Archive for the ‘personal history’ Category

Now, at 90, my place in family history
I am the oldest living man or woman in my family. It has been the women living, triumphantly, out living their men and some children. The loss of children is unbearable. Now that I have lost my son, I grieve in silence as my aunt must have. And for those children unborn.

The women on my mother’s side were those who have aged the best. Grancy holds the prize. At 100 plus she survived slavery, segregation, birthing thirteen known children and everything in between. She was born Adeline in NC about 1833. Her mother may have been Portia and her father a Crump. They were slaves of the Crump family. When Adeline was 5, they were transported to a plantation in Holly Springs, MS. 
Her first child, Josephine, was fathered by a Crump when Adeline was 13. A total of 8 children were born before Grancy was loaned to Ephraim Talbot. He and his brother, Francis, had moved to Holly Springs from MA in 1840 to open pharmacies. Ephraim’s wife died leaving him with two young boys.
Grancy was rented, probably to live in and care for the sons. Her daughter Josephine had ben living with the William Strickland family since age 9. He was a prominent lawyer, no relation to my gradfather. There she was the nurse maid to their infant daughter, Perle.
Four children were fathered, born while Grancy lived with the Talbots: Victor (1860),Annie (1862), Adeline and William.
These four youngest children were educated at Rust College paid for by their father? Ephraim. Grancy had big responsibilities as Ephraim also ran a pharmmacy in Memphis, TN. He spent a great deal of time there running Talbot and Yates pharmacy and his slave holdings. Grancy managed the the household and his slaves in Holly Springs.
As the Civil War heated up and Memphis businesses were in danger, Ephraim returned to MS and two of Grancy’s children were born as the war ended.
My grandmother, Annie Talbot, became a school teacher at 18. She married my grandfather when they both graduated from Rust College. Annie took her mother everywhere she lived. In Little Rock, AR, El Paso and Houston, TX, Wilberforce, OH where she taught in colleges, and finally Detroit, MI.
Annie and William Strickland married when they both graduated from Rusr College. While my grandfather studied medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, the family lived in Little Rock, AR where my grandmother taught in high schools and colleges. My mother Velma and Aunt Unita taught school also.

I ssay Grancy lived longer than any other family member because records were not kept at the time to clearly state births. The names of Crump slaves were recorded on arrival in MS. Grancy herself said she remembered 100 years and the presidents who served in her lifetime. 

Unita lived to be 101 as active then as ever. She worked for the government in Detroit. She followed the tradition of caring for her mother until her death. My great aunt, Adeline (Aunt Addie) Morris lived to be 92. She taught at Rust College and was a political powerhouse in KC, KS.

And now it is a puzzle to be resolved in the future. The statistics for me are good. I never was a smoker. I did not drink alcohol until my late forties and I have an active, quirky mind. So, will it be the tortoise or the hare?

Sent from my iPad

Read Full Post »

I used to answer telephone calls directed for my husband. The caller would settle for my opinion should he be away. Sometimes a parent of a prospective student called. I could reassure and offer to schedule my home and tour, or explain why hot water was in the toilet in the dorms. If you have followed this blog, you may have read about some creative ideas I come up with.

Late one night, the caller identified herself as a White House scheduler for President Nixon. I was friends with her parents and other family members. But this was a business call for my husband. Not finding him, she asked for my opinion.

Nixon was looking for an African-American (assumed to be male) who had two Ph.ds. One degree in Biophysics and the other in  Psychology.  My initial reaction was what? Yes, in the ’70s more advanced degrees were being earned by African-Americans, both male and female. But it would narrow the field. It seemed a curious combination, but what did I know?

After sharing my confusion, I assured her it would be better to contact John in his office. i also said, in my opinion, this would be a difficulr search. 

I did understand the value Nixon hoped to get. He wanted to understand how his pronouncements would be processed. His headlines on the front pages of newspapers (google ‘newspapers’), in the strongest way, told readers  what he would do.  Then, near the obituaries, a much smaller article would describe how Nixon would take the opposite position.

This allowed President Nixon to do either of these things. If your were for the first action, you were satisfied. Also the opposite action. This left it so  one or neither action could be taken wiithout too much dissent.

This was my opinion and now it helps me understand current politicians and their inconsistent promises. One way to keep the masses happy. 

Read Full Post »

Yearbook – Double Take

Others attending this school 1944 were Henry Kissiinger, Harry Belafonte, Betty Peters, Chester Redhead

Read Full Post »

Waiting in my inbox late Thanksgiving, Ancestry had found my George Washington H.S. senior  photo!  I am certain I never owned any paraphanlia like class ring or yearbook. You will find me Number one (but it is page 84). Look down a few rows and you will see a “look-alike. She was a class ahead of me but we were often mistaken for each other. Our graduation portraits looked more like the other.

Earlier in the evening, I had been asked several times if I have finished the book. Friends do not want to read bits and pieces on this blog as I am living ‘the Book’ . It could be called Many Lives of… Was this little green leaf, ancestry’s way of telling you they have found something,  trying to tell me to get on with my ‘work’?

George Washington was my second high school. I went to NYC for the summer and the adults forgot about school or sending me back. The last day of enrollment I was registered even though I had no papers and it was not in my district. The little lies are using a wrong address and being clueless about the system. Rejecting anything which might have bee learned in Chicago, my class load started out: English,Latin,Algebra and Clothing.  I could have taken cooking. My home room was made up of students who were between grade level. The hope was that we would catch up. Standing room only.

At that time, you were given a brochure telling how wonderful it was. Graduates were prepared to enter West Point and super fine colleges. It said its mission was for graduates to succeed.my uncle was not impressed with Clothing. His niece would go to college and,as he impressed on a cowering principal, they better get me there. They redid my classes but left me Latin 2. I entered the room late and had to share a seat with above mentioned girl. The class spoke only in tongues to my ear and the book was gibberish. Before I could work with a willing tutor, I was back at the beginning. Very difficult to relearn a language.

I did well, made friends, joined some clubs and delivered the NY Times. To get to school from the foot of Sugar Hill required over 100 steps through the park, straight up, walk straight up to Amsterdam, take the old IRT. All the while carrying huge books. Book bags were unknown.

You Arista under my name. That is the National Honor Society. My Ecomics and Civic teacher told me to apply my junior year. The committee was already meeting so it was a hurried job to get recommendations from my teachers and advisors. We were crushed when I was denied. There were no blacks being considered and the school’s record was not good. We decided to plan better and apply again. That meant more activities and keeping high grades. My recommendations were stronger.

When decisions were made, it was secret. You were just asked to attend. No decision was made on me until the last minute. I barely had time to get home and put on something presentable and back. But I made it. It may have been a first.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

If I am correct the polio vaccine was first available when my oldest child was going to enter school. We did not rush to get it for her. And we were glad we did wait.

Many children were said to have contracted polio after taking the vaccine. Later another version was made available and all of our children took that.

I know they all had the early diseases except whooping cough. I remember well my whooping cough illness. And the chicken and smalll poxes.

Many years later, we had cause to try to understand the relationship of all medicines and vaccinations to health. All of us have allergies and some have reactions to medications. What is meant to help often can do harm.

We had teenagers at home when the flu vaccine was considered to be the cause of deaths. Our friends headed the government program for its distribution. We felt bad for them. But we learned a lot about what was put into some of the shots. We have learned to become scientists, pharmacists, researchers as well as bullies.

When a medical person questions our experience and concern for certain medications, it is essential to hold our position. Over the last fifteen years, there are more choices: dye free, preservative free, etc. I would suspect that resulted from the public demanding alternatives.

My most recent struggles to find medicines which did not create new, worse problems was not without some humor. Pills are color coded to indicate the dosage. So white (no dye) may not be the required dosage. It turns out that not all yellows are the same. Some may have red or blue or? Who knows from the color chart. The pills also have pleasing names which have no relation to the dye. And have your doctor or pharmacy check the concerns like “not recommended for African Americans.” That at the minimum will give you something to discuss. Sometimes the internet will be a good resource but not always.

When your medication is a shot, how can you tell what is in it? I have depended on a compounding pharmacy to make medicine which does no harm. When necessary I have recommended to my doctor that he use this resource for my surgery etc. Many times, this request has been ignored with predictable bad results. More recently some of my medicines have to be made by Walgreens or Walmart. My preference to use my best resource is no longer possible!

I no longer have the responsibility for young children. Therefore, I try to keep my concerns to myself. More of the vaccines are grouped together. And there is the new one for young girls. I do not know what I would decide, I just know, I will worry.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: