The Vote

It is fair to say that we Americans are living history full on. The unprecedented presidency of Donald Trump, the COVID pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement … any one of these events would be termed historical. Taken together they are creating an historical maelstrom that will be parsed and dissected for decades.

History gets short shrift these days. The current populace generally sees everything in the moment and this tendency makes most people view history as snippets, if they think of history at all. This past week —with the dual confluence of our first black female Vice Presidential candidate and the Centennial celebration of ratification of the 19th Amendment —  has certainly focused many minds on that moment 100 years ago when women finally won the vote. I don’t recall learning much about the 19th Amendment in school but I do recall that my history books said that women were “given” the vote in 1920. As the excellent PBS series “The Vote” makes clear, women weren’t “given” the vote, they fought for 70 years to secure it.

Ida B. Wells

The series, part of the 32nd season of the PBS American Experience series, is well worth your time. It is produced in the Ken Burns style, lots of old pictures and archival film footage, with the writings of the principle players delivered by the likes of Laura Linney as Carrie Chapman Catt, Patricia Clarkson as Harriot Stanton Blatch, and Audra McDonald as the compelling Ida B. Wells (long before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, Ida B Wells did the same in 1884).

The series is particularly illuminating with respect to the interaction of black and white women during the struggle. Some of my younger friends may say, “So what? Today is about BLM, we already won the women’s vote.” Well, maybe so, but “The Vote” gives an interesting look at the role of black women clubs, something you are hearing a lot about in connection with Kamala Harris. And the historical intertwining of women and black rights helps to explain many of the problems we are still endeavoring to resolve.

Katherine Douglas Smith

There is, no doubt, a lot of racism on display in “The Vote” but even more is the ugly face of misogyny (which is “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”).  I defy any woman to watch this series — with its images of women speaking before crowds of men, many with jeering, misogynistic views clearly displayed on their faces — and not feel a chill up her spine. Every woman has seen those looks at one time or another and the modern day #MeToo movement demonstrates misogyny is still alive and well.  But to place yourself before a crowd of such men, who clearly despise the woman before them, was stunningly heroic. 

Ladies, we owe it to ourselves and our children to learn this history — or perhaps I should say herstory — of the brave women who labored for seven decades to give us a right that some of us will not even bother to exercise.  Watch this series and I can guarantee voting will never be the same for you.  On November 3rd be sure to exercise a right that women fought and died for. It seems the least you can do in this historical moment. ❖

Florida Mushrooms

Puffballs at Oak Forest

It is an unexpected bonus that my still-new home in Tampa comes with mushrooms. What’s the big deal, you might say?  Well, none of my other Florida homes had mushrooms, probably because they were condos and the grounds were “manicured” every week without fail.  In 2011, under one of the trees outside my last condo, I did find some puffball mushrooms and I rushed to preserve the images.

Continue reading “Florida Mushrooms”

Happy Birthday America!

Happy 244th Birthday to the United States of America!

With COVID-19 ravaging our nation, this July 4th is odd one, don’t you think? Celebrations are being trimmed back or cancelled all across the nation as we acknowledge this deadly killer. But even as the virus drives us into our homes and isolation, events have drawn us out to the streets, and national talking points have turned to America’s racist past …and present. Pandemics and transitions go hand-in-hand, according to the historians, and I believe I am one of many who hope that our transition from this pandemic will be a beneficial one. Continue reading “Happy Birthday America!”

Streetlight People

Recently I heard Journey’s classic song, “Don’t Stop Believing” (also known as “Streetlight People”) and one particular lyric grabbed me. The group sings about the streetlight people who are,  “Livin’ just to find emotion.”

It seems to perfectly describe some of our current fellow travelers. They are the ones who “take a stand” that is the complete opposite of what sanity tells us it should be. They are contrarians and they will take a point of view “especially for the sake of being difficult, contentious or in opposition to the generally held view.” Continue reading “Streetlight People”

Living in an Ethereal Age

As a 72-year old woman, according to conventional thinking, I should not be tech savvy. There is always a startled expression on the face of Best Buy associates when I pose a tech-savvy question. Well, come to think of it, Best Buy clerks have always seemed a bit dismissive of a woman with technical acumen so perhaps the current behavior is just ageism tacked on to misogyny. Continue reading “Living in an Ethereal Age”

After Atticus

Regular visitors may have noticed that Atticus stories and pictures have … well, they have disappeared.  Atticus, that plucky little Cavalier, graced my life for three months. Whenever I think of the pandemic in the future I will recall it was time spent with Atticus and I watched him mature from a four-month-old puppy to a seven-month-old, nearly dog.

Atticus … now Atlas

Do not despair. Atticus is fine. He has returned to his breeder, the lovely Rosalind and her fiancé Jeff.  As it turns out, she never really wanted to part with him in the first place so my decision to relinquish him is a boon for her and him.

I will not sugar-coat the situation—having a puppy at the age of 72 is a real chore. I do not recommend it to anyone of my demographic. I knew this going in but the circumstances were such that it seemed something that was meant to be. 

Continue reading “After Atticus”

COVID Lessons

Recently I have been thinking about the drastic effect COVID-19 will have on the children of this country and many others. Out of school and confined to home, our children are losing valuable time and experience. These are not just a few snow days that are being missed. There are weeks and months of education that will not be recovered easily. Even those with computers and pads who are following online lessons at home are still getting cheated. Certainly a great part of schooling is the social interaction, learning to interact with our peers and other societal members.  I envision a generation that will grow up hoarding toilet paper and vowing never to be without it again in the best Scarlett O’Hara fashion (and perhaps they watched Gone With the Wind while staying safe at home…a good history lesson). Continue reading “COVID Lessons”

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