Gettin’ Down and Dirty

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When we lived on the farm, I remember coming back to the house as a kid and my mom always getting on my case to “wash up”. Sure, kids (especially boys) get dirty on farms, but I had a logical explanation: since the Good Book says Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, I figured that the more dirt I got on me, the bigger I’d grow!  My mom, by the way, never bought that explanation. I had to wash up anyway.

There were other times that I loved getting dirty. When I spent the summer before my freshman year working on my uncle’s farm (again in Iowa), I loved being on the hay rack behind the baler in the fields.  We’d get thickly covered in dirt and tiny bits of hay, it would itch and we’d be sweating profusely in the hot Iowa sun, but it felt good.

And then, during my high school years, my friends and I would go out on cold winter days when it was wet and muddy and we’d play tackle football on the high school sports fields.  We would get absolutely covered from head to foot in mud. But what fun!

My youngest grand daughter reminds me that there is another thing that is worth getting covered with: pizza sauce!  When little girls gather for a birthday party, pizza is often on the menu…but it disappears like it was playing a starring role in a magic show!  But, it’s worth it…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1943, Joseph Stalin, premier and dictator of the Soviet Union, issued Order No. 227, that came to be known as the “Not one step backward” order, in light of German advances into Russian territory. The order declared, “Panic makers and cowards must be liquidated on the spot. Not one step backward without orders from higher headquarters! Commanders…who abandon a position without an order from higher headquarters are traitors to the Fatherland.”

Early German successes against Russia had emboldened Hitler in his goal of taking Leningrad and Stalingrad. But the German attack on Stalingrad, thought foolhardy by Hitler’s generals, because of Russia’s superior manpower and the enormous drain on German resources and troop strength, was repulsed by a fierce Soviet fighting force, which had been reinforced with greater numbers of men and materials. The Germans then turned their sights on Leningrad. Stalin needed to “motivate” both officers and civilians alike in their defense of Leningrad—hence, Order No. 227. But it was hardly necessary. On the same day the order was given, Russian peasants and partisans in the Leningrad region killed a German official, Adolf Beck, whose job was to send agricultural products from occupied Russia to Germany or German troops. The Russian patriots also set fire to the granaries and barns in which the stash of agricultural products was stored before transport. A partisan pamphlet issued an order of its own: “Russians! Destroy the German landowners. Drive the Germans from the land of the Soviets!”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: At a recent auction in Edinburgh, a pair of Queen Victoria’s underwear sold for £9,375 ($14,500 American). The knickers were made from yards of white cream fabric and had her initials VR (Victoria Regina) embroidered in them.

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