Thursday, May 19, 2011

MAY MEMOIRS... a merger of memories.

Second Lieutenant, Kathleen (Shaw) Lowery
… A wickedly dry sense of humor
Sometime between Mother’s Day (May 8) and Armed Forces Day (May 21) and Memorial Day (May 30) some interesting memories of my mom begin to pop up. Except for a few special recipes, cooking was not my mother’s forte; although she did have a few specialties and was definitely inspirational in my cooking career. My mother, Kathleen Ann Shaw Lowery was born in the early 1920’s and was very much a child of the Great Depression; frugal, hard working and disciplined.  She also had a wickedly dry sense of humor that was never spared in regards to her children. 
… When U.S. troops invaded Normandy, she was there
Upon her death in 1974, the local newspaper made the following observations.  “As the United States’ involvement in World War II deepened, one Fort Worth woman wanted to help.  She had something to offer, so she did her part.  She went into the Army in 1943, soon after she was graduated from St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing.  She was first stationed in El Paso and then was sent to England to prepare for an assignment in which few nurses would ever be involved.  In 1944 when U.S. troops invaded Normandy, France, Kathleen (Shaw) Lowery was there, a second lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps.” 
It required skill and determination…
That assignment was part of what has come to be known as the “chain of evacuation.” The “chain” referred to the process of moving wounded soldiers away from the front lines through a succession of field, tent, train and ship hospitals to facilities where they could be safely treated.  Often this brought the medical personnel very near to combat itself and often under fire.  It required skill and determination, but also created new opportunities for military nurses. On December 7th, 1941 (the day of infamy) when Japan attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, there were fewer than 1,000 Army nurses.  In 1945 at the end of the war there were about 59,000.         
… Warm memories of both the English and French people
My mother’s experience during the war was spent mostly in England and then after D-Day, in France.  She told us that her unit had received the very first casualties from the invasion and then as she put it “followed Eisenhower through Europe.”  Even under the extreme circumstances, she returned home with warm memories of both the English and French people.  She also brought home some acquired tastes that were certainly odd for that time and place in post-war Texas.  From England there was afternoon hot tea, cool (not cold) beer, and finger licking fish and chips. From France there was her cravings for nice crusty bread, pates, cheeses and delectable pastries.
... “Weren’t you afraid of ghosts?”
One of the most fascinating stories was the tale of American nurses residing in French castles.  This was especially intriguing to me and I remember questioning my mom in some detail about it.  One the most pressing questions that I asked my mother was, “weren’t you afraid of ghosts?”  Her typical no-nonsense answer was, “Hell no, we were afraid of Nazis!”
… One cigarette in trade for one onion.
Fresh vegetables were at a premium for the American nurses and they found some creative solutions.  One source of produce was the French children.  The children learned that most Americans had cigarettes.  Fresh onions were always a favorite for my mom and as improper sounding as it is now, the going rate was one cigarette in trade for one onion.  After all, the GIs had plenty of cigarettes.  My mother enjoyed raw onions the rest of her life.  I often cite her inaptness at cutting and chopping onions with an old butcher knife as one of my motives in learning to cook.
… She delighted in helping to deliver new babies
Second Lieutenant Kathleen (Shaw) Lowery returned to her home in Texas in 1945.  For the rest of her civilian life, she was a Chief Obstetrics Nurse and a volunteer for the Red Cross.  I have always suspected that after the suffering and devastation that she had seen in Europe, she delighted in helping to deliver new babies and seeing the joyful beginning of families instead of the tragic endings.  She offered her time and expertise participating in numerous programs as well as providing for us at home more shots and inoculations than her children would have wished. In 1947 her experience was also invaluable at the scene of the Texas City Explosion, which is still considered to be the worst industrial accident in U.S. history.     
Avanti Savoia offers a salute…
To commemorate this years Armed Forces and Memorial Day celebrations; Avanti Savoia offers a salute to those 59,000 nurses that gave so much in that terrible struggle.

Other News

Ben, Erin & Teigan Slocum
Welcome to the world, Teigan Elizabeth Slocum!
How excited we all are at Avanti Savoia.  On May 17th, the president of our company, Ben Slocum and his wonderful wife, Erin became the proud parents of a beautiful 8 lb. 2oz. baby girl named Teigan Elizabeth.  Mom, daughter, daddy and proud grandparents are all doing great!  Chef Joseph can’t wait to begin the education of the most sophisticated palate in the first grade!  “Want to taste a $300 Balsamic Vinegar, Teigan?  Let’s just not mention this to your daddy, OK?”

For the last five years Avanti Savoia has been pleased to be a major supplier to caterers, chefs and other food service customers.  We have now decided to offer the same savings to all of our customers.  Take advantage of our new case pricing program and receive the same benefits as do the caterers (20% to 25%).  Some of our products are European Packed with only six to a case. Don’t need a whole case?  Then consider organizing a purchasing club with a few friends and still take advantage of this great offer.