Early in 1942, a young man from Rhode Island, Tony Pritchard, who had rarely been outside New England, went into the U.S. Army. By the time he returned home more than five years later, he had been all over the United States and Western Europe, had led troops in combat, had nearly died, had worked with refugees, and in general had encountered a world far wider and far more brutal than anything he had known.
Years later his son Arnie inherited Tony’s old army foot locker. It turned out to contain hundreds of letters, photos, and other documents from this time. These sources vividly portray the people, places, and events which he encountered. They also portray the hopes, fears, and passions which he and others struggled with as they played their parts in the largest conflict in human history. As Arnie became immersed in wartime material, a narrative began to emerge, and he put his father’s letters into a presentation designed to entertain, to educate, and to enlighten. Arnie is now an historical World War II storyteller, chronicling Tony’s experience of the European campaigns of 1944-45.
WHEN: Tuesday, July 31, 7:00 PM
WHERE: Main Library, 6 Monteith Drive
This program is part of the 2018 Farmington Libraries Summer Reading Program, which this year celebrates the book No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII by Robert Weintraub.
No Better Friend tells the story of Air Force technician Frank Williams and Judy, a purebred pointer, who met in WWII and were POWs in a camp in the Pacific. Judy was loyal, with a keen sense for who was friend and who was foe, and the pair’s relationship deepened throughout their captivity. When the prisoners suffered beatings, Judy would interrupt by barking. She survived bombings and other near-death experiences and became a beacon for the men, who saw in her survival a flicker of hope for their own. Judy was WWII’s only canine POW, and when she passed away in 1950, she was buried in her Air Force jacket. Williams would never own another dog. Their story–of an unbreakable bond forged in the worst circumstance–is one of the great undiscovered sagas of WWII.