Naples Holocaust Museum & Curious George Exhibit

I thought this is very interesting and hope everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy it.

The Wartime Escape:  Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France Opens

February 3 – March 10, 2011

Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida

The Wartime Escape:  Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France is coming to the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida.  More than three generations of Americans have grown up reading the stories of an irrepressible little brown monkey known in this country as “Curious George.” But few people know about the incredible journey made by his creators, Margret and H.A. Rey, to escape the Nazi invasion of Paris at the start of World War II. Stashing a few precious belongings and manuscripts in their knapsacks and the baskets of their bicycles, the Jewish couple fled Paris in June 1940, starting a five month odyssey by bike, train, and boat that would eventually bring them to American shores.

Beginning in the years prior to the war, The Wartime Escape explores the Rey’s early creative collaborations and traces how the story of George himself (originally titled The Adventures of Fifi) spanned the wartime period. The monkey emerged as a character in one of the Rey’s pre-World War II stories, and the manuscript that became Curious George was already in progress by 1939. However, wartime constraints on printing as well as the general turmoil of the period prevented the original contract from being fulfilled. When the Reys were forced to flee Paris along with thousands of other refugees in advance of the German occupation, the manuscript and illustrations for the book were among the few personal possessions that they managed to take with them. Escaping via Spain and Portugal, then across the Atlantic to Brazil, the Reys finally reached the United States in October 1940. A month later, they received a new contract from Houghton Mifflin for The Adventures of Fifi, later re-titled The Adventures of Curious George.

The exhibition features 27 framed art prints by artist Allan Drummond and supplemental archival images from the holdings of the DeGrummond Collection of Children’s Literature at the University of Southern Mississippi. The exhibition is based in part on the 2005 publication, The Journey that Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey, written by Louise Borden and illustrated by Allan Drummond (Houghton Mifflin Company, New York). The exhibition is organized and curated by Beth Seldin Dotan, Director of the Institute for Holocaust Education in Omaha, Nebraska

On Thursday, February 3 at 6:30 pm, Holocaust Museum is hosting a Members Preview & Reception.  Reservations are required no later than January 27th.  Family Days at the Museum will take place at 10:00 am on Saturday, February 12 and Sunday, March 6 for children ages 4 – 10. Admission is $5 per child with a limit of 20 children.   Reservations are required, no later than February 7th. Please call the Museum for more information regarding the exhibit and associated events.

The exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 20 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. Mid-America is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the United States. More information is available at and

Closure to a War in SouthWest Florida

A few days ago, I came across an organization that I didn’t know existed, let alone the incredible acts of selflessness that is going on in this organization, and I felt compelled to talk about it in hopes that more people would learn about them and their commitment to our vets.  About a week ago, seventy Southwest Florida WWII veterans took to the skies to experience something they never, until recently, thought they’d get the opportunity to do at their age.   Visit their Memorial.  Our nation’s Memorial.   They earned it.  We, are merely bystanders to their courage.  Their braveness.  We are humbled and honored and in total awe of what they were able to accomplish.  These vets, between the ages of 82 – 98 were whisked away from SW Florida International Airport to the National World War II Museum in Washington, D. C. for an all expense paid trip for the day.  They had the opportunity to visit other memorials as well on their trip: Korean War, Navy, Vietnam and Iwo Jima memorials. They planned to place a wreath at the tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.   All of this wouldn’t have been made possible without the generous donations of the Southwest Florida Honor Flight which is part of the national nonprofit organization, The National Honor Flight.  I can’t imagine the emotions these veterans must have felt but one thing you can be certain of, tears fell.  Perhaps for the lost buddies who fought beside them, maybe for the pain and suffering and the horrible images of war still encased in their memory, and maybe, just simply pride for a job well done.  My father-in-law, Ed Bethem, never had the chance to visit the Memorial as he passed away before it’s completion.  He talked about the possibility of somehow making it to D.C., even with his immobility arising as an issue, but his sons would have gladly carried him on their backs if they had to just to have the honor of having their dad at the Memorial of a war that meant everything to him.  The campaigns he served in included the battles of Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, Central Europe including the Battle of the Bulge receiving the Bronze Star for his contributions during D-Day, Normandy Invasion while with the Big Red One.  Veterans like Ed, a quiet and soft spoken gentleman, would have thought it an honor to go to the Memorial.  Sacred ground for them.  And for us.
As stated on their website “The newest initiative of Honor Flight, conceived by Dave Bauer, a Vietnam Veteran and a recipient of the Purple Heart, is “Flags of Our Heroes.” For those veterans that are deceased, there’s still a way of honoring them.  For more info on this initiative go to Please reach out to this organization and let’s help our local vets realize a dream.