Jebbie: Vamp to Victim
Judith Thompson Witmer, EdD
Jessie Beverly Pifer (Jebbie) is a real person, as real as the reader, and as complicated yet vulnerable as most human beings. Jessie, like your aunt, or perhaps your mother or grandmother or even you yourself, was a full human being who lived, laughed, and loved. She grew up in a small town and went from being the stylish girl with all the gentlemen callers to becoming a town legend.
The book follows Jessie throughout her life, providing a keen and personal historical perspective of the 20th Century. The culture of each decade is used to provide a personal sense of the times in which Jessie lived and by which she was shaped. The reader is drawn into this family as they not only become products of the era, but also are caught in a web of deceit. Laughing with Jessie and living with her family makes the tragedy, when it occurs, all the more real and unforgiving.
She was lively and witty, popular and, in some ways, eccentric, but she was above all, an independent person who asked help from no one.
All the Gentlemen Callers
Letters Found in a 1920s Trunk
by Judith Thompson Witmer, EdD
by Judith Thompson Witmer
Class of '55
Expecting that the standing trunk would make a charming photograph, I set it upright and opened it, to best display its set of five drawers in graduated sizes on the right. In opening the bottom drawer to give depth to the view of the trunk's interior, I found a dozen letters, tied with a white ribbon, that turned out to be from Jessie's high school and college girlfriends. Under that small bundle I discovered a cache of more than 100 letters, dating from 1924 to 1938, some tied together, others loose, but all addressed to "Jebbie" and all from her suitors during that period of her youth.
Shortly after completing the biography of my Aunt Jessie Pifer, I opened her steamer trunk (the high school graduation gift from her parents in 1924).
Growing Up Silent in the 1950s:
Not All Tailfins
and Rock 'n' Roll
The letters cried out to be used in a book, providing a first hand account of daily travails of life nearly a century ago, expressing a parallel to modes of communication of then and now, displaying emotions familiar to all generations, and revealing the love and devotion of "All the Gentlemen Callers.”
While most of the popular books written about the 1950s focus on the "pop" culture of the decade, Growing Up Silent considers the difficulties of growing up in a society that expected its youth to always "be good." This book is not a litany of regrets, but rather an investigation of the factors that created such a generation as we were -- a generation, despite the suppression, that history has shown to be responsible and productive.
Silent is well-researched and the author, Class of 1955, speaks with historical accuracy. Enlivening the books are reflections by members of the Silent Generation, through diaries, scrapbooks, interviews, and personal narratives from an era described as one with "unimaginable restrictions."
The Story of Kate and
This is not a typical biography, but rather a collection of history, remembrances, experiences, explanations, and tributes to Kate. It contains the genealogies of both Kate and Howard, who they were and who they became, scenes of our childhood, unpleasant—but necessary—familial lawsuits, and, perhaps, understanding and forgiveness. Howard’s 1920 Diary and excerpts from Judith’s Diaries, as well as letters among family members, are inserted here just as they were written, without editing.
The Story of Kate and Howard as recalled
and related by their daughters: Judith Evelyn, Jo Ellen, and Elizabeth Nan.
by Judith Thompson Witmer
This is an annotated genealogy tracing the lineage of four sisters through their two sets of grandparents from the time the ancestors landed in the 17th Century on the east coast of America from England, Germany, Scotland, Ireland or The Netherlands.
There are four maternal and four paternal lineages included here, one of which connects the sisters to the 11th Century and William the Conqueror. Names and dates of births, marriages, and deaths are all listed with many generations’ lineages enhanced by true personal stories and anecdotes that remind us of the struggles and very human characteristics not included in Family Trees and not always found in genealogies.
Lower Dauphin High School: The First Fifty Years
Loyal Hearts Proclaim presents the history of the Lower Dauphin High School from 1960 to 2010.
The book provides a journey through time at the high school, highlighting information about its administrators, teachers and students, and school events. An in-depth account, such as this book became with its 500 pages, has never been written about any other high school in the United States.
Available on Amazon !
Solace Through Writing
A Calendar Journal
Michele DeRosa, author of Solace Through Writing, says, “When we lose someone we love, there are no magical words to guarantee comfort; however, many who have suffered a loss have found that writing their thoughts help to acknowledge their emotions, finding solace through thoughtful reflection.
“Solace Through Writing is a journal designed to help you frame your thoughts. Some days you may write only one word--on other days you may be ready to tell a story, recall specific memories, or speak directly of your sorrow. To help you when you can't always think of something to write, prompts have been provided that will help you begin to make sense of your loss or focus on a specific topic. You need not follow these prompts provided, but consider them as nudges from your heart.”
Keeping a specially guided journal through this journey offers a way to honor the one we have loved.
Planting Wild Grapes
by Kathleen Kramer
Kramer’s Planting Wild Grapes is the successor but not displacer of her earlier Boiled Potato Blues. Present again in this work is her transformative ability to endure the pain of life, and her reverence for but not subservience to that life. Her word-web lures us to earlier times of 5- and 10-cent stores, porch swings, and Dinty Moore Stew. Her craft imposes on us a saner pace than our twenty-first-century bustle and breathlessness, and teaches us to observe, not just see, the pleasures of life. Her written world is one of toughness, moral authority, and best of all, lucky readers, consummate poetic sense.
The book’s last section, “Winter Trees Have No Secrets,” brings us full circle, in which the poet writes of aging and loss, but not without ironic admixtures of joy and humor, as the book’s very title—Planting Wild Grapes—playfully suggests.
In the next section, "Yesterday's Snow, Tomorrow's Garden," spring's hope emerges, along with more children and grandchildren, the pleasures of nature, art, and her new marriage, poignantly summed in poems of advancing years like "The Oldest People at the Party." This section closes with works that speak of letting go of life as a parent of young people.
In Planting Wild Grapes Kathleen Kramer circumnavigates her adult life, debarking from her rural Pennsylvania home-ground to “The Clarity of Crossroads,” the section that describes her leaving home and her struggles in Maine on a subsistence farm with her first husband, whom she leaves for a happier marriage, but not without inner scars.
Thompson-Pifer Genealogy for
The Thompson Sisters
by Judith Thompson Witmer, EdD
The Genealogy of Four Sisters
Yesteryear Publishing is a client-focused, detail-oriented service that understands both (1) the fledgling author on the cusp of approaching his/her first professionally- guided publication and (2) the already- published author who wants a skilled, attentive guide who can make the path easier.
Using the personal services of Yesteryear Publishing is like sitting with your best friend who has your interests in mind and can tailor the services to the assistance you may need. We spend time getting to know you and understanding the story or the message you want to convey. Please see Yesteryear Publishing services for details.
Our clients range from already published poets and authors to novices with only a great idea. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of writing, Yesteryear can help move you forward.
Judith Witmer, the principal of Yesteryear Publishing, holds a B.A. in English Literature from Penn State, an M.S. and Doctorate from Temple, and both graduate and post-doctoral credits from Harvard University. She is an accomplished author and editor, skilled in historical narratives, biographies, journal articles, reports, profiles, speeches, and other creative endeavors.
E. Nan Edmunds is our creative designer.
by Kathleen Kramer
Available on Amazon !
In Everything Matters, her newest volume of poetry, Kathleen Kramer has used her own photographs as sparks and seeds for the poems which richly inhabit this collection. In so doing, she has given both poets and photographers and their fellow travelers a great gift. Poets will find here yet again her inimitable gifts of patient attending to what wants to be revealed along with the rigorous discipline of finding just the needed words to sing her subjects into being on the page.
Photographers will discover that her photographs also sing when we forego the all too common descriptors of our efforts as “snapshots” or “captures.” With her gentle and loving attention to each of these beautiful images, Kramer has taken us further into her own unique spiritual language of glory and praise. Having read and re-read this volume with the slowness needed, we come to see poem and image as together doing what all classic religious Icons do: open our hearts to the silent center, where we can be still and lovingly know another being, even as we in turn are known and loved.
Beyond the Melody is unlike anything you have read before. It is a fitting tribute to two women of great substance who experienced an extraordinary journey and a friendship that most of us can only wish for. Combining households was the easy part in light of what they later faced through a labyrinth of medical facilities, personnel, specialists, and, finally, hospice when one of them resolutely faced her terminal illness. Nancy Hivner, not realizing she was beginning what would become a compelling read, kept their many friends informed through beautifully crafted emails that were positive in their message while honest in the facts-not an easy task.
Seven years following the loss of her dear friend Sheila, Nancy decided to memorialize this friendship by telling the story behind the emails.
The result is riveting. The author's ability to inject humor into the daily travails of the journey allows the reader to identify with--and perhaps prepare for--the all too human and somewhat inevitable experience many may face.
A Lifetime of Writing:
Eugene Clemens describes himself as an eternal metaphor, sharing with several generations of students the mind’s inquisitiveness. He notes that he is sustained by music, beauty, and a sense of the mystical, and these gifts became the basis for forty booklets of reflections which provide the core for this anthology shepherded by his son David. Through these words his soul’s voice continues to influence thought and meditation.
He says that good fortune permitted him to travel to other lands; yet, the wanderlust was mainly for the inner journey into fuller humanity which he has shared with all who have known him personally and professionally. It should also be noted that for many seasons of soccer at the college, Dr. Clemens, or Geno as the team members have dubbed him, led a “Circle of Trust, by which the team members huddle and share inspiration. The scoreboard for this sport was established in his honor.
Eugene has been married to the former Vada Mae Hostetler for more than sixty years and they are the parents of three children—David, John, and Kristina—and seven grandchildren.
Though born a shy Hoosier boy, Eugene Clemens knew at an early age he was destined for the world. After earning a BA in history at Goshen College, an MA in philosophy and a PhD in religious thought, both from the University of Pennsylvania, Eugene and his family settled in Pennsylvania where he held an appointment as Professor of Religious Studies (1965-2000) at Elizabethtown College.
The photograph on the book cover was taken at the Peace Tree which Dr. Clemens and a student planted some thirty-five years ago on the college campus. The Clemens Peace Prize has been established in his honor as advisor to the student group, Advocates for Peace, and for his service to the Elizabethtown College Alumni Peace Fellowship; his being instrumental in establishing a peace studies minor; and his teaching Peace and Conflict Resolution. This prize is awarded to a student who applies the principles of peace-making to an area of his or her expertise.
by Eugene P. Clemens
by Eugene P. Clemens
Available on Amazon !
Truly there is company on a common path, different as the life particulars and personality peculiarities may be. Fellow travelers, I do understand.
The purpose of compiling these daily reflections is twofold:
1. that my family may better understand what I was undergoing within, as they watched the external effect of Parkinson's; and
2. that others who may be afflicted with Parkinson's Disease may become acquainted with what to expect in their own experience.
The universal truth of human existence is that we share it and that experience is more than what is seen on the surface.
To all I extend the compassion only empathy can bestow.
Late on the Road of Life I Met a Man Named PARKINSON:
Based on letters written by a young soldier during World War II, A Son’s Letters to his Father is compelling reading. Bill Calhoon, Class of 1941 who could have grown up in your hometown, was described by an early reviewer of the book as a regular GI, a simple man who understood the complexity of the war in which he found himself, not having any idea that he would not see his wife or as-yet-unborn child until the little boy was three years old. Bill was faithful in writing to both his wife and his father despite the fact that soldiers’ letters were censored as to war campaigns and locations. However, because the letters are masterfully narrated in the context of the history, today’s reader, with even a limited knowledge of WWII, is immersed in the daily coping on the homefront and the events in the Philippines as they were happening.
“Do you know where I could donate my dad’s letters from WWII?” Jan asked. “Is there any group that might be interested in these?” We discussed possibilities, such as the local historical society and World War II museums, particularly the one in New Orleans I recently had visited, an experience I would never forget.
Having been a young child during World War II I remembered much about the time, from the parades to singing in war bond rallies, seeing the neighbor on our right wait for years for her fiancé to get “home from the war” and the neighbors on our left inconsolable at losing their favorite nephew, a young man to whom I, at age six, had written a letter because that is what everyone did.
In reading Bill Calhoun’s letters, I came to know him and the more I researched what was happening while he was stationed in the Philippines, the more I wanted his children to note such understated entries as “our outfit has been awarded the Bronze Star for the campaign for New Guinea and I saw General MacArthur, even though I’m not allowed to say where.”
Even more important to note is the love and gratitude this young soldier felt for his widowed father who “has been both father and mother to me.”
A Son's Letters
to his Father
World War II
The English Students
The "English Students" describe themselves as “…the generation who grew up with television. We grieved the death of President Kennedy. We eventually went to war against North Viet Nam. We were raised to have opinions and we let them be known. We had the draft and the lottery numbers—but they were for military duty and not for professional sports or fortune. We fell in love, drove too fast, and danced the night away—yet had our school work ready for the next day.
"We were described by Time magazine in 1965 as being 'on the fringe of a golden era of introspection with a fixation on self… said to be idealists, and later in life surprising even themselves.'
"In high school we discovered that B-1 was not just a room. It was a different universe. B-1 was home base. It was social, academic, personal, a place to return to in order to get one’s balance and begin again; a place of primary concern for school work like studying, tests, and grades; a place for shaping relationships between student and teacher; where the training of our minds was implicit and where academic rigor was demanded; where human kindness and respect flourished.”
by Judith T. Witmer
It's the Berries!
Life as a Co-Ed in the Roaring Twenties
by Judith T. Witmer, EdD
“It’s the Berries: Life as a Co-Ed in the Roaring Twenties” presents life as offered to favored youth of the 1920s, “...like a bowl of cherries, just there for the taking—especially if you were a seventeen-year-old co-ed whose parents had the means to send you to the big city of Philadelphia, only a train ride away from the cosseted life of Curwensville, Pennsylvania.”
What kind of future did they dream of, this Generation of the 1920s who had come out of World War I and could look forward to creating whatever kind of life they chose? It is said that they were seeking personal freedom, which they had not had as children. They were riotous in small ways and full of “le bon mot,” looking to design their own style, their own view of work, and their own choices in whatever they faced.
This 1920s Generation also had come out of a heritage of the nineteenth century when people were “born into” their small towns much as generations in previous centuries were born into the church. Those of the nineteenth century had “belonged” to their towns by their very presence, and a home town was a community to which one belonged by birth—“one big family,” according to Sherwood Anderson and Booth Tarkington.[i] Their social values, which are the basis for our personal and social behavior, were instilled in each by all other town dwellers, either implied or overtly.
Thus, these foundational tenets by which the new generation were to be guided in the twentieth century were set in the last decade of the nineteenth and then influenced the first decade of the twentieth centuries. Described as “the good years” by author Walter Lord and “the age of confidence” by editor and critic Henry Seidel Canby, the ”turn of the century” set the tone for optimism with strong beliefs in the future, in progress, in technology, in God, and, above all, in America.
Michele holds an earned degree in psychology from Millersville University in Pennsylvania as well as a degree from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science after being graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1978. She is also a certified celebrant, guiding families who prefer alternative approaches to clergy-based services.
Michele DeRosa has been counseling families through the process of grieving for more than thirty years and has created countless individualized memorial services. Her kindness, skill, empathy, and unaffected love are widely known among the families who find guidance under her care.
This journal of honest confession is dedicated to all those who have been chosen by blind fate to walk the road with Parkinson's Disease. Thus, it is an "inside job," a sincere communique to those similarly afflicted.
by Eugene P. Clemens
Growing up in Pennsylvania’s coal mining and farming region, Kathleen Kramer’s early life was influenced by the solidity of the earth and the rhythm of seasons.
At 19, she left for the city and spent five years working in Washington, DC for the Department of Defense. There followed a stint in Maine where subsistence farming took her back to the land. A second marriage brought her to Long Island, where she and her husband Jack reared their three sons in Northport, a small town on Long Island Sound.
During that time and over a period of 10 years of balancing classes, family and work, Kathy earned a BA at Empire State College and an MLS at C.W. Post.
Now, following retirement from the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell, Kathy lives with her husband in New York's Finger Lakes area where she write poetry and plays. Again, the natural world and changing seasons have assumed center stage. It's these foundational elements and the strength of generational ties which largely inform Kathy's poems.
"I simply adore words, for what they do for and to me.
They are my beloved friends."
I was the one among you, who thrived on intensity, thirsted for ecstasy, and was transformed by luminosity. I have experienced the life force as intensity, the animating principle of my being. Having little to do with danger or risk, intensity is the guarantee of what is real. The thriving is none other than the reaching forth of desire to become human in the fullest.
Drawn to intensity, I am at the fountainhead of spiritual energy. Then,
in extraordinary moments, the thirst for oneness bursts all bounds and I am defined by a heightening and a unifying. These are moments of super-consciousness. All things are in that splintering of time made one. By the empowerment of this expanded, inclusive awareness, I am transformed through the luminosity I behold in the world surrounding me.
This is how I desire to be remembered . . ."
Eugene P. Clemens
My life of sixty-plus years has been a blessed one. I have a loving family, good health, enriching friends, a sustaining and motivating church community, a sense of accomplishment in retirement from a meaningful career, and a pension that helps pay the bills for me and the cat. One period of my adult life was especially happy; during the time when Sheila Zinn was my friend. I knew her for seventeen years. We lived together for twelve of those years until she died in 2008.
During the final six months of Sheila’s life when she was battling her illness in the hospital and at home, I corresponded with her friends and family via e-mail to keep them updated on her condition. Several weeks after her death, it occurred to me that those e-mails had captured a story I never anticipated nor envisioned myself able to endure if someone had outlined it before it began.
There was so much more to the story of our last six months together than I had written in those e-mails. The true picture of our friendship and Sheila’s final months was not fully captured. “Maybe I should write more, fill in the blanks around those e-mails.”
Sheila’s very presence in my life was a great gift. The things we experienced together were unique, as is true for any two people who share life’s experiences. That I could write something readable about that and have it be well received was a continuation of the gift. I resolved to forge ahead, believing that I should trust God’s nudges once again and share the story.
The first readers said it’s about friendship, terminal illness, devotion, grief, cohabitation, love, hospice care, with some “comic relief” woven through. The only sure thing I know is that this is the story of Sheila and me. I wrote it as accurately and truthfully as I could. I am not a writer. I have never been motivated to write a book about anything. I am not motivated to market or sell this story. I’m publishing it because I feel led to do so and will, as Sheila once said; “…trust God for the outcome.” I hope you will find meaning for yourself as you read. If you do, you will have discovered what it’s about.
Judith T. Witmer, EdD
It's the Berries! Life of a Co-Ed in the Roaring Twenties
I Have Always Loved You
The English Students of B-1
World War II: A Son's Letters to his Father
The Story of Kate and Howard
Loyal Hearts Proclaim: Lower Dauphin High School: The First Fifty Years
Growing Up Silent in the 1950s: Not All Tailfins and Rock 'n' Roll
All the Gentlemen Callers: Letters Found in a 1920s Steamer Trunk
Jebbie: Vamp to Victim
Hummelstown Celebrates 250 Years (Editor)
I Am From Haiti: The Story of Rodrigue Mortel, MD
Je Suis D' Haiti: Par Rodrigue Mortel, MD
Moving Up! A Guide for Women in Educational Administration
Team-Based Professional Development: A Process for School Reform
The Keystone Integrated Framework: A Compendium
A Style Manual for Publications
How to Establish a Service-Learning Program
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