Category Archives: slavery

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.

National Days of Remembrance

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For the week starting April 27, 2014 until May 4, 2014, the United

States has set aside time to remember the people who were killed,

survived and helped rescue the Jewish and other ethnic groups that

were affected during WWII time period.

We have designated this week as National Days of Remembrance of

those who were ‘martyrs’ and ‘heroes’ of the Holocaust.

On this evening of Sunday, April 27th, in respect to the 27th day

of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, until the evening of Monday, Israelis

mark those moments in time, through prayers and thoughts of those in

the Holocaust. The term, “Yom HaShoah” is given for this period of

reflection. This was the time where protesting people were engaging in,

what is called, “The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.” If anyone is affiliated

with this, through family members and are more informed on this practice,

please feel free to add to the post, in the Comments’ Section. Thank you!

On January 27, 1945, troops entered a concentration camp in Germany,

where they found 11,700 prisoners. This camp with its gas chambers

and other horrors was called Auschwitz-Birkenau. Other camps, where

many people were tortured and killed, later surfaced and became known,

once the war in Europe ended.

In May, there will be a celebration of Victory in Europe, for WWII’s

ending. I have already made sure to include this day on my May Monthly

Calendar post. I cannot believe how time has flown and another month

has passed already!

My Grandmother Paula Haller Mattson came from Germany, immigrating

while a teenager. She denounced the behavior of Nazis and many times

denied her heritage, during the thirties and forties, since there was

more common knowledge here in the United States, even than in Germany,

at the time. She practiced English and did not sound “German” during

her adult life. She was a waitress at the Waldorf Astoria, where she

liked to say, “I waited on Kings and Queens, the Rothchild’s,

Vanderbilt’s and Presidents.” I believe she wanted to be part of our

country, assimilating more than her cousins, Elaine and Clara.

When I got married, my second and third cousins, came to my first

wedding. I noticed a distinctive difference in their accent, although

my Grandma had already passed away by then. Family was always important,

but becoming an American citizen, was equally special to my Grandma M.

The movie, “The Sound of Music,” told through the Von Trapp Family

Singers’ escape from Germany over the Alps’ story. This popular movie

depicted the foreboding atmosphere of the upcoming takeover and war.

More serious films, like “Schindler’s List,” which told about the

sympathy of other cultures towards the Jewish people are interesting

and deeply realistic.

Of course, reading history books, visiting the great Holocaust Museum in

Washington, D. C. and seeing documentaries will give you more accurate

pictures of the drastic takeover by Adolf Hitler of the German peoples

and troops.

When my brothers would watch Saturday morning movies, such as ones that

had John Wayne and others in them, my parents tried to discourage any

glorification of war, in their young minds. My Grandmother M. would get

angry when my brothers would play Americans against the Germans,

Cowboys versus the Indians and (from their cartoon views of “Rocky and

Bullwinkle”), somehow my brothers came up with the idea of American Spies

against the Russian Spies espionage ‘game.’ All of these were forbidden around

my grandparents’ house, along being within earshot of my parents’ house.

Being an English, World Literature and Spanish teacher, my Mom was pretty

strict in her use of language. One word we were not allowed to use often,

and it had to be very important to do so, was the word, “Hate.” She was

taught this by her mother, that most things in Life, can be expressed as

“not pleasant,” “dislike strongly,” or “prefer not to.” It is a great way

to raise children to be more open minded, whether it to be trying a new food,

learning about a different culture than one’s own or meeting unfamiliar

people. It is another way to show ‘remembrance’ and ‘respect’ to all

things, peoples and thoughts.

I like the way in “South Pacific,” the character played by John Kerr

sings, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.” This song is in reference

to prejudice is a learned experience, taught by the ones closest to the

children or young adults. Only after researching this song, did I find it was

considered very “controversial” and “downright inappropriate” for musical

stage productions.

Interestingly enough, it was also labeled, promoting “Communistic agenda!”

I am proud that the authors of the lyrics, Rodgers and Hammerstein, the

producers, directors and actors all said that they were ‘in it’ due to

the way it expresses these emotional viewpoints. I listened to this, along

with a lot of major musicals, in person, at theatres and on the stereo, where

my parents placed a stack of records to listen to, during relaxing, ‘television

restricted’ periods of weekends or ends of workdays.

Of course, I am going to be honest about this, teens learn ‘prejudices’

from their peers, even when you (as parents) have done your ‘darndest’ to

prevent them from this.

There have been people who are ‘brainwashed’ even as adults. Don’t think

my kids are, or ever were, “perfect!” Or that I didn’t have to ‘straighten

them out’ a few times!

Even professionals, pastors and teachers hold views that are bigoted and

close-minded. I had a family member who felt the Bible “said” the “Tribe

of Abraham,” meaning people with African heritage, were meant to be slaves.

I was appalled, argued when I was once involved in a holiday discussion,

home from college on Winter Break. My parents and brothers stood on my

side, basically telling the person to table the debate.

When the Viet Nam War or skirmishes began, my brothers were close

to Draft Age. My parents seriously (sorry, if this is going to bother

you), thought about relocating to Canada! Enrolling my brothers in

college, during this time may or may not have prevented draft, but

draft ended before they needed to be concerned with it, personally.

A song which includes, “How can people be so heartless? How can people

be so cruel?” was one of my favorite songs, sung by Three Dog Night.

It is called, “Easy to be Hard,” (1969).

We still have ‘enemies.’

We still have ‘hate.’

I hope you will take some moments in this next week, to reflect and

remember the Holocaust and other people who are continuing to be

scapegoats and persecuted in the world, sometimes with the governmental

support of a country.

Adding to this post, on Monday April 28, 2014.

Will you please keep those who endured the twisters in the states of

Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, those who lost family members, and those

who are hospitalized in your remembrances and thoughts this week?

So far there have been 17 deaths in these three states. There was a

little four year old girl, who was swooped up, carried a distance

and had her legs crushed… I hope you will be including her in your

thoughts and prayers, too.

Another twister came through on Monday night into April 29th, 2014.

The states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee had houses and

properties destroyed, along with unfortunately, 11 deaths.

All of these areas have had people volunteering to assist the people

who have had to leave their homes, along with sifting through the rubble,

looking for people.

Thanks for reading some more about this tragic weather situation!

This Actor Deserves the Oscar! (March 2, 2014)

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With a few days off from the library, weather conditions

and changes in the month, I feel like I am ‘behind’ on my

posts! I was excited, while anticipating the month leading

to the Oscars, about the Turner Classic Movies’ “kick off”

show called, “And the Oscar Goes To…”

Turner Classics held it at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 1st.

The messy day had been icy and snowy. Brr! Just the right

show to cap off an evening!

The featured 10 Best Picture nominees from 1939 were aired

throughout that day. They also aired a new documentary film

about 85 years of Academy Awards. The film included famous

actors, actresses and filmmakers who were interviewed for

this auspicious occasion.

Since the rest of the month will feature past movie winners

it will be an excellent time to check out your television

guide for which channel TCM is located on! Also, if you have

a chance you may try to see some of the current nominees,

in varied categories. If the movie, “12 Years a Slave” comes

back to your town or city, I would highly recommend trying

to view it.

The “Vanity Fair” magazine photograph on their cover this

month, shot by the famous Annie Lebowith, features Julia

Roberts, George Clooney, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Idris Elba.

The fine acting of an individual sometimes escapes one’s

notice. As I did not “see” who was the person playing the

character of the translator in “Amistad,” (1997). Nor did I

really try to determine the handsome man behind the face

in “Love Actually” (2003), who married Keira Knightley’s

character. Even though this is one of my youngest daughter’s

and my favorite Christmas movies!

Lastly, I had not realized that wearing those “Kinky Boots,”

(2005), was the actor, otherwise known as Chiwetel Ejifor.

How could I have not noticed the “Who” that was behind such

intriguing characters as in “American Gangster,” “Salt” and

“2012?” Because, Ejiofor, is able to immerse himself into

his diverse character roles, so well, that you don’t imagine

he is an actor. He became the “real” man who had to endure

slavery, as in 2013’s, “12 Years A Slave.”

This year, celebrating some of the greatest movies I have

ever seen, we will have the 86th Academy Awards ceremony,

in less than a month. You still have time to catch up on

your viewing!

Known from 2013 onward, I believe, Chiwetel Ejiofor will be

recognized finally. He will be known as the man who played

Solomon Northrup, in “12 Years A Slave.”

What are his roots? His parents were born in Nigeria. Ejiofor

was born in 1977. He was raised in England and attended the

British National Youth Theatre in 1995. That is where he

tried out for the scholarship to London’s prestigious Academy

of Music and Dramatic Arts. At age 19, Ejiofor was only three

months into his coursework there, having earned his scholarship,

when he was ‘discovered’ by Steven Spielberg. He was chosen to

play the character, Ensign James Covey, also regarded as the

interpreter in “Amistad.”

What dreams other actors have had and not been discovered?

How many actors have worked in different fields, everything

from cab drivers, carpenters, waiters (or servers) for years,

only to make it into a commercial or small acting part?

I enjoyed the action thriller known as “2012,” in which Ejiofor

played the character, “Dr. Adrian Helmsley.” Ejiofor’s father

had been a doctor possibly his inspiration, while he performed

in this scientific role.

I look forward to watching the Academy Awards ceremony with

the funny Ellen Degeneres hosting. I watched, “12 Years A Slave”

when it first came out, with my good guy friend, Bill. I also

wrote an informative post that included a short review. I knew

I had just seen a dynamic, powerful and moving cast of actors.

I believe that this story will someday be featured on TCM as a

‘classic’ movie.

It was Ejiofor’s portrayal of Solomon that really fascinated

me. If you have not seen this movie, try it, think about it,

and realize it may change your life. I have been thinking about

Solomon, why he would write this story, that included his real

gratitude. This incredible story is less about his not being

filled with anger and more of his forgiveness. I value many of

his human characteristics, including his perseverance through

all of his pain. Not a spoiler alert, to tell you that Solomon

showed drive and a continued conviction that he was once a

freed man.

The road through hell is unquestionably a difficult one to

watch.

An original copy of Solomon’s late 1800’s book that includes

pen and ink illustrations was what inspired the movie. Before

Ejiofor took the role, he had doubts about his abilities to

portray Solomon. When he was shown an illustration which

depicts Solomon looking somewhat bewildered and scared, yet

calm in his demeanor, he decided he wanted to take the part.

This picture, supposedly, moved Ejiofor. He wanted to become

that man in the drawing.

I think he did extremely well. During the course of filming

the movie, and even now, in his mind, Chiwetel Ejiofor feels

irrevocably changed.

This emotionally moves me, when someone in in character, like

Sandra Bullock was in her recent 2013 “Gravity” space movie.

Also, in her part of playing a fairly wealthy woman who

changed her own life, along with her family’s to take in a

homeless man, in “The Blind Side.” The incredible true story

of Michael Oher, also shows the difference that man made in

their lives, too.

While I am on the road to my Mom’s this weekend, I hope to

have some great music playing on the radio and unwinding

from a very stressful week.

On the road to the Oscar’s, please share with me any movies

you wish to recommend!