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

Our Sentry’s, Our Protectors: Gratitude to our Vets

Veterans Day Photo © Rick BethemTo all the veterans of our nation, past and present:  I honor you.  For your courage in the face of death.  For your generosity of spirit.  For your selflessness and faith in your nation. Veteran’s Day is always a special day in our household, as I’m sure it is for the majority of Americans, and today will be no different.  In our family, we have a long history of service within just a few generations.  My father-in-law, Ed, was in Normandy in World War II as were both of his brothers. My husband was in Vietnam, and his brother Tom served in the Navy during that same war.  My stepson, Blake, was in the Marines in the 90’s and fortunately didn’t have to live the horror and destruction of a war, as did neither my sister, Denise, or I.  It was truly by fate that my father-in-law and I were both attached to the Big Red One, 1st Infantry Division, for those that aren’t familiar with the historical division.  The Big Red One was truly instrumental in their heroism, courage, and success during the Normandy Invasion, as experienced by Ed Bethem when he was awarded the Bronze Star. During the invasion, his vehicle submerged in deep surf, and at great personal risk, assisted his fellow helpless soldiers to shore, saving many from certain drowning.  But Ed was just that kinda guy.  The kind you’d want covering you in a foxhole.  The kind you’d want as your best man.  Or as your husband.  He was a quiet man, reserved, but you could always tell there was a lot of thought running through his mind.  When he did speak, it was always deliberate and provocative.  Many have romanticized war and our family certainly knows first hand how that happens.  You see, Ed’s brother, Walter, also serving at the same time that his two brothers (Ed & Wilbert) were, was stationed in France.  As the story goes, a family in a rural section of France helped him and his fellow soldiers by providing food and shelter to them while waiting for the rest of their company to join them.  They were staying in the barn of the family’s farm, well hidden from the enemy.  Well, the family had a beautiful daughter named Marguerite who took a special liking to Walter, and vice versa.  After peace was announced and the war was over, Walter went back to France looking for her and to this day, 60+ years later, they are living a great life with a beautiful family and a gaggle of grandkids in Pennsylvania.  Funny, there actually are good things that can come from wars.  Love.  Awakenings.  Respect.  Children.   Many woman, to include my mother-in-law Bets (as we call her) remember the sacrifices they made here at home while their men were off to war.  Of course, every war is different.   But every war is the same.  Different horrors, different weapons, different agendas.  But there’s still a lot of similarity that holds each soldier’s hands:  A deep-seeded love for country.  For freedoms.  Whether it be to keep our nation safe from the intrusions of those that are trying to hurt us, or to support those countries that are trying to institute democracy.  I believe with all my heart that it will never change.  It has been the same since our infant nation was born and it will go on long after we’re dead.  The fight for freedoms.  I couldn’t be prouder to be an American than I am today, although my pride has never waivered.   I firmly believe in giving back, as any of you know that have read my blog articles or know me personally, there’s a well-ingrained, almost innate desire that we need to give back for all that we’ve received.  That was my reason for signing up and I would have gladly given life or limb to the country that has made me a small part of the greatest nation on earth.  No matter what your politics, there is the sense that we never give up and that we never back down to those that mean us harm.   Listening to talk radio earlier today I heard a pundit voice his opinion on the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He said that should we lose the battle and democracy never be experienced by either or both countries, that all the men and woman that gave their blood on the sands and mountains will have died in vain.  Well, that didn’t settle well with me and I thought about it for quite a while.  I’ve come to the conclusion that no fight, no action, no war is ever in vain.  Were the soldier’s goals any different because we didn’t win, (if we don’t?)  NO.   Whether in heaven or on earth, I just don’t think you’ll ever find a soldier that will tell you that because the outcome wasn’t in line with their goals, that their goals were wrong, misguided or in vain.  There’s a saying that I have kept on my desk since the early 80’s, passed down from my husband, and they are words that, during good times and tumultuous times (most importantly) have carried me through.  Press On: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not:  Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; The world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination, alone, are omnipotent. — Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of these United States.