Miracle at 100 Years

On a wintry day in Omaha, Nebraska a young priest had a dream. He wanted to start a place that would provide a home for young boys in need.

Fr. Edward Joseph Flanagan founded world renowned Boys Town, Nebraska on December 12, 1917.

One hundred years later that dream continues to live on!

I doubt seriously he would have imagined what he began that day would go on to provide a home, education, sports and so much more for thousands of young men; and years later young women.

What began as a dream which for years struggled day to day to survive financially went forth. It was because of his perseverance and faith that God would provide that kept him going forward….never doubting that somehow things would workout.

With the help of a few priests, nuns and a few others he moved from a building that limited him to care but for a few to what was once farm land to become a village called Boys Town.

Thousands have been a part of the history of Boys Town. Today many of the young men/women who once called Boys Town home are now priests, lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, barbers, printers…etc. Each having gained a second chance at life and making the most of what they obtained.

They learned the three priorities of life….faith, country and family!

Hundreds of young men/women have joined our military. Boys Town probably has the most names on a Memorial Wall for those who gave their all in service to our country of any small village in the country as they have served in every war beginning in WWll to day. Each are honored and revered by Boys Town alumni and staff as heroes!

Many for years have been doing what has become fashionable today…paying it forward. It took many donations for each to call the place of Boys Town home for brief time or many years…they have spent years in their own way giving back to the communities they now call home in thanksgiving.

Fr. Flanagan has been declared a “Servant of God” and now is being investigated for miracles to see whether the Catholic Church will one day declare him a Saint.

It is unfortunate the church looks for physical healing miracles before declaring one a saint. For I know thousands of life changing miracles that would not have happened if a young priest did not have a dream 100 years ago.

I know it because I am one of those miracles! It was my physical home from 1961-1968. In my heart it remains my home still today.

Fr. Flanagan passed away suddenly May 15, 1948 while in Germany for President Harry S. Truman helping youth after WWll. His miracle lives on and he rests in peace at his beloved Boys Town. Four successors and many staff over the years have worked to see his work continues.

Boys Town celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding! My wish that 100 years from now they will celebrate the 200th one!

Thank you Fr. Flanagan and Boys Town for all you have done for the thousands of us youth in the past and for all you will continue to do in the years ahead!

Lawrence Adams
Proud Graduate of Boys Town Class of 1968

Family Persecuted & Survived or Killed During the Horror of the Nazis

Before I remember and honor family members who suffered & survived, were murdered or successfully fled elsewhere I need to give a short background as to why at age 65 I am just learning of this horror.

I was born of an unwed mother in 1950 and placed for adoption; though never adopted. I went through the first 36 years of life not knowing who was my was or any of my heritage. I would find my birth mother in 1986 and learn I was Polish and in 1990 I would find my birth father and learn on his side I was German.

I began tracing back the history, etc of my maternal side and spent over the next 25 years being able to trace back to my maternal great, great grandparents in the mid 1800’s in Poland. Though much of the family who were born in the USA in the late 1800’s had passed I was able to meet and develop relationships with many cousins. I hit a brick wall in tracing back about two years ago and decided at least for now to lay things aside.

My birth mother and father have since passed.

For unexplainable reasons I throughout the years never had an interest in doing this on my father’s side.

I early April of this year, again for unexplainable reason I pulled what little information I had on my father’s side and decided it was time!

I of course knew since 1990 that his family was German. Through various record searches I learned of names his parents. It was through his father’s name I learned of his grandparents: Albert Marx & Fannie Jakoby Marx who had immigrated from Germany in the late 1800‘s.

I then discovered something I had not expected….they were Jewish and that line went back many generations. I was raised Catholic though I cannot say I have been a practicing one for several years but do have solid beliefs. I wanted to know more of the Jewish faith, their traditions and of course go back further in the family line. Because the mother of a child must before the child is born be Jewish for the child to be declared Jewish I cannot do so as my grandfather though Jewish married a Gentile who did not convert before he was born or even after. I may not be Jewish but a Jewish line runs deeply through my veins!

On one great grandmother’s side I found her parents were Nathan Jakoby of Barweiler German where he was born, married, lived , died in 1880 and is buried and his wife Rosina Josephina Franck of Essweiler Germany then Wallerfangen where she moved after Nathan passed and where she passed in 1893 and is buried in Dillingen. All but one of their children immigrated to the USA except Leopold who passed in Barweiler at the age of 16 in 1878. I have traced each of the children and have most of their records.

This finally brings me to the events of the past few days and the reason for this special blog.
After waiting for information from Germany over the summer and early fall I did get bits of information from a friend in Germany but just Sunday I received pages involving my family line from the Civil Registry of Essweiler.

From that listing of names, births, marriages, deaths (over 50 names) were obtained. I also received a link to the Municipality of Essweiler web site and the initial shock came. I of course grew up learning of the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust but never could have imagined it had affected anyone in my family….I was wrong, very wrong!

I shared this information in a blog on Monday so if someone might be looking also for names I have they could find them and I share the link to that blog here once again:

https://prairieguy.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/jewish-german-heritage-i-didnt-know-i-had/

The Franck family had lived in Essweiler at least from the mid 1700’s. They were homeowners who lived in the same house from my 4x great grandparents and passed to the 3x great grandparents….many children were born in that house identified only as #68 City Center. (4x great grandparents were Joel Franck/Eva Frankel & 3x great grandparents were Joseph Franck/Rosina Wolf).

One of the children Joseph/Rosina had was Barbara Franck…this is in addition to my 2x great grandmother and 4 other children.

Barbara Franck married on 05/25/1874 married Lazarus Jakob in Essweiler and had 7 children: Johanna, Hedwig, Rosalia, Ida, Flora, Paulina and a male not named who died at birth. Barbara was Lazarus’s 2nd wife and his 1st wife Susanna (Barbara’s sister) had passed during the birth of her 3rd child who also passed in 1873. Susanna also had 2 children prior but who had passed within months of their birth. Thus no previous children came into Lazarus’s/Barbara’s marriage.

This Tuesday night I found the two records I hoped to never find and I am sure will impact me in many ways for the rest of my days….my family was very personally impacted by the Holocaust.

The two records: Hedwig Jakob and Johanna Jakob Herze.

Hedwig was born in Essweiler on 01/24/1882. She would marry Silvian Geissiman 10/02/1912 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, b: 02/08/1882 in Westhoven, daughter of Issak Gerissman & Babette Picard. I have found no information as yet of her husband or if they had any children.

1. Hedwig was deported to Gurs Camp in France in 1940 then Auschwitz in 1942 where she met her death in the gas chambers of Hitler on 08/12/1942. There is no record for her on Yad Vashem but I will be submitting testimony on behalf of the family and I want her remembered by the world after I am gone.

2. Johanna Jakob Herze was born to Lazarus Jakob and Barbara Franck in Essweiler on 09/15/1874. She would marry Hugo Herze born on July 29 1870 Randerath, a district of Heinsberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia in Essweiler on 10/24/1894. They would initially live in Essweiler where 3 children were born then move to Kasiserlautern to 71 Lutpoldstrasse in 1902 now known as 71 Rudolf-Breitscheid Strasse…you will see the importance of this address later.

Children:

Leo, Adolph, Arthur, ,Jacob, Wilhelm, Hedwig (but called Heidi) and Erich…Leo died of natural causes in 1914)

Johanna was deported to the Gurs Camp in France, then transport to Camp Noe in October of 1940, as were most Jews in the town, where she was killed in 1943.

At this point I was in such pain learning of this and yes tears were flowing. I thought I would give up my research for the night but then I realized I had to go on. The pain and heartache would only become worse as I processed.

3. I learned her husband Hugo was also deported to the Gurs Camp then to Camp Noe…. and was killed there on February 4, 1943…Johanna was killed on March 5, 1943. They were 72 and 69 respectively when killed.

Son Jacob married Lydia Horn in 1931 in Essweiler then moved to Kaiserlautern and had 4 children: Hedwig, Hannalore, Anna and Ruth. Anna died of natural causes in 1939 at 3 ½ years old.

The entire family was deported to Camp Gurs in October 22, 1940.

4. Jacob was killed on April 14, 1941
5. Hannalore was killed in October 1941.

Lydia would survived and while doing forced labor she escaped and in 1945 was living in Hamburg, Germany but then returned to Kaiserslautern where she died in 1962 at age 60.

Hedwig survived the war and was rescued by OSE and the Quakers eventually also returning to Kaiserslautern where she passed…am researching for the year.

Ruth also survived but did not return home, she lived the remainder of her life in various locations in France as a pediatric nurse. She never married and died in 2008 at 89 years of age.

5. Johanna’s son Adolph born in 1896 married Rosa Lazar and lived in Reydt, Germany but fled to Brussels, Belgium. Adolph died in the ghettos of Riga. Adolph was shot and killed by the Nazis when it was ordered to clean out the Riga ghetto. Rosa eventually immigrated to the New York USA to live with her brother Solomon in Queens.

Hugo, Johannna, Hannalore, Jacob, Lydia, Adolph are listed in Yad Vashem but I will submit testimony for each of them. On behalf of the family and so their lives will never be forgotten.

Johanna’s 3 other sisters had left Germany back in the early 1930’s before Hitler came to power and immigrated to the United States and I need to do further research.

Johanna’s other children did survive the war:

Arthur died in 1940 in a hospital in Cologne, Germany

Wilhelm initially fled first to Paris, then Paraguay where he died in 1986.

Hedwig (Heidi) returned to Kaiserslautern where she died.

Erich fled to Sweden where he lived the remainder of his life. He did return for visits to Kaiserslautern but never wanted to resettle there. I need to research further ass I know he did marry but have no further information.

I have many other family names to search, some males that should be easy to check Yad Vesham whereas the women may be difficult as I don’t know if they ever married. I pray I won’t find anymore horror as this journey uncovered but I am prepared for it.

Besides submitting testimony for each of those that died to Yad Vesham I will also make memorials at FindaGrave for those who passed in Auschwitz, Noe and Gurs as I know these are there final resting places.

There is a custom called STOLPERSTEINE that began after the was as a way to remember those lost during the Holocaust.

A human being is forgotten until his name is not forgotten

The words from the Talmud are the driving force for the artist Gunter Demnig, with memorial plaques to the victims of the Nazi regime in Europe to for the world to remember. Under this slogan were in June 2014 Gunter Demnig outside the house Rudolf-Breitscheid-Strasse 71, where the Herze family last lived freely all together, placed the seven stumbling blocks for Hugo, Johanna, Jacob, Lydia, Hedwig, Ruth and Hannelore.

d-h-e_PTX17884_O1_650

A closer view so one can see the names:

d-h-e_PTX17874_Part_650

Though all but Hedwig Jakob are listed in Yad Vashem only one actual testimony has been received which is for Adolph Herze:

10 (2)

I would love one day, and dream about it, to visit the land of my paternal ancestors especially Essweiler, Barweiler, Kaisterslautern. To walk where they walked, lived and also where some are buried in the Jewish cemetery in Hintzinger. And to personally go to honor those who suffered so much even if they did in fact survive as I know their lives were never the same and mine will not be either. But being now 65 and limited income that will never be possible…but I can dream.

For 65 years I did not know if the Jewish heritage I came from. I did not know the horrors some of my family endured, even death, for just being who they were. I knew of the Holocaust but now I know it personally. The heartache I felt Sunday night when I found the initial record then the succeeding ones on Tuesday night into those early hours of Wednesday may subside as time passes but it will never be healed. I have had to stop a few times as I writing it as the tears so easily came. I will never forget and hope that even after I am gone people will see the Stolpersteine created to honor them, the 2 two blogs I have written that are now part of the Internet, the testamonies that will be left on Yad Vashem and will remember and honor them.

It has been said all my life “NEVER AGAIN” but it has happened again and in places around the world people continue killing people by the thousands because of who they are….humankind I hope will someday make this saying real and not just words.

Shalom my family and may each of you rest in peace as well as all who endured the horror of the Nazis!

Jewish German Heritage I Didn’t Know I had!

I did not know my birth parents growing up as I was given for adoption at birth. In 1986 I found my birth mother and in 1990 my birth father. I knew she was Polish and he German. I spent several years researching the maternal; side of the family but let the paternal side lay aside.

For some reason I cannot fully explain I picked up the search of the paternal side this past April. I found out his side was not only German but came from a long line of the Jewish faith. This began an extensive search as I wanted to know more, much much more!

Before stating the results I should let you now that the Jewish line died when my paternal grandfather married a gentile who did not convert prior to my father’s birth (nor ever) thus though I have a very long Jewish blood line I cannot claim to be Jewish as this is passed from the mother not the father.

Here is what I have been able to put together since April…with most being detailed/verified by the Civil Registry of Essweiler, Germany:

4th Great Grandparents:

Joel Franck b: 1748, Haidenfallt, Germany
d: 01/22/1836 Essweiler, Germany

Married: Eva Frankel b: 1767. Hundsbach, Germany
d: 06/14/1832 Essweiler, Germany

FranckHome

The Franck family lived in the since mid 1770’s until early 1900’s: order of homes from left…Franck, Wolf and Leob. Photo provided by the Essweiler Town Hall, a person also went out to the site last week to take a photo of the site today…the Franck and Wolf homes are no more though the Leob remains.

FranckHome1

They had 3 children:

1. Joseph Franck b: 01/17/1799, Hundsbach, Germany (3rd Great Grandfather)
d: 06/10/1872 Essweiler, Germany (see 2 marriages below) buried HinzweilerGermany….Jewish Cemetery Essweiler established. His tombstone is described by a photographer as: Joseph Frank – 10/6/1872: Von Esweiller, Stein mi Rundbogigen Abschlus auf Vorderseite im oberin Teil drei sechsblattrige Blumen (Rossetten) und eine x – formige Vergerung. Only 36 of the tombstones remain and are deteriorating quickly.

2. Moses Franck b: 08/28/1803, Neunkircher, Germany (3rd Great Uncle)
d: 01/20/1885, Essweiler, Germany

Married Johannetta Feibt on 05/11/1830 b:01/04/1804 Spendlingen, Germany d: 04/06/1851 Essweiler, Germany

She would give birth to 8 children ALL in Essweiler; if death date is listed they died in Essweiler:

1.Herman Franck b:05/15/1831 d:09/23/1903 Essweiler, buried Hinzweiler Germany

Herman married Ester Moses on 05/10/1860 in Essweiler, daughter of Aaron Moses/Henrietta Dreifus in Nanzweiler, Germany b: 04/17/1837 d:12/19/1884 Essweiler

Ester gave birth to 12 children all in Essweiler:

Carolina Franck b: 05/05/1861

Sara Franck b: 09/09/1862 d: 1938 Kairserslautern, Germany
Josephine Frank b: 05/15/1864 d: 12/12/1872 Essweiler
Julius Franck b: 12/15/1865
Amalie Franck b:02/16/1868 d:12/14/1870 Essweiler
Aaron Franck b: 05/19/1870
Gustav Franck b: 06/30/1872
Bertha Franck b; 02/18/1874
Adolf Frank b: 10/13/1876
Auguste Franck b:07/08/1878 d: 07/05/1942 Arolsen, Germany
Theodore Franck b: 04/04/1880
Salomon Franck b: 02/12/1882

2.Josephina Franck b:12/25/1832 d:11/24/1837
3.Regina Franck b:01/18/1835 d: 09/14/1835
4.Julius Franck b: 08/30/1836 d: 12/14/1837
5.Henrietta Franck b:01/11/1838
6.Johannetta Franck b:09/12/1841
7.Ferdinand Franck b:04/24/1844 d: 07/19/1845
8.Emilia Franck b: 10/16/1846

3. Barbara Franck b: 10/22/1812, Marienthal, Germany (3rd Great Aunt)
d: 08/22/1893, Essweiler, Germany, buried Hinzweiler, Germany

Married Moses Franck on 04/12/1838, Essweiler, Germany, Moses son of Moses Feilder/Sara Wolf b:09/29/1793 in Pleisweiler, Germany d: 1893 in Brucken, Germany. Barbara is his 2nd wife….1st wife is Elizabetha Hammel after giving birth in 1837 her 7th child. She passed. Barbara would give birth to 2 children:

Josephina Franck b:02/04/1839, Essweiler no record of marriage/death as yet
Rosina Franck b: 1852 Brucken, Germany d: 05/31/1902 Essweiler, Germany

Joseph Franck married 2x….1st wife passed, whoever transcribed records for Family Search mixed 1st wife’s 1st name with 2nd wife’s last name really messing up the record but civil registry fortunately has it correct!

1st marriage: 7/27/1825 to Josephina Henrietta Weiner b:12/28/1801
d: 08/03/1831
Had 3 children all who died in Essweiler, Germany at less than 1 year of age

2nd marriage:02/23/1832 to Rosina Wolf b: 12/21/1811, Essweiler, Germany (3rd Great Grandmother)
d: 10/24/1866 , Essweiler, Germany

Rosina’s parents would also be one set of 4th Great Grandparents: Benjamin Wolf ll
Sara Becker

Rosina gave birth to 6 children:

1. Rosina Josephina Franck b:01/21/1834, Essweiler, Germany (2nd Great Grandmother)
d: 01/06/1893, Wallerfangen, Germany

She married Nathan Jakoby…2nd Great Grandfather (Jacoby of Barweiler, Germany)…date unk at this time.

She would give birth to 8 children…have name/dates/etc elsewhere….with husbands and children it would add another 30 people to tree

Her sisters/brother: 2x great aunts/uncles

2. Fany Franck b: 03/26/1835, Essweiler, Germany
d: 12/17/1835, Essweiler, Germany

3. Julius Franck b: 08/09/1836, Essweiler, Germnay
d: 01/14/1893, Essweiler, Germany have found no record of marriage as yet

4. Phipinna Franck b: 10/26/1838, Essweiler no record of marriage or death found to date

5. Susanna Franck b: 08/28/1840, Essweiler, Germnay
d: 10/27/1873, Essweiler, Germany

Susanna married Lazarus Jacob on 02/26/1873 b:04/27/1847 Tholey, Germany to Isak Jakob/Lisetta Oppenheimmer no death date given in Essweiler. Her Uncle Nathan Jacoby and brother Julius would be 2 of the 4 signatures on the marriage decree.
Susanna passed during child birth of her only child:

Joseph Jacob b: 10/27/1873 d: 10/27/1873 in Essweiler

6. Barbara Franck : 03/30/1844, Essweiler, Germany

Barbara would on 05/26/1874 marry Susanna’s widow Isak Jacob. She would give birth to 6 children and a still born all in Essweiler. Johanna is the only one I currently have a marriage record in Essweiler

1. Johanna Jacob b: 09/15/1874
2. Rosalia Jacob b: 11/24/1875

Johanna married on 10/24/1894 in Essweiler to Hugo Hertze son of Hert Hertze/Helen Leifgens b:07/29/1870 in Randerath, Germany.

Johanna gave birth to 3 children in Essweiler then no further information on her or Hugo passing…it was during this time that many of the Jewish faith were leaving Essweiler as the gov’t were now allowing them to move into larger cities.

Leo Hertze b: 07/17/1895
Adolph Hertze b: 12/13/1896, Adolph did marry in Essweiler to Rosa Lazar but no date given nor info on the bride or her parents
Arthur Hertze b: 08/16/1898

3.Ida Jacob b:10/22/1877
4. Flora Jacob b: 10/19/1879
5. Hedwig Jacob b:01/24/1882, married Silvian Geissiman 10/02/1912 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, b: 02/08/1882 in Westhoven, daughter of Issak Gerissman & Babette Picard, found no children or death dates as yet
6. Paulina Jacob b: 10/01/1884
7. Male Jacob b: 09/27/1889 d: 09/27/1889

Foster Youth Awaiting Adoption per State

Below is the most recent available data by state as to the number of foster youth who have been declared “legal orphans” by their state and awaiting adoption. Also over 26,000 youth will age out of care many of them without any family support or other support network.

adoption

Two Men Who Made a Difference!

Readers of my blog or my book know I spent what I considered the most formative years of my youth (age 11-18) as one of Father Flanagan’s boys at world renowed Boys Town, Nebraska.

I consider those years my most formative as they are the years where I would learn things and have some folks influence me that would stay with me throughout my life.

People who taught me some life lessons or influenced me were folks like Mr. Clarence Weinerth (Debate Coach), Ms. Geneveive Condon (English Teacher), Moe Synskie (Choir) and Dr. Patrick McGinnis (Guidance Counselor). I was able to thank Mr. Weinerth before he passed in 1997. I had a special meeting with Dr. McGinnis at the Alumni Reunion in 2011 to say a heartfelt thank you. Ms. Condon & Moe I never said thank you before they passed but I say thank you now.

There were however two men who taught me the most and whose influence has carried me through the very trying times of my life since my youth. Two men who unfortunately I never took the time to say thank you to for how much they did for me and still do for me all these years later.

I never knew my father as a child. I would not meet him until I turned forty years old. I had a foster dad whom I always called DAD and do so til this very day, however he was hundreds of miles away during these formative years.

The two men I speak of are the late former Executive Director of Boys Town, Msgr. Nicholas H. Wegner and the late former Director of the renowned Boys Town Choir, Msgr. Francis P. Schmitt…for the seven plus years at Boys Town both were to become the “father figures” in my life.

Msgr. Schmitt
Msgr. Wegner

Both men were big in stature, strong disciplinarians. had booming voices but yet both were very gentle in heart and caring in spirit.

Both men had an open door policy for me, especially during my high school years. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I used the policy. I could talk to both of them about anything going on in my life and there were some very tough days during my years at Boys Town when I needed to talk or just have someone available with an open ear and a caring heart.

Both men taught me of the importance of faith in one’s life. They taught me about one having stand on their own two feet, discipline, hard work, fighting for what one believed in and to not forget to care about others who may be less fortunate than I. Both men taught these lessons not only in their words but by their very actions…they practiced what they preached! Msgr. Scmitt also taught me to have a special love of music, especially liturgical and classical. I think of him when our cathederal here in Fargo does its once a month Latin Mass and sing Gregorian chant.
Both men could have gone and done something different in their lives. Msgr. Wegner was at one time offered the opportunity to become a Bishop, he made the choice to stay with “his boys.” Msgr. Schmitt could have done anything within the musical world but Boys Town and his choir was his home.
I’d like to share a couple of stories about both men which I shared in my book entitled, “Lost Son.”
Msgr. Wegner:
Each high school boy was to have a job on campus. This is how we were to earn our thirty dollars a month we were given.I had a great job my freshman and sophomore year. Msgr. Wegner had his home connected to the chapel. My job was to be up at 5:30 and to be at his home by 6:15. I was met by Mrs. Ann Fischer, his personal cook. Mrs. Fischer was the mother of the famous Fischer boys of the National Football League. It was my job to help prepare breakfast and serve for him. It was great working with Mrs. Fischer. She always saw that I had a snack to take to school when I left for class. She said a growing boy needed more than three meals a day.It was during those two years that Msgr. Wegner and I got to be fairly close. Though the adults were not suppose to give us money Msgr. always saw that I had a few dollars in my pocket. Once breakfast was served he usually invited me to join him at the table. We always had interesting conversations.It was at the start of my junior year that I was greeted by Msgr. Wegner rather than Mrs. Fischer one morning. He took me aside and put an arm around my shoulder. He informed me that Mrs. Fischer had been killed in a car accident the previous night. She had been like a mother to me for the two years I worked with her. I lost someone special and the tears came.

Msgr. Wegner personally took me to the funeral and then to her home afterwords to eat and to meet her sons. Apparently she had told them about me. They knew me as soon as I entered the door. It was a sad day for me.

Msgr. Wegner did not hire a new cook after Mrs. Fischer’s death. Thus my job at his home ended and I moved on to work with the Director of Food Services.

Working for Mrs. Fischer and Cy is where I learned to cook and bake. A skill still in use today being a single person.

Msgr. Wegner’s and my relationship however continued throughout my remaining years at Boys Town. His door was open to me whenever I wanted to visit with him if he was in town.

During my senior year while I was still entertaining the thought of becoming a priest he arranged for me to spend a week at Mount Michael Abbey in Elkorn, Nebraska. It was shortly after that week I decided it was more my desire to be like Msgr. Wegner than a real vocation making me think of becoming a priest. I decided not to enter the seminary. I believe Msgr. Wegner knew this would be my decision but he allowed me to make it on my own rather than directing me in any one direction.

Msgr. Schmitt:

I have to tell you about the escapade with Msgr. Schmitt. For this story I will call him just “Schmittie.” One was not allowed to call him that while we were at Boys Town but once we graduated he felt we earned the right to do so. Schmittie was the Boys Town choir director I spoke of before. Now Schmittie loved the good things of life. He loved his berets, his loud Hawaiian shirts, rich expensive cigars and his Chives Regal.

I, as well as others, were always asking him to let us try his Chives. We always got no for an answer.

Underneath the high school dining hall was a quarters where the priest on campus went for their meals as well as relax. They had a private dining room as well as library area. This is also the space where most of them kept their alcohol…especially at Christmas time.

Schmittie seemed to get his share of bottles of Chivas at Christmas. A friend and I were determined that the Christmas of our junior year he would have one less bottle.

A few days before Christmas my friend stood watch as I crept and and snatched a bottle while Schmittie and a few other priests were having dinner.

We ran back to our cottage and down to the basement. I had never tasted hard alcohol before and did this stuff ever taste strong and have a bit. We had about three shots a piece and were feeling pretty good. We hid the remainder.

As we came upstairs who was standing by the doorway but Schmittie. He said he knew it had to be us who took his Chivas. Of course we denied it. He said he wanted to give us something to enjoy it with and handed us both one of his rich tasting, expensive cigars. He also reminded us that choir rehearsal was in an hour and left.

Well, I just had to have another shot of Chivas and a taste of this cigar. Back downstairs I went. My friend didn’t join me.

I had two more shots and lit up the cigar. Was that ever a mistake. I don;t know which caused most of the room spinning but did it ever spin. Soon I was looking for a bucket.

Anyone in the choir did not miss a choir rehearsal. After attempting to clean up, away I went despite still having the room spin and feeling sick.

Schmittie saw me as I entered the rehearsal hall. He just knew I was sick. All he said was, “Larry,feeling OK?” Smiling all the while as I looked and felt like hell.

It seemed that night that he worked the baritones and basses extra hard. All the while I just couldn’t wait for rehearsal to be over.

Schmittie never said another word about the incident until 1987 when I went back for my first reunion. His first words to me were, “Larry, feeling OK?” We both had a good laugh and I finally admitted his Chivas tasted pretty good and it was his awful cigar that made me sick.

It was at this reunion the alumni made a special presentation to Schmittie. He had left Boys Town about ten years earlier. The presentation was a large oil painting. Around the outer corners were various pictures of the choir. In the center was a smiling Schmittie wearing a beret, a Hawaiian shirt and a cigar in his mouth.

Msgr. Wegner passed away in 1976 and Msgr. Schmitt in 1994 but their legacy in my life continues to live on. The were the father figures in my life growing up at Boys Town; when I needed it most. One couldn’t have asked for two better ones than them!

I miss them both but I know they are never far away as it is their lessons taught and influences that I rely upon in life. The years of Boys Town are over forty-three years in my past but these two men and what they meant to me make it seem like just yesterday.

I will always regret never taking the time to say thank you to them and sharing with them what I just shared with you the reader. Hopefully this message with make its way up to them.

Since I did not know my birth family until I searched them out as an adult I have found several useful web site in that effort. One of those site is called, “Find a Grave.” Recently I decided to see if anyone had set up a memorial for Msgrs’ Wegner and Schmitt as one had been set up for Fr. Flanagan. I did not find one for either of them so decided to do one for each of them. I used some of my own words for each but also drew upon some words which were written by others far more eloguent than I. The memorials may be find at the links below. I know I am not the only Boys Town alumni who were taught lessons by them or have influenced their lives, there are thousands, feel free to leave a note or flowers at these memorials:

Msgr. Wegner:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSmid=47706875&GRid=84709443&

Msgr. Schmitt:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSmid=47706875&GRid=84711574&

When I graduated from Boys Town I did not realize the impact these two men had had on my life, it took me almost twenty-five years to realize it. Then it was too late to thank them personally as both had already passed to their just rewards. I will forever regret my stupidity!

May God grant them both eternal rest and peace…they both earned it! Your lessons were well learned and I say Thank You!

FY20010 Foster Care Data

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

AFCARS data, U.S. Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children, Youth and Families

(Based on data submitted by states as of June, 2011)

Children in foster care on September 30, 2010? 408,425

Children exiting foster care during FY 2010? 254,114 via:

Reunification with Parent(s) or Primary Caretaker(s)  51%  128,913

Living with Other Relative(s)  8%  20,423

Adoption  21%  52,340 ( roughly 2,500 fewer than in FY 2009)

Emancipation (Aged Out)  11%  27,854

Transfer to Another Agency  2%  5,114

Runaway (Lost track)  1%  1,504

Death of Child  0%  338

NOTE: Deaths are attributable to a variety of causes, including medical conditions, accidents, and homicide.

Children waiting to be adopted on September 30, 2010? 107,011

NOTES: Waiting children are identified as children who have a goal of adoption and/or whose parental rights have been terminated. Children 16 years old and older whose parents’ parental rights have been terminated and who have a goal of emancipation have been excluded from the estimate.

Fewer youth have been entering foster care the past few years. Youth aging out of care has been increasing. Adoptions have been fluctuating between 50,000-55,000 the past 5 years.

Data for FY 2011 will not be available until June 2012.

Boys Town Alumni Honor Their Fallen

It is rare I post a blog entry that does not deal with foster care or adoption. However, today I must make an exception.

This past weekend (July 29-31, 2011) Boys Town Alumni returned to the place they call home for a reunion. It was a time of sharing memories of days gone by, renewing friendships with brothers/sisters (Boys Town began accepting girls in 1976). It is a time many of us look to every two years.

This reunion, though many events were memorable, had one event that stood above them all. Saturday (July 29) was dedication to the restored and updated Veterans Memorial honoring fallen brothers in service to their country.

Boys Town dedicated the original memorial at a reunion in 1991. It was simple but definitley left one who visited know that the young man who answered the call of their country and fell would not be fogotten as time went on. However unless one personally knew one of the fallen most alumni did not how many or who had fallen.

Each reunion a ceremony is held at the memorial to remember as a whole those who died. It usually gathered a not so large crowd of attendees as few could relate on a personal level to anyone.

George Buckler ’64  at a recent reunion had an idea to refurbished the memorial and to include marble slates on which bronze plaques would be placed inscribed with the name of the fallen. The idea was quickly adopted by the Alumni Association Board and the project was underway in November 2010. Funds were raised (over$20,000 was need and this goal has not been completely met as yet), planning, designing, etc.

On Friday I however made a visit to the site alone. I wanted a private time to reflect and shed a tear for one young man whose name is now on the wall. James Acklin was one of my best friends during years at Boys Town. He was also my debate partner in our senior year. I remember the grief when hearing of Jim’s death. Of course the greif was far, far greater for the young wife & two sons left behind (Rose, Jamie & Joey).

Saturday brought the fruition of all the efforts that had been made. The dedication was simple but memorable. This year hundreds made sure they were in place for the ceremony. It began with Posting of the Colors by the Boys Town Junior ROTC Color Guard, National Athem, Pledge of Allegiance & Prayer.

The guest speaker was John E. Hamilton, Junior Vice Commander VFW.

Flags that were flown in Afghanistan were given to the BT ROTC and Alumni Association by SSgt Mary, Baille USAF, herself a Boys Town alumn and recently returned from Afghanistan;

It concluded with a Prayer, Taps & Retiring of the Colors.

I know a few tears, mine & others, were shed during the ceremony. I concluded being there by slowly going to the wall and gently touching Jimmy’s name.

Now alumni and current residents of Boys Town will know by name those who answered the call of their country  and gave their all by name.

Seventy-one ( confirmed deaths )young men’s names are now on the memorial: forty-four from WWII, four from from Korea, seventeen from Viet Nam, one from Iraq/Afghanistan and six while still in uniform. Some new ones may be addeed in time when confirmation of their deaths are received or future conflicts.

Father Flanagan taught, his sucessors continued to teach, that one must honor their faith, family and country. These men learned that lesson as well as many others who have served and were able to return home. Over 800 alumni served in WWII. Over 2,000 aluni have served whether during war time or at peace.

After December 7, 1941, the 22 member class of 1942 wanted to immediately enlist. Fr. Flanagan convinced them to await their graduation. On the afternoon of their graduation they marched to the recruitment office..all 22!

Most of these young men were never able to fulfil the dreams they dreamt while at Boys Town. Most were never to marry and watch their chldren grow up. They heard the call of their country and they answered.

In the future I am sure a young woman’s name will be added to the wall as girls are not only now a part of the alumni of Boys Town but also are serving our country.

There are cities in this country that have memorials which may remember 71 young men/women who have fallen. I am sure however there is no high school in the country as Boys Town who have had so many serve as well as so many fall in that service. Service to country and others is a trademark of Boys Town.

Boys Town and its alumni are proud to call them brothers of the family of Boys Town. It is hoped for generations yet to come that they will be remembered. This newly refurbished memorial should help to accomplish this mission. It is hoped by me and some others that soon the Alumni Board will approve a move to make any alumni who has fallen in service to their country will be made Lifetime Members of the BTNAA. The majority of alumni who have fallen fell before there was the BTNAA and others fell too early to have had the chance to possibly even join the association yet alone become Lifetime members. This and the memorial is the least we can do in remembrance of the sacrifice they have made in our behalf.

When someone asks me about heroes…I will point them to this memorial of 71 heroes! Rest in Peace my fellow Boys Town brothers!