!

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  4. Gail, what a wonderful story. My father too tried to write his memoirs, finally deciding to tape them. So I have about a dozen tapes to transcribe. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the photos at that point in his life, Just think what wonderful stories go untold by all the WWII servicemen who are unsung heroes for putting their lives on the line for all of us. Thank your dad for me.

    Patty

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  5. Gail, what a lovely tribute to a wonderful man and father.
    Mr. Archer, thank you so much for your service and your undaunted pursuit of being able to serve. And for writing it down. What a treasure. Both you and the book.
    All the best to you both.

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    1. Thank you, Laura! There is another twist to the story. My dad also served on a ship with Groucho Marx’s son. My dad says that he mentions his war experience in a paragraph in one of his books. I’ve forgotten the title, though.

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  6. It’s hard to sum up the contribution that men like your father made and the service they gave to their country in a few words, but we owe them a great debt. I’m so glad your father wrote his story down, that’s quite a legacy. What a great post.

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    1. I agree, Christine. It is so humbling to think about what they went through and the sacrifices they made. Every time I look at photos of the war, I can’t help but think of all the men who didn’t survive.

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  7. Wonderful to have those memories, Gail. My grandfather told me many tales about his WWII adventures and I wish I’d taped them or written them down before we lost him. Such a fabulous treasure of a life well lived.

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    1. You’re right, Toni. We were very lucky that my mother’s brother (my Uncle Ted) taped his WWII memoirs before he died. He had a fascinating story; he was one of the few survivors on the Horace Bushnell, which sunk. It’s just amazing that he survived.

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  8. I love hearing about Gump’s stories. I haven’t read the whole book yet because my mom hasn’t given it to me yet. The stories Aunt Gail told make me excited to read about everything Gump went through. I was really wonder struck when I heard about what happened to his fingers-I never knew how that happened. And that Gump grew up in the time of desperation. He was still able to grow up and follow his dreams. He is a good example for me to follow.

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    1. Those were definitely desperate times, Daeden. He has told me lots of stories about the Depression. For example, he used to walk along the railroad tracks looking for pieces of coal that might have fallen off the coal cars so they could heat their house. At school the teachers used to weigh them to make sure they were eating enough. He hated that because they had to take off his shoes and there were holes in his socks. The reason he likes to eat onion sandwiches is because during the Depression, there wasn’t much else to eat, and he got used to them. He really needs to hurry up and start writing this all down!!!

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  9. Joe I think you’re a wonderful example to your grandchildren and it is good to know they appreciate you, as well as daughter Gail. I reckon we’re all gratefull to you and pleased to know you on both sides of the pond.

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  10. Gail, a lovely post. Joe, many thanks for your service and your bravery. You embody all that is best about America’s armed forces. My husband retired not long ago after 32 years in the Navy. There is something about a man in a uniform…!

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    1. Janis, not only were my dad and his brother Ernie in the CG during WWII, but my husband was a career CG officer, and now our youngest son is serving in the CG. too. We definitely like guys in uniform (even the Navy!).

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  11. I blog about the importance of family stories all the time, and here, you and your dad have proven it. Congratulations, Joe, on a job well done. And to Gail for recognizing the “slory” in her dad and encouraging him to go for it! Great work.

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  12. Hand-to-heart for your dad, Gail. For his service. For the treasure he’s given you in creating this book. My family’s special book is also a WWII memoir of sorts. My father-in-law was a photographer before he enlisted and served as a navigator/bombardier. He compiled the pictures he took into a leather-bound notebook. The images he captured both on the ground and in the air, are nothing short of breathtaking.

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  13. So inspiring Gump!!! I always have wondered why all the emails you send me are in all caps! Now I know! I am very proud that you are my Grandfather and I love you very much.

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    1. You certainly have, Mr Archer. It was great to hear about your memoirs and thank you so much to Gail for writing such a lovely post about it. It’s stories like these that I set up this blog feature for! Thank you both. You’ve made my week. Rhoda 🙂

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  14. Gail, I absolutely love your post, and so fantastic that your dad wrote out his stories of WWII–and that you still have him with you. I lost my father–also a WWII vet as well as Korea–over forty years ago. He told great stories, but didn’t have the time to write them down. I’ve got a number of books I’ve inherited, though must admit the most fascinating is the civil war diary of a great uncle many times removed. Reading about the war in his neatly penciled script still gives me chills.

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  15. What a wonderful legacy your father is leaving you, Gail! This is a terrific story and so humbling, to think of what our veterans have done for us, and continue to do for us. How wonderful that your father took the time to compile his adventures. Please add my thanks for his service as well, and congratulate him on his book! I had to smile over his teaching Morse Code to your son–that’s precious–and could come in handy, too!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kathy! I recently saw some action photos of WWII, and was horrified. I don’t even like to think about having to go to war, and what those men endured.

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  16. Gail, I enjoyed reading about your father. Thank him for his service to our country. My father and one of his two brothers served in the Coast Guard in WWII as well. Their third brother was in the Navy. That’s wonderful that your dad has chronicled that time of his life so that it can be shared with future generations.

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    1. Wow. Alexis. Was their last name Morgan? Do you know where they served? When my dad stops by the blog, maybe he can let us know if he knew them! My uncle Ernie Archer was also in the CG. He was a recruiter, I think in Detroit.

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      1. Rhoda, he might need some “expert help” replying (inside joke for my dad who invariably knows more than I do:))) I’ll stop by tomorrow and make sure he knows the process since he has never blogged before.

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  17. What a story your father has to tell! By writing his memoir, he’s given you and future generations of your family a priceless gift.

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      1. I’m trying to persuade my Dad to write his memoirs. He says ‘Ah, who would be interested’. I say ‘well – there’s me. My kids. Their kids’.
        I shall keep trying. He started out in a village which was 3 miles away from the nearest bus stop and ended up travelling the world. It’s got to be story worth telling!

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  18. This was a delightful post, Gail. Blessings to your father and thank him for his service (major military family member here with both parents having served in WWII.) What an adventure! And good on him for writing it all down – complete with wry humor, the best part. Love the part about him forgetting to salute Macarthur! A lovely book to pass on to future generations!

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    1. Thanks, Heather. I still laugh at the Macarthur part, too. I sure wish one of the photographers who trailed Macarthur around could have caught that on camera. I also marvel over how he got fired for chopping off his fingers! Can you imagine? Today he could have fired a massive lawsuit against the factory for safety violations. Times have changed!

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  19. What a great story, and an even greater piece of family history handed down. No wonder it’s special to you, Gail! I have cookbooks that were my grandmother’s, with hand-written annotations in the margins. I feel the same way about those. I also love how you dad’s book is written in all caps. Details like that make it all the more special.

    Fantastic story!

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    1. Thanks, Kim! He also taught my oldest son Morse Code when he was little. I still have some of the notes they sent each other:)) Have you cooked any of your grandmother’s dishes? I love family recipes.

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  20. I really enjoyed reading about Gail’s father, Joe. He sounds quite a character and she onviously loved and admired him very much.
    Rhoda I can scarcely keep up with you!

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