Category Archives: perspective

True Halloween Story: circa 1935 or ’36

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This was in my past Halloween posts.

One from what I consider the “classic

collection” of stories. When I used just

words to describe and illustrate my

posts. The man you will hear sharing an

old memory is gone now. He has since

passed away. . .

Let’s go back to the year my Mom would

turn 85 and I was visiting her at her

Senior Living apartment. We had

ordered our meals to take up 

to her apartment. . .

“An elderly gentleman was waiting to

pick up his and his wife’s dinners

last night, usually we sit for about 

25-30 minutes chatting with other

people.  Mom sits and sips her wine,

looking and studying faces. Some

are familiar and some are not so. 

We talked to this nice man, named

Felton, a few nights in a row, 

so she was less wary and 

more comfortable with him.

My Mom asked him if he liked

computers and if he had ever 

read any blogs?

Great “kidder” my Mom! 

You know how when you are young, 

you may”use” your kids as excuses 

or possibly as the way to open a

conversation? 

My Mom is the best for being my

“story hunter,” lately.

She asked him the best question!

“Do you have any special, scary

childhood memories of Halloween?”

Here is Felton’s story, with mostly

memories from his fourth grade

“trick or treating” experience.

He thinks it would have been 1935

or maybe 1936 when they occurred!

Felt and his two good friends,

one a boy who had grown up with

him and also his “best friend” and

a girl he had been considering

being his “girl friend,” were heading

out on a long ago Halloween night.

The candles in the pumpkins on his

porch were lit, his parents, he

recalled, were sitting and waiting

to hand out homemade cookies

wrapped in waxed paper and tied

with orange ribbons.

Felt’s friend, Buddy, was wearing his

“bum” outfit and his “future girlfriend,”

Sally, was wearing what she was

calling a “Snow White costume.”

Felton says he thought her big sister

may have lent her a headband and

pasted some costume jewelry on it,

like a crown, and she had a blue skirt,

white shirt and red vest on.

Her sister had given her rosy cheeks

and bright red lipstick-stained lips.

In Felton’s opinion,

“Sally looked beautiful!”

and added,

“I was wearing a plaid flannel shirt

and worn out jeans, with a big

hobo pack on a stick.

We boys often went as hobos.”

A side funny comment was made

when Felt reflected some more,

“I suppose Sally didn’t want to 

get any apples,” 

(as Snow White.)

We all smiled and Mom

chuckled saying,

“That’s a good one!”

Felt informed us that his memories of

actual treats were apples, cookies,

carrots and even cold pancakes.

(We said, “Really?!”)

and if lucky, 

homemade popcorn balls

and rarely,

Cracker Jacks!

Felt set the “mood” then, by saying,

“Did you ever think a witch lived

down the street from you?”

Mom said,

“Yeah, but she was just Mrs. Donahue!”

(We all laughed a bit about her reply!)

There was a house at a dead end of his

long and winding street. He said

it was very dark and gloomy due to

no street lamps so he and his friends

had never gone to beg for treats there.

It was rumored to have “spirits” that

flew around and haunted it with a large,

old witch living there. As the story

went, every kid that attempted to stop

and sell anything or stop and ask

for treats, would be killed with 

their eyes would be pulled out 

of their dead

eye sockets!

Mom gasped, appropriately!

I was enthralled, secretly memorizing

the phrasings that he used, too.

Felt added, “The eyeballs were the

witch’s souvenirs!”

Felt bragged that he never believed

the stories but had never gone up

those rickety steps nor had asked for

donations to his pillow case, full

by the time he reached that

end of the road.

While getting towards that end of the

street along came his

big brother,

Freddy.

“How did I recognize him in his

costume?

Well, let me tell you this, he had

no business trick or treating!

He was far too old to be doing it!

But he had my cowboy bedsheet over

his head, with his eyes cut out,

being on both sides

of a horse!”

He continued farther saying that his

brother had “broken the brother

covenant”

by daring him to go and ring the

doorbell or knock on that

big gray door!

We both asked,

“Did you really have a

‘brother covenant’?”

And Felton said, “Well, these things

are understood between brothers!

He should not have made me have

to do that and I was embarrassed

if I didn’t, due to Sally being there!”

Felton then added,

“Nobody wants to look like a chicken

when your future reputation is riding

on the dare! I was trying my hardest

to make a good impression on Sally!”

This is the precious line I memorized

and closed my eyes to keep for you all:

“After all, death is instant, but being

called a ‘chicken’ lasts a lifetime!”

This part continued to be very good,

I am so glad we had the time to listen

to Felton. We encouraged him with nods

of our head and “go on’s” along

the way, too.

So, Felt says, he went up the broken

down stairs to the dark, looming house

and trying not to make any noises. He

stepped carefully so that the wooden

porch beams would not creak. He felt

the palms of his hands get sweaty.

He “crept” towards the door.

As he was reaching for the doorbell

next to the huge gray door with paint

peeling off it, the door flew open!

He heard from deep inside of the

“witch’s house,”

a continuous shrieking sound!

Felt said, “It sounded like a ‘screaming

banshee!’ It gave me goosebumps!”

Felt told us he turned sideways, he is

never sure WHY he went that way,

but he headed down the length of the

porch till he ran into

a large, wooden

big tub or vat.

He toppled over ~ INTO the vat!

He felt squishy, slimy shapes in his

fingers

(“Oh no! the children’s eyeballs!”

Felton told us.)

Then the light on the porch

suddenly came on!

He was in a wooden vat of grapes!

The sticky, purplish liquid wasn’t blood!

The round, mushy shapes

weren’t eyeballs!

The large, “witch” came towards him,

yanked on his arms and dragged

him into her house.

The woman said,

“Wait here!”

Felt said, “I did not dare move! The door

of her house had been slammed shut

and that woman seemed angry!”

She went into what he assumed was

the kitchen because she came out

into her sitting room, where she set

two tea cups down and the still

hissing tea kettle on a

crocheted hot pad.

She again used a demanding tone,

“Don’t you dare sit down!”

And she stomped up the stairs in

these big, untied leather boots.

When she came back she had a nice

warm set of wet wash cloths

and handed one at a time to Felton.

He wiped off reddish purple “goo.”

She inquired his name, he told her.

She finished wiping him up with a

dry towel. She laid the towel on

her couch for him to sit down.

She then told him

her name was “Miss Miller.”

She asked him to sit down.

She handed him a wax paper

wrapped caramel apple.

She poured him a hot cup of tea.

Felton paused to say,

“I noticed that my big brother and my

friends did not knock on the door

nor come to save me!

I sat back on her rose tapestry sofa

and enjoyed my caramel apple

and listened while she talked to me.”

“She told me that she didn’t have

any children nor did she have any

friends. She told me this while

I waited for my tea to cool off.”

Felton said in a soft voice,

“I sensed she was lonely and

I felt sorry for her, too.”

She told me she was making wine

and that vat was filled with the

beginnings of a good wine, needed

days more to ferment.

She looked at me and I looked at her.

Really studied her.

She looked about fifty but at my age,

who knows how old she was?”

With a bottle of her homemade wine

in his one hand and a second

caramel apple wrapped up and

thrown into his pillow case of less

exciting treats,

Felton was sent on home after

about thirty minutes

of conversation.

Felt turned as he was leaving and said

he would come back, 

if his mother let him, 

another day to visit.

Felton said,

“Miss Miller smiled one of the nicest,

warmest smiles I have ever been given.”

“I always thought of Miss Miller from

that time on, as a nice neighborly lady.

Oh, and I had the best of times riding

on that wave of popularity

when you “beat the bad guy”

or “are a super hero” because I

lived to tell the story of going into

the witch’s house and making

it back home in one piece.

Best of all, my older brother,

Freddy, got in big trouble

for leaving me there!”

Happy Halloween!

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Thursday’s Doors~ September 10, 2015

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The door today is on a house located on West William Street close to Curtis Street which runs perpendicular to the house. It almost seems like Curtis would run straight into the surrounding wooded area. The house disguised by the woods “hides” the possible past home of a famous Delaware, Ohio family.

The house is currently painted gray, has black details and a Victorian front door. The porch which leads up to the door is decorated with white painted lattice work which I generally say may be found on “gingerbread houses.”

The white door may not be the original door. It has four small windows at the top of this rather tall door. It has three sets of panels with wooden strips framing them, all painted white.

Again, picture a gray house, black outlines and white details. A door which seems looming in size, with more details seen close up than far away.

I wonder if the famous family had a taller male as head of household?

Do Victorian homes tend to have taller doors?

I would need a step stool to decorate around this door with strings of leaves on a vine, which I had done on my last home. I like the idea of getting this house ready for Halloween.
In September, I would hang a grape vine wreath on this door. It would have golden silk sunflowers with a pretty ribbon of fall colors coming to a bow at the bottom.

The door recently seen, has no decoration on it. The large picture window, opening over the porch, has many panes outlined with black painted wood strips. The woodwork has some cracks in the paint once you climb the five steps onto the porch.
The curtains were a deep blue which held anything behind them “hostage” in the hidden recesses.

A closer look shows a small placard with a wooden frame. It reveals the past homeowners. It is not on a historical registry. It was a stop along the road of many stops chosen by a film director who had one singular famous wife and child.

The outstanding porch chandelier which on a snowy night was lit,  had caught my eyes.

It seemed to beckon visitors. It may have meant the house was ready for company. I imagined a long lost family member, errant but expected to return.

It is the crystal chandelier which is the only sign this is a special house. It distinguished the house and set it apart. The door doesn’t have a door knob, it has one of those handles with a curlicue at the base. It looks like it is painted black but this makes me wonder.

Would stripping the black paint off reveal brass?

I was driving past this house often, back in 1991 and 1992. My good friend and fellow single mother, Lori, had 3 children close to the same ages as mine. She lived about ten houses from this lovely, old house.

The house once the light was left on, shone through the bare wooded area surrounding this home set back from a busy road.

Had the light not been shining brightly with the way crystal reflects, especially on snow and icicles hanging from the porch roof . . .

Had one of my children asked me a question, taking my mind off looking at the scenery while driving a slow paced 30 miles per hour down this snow covered familiar road . . .

I may have missed seeing this home. I may have not realized it’s “lineage.” So many times houses are missed due to their location.

The porch has a pair of white worn rocking chairs. They have left grooves on the worn gray painted wooden planks on the porch floor.

* 311 North Washington Street, Delaware, Ohio 43015
has the privelege of being a house on a hill which was designated the inspiration for “Meet Me at St. Louis,” a film Vincente Minnelli directed in 1944.

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When I suggested to my friend, Lori, that we walk down the sidewalk and head west from her house to Trick or Treat, she thought this was a great idea. We usually piled into her van and went to one of the nearby neighborhoods. Houses close by, easier to go up and down short driveways had been our plan a few years in a row. She had moved from a smaller house in one such neighborhood and on this particular long time past Halloween, now lived in an older, bigger place.

We got to the Vincent Minneli house around dark, it had taken us 45 minutes to cover 9 houses. These older homes have gracious hosts with kind offers to sit on edges of porches and eat marshmallow rice krispie squares, caramel apples and frosted cookies. Apple cider, Kool Aid and water pitchers poured into paper cups, to wash down the sugary treats.

When we got to the beautiful Minnelli house, we felt like the driveway was a mile long. I had Felicia up on my shoulders, she had her younger Jacob upon her hip.

The house had the elegant chandelier shining brightly as our feet crunched through the fallen leaves.

We were very excited to read the framed listing of residents:

Mr. and Mrs. Vincente Minnelli

Retired from film making,

Lived within these walls.

Whose first wife was,

Judy Garland,

Whose daughter was

Liza Minneli,

and half-sister

Christiane Minnelli.

I remember reading this aloud to our children while we waited for the people to arrive and answer the door.

There were only two children listed in family members names in Vincente Minneli’s biography, Liza and Christiane.

My son (age 11) said rather amusingly,

“As long as the people don’t have scary flying monkeys we will like this, Mom.”

The elderly couple must have been between 85 and 90. One was a tall, white haired gentleman who leaned on his cane and the other was a stooped, gray haired woman in a dress and apron.
We were not sure how many people had traipsed up this driveway but we were warmly received.

You may be shocked but we were escorted into a kitchen that had a fireplace blazing, treats in brown paper lunch bags with an orange gingham ribbon tying each one.

We will never forget this unusual feature in the kitchen: a dumbwaiter! It worked, too.

Last, but not least, the residents told us they were not relatives of any Minelli family members.

~Written by Robin Oldrieve Cochran

(9/10/15)

This is a part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday’s Doors and you may find his post where links to other blogs with Door posts are displayed through photographs, descriptions and history frequently given at:

http://miscellaneousmusingsofamiddleagedmind.wordpress.com


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This next part was my previously published post:

It was a Character Study of a homeless woman. If you have read it before feel free to skip it.

I decided to have a connection built in this practice in character development with someone famous. . .

When I started to write about characters, I chose to

begin with two homeless men. I mentioned that there

are a few different people who I have seen in

Delaware, through inclement weather and over a year.

The men I gave names to, helping me to¬†become ‘real’

and giving them character traits.

I used my imagination as a ‘springboard’ to create

some depth and authenticity.

After all, when we write, unless we are sticking to the

total truth of our own lives, we need to learn how to

develop characters. I will not be writing a memoir

someday, although many of you are or may.

I think I am destined for writing fiction, using partly

truths based on people I have met, while adding

details to create interest and variety.

These ‘character studies’ have been my way of

practicing and honing my writing skills.

Something important that is easy to accidentally do,

when we start to write, is to make the people in our

books into¬†‘caricatures.’ One’s aim should be to create

people who¬†are¬†able to ‘walk off the pages of your

book.’ After reading, over the years, a¬†few books on

writing (another post’s focused on the ‘experts’¬†I have

studied) I did find out when it is considered

acceptable to incorporate some stereotypes.

These times can be when you are going for a broad

comedy, a science fiction or comic book type of style.

When you are creating sy-fy, in most situations you

wish the story to become believable and transport to

the foreign land of the future. It could be a stylistic,

polished picture that you may paint, like a top hat,

black tie book.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, “The Great Gatsby,” comes

to mind where the characters are painted with rather

broad¬†strokes… The character of Daisy’s husband is

abusive¬†but she doesn’t seem to mind. She is

controlled by him, much¬†to her friend, Gatsby’s

dismay. He may not have the appropriate lineage

to fit into the Jazz age, outlandishly extravagant upper

class picture that F.S.F. imparts. But Gatsby is the

most ‘real’ man,¬†in my opinion, other than the narrator,

Nick Carraway.

I feel for both men’s tough situations. Gatsby tried so

hard to fit into society, out of love for Daisy. His

lifestyle, on the surface appears to be wealthy by his

buying a mansion and throwing lavish parties.

My character of “Billie” is a woman who has been

around Delaware,Ohio for over a year. She has been

seen by my youngest daughter and me, on a park

bench in Mingo Park, along the walking trail

between William Street and Winter Street and on the

sidewalk by a plaza on Sandusky Street.

I have noticed this woman’s wavy,¬†sometimes

tangled strawberry blonde hair. It is not a brightly

colored shiny head of hair, but mostly a faded,

tarnished one.

She has a big backpack, which she may store

somewhere in the summertime, hiding it so she

doesn’t have to carry it constantly. It looks heavy.

Since we have seen her, wearing shorts, a tank top

and a sweatshirt wrapped around her waist. There

was no physical evidence, on that occasion, to appear

homeless.

Only once in the half dozen times where I have noted

her appearance, did I see her hair, woven into a loose

braid with a red rubber band at the end of it.

“Billie” makes me think of Pippi Longstocking, a

creation of the author, Astrid Lindgren. I imagine her

to have had a special life, once upon a time, like the

Swedish character.

The books about 9 year old, Pippi, were published

between 1945 and 1948. The chapter books are funny,

unusual and I would hesitate to ever try to imitate the

zaniness of the children’s¬†story lines of those amazing

chapter books.

I can imagine “Billie” as a rebellious and interesting

person, who may have been a “hippie” in the seventies.

I tried to visualize her as an affluent woman, who may

have lost her path in life. I don’t ‘see’ that in her,

if my views on her are at all possibly going to be

realistic, I have to think she made some choices that

took her away from a traditional working life. I have

to hope she doesn’t have children, although her losing

them to foster care, then a financial struggle could

be part of her past.

“Billie” was wearing dirty and raggedy jeans, a khaki

Army jacket, and wore on her back, the brown rolled

sleeping bag peeking out of her knapsack. The last

time I saw her, she was standing out in the rain. She

had one hand in her pocket and the other raised to

push her loose locks back into the hooded gray

sweatshirt that was under her jacket.

The layered look was a necessity because the nights

were¬†ranging in the low 30’s.

Although this Army jacket may seem to give a glimpse

of her Life’s choices and personal history which may

include she may have been enrolled at one time, we

can not be sure of this. The local Salvation Army and

Goodwill stores often have Army jackets, among their

donated coats.

I would like to envision a happier past for “Billie,” one

out in the country. Maybe she was a Girl Scout, a 4-H

member or her family went camping. This would have

taught her the skills to be able to survive all four

seasons here in Delaware.

I could visualize her skipping stones along the creek,

fishing with her father and maybe, if he were an

outdoorsman, going along while he pulled or checked

animal traps.

I wonder if “Billie” has an Army knife?

I wonder if she eats at the three different churches

that serve homeless or ‘down¬†on their luck’ families?

Then, on the last week which is not covered by these

meals, does she go to Andrews House?

Has she ever slept there in one of the bunk beds?

That is the¬†only ‘loft’ for homeless people we have,

usually with a long waiting list.

When I saw her last summer, “Billie” seemed to have a

wistful look in her eyes. She was sitting on a park

bench, watching a group of ducks on the tributary of

the Olentangy River.

She¬†doesn’t have a hardened look, at least through my

eyes. I see her as not dissatisfied with her plight in

life.

Acceptance and courage resonate from her freckled

face to the way she holds herself. That jaunty hand in

the pocket, the once, braided hair. Most of the time,

the tangled mess of hair seems to shout,

“I don’t give a hoot what people think!”

Does she take a knife or scissors to the hair so that

she has less of it in the summer?

Did she ever stop and talk to “Joe,” last summer, the

younger man with his dog? (Who frequented the

library and I had hoped had made it South or out

West.) His tan face and sun-bleached blonde hair, had

given me a ‘surfer’ sort¬†of impression…

I don’t see her liking that ‘cowboy’ or Irish¬†looking

“Brian,” who was straddling the big dumpster. He

seems to be too odd to trust, maybe even a little scary

to the short,¬†5′ 3″ or so, woman.

I may seem a dreamer, maybe a woman with her ‘rose

colored¬†glasses’ firmly in place, but I think that “Billie”

is not unhappy in this location.

Due to a bit of whimsy attached to that unmanageable

blondish¬†red hair, I guess “Billie” caught my attention.

Once upon a time, Liza Minnelli with her mother, Judy

Garland and grandfather, Vincente Minnelli may have

visited Delaware, Ohio.

After¬†all, Vincente’s paternal grandparents lived in

Delaware, Ohio.

Vincenzo Minnelli, had been a traveling piano

salesman, from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. He was

working for the Knabe Piano Company, when

Vincenzo met Nina Pinket, his future wife in Delaware,

Ohio.

Although there is no proof in the biographical

information that I found, Vincente’s father, may have

taught music at Ohio Wesleyan University.

I would like to wonder, ponder and imagine that “Billie”

could have some famous roots. It would be interesting

if she had turned up her nose at those in her famous

cousins’ family.

What could the possibilities be for “Billie” were she

sought out by distant cousins, siblings or others,

finding her in this town, not far from where she was

meant to be?

If so, she isn’t in Kansas anymore…

Predicaments

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I have thought for many days about what would I have done

differently in an early February conversation during a break

at work.  So many times during my life I have stood up for a

situation or cause, only to find out later this alienated me from

a friend.

 

I was so excited and passionate about seeing the movie, “Selma.”

I have been taught that by being silent one is quietly accepting

another’s words or choices. This is not a good position to be in

when making friends. I feel that if my friends don’t think along

similar lines, it is not a strong friendship but one of convenience.

Over the past six years, I have built a close-knit group of people

who get along together, joke and lighten each other’s days at work.

 

 

My fellow coworkers, Tammy, Melvin, Felda and Mary Jane are

part of this group. We have enjoyed sharing weekend experiences

and expanding our minds in lively conversations. There are many

fringe friends who join in and stop by our table. I enjoy meeting

such a wide variety of people at my warehouse job. This is one of

the best positive aspects of my work.

 

It is not generally a good idea or tactful while in a work place,

to express controversial opinions. Yet, my table mates and I

have seen eye to eye on the subject of acceptance. Some of us

even voted in elections the same way. We started watching

some of the same t.v. shows to be able to share about these.

 

 

Little did I expect, someone I cared about would be making a

rather outrageous statement in response to a movie review.

Here are some quotations to lend support to my response.

 

 

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

~Eldridge Cleaver

 

A longer version, expanded from the above thought includes

the following words which are also true:

“. . . but the perpetual human predicament is that the answer

soon poses its own problems.”

~Sydney J. Harris

 

The old Latin rule of the law of acquiescence would apply here,

“Qui tacet consentire videtur” means one who is silent is seen

to have given consent. To acquiesce is to accept or to comply.

 

I was mentioning how many things about the Civil Rights period

despite being raised in a conscientious and active participant

family, I had missed. I was describing one of the early details of

a particularly disturbing scene where children in a church were

killed in a bombing in the film, “Selma.”

 

Out of nowhere, my ‘close’ friend,¬† Felda said,

 

 

“We, in our country, believe in love and cannot ever understand

people who are raised in a “culture of hate.”

 

I emphatically agreed with this, thinking she was talking about

bigoted people who are ‘taught’ to hate people from another

group from their own. In other words, I was thinking she

meant to be talking about ‘whites’ being part of the ‘haters’

specifically, in the Civil Rights movement.

 

As I nodded and said, “I agree,” I noticed a quiet pause in the

conversation. Tammy (Ohio country girl) and Melvin, (son of

immigrants from an island off of Portugal) did not join in.

 

Felda helped me to realize who she was talking about by adding,

in a most definite direction I would NEVER agree with,

 

“Why do blacks get taught to hate whites in America?¬† In the

Philippines, everyone loves others. We were ‘slaves’ in our own

history, but we ‘don’t hold it against you.'”

 

Okay, now I knew where silence would not be appropriate. I

had to dig myself out of a hole, so to speak. I said that she did

not understand the trials, tribulations and how people who were

slaves, or had slave ancestors, were affected by their treatment.

They may have possibly been taught to ‘mistrust’ white people.

 

Inside my head for a moment, I thought possibly only coming

here to live in the U.S. (and marrying Jason, an American) in

the 1990’s may have given Felda less understanding of the

long history, prevailing ways and practices which continue

going on from when the Civil War ended in the 1860’s, into

the present. The other two of  her friends have always been

less outspoken and didn’t try to contribute or interpret what

she meant by her hurtful words.

 

I added,¬† “This is not how this conversation was meant to go.”

 

I had hoped that by talking about “Selma,” to help everyone

at this table understand why fear and distrust could become

part of a familial pattern of handling people. The small town

in Mississippi had many people showing their prejudice against

the blacks. I had especially thought the Filipinos (what they

insist on being called at work) would have empathetic feelings

coming from their own personal experiences of prejudice.

 

I looked at Melvin, who is sophisticated and warm.  He had

served in the Army, traveled Europe and was raised in an open

minded, accepting and loving family. He would give the shirt off

his back and has often been found this brittle cold winter, under

the hood of a fellow employee’s car trying to fix or replace a part.

Actually, the speaker of this unfortunate point of view, had been

‘only charged for car parts’ when she had needed four brakes

replaced by Melvin and other repair assistance.

 

I wondered why Felda had said this about blacks, without any

clarification? Did she intend to hurt Melvin?

The rest of the people at the table were either Filipino or

white.

 

Melvin shrugged. He knew it was pointless to mention that

this person who arrived in America, married an American,

may not completely understand the racial issues, tensions

and dynamics here in the United States.

 

Melvin felt my eyes on him, urging him to ‘speak up.’ Finally,

he responded by saying,

“My people are not nor have ever been descendants of slaves,

but I feel a lot of sympathy for the blacks here. I get the same

kind of attitude from whites as they do, I get followed around

in jewelry stores, I have been shoved while at a peaceful protest

rally by a ‘white supremacist’ cop and have been taken aside to

be shouted at. I would ‘never measure up to the white people’

in my Army experiences. This came from more than one officer

in the Army.”

 

Melvin quietly expressed his thoughts on a tough issue,

“I will share this additional thought: black people raised in the

South are different from black people raised in the North. To

be honest, unfortunately their perspectives are not the same.”

 

I went on a limb and put my thoughts out there for friends

who had included me in christenings, birthday parties and

delicious meals at parties where we sang karaoke together,

 

“I need to study your islands’ history better of what you call

‘slavery.’ I am not sure that slavery there was the same as

slavery here. I have the misunderstanding that your culture

may have a history of servitude.  Sometimes smiling when you

were crying inside, but this is probably inaccurate. Meanwhile,

I would never agree with your statement about the black culture

being raised to hate whites.”

 

As far as research, there are considered to be 130,000 to as

many as 160,000 people in the Philippines who are part of

sex trafficking, indentured servitude and this is from an article

on October 9, 2013 from the newspaper called, “The Manila

Times.”

 

I wished to re-emphasize my opening remarks to them.¬† I didn’t

realize the total impact on everyday activities of black people from

those who felt ‘superior’ to an entire race until recently. I heard

‘snippets of history’ in school. Like not being allowed to ride in

the middle or front of a bus, Rosa Parks ‘took a stand’ for freedom.

I saw firsthand the water fountains, restaurants and other public

buildings in the 1960’s. They were labeled, “For Colored People.”

I knew this must have been hard or rough on anyone living in

their skin color. We read together my kids and I about the

Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman.

 

I just finished a great book by Tara Conklin, considered historical

fiction called, “The House Girl.” It has the legal aspects of the

reparation act for families of slaves.  Every other chapter is about

a young woman called “Josephine” who worked in a slave owner’s

house. She learned how to paint from her ‘mistress.’ Later, the

‘house girl’s’ art work is given credit to her owner. Learning is

ongoing.

 

I was truly interested and asked,

“How long ago in Philippines’ history were there slaves?”

 

“Selma” brought back memories of partial lessons for me.

It depicted Ku Klux Klan members, cruelty and ‘hate crimes.’

Who could ever wish to bomb churches and not allow people

to gather in protest?

It is hard to imagine but not right to brush uncomfortable

subjects under the table. Seeing these violent acts on film,

brought back how recently this had happened. It made me

wish to promote this movie, as I did last year when I saw the

fine film, ’12 Years a Slave.’

 

Felda, Mary Jane and May have not looked me in the eyes

since this happened. I continue to say, “Good Morning” and

ask how their family members are, ask how their weekends

went, etc. They give me short answers and have been sitting

at their own table, talking in their own language. I don’t regret

my words, but was sincerely meaning to defend Melvin, along

with my own grandchild’s heritage.

 

My oldest daughter’s son, Micah is 1/4 black. His father’s Dad

plays an integral link to his life and comes to family gatherings.

 

Micah has overheard their complaints about prejudice. We

talk openly about how his own father has been pulled aside

roughly by teachers, coaches and strangers. When he shows

his ‘independence’ it is sometimes considered ‘an attitude.’

This happened with my coworker and friend, Cheryl (who

recently lost her grandson to illness). She has been told, she

says that she “has a chip on her shoulder.”

 

Micah was in preschool when a fellow  4 year old asked him,

“Is your Daddy a terrorist?”

 

This fills my eyes with tears, my heart with sadness and my

mind with fear for Micah, too. It is ‘still out there.’ Even in the

minds of immigrants who feel that black culture is ‘filled with

hatred.’

 

Here is an update on getting an ‘excuse’ written for my eyesight

and concerns for safety while driving heavy equipment. My phone

call with my ophthalmologist left me without anything promised

in writing and another appointment made in April.

 

I visited the optometrist who seemed more interested in helping

me. She wrote a well thought out letter, including the reasons I

would not be a safe candidate for ‘heavy bulk’ at the warehouse.

 

She wrote about my lack of depth perception, my monovision

while wearing a close distance contact to read fine print and a

far distant contact to see far away. She mentioned my not being

able to judge distances, especially in the narrow passages while

driving backwards with the double pallet riding equipment.

 

Her professionalism and need to be clear, may have included

details which won’t help my cause:

“Robin’s peripheral vision and depth perception would be

greatly improved by wearing single vision distance only

spectacles instead of contact lenses. Obviously, if the patient

is in a warehouse, she should be wearing safety spectacles.”

 

I have been wearing contact lenses throughout my six years

at Advance Auto Distribution Center. I am most confident

while reading the tiny UPC codes, picking the correct items

to place into bins, hampers or gaylords. (Containers which

are actually huge cardboard boxes for Open Stock and used

in heavy bulk on top of a wooden pallet and plastic pallet.)

 

I won’t change to regular glasses to carry out my job nor to

bifocals. I am not sure I would be as confident in performing

my job with single vision glasses. The reason I chose contacts

was because I used to have to take off my glasses to read the

fine print, use the RF’s (tablet computers) and now, new piece

of equipment,  a Bluetooth computer on my arm.

 

As my good friend, Jenny, honestly suggested work may try

to force me to use glasses and go to work in heavy bulk.

I am ‘screwed.’

 

My ophthalmologist who had told me he could not write a letter

until I came in for another appointment. I will hold out for Hope.

An April letter request will hopefully include all the parts that

Dr. Wagner wrote without the details suggesting I switch to

glasses or ‘safety spectacles.’

 

Thanks for your concern about my work situation with my

vision and cross training into heavy bulk work once again.

When I tried this for eight weeks of a summer, I managed

to run into metal racks, back into a pallet on the shipping

floor knocking the products over and wearing my nerves

into a frazzle.

 

I need to find a way out of this physically demanding area

without leaving my job. I have a much better salary than

other positions listed in the newspaper and have finally

earned three weeks’ vacation this year. If necessary, as many

have mentioned, my being fired for refusing to go to heavy

bulk may be my ‘release’ to a better solution. There were such

great and positive suggestions from all of you. Thank you.

 

 

If you have had a stressful or awkward situation at work

please feel free to comment and add to the conversation.

 

Tackling Life Through Film

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Life is gritty,  it is messy  and mistakes happen often.  There are no

‘easy’ paths to take nor do you expect things to always fall into place

in the real world. The film, “Boyhood,” which tackles reality of life in

relationships and many dimensions of everyday families has been

well received. You may have heard that Richard Linklater wrote and

directed this original screenplay.  Instead of using different actors to

portray time passing and people aging, he used the unique process of

gathering all the same people together to make this film, year after

year.¬† It took twelve years to make, “Boyhood.”

 

The beginning of each school year is carefully documented with

the different locations the family has moved to, along with the

ever changing wide variety of characters in each segment.

 

Two children who share the story’s childhood are played by his

daughter, Lorelei Linklater and newcomer, Ellar Coltrane. The

reoccurring character roles for a period of twelve years. You see

Lorelei acting like Britney Spears in her famous song, “I’m Not

That Innocent.” The adults who portray their parents are played

by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. This endearing movie just

may possibly win the 87th Academy Award’s “Best Picture of

the Year.”

 

Here are some of the themes displayed in this ground-breaking

film:

Love

Marriage

Children

Divorce

Family

Bullying

Finding your passion

Elementary School dynamics

Moving to other homes/schools

High School dynamics

College education

Photography

Empty Nest

Religion

Music

Art

 

Relationships

Connections

Forgiveness

 

When my good friend, Gary, who writes for a living on the staff

of the “Columbus Dispatch” asked me to let him know what I

thought about the movie, “Boyhood,” I may have responded a

little bit late at night. I wrote him a rather long text about my

feelings about the movie. Overall, I told him, along with my

youngest daughter and my brother, Rich, I would give this a

three * * * rating out of four * * * *.

 

There are very interesting aspects to this movie, one is how

the mother really tries to help her children lead a successful

life, while still making poor relationship/marriage choices.

Oh boy. This is actually my story being played on the Big

Screen.

The first husband ends up the ‘best of the lot.’ There are times

you feel he is really ‘on the ball,’ showing he cares by being very

articulate and expressing how much he wants to know his two

children, son and daughter’s thoughts. He engages in a serious

sexual conversation, which did not embarassess me at all. It

was so reminiscent of both my parents it startled me. This is

quite disconcerting, since we are open-minded and say just

about anything, my brothers and both my parents, when my

Dad was alive. My Mom is still a ‘hoot’ because she is about

the most modern woman I know, except possibly Betty White,

who also is above 80 years old. She just turned 90, right?

 

The sad element of the story is mentioned in my one word

use of “Bullying” in the list of different reoccurring themes in

the movie. Poor Mason, never seems ‘to catch a break.’ His Dad

cares about him, but gets preoccupied with his musical career.

Ethan Hawke does an excellent job singing, having also written

some of the songs they all sing in the movie.  He is used as a

scapegoat by his mother’s second husband and is bullied by her

third husband. He manages to get through several of the moves,

jobs and choices by just ‘sliding,’ playing a kind of¬† ‘slacker.’ But

underneath the surface, Mason is the central character you are

rooting for throughout the movie. He is a deep thinker, an artist,

with a camera, a daydreamer, and he makes it to college, winning

a silver medal and scholarship.

 

Does this encompass too much revealing information? No, I will

reassure you, it is the slow unwinding of the story, as if it were

a book you were reading chapter by chapter. The summary on

the book jacket (or in this film,¬† the DVD case) doesn’t tell you

the whole story.

 

Will you like it? I hope so.

You will need to set aside time, take breaks and I feel take time

to digest the story. I had to rewind the film since the changes in

his elementary years are NOT designated, “One year later.” You

have to ‘keep up with the film,’ pay attention to how quickly the

girl develops and seems to be a ‘brat’ until she becomes more

confident in her own ability to be independent.

 

Patricia Arquette is amazing. I felt her world. I felt her needs

and her interests. I felt her ‘weight of the world,’ trying the very

best she could to make wise choices, leaving bad, abusive man

behind. Her mother is well portrayed and the woman that her

first husband gets married to is interesting. Her parents also

come into the story line, making a unique impact on the kids’

lives, too.

 

When the movie opens, the boy Mason is lying in a yard with green

grass under him and a brilliant blue sky above him. The song which

starts this out is Coldplay’s song, “Yellow.” It is really perfect and

sets the tone for the movie viewer. The soundtrack includes many

famous musicians.  I would like to entice you by sharing some of

their names here. As mentioned, original music is introduced in the

movie, too. (Ethan Hawke wrote several songs, one the family all sing.)

Lady Gaga sings two songs, “LoveGame” and “Telephone.” Bob Dylan’s

song is. “Beyond the Horizon.” The Black Keys, Gotye, Foo Fighters,

Kings of Leon, the Beatles and Mason’s father’s (Ethan Hawke’s)

interpretation of their split up. I would like to see his own rendition

of the way the Beatles’ solo careers should be put into one album.

 

“Crazy” sung by Gnarls Barkley is a fantastic song. Had not heard

this version before. “Deep Blue,” sung by Arcade Fire band, with Ken

Butler and William Butler being part of the group of musicians and

lyricists who wrote the final song played during the credits was

outstanding.

 

I rewound the final song, with some tears going down my face. It is

a touching story, with all the traits of true storytelling genius. The

way Richard Linklater and his whole crew, team and actors worked

together on this made this an impressive movie. I took note even

the first song being called, “Yellow” and the last song, “Deep Blue,”

seemed like they handled the details perfectly.

 

The 87th Academy Awards Ceremony will be on tonight. Neil

Patrick Harris will be the host. If you watch television, you

have seen the ‘hype’ for many of the films. I have seen almost

all of the ones in the best picture, actor and actress categories.

If you wish to see my reviews or summaries, I have written of

“The Theory of Everything,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,”

“Big Hero 6,” “Gone Girl” and “Unbroken.”

 

I shall be watching it, along with the pre-show Red Carpet on,

“E!” channel.

 

Will you be watching?

If so, do you have your any favorites?

 

 

 

 

Plant A Seed in a Child’s Mind

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I have a simple philosophy on children of 5 and 6 year old age.  I

believe these sweet little ones go into kindergarten as ‘babies’ and

come out of this period of time as, ‘school kids.’ I have seen both

Marley who attends one elementary school in kindergarten and

my grandson, Micah, who attends another elementary school in

the same level of education grow ‘in leaps and bounds.’

 

Every book their parents or I read to them, suddenly have become

‘brand new’ and they see such interesting new things in them. It is

almost like being ‘re-born.’¬† When it comes to understanding the

way children are ‘different’ or ‘unique,’ it really helps to watch the

changes first hand. I admit with my ‘pack of three’ being raised

with others I babysat, they were not given as much individual

attention. This becomes apparent when I am typing away the

‘bright’ quotes I can honestly listen to and apply to the six of the

grandchildren.  But, to tell you the truth, the kindergartners have

my full attention.

 

Take a week ago, when my grandson, Micah, was asking me about

my apartment. When did I move there? Why do I have my kitchen

table in the living room? Do I like having to do my laundry in the

laundry room?

 

About a month ago, my granddaughter, Marley was not totally

satisfied with looking at her own photo albums. She had a big

stack of them, since I put the 36 photo albums together each

season, for each individual grandchild. Marley has over 7 albums

to study and check out. She asked me first to look at her Daddy’s

baby photo album and then, moved on to her Aunt Felicia and

her Aunt Carrie’s. I was not asked too many questions, but I saw

her study each photo and it took her over an hour to move on to

ask me her next ‘request.’

 

Finally, she wanted to see my three “wedding dresses’ albums.”

This is how she named them. I told her I have only one photo of

the first wedding dress, so I showed her it. I told her “Aunt Carrie”

has the rest of the first wedding party photos. She is the ‘oldest’

and the only girl from this first marriage, I explained to Marley.

I really felt most of the photographs of her relatives would ‘mean

more to her’ than her brother, Marley’s Daddy.

 

She studied the three wedding dresses intently. She finally asked me

why I married each of my three husbands. I tried to make a ‘joke,’

telling her my patent answer to adults who ask me this question,

“This was my way of being a ‘serial monogamist.'”

For some reason, Marley looked like she really understood this

to be a cynical or sarcastic comment and used her scolding voice

to say,

“Nana, I am asking you a serious question: Why did you get married

more than once?”

 

My answer was a combination of “love” and “hope.” I gave her a

big hug for asking and told her,

“Your Daddy and Mommy will¬† be like my own parents, they found

the right match and will put effort into keeping their family together

and happy.”

 

When it comes to teaching young children about the variations of

life,  sometimes their lessons may come from viewing children and

families at the beach, grocery store or church. Up until they go to

school, they may think their family unit is just fine. My youngest

daughter asked her Dad years ago to come to special events, but

she found that I was her ‘constant’ and her ‘home.’

 

A valuable book with lessons, which could be a ‘tool’ to open a

discussion about class levels and economic differences has been

recently published.¬† It is called, “Last Stop on Market Street.”

The author of this delightful book is Matt de la Pena. The

illustrations are created by Christian Robinson.

 

You may already know the lessons held within this book, but it

has a rich diversity of subjects with a little boy who questions

what is around him. There is an element of ‘Life doesn’t seem to

be fair’ to him, in his questions.

 

The subject of why children don’t have as many choices of clothing,

backpacks, coats, shoes and those things are often brought up after

some time spent in kindergarten has passed. This book would help

to give a picture to children of a whole different lifestyle, while it

also is done lovingly and beautifully.

 

There are places which address the subject of what children may

like to have new clothes and other things for their first day of school.

Some ‘Big Box Stores’ have bins where you may purchase glue sticks

for your own child or grandchild, along with tossing some into the

bin. There are places where you can go to get new coats, as well as

other nice new things, ‘vouchers’ for new shoes and backpacks. They

may be held at your county fairgrounds or they could be passed out

at a local charity location. It is nice to hope that each child can start

the school year, with a ‘level playing field,’ so those students who

have less in their household income can still feel ‘pride’ in their

back to school clothes and other accessories.

 

The new book, “Last Stop on Market Street” started a great

discussion with my grandies. They were interested in knowing if

I knew such and such, did this child have the same situation as

the little boy in the book? I think this book would be almost better

to present before they go off to school. It would help for those who

have more than others, to be careful not to judge nor ask too many

questions.

 

I would label this book a ‘break through’ book, one which is rare to

find with a powerful, but gently expressed, understated message.

 

As a boy is leaving church with his grandmother, he sighs in relief,

he feels like going outside is ‘freedom.’ He has probably wriggled

and twitched, feeling confined in the church.  The boy named C.J.

holds his grandmother’s hand while she holds an umbrella over

the top of their heads.

 

The two head off to a bus stop. There is mention of this being

their weekly procedure or routine. Not everyone has a car, a

house or food every day. There is a subtle way of letting the

reader and listener of the story find this out.

 

As he looks out a window of the bus, C.J. sees a friend in a car

with his father.  After the car zips on by the bus, C.J. wonders

aloud,

“Nana, how come we don’t get a car?”

 

Later, he notes a young man listening to a digital music player

and he displays the classical example of¬† kid’s¬† ‘I want. . .’ or

wishing for something obviously out of the grandmother’s

budget.

 

Each time his Nana responds with positive words. She makes the

bus ‘come alive’ for C.J. as if it were a ‘dragon.’ She reminds him

of the bus driver’s ‘magic’ trick he plays when they get on the bus.

She mentions that the young man playing a guitar on the bus,

is entertainment enough. A blind man teaches C.J. a lesson on

senses. There are wonderful elements in this book which you

will become enchanted with, too.

 

The colorful illustrations display a myriad of views of the

community on the outside of the bus, as they pass different

sights.

 

The lesson of life being full of excitement without any technical

devices or modern conveniences is not told directly but indirectly

shown through the unfolding tale.

 

As they get off the bus, C.J. wonders why they always have to go

on Sundays to the soup kitchen for their meal. This will help

open a discussion with children or grandchildren.  In this lovely

book, it reminds us that in the “Land of Plenty”¬† or America, we

may not always have neighbors, friends or people living one

short block over, with as much as we have. There is a sense of

global understanding, in the diversity of characters and culture

in this book.

 

A children’s book reviewer, Julie Danielson, expressed this:

“It’s not often that you see class addressed in picture books in

ways that are subtle and seamless, but in “Last Stop on Market

Street,” the affectionate story of a young boy and his grandmother

does just that.”

 

There is a new Valentine’s Day book to recommend. It is one of the

bunny books by author Jutta Langreuter and illustrated by Stephanie

Dahle.

“There’s No One I Love Like You.”

This German author has a series of “Little Bear” books and there

are a few in her native language, too.  One which looks interesting

and magical in its illustrations with German expressions  is called,

“Frida and die Kleine Waldhexe.”

 

If you have a favorite book for children and wish to include it,

please feel free to tell us about the book and its message, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artistic Genius

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My young friend, Margaret, at a fun blog recommended I see this

movie, “Camille Claudel” which is a French movie about Rodin and

one of his many female apprentices, who became enraptured with

him, became an artist by her ‘own right,’ and ultimately finished her

life in a mental

institution for 30 years. This was another example of how being a

woman during a different time period created challenges for her

own ability to present her artwork, mainly sculptures, to the world.

 

Poor dear Camille Claudel.

While getting this movie, you may have to go through a rather

complicated ‘search,’ since mine took me on a nearly ‘wild goose

chase.’

 

This was not available in the state of Ohio, in DVD form?

How is this possible?

 

Anyway, Central Campus of Southern State Community College

sent Delaware County District Library the movie, “Camille Claudel”

in VHS form. Thank goodness, I have one of those tiny televisions

with a VHS ‘drawer’ installed in it. It is one that has accompanied

more than one of my own three children off to college in the late

90’s and early 2000’s.

 

The director is Bruno Nuytten and has the sense of darkness in

his scenes and perspective thrown into his filming close shots.

The main actor, portraying Rodin, is Gerard Depardieu who was

in the American movie, “Green Card” and is well know for his

Academy Award nominated role in, “Jean de Florette.” The

female character is played beautifully by Isabelle Adjani. She

may be recognized for several roles but more famous, at least to

me while playing in, “Ishtar.” She was nominated for her portrayal

of¬† a character she played in, “Story of Adelett.”

 

This fine French film, “Camille Claudel, fascinated me. It was truly a

disturbing masterpiece. It¬† was nominated for “Best Foreign Language

Film” in 1989. (Gerard Depardieu was thin and muscular in this film.)

The story begins with a young, lithe woman in an alley in Paris, where

she is digging into a cliff of what looks like mud.  This must have some

amount of ‘clay’ in it.¬† She is gathering clumps of this, being muddy

from head to foot, and flinging it into her large container; like a bucket.

 

The brutal cold scene depicts snow on the ground.

It is February, 1885.

 

Camille’s story is full of¬† harrowing and intensely dramatic moments.

I hope you may look up her fantastic sculptures.  One which has the

name of “The Chatterboxes.” In the film, the piece looks like it is

carved from black coal, in its raw material state.

The beautiful sculptures may be viewed at the Musee D’Orsay in

Paris, France. Or much closer, you may look Camille Claudel on

the Internet.

 

Another, called, “Age of Maturity,” a neighbor child named Robert

asks such a sweet and insightful question of Camille of a gorgeous

sculpture:

“How did you know there were people inside the big rock?”

As if she had chiseled them Micah said,

“Out of their hiding place, like in a cave.”

 

My grandson, age 5 1/2 mentioned when I had him come across the

room where I sat at the dining table watching this film.

Micah was over by the living room section of my apartment watching

Saturday morning “Sponge Bob Square Pants” episodes and eating

pancakes he had helped make.

 

Later, he took a “cartoon break” to wash the dishes, taking his shirt off

and standing on my step stool. He rushed out to see a particularly

dramatic scene where the noise caught his attention.

 

Sadly, Camille Claudel was used and debased in every way.

She became a model, muse and an original artist and sculptor,

under the tutelage of Rodin.

 

She lost touch with her father, mother, brother and reality by

becoming immersed and having a long-lasting affair with Rodin.

Rodin’s wife who lives apart from Rodin, while he is ensconced

in his huge studio, calls Camille loudly on the streets, “Whore”

and many obscenities.

 

I felt it was most depressing that her husband is still given his

wife’s adoring attention, not disparaging HIM with the same

kind of swearing in other scenes. She persuades him after many

years of his intimate relationship with Camille, to move away.

When Camille is eventually thrown out of Rodin’s studio, having

served her time with him for almost 28 years, I cried. It is such

a tragedy, but you cannot help wanting to see more. . .

 

Camille writes long letters to the Court and Magistrate, asking

and pleading for her own sculptures and art pieces, ones she

designed to be given back. She independently had created lovely

marble sculptures with fine detailed hands, arched backs and

her brother finds her living in the upstairs of an abandoned

building, wishing to use his fame as a poet, along with his good

friend, “Blot,” who wishes to be her ‘benefactor.’ He is meaning

by helping financially and wonderfully is not asking her to give

her still beautiful body to him.

 

There is a point when the Court says she was ‘paid’ for her donations

of her artwork. (They were stolen and kept by Rodin.)

Camille defiantly declares,

“I burned the check!”

 

Her anger at her inability to get her own art back leads her to yell

about “Rodin’s gang.” She feels that France calling her sculptures,

“Property of the State,” are wrong but cannot find anyone at any

level to listen to her pleas. Her friend and lawyer, “Dr. Michaux,”

tried his best to defend her. The cops who haul her each time out

of the courtroom seem to show a more sympathetic view, as they

take her away.

 

When her father is dying, Camille goes to see him, she listens but

cries as he says she ‘disappointed him,’ but he ‘still loves her.’

There is something hurtful and touching in her studying the

Her brother, after the one singularly amazing gallery opening,

describes her pieces as lighting the inner beauty and qualities

of people through her sculptures. They have such delicate and

sensitive details, but she later while they are transported back

to where she is ‘squatting,’ is told not one piece was sold. Her

appearance in finery at the opening, with rouge and red lips

made her appear scandalous, unfortunately.

 

Camille destroyed many of her pieces, her madness in these

scenes of devastation is understandable. I would have gone

mad, under the circumstances.

The authorities never jail her in prison.

 

It was her own brother who ultimately, ‘betrayed her,’ and using

the ‘excuse’ of preventing her from hurting herself, placed her in

the mental institution.

 

Camille Claudel was put into a mental institution in March, 1913.

She lived, ‘imprisoned’ there, until 1943.

 

Camille never did any more artwork after she was placed there.

This was her own way of rebelling and refusing to ‘buckle under

authority.’

 

Thank so much for recommending this, Margaret! Your comment,

after reading my post about Mozart’s sister, Maria Anna Mozart

led me to watch this. You were so right in your choice of this movie,

another example where because of her gender, along with her

choice to become involved with a famous sculptor and artist,

she lost herself.

You may find Margaret who has a clever and funny video of

herself recently on a post at:

http://verybangled.com

 

 

The best question I feel needs to be asked,

“Where does creative passion separate from insanity?”

 

 

Onward later tonight, I will be watching, “Amadeus,” which I had

seen so many years before. . .

My grandson, Micah, is with me, while playing Teenage Mutant

Ninja Turtle ‘free games,’¬† I will try to check a few posts out.

Conversation With Cliff

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We were talking about his boys, Cliff and I. It led into a new subject

for me to research. He had suggested in the 1800’s, President Ulysses

S. Grant had been one of the founders of the idea for National Parks.

We had had a few recent conversations about President Theodore

Roosevelt, his past and the post I had written. This was the one about

his personal tragedy of losing his wife and mother on the same day.

Which took Theodore out West to find an ‘escape’ and tranquility. The

area he had chosen to find refuge in, led him to his pursuit of natural

wonders and supporting National Parks.

 

Hiram Ulysses Grant was born on April 27, 1822 and lived until July 23,

1885. He had throat cancer and died at age 63 years old.  He was born

in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He met his wife from a classmate during the

years after he attended military school. He had four children and his

legacy as President and during the times of Civil War and following

peaceful times, is with mixed reviews.

 

Time has slowly improved and healed some of the negative aspects

of President Grant’s memories. Historians and biographers have

become kinder over the years.

 

As a boy, Hiram’s father had Abolitionist sentiments. The family

did not have slaves. Later on, wife’s family did. When there were

times of financial hardship, Grant released his wife’s slaves. This

was despite the fact he could have made money by selling them.

He had enlisted their services on the farm they had owned and they

participated in helping to care for the land. Grant named his family’s

home, “Hardscrabble.”

 

While young, Grant did not attend the family’s Methodist church,

since apparently he was the youngest and did not have to. He chose

to pray privately all his life. He had a sensitive nature, shown in his

taking art courses from Robert Walter Weir. This artist’s paintings

were from the Romantics period. There are nine artworks of Grant’s

still surviving.

 

Hiram had a knack for handling and training horses. He was what

we would now call a, “Horse Whisperer.”

 

Another aspect of Grant’s softer side was when President Abraham

Lincoln was assassinated, he stood alone at the funeral and wept.

He said of Lincoln:

“He was incontestably the greatest man I have ever known.”

 

The only quote I could find from Lincoln of Grant was during the

Civil War, while Grant was very rough on his troops, trying to keep

them in line and some of the bloodiest battles were ones he led,

Lincoln said when others complained of Grant’s determination

and grit:

“I can’t spare this man, he fights.”

 

Going back to how Grant got his name accidentally changed. . .

When Hiram was only 17 years old a congressman who knew his

father, nominated him for the U.S. Military Academy in West

Point, New York. The friend knew his middle name was Ulysses

and his mother’s maiden name was Simpson, so he chose to write

his letter of recommendation for “Ulysses S. Grant,” to become

a military student at West Point.

 

At school, since his initials were U.S., some of his friends started

to call him “Sam” as in “Uncle Sam.” What a patriotic name this is.

Just imagine how it came to be and I like to picture him so much

more as the boy named, “Hiram.” When he went off to school at

West Point there are records of his weight and height:

He was 5′ 1″ tall and he weighed 117 pounds.

 

He was an average student who liked mathematics and geology.

 

A good friend and classmate at West Point introduced him to his

sister, Julia Dent. They became engaged and four years later,

“Sam” and Julia married.

 

At the time after the Civil War, Grant and his family traveled to

Washington, D.C. He was in Cabinet meetings and was given the

authority to be in charge of cotton and its sales in the district

where he and his wife’s family lived.

 

Grant was invited to join President Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd,

for an evening at the theater. Instead, Grant and his wife and family

went to Philadelphia for entertainment and a vacation. When he

was called back to Washington due to the assassination, Grant

was bereft.

 

Some of the negative reports about Grant include that he may have

had a drinking problem during his academy and military career.

 

Grant also made a ‘bad decision’ in judging the Jewish people who

were involved in the district he was responsible to monitor cotton

sales in.¬†¬† He “threw all the Jewish cotton dealers out” and this

Anti-Semitic decision has been often listed as one of the worst ones

he made.

 

Positive relationships with the African Americans post-Civil War

and the Native Americans have made President Ulysses S. Grant’s

memories and tributes less harsh over the years. When he threw

himself into the Civil War battles, Grant “found renewed energy in

the Union cause.” He led volunteer army he tried to rally and

discipline the Northern troops the best he could.

 

While President, Grant chose to create a position in his Cabinet

and nominate someone to be the “Commissioner of Indian Affairs.”

He wanted Peace among the tribes and Grant publicly ‘castigated’

Custer for his massacre of the Indians in the battle known as,

“Custer’s Last Stand.”

 

Cliff is my coworker who has two sons who are on the precipice of

being teenagers. He is struggling to find ways to continue family night

and enjoying all sorts of activities together. His wife is often ‘left at

home’ but he insists she prefers her personal space and encourages

the boys to spend time with their Dad.

 

Cliff has been trying to capture their attention by taking them to

parks, renting canoes, hiking in various places around the four states

of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana. He has been considering a

trip to Pennsylvania, but has not decided if this is where they will go

for a summer vacation.

 

Cliff is the one who told me about Grant’s positive decisions to help

Native American relations and also, the Gold Rush. While people

were out West, panning for gold, some stumbled upon the lovely

Geysers and other notable natural beauties.

Cliff was also ‘sure’ that Grant helped to denote the land around the

Geysers out West, as National Park. He was also ‘sure’ that Yellowstone

Park was part of President Grant’s plan of becoming a National Park.

 

Cliff is a ‘simple guy,’ but an extraordinary father. I give him plenty

of positive encouragement, while not flirting or trying to take too

much time away from my order filling.  He is in Cycle Count, so is

often ‘in my way’ and¬† by talking to him, he follows me while I pick

the warehouse products and place them in the bins or hampers.

 

I had written a post some time ago, last winter I believe, talking about

his interest in the cartoon which had content for young people, “Johnny

Quest.” There were no copies of the series in his local library. He found

some, I believe on YouTube. He ended up showing his boys several

episodes and getting them hooked on “Scooby Doo.”

 

So was Cliff right? For someone who admits he only got “C’s” in¬† his

high school Geography and History classes, he has come a long way!

 

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant passed the legislation

for National Parks in an area about the size of Rhode Island and the

state of Delaware combined. “Yellowstone Park” and all of the area

is intended to be held as a National Park, preserved and protected

by the United States Government. This law that was passed into a

Bill made the Northwest Corner of the Wyoming Territory part of

the beginning of many other areas known as National Parks.

 

Some quick facts about Yellowstone National Park of note:

~Home of 1/2 the World’s geysers.

~Large mountainous region.

~High elevation lakes.

~Numerous species and abundant game and wildlife.

All are protected and preserved, due to President Ulysses S. Grant.

 

Just for extra information, Cliff shared with me that in Ohio we

only have one National Park. It is called Wayne National Forest

and is located in the Southeastern part of Ohio. It is an area of

240,101 acres. It is located on the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau

and is part of a ‘reforestation program.’

 

Isn’t it amazing the things you can learn from a coworker?

 

Hope the research and information about President Ulysses S.

Grant showed you a different picture than the Civil War leader,

making him a more well-rounded character.