Archive for the ‘Who knew?’ Category

Our new furnace and air conditioner unit has only wrecked my bank account. Thank you, Mr. T., your portrait just added new equipment.

A new inspection turned up a new theory about the banging pipes. The air box, bringing fresh air to the furnace was put in wrong. Backwards? Really?

This house was built during the Vietnam War. It was one of the last built in a subdivision. It was pretty ritzy suburban living ten miles from the city and had its own name, post office, and volunteer fire department.

I knew some parts of the house were finished in the basement by the first owners. You could see the packing tape holding baseboards. But I would never have dreamed something so basic to the structure would be wrong from day one.

It was only in 2019 that Thelma Ritter’s ghost arrived.

The banging continues. And the constant high pitched sound that only I hear, is unabated. I am told I do not have a pacemaker which signals.

The moral of this story is that there are some things that do not get resolved no matter how much money you throw at it.

Suck it up. It is called Life.

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Fear lingers a long time.

Have you personally spent hours not knowing if a mob would appear, armed in the night?

Would you forget the feeling of your stopped breathing or your ability to move your limbs to safety? Would you know it again?

At the end of my freshman year, the President of Spelman College sent me word to stop at Asheville, NC on my way north. I was the only one who had a ticket in the direction of the Regional YM-YW Conference.

I replaced an elected delegate from TX. It was not fair but in 1948′ students did not argue with adults. Much was on the line: scholarships, good courses, or recommendations.

I had already been an officer in our chapter and was active in an Intercollegiate interracial Council.

The conference was held in a boys’ camp, above the city. I arrived as dinner was ending. I left a pair of rubber boots on the porch which had not fit in my trunk. Thus my name was Boots forever.

As the singing ended, we were lectured about our responsibilities. While on camp property our programs, meals etc. would not be racially restricted despite the laws.

The strongest admonishon was for going in to town. We were to travel with a chaperone and group of the same race. We were to carry ourselves, trying not to become an issue with the law or community. Over the many southern conferences I attended, this was repeated.

The week was a full of sharing and understanding.

On the last night, all assembled in the largest lodge. We held skits and singing as we prepared to leave new good friends.

In the last song, the brighest lights came on. Our top leadership talked to a hushed room.
A call had come from the police and other agencies in town. We had been warned.

Young men were riled up and armed. They were threatening to cross the lake and cause havoc to us. The plan was for the Black boys and their adviser to go to one cabin. The white advisers and white boys would move through the property looking for disturbers. They were given flairs,

We girls were separated by race but stayed in place with women advisers. We were asked to be as quiet as possible and use light sparingly.

Once we were all quiet, you could hear the shouting echo across the lake. We could see flares moving back and forth.

By early morning, we left for our trains in separate cars. What had put us in such danger? Along the roadways were huge billboards with our camp activities hastily blown up. Some one had left film to be developed!

My sense of doom did not lessen until the train pulled away with me in the Jim Crow car. I had noticed the additional plan. A group of Black women teachers were arriving for their conference. As they stepped off the train, city Black women, hugged each, whispering, “Come with me. I will explain later.” As you looked at that scene, you would not know these women had never seen each other. But had been mobilized overnight for safety of all.

In DC you changed trains after showering off the soot in the segregated car. It wasn’t fear-free but it was a fear I knew. I never forget the fear of an unruly, racially angered crowd.

I have given up the idea of writing a novel. Life events are more potent than fiction. The lessons I learned at 20 included how to organize for safety and how to love and protect strangers.

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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

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We make internet friends by following each other. WordPress has been a great gift of your blogs.  Some of you comment on things I have written, and I have also. There is much to learn and share.  And through it all, I feel enriched, inspired, and supported.

Today, in my email I was reminded of this sentimentality. I have been following Ali Manning, a bookbinder. Each of her  newsletters teach a technique. In addition, she welcomes photos of work by others. These she shares with her many followers.  I felt very comfortable last year sending a photo of a mini copper covered book. She writes in such a way that you feel she might be interested.

That first little book was in her newsletter even though I do not (have not) followed her instructions. Now today, in  her email she shares the mini crushed velvet book I made for a Christmas gift! She devoted a full paragraph explaining  how and why it was made.

I hope you will check out her blog vintagepagedesigns.com. In the menu is a link to Readers Books. The February 20, 2016 posting will take you there. And if you want to know many ways to bind books, follow her.

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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. 

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One of my favorites to follow is The Heritage Trust. Today the link to excavations in York, England is most interesting. I envy the Old World countries and their history. The United States is so young that finds might be less notable. You never know.

There are housing complexes and hospitals built on old dumps and landfills. Some are over sinkholes  and old battlegrounds. With so much construction going on, we are bound to find more Indian burial grounds. What else could be under your home?

See these photos for a world made unknown for so many years. 

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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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Don’t call me Blimp
Puleeze, don’t call me Blimp. You have no idea how hurt I have been being disrespected. Yes, I am large but that is no excuse to call me names.
Inside, I have so much to be proud of. If you do not know me, you have no right to pass judgement.
Inside this huge body, I have the latest and greatest innovations of observation. Did you know that I am programmed to find out stuff. So do not call me Blimp.
I can fly. If you come around and taunt me, it must be that you do not believe it. I can fly around and look for important things which I report on. I have an important role to play in security of the homeland. I can record stuff. If you have done nothing for homeland security, get off my back. 
I have heard men talking about why can’t I do more. They check all these systems as if I have returned from a mission. They call me blimp and criticize. I am too large. I am too thin skinned. They wish I had more color.
In the meanwhile, they have me tied up. I thought this was the Land of the Free. They call this mile-long chain a tether. But it is a restraint. Should I be able to move in and around in a mile wide pivot, but oh, no! There is so much in the way: trucks, dumpsters, tin buildings, even piles of building materials. I guess they intend to give me a family. A family they want to call Blimp A, Blimp B etc. Why such a limited vocabulary? I would like a name. Like the spaceship I am. Or like a telescope. Hubble sounds nice.

After taking so much verbal abuse, I longed to get airborne, to sail on the waves of the wind. To unleash my tether and leave the earth for my mission. I want to travel and see what is more than a mile circle. Which of course, I can barely see the ground in front of me. The ground under me is bare? Do I shut out the sun with my shadows?

Once I get loose, my gas will be useful. Ha ha to taunters calling me just a bag of hot air. I am filled with helium and ready to go. As I have plotted this journey, I know it sounds crazy. Those men who come inside poking around will not approve. But it will be better than sitting here. Bugs, small animals and kids think I am an ice rink or a pile of snow from New Jersey.

So here goes. An October Surprise. Fall Foliage Tour from the sky. I am cruising along. The trip of 2015. I am well-prepared for this. Sometimes flying low and aiming higher until I see what the Impressionist painters saw. Next time I will find a tornado wind and go to the moon. If I can. Maybe Mars.
Oops, those are Fighter jets following me. Now side by side. I wish I could wave to let them know it is a game.
They are going to change the air. I drop down more often. The ribbon of highway, the toy cars and trucks. Not sure about these wires. I may not clear them. Still got my tether. And I did not. Landing safe and did not cause any accident.


The news reported that fighter planes were scouting the Blimp and considering shooting it down.

Well, I guess I have done it. I did this all by myself. No terrorism involved. Landed safely without losing the secret instruments. But my repair bill will be a lot. They are shooting me. The helium is going out. Probably won’t hurt the environment that much. Still shooting. 
Much later

It was reported that 150 bullets were shot into the Blimp before using cranes to lift it out of a ravine. But then it was denied. 
The definition of “blimp”

Links to news 


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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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Who Knew?

My list of foods to avoid now includes things not on the green, leafy list::

Cashews (and some other nuts)
All-purpose Vitamins

I am now a food-detective. These are high in Vitamin K.

As they say, check with your doctor.

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