The Butcher’s Daughters: the recycled recollections of two 20th century sisters
Published by Fay Kramer 2001
The best antidote I know to a swelled head is Fay Kramer. Think you have done something pretty nifty. Think again. Yes, so you learned to use a computer in your sixties. Fay did it in her eighties. You make a pretty good flower arrangnement? Fay helped to found Ikebana International.
There is nothing of the braggart in her book. She is the gentlest and most honest of souls. She simply tells what happened and what happened continues to be astonishing. I constantly had the feeling that more is yet to come. No doubt she will write the sequel to “The Butcher’s Daughters” , retailing the events of her ninth and tenth decades, in the same clear and refreshing style.
She is the elder of two sisters who were brought up in very modest circumstances. If something had to be done, you did it, whether it was gutting fish or delivering a loaf of bread daily to a pampered customer. With feet thus firmly planted on the ground and the confidence instilled by loving parents and family, Fay and Hope faced the bizarre challenges posed by the Second World War. They served in the Red Cross recreation and rehabilitation units and were based primarily in India.
Snakes, latrines, villainous mosqutoes, and drunken Texans posed far greater threats than Hitler ever could in this environment. After the war both sisters met and married their husbands. George Kramer was stationed in Japan and this is where Fay had her great epiphany.
The day she met Ellen Gordon Allen through the ikebana classes was pivotal. After that Fay no longer moved from one type of work to another, but had a firm purpose and directon. Mrs Allen’ s vision and energy may have created the organization but Fay was the one who created its magazine. The past was definitely prologue in her case. Everything she had done before came in useful for this new activity.n
We are fortunate that Fay belongs to our club. We salute her not only for her achievements, but just as much for her sense of humor and ability to look everything squarely in the face and still move on.
Epilogue (December 2007)
Fay Kramer died recently at the age of 91, active until the last. She did not add to her memoirs. She told me this was the only review that her book received and she was really delighted by it.