Book signing Charleston, SC
America’s White Table book signing at Gallery Chuma Charleston, SC, with former Vietnam Prisoners of War (POWs)
String performance includes audience participation, exhibit
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
Friday, November 16, 2007
Chamber Music Charleston wants you to become a fan of classical music.
Marching toward its goal of widening the audience for classical music, the nonprofit organization will hold a family-friendly event Sunday called “America’s White Table: A Musical Salute to our Veterans.”
The world premiere event promises to be different from what most expect of a string quartet concert. It includes a narrator, a large screen and sing-along songs in an effort to engage children, said Sandra Nikolajevs, director and founder of Chamber Music Charleston.
“It gives them so much to listen to and watch,” she said of the multimedia approach.
Nikolajevs has set a patriotic children’s book called “America’s White Table” to the music of Charles Ives. As the book is narrated, its illustrations will be displayed on a large screen.
The book was written by local author Margot Theis Raven and tells the story of three children who set a special table in memory of service members fallen or missing in action. According to Nikolajevs, Raven’s books tell the stories of quiet heroes who remind audiences that in the worst of times, the best people come forward to lead with hope.
Raven will be on hand to sign copies of her book, as will five South Carolina Vietnam War POWs who were held in the infamous prison known as Hanoi Hilton.
Audience members will be invited to participate during the event by singing such songs as “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”
Held at Footlight Players Theater on Queen Street, the concert will teach children about the string quartet’s instruments — two violins, a viola and a cello.
It begins at 3 p.m. and will last about 45 minutes. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children.
Afterward, the public is invited to an art reception and exhibit at Gallery Chuma on John Street.
By Dottie Ashley
The Post and Courier
Sunday, November 18, 2007
“A Salute to Veterans in Music, Words and Art” will be presented in the form of a chamber music concert and art reception today at the Footlight Players theater and Gallery Chuma.
The salute begins at 3 p.m. with the a concert inspired by Charleston artist and author Margot Raven’s children’s book “America’s White Table,” to be set to music by the Chamber Music Charleston group at the Footlight Players, 20 Queen St.
The string quartet will perform the music of Charles Ives and Samuel Barber as portions of the book are narrated and illustrations from the publication are shown. The story involves three children who set a special table for their uncle, a Vietnam prisoner of war, and also in memory of all members of the military.
Following the concert will be an art reception and book signing at Gallery Chuma, 43 John St. featuring Raven’s American flag oil paintings, which she created as a reminder of all who have protected our freedom. Also present for the signing will be five special guests who are former POWs from the Vietnam War.
A Salute to Veterans
The Chuma Gallery is currently showing “Our Great American Flag: Stars, Stripes, and Service,” a collection of works by Charleston artist and author Margot Raven.
The exhibit features Raven’s original and inspirational American flag oil paintings honoring our country’s brave veterans, past and present.
“Raven created the oil paintings as a visual reminder of all who have so bravely protected freedom. More than just a symbol, the flag is the picture/memory of those who have served a cause larger than themselves, many making the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for future generations,” the gallery states in a release.
For more information on Raven’s patriotic paintings, call the gallery at 722-7568, go to the gallery at
43 John St. or visit www.GalleryChuma.com
BOOK EVENT IN MICHIGAN
One of my favorite places! Wonderworks Art Studio, Birmingham, MI
Author’s Note: Katie, Gretchen and Samantha are the girls in America’s White Table book!
CANDY DROP — GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI
ABC Good Morning America with Robin Roberts after Hurricane Katrina. Among those in photos with her are Col. Gail Halvorsen, The Berlin Candy Bomber; Mrs. Gail Halvorsen; and Margot Raven. Photo on bottom left shows storm damage.
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
October 30, 2005
Holiday trick drops treats from sky
At 8:30 a.m. Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” children of the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District in Mississippi will get a special Halloween treat inspired by Charleston children’s author Margot Theis Raven’s book “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot.”
Raven’s book, published in 2002, is based on the story of retired Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, who was known as “the chocolate pilot” because he dropped candy to children in West Berlin in 1948 during the Berlin Airlift.
The Mississippi schoolchildren chocolate drop will happen at a Bay St. Louis athletic field. Raven, Halvorsen and Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America” will be present.
“It just feels so exciting to be going to do this, and to do this when there’s been so much devastation,” Raven said by phone Friday during a layover at the Atlanta airport.
Some 1,500 bubble-insulated bags, each containing two chocolate sandwich cookies topped with Halloween sprinkles, will be dropped in Bay St. Louis and at Reeves Elementary School in nearby Long Beach, Miss. Fifth-graders in Mount Prospect, Ill., attached the bubble bags of cookies to parachutes made of handkerchiefs. The Long Beach chocolate drop won’t be seen on the East Coast.
The Long Grove Confectionery Co. of Buffalo Grove, Ill., provided the cookies, which will be dropped from a Cessna 182 flown by a pilot from the Mississippi Civil Air Patrol. “We just wanted the kids to look up into the sky and see some hope as opposed to what they have been seeing during Katrina,” said Audrey Mitnick of Sleeping Bear Press, publisher of “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot.”
Area schools, closed since Hurricane Katrina, reopen Nov. 7, said Rebecca Ladner, principal of Waveland Elementary. She said 150 kids in Bay St. Louis will be on hand to grab the chocolate cookies falling from the sky.
“The children are going to be thrilled,” she said.
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
October 20, 2005
Matt Arado Daily Herald Staff Writer
Chocolate to fall from sky for these kids
Anyone with a sweet tooth has dreamed at some point what it would be like if chocolate just fell from the sky.
A Mount Prospect elementary school and a Buffalo Grove chocolate factory will make that dream come true for children on the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.
Fifth-graders at Fairview Elementary School in Mount Prospect will assemble small parachutes today and attach them to pairs of chocolate-covered sandwich cookies.
The cookies, made by the Long Grove Confectionery Co. in Buffalo Grove, will be shipped to Mississippi, where they will be dropped from a plane on Halloween morning into the hands of students from two Mississippi schools.
“The students are absolutely thrilled about this,” said Karen Noll, one of the fifth-grade teachers at Fairview.
“They can’t wait to help. We’ve been talking about what it would be like not to have a neighborhood to trick-or-treat in this Halloween. The students in Mississippi lost theirs in the hurricane.”
The students who will catch the chocolate treats attend Bay Wave Elementary School in Waveland, Miss., and Reeves Elementary School in Long Beach, Miss.
Both towns were pummeled by Hurricane Katrina. Bay Wave was destroyed, and its students now have class in a tent set up in a supermarket parking lot.
Cameras from ABC’s “Good Morning America” will be at Fairview today to film the students making the parachutes. The news show will also cover the camera drop live on Halloween.
The project was inspired by a children’s book titled “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot,” which is based on the famous candy drops made by U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen during the Berlin Airlift of 1948.
An ABC News producer got a copy of the book while producing a segment on the book’s author, Margot Theis Raven. This producer had previously worked on a story about the Long Grove Confectionery Co. and suggested that Raven’s publisher meet with officials from the chocolate company.
“He thought we might be able to work together on a project for the children on the Gulf Coast,” said Audrey Mitnick, publicist for Sleeping Bear Press, the Michigan-based publisher of Raven’s book. “So we brainstormed for a while until we came up with this idea.”
Lee Althans, an executive assistant at the confectionery, estimated that 1,500 cookies have been made for the drop. The sandwich cookies are dipped in milk chocolate and decorated with Halloween sprinkles.
“I think this will be such a wonderful event,” Althans said. “It will bring joy to children who really need some in their lives.”
Soaring spirits. After the storm: hope after the hurricane.
Article from: Mississippi Magazine
January 1, 2006
Just about every child dreams of chocolate raining down upon them from an open sky. For students at some of the hardest-hit elementary schools on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this dream came true recently when chocolate fell from a Mississippi Civil Air Patrol airplane in a mission designed to provide hope.
For students at Bay St. Louis and Waveland elementaries, school has been a unique experience since Hurricane Katrina, with classes taking place in tents. And out of 360 students at Reeves Elementary in Long Beach, the families of 102 lost their homes or were displaced.
The chocolate drops at Bay-Waveland and Reeves were re-enactments of drops that took place in 1948 in war-torn Berlin. Col. Gail Halvorsen, a U.S. Air Force pilot, flew similar missions and became known as the “Chocolate Pilot.” The story of Halvorsen’s drops and their effects on the children of Berlin are captured in Margot Theis Raven’s book Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot.
The book’s publisher, Sleeping Bear Press, coordinated and funded the Gulf Coast drops, Long Grove Confectionery Co. of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, provided chocolate-dipped sandwich cookies. Fifth-graders from Mount Prospect, Illinois, created parachutes to ensure soft landings for the goodies. Mississippi Civil Air Patrol pilot Wes Bennett flew the chocolate drops over Bay-Waveland and Reeves. Sleeping Bear Press provided more than 600 copies of Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot and other books to help the children replenish their personal libraries. Col. Halvorsen, who continues to make drops all over the world, visited both schools after the drops and spoke to the children.
Robin Roberts of ABC’s “Good Morning America” also participated in the chocolate drops, and “Good Morning America” aired the event live.
Although strong winds might have blown the chocolate a little off course, nothing could dim the happiness of the children, who left school that day with a smile, chocolate and hope in hand.
Candy Drops At Schools
The Fayetteville Observer (NC)
February 23, 2006
Kevin Maurer Staff writer
Berlin Airlift story comes alive
An American pilot tossed candy and gum to German children from his plane.
“Uncle Wiggly Wings” was at Pope Air Force Base to speak Wednesday because of two sticks of gum.
Retired Col. Gail. S. Halverson, now 85, earned the nickname as a lieutenant during the 1948 Berlin Airlift.
Halverson would move his wings up and down to alert the children below before he dropped tiny parachutes, attached to which were candy bars and gum. The children also called Halverson the “Chocolate Flyer” and the “Berlin Candy Bomber.”
On Wednesday, he read Margot Theis Raven’s “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot” to about 25 children who took part in the base’s after-school program. The children ranged in age from 5 to 12.
The children’s book chronicles Halversen’s “Operation Little Vittles” — his effort to bring candy to Berlin.
The Berlin Airlift supplied the western part of the city after the Soviets isolated the eastern half. The blockade began in June 1948 and was lifted in May 1949.
Halverson got the idea after talking to about 30 children at the fence encircling the airfield in Berlin.
“These kids had nothing. Zero. Not one of them put out their hand. That just blew my mind,” Halverson said.
He had only two sticks of gum. He broke each stick in half and gave the four pieces to the children. No one fought, and the children who didn’t receive a piece instead smelled pieces of the wrapper.
Operation Little Vittles started small, with Halverson buying up as much candy as possible at Rhein Main Air Base in Germany and attaching each piece with a parachute. His squadron mates soon chipped in, giving him their candy rations and tossing the treats from their planes.
Halverson knew it was against regulations to throw things out of the plane, but he figured it was worth the risk to bring a little joy to the children. The operation was going on undetected until he hit a newspaper reporter with a candy bar. The reporter snapped a picture of his plane.
Halverson was called into the squadron commander’s office when the picture showing his plane’s tail number was published. Halverson said his commander yelled at him for a few minutes before finally shaking his hand and telling him to continue.
The operation gained momentum when the American Confectioners Association sent Halverson tons of candy and gum. American children in Massachusetts also sent boxes of candy.
Halverson still has the letter from Mercedes, which is the premise of the children’s book. The German girl asked him to drop candy over her house because she wasn’t strong enough to out-muscle the boys at the airfield. She told Halverson her house was the one with four white chickens.
Despite flying into Berlin every day, Halverson never saw her house or the chickens. He finally mailed her a box full of candy.
Halverson visited Mercedes in 1995 and spent a few days in Berlin with her. Many of the children who waited for Uncle Wiggly Wings to fly over still keep in touch.
In 14 months, Halverson and his fellow pilots dropped more than 250,000 parachutes loaded with 20 tons of candy.
The Berlin Airlift was one of the United States’ first humanitarian missions. It was also the first major operation for the new U.S. Air Force after it separated from the Army Air Corps in 1947.
Halverson is a celebrity in the airlift community. His visit was sponsored by the local chapter of the Airlift/Tanker Association.
“Every airlift corner has heard of the Candy Bomber,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Niehaus, superintendent for the 43rd Operations Group and one of Halverson’s hosts.
He will speak to Pope airmen today about the Berlin Airlift and the importance of that mission, Niehaus said.
After reading the book, Halverson showed the children how to make parachutes and pass out candy.
“The kids are fun,” he said afterward.
Halverson said his story has a simple message.
“Try to do something good, because something good is going to happen to you,” he told the children. “The only real happiness you are going to get is serving somebody else.”
Copyright 2006 The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
Model in the Air Force Museum Dayton, Ohio — German child climbing for candy !
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
September 15, 2002
Sarah Layden Staff writer
PLANES RE-ENACT COLD WAR ACT OF KINDNESS
BERLIN AIRLIFT PILOT WHO DROPPED CANDY TO CHILDREN, BOOK AUTHOR TO VISIT MPH.
Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt will give a lesson on World War II and the Berlin Airlift on Tuesday that may sweeten the tooth, but not the truth.
On Tuesday, pilots will fly over the school and drop bundles of chocolate and gum to the pupils waiting below, re-enacting Col. Gail Halvorsen’s 1948 “Chocolate Drop” to German children. Halvorsen, now retired and living in Utah, would drop treats tied to mini-parachutes during the Berlin Airlift, earning himself the nickname of “Chocolate Pilot.”
Two vintage World War II planes used in the airlift, a DC-4 and a Stinson L-5, will make the drop Tuesday, said Karen Spear, MPH’s director of advancement.
“They’ll be very low, and I’m sure very loud,” Spear said.
The pilots had to get a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly at 500 feet over the school. They have a specific path they must fly in a 15-minute window of opportunity from 10:30 to 10:45 a.m.
Halvorsen’s adventures are chronicled in the recently released children’s book, “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot,” by Margot Theis Raven, who wrote the book based on interviews with Halvorsen and letters he received from children in Berlin. The two will be at the school Tuesday for the re-enactment. Theis Raven is from Central New York and her niece attends MPH, Spear said.
The school will hold an assembly at 9:30 a.m., and Halvorsen and Theis Raven will speak to the pupils at the kindergarten through 12th-grade school. Pupils from Syracuse’s Elmwood Elementary School also will attend. The chocolate drop will take place after the assembly, and the public is welcome.
Wegmans donated the candy and gum for the drop, and Dollar General donated the handkerchiefs that will be used as parachutes. Spear said parents and community members assembled the parachutes and tied them to the treats, and a test drop in Utica worked as planned.
After the drop, Halvorsen and Theis Raven will autograph books in the Solomon Family Gallery, and proceeds will benefit MPH’s scholarship and financial aid fund. The pair also will visit Borders Books & Music in Carousel Center at 4 p.m. Wednesday for a book signing.
In 1948, Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin blockaded access to Berlin by land in an effort to seize control of the region. Some 2.2 million residents would have fallen under Soviet rule if not for the help of the British and American forces, who flew over and dropped food and supplies to Berliners over the course of 11 months.
Spear said Halvorsen is known as an “incredible” speaker with an inspiring story to tell.
“I think in this day and age, we need heroes,” she said. “We need to hear stories like that. We don’t hear enough of them.”
Copyright, 2002, The Herald Company
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
September 18, 2002
Jim McKeever Staff writer
‘CHOCOLATE PILOT’ DROPS IN BERLIN AIRLIFT RE-ENACTMENT COMES TO MPH
History came to life in a big, noisy way Tuesday morning in DeWitt, as a World War II-era DC-4 plane flew low over Manlius Pebble Hill School and dropped 650 handkerchief-size parachutes of candy to hundreds of very happy youngsters.
The “Chocolate Drop” was a re-enactment of flights made during the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift by Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen and other pilots over West Berlin, where land supply routes had been cut off by Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
Halvorsen, who recently turned 80, spoke in the MPH gymnasium before the children went outside in time for pilot Mike Tinglestad to fly over and fill the sky with puffs of white cloth bearing Hershey bars and Wrigley gum that drifted onto the athletic fields and tennis courts.
The drop was delayed about 40 minutes as Tinglestad in his DC-4 – and pilot Andy Auchincloss, who did a “test drop” of a half-dozen handkerchief chutes from a World War II Stinson L-5 plane – had to wait for skies to clear over their departure points in Hamilton and Oneida.
The delay didn’t bother the children, who got to hear Halvorsen and author Margot Theis Raven, who captured Halvorsen’s adventures in her children’s book, “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot.”
The author is a former Central New Yorker whose niece attends MPH. Her book, published last spring ($17.95 hardcover, Sleeping Bear Press), tells the true story of 7-year-old Mercedes Simon, who wrote to Halvorsen – by then known as “the Chocolate Pilot” – asking him to drop candy near her home in West Berlin.
Instead, Halvorsen sent her a package of candy. A quarter-century later, Halvorsen met Simon – who became a pilot – and has visited her several times since.
At MPH Tuesday, Halvorsen dispensed as much wisdom as history.
Wearing a green flight suit that he said he wore as a 27-year-old pilot during the airlift, the trim Halvorsen told the pupils it’s life’s little decisions that are important.
Halvorsen said his entire life was changed because in 1948, when he met a group of children in Berlin, he gave them two sticks of gum. Because those children were respectful and agreed to share, the idea of the Chocolate Drops was born, Halvorsen said.
Before she introduced Halvorsen, Raven said that when he looked into the eyes of those German children, “He didn’t see the eyes of the enemy. He saw tomorrow.”
“If you want happiness in life, you have to forgive,” Halvorsen said. “Forgiveness is one of the best feelings you can have.”
Among the invited guests was Annemarie Dowling of Baldwinsville, who was a child in West Berlin during the airlift.
As she waited for the re-enactment, Dowling said that as a young girl she ate Tootsie Rolls and gum dropped by American and British pilots. She hoped to repeat history as the candy was falling from the sky Tuesday. “I’m waiting,” Dowling said, as excited as the nearby children.
About 10:45 a.m., the Stinson L-5 appeared out of the eastern sky and dropped a few chutes to test the wind. MPH pupil Alex Friedman, 13, won a footrace and grabbed a gum-bearing chute that landed in front of the school.
At 11:11 a.m., the much larger DC-4 appeared in the east and flew over the school, its four engines drowning out the applause and shouts of thanks from children as they saw hundreds of tiny chutes stream from the open doors above the wings.
In relatively orderly fashion, the candy bars, gum and chutes were scooped up, except for a few that drifted onto the school roof.
And in the spirit of Halvorsen’s visit, there was plenty of sharing going on.
Copyright, 2002, The Herald Company
Vero Beach Press Journal (Vero Beach, FL)
February 14, 2003
Isabelle Gan staff writer
CANDY DROP DELIVERS SWEETNESS
BERLIN AIRLIFT HISTORY IS MIXED WITH A VARIETY OF CANDY IN MARGOT THEIS RAVEN’S CANDY DROP FOR ST. EDWARD’S STUDENTS.
Seventh-grader Alex MacWilliam and his classmates gazed up at the sky Thursday morning, anxiously waiting for a plane to fly by.
“There’s going to be some great history here today,” he said.
Moments later, a USAF T41C plane from Patrick Air Force Base dropped hundreds of parachutes containing gum, candy and chocolate over the Pirates’ football field at St. Edward’s south campus.
MacWilliam and about 700 other St. Edward’s School students were all taking part in a re-enactment of the Berlin Airlift candy drops of 55 years ago.
It was author Margot Theis Raven’s fifth candy drop to promote her new children’s book, “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot,” released last May by Sleeping Bear Press of Chelsea, Mich.
“It’s an out-of-body experience for me,” Raven said.
Raven’s book, which is set during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 to 1949, tells the true story of now-retired American pilot Col. Gail Halvorsen. Halvorsen, the real-life “chocolate pilot,” started dropping candy to the starving children of West Berlin and convinced other pilots to do the same.
The book received attention at the school right after it was released.
Librarian Nancy Klein, who has been one of the key organizers of the event, said she got a copy of the book and introduced it to the fifth-grade class. It became a hit.
This year, Klein said that several teachers have incorporated it into their classes to breathe life into significant historical events.
In the seventh-grade history class, teacher B.J. Van Hest, tied the book with current events and the class discussion on freedom.
Her students have read Raven’s book and also watched video clips of the Berlin Airlift.
“It was a part of history that they’re not aware of,” she said.
One of her students, seventh-grader Laura Smith, found the story very inspiring.
“Just a little bit of candy helped make so much of a difference,” she said.
Halvorsen was unable to attend Thursday’s drop because of health problems. But his co-pilot during the Berlin Airlift, retired Col. John Pickering, of Punta Gorda, was there with the students as they scrambled to get candy off the ground.
The spectacle brought back memories from 1948.
“This is really tremendous,” he said.
Raven hopes that by re- enacting the candy drops, she has given the students something tangible to remember.
“It’s hope falling from the sky. It out-‘Disney’s’ the Disney moment because it’s real. That’s what makes it special,” she said.
The author, the book’s illustrator, Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen and Brig. Gen. Tom Mikolajcik, who used to be in charge of Rein-Main Base in Germany, will be giving a presentation at the book-signing event at the Vero Beach Book Center Children’s Store Saturday at 1 p.m.
FLORIDA TODAY (Melbourne, FL)
February 13, 2003
By Sam Eifling
Bombardiers target sweet-toothed kids
Pilots re-enact famed Berlin candy drop
Today, a T-41 Mescalero will leave Patrick Air Force Base, head south, and when it reaches its target, the soccer field at St. Edward’s School in Vero Beach, the pilot will drop its 50-pound payload onto the students waiting below.
At which point, 700 kids will race to snare chocolate and chewing gum drifting downward on handkerchief-and-string parachutes.
Along with fresh breath from above, they’re supposed to catch a history lesson. The drop re-enacts — honors, really — the post-WWII supply airlifts into Berlin and the actions of Air Force pilot Gail Halvorsen, who in 1948 inadvertently changed the world with two pieces of Wrigley’s Doublemint gum.
In 1948, Germany was split between the Western Allies and the Soviets — hence East and West Germany. Berlin, which was more than 100 miles inside East Germany, was similarly split, so the Western side of the city was a democratic island inside Soviet-controlled borders.
In the summer of 1948, Joseph Stalin cut off West Berlin’s access to the outside world. Two million people needed meat, milk, coal and medicine. The Americans, British and French decided to airlift those supplies in, to stave off starvation and Stalin.
They did it with small cargo planes, on overtaxed runways, at a pace of about one plane every three minutes each day for a year and a half.
“It was gutsy, it was all-out gutsy,” said Margot Theis Raven, author of the children’s book, “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot: A True Story of the Berlin Airlift.”
Which brings us to the so-called Chocolate Pilot. Halvorsen, a lanky kid from Utah, was one of the pilots making three runs a day into Berlin, bringing dried eggs, dried potatoes and whatever else would fit into the old C-47s and C-54s. Between 16-hour shifts one day in July, he hitched a ride into Berlin to shoot movies of the city.
At the end of the planes’ approach, he found a group of kids on the other side of a barbed-wire fence. For an hour they talked, the kids telling him to continue the airlifts, not so they could eat, but so they could remain free.
As he was leaving, Halvorsen gave them all he had on him: the two pieces of gum. While a few kids split the gum, the rest tore the wrappers into little strips they could smell.
“That was the smallest decision I ever made, but it changed my life,” said Halvorsen, a retired colonel, from his home in Arizona. “I thought, ‘Holy cow, for 30 cents, I can put them on Easy Street.’ ”
Vowing to return with more, Halvorsen took up a ration collection at his base and began dropping chocolate and gum (with handkerchief parachutes) for the kids. It was illegal, he knew, but when he was caught, the general loved the idea.
Word got back to the states, where chocolate was comparatively abundant, and the donations flooded in. Eventually, the candy was unloaded with the rest of the supplies, such were the quantities. All told, the kids of bombed-out Berlin, where fatherless families burned furniture and pages of their Bibles to stay warm, were graced with more than 20 tons of candy.
Sounds like a movie Disney rejected for being too sappy, right? Too blatantly inspiring. Too sugary.
But it’s a tale that sticks to the ribs. When Aero Club at Patrick Air Force Base decided to sponsor this drop, Maj. Roger Gibson, who has airlifted food in such desperate places as Somalia, volunteered proudly. A dozen St. Edward’s moms got together to fashion the little parachutes, testing them off roofs.
Do kids get it, though?
“It’s fun to see the kids when those parachutes come out,” Halvorsen said. “They chase them like the Berlin kids. The contrast between dried eggs and Hershey bars dropping out of the sky blew their socks off.”
Retired Brig. Gen. Tom Mikolajcik, who along with Raven and Halvorsen’s former co-pilot, John Pickering, will make a presentation at St. Edward’s, said the history lesson holds some promise for an uncertain present.
“The Candy Bomber is a world hero,” the Air Force veteran said. “Particularly now, with all the dangers in the world, with the war on terror and the buildup in Iraq, we all need heroes to look up to.”
Who: Author Margot Theis Raven and illustrator Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen will sign copies of their book “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot: A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy that dropped from the Sky.”
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Vero Beach Book Center Children’s Store, 2145 Indian River Blvd. Information: (772) 569-6650, (888) 732-3226 or www.verobooks.com
Charleston Air Force Base Gathering — Missing Man Table
The State (Columbia, SC)
February 23, 2007
S.C. BOOK FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Here’s a schedule of this weekend’s panels at the S.C. Book Festival. Events are at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St. in the Vista. For more information, go to www.thestate.com and click on the “S.C. Book Festival” link.
Writing for Young Readers: Pre-School to High School
Sonia Hayes, MargotTheisRaven, Elise Weston, Congaree Meeting Room B
4:15 p.m. -5 p.m.
Pure Poetry Phoebe Davis, Linda Annas Ferguson, Janet Carr Hull, Michael Lythgoe, Cassie Steele, Dennis Ward Stiles, Carolina Meeting Room
Readings Joseph Bathanti, Charlie Geer, Karin Gillespie, Beatrice Hill, T. Lynn Ocean, Brenda Lee Pryce, Kathryn Wall, Lexington Meeting Room
Writers Talk about What Books are on Their Bedside
Tables Sonny Brewer, Mary Anna Evans, MargotTheisRaven, Cornelia Read, Richland Meeting Room
Tell Me a Story
Children of Texas Military Forces members are invited to attend Tell Me a Story™ March 29 from 2-4 p.m. The event will take place in the Town Lake Ballroom on the second floor of the Radisson Hotel & Suites located at 111 East Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin.
Children, ages 2-10 and accompanied by a parent, will hear a reading of the story “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot” with big-screen illustrations. Following the reading there will be a short discussion of the book. In addition, each registered child will receive a story memento, and each family will receive one free book. Juice, coffee and cookies will be available at no charge.
**Reservations must be made no later than March 15. To register, go to http://www.texasnationalguard.us/tmas/tmas.asp?cmd=New .For more information, call (512) 782-5322. (Tell Me A Story™ is a program initiative of Military Child Education Coalition™.)