These amazing photographs come to us courtesy of Heather P. Shreve; author, historian, screenwriter, and great great granddaughter of Rosalie Tilghman Shreve, who build and owned the Plimhimmon Hotel in the late 1800s. It was the third hotel on Ocean City’s beachfront and would much later come to be known what we today call the Plim Plaza. It’s rather remarkable the way these things travel and are passed on from generation to generation. Over one hundred years ago someone took a picture of Arthur Lee Shreve and his sister in 1900 standing in front of the Plim, and here we are looking at it today because of social media’s power to connect us. Who said hashtags weren’t useful? As for the other photos, the first is of Barbara Harris Shreve, who married Arthur’s brother Bill Shreve, on the beach in front of the Plimhimmon. The second is Arthur Lee Shreve and his brother Bill, both of whom would go on to become highly regarded colonels in WWII. Heather was kind enough to share these with us, along with an excerpt from her novel, Once A Colonel, which tells Arthur’s harrowing story, an unsung hero’s journey of love and war. The setting here is a familiar one.
ONCE A COLONEL by Heather P. Shreve
“The American Dream was being shaken and stirred into a cocktail that was barely recognizable by Progress herself.” ~ H. P. Shreve
From Chapter 2:
It had seemed like an eternity before he heard from the Board of Examiners. Finally, one day in July right before his twenty-third birthday, he received a special delivery letter directing him to his next phase of Army life, and his next steps, requiring his response. On July 20th, he appeared before the Examining Board at Camp Meade, Maryland and was put through his paces. Physically, he flew through. He was now one-hundred-forty-five pounds and his chest circumference had expanded to thirty-six inches. However, the two-part written test had thrown him; he only received a 70% on the first half and a failing 48% on the second. He was amazed when the board decided to waive them both in light of ‘excellent conduct and manners of the candidate.’
In the meantime, Arthur had taken full advantage of his summer, much to the delight of the family and Della. He helped them with chores around the house, he played with his siblings and− best of all− he went with them to The Plimhimmon Hotel in Ocean City for two weeks; Della in tow. The sprawling white Victorian resort with a green roof had been built in the last century by his grandmother, Rosalie Tilghman Shreve. He always enjoyed it, but particularly this time. He made sure he spent time with everyone, especially Bill. He was determined to leave on a high note. Even so, all summer there was an ever-present feeling that an invisible thread was pulling him towards his destiny and his first assignment.
Just as he had left a small piece of himself behind in Romorantin, buried with his fellow Americans, when it came time to board the train south, he felt a certain ripping at the seams. Regardless of Arthur’s radiant smile and warm embraces, his sisters were still broken-hearted and teary. Bill, for the first time, shed tears in front of his big brother. This time, they were also tears of overwhelming pride for a man he could call an officer and his brother.
His mother seemed joyful as she handed him a small box. Inside was a new fountain pen. She said, ‘so you can write to me with that beautiful hand writing.’ Until now, Arthur had been without a reason to record his life. The images he had seen in France were burned into his mind. His encounter with the Great War was imprinted on his soul, carrying the pain of those he was there to save.
© Heather P. Shreve
You can grab your copy of Once a Colonel on Heather’s website and get 15% off when you use the promo code PLIM.