11.21.2009

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot

While I am waxing nostalgic, I thought I would introduce another fine historical picture book, Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot--a True Story of the Berlin Airlift by Margot Theis Raven.

This is a great conspiracy story: Mercedes writes to Lt. Gail Halvorsen petitioning him to spot her war-torn home in Berlin with the chickens on one of his many notorious chocolate drops to the children there.

This story pulls on my heart strings. I have a very difficult time not choking up when reading this--which prompts a discussion with my children regarding an event that happened long ago in a land far from my own.

Let me explain: My Grandma Schmidt is from East Germany. She immigrated to America before the second world war, but had family members who stayed. She and my Grandpa--also from Germany--used to put together and ship "care packages" full of non-perishable food, vitamins, medicine, etc. to family members in communist occupied East Germany. Grandma felt fortunate to be living in America.

My Grandma never dared travel back to her homeland before dying. She refused to accompany her husband--my Grandpa--on his trip back to Germany. My Grandmother cried when the Berlin wall came down. My Grandma was not one to show emotion. So this was a big deal to her as it was to the world.


Back row: Grandma and Grandpa Schmidt. I'm the little girl in the green and white checked dress, second from right.

I love chocolate. Gail S. Halvorsen is my kind of guy--someone who realized what a little chocolate could do to lift the spirits of children in an oppressed society.


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