BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 27 Sep 2018, 12:57

The Prince of Whales . . . . Part of the caption on one of George Cruikshank's caricatures of the Prince Regent, May 1, 1812, making much of the prince's portly figure.

Certain U.S. senators’ concern with the “optics” of 11 old men grilling Dr. Christine Ford about events in her past reminds us that image is an important matter in politics. But it didn’t take our heady mix of mass media and democracy to make it so. Way back in Regency times, the English caricaturist George Cruikshank used metal plates and etching tools—and a savage wit—to make life miserable for the Prince Regent and kept at it when the prince became George IV. The Regent’s self-indulgence, his amours, and his hard treatment of his wife made him easy prey, but Cruikshank’s cartoons did much to force the Duke of Wellington to lament that George IV was “the damnedest millstone about the neck of any government that can be imagined.” George Cruikshank was born on September 27, 1792 and learned his craft from his father and his elder brother. But his frame of reference came from London street culture and a wide reading that ran from the Bible to Bunyan to Swift and beyond, and within that frame the Prince Regent, and then the king, could be made to look very bad indeed. So much so that George IV actually bribed Cruikshank to lay off, but his £100 wasn’t enough. Nor was it merely that Cruikshank was a radical troublemaker. He was, but he was also a patriot, and his early fame owed more to his anti-Napoleon cartoons than his satires on the frailties of the British royals. But neither Cruikshank’s “Boneyparte” cartoons nor his attacks on George IV was the main cause of his fame. That came later, with his perceptive (and popular) illustrations for several novels by Charles Dickens. His own reputation took a tumble when, at the end of his long life (he died in 1878), it emerged that Cruikshank had for years kept a separate household for his mistress and their (many) children. But image-makers who tarnish their own image do run these risks. It may be what mirrors are for. ©

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 28 Sep 2018, 13:17

I'm gonna move, baby, way out on the outskirts of town . . . Casey Bill Weldon, 1936.

My dad had some old blues records, including a 1942 classic by Count Basie, “The Outskirts of Town.” I’m sure the original record is shattered (78s broke spectacularly when they broke) but since then “The Outskirts of Town” has been recorded by everyone but your grandma (it’s for a male voice), including Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, and Big Bill Broonzy. That “genealogy,” as one music website calls it, goes to show how much ‘blues music’ has become part of American culture, and according to the Library of Congress a landmark on that road was set on this day, 28th September, in 1912, with the publication of “The Memphis Blues” by William Christopher (better known as W. C.) Handy. Handy, already 39 years old in 1912, was a well-educated man, in both schools (the academic one and the one where you study hard knocks), and he did as much as anyone to bring blues into the mainstream of American music. Teaching music at Alabama A&M, he also toured and soon found that touring made better money than teaching, He and his main band members settled in Memphis, you guessed it on Beale Street, and on this day in 1912 Handy broke through with the publication of “The Memphis Blues,” subtitled “Mr. Crump” as a not-too-oblique joke (probably) on Memphis’s white political boss, Ed Crump, for whom the basic melody had been a campaign song. Handy was paid $100 for it, not bad money in 1912 (about $2,500 in today’s coin), but he should have kept the royalties. By 1920, he was famous for his music (performances and compositions), had published the “St. Louis Blues”, and had already encouraged young white musicians to take a stab at singing the blues. So a tip of the hat and a tap of the toe, and maybe a tear or two, to W. C. Handy and the “Memphis Blues.” The song is 106 years old; the genre is older, and it’s all about hard knocks. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 29 Sep 2018, 13:24

I have yet my legs, and one arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste and get his instruments. Horatio Nelson, urging quick amputation of his arm during a sea battle off Tenerife, 1797.

Before the Battle of Britain that was fought in the air in 1940-41, there was a Battle of Britain during the wars with revolutionary France. It was fought at sea, in the West Indies, at the Nile, at Copenhagen, and at the Battle of Trafalgar (in October 1805). But while the air battle made heroes of a generation of RAF pilots, the sea battle produced one transcendent hero, Horatio Nelson: and martyr, for at Trafalgar he was killed on the deck of his flagship, HMS Victory, receiving a musketball when the Victory was at close quarters with the French Redoubtable. It was a costly triumph, but as the remnants of the British fleet sailed home, the crew of the Victory refused to give up Nelson’s body despite the fact that their ship was so badly damaged it had to be towed. When the fleets engaged at Trafalgar, Nelson had flagged “England expects every man to do his duty,” and his ratings responded: “As we brought him out, so we brought him home.” Then they formed the honor guard for his funeral procession, from Greenwich upriver to St. Paul’s, carrying only their battle ensigns and their wounds. Born a vicar’s son at Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, on September 29, 1758, Horatio Nelson came as close as an 18th-century Englishman could to being a self-made man. Granted, his mother was well-connected, but his father’s family was stuffed with rural vicars and his tutelage in the Royal Navy was long, hard and not predictive of his astonishing abilities to move men and ships to achieve tactical advantage in battle and strategic advantage in war. He had his flaws. The most infamous was his surrender to Lady Emma Hamilton’s strange ménage à trois, abject enough to embarrass even his friends, and his diplomacy (especially in Italy) left too much to be desired. And his ambition sometimes irritated his fellow officers. But in the long run of written history Horatio Nelson’s courage has won out, as it did with the British populace (and his ships’ crews) in the wars with France. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 30 Sep 2018, 02:30

Bob has asked for help. He sent me a Scottish cobbler's bill from 1840. One of the items on it is 'Mending buds [?] & turning Heels, 8d. Does anyone know what 'buds' are?
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by plaques » 30 Sep 2018, 07:55

Was this bill raised in Scotland UK. or was it from a Scottish shoe maker working in America. I only ask because we may be looking at UK / European Etymology against some Americanism.

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 30 Sep 2018, 12:57

Raised in Dalry, Scotland P.

I suppose I should live more for others, but I don't know how. I must do something. Diary entry, Anne Henrietta Martin, 1893.

Since eleven elderly men have forced me into a feminist frame, I finish the month with an all-American woman (Irish father, German mother), a feminist leader right out of the Great Basin, Anne Henrietta Martin, born in Reno on September 30, 1875. She attended the state university, then Stanford, then Columbia, London, and Leipzig, but her educational ‘moment’ came after Stanford when she was chair of Nevada’s new department of history. In 1901, her father’s death brought her to the realizations that she lived in a man’s world and that she needed to do something about it. So she took a leave of absence (seeing to it that her chair was filled by a woman, Jeanne Weir!!) and went away to study some more. In London, Martin fell in with the Pankhursts and, in 1910, got herself arrested for invading Parliament. Back in Nevada she led (with Weir) the state’s suffrage movement. Their suffrage amendment enabled them (and thousands of other Nevada women) to march to the polls in 1914. When war broke out, Martin went to Europe as a delegate to a woman’s peace conference. She became the first woman member of Nevada’s educational commission, President of the Nevada Women’s Civic League and of the National Women’s Party, a candidate (twice) for the US Senate, and a writer (reportage as herself and two novels under the name of O’Hara). For good measure, Anne Martin was Nevada’s state champion in women’s tennis. In Good Housekeeping (1920) she memorably challenged the US government to spend as much on women in childbirth as it did on hogs and cattle, citing the disastrously high American rates of childbirth mortality. In the late 1920s she and her mother did move to Carmel, in California, where she settled down to a life of campaigning journalism. In 1945 she went back to Nevada to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws as a “native daughter” who had become a “leader of womankind.” Exactly right. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 01 Oct 2018, 12:52

Creativity is figuring out how to use what you already know in order to go beyond what you already think. Jerome Bruner.

Grades are the common currency of the academy, but when I got an ‘A’ in Developmental Psychology (from Prof. Aronfreed, at Penn, in 1963) my faith in the currency took a knock from which it never recovered. Nor am I talking about ‘grade inflation;’ rather the inherently capricious nature of “the grade.” I understood little about that course, and thought I should have failed, but when I queried the ‘A’, Professor Aronfreed told me that I had explained very well why I did not understand his exam questions. What I did learn from it, though, was the importance in learning of context, structure, and process. As an historian, I’d summarize it as ‘narrative,’ but whatever word we use it underlines the usefulness (even the necessity) of possessing some frame of reference that we can use when we encounter the new, an unexpected fact, a difficult subject, or when we need to be “creative.” Aronfreed’s patron saint was not Jean Piaget, the Frenchman usually credited with this notion, but Jerome Bruner, the American who (as Americans will) systematized it. Bruner was born blind, with cataracts of all things, in New York City on October 1, 1915. Luckily his immigrant parents were well off (his dad was a watch manufacturer), so baby Bruner had surgery at age 2, and his sight was restored. Perhaps this helped him to intuit the importance of context, but more obviously he learned its basics at Duke and then Harvard, and then in research into what he called the “organizing factors of perception.” He developed an extraordinarily optimistic view of the learning capacity of the human child (and, for that matter, the adult) but believed that it could not be fully realized in an educational free market. Learners require “scaffolding,” Bruner insisted, first to sharpen their enthusiasm and then to fulfill their potential. He kept at building that scaffolding for a very long time, working until shortly before his death, aged 100, in June 2016. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 02 Oct 2018, 11:06

There's no question that my career would have been different if I was a man, but if I was a man I would be a different human being. Shirley Clarke.

Intellectually, a compelling feature of the #MeToo movement is its contention that sexual harassment is not just one individual (male) attacking another (female); it’s a replay of male domination, male privilege, a species of a genus that includes pay differentials, promotions, and the sort of “locker room banter” (or overheard boasting) that denatures such encounters and turns victims into trophies. In the entertainment industry, it has also meant the virtual exclusion of women from senior roles in film-making. Thus we lose a perspective, the “female gaze” as one honors college faculty member called it in her hands-on film course. In righting the balance for the future, we’ve also taken another look at the past, and (re)discovered women pioneers like Shirley Clarke, a gifted director-producer-cinematographer whose shorts and documentaries might make one wish that she had done some features. As Shirley Brimberg, she was born to wealth (from both parents’ families) in New York on October 2, 1919. Thus (as she said herself) she underlines another truth about America, if you are going to be a self-made man (or woman), it helps to have money to start with. But she worked at it, too, coming through her studies (and performances) in avant-garde dance to acquire an aesthetic appreciation of form and rhythm that you can see in some of her documentaries (you can see her “Bridges Go Round,” 1958, on YouTube). But she had to escape her father’s bullying, which she did through marriage (to Bert Clarke), and then an inheritance enabled her to do her brainstorming from her Manhattan penthouse. After the dance came the films, starting in the 1950s: some on commission (e.g. for UNICEF, in “A Scary Time,” 1960) some on her own bat. And awards, too, including a 1963 Academy Award for her Robert Frost documentary. It was subtitled “A Lover’s Quarrel with the World,” which might be a good epitaph for Shirley Clarke (and a campaign slogan for #MeToo). ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 03 Oct 2018, 13:14

Come on baby, let's do the twist.

Earnest Evans was born near the South Carolina coast on October 3, 1941. He came to my attention as Chubby Checker, the south Philadelphia singer who made “the Twist” famous. I now see him as a parable of the odd intersections and disconnects between black and white popular culture. The song was written and first recorded by Hank Ballard, another displaced southerner. Ballard’s childhood hero was Gene Autry, “the singing cowboy,” whose first gigs were at camp meetings of the Oklahoma Socialist Party. Ballard himself got his singing start in a black church in Bessemer, Alabama, guitar and all, but in Detroit he and his group, the Midnighters, moved into borderline stuff, notably the sexually explicit “Annie” trilogy, which sold well on the sly but got the Midnighters banned on radio. Back in Philly, the R&R impresario Dick Clark aimed to put “The Twist” on his American Bandstand show but Ballard didn’t quite fit the show’s squeaky clean image, and so Fabiano Antonio Forte (“Fabian”) put Clark onto Fabian’s high school friend Earnest, already performing at south Philadelphia’s Italian Market and cultivating a squeaky clean image through his imitations of Ricky Nelson, of Fabian himself, and of another working class South Philadelphian, Frankie Avalon. Earnest’s nickname was ‘Chubby,’ and at his audition Dick Clark’s wife christened him Chubby “Checker” (after hearing him imitate Fats “Domino”). And so “The Twist” came on American Bandstand, Chubby became rich and famous, and married Catherina Lodders, a Dutch model (Miss World in 1962) from the other Haarlem. In 2014 (with their four children) Earnest and Catharina Evans celebrated their 50th anniversary. In 2015 Earnest and Catharina flew to Florida to help celebrate the 100th birthday of the minister who’d married them at Temple Lutheran in Pennsauken NJ. Wholesome indeed. And it’s Chubby’s (not Hank’s) “The Twist” that Billboard has called “the biggest chart hit of all time.” It topped the charts in two non-successive years. The only other song to do that was “White Christmas.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 04 Oct 2018, 11:04

To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer. Attr. to Paul Ehrlich.

For various reasons, including four family graves in the college cemetery, I’ve had a lifelong interest in Iowa State College (now University), even including the usually thankless task of following Cyclone football. But somehow it escaped me that ISU was the venue for the creation of digital computing. Maybe. There are other claimants (including my own BA university, Pennsylvania) for this dubious distinction, but Iowa State’s was actually validated by a law court (in 1973, 34 years post facto). The triumphant inventor (but not a litigant!!) in that case was not the college but its professor, John Vincent Atanasoff. Atanasoff was born of immigrant (Bulgarian and Franco-Irish) parents on October 4, 1903, and by a circuitous route fetched up at ISC to achieve his MSc degree (in mathematics) in 1930. After a PhD at Wisconsin (in physics) he returned to Ames to teach. His research work (analyzing the surface geometry of various elements and compounds) entailed too many separate measurements and calculations for a busy man, and so he and his grad student, Clifford Berry, began to mess around with integrated “strings” of calculators before deciding that binary digitation was the only answer. In 1939 they rolled out their ABC (for the “Atanasoff-Berry Computer”). It was rather cumbersome device that depended on vacuum tubes, but it worked (that is, it did what it was supposed to do for Atanasoff’s research). It was a binary-Boolean animal, had a Random Access Memory of sorts, and (though it wouldn’t compare with your hand-held) considerable computing strength. In a series of court cases (1954 to 1973!!) Atanasoff plausibly claimed that he got the idea on a winter’s drive from Ames to Rock Island, Illinois. Courts also accepted that Atanasoff had shared his ideas with John Mauchly who went back to Penn to put together another “first” digital computer (the “ENIAC”) and launch a long court battle. But that’s another story. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by PanBiker » 04 Oct 2018, 11:59

Not forgetting "Colossus", saviour of D-Day and other actions, kept ULTRA level secret until the 1980's but fully functional and fit for purpose as 1944 dawned.
Ian

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 05 Oct 2018, 13:02

Every vision is a joke until . . . once realized, it becomes commonplace. Robert Goddard.

In March 1926, a researcher at Clark University wrote in his diary that “the first flight with a rocket using liquid propellants was made yesterday at Aunt Effie’s farm.” It didn’t go far (only 41 feet up and 160 feet sideways), but I like the down-home, phlegmatic quality of this entry. Effie’s nephew was also a farmer’s son. On October 5, 1882, Nahum and Fannie Goddard became the parents of Robert Goddard, a perfectly phlegmatic farm boy and a visionary who (at age 17) envisaged the future of space travel from atop a cherry tree in his family farm’s orchard. Would that it had been an apple tree, for his first publicized experiments were held by the New York Times, no less (in 1920), to be attempts to violate Isaac Newton’s laws and thus “absurd.” The Times being, as always, quite up to date, it allowed that such lèse majesté was possible, but only if one were Einstein or (maybe) one of Einstein’s closest colleagues. Among other things, theTimes chided Goddard for not realizing that Newton’s Third Law (the one about every action having an equal and opposite reaction) would not work in the vacuum of space. I remember puzzling over that one myself in Herman Kirkpatrick’s high school physics class, but Robert Goddard never wavered in his correct view (that in space your liquid fuel would not be contending with a vacuum but with gravity and mass). Goddard went on to become a pioneer of powered space flight. Forty-nine years later, on July 11, 1969, the Times published a three-paragraph correction, ending with: “It is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.” It was the day after the Apollo 11 launch, and Aldrin and Armstrong were speeding through the vacuum towards their lunar landing, but it was 24 years after the death of the farmer’s son who envisaged the possibility. The professional press does sometimes err, but it also owns up. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 06 Oct 2018, 13:41

I guess if I’d a had any sense, I’d a been a little scared. Fannie Lou Hamer, August 1962.

Little more than half a lifetime ago, in 1961, a woman went into her county hospital to have a tumor removed from her abdomen. The tumor was benign, but while she was under the ether the surgeons also sterilized her. The law that enabled them to do so legalized involuntary sterilization for “persons who are afflicted with hereditary forms of insanity that are recurrent, idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy.” Since Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer was black and on welfare and it was Mississippi and she came from a sharecropper family with 20 kids (although her own pregnancies had been unsuccessful), it was OK to lump her with the hereditary feeble-minded. But she was already proving otherwise. Fanny Lou Hamer (née Townsend) was born on October 6, 1917, and by 1961 she’d had enough. Her “Mississippi appendectomy” (her coinage) was only the last straw. In 1962 she led a delegation to the courthouse to register to vote, failed the literacy test (on a question about de facto law, of all things in apartheid Mississippi), and was told by her landlord-employer to withdraw her application or else she and her husband would be on the road. Well of course Fannie didn’t stop there. For seeking functional equality, she was thrown off her farm, shot at, jailed, and once in jail (in 1963) was beaten up, first by police officers and then by white inmates acting on officers’ orders. She never fully recovered from her jail-bait beating, but she was (to quote her 1977 gravestone) “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” and before she passed she made life miserable for Lyndon Johnson (leading a Freedom Democratic delegation to the national convention in 1964 and demanding to be seated) and even more miserable for Mississippi segregationists. Along the way she proved that you didn’t have to have a BA to speak fluently and persuasively. And, oh yes, Fanny Lou Hamer could vote. She passed that literacy test even before it was ruled unconstitutional. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Oct 2018, 14:23

It was my good fortune to lend a helping hand to the weary travelers flying from the land of bondage. William Still.

William Still was born in New Jersey on October 7, 1821. He grew up to become a leading abolitionist, a conductor on the Underground Railway, and, more importantly today, the first chronicler of that famous road and of many slaves who journeyed on it. Not only that but Still was a successful businessman, a provisioner of black troops during the Civil War, and one of Philadelphia’s leading philanthropists. His is an astonishing story, but equally amazing is that of his family which, scattered though it was by slavery, kept track of all its members. Levin Steel, the patriarch, was a Maryland slave who bought his freedom in 1798 and changed his name from “Steel” to “Still.” He had married Charity Steel when both were slaves. She escaped slavery twice, once with all their children when all were returned to their owner. The second Mrs. Still brought out only herself and her youngest daughters, so William was conceived and born in freedom. Left behind in slavery were Levin, Jr., and Peter, who were sold South, to Alabama. They too had a strong taste for freedom. Levin, Jr., died from a whipping, but Peter Still, his wife Vina and their children escaped from slavery through purchase and then through one of the Underground Railway’s more amazing connections, the Friedman brothers’ provisioning businesses in Alabama and Ohio. You can read their story in an 1856 book, The Kidnapped and the Reansomed. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, William Still’s younger brother James was denied entry into medical school and so learned the trade as a physician’s assistant and became locally famous as “The Black Doctor of the Pines,” working out of the New Jersey Pine Barrens to treat the poor. His son, James, Jr., graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1871. There’s more, too, and the Still family “still” holds annual reunions. William Still died at home in 1902, with many members of his extended family in attendance. That building is long gone, but the house (in historic South Delhi Street) from which he and his wife Letitia directed their Underground Railway work is now a registered historic place. Indeed. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Oct 2018, 12:37

Great bridges [are] monuments which serve to make known the grandeur and genius of a nation. Jean-Rodolphe Perronet.

The briefest acquaintance with French political history will make one wonder about the name of one of Paris’s oldest surviving bridges, the Pont de la Concorde. It takes you across the Seine to the National Assembly, an 18th-century neoclassical building that has seen one or two discordances, and the bridge itself went through several political name changes, beginning with its first planning stages in 1755, when it was going to be the Pont Louis XV), to its completion in 1791 as Pont Louis XVI. But it was a bad time to be named Louis XVI (as the king himself discovered), and the bridge soon became the Pont de la Révolution. Then Napoléon Bonaparte came along to quieten political enthusiasms, decorated the bridge with generals’ statues, and called it the Pont de la Concorde. In 1815 the Bourbon Restoration brought back Louis XVI (for the bridge’s name, at least), and a set of royalist statues, and then in 1830 the bourgeois king, Louis Phillipe removed the statues and restored its more peaceful name. Since then, modern life has overtaken the bridge, and it’s been widened and reinforced to carry quite heavy traffic, but seen from the river it still bears the classical simplicity of its original design, including what were (in 1791) and remain today unusually long and graceful stone arches. They were the invention of the bridge’s designer, Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, born on October 8, 1708, the son of a Swiss guardsman employed at the court of Louis XIV. At 17, he apprenticed to an architect involved in the remaking of royal Paris, and at 55 he became the chief royal engineer, and thus exactly the person to design this new, elegant bridge. Perronet also worked on the king’s highways and the design of fire engines (pompes à feux), and is identified as a gentleman of the French Enlightenment. Gentleman or not, the revolutionaries who renamed Perronet’s bridge did not behead him. He did die during the Terror, but peacefully; his bridge has survived him. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Oct 2018, 12:57

Children are persons. Abigail Adams Eliot.

Does New England still have an aristocracy, a ‘Puritan Purple’? Although I’ve read Digby Baltzell on the subject (indeed discussed it with him when I was an undergraduate) and have run into a few putative members of it in my wanderings, I can’t definitively answer the question. But there is an empyrean strain in the region’s population, people with old names (and sometimes old money) who keep cropping up and, like the Puritan gentry of olden times, telling us that we should be doing better. Take for instance Abigail Adams Eliot, born in Boston on October 9, 1892. The first thing to do is to let all three of her names roll around your tongue, just to get the taste. Her pa was a Unitarian minister (Unitarianism ran in the family) who, midlife, decided to mix with (and help) Boston’s poor, so Abigail and her siblings grew up in a tough neighborhood and learned about duty. She and her siblings attended the best schools, though, where they all learned how to fulfill their duties. Brother Frederick would become a leading Unitarian himself. Sister Martha May spent her life crusading for better public health science—and better public health systems. And our Abby, after seasoning at the Winsor School, Radcliffe. Oxford and then Harvard graduate school, set off to improve the lives of poor people. Her first efforts concentrated on making them richer (she was an early agitator for a minimum wage), but she soon turned to her life’s work of ‘pre-paring’ all children to benefit more from schooling. Starting in working-class Roxbury, in a pre-school she set up with her own funds, Abigail Adams Eliot worked through wars, the Great Depression, and 20th-century prosperity to show us the way, and procure us the means, to provide all little kids with nursery and preparatory schooling. Her idea was that children should be able and eager to hit the ground running when they start kindergarten. Abigail Adams Eliot only stopped running when she died, aged 100, in Concord, the very seat of her culture. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Oct 2018, 10:15

Whenever I get tired, I just come home and look at my great-grandmother's furniture. I just look. Dorothy Boulding Ferebee.

During the bad old days of the Solid South, the Democratic Party, while committed to racial apartheid, contained within itself ‘normal’ political tensions. There were conservatives, e.g. “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman (SC). Aligned against them were progressives like Lister Hill (AL) and Byron “Pat” Harrison (MS). Harrison, in congress for 30 years, was a strong supporter of FDR’s and one of the authors of the Social Security Act (1935). Like most of his ilk, he couldn’t afford to take a liberal stand on race issues, but behind the scenes he could. So in 1935 he supported the Mississippi Health Project, designed to bring medical care to the state’s black, rural poor. A leader of that project was the pioneering doctor, Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee, who got Harrison’s personal endorsement. Dr. Ferebee was born in Norfolk, VA, on October 10, 1898, but moved north and enjoyed a middle-class upbringing in Boston with well-educated uncles and aunts (most of the uncles were lawyers, one a judge). She whizzed through Simmons College, then Tufts Medical School (she graduated in the top 1% of her class), but then ran into northern race prejudice and was unable to find an internship. She moved back south to a position with the Howard University Hospital, in DC, where she developed a stellar reputation running clinics in the poorer sections of the capital. It was from that base that she snagged Harrison’s support, and she worked in Mississippi for seven years, bringing basic medical care to people who had had none. Ferebee returned to Washington to serve as Medical Director of Howard University Hospital, 1949-1968. When she retired from Howard, Tufts made amends by asking her back to serve on its faculty. There—operating now in a different racial climate—Dorothy Ferebee lectured (of course) on public health, when she could spare time from her duties at UNICEF, the Girl Scouts of America, and the National Council of Negro Women. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Oct 2018, 10:56

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13, and the lead inscription on Emily Wilding Davison's gravestone, 1913.

Several world religions celebrate martyrdom, and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and the Catholic and Orthodox calendars of saints make it clear that that statement includes the main strains of Christianity. Political movements have shared the proclivity, including the woman’s suffrage movements in the USA and the UK. There have been few fatalities, so “martyrdom” has been expanded to cover jail time, heavy fines, ostracism, and police beatings But then there is the most famous fatality of Emily Davison, heroine-martyr of the British movement, who in the middle of the 1913 Derby ran in front of King George V’s horse, Anmer, and died of her injuries four days later at Epsom Cottage Hospital. Whatever Ms. Davison intended, the suffrage movement made a martyr of her. Her cortège was “large and spectacular,” her funeral at St. George’s, Bloomsbury attended by hundreds. And if martyrdom requires enemies, Queen Mary stepped forward to express sympathy for “poor Jones” (the jockey) and call Davison a “horrid woman.” Even the coroner’s judgment (“misadventure”) could be taken as mockery. There is no doubt that Emily Wilding Davison wanted to create a public splash and spectacle. Born on October 11, 1872, she spent her years going about as far as a woman could go, and then attempting to go further. She even got a first-class exam result at Oxford University (1895), but of course women could not yet take away degrees, even for brilliant results. To keep body and soul together, she taught school, and after joining the suffrage movement made clear her radical intentions, suffering several lesser martyrdoms (imprisonments, fines, hosepiping), publicizing her left-wing views and her deep Christian faith, and indeed once, in prison, attempted a suicide. But did Emily Wilding Davison mean to martyr herself at Epsom? The coroner thought not, partly because, on that fateful June morning, she had bought a return ticket. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 12 Oct 2018, 13:11

It was a story that all of them knew by heart and had always known because they had learned it soon after they were born and would go on adding to it until the day they died. Ann Petry, The Street, 1946.

Last night my reading group discussed the 2016 Pulitzer winner, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in an American City, by Matthew Desmond. A mix of social science and human interest journalism, it reports on the current degradation of America’s poor and raised the question: Had American poverty always been this dreadful? We worked from our common experiences (oddly extensive given our comfortable lives) to decide that, no, it had not. We might have reached the same conclusion through Ann Petry’s 1946 novel, The Street, which followed Lutie Johnson, a beautiful black woman, through her Harlem existence, her broken home, her single parenthood, her small triumphs and large despairs. It was the first best-seller by an African-American woman, and it was reissued in 1992, to reviews which noted that Lutie’s life—grim enough—“now seems in some respects almost benign.” Ann Petry was well qualified to chart black hopes, and disappointments, in mid-century America. Her birth, in a small Connecticut town on October 12, 1908, increased the local black population by 7%. Her dad (Peter Lane) had a pharmacy there, and although not everyone liked to depend on a black man to dispense their medical needs, everyone did come to depend on him. Ann was going to be a pharmacist, like her dad, but after her Ph.G. degree at UConn, and after marrying and moving to Harlem, she got bit by the writing bug, and succumbed. She reported for two Harlem newspapers, but decided that fiction would better suit the task of telling the truth about poverty and racism in the urban north. The result was Lutie Johnson and her hard schooling in life. Ann Petry and her husband moved back to Connecticut in the aftermath of the Red Scare. There she lived quietly, wrote other successful books, and lived long enough to reap rewards from the reissue of The Street. Her fascinating life deserves a good biography. Perhaps Matthew Desmond could take it on. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Oct 2018, 12:53

We learned that we could work within the establishment, the system, without necessarily knuckling under to it. Edith Sampson, 1969.

American equal rights movements have been, will always be, divided between radicals and moderates. After all, the nation must be held to its promises to make real what its founding document proclaimed to be self-evident. Now is the time; later must be too late. To be ‘patient’ is—at best—to accept hypocrisy as a virtue. It is a forceful logic, and it makes “moderation” a vice and transforms “moderates” into villains. One such was Edith Sampson, born in Pittsburgh on October 13, 1898. Her parents were among the hard-working poor, and it looked like Edith would stay there, leaving school at 14. But she returned to school, studied in New York at the New School, moved to Chicago where she graduated top of her class in law school, then became the first woman (of any color) to get a postgraduate law degree at Loyola, the first black woman to practice before the Illinois Supreme Court, the first black (of any gender) to be elected to an Illinois judgeship. In 1950 she was the first African-American woman appointed to the American delegation at the UN. There, as in Chicago, Edith Sampson was the classic moderate, countering communist propaganda with her own American patriotism. To be black in America was to be a second-class citizen, but “I would rather be a Negro in America than a citizen in any other land.” Nor was she a “devil take the hindmost” achiever. The obstacles she overcame had drawn her into politics in the first place. She was heavily involved in civil rights organizations, and in her Chicago court she dispensed mercy and justice in equal measure—and did so quickly, so vital for the poor folk who came before her. Inevitably she won the admiration of white liberals (and not a few white conservatives, including Eisenhower). It was also inevitable that she aroused anger and impatience in those who knew that to wait was to short-change their own children. It’s a very American problem, and we will live with it until we solve it. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 14 Oct 2018, 12:52

I never fell in love with an actor. They never seemed to know any more than I did. I wanted to be with writers… Lillian Gish

On the near north side of St. Louis, at the heart of a reviving neighborhood (and in some ways its anchor), stands the venerable Crown Candy Kitchen, in operation since 1913 and still owned (and operated) by the Karandzieff family. Of course candy kitchen is not a trademarked name, and a few years before Karandzieff père got his calorie storm a divorced mother and her two pretty daughters started their own Candy Kitchen at the old Majestic Theatre in East St. Louis. They didn’t stay long, for they were already theatre people, on the move, and the sweets shop was just a way of keeping the cash flowing between gigs. But there ought to be a monument, for the girls were Lillian Gish and her sister Dorothy, both on the brink of long and distinguished lives in film and on stage. Lillian Gish’s career was stupendously long. Born in Ohio on October 14, 1893, her first film performance was in New York, aged 19, and her last came when she was 93, in The Whales of August (along with some other not-quite-so-elderly actors, Bette Davis, Vincent Price, and Ann Sothern). Throw in the stage—where Gish was more at home—and her career dates from 1902. Critics agree that she symbolized more than longevity in her profession. She began life as a D. W. Griffith star, true enough, and her star qualities she always carried with her, but Lillian Gish stuck around to become a creative presence, a star in her own right but also an artistic standard against which others were measured. Throughout she presented a consistently ‘conservative’ standard. In acting, she vehemently disapproved of modern sex scenes (“now they swallow each other’s tongues!!”), and in politics she backed the right from Charles Lindbergh to Ronald Reagan. But for her the art was the thing, and the generous prize that Gish established for art achievement has gone to a wide spectrum of creative folk, including Spike Lee, Bob Dylan, Ornette Coleman, and Isabel Allende. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 15 Oct 2018, 10:28

Tears from our sex are . . . frequently no more than little sympathetic tributes we pay to our fellow-beings, while the mind and the heart are steeled against the weakness which our eyes indicate. Elizabeth Inchbald

In its origins, the #MeToo movement aimed to protect women at work, but also to enable them—given desire and talent—to run the show. It may only be a matter of time, then, until Elizabeth Inchbald becomes an icon –precursor—of modern feminism. This farmer’s daughter, handicapped by a stutter and her Roman Catholicism, became first a noted actress and a hugely successful playwright and novelist, and not only that but an investor who produced her own plays. Elizabeth Simpson Inchbald was born on October 15, 1753 on her father’s Suffolk farm. For some reason the family—by no means wealthy—had a yen for the theatre, and two siblings (a sister and a brother) would also become actors. But Elizabeth went further than either one. She married the actor Joseph Inchbald to get ahead in her profession and to escape the unwanted attentions of a theatre owner. Some of Joseph’s attentions became unwanted, too, not least his glomming on to her wages. He died before she could leave him, but before that her friendships with the famed Sarah Kemble Siddons and the whole Kemble clan had shown Elizabeth other ways to employ her creative talents. Midway through her acting career she wrote two successful comedies (The Mogul Tale, 1781, and I’ll Tell You What, 1785). Their titles may ring prophetically today, but for Elizabeth they were means to independence. She invested her profits, used the income as a pillow, continued to write (novels as well as plays), and despite the political turmoil of her time became something of a radical, with a circle of friends including William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, and (latterly) Elizabeth’s Roman Catholic confessor. At her death in 1821 she left a substantial estate (valued at £6,000) and in her private papers an enduring image of tempered independence which shines through in the Memoirs of Mrs. Inchbald (2 vols, 1833) compiled by her friend James Boaden. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Oct 2018, 13:12

She was not an anthropologist but she knew the Aborigines better than anyone else who ever lived; and she made them interesting not only to herself but to us as well. Allan Moorehead on Daisy May Bates.

Anthropology is by definition the study of humans, so one could say we’ve been at it for a long time, but as an academic discipline it dates from the late 19th century. That was an intensely imperialistic age, and contact with “aboriginal” peoples part of its business. So there were plenty of observers: military men, commercial agents, travelers, etc., many of whom wrote books or news articles on the “natives.” Most were at best apologists for empire, and almost all are now seen as racists. And yet some among them developed a human sympathy for their human subjects. One of the most eccentric of all these amateur anthropologists was Daisy May Bates, a person about as Australian as they come, Irish in origin, born in Tipperary on October 16, 1859. How she got to Australia (as an orphan child) is a saga in itself, as were her several marriages (the first to the notorious Breaker Morant). Along the way she developed a sharp literary talent and exercised it in sympathy with Aborigine peoples, and in 1895 she fetched up in far NW Australia, at the Beagle Bay Mission, and began to work seriously among Aborigines, study them, write about them, and become a lay authority on their languages and customs. From 1902 into the 1930s, Daisy May Bates traveled and lived all over western and southern Australia, the ‘Outback,’ sometimes with a government appointment as “Protector of Aborigines” but mostly not. When the money ran out, she sold all her possessions to live as she did. Besides writing influential studies, addressing academic conferences, and entertaining visiting royalty, she lived alone, for years under canvas in the most primitive conditions, but always dressed stylishly (in the Victorian styles of her youth). She always thought the Aborigines a dying race, but they loved her for her oddities and for her advancing age. Wherever she stopped, she was known as “Kabbarli,” ‘grandmother’—or it can mean ‘granddaughter.’ Perhaps Daisy May Bates was both. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 17 Oct 2018, 12:40

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,// Great chieftain o the puddin'-race. Robert Burns, "Address to a Haggis."

For those benighted souls who can’t see that the whole can be greater—or nicer—than the sum of its parts, “excellent haggis” is an oxymoron, and searching for it the wildest and most futile of goose chases. For the rest of us, it’s serious business, at no time more serious than in preparations for a Burns Night Supper. Around the world, real and honorary Scots (met together, each January 25th, a universal category) would regard piping in the haggis the high point of the evening were not eating the stuff even better. And the chances are—depending on import regulations—that it will be a Macsween haggis. The firm was started on the proverbial shoestring—and in the middle of meat rationing—by Charlie Macsween, and he ran it well, but it was made into a big business by his son John Angus Macsween, born in Edinburgh on October 17, 1939, while Charlie was still manager at William Orr & Sons, fashionable butchers (again, not an oxymoron) in Queen Street. John Angus began as his father’s apprentice at age 17 and from 1975—on Charlie’s death—owner and CEO. He continued Charlie’s excellent local trade but thought he had world class products and through connections with fashionable London outlets (e.g Harrod’s) and assiduous preparations for trade fairs he made Macsween’s into almost a Scottish proverb. And while Macsween’s sold all sorts of meat and meat products, haggis’s mystique and its undeniable “scottishness” made it not only top of the Macsween line but an advertising logo in itself. The firm now advertises 18 varieties of haggis—mostly different packaging but including “vegetarian” (!!!) and gluten-free. And his children who now run it still hold to John Angus’s precepts about progressive business practices, from recycling (packaging not product!!) to reducing its carbon footprint. This coming January 25th, if not before, you should try a haggis, and if you’re lucky make it a Macsween’s. And for heaven’s sake don’t forget the poetry. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 17 Oct 2018, 19:59

Here's the real thing - :smile:
haggis-display.jpg
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Born to be mild. . .

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