Just about a week after the Fourth of July, Michelle Wietbrock from West Lafayette, Indiana, pulled over the family vehicle so that her sons, Jack and Teddy, could help a small turtle make its way from the middle of Cherry Lane to the side of the road.
Michelle Wietbrock said, as reported by Lafayette Journal & Courier, that not all turtles they saw on their drives on Cherry Lane were so lucky, judging by the occasional carnage of one that didn’t make it to the other side.
Jack, her 8-year-old son soon to be in second grade at West Lafayette Elementary, took the plight of the turtles to heart.
“We were able to save that baby, but we had a couple of times that were some not-so-great moments of seeing turtles on the side of the road,” Michelle Wietbrock said. “I was trying to think of something productive to say as a parent. And Jack said, ‘Maybe we should send a letter to the mayor.’ I was like, OK, we’ll send him one.”
That evening, Jack composed a letter, in clear, handwritten block letters:
“Dear Mayor Dennis,
“There are turtles crossing the road and they need our help.
“Can you please put up a turtle crossing sign?
“Thank you, Jack Wietbrock, 2nd grade.”
He included a picture he drew of a car stopped and someone carrying a turtle. He captioned it: “We saved a baby turtle.”
On the morning of Aug. 6, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis summoned Jack and his family to West Lafayette’s weekly board of works meeting.
“The great thing about West Lafayette is we embrace the unique and, in some cases, the odd,” Dennis said, after inviting Jack to the podium. (Jack quickly ran to the mayor’s side.)
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis. (Photo taken from the West Lafayette City Government Facebook page.)
“So, we felt, you know what,” Dennis said, “there’s something we can do here that’s going to be kind of cool and celebrates Jack’s initiative on making us aware of a problem.”
Dennis said he had the street department – which has its own sign-making machine – make the warnings “to help our turtle population.” The signs were installed on Cherry Lane that afternoon. In addition, Dennis said another set will go up later on Cumberland Avenue.
Jack and his brother, Teddy, posed by the signs soon after they were put up.
That morning, Dennis asked Jack to say something, as his family – including his dad, Matt Wietbrock, formerly of the Purdue University Police Department – and the city’s administration observed.
Michelle Wietbrock said she hoped Jack’s suggestion would make a difference.
“That road, people are zipping right by all the time,” Michelle Wietbrock said. “It was great for the mayor to take Jack seriously.”
Dennis said the letter just made sense.
“Jack was so awesome about it,” Dennis said. “He is our Ninja Turtle hero.”
Read the story and view pictures here.
A Vancouver Island woman scared off a threatening cougar by playing Metallica on her phone. Later she was given the opportunity to thank the band when frontman James Hetfield contacted her to talk about the incident.
In late July, Dee Gallant was walking down a logging road south of Duncan with her eight-year-old husky-retriever. It was then that she started to feel like she was being watched.
“I looked over to the right and there’s this cougar prowling toward me, doing that really stalking kind of cat prowl with his head down and his bum up,” Gallant recalled in an interview, as reported by The Globe and Mail.
She waved her arms, attempting to frighten the cougar, but was not successful. Then she shouted at the cat, threatening to fight him, she said, laughing. The cat, about 50 feet away, stopped approaching but kept its eyes focused on her.
“I thought, ‘I’ll just start recording,’” Gallant said. “‘This is really cool, I want to share this, and if I get eaten, then at least people will have footage of what happened, and they’ll know what happened to my body when they find my phone.'”
When things did not change, Gallant decided that she was not content with the encounter ending with a viral video of her death by cougar attack. She tried another tactic, pulling out her smartphone again and looking through her music library. She wanted to find a song that might “give the right message to the kitty.” She chose Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me.”
“I thought, ‘That’s perfect. It’s got that really strong intro and it says exactly what I want to say,’” she said.
Turning the volume up, she pointed her phone at the cougar, which immediately turned and ran.
James Hetfield. Photo from Dee Gallant’s Facebook page.
Gallant shared her experience on Facebook that night. Friends started tagging the band and spreading the story. The media pounced on the story, first locally, then internationally. She received calls from Spain and Italy.
“When a CNN reporter tracked me down at work, I thought, ‘Okay, this is getting really big,’” she said.
In early August, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett shared Gallant’s story via his Facebook page, which thrilled her. The next day, an artist liaison for the band messaged her, asking for her contact information.
She got a call that afternoon, from a California number.
“Hi, Dee?” said the voice on the line. “This is James Hetfield of Metallica.”
“I didn’t know what to say,” Gallant said. “I was more scared talking to him than I was facing a cougar.”
They spoke about dogs and life on Vancouver Island. The guitarist said that he had read Gallant wanted to know that it saved her life, and he did in fact know.
After the phone conversation, Hetfield sent Gallant a photo of himself with a big smile, making the ‘rock on’ sign.
“Thought you might like some confirmation that it was me,” an attached message read.
“It was really cool,” Gallant said. “I was beside myself excited.”
Read The Globe and Mail story here.
Listen to “Don’t Tread on Me” here.
In a room filled with denim and red polka-dot scarves, a new generation of girls learned about the history of U.S. female empowerment.
The girls, ages 3 to 12, participated in a week-long Flex Visionaries Camp with a Rosie the Riveter-inspired theme. A presentation was given by three original Rosie the Riveters. The co-owner of Flex Studios, Angela Dunham, said it was an incredible honor.
“We are just so honored to celebrate their history with our campers,” Dunham said, as reported by The Register-Guard. “This is an incredible opportunity for us to teach our dancers about female empowerment by learning from these iconic women.”
The Rosies – Dorene Ronning, Opal Nelson and Dorris Graham – and Rosebuds (a name for female descendants of Rosies) – Yvonne Fasold and Karen Meats – talked about their time as Rosies and performed a dance for the young campers. Each of the five women are members of the Mackenzie Chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association. The association was formed by Frances Carter in 1998 to honor the women who joined the workforce throughout World War II to back the war effort.
Rosie the Riveter is an iconic name used to embody the women who took up the jobs that men left behind when they went to war. The name is most often exemplified by a war-time poster of a woman flexing her arm while sporting a red polka-dot scarf in her hair and a denim blouse. The image includes the words “We can do it!” According to the ARRA, Rosies were given the responsibility of supplying the war and constructing 300,000 aircraft, 15 million guns and 14 billion rounds of ammunition, etc.
If you were a Rosie, you did the impossible. At the time of WWII, Rosies acquired several jobs, along with the namesake riveter job. Rosies would use air-powered rivet guns in assembly lines that gave them the ability to construct machines at extremely fast speeds. Opal Nelson, a 98-year-old Cottage Grove resident, journeyed with a friend to the Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, California, looking for a job. She ended up working the graveyard shift in the riveter position. She was only 19 then but she remembers her assembly line turning out aircraft every 28 minutes.
Nelson worked on the Douglas A-20 Havoc, a light attack bomber that the U.S. and Allied forces needed during the war. Nelson said she eventually got bored during the day and decided to volunteer as a nurse at local hospitals in Santa Monica. She showed her nurse’s uniform to the campers. Nelson laughed when she told everyone the uniform still fit her, as long as she didn’t button it. As a whole Nelson said it was a time in their lives that they ultimately forgot about, moved on from and never expected any credit for.
“We didn’t realize the impact of what we were doing,” Nelson said. “We were just kids.”
Even though some women had jobs as nurses or teachers during that time, the Rosies changed the route of women in the work force, and that laid a foundation for the women’s empowerment movement of today. Karen Meats, a Rosebud and Eugene resident, said that the women never expected to be remembered for their contributions and efforts.
“They never expected to get any real recognition or anything,” Meats said. “The men were fighting overseas, they needed people to fill the workforce and they stepped up to do it.”
Meats’ aunt, Dorene Ronning, a 96-year-old Eugene resident and original Rosie, told campers about how she entered the war effort at 19 years of age. Ronning worked at the Oregon Women’s Ambulance Corps based in Eugene, and there she became proficient in CPR and auto mechanics and was put in charge of driving an ambulance to gather the injured in case the war should ever arrive to Lane County. Even though she was not paid for her efforts, Ronning said she’s proud of what she did as a Rosie.
“I learned a lot of things, some of which I still remember today,” Ronning said. “But I had lots of ambition then.”
The campers and their parents chuckled as the Rosies recollected memories, including making their own stockings. Nylons, which in that period sported a dark seam up the back and were worn at work, could not be found, so they got creative.
“If we had a good friend and footstool, she would take an eyebrow pencil and draw the seam up the back of our leg,” Ronning said laughing. “And that would be okay unless it rained!”
“Now that would wash your socks off,” Nelson added.
Dorris Graham, a 94-year-old Cottage Grove resident and Mackenzie Chapter president, remembers dressing up with a friend to go to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday ball in 1943 at the Wardman Park Hotel.
“We walked in and this beautiful woman came up to us and shook our hands and said, ‘Thank you for coming to the president’s birthday ball,’” Graham said. “It was only after she left that I realized that she was Eleanor Roosevelt.”
Graham typed out war bonds for the U.S. Treasury Department based in Washington, D.C. War bonds provided debt securities given by the government to pay for the war. They were good for everything from war supplies to Rosie paychecks. Graham, who was only 17 then, had just graduated from high school. She said that while some people saved their bonds, she spent hers on shoes, which added excitement to her boring job.
“I sat in a room surrounded by 50 typewriters, and four big windows that overlooked the White House,” Graham said. “So I spent most of my time typing and looking out the window at the same time. It was fun, but boy it was boring.”
In the end Graham found work at the Weather Bureau and was given the responsibility to keep track of where all of the weather reporters were stationed.
The young dancers at the camp surprised the Rosies by performing a dance in complete Rosie the Riveter attire to the Rosie theme song. Rosies love to come to events such as Flex camp, according to Eugene resident and Rosebud Yvonne Fasold. She said that every time they do these presentations, people clap and do things to honor the Rosies, and it makes them feel like royalty.
“It just gives you chills, and they deserve all of it,” Fasold said. “To this day they are so independent, so confident and so positive.”
Fasold’s mother, who has passed away, was an original Rosie. She is Fasold’s inspiration for telling the history of the Rosie’s empowerment movement. That movement is what led Dunham and her fellow business owner Lindsey Shields to form the visionaries camp.
“We really wanted to tap into female empowerment and teach these kids through dance about history and social justice issues,” Shields said. “This is why we’re here. We want to be a studio that can have these difficult conversations.”
The Rosies blazed the trail for women to enter the work force, and since that time, women haven’t left. Ronning said she remembers long days and long nights but mostly that she never thought they’d get credit for what they did.
“By the end of the war in ’45 we were just history,” Ronning said. “But I would do it all again.”
Read The Register-Guard’s story here.
A five-year-old girl was rescued on Portmarnock beach in Ireland July 22, after being swept out to sea with a floaty. Her Virginian rescuers were Walter Butler, 21, twin brothers Eoghan and Declan Butler, 18, and their brother-in-law Alex Thomson, 24.
The young men had recently started to enjoy the water when they heard someone calling for a lifeguard.
They saw a girl on a “pink flamingo floaty screaming for help,” as reported by Independent.ie. The current was pulling her away from the shoreline.
Walter is a health services technician for the United States Coast Guard. He decided to remain on the beach while the rest of them tried to reach the child.
“As we swam out, I realized that if this girl needed to be revived or needed any medical attention, I had to be in my best shape to provide first aid,” Walter said.
Portmarnock beach in Dublin, Ireland. Photo from the Creative X Digital Ireland Agency Facebook page. Credit to Tauseef Sarwar.
“You could see the brave little girl fighting for her life. She was doing everything she could to stay alive. Luckily, she gave it her all and Eoghan had enough time to grab her.”
Presently, Declan and Alex also reached the girl and assisted Eoghan in bringing her back to the shore.
“There’s not enough words out there to describe the exact moment,” Eoghan said, “but when I saw her in the vastness of the sea struggling to keep her head above water, all I could do was to reassure her that people were out there for her and to ask for her to keep strong.”
The ordeal took its toll on the girl.
“When we finally got there, she was a nervous wreck. Luckily, I was able to take her mind off of the matter by talking to her, asking her when her birthday was, what her favorite color was and other things.”
As the stress of the event increased, Alex thought of the baby girl he and his partner are expecting in October.
“The main thing I was thinking about was we couldn’t lose that little girl. I’m expecting a daughter in October and was empathizing with the father’s fear. I just couldn’t imagine the pain he and the family would have felt had she gone under.”
Declan said he was “grateful” that the group decided to go to the beach that day and were in a position to “help that unfortunate girl out.”
“I’m so glad that she has the chance to see life now, and hope she can truly enjoy it,” he said.
The girl was taken to a children’s hospital and her condition has been described as non-life-threatening.
The girl’s father, who did not give his name, told The Irish Mirror: “Only for them, my daughter wouldn’t be here today.” He said that he was screaming for assistance “helplessly” as the situation unfolded.
“They were so brave. They should get an award,” he said.
“My daughter was taken to hospital, but she is safe and well at home now. I’d really like to thank those men.”
Read the Irish News story here.
Note: The young girl has been reported to be both 5 and 6 years old. Her age is thereabouts.
From left to right: Eoghan Butler, Alex Thomson, Walter Butler, and Declan Butler. Photo from The Irish Times.