Travel Theme: Entertainment

Of course you would expect anyone who calls herself TC History Gal to find museums entertaining. Unfortunately I forgot to take what my dad always called the “Record Shot.”

Photo by DrFumblefinger.com found on Google Images
Photo by DrFumblefinger.com found on Google Images

Traveling with Mr. and Mrs. Eternal Traveler and my hubby on Maui, HI, we all bought a “Passport to the Past.” This passport doesn’t expire, and allowed us to visit four museums for the normal price of visiting one museum. Below is the kind of building material used to build the walls in a home that lasted for over 180 years.

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The Reverend Ephraim Spaulding built the Baldwin House around 1834, and lived in it for only two years before he got sick and went home to Massachusetts. It was a great find for the Reverend Dr. Dwight Baldwin and his wife, who by this time had two children and lived in a nearby grass hale (hut). Hold onto your hats as we take our first look into the Baldwin House Museum.

Did you get dizzy? Carol and I enjoyed the quilts.  With six living children, Mrs. Baldwin probably had plenty to entertain herself and keep busy.  Somehow she squeezed out time to teach the Hawaiian women to sew. This pattern looks daunting to me, and features common creatures found in the Hawaiian landscape like the cute snail in this picture.

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These beds were in the boy’s room.

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In addition to the three or four boys, they often housed guests in this room. Whew!  I wonder if they had longer days back then than we have today.

According to the docent, the Baldwins had a rebound romance. Dwight Baldwin was thirty-two when he met Charlotte. His fiance jilted him because she did not want to travel to Hawaii. However, the missionary society wouldn’t let him serve in Hawaii if he wasn’t married.

Not to be deterred from his calling,  an hour after meeting Charlotte, an advanced maiden of twenty-five, he proposed. A week later they married, and within three weeks they were on their way on their five month journey to the island of Maui. I wonder how his former fiance felt about being so easily replaced?

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This netting kept the Baldwin boys safe from mosquitos. Hawaii didn’t have mosquitos until a Mexican ship uploaded them to the island. Actually, practically everything on the island is imported from somewhere. It all came by boat – except for the few birds that showed the first Hawaiians that there was land in the vast Pacific.

I hope you have found a brief excerpt from our trip to the Baldwin Home Museum in Lahaina, Maui, HI entertaining.  Click to see more entries to the Travel Theme.

Wo Hing Chinese Museum and Taoist Temple in Maui, HI

Americans constructing the continental railroad, in the United States and creating sugar plantations in Hawaii discovered the value of the hard-working Chinese in the mid 1800s. As the Qing dynasty began its long decline in China, men immigrated to Hawaii without their families to build many of the infrastructures we still enjoy today. On Maui they made the Lahaina sea wall, tunnels through the mountains, the Road to Hana, and the irrigation  systems for the sugar plantations.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-004Chinatown in Lahaina began as single story stores and homes on Front Street. Single men needed places to stay and congregate. Beginning in 1909 the Wo Hing Society began to collect funds to erect a building that would house the Chinese Social Club and provided a place for worship and festivities. This is one of only two social houses that survived in Hawaii.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x3264Wo Hing, the society’s name written around the door, means peace and prosperity.  The Wo Hing Society Hall opened around 1912 and remained active into the 1940s. When the Chinese population in Lahaina moved to Honolulu to find work during World War II, the Wo Hing Temple and Club House fell into disrepair. Restored in 1983 by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, today it stands impressively restored on Front Street.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-005There were several displays and a gift shop on the first floor. Carol visited with the on-duty docent, and has interesting stories about her. The age of the money encased glass box for public viewing surprised both Vince and Carol. Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 3264x2448-009One source stated that the Chinese originally called paper money “flying money. … Paper money came into use in the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) as a larger denomination of currency to replace the bulky ‘bolt of silk’.”  Colorful Chinese paper money, though easier to carry than currency, had to be replaced or exchanged within three years.  By the late 1200s, at the end of the Song dynasty, paper money became preferred to coins.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 3264x2448-010The square hole in the center of the round Chinese coins had spiritual and practical value as well. Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 3264x2448-011A source stated the round shape symbolized heaven or the universe, while the square represented earth or China, which was the center of the universe.

(TianDi)

The holes allowed the bronze caster to line up the coins and scrape off the metal flashing around the edges. It also enabled consumers to string their money to carry it easily.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x3264-002Personally, I love both jade and dogs, so I headed right for these statues.  This pup is not nearly as cute as Puppy Girl, but these fierce-looking animals were guardian lions, not dogs. Westerners called them Lion dogs or Foo dogs. That is not to be confused with “foo foo” like Vince calls Puppy Girl after I spray “foo foo” smells on her after her bath.  This male Lion Dog guards his embroidery ball with his foot.  Trust me, I didn’t try to take his toy away from him.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-001Just outside the door was the cookhouse. The cook probably had to prepare meals for a crowd, and he had a special building to work in. This practice curbed the fire danger to the main structure. Now the museum uses the cookhouse to show visitors films of Hawaii that were taken by Thomas Edison starting in 1898. Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 3264x2448-008This early film show intrigued me for several reasons. First of all the fact that it was made in 1898 and was still preserved amazed me. Additionally, the subjects of the different films fascinated me. In one short clip we saw native Hawaiians rushing around in huge amounts of clothing. We learned at the Baldwin House that Mrs. Baldwin had taught the women to sew. These women must have loved their new skill.

I enjoyed watching “cowboys” moving the  cattle on and off the island. Men and cows both struggled as the cowboys pulled each animal into the water leading the with a rope around their necks. It looked and sounded impossible, but that technique must have been easier than loading five or six bulls onto small row boats and pushing the tons of objecting bulls into the water. I guess the cattle had to swim beside the small boats. I did not think the film would last as long as it did, so I started filming it. Then I got tired of focusing on the film and let my camera roam around the kitchen. I stopped just before the cattle loading started, so you’ll have to visit the museum to see it. I don’t think I’m ready for the big screen.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-013Upstairs we saw the Taoist Temple replete with incense and fresh sacrifices of fruit and water.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-012The temple area had few decorations or furniture.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-014We visited a Taoist temple in Hanford, CA, and this looked much sparser and lighter.

Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-011You will learn more about our visit to the Wo Hing Chinese Museum from my Australian blogging friend, Carol, the Eternal Traveler when she and her friend Justin Beaver start writing about their Hawaiian travels. For now you can enjoy the trip she and her husband took around the perimeter of Australia.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-006If you go to Maui, be sure to get a Passport to the Past for about $10, and that will get you into four museums. We only made it to two this trip, but we kept our cards, and hope to get to the next two museum next time.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-019I don’t want to beat my own drum, but I hope you enjoyed this short visit to the Chinese Wo Hing Museum.

Every Day You Learn Something – Sometimes It’s New

“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area.  There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971.  I have a digitized copy of that book.   This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.

Grace Pogue ~ Within The Magic Circle copy-1

I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today.  I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising.  Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.

“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me.  “This is it.  It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property.  Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”

Antelope School

Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours.  “This is so much fun!” he told me.

What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870.  Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895.  So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?

Antelope school3

The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are.  Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s.  This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.

Hengst1-42aR

When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time?  You were over there for three hours!”

In the evening I started the boring work.  It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time.  I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption.  Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words.  You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.

  1. I wasn’t there when it happened.  I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
  2. Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
  3. Sometimes I have a little story.  That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
  4. I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County.  I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
  5. I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
  6. I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
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What do you think Abe and Carl discussed? I’ll give you a clue. It has to do with college.

So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture.   As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures.  As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.

A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)).  It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things.  I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history.  Otherwise, I’m kind of dull.  I chose the think I’m focused.  🙂

Marsha climbingcr

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West

Book Review: Team of Rivals

Stephen Spielburg based the epic film,  Lincoln, on the book, Team of Rivals:  The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Amazon already has 1,588 customer reviews of this book.  Mine is not needed, and, although I read it two years ago as I prepared to visit Civil War Battlefields and museums, I can’t help but sing its praises as one of my all time favorite books!

Can you name Lincoln's rivals?
Can you name Lincoln’s rivals?

The rivals mentioned were the others that wanted the Republican presidential nomination in 1860:  William H. Seward – NY, Salmon P. Chase – OH, and Edward Bates – MO.  Most of the research about this book came from their personal journals, and those of their family members who knew and interacted on a personal level with Abraham Lincoln.

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Lincoln amazed and saddened all the pundits when he won the Republican nomination for President in 1860.  Goodwin maintains that he triumphed, not because of a fluke involving the swing state of Illinois, but because he controlled the nomination process with self-reliance, shrewdness, and canniness.  Lincoln’s greatness showed when he managed opinions that differed from his.  To add to more controversy than just having his party rivals for the nomination to the cabinet, Lincoln included former Democrats:  Gideon Welles, Montgomery Blair, and Edwin M. Stanton.  It was even-tempered Lincoln, who “dispelled his colleague’s anxiety and sustained their spirits with his gift for storytelling and his life-affirming sense of humor.”  (loc.211-214)  All his rivals eventually acknowledged his greatness.  Even the treacherous Salmon P. Chase eventually realized that he’d been out witted by the comedy-cloaked brilliance of the 16th President of the United States.

Her passion explains this book's excellence.
Her passion explains this book’s excellence.

Goodwin weaves the stories in this volume with such skill that you wonder what is going to happen next even when you know what happens.  It was the most valuable resource in studying for a Civil War tour that I had personally.  In the hands of language arts and history teachers, it has great use in the Common Core classroom.  The character details will thrill the language arts teachers.  “He lifted his whole foot at once rather than lifting from the toes and then thrust the whole foot down on the ground rather than landing on his heel.”   Details like these that came from Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, turn students into historians in the classroom.

Unflattering stories told of Mary Todd Lincoln are somewhat softened by Goodwin’s quotes from primary sources.  On their first meeting at a party Lincoln told the well-educated, lively woman, “I want to dance with you in the worst way.”  Mary confided to her cousin, “He most certainly did.”  (Hmmm, was he the worst dancer??)  Lincoln developed unflinchingly loyal friends during his circuit experience as an attorney.  “Lincoln and his fellow lawyers journeyed together throughout the state.  They shared rooms and sometimes beds in the dusty village inns and taverns.”  Lincoln was always the center of attention.

Lincoln movie image

Through the pages of this book, you come to understand why Lincoln became the unsurpassed successful president he was.  There is much more to this book than the movie, even though the movie portrayed a most crucial event during Lincoln’s presidency.  If you are a Lincoln fan, you probably already read it.  If you aren’t, it’s worth your time.  🙂

For other top reviews check out Amazon.com.

Book Review: Holding Up the Earth by Dianne E. Gray

Hope, aged 14, became an orphan at age six when her mother died in a car crash.  The backpack they had bought just before the accident became Hope’s hope chest, housing artifacts from her past.  Her most prized possession was her sketchbook.  Hope’s current foster Mom, Sarah, took Hope with her to spend the summer at her childhood home on the prairie in Nebraska with her mother, Anna.  Against her wishes, Hope moved, vowing not to be pressured into adoption.

In Nebraska Anna, Hope’s fun-loving foster grandmother, introduced her to their farm’s history beginning in 1869 when it was first homesteaded. Through a series of diaries Hope learns how three young women, about her age, dealt with the difficulties that faced them across the centuries.  The obstacles in growing crops in first story reminded me of the last book I reviewed, The Worst Hard Times.  It seems that life on the prairie is difficult in any era.

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Dianne E. Gray weaves 4 stories seamlessly into one novel.  Holding Up the Earth hints at the issues facing foster children, but more than that, it is historical fiction.  As such it is very appropriate particularly for 8th and 11th grade students who study American History.  Its readability level and subject matter would appeal primarily to girls aged 10-14.  Nonetheless, although I’m somewhat older than 14, I enjoyed it as well.

You can learn more about author Dianne E. Gray on her website Prairie Voices.

A Little Foothill High School History

Sally Pace asked me to do a column of Foothill History for the Kiwanis magazine which is published quarterly.  Our larger community consists of several small foothill towns ranging from populations of about 3,000-8,000.   From north to south the communities are:  Woodlake, Lemon Cove, Three Rivers, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and Exeter.  Then a little farther south,  still in the foothills, but not considered in our neighborhood are: Lindsay, Porterville (about 45,000 pop.), and Springville (very tiny and very high into the mountains).

Just so that you understand the history here in Tulare County, I will give you a little background.  There were NO white, Mexican, Asian, or any outside people here before 1852.  NONE – not even explorers.  Well maybe one or two Spanish explorers.  But let me tell you, they didn’t stay.  Heck no, they went back to the Central California Coast.  So when the world rushed in to find gold in “Californey”, a few of the folks headed south of gold country to Tulare County. Native Americans from the Yokuts tribes lived here peacefully before the OTHERS arrived.

Terry Ommen, Tulare County Historical Society, conducts a tour of Tulare County.  This stop, near the original site of the Election Tree.
Terry Ommen, Tulare County Historical Society, conducts a tour of Tulare County. This stop, near the original site of the Election Tree, near Road 182.  Tulare County was the size of West Virginia.

Standing around an old Oak Tree,  (there were no yellow ribbons tied around it), named The Election Tree for the occasion, a group of white men founded what we now know as  Tulare County.  In that time the county was HUGE.  Now it is the size of Connecticut, but then it included Fresno County and Kings County and part of Inyo county.  It didn’t take long before folks back then decided that was WAY too much land for any one county, and they split it up,

April 1852
April 1852

For Historical Society purposes, I found out that you really need to count three generations here before you are considered blue – blooded, that is.  I’m purple back in Indiana, or even further back to North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, but I’m clear-colored here. (I’m distantly related on both sides of my family to Robert Morris, signer of the Declaration of Independence, my one and only claim to fame.)  I’ve lived in Tulare County for 28 years, and if I’d had kids, and they’d had kids – they would be royal blue by this time, but …

"In 1964 the last remaining part of the original Woodlake High School buildings were razed to make way for new construction.  Courtney McCracken donated $250 for the construction of a new library named for the Exeter benefactor."
“In 1964 the last remaining part of the original Woodlake High School buildings were razed to make way for new construction. Courtney McCracken donated $250 for the construction of a new library named for the Exeter benefactor.” 1

Yesterday I was blessed to have interviews with 4 people who have lived in the area longer than I have.  My friend, Sally, of Running P Ranch, was one of the impromptu interviews.  Sally and another neighbor, Frank Ainley, discussed the good old days of teaching high school in Woodlake.  One story they swapped started with the words that the principal said to Frank one day at school, “I need to see you.”  (That sounds familiar, but read on…)

“I can’t come right NOW!  I’m right in the middle of class,” Frank answered the intercom voice that the entire high school could hear.

“That’s ok, if you’re a good teacher, your kids will keep doing what they are supposed to do while you’re gone,” the principal responded

Add they did for about 25 minutes.  That was back in the late 1960s (when I attended junior high and high school in Indiana.)  Weren’t we the Perfect Generation, or something like that?

Both Frank and Sally talked about the kids doing projects.  The high school kids kept the teachers organized so that the projects ran smoothly.  Students could drive in those days – if they had a license.  So if the students needed something for the project, the teacher would just ask one of them to go get it at the store, and come back to class with it.  If they had to travel for sports or field trips, the kids just drove there – if they were over 16, and had parents written permission, of course.  There were SOME laws back in the 1960s.

The principal, Bud Loverin, said to Sally, the JUST hired home economics teacher, “We have an opening inservice for all the teachers the first day back to school. There will be about 60 people for breakfast and lunch.”  You got the implication of that statement, didn’t you?  The administrators made the assignments, then trusted the teachers to somehow accomplish them.  and somehow they did (or they didn’t, I’m guessing).  These two teachers remembered going into the Loverin’s office upset about some issue, and coming out apologizing for taking up his time, and thanking him for the new assignment he just gave them.  Yet they both said teacher morale was at a high.

Evaluations?  Frank asked his principal, “When are you coming in to do an evaluation of me?”

Bud Loverin answered, “If I didn’t think you couldn’t do the job, I wouldn’t have hired you.”  He didn’t have an evaluation that year.  He didn’t have very many evaluations.  To be fair, I never had too many evaluations that ever seemed like evaluations, and I taught from the late 80s on.  But my experience is unusual because I left the classroom and didn’t become a principal, but a consultant.

Woodlake High School 2013

Are we missing something today?  Bud Loverin sounds like what current experts (and laws) might consider to be a horrible principal.  He was the type of sales person that motivated his staff.  Sally repeated an oft-said comment about Loverin, “He could have sold icicles  to Eskimos and made a profit. ” The teachers loved him.  He took care of them.

Frank and Sally both said the kids loved the principal and the vice-principal, Herman Ziegler, and most got good jobs after they graduated.  I know both of these teachers, so I know that they both understated their effect on kids.  Both teachers are very well-respected and loved by students and teachers alike.  Frank quit teaching in his 70s, and is still active in the community.  Sally became a counselor in the high school and brought national recognition to Woodlake High School a few years ago because she raised so much money for scholarships, and enabled students to attend college.  She has also retired in her 60s – sort of, and keeps busy in the community.

Frank talked about discipline in the school, when they still used a stick.  Discipline was done by the vice principal – a BIG guy, Herman Ziegler.  Both the principal and the VP were BIG.  I remember our principal in 5th grade.  He would come in to get a naughty boy, and I would quake.  He was BIG.  What was it in those days?  Was that a requirement for being a principal?  BE BIG, and you’re hired?  Apparently they got the job done in Woodlake according to Frank and Sally.

When I was getting my teaching credential in 1986, I interviewed a retired elementary principal, Mr. Crawford, in Woodlake for an assignment.  He told this story.  In the 1940s, as a teacher, he had a 19-year-old 8th grade student with an attitude.  (duh! I’d have an attitude if I were still in 8th grade at age 19.)  This student was about 6 feet tall, and didn’t like the assignment Mr. Crawford had made.  The student challenged his 6 foot tall 40s something teacher, “If you didn’t wear glasses, I’d beat you up.”  Crawford promptly removed his glasses, and the two settled their dispute.  The teacher won, and the student behaved the rest of the year.  By the time the principal, Francis J. White, arrived on the scene, the student was doing his assignment.

I have to say that at the time, I sat in this man and his wife’s living room with my mouth hanging open during most of the interview.  It was one of those unforgettable experiences.  At the time I knew Mrs. Crawford because she and I often substituted in all the classes in Woodlake.  She was tiny, about five feet tall, and probably never weighed 100 pounds, but she knew every student in school, and they all liked and respected her.  She had a no-nonsense way of managing a class that worked.  She never had to raise her voice – or her hand to a student.

Kids today are faced with a far different world than any of us grew up in – even if you are 20.  That’s another amazing conversation Sally and I had.  Kids who are 17 are like adults to the 10 year olds of today.  In the eyes of my fourth graders my high school-aged assistants were no different than their 40 year old teacher.   So if you just graduated, and are 17 or 18, watch out – YOU ARE OLD! (to someone – not me, BTW)

So how have times changed since you were in school wherever you are from?  What was school like when you started teaching?  What was it like when you were a kid?  What worked?  What didn’t work?

Footnotes

1.  Elliott, John F.  A History of Woodlake Union High School The Woodlake 11 Class of 1924.  Three Rivers Historical Society

Cats

I’ve been running you all over Running P Ranch, but I saved the best for last, the cats.  You already met Margaret Sanger in the first post.

Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger

Margaret followed us everywhere.  Not a single person commented on the human Margaret’s contribution to history, so I thought you should know what a rich background from which these cats derived their names.  Margaret Sanger died before I was old enough to be sexually active, but she changed the world of sex for women my age and younger.  Many have argued whether the world is better for the change, but forever changed it is!!

Margaret Sanger

“Sanger’s efforts contributed to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case which legalized contraception in the United States. Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of birth control and has also been criticized for supporting eugenics, but remains an iconic figure in the American reproductive rights movement.”  Wikipedia

Margaret kept tabs on everything!
Margaret kept tabs on everything!
I wouldn't mess with Margaret!!  :)
I wouldn’t mess with Margaret!!  

Sacagawea wasn’t quite so ubiquitous.  She came out when we were almost ready to go home.

Sacagawea
Sacagawea

 

Sacagawea is calling for back-up.
Sacagawea is calling for back-up.

 

Pardon me for always using Wikipedia, but it also is ubiquitous.  “The National American Woman Suffrage Association of the early twentieth century adopted her as a symbol of women’s worth and independence, erecting several statues and plaques in her memory, and doing much to spread the story of her accomplishments.”[1]  As I read excerpts from the diary of Lewis and Clark, I understood how she was so valuable to the party.  “However, her greatest value to the mission may have been simply her presence during the arduous journey, which showed their peaceful intent. While traveling through what is now Franklin County, Washington, Clark noted, “The Indian woman confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter,” and, “the wife of Shabono our interpeter we find reconsiles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions a woman with a party of men is a token of peace.”[6]Sac. kept her distance, but she beckoned a third friend to the party, Rosa Parks.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks

Rosa was the prim and proper one.  No one would accuse her of sitting meekly in the back of the bus, however.

“On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation. Others had taken similar steps in the twentieth century, including Irene Morgan in 1946, Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, and Claudette Colvin nine months before Parks. NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience.

Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.”  Wikipedia again.

No way, Margaret.  You stay back there.
No way, Margaret. You stay back there.

Rosa the cat didn’t take a back seat to anyone, even Margaret Sanger.

Back....
Back….

So, do you think the cats were well named?

Who cares?
Who cares?

Scardy Kitty isn’t convinced that cats need uppity historic names.  He’s proud of his name!!  What do you think?

Book Review: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America

A Black Cowboy's Ride

It’s not every day that a good book about both geography and history comes along, but Lisa Winkler’s non-fiction epic, A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America, guides the reader from New Jersey to California.  Each chapter portrays the real-life adventure of an African-American teacher, Miles Dean, who rides horseback across the United States beginning September 22, 2007.  The mini-biography of Dean spans not only the country, but the centuries of African-American history in various places along the way.

There is not enough room in history books to tell the stories of all the remarkable people who walked this earth.  So they  leave out those folks who do not specifically advance the historical narrative the editors wish to portray.  For example, American children all read about George Washington, the first President of the United States, and they should.  Do they also know about Blanche K. Bruce, the first African-American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate in 1874?  Readers travel with Miles and pick up gems of history where they happened along the journey.

Blanche K. Bruce Mississippi Senator, 1874-1880

In this book the reader experiences the difficulties of the actual horseback ride across motorized America in spite of extensive planning,  along with the exuberance of meeting welcoming strangers in every place.  Readers learn along with Miles about various famous African-Americans, who were firsts in fields that don’t make the history books, such as horse jockeys or cowboys.  Rather than being a chronological history, this is a geographical history.  Every locale has its heroes and heroines, and they fit into various historical time frames.  The focus of this book is on African-American heroes from each stop along the way, so there might be a Civil War hero, and a country singer in the same location.

In truth children learn history, just as they learn their first language, from those closest to them.  They learn about their own ethnicity from their parents and grandparents, and blend it in with their growing life experiences.  They hear the stories of the folks in their home territory.  Then they learn how those stories fit into the broader scope of history.  Somewhere along the way, they begin to pick up an internal timeline.  In this book the reader becomes like a child growing up in each site where Miles stops, and learns a bit about each place, whetting their appetite to follow-up and research more about specific people or events later.

Winkler’s mini-biography easily meets the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, since students will be required to read greater percentages of non-fiction texts.  This is a book that will interest students, particularly ones who like horses and cowboys.  Teachers are often looking for books that will appeal to disenfranchised students.  This book is the perfect hook for African-American males, statistically having the largest percentage of students in this category.  Miles, the rider, is the first hero, attempting this difficult trip at age 57, and overcoming obstacle after obstacle, persevering until he completes his goal.  Then meeting all the unsung African-American heroes along Mile’s historic epic gives these students a sense of belonging and contributing to the history of the United States that is so essential for creating future citizens of this nation.

Miles Dean, age 57 riding across America
Miles Dean, age 57 riding across America

As an educational consultant, I think this book has implications that reach far beyond the written word, and the standards we teach.  It touches the heart, and motivates young people to emulate heroes.  It goes beyond exposing the faults of the country to forgiveness and allows students to see how people of different ethnicities contributed to the success of Miles’ journey.  We don’t forget our history or cover it up, but maturely go beyond its faults and take advantage of new opportunities.  We stand on the backs of heroes who paved the way for our success, and move forward in appreciation of their sacrifices to create a better world.

I featured Lisa Walker’s blog, Cycling Grandma, in my Christmas Sweater Post earlier in December.  You will enjoy visiting her blog as well.  A Black Cowboy’s Ride will make an excellent gift for your child’s teacher, a student in your life, a history buff, or yourself. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

To all my blog readers!!!
To all my blog readers!!!

As I reflect on my blogging experiment this first day of December, I realize that it has gone from experiment to addictive hobby.  I am thankful to all of you for taking the time to visit my streaming thoughts started in April, 2012.  While not breaking any records, this blog has attracted over 11,000 views, and 2,000 comments.  I was awfully lonely the first couple of months, but on November 29th the site reached a high of 196 views.  THANK YOU!!!

Reflections on December 1st.
Reflections on December 1st.

Back to the topic as I’m sure it was intended, I have almost no reflection pictures in my collection.  I came across this picture that a friend of mine took for me.  She is much more of a professional photographer than I, and I absolutely love Johanna Coyne’s picture of the little lagoon in Mooney Grove Park south of Visalia, CA, and north of Tulare, CA on Mooney Boulevard.1102_Mooney_1285

Early Tulare County settler and saloon owner, Michael Mooney, like most European immigrants worked hard to acquire property in the United States.  Mooney speculated in thousands of acres, and sold many of them at a profit.  However this plot of land didn’t earn Mooney a dime, and it protected the largest native oak grove in the county.  He purchased a 173 acre oak grove from another settler, Benjamin Willis in 1878 for $4,000.  After Mooney’s death in 1881, his heirs sold 100 acres to Tulare County in 1909, thus saving the huge grove of native trees for the people.

Tulare County Supervisor, Bartlett “suggested in 1915 that the park should have a lake.” (Allen. p. 41), although it was not until May of 1933 that the lagoon officially opened.  Stocked with fish to ward off mosquitos, the pond, with its “No Fishing” sign, tempted young poacher Stanley A. Clark, who brought home more than the bacon to his widowed mother and siblings during the World War II when meat was scarce in the market.

Through the years Tulare County residents swam, boated and were baptized in the reflective pond in Mooney Grove Park.  Today the only swimmers are quacks – I mean ducks.  At times photographers would have to Photoshop a reflective picture of this body of water because “goopy algae” scum covers  much of the surface.  Vast numbers of summer visitors feed the ducks, dropping food that decays in the water and feeds the scum.  In the fall, when the weather is cooler photographers can capture pictures of clean water.

Anybody for a picnic in the park?

Bibliography

  • Allen William R.  Mooney’s Oak Grove 1828-1881 Volume I
  • Allen William R.  Michael Mooney 1906-2003 Volume II

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Finding My Journal

Thank you all for visiting my site yesterday – I had 100 views!  I don’t know about the rest of you bloggers, but that fact makes me forget that I have any other worthwhile work to do, and makes me want to think of what to write to y’all today.   I do love that contraction.  (I’m not a Southern Belle, but I just love using it in honor of PT, who reads my blog every day.  Thanks PT.)  Don’t you just love her dimples.  She’s amazing, but that’s another story. One of the unanticipated benefits of retirement is to have my library all in one physical location.  That means I found my journal that I kept during my Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.  These are VERY cool.  They are handmade – even the paper.  I was afraid to write in it at first because I didn’t want to mess it up. So I may bore you from time to time, sharing my reflections that accompany the hundreds of photographs I took while I was there, and have just sat in my Facebook gallery, my external hard drive, and who knows where else.  I didn’t want to spend time too much time writing about them because I didn’t want to get my facts wrong. And I didn’t want to spend time researching when I knew that somewhere I had written downs tons of notes.  Ah the bane of not having a photographic memory.  Just think what a joy I could be to y’all if I could just remember things perfectly.  Actually I remember large bits of things, but somewhere they get jumbled, and my facts get scattered, and come out incorrect.  Then, because I am supposed to be somewhat of a history guru, I am embarrassed when I err, and my guru credibility is lost.  But I meander…In addition to being Clementina Rind for the week, I was also assigned to be on the Military Committee.  I had no recollection of that for several reasons, but I wrote it in my journal, so  it made SOME impression at the time.  Clementina is still with me 4 years later.  I was really into taking pictures of 18th century military life.  I have 97 pictures, and NO Notes!!  The sad thing is that we participated in amazing feats of war.  I accidentally hit the woman next to me in the face with my wooden musket when we were standing in formation practicing loading aiming, and firing our supposedly harmless weapons.   I didn’t volunteer to attempt loading the cannon.  It was real.My entry for the day we went to Yorktown reads, “I forgot my journal when we went to Yorktown. ”  

Ever consider what it might have been like if you got a toothache on the battle field – or even back home in the 18th century?  When I was a  dental assistant, believe me none of our instruments looked this vicious.  Of course, without my notes I don’t know if these WERE dental instruments or something with which to take out bullets.  Whichever, the look malicious, and I know there was no anesthesia involved.  No laughing gas.  No Novocaine. No topical anesthetic to numb your gums BEFORE you got a shot of NO Novocaine!!!  So maybe these wicked tools for the little balls that came out of muskets.  The point is I FORGOT TO TAKE MY JOURNAL.  Do you see how disastrous the effect merely four years later???  Can you imagine if I waited 40 years to label my precious pictures?George would never have forgotten HIS journal.  This desk was center stage in his tent.The troops did eat, and what you see in the background is part of the outdoor dugout oven.  This piece of equipment, as I recollect, was not a branding iron, but had something to do with cooking.  Wish I had taken my journal.This was my 75th picture.  I bet you are wondering what’s in the box.  Well, if I had brought my JOURNAL, I could have told you, but NO, it rested safely in my room where it wouldn’t get dirty.  (It still isn’t dirty.)  Judging from the pictures sequentially around this photo, which I can see, but I won’t bore you with, the box has something to do with canons.  My solid hypothesis is that it holds cannon balls.  Where is Mike Lebsock when you need him?  Probably sitting in his Colonial Williamsburg home office writing memoirs in HIS JOURNAL.  Or maybe he’s sketching.  He actually painted the middle picture right above his books.  What a talented SJVCSS President we have!!!  When I got back I quoted Clementina as saying, “I have watched as this revolution became inevitable.  I published Thomas Jefferson’s first declaration.  I strained to see this conflict that I might rejoice at our freedom.  Freedom of the press (of course that was of GREAT interest to Clementina), which we have as British citizens, but which could as easily be taken from us, as surely as taxation without representation has already been taken.  I regret that I did not live to report this great event.”Don’t try to read THAT quote, I photographed a page that had better handwriting!!!  Then I did what I do most in my journals.  I introspected.  “Its amazing to me to understand what bravery and sheet luck has play a part of my privilege of being born and raised as an American woman.  This privilege becomes clear and dearer as I age and I realize the foundations that were laid to make my life possible.”  I still stand by that statement.The moral of this story.  Buy a journal.  Take your journal with you.  Write in it.  Don’t lose it.  Then share it with someone.

How Committees Work Well

Social describes the social studies community of California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS).  The first CCSS.History-Social Studies people can be controversial and argumentative, or they can cooperate, and accomplish a lot.  Usually it’s a little of both.There’s a lot of persuading and synergy going on in California Council for the Social Studies these days.Committees do the work of the organization.  They set goals, review the organization’s position statements, gain new information, and network.  Their needs, and the needs of the social studies teachers they serve and represent drive changes, and keep the 51-year-old organization growing and thriving.Committee members concentrate, using the time to research on the internet.Others are planning, working out the details.Some committees are more social than others.  The Membership Committee wants to attract new members while retaining current ones to keep the organization viable and healthy.Other committees are more pensive and academic as they determine what should go into future issues of the organizations scholarly journal, “Social Studies Review”.At the end of the day all six committees had written motions describing what they wanted to accomplish by the conference, “Social Studies on the March” in March, 2013.  They knew who was responsible to carry out the tasks, and how much it would cost.  Each gave a short report as they finished up the paperwork to document the decisions that had been made.And best of all, nobody killed anybody!

Putting Your Field Trips on Steroids – Legally!

 

One of the best experiences of my teaching career was the Teacher Institute in Colonial Williamsburg.  I wanted to bottle it up and bring it home, and recreate and refashion it so that we could produce similar experiences for people on the West Coast.

Organizers packed the week with themes of experiences, most of them reproducible except for the location.

Before we arrived we had to read a couple of books about Colonial Williamsburg, and the PEOPLE who lived there.  Whenever you spend the time and money to take kids on vacations or field trips, you should prepare them in some way.  That’s half the fun of going. Assigning your students books or articles to read, watching videos together, then having them discuss and write about what they are learning will put the steroids into the field trip – without making it illegal!!  Students will be constantly comparing what they read with what they learn when they visit.  They will be able to ask questions.

Once we arrived in Colonial Williamsburg, we received a new identity.  That first evening as we got an overview of the town, we were always looking around the corner to find out about our special person.

I was Clementina Rind, whom I wrote about earlier in my blog.  The interesting thing about doing that SIMPLE activity is that you never forget THAT PERSON.  You might forget tons of other factoids, but that person lives in you forever.

Students don’t even have to dress up to take on their identity  One teacher assigned her students the identity of children of the Holocaust.

They they invited a guest speaker who survived the Holocaust.

The strategy of assigning alternative identities is applicable anywhere about any period in history.  Most teachers can’t dredge up re-enactors, or even guest speakers, but I’ve seen teachers dress up themselves,

or have their students dress up and play a part in a readers’ theater that they write themselves using primary source documents.

These fifth grade students became re-enactors for the Civil War Time Time Travelers Student Event.  (Another story coming soon.)

 Colonial Williamsburg is spectacular, but the lessons learned in that setting can spruce up field trips and family vacations anywhere.

 

Free Wheeling

When you think about American history, probably the first thought that comes to mind is not the bicycle.  However, in Davis, CA, bicycles are VERY important, so this is the perfect place for the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.  It is in downtown Davis, at 303 B Street.  Our host, Bob Bowen, was the perfect Bicycles R Us spokesperson!

I remember my first bike, well actually it was my mom’s bike, but my dad painted it powder-blue so I would think it was new.  It weighed more than I did, and the rust and oil from the chain gave my leg the tattoo-look before tattoos were popular.

No, this wasn’t the bike, but in the 1890s my great-grandfather rode one like this one when he was a kid.   Big-wheelers were fairly dangerous, and no helmets were required.  (or even imagined).  The biggest problem was that there were no brakes!!! AND you were 8 feet off the ground, and when you did stop you took a “header” landing head-first in front of the bike.

Bicycle hero, Major Taylor from my home state of INDIANA, caught my attention.  He was the highest paid athlete in the world for a time – a bicycle racer.  Of course that was before pro-football.  Even before pro-baseball.  But in 1899 Major Taylor was the man.

On the second floor of the Bicycle Hall of Fame were more heroic stories, many of them female including Rebecca Twigg, whom I liked for her name.  Born in Seattle, Washington – another of my favorite places, in 1963, she was an Olympic medalist, world and U.S championship race track cyclist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Twigg9906_699.jpg

Next, we went into the basement.  Here the Hall of Fame houses the collection of bikes from across the ages. Transportation before bicycles was limited to walking and animal drawn vehicles.  Finally, here was a vehicle that people could power themselves.  The bicycle pictured below, called a running machine, started out without chains, brakes or other niceties that we consider essential today.  Running machines, powered Fred Flintstone style, by running them,  were used, mostly to go downhill, from 1817 up to the start of the Civil War.

Thank goodness women got involved in bicycling.  Before women started riding bicycles roads were dirt, or at best, cobblestones.  After women took the wheels, it wasn’t long until paved roads started appearing.  No wonder they called the first bicycles “bone shakers”.  Of course, the metal or wooden tires might have had something to do with that as well.

This is one of my favorite pictures.  At some point bicycling became a family event.  This bicycle seats 6.  I remember riding a bicycle for two, and when the person in front came to a large fallen tree in the path, she wanted to go over it.  I didn’t think that was such a good idea, but she was persistent.  OK, stubborn.  I think I tend to be somewhat passive aggressive.  So when she continued to power forward, I bailed.  I don’t think I made a very good back seat driver, so I hate to think of being in the back seat of this machine.  …Yes, she crashed, and I felt badly, but still convinced that I did the right thing, and she should have stopped.

All in all we had a great time on Bob Bowen’s Bicycle Tour.  I love alliteration.  I looked for a “B” word to substitute for the word tour, and after a few thesaurian clicks on synonyms I found the word “bender” meaning “a period of time escaping life’s harsh realities”.   Unfortunately it means a few other things as well, so we’ll stay with tour.

Some of us had more fun than others.

Some of us crashed.

Some of us  took the sport very seriously!  Win at all costs!

We all had a great time, and recommend this as a fun place to visit.  Thanks again to our hosts.

Seven on Sunday

Six on Sunday was my least popular post.  Hard to mess with Ten on Tuesday.  Maybe 16 on Sunday might sell better, or maybe the holy number 7.  Can I find seven holy things today?  Pardon me if I bend the word a little, but I’ll give it a shot.  Tell me if I succeeded.

1.  “Holy cow, that is an expensive car,” both my husband and step-son explained in  hushed, I wish I could win the lottery tones.

“The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren was an expensive supercar that boasted a top speed in excess of 200 mph and could sprint from zero to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. Unless you were a CEO or media mogul, the SLR was unlikely to show up on your shopping list, as a new one cost around a half-million dollars. It’s equally unlikely that you’ll ever even see one, since overall sales numbers for the North American market were only in the hundreds before the car was discontinued in 2009.”

2.  Native American stories handed down over generations venerate the wolf as a holy animal.  Today people still love the lone wolf and honor it in a different way.

3.  Holy matrimony requires attending an occasional car show on Sunday even.  One must pay proper reverence to the cars that make the most noise and go the fastest.   There were some other breeds at the Corvette show in Sacramento.  This was his pick of this litter.

4.    Wikipedia is becoming accepted even in some academic circles if it has sources and it vetted.  According to this controversial source, “The English word “holy” dates back to at least the 11th Century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning “whole” and used to mean “uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete”. The Scottish hale (“health, happiness and wholeness”) is the most complete modern form of this Old English root. The modern word “health” is also derived from the Old English hal.”

By the end of the show my normally somber-looking husband had a healthy and holy smile on his face.

5.  Gold and silver often denote power, riches, or prestige.  As it is written, at his birth the holy Christ-child received gold and other valuable gifts from the kings that came from afar to pay him homage.  Had he been born in the 1970s, he might have received one of these.

6.  Do you have a holy curiosity?  Not the kind that kills cats, but  weren’t you wondering what the back half of the longer vehicle was?  I had never seen one.  Imagine cruising down Interstate 5 in 1972 next to this Cadillac motor home.  Who might have been driving it?

7.  Historically water has had holy purposes in many religions.  It functions to cleanse the body of both evil and dirt, and prepare one for sacred service.  Air, on the other hand, has been taken for granted.  Dirty air is an unholy, unhealthy mess.  In the early 1900s, 1912-1917 to be exact, GM sold electric trucks.  They never caught on.  In 1997, GM tried again to introduce a vehicle that would help keep the air clean.  The EV1, produced in 1996, was leased only.  When the leases expired, GM thought they destroyed all the EV1s.   This One got away.

The rest were reincarnated as Nissan Leafs, which should  be leaves, but isn’t.  Now isn’t that reVolting?

The boys and I all had a great time in Sacramento, both at the Corvette show honoring the veterans, and at the California Auto Museum.  Hats off to the California Auto Museum which allowed veterans free admission today.  We all recommend this museum if you enjoy history, cars, trucks, famous people, or something to do on a Sunday afternoon.