Categorized | Editorial

EDITORIAL: A Pleasant Surprise Much More than We Expected

It was supposed to be just a book signing by artist and author Francis McGinley. McGinley wrote a book entitled, “Let Us Never Forget: Stories and Paintings of WW II.” Each painting in the book had a story connected to it. McGinley beguiled those present with his childhood memories during the Great Depression and World War II. As a student at St. Paul’s Catholic School he had to borrow crayons in order to draw a picture to enter in a nationwide art competition. He stated that all three of the contestants from St. Paul’s won the top three prizes out of 15,000 entries. Cardinal Spellman personally came to their graduation ceremony to tell them that they won. Unfortunately to this day no one knows which St. Paul’s student placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.

Someone in the audience asked McGinley, “Was there prize money attached to winning?”

He answered with surprise, “This was grade school and during the Depression.”

He spoke of stories about the Holocaust and also of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military airmen. McGinley mentioned the movie “Red Tails” and said it missed the mark.

McGinley talked fondly of one particular Tuskegee member by the name of George Watson Sr. who is now 91 years old. Watson told McGinley of his many experiences during the war which were not mentioned in the movie “Red Tails.” Watson also said at the next social gathering he wants to do a special dance with Mrs. McGinley.

During the question and answer period McGinley asked those in attendance if any of them remembered the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When one woman raised her hand and said when she was born, he responded, “Oh, you were just a baby.” He wanted to know who remembered what they were doing when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

McGinley said he was home doing his homework. His father was playing cards and when the announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor came on the radio. His father, angry said an explicative and flung his beer spilling some on McGinley’s schoolbook. He said to his father, “How do you expect me to finish my homework?”

“That was my introduction to World War II,” McGinley remembers.

These were just a few of the stories that Francis McGinley told during the presentation at the Kearny Cottage. All we can go on for a very long time. We were pleasantly surprised by McGinley’s wit and urge everyone to purchase his book. It is worth every cent.

C.M. & K.M.

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