Sunday, August 27, 2017

United States Women’s Firsts


U.S. women continue to “break the mold,” and our country’s history needs to reflect their accomplishments. Here are just a few of the many women brave enough to be first.

"Take a chance. Amaze yourself!" - C. K. Thomas

1762 – Ann Franklin – First Woman Newspaper Editor
1776 – Margaret Corbin – First Woman Revolutionary War Soldier and Pensioner
1812 – Lucy Brewer – First Woman Marine
1846 – Susan Bagley – First Woman Telegraph Operator
1866 – Mary Walker – First Woman Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
1869 – Arabella Mansfield – First Woman Lawyer
1869 – Ada H. Kepley – First Woman Law School Graduate
1870 – Esther Hobart Morris – First Woman Justice of the Peace
1871 – Frances Willard – First Woman College President
1872 – Victoria Claflin Woodhull – First Woman Presidential Nominee
1876 – Louise Blanchard Bethune – First Woman Architect
1887 – Susanna Medora Salter – First Woman Mayor
1887 – Phoebe Couzins – First Woman United States Marshall
1905 – May Sutton – First U.S. Woman Wimbledon Winner
1907 – Dorothy Tyler – First Woman Jockey
1911 – Harriet Quimby – First Woman Licensed Airplane Pilot
1916 – Jeannette Rankin – First Woman U.S. Representative
1921 – Edith Wharton – First Woman Pulitzer Prize Winner
1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross – First Woman Elected Governor
1926 – Gertrude Ederle – First Woman to Swim Across English Channel
1928 – Amelia Earhart –  First Woman to Pilot a Plane Across the Atlantic Ocean
1931 – Jane Addams – First Woman Nobel Peace Prize Winner
1932 – Hattie Wyatt Caraway – First Woman U.S. Senator
1933 – Frances Perkins – First Woman Cabinet Member, Secretary of Labor
1944 – Ann Baumgartner – First Woman Jet Aircraft Pilot
1953 – Jerrie Cobb – First Woman Tested for Astronaut Training
1972 – Juanita Kreps – First Woman Director of the New York Stock Exchange
1980 – Paula Hawkins – First Woman Elected to U.S. Senate, Not-inherited
1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor  – First Woman United States Supreme Court Justice
1983 – Dr. Sally K. Ride – First Woman to Enter Outer-Space
1984 – Geraldine Ferraro – First Woman Major Party Vice Presidential Nominee
1997 – Madeleine Albright – First Woman United States Secretary of State
2007 – Nancy Pelosi – First Woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
2016 – Hillary Rodham Clinton – First Woman Major Party Presidential Nominee





Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fireworks and Christmas Trees




Continued from A Portrait in Words

My first grade teacher lived in a ranch-style, red brick house kitty-corner across the street from me on Kingston Road. On the Fourth of July, the town of Kokomo would have a fireworks display at Highland Park, and we thought her backyard was the place you could see them best.

The neighborhood kids would show up to the hill out back of her house lugging blankets and folding chairs along with snacks. We’d camp out there watching for the sky to get dark and the fireworks to begin. I went back as an adult, and the hill that seemed so big to me as a kid now looks like a small rise just beyond the back porch steps.

Next to our house on the south side there used to be a vacant lot where I caught butterflies with a butterfly net made out of a mop handle, a wire hanger and a pillowcase. The house on the other side of the lot belonged to close friends of ours. One Fourth of July we went over to the neighbor’s fenced-in back yard and watched as one of the older kids put firecrackers inside tin cans to shoot them way up in the air.

It was terrific fun, but every year we would read in the paper about someone who was injured while playing with fireworks. Our parents would go “tsk, tsk, tsk,” and the next year we’d shoot off fireworks out in the driveway and wave our sparklers just like we did every year. Luckily none of us were ever hurt. 


The most amazing fireworks I remember were the ones our young family watched from the Capitol Mall in Washington D.C. when our country turned 200 years old in 1976. The Mall was a mass of people wearing everything from shirts and slacks made from the Stars and Stripes to barefooted women in bikini bathing suits carrying flags. 

We spread our blanket in a good spot and took turns walking around the Mall to see all the people, while either my husband or I stayed to guard our blanket and the picnic stuff we brought. 


When the celebration was over we hopped on a bus to the Pentagon where we had parked our station wagon, put our three ragamuffins to bed in the back and went to sleep until the traffic cleared. Then, we drove home to Annandale, Virginia. Our three kids each got a U.S. flag that had been flown for a few seconds over the Capitol on that historic day. 

One year the kids and I drove all the way to Indiana from Arizona to see my folks in Kokomo. On the way home to Phoenix, we stopped in a state that still allowed fireworks to be sold. We picked up bottle rockets, sparklers, and firecrackers. 

On the Fourth of July we shot off fireworks in our backyard. A police officer came to our front door and politely asked us to “cut it out!” Our fireworks fun was now illegal! Of course, I knew that, but thought I could get away with it. Luckily, I didn’t get a ticket or arrested. 

Putting Up the Christmas Tree

The house on Kingston Road had a crawl space beneath it with a dirt floor and spider webs. It provided access to pipes and electrical boxes under the house. In other words, we didn’t have a basement. 

In the early 1950s we always purchased a nice fat Christmas tree with long needles. I thought Grandma and Grandpa Thomas couldn’t afford a nice Christmas tree like ours down at the house in Sharpsville. Their tree always had short needles and was very sparse. 

Looking back, I can see they just preferred a different kind of tree. Grandma always placed presents on the limbs of the tree where they were easy for the kids to see.

We loaded up our tree with all kinds of decorations including silver icicles and a big star to top it off.  We even had bubble lights with tubes that showed bubbles going up and down inside them. The other big green, red, blue and white tree bulbs would get hot after awhile, so we had to be very careful about leaving them on too long. Just think, before people had electric lights they used candles to light their trees! 


Our tree was usually short and fat. Daddy would put it up on a table so people could see it through our front windows from the outside. However, this particular year, we bought a tall, fat tree. Daddy sawed the trunk off straight and attached an x-shaped tree stand to it. After we finished putting all the decoration on the tree, it began to lean precariously to one side. 

Daddy kept adjusting the stand and working hard to keep the tree from leaning. Eventually, he got so frustrated that he crawled under the house in the crawl space and nailed that tree to the living room floor, right up through the carpeting! That sure fixed it! We never got tired of telling that story over and over again.

My life is wrapped in the fabric of stories like these. What stories make up the quilt of your life?  Remember to put them in writing. Future generations will bless you for it.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sifting Through the Past



Throwing away pretty cards and lovely letters from friends and family seems such a waste to me. Being the self-appointed family historian, however, has compelled me to save far too much of this type of history. Today I feel as if I’m drowning in it.

Right now I find myself conflicted about how much of this “stuff” I need to keep for sentimental and “historic” reasons. Part of me wants to pitch the manila envelopes and file folders packed full of the past that reside in my overcrowded filing cabinet. 

During this time in our lives (meaning those of us in the over 70 set), isn’t this a time for discarding all but the essentials so our “kids” don’t inherit the task of wading through the detritus of our lives following our demise? Will these fragments of my life stuffed in folders and 3-ring binders give my children and grandchildren insight into the kind of life I’ve lived in comparison to the kind of lives they’re living? Will they have any time at all to spend reading through these epistles and well wishes of mine? I truly doubt it.

How well will my children and my children’s children ever know the “real” me? They have their own memories and may not care to consider the ones I hold dear. I want them to know what it’s like to drive to Sharpsville on Christmas Day and mix it up with aunts, uncles, and cousins in Grandma and Grandpa Thomas’s little cottage there. 



I’d like them to know about the bustle of the women all working together in Grandma’s kitchen to get Christmas dinner set out on the big table in the dining room. Oh, and the aroma of Aunt Devona’s chicken casserole and the delight at seeing Grandma’s banana cake all iced with penuche icing and waiting to be cut for dessert. There’s Aunt Imogene’s delicious apple pie and Aunt Olive’s smooth and creamy chocolate one with meringue on top. 

How will they know how it feels to hear Uncle Charles (Reverend Charles Taylor of the denomination of Methodists) intone the prayer thanking God for the food and blessing all of us gathered there? My brother and I have already opened presents at home, but after dinner at Grandma’s there will be more flurry of pretty paper ripping and bows being sorted to save. The younger kids get to pass out the presents while the adults sit back and guess who got their name in the Christmas drawing.
 
It seemed there were always new babies showing up every Christmas. My cousin Bob and his wife Betty had Rusty, Rickey, Donnie, Deena, and Debra. These cousins of mine still live in Indiana up around Rochester where Indiana lakes make summer getaways for weary Kokomo dwellers. 

I’ve recorded the members of our family tree on Ancestry.com, but somehow it doesn’t seem quite the best way to convey how much I miss that rowdy bunch. For me it was a rich experience growing up among them. 

Maybe it’s impossible to share the memories and the essence of who we are and who we were then in a meaningful way. These letters, cards and family histories mean the most to me, not to those who come after me. They have their own Christmas mornings to remember, don’t they? How important is it for them to know how my life unfolded when they’re so wrapped up in watching their own unfold? 

How am I to organize all these old letters? Letters are something of a novelty these days, aren’t they? So much history evaporates with email and instant messages. Also, consider how it’s no longer a worry how much a long-distance phone call will cost or who is listening in on the party line like the one at Grandma’s house. I remember cranking that old wooden-boxed phone on the wall in Sharpsville and asking the operator to place a call to Kokomo for me. Gosh, cell phones just don’t have the same charm!

Spock where are you when I need to mind meld with my progeny? Maybe everyone wants a bit of the history of their lives to live on in the minds of their kids and grand-kids. I have always wished for that. I guess I’ll just keep on writing my memories and chuck all these letters as soon as I’ve mined them as I write an autobiography that someone someday might want to read. It’s important to learn from the past, isn’t it? I sure hope so. 

I guess what I really want is for my kids and grand-kids to treasure the lives of the people I knew as a child as much as I still do. It’s a tall order, and I’m not sure it’s attainable.Recently I read a memoir called Hillbilly Elegy. Through that book, the essence of the author’s life began to dawn on me. If I could achieve just that kind of enlightenment with a book about my life, maybe I’d feel I’d achieved the kind of mind meld I’ve always hoped would be possible.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

MUCH MORE OFTEN WE SHOULD REMEMBER.....


Decoration Day/Memorial Day
I cherish my freedom. It came at great cost.

1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France.. A total of 2289 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/7e87dded-9108-4b0e-91de-ee54e32dbe23.jpg

2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium… A total of 5329 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/88ff5ccf-2024-42d5-abfe-5cb937ee5130.jpg

3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France… A total of 4410 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/5bc4bb10-d4b1-4fbe-a3ec-8a0c52742adb.jpg


4. Brookwood, England - American Cemetery... A total of 468 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/5d9f976f-89be-49e3-b29f-09e680a1e800.jpg


5. Cambridge, England... A total of 3812 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/798d9f87-ba5f-4f7c-8b5f-0e42b2d544d9.jpg


6. Epinal, France - American Cemetery.. A total of 5525 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/2de231f8-35da-4e77-8ad6-e829be472a91.jpg


7. Flanders Field, Belgium... A total of 368 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/bb4624f9-63d5-4f80-8fd8-3dbec1967f69.jpg


8. Florence, Italy... A total of 4402 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/9ad20eb2-3aac-41fc-bf2b-6e56ef832c97jpg


9. Henri-Chapelle, Belgium... A total of 7992 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/5e07b706-ca07-483a-81f6-6ac76e7b8a5ejpg


10. Lorraine , France... A total of 10,489 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/5c50208f-1b85-4981-ba68-324ed81c88fa.jpg


11 .Luxembourg, Luxembourg... A total of 5076 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/6d4bb8ba-45c8-406a-9afc-57a7f62506bd.jpg


12. Meuse-Argonne.. A total of 14246 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/ce97ab6f-c2a3-4b78-920a-bab35b6d4fa5.jpg


13 .Netherlands, Netherlands... A total of 8301 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/5982c8de-17b9-40a5-89d0-7004a295432d.jpg


14. Normandy, France... A total of 9387 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/70597f7a-856e-41b5-815b-c5f4a6077496.jpg


15. Oise-Aisne, France... A total of 6012 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/13c3ab59-4a9b-4679-bbe6-fb24d6979c12.jpg


16. Rhone, France... A total of 861 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/cbb19f1f-a54c-46e0-9742-80262ae6133d.jpg

17. Sicily, Italy… A total of 7861 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/8ac0b885-f1fa-45b8-9018-1a9d725bfd43.jpg


18. Somme, France... A total of 1844 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/5cf87899-5952-4143-87fe-a3935b0744ad.jpg


19. St. Mihiel, France... A total of 4153 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/fae5617a-2c29-40ef-97c8-c94673a71dc5.jpg


20. Suresnes, France... A total of 1541 
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/18ee15d4996b2034673c2d10c/images/2bfec2d5-9e85-4f72-bc9f-385ac4e59587.jpg


The count is 104,366 brave Americans buried on foreign soil.
 
(I didn’t know this.  Did you?)