Saturday, February 24, 2018

Prohibition Secrets of Atlantic Highlands

Today we learned about the Prohibition Era by taking a little tour around our town of Atlantic Highlands.

A little research turned up that illegal liquor arrived at the Mandalay Bay Pier under cover of night and was taken to a number of local garages for storage.  Some nights the local police even shut off the electric to aid in the transport and even provided escorts!
Image result for mandalay bay pier atlantic highlands

Rumor has it that there is a 7 block long tunnel running from one of the garages to what was then Andy's Tavern.

Image result for memphis pigout

We also stopped by the sites of a deadly shootout between rival gangs of bootleggers and the site of one of dozens of local speakeasies.

We also visited the home of local legend Vito Genovese, who rose to power in the Mafia as an enforcer during Prohibition.  Genovese and his wife lived down the street from our home in the 1950s but we found out that in the 1930s the owned an estate a few minutes away.  The estate has become a county park, Deep Cut Gardens.  And the gardens are all thanks to Vito Genovese who wanted to recreate the pastoral and formal gardens of his native Naples.

While his house is no longer there, the gardens are.  Including an ode to Mt. Vesuvius that was allowed to erupt on special occasions.

The tour around town inspired the kids to grab our books on the history of our town and do some research of their own!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Life in the Trench ... A Letter Home

After learning about trench warfare, the girls wrote a letter home from the trenches.  They had to create a character and include who they are, what they do, where they are located and when they were there.  Then they had to use their five senses to describe their situation to their loved one back home.  A fun way to share what they learned from their research.

To my dearest Family,

It has been much to long since I have written to you, but being a nurse is no less chaotic than actually fighting
in the trenches. Everyday, hundreds of soldiers arrive to be treated, and on top of all the ones who have arrived
previously, this is almost too much to handle.

I consider myself lucky. I work in one of the base stations in France, far from the horrors of the battle. But I have
heard that some nurses have been sent up to the front lines.

While the base stations are much nicer, they are not very nice. There are so many wounded here that it has
become cramped and overcrowded. The beds are placed very close together and there isn’t much space to move
around. Some of the soldiers here are in such bad shape that I am nearly sure that their cases are hopeless. The
wounds are horrendous, sometimes making me feel sick.

The base station where I work is relatively clean. Well, clean enough at the least. But even so it smells of blood,
dirt, and death.

The constant moans of pain are unsettling, yet that isn’t even the worst. To hear a soldier’s dying words has
been the most traumatic experience yet. The other day I sat by a soldier I had been nursing for weeks and
watched him take his last breath. I felt heartbroken. The poor boy could have been no more than eighteen.
I can’t bear to see what this war has done to people, yet I am still glad to do my part to help.

I hope that everything is all well back at home. Do let me know if you hear from James or William.

                 Love always,


September 15, 1914 Chemin des Dames, France
Dear Mother,
I am still alive. My fellow soldiers and I are finally finished digging
the trenches. After many long days and nights, we have a place to stay.
I am grateful for it, but the conditions are horrific. The trenches flood,
and they are filled with rats. The rats are a huge problem, for they take
our belongings and food.

The food is stale, and we do not eat much. We eat only what is needed to
keep us alive, but nothing more. I do hope the war will end soon. When
it does, if I am still alive, I will come home and make a feast for all of us.

We constantly face risk of disease, such as trench foot. Trench foot is a
condition caused by dampness. The trenches are dirty and they smell so
horrible, it is almost unbearable. The stench of rotten flesh is
overpowering, but it will hopefully become normal to us. Also, the
overflowing latrines adds to the smell and it is a terrible thing that
nobody should have to suffer through.

I must admit, I do enjoy the sights. There are meadows covered with
blankets of beautiful poppies, and there is lots of sunlight.

Currently, the only sounds are men talking, but soon we may hear
gunshots and screams.

So far, the enemey has not attaked, but soon our luck may run out.
If I do not return, tell Mary, Helen, Margaret, and Elizabeth that I love
them and miss them.


Learning About WWI and the Roaring 20s

We watched a number of videos on WWI to learn about the events, important people, and the living conditions.

WWI Overview

How WWI Started

Causes of WWI


America in WWI

Life in a Trench

The Halifax Explosion


Trench Warfare

Guns of WWI

The Roaring 20s

20s Slang


1920s Dances



Al Capone

The Great Gatsby

There are also lots of great videos on

Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook, NJ

We took a field trip to Fort Hancock at our local Gateway National Park on Sandy Hook in Highlands, NJ to learn about its role in WWI. 

We visited batteries, saw artillery, got up close with shells, saw where all of the guns were tested and got to see the barracks.  It gave the girls a great understanding of how the country was defended and how artillery was tested during WWI.

Battery Gunnison
    • Construction started in 1903, completed in 1905.  Platforms raised and retrofitted in 1943.   Examination battery, it fired upon ships that did not respond to challenges from New York harbor control.  Both guns are still able to function today.  

Battery Reynolds
    • Sixteen 12" mortar battery originally known as Sandy Hook Mortar Battery built between 1891-1894. In service from 1898 - 1920.   All but 4 guns were removed for service elsewhere for WW1, guns were destroyed as part of disarmament in 1920.

12" mortars in a mortar battery pit

The Proving Ground 
    • The bulk of weapons designed for coastal defense were tested at Sandy Hook
    • Range of guns rendered the proving grounds unusable, and the proving grounds were closed in 1919 at the end of WW1.

Nine Gun Battery
    • Made up of Batteries Richardson, Bloomfield, Hallecks, Alexander.  Construction Started in 1902, Completed in 1904, Active until 1943.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Creating a WWI Themed Monopoly Game

Years ago I bought a "make your own Monopoly game".  And pulled out out the other day to help the kids explore some of the facts around WWI.

I gave them the following guidelines....

Money = Troops.  You don’t want to lose all your money or your troops are all dead.

Streets = Battles.  Select major battles or problem events during WWI and find a picture, a name and a
location for the sticker. Know which side won the battle.  Put this on the sticker as well.

Half the players will be the Allies and half will be the Central Powers and you will work as a team.

As you travel around the board you will get to purchase “battles”.  You can only purchase “battles” that your side
won.   When someone from your side lands on your battle, nothing happens, other people landing on them is
bad for them because they give their life points.

Houses = Supplies.  Once you own a “battle”, you can put “supplies” on it.  When you put more supplies into the battle
so it costs you some troops to get things up and running but then when the other side lands on it, it will cost
them many more troops because you are have so many more for the battle supplies.

Chance Cards = Everyday Events.  Select things that could happen to soldiers and put them on the “Everyday
Events”  cards.  Good things give you life points and bad things take them away.  Like getting new socks is good
and shooting yourself in the foot is bad.  You need to research these things to know what kind of things would happen.

Title Deed cards = Battle cards.  Make new “Battle” cars with casualties instead of rent.  

Change the other things on the board to be WWI related.  Like passing go could be “Reinforcements” and would
give you more troops.  

Glue pictures on whatever you need to, change the names of things to make this game entirely WWI!

And they created a perfectly playable Monopoly game and learned a great deal about WWI while doing their research to fill in all the blanks.  Playing the game was fun too as they spouted off things they had learned.  Well, fun until I landed on the electric company and learned that my troops had been attacked by a flamethrower and I lost half my troops!