Archive for the ‘History’ Category

What did you talk about around the table on Thanksgiving?
Predictions were that current elections and the possibility of war would be top topics. After the sumptuous meal, for the fortunate ones, the grown-up table talk increases. 
We were among guests who shared personal experiences, opinions, and concerns. A small group of adults who spanned five generations. Our common characteristics: African American. We were all employed. (The most senior are employed at staying well and alive.) We shared our middle class-ness, regardless of the path to arrive there. Each person speaking from their own generation: spokes in a wheel.
I have been trying to find symbols that represent what was most important, and disturbing. Were I a composer, I think I would make music. A better writer, perhaps a pamphlet of opinion, a summary and possible conclusions. I might save characterization for a future novel. 
But I am primarily a visual artist. One who usually thinks content before making art. I want symbols where there were no cymbals at the table. The words radiated out from the heat off the sun and cooled as they were politely spoken. Drawn childlike. At the center, each of us spoke from the core of hurts, large, small, deep. Too painful to admit. Lava-like flowing on the outside of a hardened inner core. Too painful to go deeply.
Perhaps, a ball of twine wrapped around a stone. Sometimes a ribbon of velvet and silk, sometimes the roughened rope.

Perhaps a basket made by gichee mothers or for Moses. Safe passage except for a tiny hole. 
Perhaps, a fire burned down to ashes and then getting new life, reigniting. How do you express the cycles of history? The collective rebellions shut down by guns? The passiveness of fear? Not telling our children the full extent of the law and its historic significance? Jacob Lawrence painted the tables but could not record the talk around it. Karin Walker’s silhouettes are just eye candy without the words behind them. 
Or, the broken chains. We are left with the comfort meal, some understanding of how we are all connected but no workable solution.

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From: Sandi Gorin via <kyresearch@rootsweb.com>Date: November 19, 2015 at 7:39:18 AM CST

To: KYRESEARCH@rootsweb.com


Reply-To: Sandi Gorin <sgorin@glasgow-ky.com>

I enjoy the historical information in emails from Sandi Gorin. She researches and writes about Kentucky. However, you can learn a lot even if that state is not your primary interest. You can see that she has broader interests and ties them in to local history.

Most states have an immigrant population. Hope you will enjoy this item she posted.  At the bottom helpful hints to follow. 


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November 11, 1951
It had already been a snowy winter in Chicago. Not really good for students who lived in Hyde Park. That section of the city is still a beautiful place to live. It is close to the lake. It has great homes and large apartments. People walk every where. 
There were interesting stores, good restaurants and open spaces. Famous universities and museums made this an ideal neighborhood for singles and families. My relatives had owned a typical two family semi-attached building on Maryland Avenue since the 1920s. The block had become an oasis for Black families who were locating from Holly Springs, Ms. 
Little had changed since then in the racial make-up until the Hyde Park-Kenwood agreement* in 1948. The Supreme Court had overturned Restrictive Covenants on real estate as unconstitutional. Titles to property that had these clauses had the effect of keeping designated groups from buying and/or renting in perpetuity. Thus, making a ‘gated’ community of whole sections of the city. High standards of public services were guaranteed. 
And so, when I returned to Chicago after college and a year at the School of Religion, Howard University, I roomed next to my cousins. The advantages outweighed the negative: transportation. My job as a caseworker took me to the far westside. One thing the city fathers forgot was a plan to move diagonally from point A to point B. The office and my West Maxwell Street caseload were a challenge. Also, my bedroom was so small I could not stand if the ironing board was up.
The housing frustration was shared by several co-workers and we were able to share a large apartment on Hyde Park Blvd. New property owners were beginning to change the complexion of the area. I did not consider our unique arrangement until after we moved in. We were just happy to have space. Our popularity exploded. We became beatniks before we new the term. I quit my job and enrolled in the famous George Williams College just a few streets away. 
Not too long after that, I got a call from a casual college friend. She informed that I would get a call from a lawyer. He did call to inform that I was required to show the apartment whenever asked. He said investors were buying the large building and because I was the only minority, I would have to comply. I was angry and scared. Luckily my favorite lawyer was my cousin. He actually worked in the building with Atty. Journay White! A few steps up and Mr. White was told to leave his best cousin alone. That is how I was part of block busting, a common tactic to control the racial makeup of people living in an area.**
And then, the college was asked to recommend someone to work at a settlement on the Westside. I was lucky to have my maroon storm coat and my green fleece lined ankle boots, a typical caseworker outfit. The weather did not cooperate. Some days I never got where I was going. 
It seemed logical to buy a car even though I could not drive. One student worked at Hull House. He drove me to work and later we came back to Hyde Park. It was a 1937 Ford barely driven by the little old lady owner. It also did not like the piles of snow now covering streets and sidewalks. 
On November 11, 1951 the University of Wisconsin played Penn State. My roommate and I took the train to Madison. She had been invited by a friend of mine and I tagged along. The train was delayed while the engineer got out to clear the tracks. I needed my uniform because there was no heat. When we finally arrived, the weather was 70 degrees and it had no snow!
That is how I met my future husband. I never really understood the game of football.
* Supreme Court ruling on Restrictive Covenants, May 3, 1948

Urban Renewal Timeline

**Block busting is a practice to build fear that minorities are moving into an area. This is to get quick sales of other houses.

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I visited the Neslson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City last week.  Guess what I found?  Other posts…….. The Obama Chair House in Kansas City Cool Stuff Outside the Nelson Atkins Museum Connections at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art…


More memories…

Married a Kansas City guy and not only connected with my grandmother’s youngest sister, Addie Morris, and the rest of my family there. Never in my ‘lives’ in Chicago did I go to the museum of medieval military gear. So when I put the must-dos in K. C.  a priority was to go to the Nelson museum of Art to see the collection there.

It seems strange to say that trip included four children. We wont forget that visit for two reasons. One, the Asian collection  connsisted of the most beautiful and delicate wire weaving and ivory miniatures indescribingly complex. And in the next room, on the walls, were cars smashed and wrecked together.  The contrasts were without logic. What had we become over the years?

The second deep memory was eating in the cafeteria. We got trays for each of us while the children waited at the table. The servers seemed amused by us. They insisted on bringing all of the trays to us while they stared. One gentleman explained, we never see black families come to the museum. We see adults but no children with their parents. We are so proud is why we are helping you. 

We seemed like family after that.


When my in-laws died a few years later, we found ourselves dealing with their estate and the bank. They insisted they would come to the house and assess values prior to a sale. My husband, an only child, was devastated. How could we let strangers pull through and sell his property. I called the Nelson Museum for a reference to get things packed, stored and then shipped to our home in MA. I knew value but not how to assess what to take and what to let go. 

Surprisingly, they made all of the arrangements. Packing each selection with loving care, building wooden crates and finally bringing the valued and sentimental things to our door. I shall never forget the help they gave us.

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Amazing what is online! This website offers research by Leigh Henson, who lived in this small city. He shared not only the town’s ability to adapt to life with the very small number of Black families, but also his own experiences.

Using research of old newspapers, correspondenc and writings, he describes an intimate community of whites who had little exposure to Blacks. There are interviews and emails with classmates who shared how they were exposed to minorities.

In addition, there are photos. Buildings and important intersections which divide the community by class rather than race. And the most fascinating photos of a young woman. In one she is standing close enough to the camera to show only from her waist. Her face is the subject. Behind her, to her right, is a young man in a comic stance. She appears not to be aware of anything but the camera. The man is not identified. Nor is the photographer.

There were early troubles for the citizens. It was a northern town with southern attitudes. There were friendships formed lasting a lifetime. There was the KKK. This website won an award in 2004. I found this to be a wonderful depiction of actual times, actual small town America going about lives in a formative period post Civil War. Blacks describe what they had to do to be safe there and how the church helped them to cope. Good people are identified. The others were not.

Please check this out..

Site a part of the Illinois State Historical Society.


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John Quincy Adams was a diarist and journal keeper his entire life. His daily diary was restricted to one hundred forty characters. I heard this on c-span books recently. Did the originaters of Twitter know this in defining its format? If so, nothing is original. We just think it is.

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Open Letter to Kevin,

Your beautiful book just arrived. I cannot wait to read and share it. You took an idea from beginning to book in all the right ways.

You included me in getting involved so that I have followed all the ways you used the media so effectively. Who knew that you would use Kickstarter and get the money needed to publish the book? And will we see more from your publishing company?

It has been my pleasure to meet you through wordpress.com. I wish you further success. It did not pass my keen eye that you included a handwritten note. Thanks to you!


Re: The Vineyard We Knew, A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard, by Kevin Parham (Pria Press, Plymouth, MA)

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