James Francis Smith introduces “Coming Attractions” to eBook Marketing. Reminiscent of his childhood Saturday afternoons spent at the movies. Each week, he’ll post selected paragraphs from the books of The Irish-American Story on his blog, http://www.theirish-americanstory.com. To entice readers to buy his books, which are available on Kindle and Nook.
June 29, 2013
The Last of the Fenians – Volume 4 – The Irish-American Story
This tale opens in the farming village of Ballybofey in CountyDonegal with the introduction of the three main characters. They go on to participate in WWI, the Anglo-Irish War, The Treaty, and The Irish Civil War.
Enduring the degrading feels from the freckled clod sitting astride the cabbages in the rear of the wagon, Fiona knew that any complaint to the driver would only result in more vulgar remarks and crude laughs. The old man had already fondled her arse—twice. If she wanted to be manhandled, she would’ve stayed in Ballybofey. Afraid to fall sleep, she whiled away the hours plotting to escape at Derry’s Farmer’s Market.
Three of them, strangers all, were finding pleasure in toppling O’Dwyer’s cart, when PJ rounded the corner onto Ballybofey’s Glenfin Street, and rushed to assist the old vegetable huckster. Grabbing the first by the scuff of the neck and tossing him back, he then plowed into the other two. Early surprise catching them off guard made easy work of the lot, with the trio taking off toward Donegal Road without so much as an over-the-shoulder to see if their attackers were one or 20. Pleased with his performance, PJ began picking up the scattered turnips and potatoes when another stranger approached, a well-dressed, middle-aged malemanifesting a widow’s peak.
The newcomer extended his hand, studious eyes appraising PJ, who was gripping a potato as though it were a hurling sliotar ready to be tossed in self-defense. Holding up his hands in confirmation of innocent intent, the stranger smiled before re-offering the salutation. “Excuse me, I was just …”
Edward (Reed) Ward
With the fare to Kildare’s Maynooth Seminary provided by the local priest, and provisions supplemented with soda bread furnished by PJ’s ma, Reed waved goodbye to his family and closest friend through the rain-smeared window of the Dublin-bound bus, wishing with all his heart that PJ were accompanying him. It’d be years before the two would meet again because no priest is ever assigned to his home parish. Reed used literature to overcome his feeling of desolation.
Although doubtful that any were literate, Reed made certain the few travelers occupying the nearly-empty bus couldn’t see what he was about to study. Satisfied, he turned his attention to the books brought for the journey. Opening the one telling of the Tuatha de Danann, followers of the Goddess Danu, he slowly and carefully turned the frayed and yellowed pages. The almost unintelligible script of the long-dead author described three tribes surviving a quaking of the earth, and the subsequent belching, which sent rivers of molten soil down a mountainside to destroy their island civilization. One of the tribes, the Tuatha, fled north, where in Ireland they encountered and engaged the satanic Firblogs. Holding their own, the religion of the Tuatha spread until turning underground after its defeat by the invading Milesians. The only direct trace to those ancients, the Lia Fail, the Danann Stone, now resided at Tara, the venerable home of Ireland’s kings.
The O’Donnells of Philadelphia –
Volume 5– The Irish-American Story
Imagine the massacre that could have occurred to our troopships off Normandy if the Germans had a workable guided missile? Well, they did! They just didn’t know it, and we didn’t tell them. That’s why the relatives of the 1,200 Americans who died on the HMT Rhona didn’t learn of the circumstances until decades after the war’s end. The following occurs at the O’Donnell’s home when their sons, who returned from the war, unburdened themselves.
Dinny took center stage as he told of a naval incident that would never make the headlines. “It was November 26, 1943; I was aboard a minesweeper, the U.S.S. Pioneer in the Mediterranean, when we heard over the radio that a British convoy had been under attack by German bombers and took some hits. Our ship immediately set out for the vicinity of the convoy. After sailing for several hours, a lookout shouted, ‘Survivors in the water.’
“When I first saw the men being hauled aboard, I thought they were natives from Africa. I reached and grabbed onto what felt like a burnt log, but then the log moved.
“I almost threw up.
“… these were American soldiers either coated with oil, or more often then not burned to a crisp. I stayed with the GI that I fished out, even after the medics looked at me and shook their heads. I was afraid to touch him for fear of adding to his agony. Through brittle lips he thanked me—for he didn’t want to die alone. As we waited for the end, he told me his story:
‘We were sailing toward the Suez Canal bound for the China Theater on the overloaded HMT Rhona, a rusty tramp-steamer that had once been a luxury liner. Some two thousand Americans were crammed aboard.’
“He started coughing at this point and was spitting up blood, so I fed him water through a straw. Despite his discomfort, he continued as though he knew the end was drawing near.
‘The ship was filthy and un-seaworthy. I couldn’t eat, the food contained black beetles and other crud unfit for human consumption. On-deck that day, I spotted the plane that sank us.
‘The Krauts’ Air Force had finished attacking the convoy for the second time when a single plane, a Heinkel 177, peeled off and returned. The German Heinkel dropped its payload from a half-mile off, then guided it toward the Rhona. The bomb looked like a small glider. Using its wings and tail, it dropped to water level, straightened out, then approached the ship while flying just above the waves.
“He coughed some more and his entire body trembled but he wanted his story to be heard.
‘Water rushed into the explosion-cavity. Some of the rusty hatches were jammed, trapping hundreds below deck. As we tried to open the hatches, the Indian crew took the best lifeboats. They left us. They left us to survive on rotted, rat-gnawed rafts. I watched as hundreds, some carrying their full pack, were strangled in the netting that dangled from the vessel. Dozens more died from life jackets secured too tight … drowned from floating on their stomachs rather than their backs. After drifting for hours, many gave up. They just … unhooked their life jackets, or let go of whatever debris they’d been clinging to.’
“Our ship rescued less than seven hundred …,” Dinny’s pause emphasized the great loss of life. “This sinking is second in deaths only to that suffered by the USS Arizona.”
The second paragraph describes the siege mentality of Catholics—a foreign religion surviving in a Protestant nation, during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. To discourage mixed marriages, between a Catholic and a Protestant, the ceremony took place in the rectory, not the church. Being a writer, I had to exaggerate, so I made Liam’s girlfriend the daughter of a Protestant minister.
“I brushed back my unruly hair and began to relax. Then I spied Alice Knight approaching from Aramingo Avenue, and I got nervous all over again. She hesitated and stared at the crowd moving slowly up the steps toward the main door, and I thought I saw her tremble. “Thank God, she’s wearing a hat,” I said, blessing myself. Then I wondered whether Protestant women wore anything on their heads in church. The notion quickly vanished, and I thought that Alice would flee along with it. She looked tiny and afraid, perhaps out of concern that everyone would object to a Methodist minister’s daughter entering a Roman Catholic Church. I know that I was afraid lightning would strike me dead the one and only time I went into a Protestant church. Before I could decide what to do, our plumber, big Frank McCloskey, blocked my view while squeezing my hand as though it were a pipe in a vise.”
Paragraphs from Volumes 6 & 7 will be posted July 7.
I hope you enjoy this unique way I’m introducing my books and my writing style. Weekly recaps will only be sent to my Linkedin network and e-mail followers. If you wish to be notified each week, join my Linkedin network or email me, and I’ll add you to my followers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Let Others Know, Pass the Word.
James Francis Smith