Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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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It never leaves, the sweat of fear.
I was lying on my bfack in the old truck, around me are my cousins and brothers. It is something we did at the country. We would count shooting stars while the house was closed and before we set off for Detroit forty miles, door to door.

But that night, my aunt and uncle had shooed us out early. They were solemn, more than usual. It seemed exceptionally quiet and we whispered the star count, making corrections if someone cheated. I always held my breath as a trail streaked the night sky.

Only the little radio in the kitchen cranked out scratchy sounds. While i could not understand it, there was a feeling. Doom. Mystery. Sadness. Fear.

I was familiar with this strageness. It starts with excluding the children, especially me. And was followed by hushed words.

What I learned later was there were reasons to worry. It was the event starting World War Ii. As a child, you learn the moods of adults around you. There are the worst times when you are virtually invisible. Like when someone is very sick or dies. You get your inside tied up inside, you stop breathing and you pull your shadow up into a small ball, hoping no one sees you.

The next time I remember there was a war brewing, raging, was Sunday, December 7, 1941. Living, attending high school in NYC, I had my own uncertainties. I stuggled to feel secure. Orphans and others who have shifting home lives, will understand the feelings.

We were spending a usual quite Sunday. After a large breakfast, my aunt rested while my uncle listened to opera on the radio. It was the kind they don’t sell any more. A floor model with both RCA radio and record player. The music had a soothing tone. My desk, and proof of study was the secretary with a drop down desk. You did have to remember to pull out the top drawer. Otherwise there would be no support to write on. Between me and the radio was the always present stack of NY Times papers and my uncle sitting, smoking his pipe.

Into such a tranquil scene, what could be so important as “we interupt this proggram…” Now we are so used
Lto Breaking News that we hardly notice. But then, to hear that America was being attacked by air in a place called …Hawaii. What could this mean for me, barely 15? I was distributing the Times at school. I decided immediately, i would save the issues to tell the story.

In time, the war either had to end or I would need a warehouse for storage. Instead we saved silver foil, used ration coupons for goods from sugar to shoes, and wrote letters until the boys came back men.

It is a time of fear again. So many fears of increasing unrest. The sweat of fear reminds me of times to become small.

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Justice Scalia

I explained to my grandson that I have been organizing my thoughts to  answer Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He burst into laughter. Then said, I have never heard you going after the Supreme Court.  I am still writing that post but want it to be understandable to the reader, Mr. Scalia. 

The holidays
Beginning with the rituals and celebrations of each religion, the holidays cover many weeks at the end of the year. Busy times for all. Merchandising includes Hallowe’en and I add Kwanzaa, a full quarter of emotional excitement. Part of me fights the high energy and wallows in depression. It changes my flexible routine. Years ago, it meant clearing the dining room table and putting sewing and paints away, only to unwind it all. 

Now the table can stay the same, no children and new spouses to feed. I stay near the phone and iPad to get the calls and messages from coast to coast. It’s the day after Christmas with little to do but write thank-you’s, checks for the postman, and bills. Not even snow to shovel in 70 degree weather.

I like the calm. I have new toys. Organizers for my studio. Parties to plan. Work to do in the next year. I start the new plans with the 2015 list. Ever hopeful that this time next year, it will all be done. That includes preparing for the holidays earlier.

Note to iPad gremlin

It is OK if I mispell a word, because I plan to edit. There is no need for you to substitute a word that makes no sense in the context of what I am writing. You need a sense of humor and to understand irony.  High early is not comparable in meaning to high energy. Also, it is not necessary to Capitaize a word where there is no period. As in the previous sentence.

Your helpfulness is too much. Soon you will be gone, fini, splat. Your red line under fini lets me know that you need re-education. And I am too busy writing to add that to next year’s list.

P.S. Everything is not what it seems. Under the cover is a candle. Light it to brighten your day.

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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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Not So Perky

Miss Perky has given up on her finery after days of gloomy rain.

We will move her from the window nearer electric light. 

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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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