Pat Wahler, Author

Writing to entertain, educate, and inspire

Month: March 2017

Yes-I’m a Romantic Fool

Unless you live under a rock, you know this weekend is the premiere of Disney’s live action film, Beauty and the Beast. Although this particular version is new, the story is definitely not.

Beauty and the Beast, print circa 1875. This beast has a distinctly walrus look. (Pook Press)

Beauty and the Beast may have sprung from the classic myth of Cupid and Psyche, where the beautiful Psyche is offered as a sacrifice to a monster. French author, Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villenueve, is credited with turning the myth into a story and publishing it in 1740. Over one hundred pages long, and containing a very savage beast, the story had plots and sub-plots and action galore.

In 1756, Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont, shortened the story and pared down the number of characters. This version is closer to the one most of us know today, where a simple working girl tames the beast, saving him with her love. Having a working-class girl as the heroine of a story with trouble brewing in the time before the French Revolution, must have made reading it a dangerous pleasure.

Beauty and the Beast, print circa 1885. This beast has evolved to the appearance of a wild boar. (Pook Press)

Over the years, the story of Beauty and the Beast has undergone many incarnations, but each of them seem to boil down to the same notion. Belle discovers the true nature of a man is found in his heart and soul, not in his appearance.

There are probably a hundred variations on this theme found in literature, movies, and plays. And why not? Who doesn’t love a story where good triumphs over evil, where what you are inside matters more than your imperfect exterior, and where true love triumphs over all.

Beauty and the Beast, print circa 1923. (Pook Press)

Will I be heading out to see this movie? You bet. I admit to being a romantic fool.

How about you?

A Dog Like Sergeant Stubby

Dogs have been helping humans since ancient times. It’s not surprising. Ever since the first wolves crept closer to campfires to become part of the family, dogs have aimed to please their people.

Yet not all dogs have a story like Stubby’s.

In 1917, Stubby, a brindle-coated terrier mix puppy, wandered into an encampment of soldiers training for their upcoming mission to fight for the allies in France during World War 1. The men of the 102nd Infantry became so attached to the little guy, they smuggled him on board while shipping out on the S.S. Minnesota. Legend has it when the commanding officer discovered Stubby’s presence, Stubby charmed the man with a modified dog-salute soldiers had taught him to perform. The commanding officer decided to bend the rules decreeing no animals allowed.

Stubby with jacket and a few of his medals. (National Museum of History)

A big dog in a small but stocky body, Stubby wasn’t only a morale lifter. He found a German spy and chomped on to the man’s pants, holding tight until his pals could complete the capture. He alerted the troops to mustard gas attacks and detected incoming artillery fire before the shells exploded. Stubby located wounded men, and was, himself, wounded by a grenade. Stubby survived his injuries, and was soon elevated to the rank of Sergeant.

At war’s end, after serving in seventeen battles, Stubby’s primary caretaker, J. Robert Conroy, smuggled Stubby out of France the same way he’d helped smuggle him in.

But did Stubby relax into a quiet and well-deserved retirement? Not on your life.

He became a proud symbol of America’s war effort. Stubby led parades. Organizations such as the American Legion, Red Cross, and Y.M.C.A. made him a lifetime member. Honored by generals and presidents, Stubby received countless awards and traveled extensively to visit his adoring public. Hotels even lifted their ban on dog guests whenever Stubby came to town.

Stubby receiving a medal from General Pershing-1921. (National Museum of History)

Stubby leading one of many parades. (National Museum of History)

As though all that weren’t enough, when Private Conroy went to law school, Stubby became mascot of the Georgetown Hoya’s football team. Between halves, he’d scamper around the field using his nose to push a football, to the crowd’s delight. There is even speculation Stubby’s performance may have put a glimmer in someone’s head about the idea of a half-time show.

Before Beyonce and Madonna, there was Stubby. (National Museum of History)

This mighty little warrior passed away in 1926 at approximately ten years of age. Click HERE to read Stubby’s impressive and slightly poetic obituary (it took up a half-page) in the New York Times. Not many humans have received such a sendoff.

Stubby’s remains and the details of his story are preserved and on display at the Smithsonian. He’s one impressive canine, isn’t he?

Well, as you might imagine, I couldn’t wait to tell Winston all about Stubby, hoping to impress my own dog into performing amazing acts of courage in the face of frightening events.

Winston’s response to performing amazing acts of courage in the face of frightening events. 

© 2017 Pat Wahler, Author

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