WWII Forgotten Heroes & The Homefront – New Releases

What if you could learn history the same way the people who lived through it learned about it at the time it was unfolding? While that is not exactly possible, here are two new books designed with that concept in mind.

During World War Two, how did school-aged youth learn about the people, events, and other war-related information? Since the events of wartime America were in-the-making, they could not learn about it in a textbook. Instead, they were getting their news and information from newspapers, radio, magazine articles, newsreels, as well as first-hand accounts from family and friends involved in the war effort. Popular culture played a huge role in informing a young audience about the war through movies, radio programs, books and magazines, and…even comic books.

The Records of History World War Two Series is designed to discover information about the war through the same windows of information and learning that was readily accessible to the contemporary juvenile reader of the early 1940s – especially, the wartime comic books. The first two titles in the series, “Forgotten Heroes” and “The Homefront,” are now available on Amazon. Each book offers puzzles and activities based on source material produced during the war years, vintage story reprints, and in addition, some opportunities for input based on your family’s stories.

cover_ForgottenHeroesRecent movies (e.g., Dunquerque, Midway, Churchill, Wonder Woman, Captain America: The First Avenger) reminded us of some WW2 heroes – both fictional and real. Our personal lists of real heroes include those fathers, grandfathers, and other family members who fought in the war. Most of them never became famous, but their patriotic service and devotion to duty deserves to be remembered – especially, and at least, by their own families! “Forgotten Heroes” reminds us that while many then-famous, fictional heroes were later forgotten in the public arena, it is up to us to make sure that in our own family’s shared memories, our family’s WW2 heroes are not “forgotten heroes.”

cover_homefront“The Homefront” surveys many aspects of life on the home front. For most Americans, life during the war involved sacrifices: shortages, acts of community service, air raid preparations, rationing, and, if nothing else, a variety of inconveniences. Rationing, scrap and salvage collection drives, and victory gardens, are among the topics included in this look at life on the home front during the war years.

If you want a fresh way of learning (or reviewing) America’s wartime experiences, this series offers exactly that. You can check them out at Amazon.com now.

My Top 3 Christmas Songs by Holiday Category

One of the fun conversation topics with friends during the Christmas season seems to be various “favorites” lists. You may be asked to list your favorite Christmas movies, your favorite Christmas food, your favorite stocking-stuffer gifts, or simply your favorite things about Christmas.

But even if never asked to share it, everyone has their personal list of favorite Christmas songs. They are the songs that you make sure to include on your Christmas playlist every year in order to guarantee for yourself “that Christmas feeling.” Everyone has their favorites, and yet a few seem to resonate well with everyone year after year. I recently saw a list online (Newsweek’s “The Top 20 Best-Selling Christmas Songs of All Time”) that got me to thinking about my own favorites. However, I wanted to give it a little different twist and consider my top three Christmas songs by five categories (the categories themselves being made up by me specifically just for these lists). Perhaps some of my choices below will also be on your list of favorites.

My Top 3 Christmas Songs by Holiday Category

Hymn: Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World

Indoor Holiday Theme: Deck the Halls, O Christmas Tree, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Outdoor Holiday Theme: White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells

Santa: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Here Comes Santa Claus

‘Tis the Season: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, The Christmas Song, A Time to Be Jolly

Whether your list would look similar to mine or not…I hope you enjoy the sounds of the season. Merry Christmas!



Looking for a book that will be a unique Christmas gift that is “just right” for that special someone? Check out these possibilities…!

blog promo Cowboy Heroes

A perfect stocking-stuffer gift for the one who enjoys puzzle books: Cowboy Heroes Puzzle and Activity Book has dozens of western-themed puzzles and activities, and is only $4.95 now on Amazon.com!



blog promo CreedsCodesCowboy heroes like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, and the Lone Ranger were known for their high moral standards in their shows and characters, but did you know that each of them also had a 10-point “code of the west” for their young fans to live by? Creeds, Codes and Cowboy Commandments: TV’s B-Western Heroes Rules to Live By reveals how the cowboy creeds and codes of these heroes translated into their on-screen actions and tie-in merchandising. Perfect gift for anyone who recalls when these cowboy heroes rode the TV range for law and order in the Old West!

The first four volumes of Matt’s Wild West Discovery Series are now available for purchase on Amazon. Each volume highlights a different aspect of the West and is packed with puzzle and activity pages, reprints of vintage comic book stories starring famous western heroes, a Paul Bunyan story, and more! Fun, colorful books for the young and the young at heart!blog promo WWDS_all4

Happy Thanksgiving!

If I had to choose my favorite holiday of the year, it might well be Thanksgiving. It is a wonderful convergence of fun, changing seasons, and anticipation, due to the food-centric family gatherings, the sense that autumn is about to yield to the onset of winter, and Christmas is just around the corner!

In my youthful days, Thanksgiving always meant our family would gather with available grandparents and other relatives to enjoy a family-reunion type of day filled with lots of turkey, homemade dishes, and pumpkin pies. After a brief recovery from stuffing ourselves, my brothers and cousins would usually drift outdoors to play a game of touch football. That was usually followed by watching NFL football on TV during the afternoon. Back then mid-week football on TV was an NFL novelty, as there was not yet any such thing as Thursday Night Football.

Its a Wonderful Life - lobby poster

More often than not, the day would conclude by sitting in front of the TV watching whatever channel was broadcasting the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. For our family, the broadcast of this classic movie seemed to signal the official beginning of the Christmas season. In September, I had the privilege to meet Karolyn Grimes, who played the little girl Zuzu in the movie. At the time the movie was being filmed, she was growing up in sunny, southern California, with no siblings and no personal experience with snow. In the course of filming It’s a Wonderful Life, she had a chance to sample life within a larger family, and snowy weather (even though the snow was fake). Regarding filming of the movie she later commented that, “Being from the land of sunshine, it was a tremendous fascination which gave me a whole different feeling about Christmas and families.” (“Zuzu’s Wonderful Life in the Movies”, Christopher Brunell) As many know, the film highlights the value of family and prompts us to consider what truly is important in our busy lives today.

Zuzu's Wonderful Life in the Movies

Often lost in all of the activity of Thanksgiving Day is the need to actually pause and be thankful for how one has been blessed. Even in years filled with setbacks, worries, and grief, there are things and people in our lives for which we can be grateful. It reminds me of a hymn I recall from my younger years – “Count Your Blessings.” Here are a couple of my favorite stanzas from that hymn:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.


So amid the conflict, whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.


On Thanksgiving Day, it’s good to remind myself there is more to be thankful for than just the turkey.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Roy Rogers Memories Live On in Portsmouth, Ohio

Fans attending the Roy Rogers Festival in Portsmouth, Ohio last week remember Roy Rogers and Dale Evans for many things, including their many western films and great music. The iconic couple is also remembered for their love of children and devotion to family. As a little girl, my wife, Amy, met Roy at his California museum in the early 1980s when he posed for a picture with her and her sister! While I never had the pleasure to personally meet Roy or Dale, I have experienced the joy of meeting some of their children and their spouses. Several years ago in Branson, Missouri, Amy and I had a chance to meet Dusty Rogers and snap a photo of him posing with our own children. Last week, we had the pleasure to again meet and speak with Roy and Dale’s daughter, Dodie, who was a guest at the Festival along with her husband, Jon. We also had the opportunity to meet Roy and Dale’s granddaughter, Julie Fox Pomilia, and her husband. In my experiences, Roy and Dale would certainly be able to be proud of the way their children now represent their family legacy.

RR Fest 2019 Dodie, Matt, Julie
With Dodie Rogers (left) and Julie Fox Pomilia (right).

In some respects, the entire Festival had a bit of a “family reunion” atmosphere. The special guests from Little House on the Prairie (Alison Arngrim and Rachel Lindsay Greenbush) seemed like old friends, even though we were meeting them for the first time. Paul Petersen (from The Donna Reed Show) was a familiar face who took time to converse with anyone who wanted to chat. Familiar faces in the dealer room – both among vendors and attendees – added to the feeling of a family gathering. (I especially enjoyed watching a two-year-old boy who for two straight days would swing by to stare lovingly and longingly at the western toys on the dealer table adjacent to my table.) The evenings were filled with casual gatherings for music, food, and relaxed fellowship with fellow fans of Roy and Dale, further adding to the extended-family-gathering atmosphere.

Amy and LHOP gals
My wife Amy, with Alison “Nellie Oleson” Arngrim (left) and Rachel “Carrie Ingalls”Lindsay Greenbush (right).

MRR Fest 2019

If the only legacy left by Roy and Dale was that of the emphasis on family and family values, it would be worthy of celebration. Roy’s legacy includes many aspects of his remarkable career, and his place in Portsmouth history is noted in various ways in Portsmouth. We are fortunate to have so very much of Roy and Dale’s work preserved in recorded music, films, and books, as well as countless merchandise items. But on a personal level, there is also that part of Roy’s legacy that lives in the hearts and minds of those attending each year, and the stories from those who met or knew him.

A legacy worth celebrating, stories worth remembering.

RoyR with Amy and Tracy, early 80s, in CA
Roy Rogers, with Amy and her sister Tracy, in the early 1980s, at Roy’s museum in California.