G is for generations of grandmother

Here’s another of those family pictures that, until late last year, I had never seen before in my life. There are a lot of them, actually, not always, labeled, unfortunately.

This photograph, I’m pretty sure who the folks in the picture are. The child in the front is Gertrude Williams, the younger. Her mother unimaginatively named her daughter after herself. Isn’t that what happened on the TV show Gilmore Girls?

In her youth, she was Gertie. But at some point, after she married Leslie H. Green in 1950, she became Trudy Green. That’s my mom, looking unhappy in the majority of the photos around that period. Of course, she was my daughter’s paternal grandmother. The last time The Daughter saw my mom was when The Daughter was five, so she doesn’t remember her well. Mom died in 2011.

What she does remember is a photo of herself surrounded by her two grandmas, taken at my mother-in-law’s former home. It IS a pretty nifty shot, which, I think, I took on one of those disposable cameras. And I try to keep Trudy alive to The Daughter through stories.

The woman to the left is Gertrude Williams, nee Yates. Mom’s mom, my grandmother, who I saw a lot growing up. As kids, my sisters and I would go to her house every school day for lunch since my mom worked outside the home. And we spent a LOT of time there in the summers. It was only six very short blocks from our house to hers. She died on Super Bowl Sunday 1983.

The woman on the right is Adenia Yates, my grandmother’s younger sister, my great aunt. I taught Deana how to play canasta, which I learned from my paternal grandmother, Agatha Green. Deana died around 1966.

I assume the woman in the middle is Lillian Yates Holland, mother of Gertrude and Adenia, and grandmother to my mother. (Lillian’s mother, my mother’s grandmother, Harriet Archer, died in 1928.) They all lived in a little house in Binghamton, NY, with other family members until Lillian died in 1938.

I could probably just post these pictures every week.

For ABC Wednesday

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Presidents Day 2018: From Ghost Town to Havana

America, Please Stop Creating Myths about Your Presidents

Thomas Jefferson’s Silent Armies

Thomas Jefferson wrote his own epitaph never mentioning that he served as president. His epitaph read, “Author of the Declaration of American Independence, Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and the Father of the University of Virginia.

Her mother said they descended from ‘a president and a slave.’ What would their DNA say?

Should Trump Be Impeached? Why Founding Father James Madison Would Support Impeachment

Should Andrew Jackson Have Banned Catholics?

The Return of the President – Zachary Taylor

Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait, James Earl Jones with the Seattle Symphony; Gerard Schwarz, conductor

Guest blogger Abe Lincoln thanks the (non-idiot) people of Alabama

Lincoln Memorial

Grant Appointed General-in-Chief of Union Army: March 9, 1864

William McKinley was the first president to campaign by telephone

Teddy Roosevelt’s Secret

Warren Harding was the first president to speak over the radio

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

The first video re: Frank Buxton, R.I.P. is applicable to the category

FDR documentary

FDR and Robert Trout

Dorothea Lange’s Censored Photographs of FDR’s Japanese Concentration Camps

John F. Kennedy was the first president to hold a press conference on television

Reference in Reagan ad is to the movie Hong Kong (1952): “The theft of a jeweled treasure is within an adventurer’s grasp; he is restrained by his love for a good woman.”

Bill Clinton once lost the nuclear codes for months, and a ‘comedy of errors’ kept anyone from finding out

From Ghost Town to Havana: Two Teams, Two Countries, One Game – “But what I didn’t expect was that the whole trip happened because Corr got mad at George W. Bush”

The Verdict Is in: Guess Who’s the Worst President in US History?

May 2009: President Obama going to a Five Guys to get some burgers to go

Alabama lawyer reveals Obama’s demand for loyalty when first meeting with US attorneys

May 2016: President Obama and the First Lady hosted the Broadway cast of the musical Hamilton

Barack Obama: ‘Think before you tweet’

Barack Obama, the Best Wedding Guest Ever? Ex-President Officiates Washington Wedding

President Trump makes Disney World debut

Parkland: a different response to latest mass shooting?

Unaccustomed as I am to optimism about public policy, I have found guarded optimism that SOMETHING to address the factors that led to the most recent mass casualty shooting, at the high school in Parkland, Florida, will be enacted, perhaps before the November 2018 elections.

I think that it won’t be just the same as every other time, with the predictable articles about how predictable the response will be, such as this from the Boston Globe:

Mass shootings have become so familiar that they seem to follow the same sad script. He will be a man, or maybe still a boy.
He will have a semiautomatic rifle — an AR-15, or something like it — and several high-capacity magazines filled with ammunition.
The weapon will have been purchased legally, the background check no obstacle.

The reason: it’s the anger, the rage.

From here: According to Cameron Kasky, there were many heroes at the Florida high school that former student Nikolas Cruz shot up on Wednesday, — but he see’s no heroism in the words of Republicans who only offer their ‘thoughts and prayers.’

“This is the only country where this kind of thing happens. I’ve heard from other people, they don’t have gun drills. We had to prepare extensively at Stoneman Douglas. This is something that can be stopped and will be stopped.

“This is the time to talk about guns… But there’s much more that can be done, much more that needs to be done and much more that people like Senator Marco Rubio [who was Three Billboarded] and Governor Rick Scott are not doing.”

From here: One student, identified as Sarah on her Twitter account… “I don’t want your condolences, you f@#$ing piece of s#!*;, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But Gun control will prevent it from happening again.”

Back in February 2017 the regime made it EASIER for people with mental illness to buy guns. As a Broward County official said, “How can you come here and talk about how horrible it is, when you support these laws?”

Adding to the outrage is the news that, on January 5, the FBI received a tip to a public reporting line that Nikolas Cruz might carry out a school shooting, but failed to pass the information to its Miami field office or investigate any further.

Mother of slain Parkland teen screams in grief and leaves CNN reporter, congressman speechless.

From here.: Bess Kalb, a writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live, responded directly to condolence tweets from members of Congress by pointing out the amount of money each federal lawmaker has taken from the NRA —which has shamelessly advocated for less restrictive laws on firearms in the wake of gun-related tragedies.

“This is not a political issue. This is not a constitutional debate. This is a pandemic that’s killing children. And it’s perpetrated by hypocrites who preach a doctrine of ‘life’ but take money from a profit-driven gun lobby,” Kalb said in a tweet.

To that end, Russian Bots Hit Twitter With Pro-Gun Tweets After School Shooting.

So sure, the calls to ban AR-15s and high-capacity magazines have already run into the SECOND AMENDMENT!/Gun Bans Won’t Work In America/What if teachers had been armed? arguments

I remember the polite pleas of the parents of the adorable six- and seven-year-olds slain in Newtown, CT in December 2012. They were almost always unfailingly polite in their sadness as they unsuccessfully advocated for change. But Parkland just might be the rude political tipping point I’ve been simultaneously dreading and hoping for.

Dennis Edwards of the Temptations

You had to be of a certain age to remember the concern music fans had when it was announced that David Ruffin was leaving the Temptations to pursue a solo career. David was THE star, Eddie Kendricks’ occasional solos notwithstanding.

Fortunately, there was Dennis Edwards waiting in the wings. I recently heard an interview in which he said he was being paid by Motown as a stand-by. When the Contours needed a member, Dennis was recruited in 1967. The next year, he was a member of The Temptations.

Coincidentally, Norman Whitfield became the producer of the Tempts, and co-writer of their songs with Barrett Strong. The group was more like five lead singers, but still, Dennis stood out.

The box set of the Temptations is Emperors of Soul. As Dustbury knows, the first song of the renewed group, and the initial track on Disc 3, was Cloud Nine.

It ends with Papa Was a Rolling Stone. Dennis related in an interview that the long instrumental intro made him so angry that he barked out that first line, just the way Whitfield wanted.

I loved that stretch of music. I have all the albums, and I even picked up the CD Psychedelic Soul, covering that period and a little beyond, often with extended tracks, some from the albums, others previously unreleased.

Still, one of the two best concerts I ever saw was the Temptations reunion tour in 1982 at the Colonie Colosseum near Albany. Seven guys in the beginning., then the first five (Ruffin, Kendricks, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin and Richard Street, subbing for the late Paul Williams), the middle five (Edwards for Ruffin), the then current five (Glenn Leonard for Kendricks), and finally back to the seven.

Dennis Edwards was the only “replacement” Temptation to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, unless you count David Ruffin replacing Elbridge Bryant before they hit big.

Dennis died just shy of his 75th birthday.

As someone who shared his birthday wrote, “He left us way more than just alone.”

Listen to

I Can’t Get Next To You, their 2nd #1 pop single in the US (after My Girl) – Dennis in the middle

Don’t Let The Joneses Get You Down

Ball of Confusion (Dennis is 2nd solo, after Eddie)

Oscar-nominated short films: Live action

All the short films my wife and I saw at the Spectrum in February 2018 were quite good. Dekalb Elementary (USA – 20 minutes) involved a 2013 school shooting incident in Atlanta, GA. It was quite intense, but the lead female’s role was remarkable.

The Silent Child (UK – 20 minutes) is about a profoundly deaf four-year-old girl, whose busy middle class family care for her. But she lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her how to communicate. The arc of this story was very touching, and a bit heartbreaking.

My Nephew Emmett (USA – 19 minutes) is set in 1955 and based on the true story of a Mississippi preacher who tries to protect his 14-year-old nephew. I knew almost immediately, though my wife did not, what this story was all about, which I suppose lessened the impact only slightly.

In The Eleven O’Clock (Australia – 13 minutes), the delusional patient of a psychiatrist believes he is actually the psychiatrist, and they end up analyzing each other. As the only comedy, and a cleverly funny one at that, it broke up the tension in the theater somewhat.

Watu Wote – All of Us (Germany/Kenya – 23 minutes). “For almost a decade Kenya has been targeted by terrorist attacks of the Al-Shabaab. An atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust between Muslims and Christians is growing. Until in December 2015, Muslim bus passengers showed that solidarity can prevail.”

The first, third, and fifth movies all were based on true stories and suggested the possibility of violence. DeKalb was probably my favorite among these, but I suspect Wote Watu will win the Oscar because it’s so timely.

As a teacher of English as a New Language, my wife really related to The Silent Child, knowing children often need advocates when they are “different.”

The one thing I hated in the presentation is that, during the closing credits, they had videos of the filmmakers hearing that they’ve been nominated for Academy Awards. It really ruined the mood, especially the stirring end music of Wote Watu. Now if they’d run the clips AFTER each the credits, it would have been better, serving as a brief respite before another heavy topic.

Nevertheless, a very good crop of films.

Black History Month: Skin Deep

Bring Black History Month to the classroom by teaching your students about the work and lives of influential African-Americans

Presbyterian Church USA resources to understand and combat racism

The arc of history bends towards justice quote originally came from Theodore Parker

Celebrating the Afro-Puerto Rican ‘Father of Black History’ Arturo Schomburg

Jimmy Durham, Victoria soldier

In 1887, African-American cane workers in Louisiana attempted to organize—and many paid with their lives

Fredi Washington negotiated bigotry and made her way in the movies; the black celebrity from Hollywood’s Golden Age who revealed the complexities of passing for white

When cops raided a hip 1970s London cafe, Britain’s Black Power movement rose up

AND EVEN TODAY

From online troll to white supremacist leader: exposing the lie behind one man’s rise

Cheap White Whine: Racism, Affirmative Action, and the Myth of White Victimhood

Racism, fundamentalism, fear and propaganda: An insider explains why rural, white Christian America will never change

REV. ROBERT WRIGHT LEE IV STATEMENT ON LEAVING HIS CHURCH AFTER SPEAKING OUT AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY AT MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS

Defiance In The Cold Sunshine: The Martin Luther King March overshadowed by racist profanity

Banned – Reports of Voter Suppression Tactics Pour In From Alabama Election

I used to lead tours at a plantation; you won’t believe the questions I got about slavery

Owning My Racism: a sermon given at First Parish Church in Billerica, MA on January 14, 2018

Boston. Racism. Image. Reality. A better Boston? The choice is ours; the final installment of The Boston Globe Spotlight Team’s series on race showcases seven ideas to help the city become a more welcoming place to all

MUSIC

Skin Deep – Playing For Change and Buddy Guy; the song includes over 50 musicians from coast to coast featuring Tom Morello, Billy Branch, Chicago Children’s Choir, and Roots Gospel Voices of Mississippi

Shakedown – Valerie June

Jumpin Jive – Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers; from the movie “Stormy Weather” (1943)

Black Pearl – Sonny Charles and Checkmates, Ltd.

Quincy Jones Has a Story About That

Valentine’s Day is Ash Wednesday

Without looking, I knew I would find this sentence in some news source: “Parishioners… think Valentine’s Day is actually a great day to start Lent.” Romantic love, Jesus’ love, and all that.

This resonates, even though Lent is intended for sacrifice and February 14 is usually keyed to indulging in candy, more in line with Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, which immediately precedes Lent.

But I’ve heard enough Ash Wednesday and other Lenten sermons to make the case that indulging and sacrificing do not have to be that far apart. Traditionally, Christian believers tend to put aside a particular vice such as the chocolate that is a favored treat.

Perhaps you can make a sacrifice of your time to indulge the human need of personal connection. Maybe it’d be a visit to someone you hadn’t seen in a while. Or a handwritten letter, rather than email. Or an honest-to-goodness phone call, not merely a text.

Maybe you can do something for someone else. Random Acts Of Kindness Raise Dopamine Levels And Boost Your Mood. Being selfless can be a self-centered act.

And it does not need to be a large gesture. Opening a door… and giving advice are wonderful ways to give. “Anytime we step outside of ourselves long enough to help someone else, something wonderful is waiting for us when we return: the Happiness Trifecta neurochemicals are all boosted!”

When I was a kid, you could always tell which of your classmates were Catholic by their “dirty foreheads” on Ash Wednesday. But somewhere along the line, the mainline Protestant churches “gave up” on the rejection of this ritual and embraced it instead.

Here is vlogbrothers: “Two Love Stories”

Finally, here again is my favorite Valentine’s Day song, by Steve Earle.

If I could I would deliver to you
Diamonds and gold; it’s the least I can do
So if you’ll take my IOU
I could make it up to you
Until then I hope my heart will do
For Valentine’s Day

F is for Fresh Beat Band

One of the kids’ shows the Daughter watched when she was five and for two or three years therafter was The Fresh Beat Band. Before the show ever aired on Nick, they were referred to as the Jumparounds because, in the previews, they jumped around a lot.

The group consisted of
Shout (Thomas Hobson) – keyboards, vocals
Marina (Shayna Rose, replaced by Tara Perry – pictured) – drums, vocals, piano
Kiki (Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer) – guitar, violin, vocals
Twist (Jon Beavers) – turntables, beatbox, vocals

So the guys were Twist and Shout, which made me laugh. Marina was easily replaced like a soap opera actress, played by one person for a while then another.

The “Fresh Beats” are “described as four best friends in a band who go to music school and graduate together as musicians who are determined to follow their dreams…

“In 2015, an animated television series Fresh Beat Band of Spies premiered on Nickelodeon. All four members of the band lend their voices to their respective characters in the spin-off.”

Listen to the Fresh Beat Band
Theme
Go Bananas
A Friend Like You

Most of them seem to be still working actors, though Shayna Rose has no IMDB credits since the original series.

Jon Beavers is appearing as a soldier in National Geographic’s 2017 miniseries The Long Road Home, based on ABC News’ Martha Raddatz’s book, which “chronicles the events of April 4th, 2004, when a platoon was ambushed in Sadr City, Baghdad, in an attack that came to be known as ‘Black Sunday.'”

Thomas Hobson was in four episodes of the 2016 version of The Chadwick Journals, a “chronicle of stories about men of color who lead double lives,” plus a couple upcoming films.

Tara Perry played Louisa May Alcott in the 2016 TV miniseries Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party, among other things.

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer (pictured), who rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange as Kiki in 2011, has had guest appearances on Madam Secretary and Criminal Minds, plus playing Cha Cha on the live Grease production. She’s also a recording and performing artist who performs under the name Ava Gold.

Listen to Ava Gold:
I Wish You Would
Havana

ABC Wednesday

The problem with black history month

The problem with black history month is that one can slip into the mindset that it’s all about what happened way back when – RIGHT? – but it isn’t. For instance, The Eight Box Law of 1882. It was a nastily clever way to disenfranchise black people in the late 19th century, not dissimilar to activities designed to do the same thing even 80 years later.

Then you recall there are all sorts of ways the system is trying to disenfranchise certain people in the first part of the 21st century, with voting rolls purged in certain neighborhoods; required IDs that are increasingly difficult to acquire; and fewer polling places, so that voters, facing long lines, will be discouraged.

And I’m not even going to get into gerrymandered redistricting.

From Think Progress (2016): “In 2013, North Carolina — led by the GOP — approved a law that eliminated same-day voter registration, cut a full week of early voting, barred voters from casting a ballot outside their home precincts, scrapped straight-ticket voting, and got rid of a program to pre-register high school students who would turn 18 by Election Day. That law also included one of the nation’s strictest voter ID requirements.

“Federal courts struck down most of the law after finding that it was passed with the intention to suppress African-American voters ‘with almost surgical precision.'”

You read that Sentencing Commission Finds Black Men Receive Longer Sentences Than White Men For Same Crime. You may have instinctively known that, but it’s good to have it verified.

And then you remember that, in most states, people that are in the prison system can’t vote, so that’s another method of disenfranchisement. And people who have served their time, “paid their debt to society,” STILL can’t vote in some states, and in a few jurisdictions, FOREVER.

So you latch on to the notion that “progress” has been made. and surely there has been. But in a system of two steps forward and two steps back, it can feel a lot like standing still.

Hail, Daniel Dickinson, pride of our fair Binghamton

Gertrude Williams (mom) in first row, near the center, white tights, black shoes

I began writing about how I had started kindergarten in early February 1958 at Daniel S. Dickinson school in the First Ward of Binghamton, NY, named after a 19th-century politician, located at the intersection of Dickinson Street and the curved Starr Avenue.

But then I came across, on one of those Binghamton-specific Facebook sites, this peculiar newspaper article, slamming the neighborhood that I grew up in, while holding up my school as an oasis from whatever scourge existed on the streets. And it wasn’t my experience, for the most part. What I ended up writing, will be in four parts, each titled from a line from my first alma mater.

If my mom didn’t work, at McLean’s department store downtown, first as an elevator operator and then as a bookkeeper, the trajectory of my life would have been quite different. Since we lived at 5 Gaines Street, between Front St and Oak St, I probably would have gone to Oak Street school for K-6.

Instead, the school district used my maternal grandma’s address at 13 Maple Street, between Prospect St and Cypress St, only a few short blocks away, as our address. That’s where my sisters and I went to lunch each day.

If I had gone to Oak Street, I might have met Karen and Carol and Bill, who I’ve in touch with in 2018, or Bernie or Lois, who I’ve seen in recent years, at some later date. Probably we would have been together in junior high, also at DSD, or certainly at Binghamton Central High School. As it is, February 2018 marks 60 years of friendship, which is very rare indeed.

Starting school in February, as well as September was, as I now understand, a peculiar system that almost no other district used. The kids who were turning five in the winter would begin school then. This is why I STILL remember some of their birth months.

I started kindergarten in Miss Cady’s class with Carol, Bill and David T. (December birthdays), Lois, Irene, and Bernie (February), Karen (like me, in March), and Diane (April) and some other kids, including Mary (April) and David D.

We had clocks that had Roman numerals; I recall the four was shown as IIII rather than IV. My rug for taking a nap on was yellow, which I passed on to my sister Leslie, a year and a half later. One time, I clearly remember waking up at 11:45 when everyone else had gone home for lunch one time.

I have no recollection of what I actually DID in kindergarten. When I went to Karen’s mother’s wake in 2012, Karen’s sister told me how I complained on a local kids’ TV show that Karen snapped my suspenders. I had no recollection.

We had eight teachers between first and fourth grade, in large part because some of teachers went on maternity leave. One in first grade, was Mrs. Goodrich, and one In fourth, was Miss Erickson, maybe? Mrs Waters, in third grade, I remember, came back and taught Leslie.

In second grade, we danced the Minuet in G. I think Karen danced with Bill, and Lois danced with Bernie. I know I danced with Carol.

Also in second grade, some sixth graders forced me to fight a kid named Danny, who was my sister Leslie’s classmates, so about a year and a half younger than I was. We were supposed to make it look good, lest they beat us both up. I inadvertently hit him in the nose and drew blood. I felt awful, but the older kids were thrilled.

I joined the Cub Scouts in third grade. Ray, who ended up in my class in second grade was, in the pack, as was David D. Ray’s mom was our den mother. When Ray married Pam in 1976, I got to escort Ray’s mom to her seat.

Was I an overly sensitive kid? One time, some kids on the playground were playing “keep away” with my hat. I got mad and went home. Legend has it, though I don’t specifically remember, that I hopped a ride on a Crowley’s milk truck. Did that really happen?

More soon.