Equity/Equivalence

4

October 27, 2019- 

There is no inherent tie, between being in touch with femininity and emasculation.

On a visit to one of my best friends, here in Home Base, I enjoyed another of her unfailingly fine meals, followed by plenty of food for thought.  The fare, this evening, included a thorough look at the effects of  excessive social policing on the male psyche.

I am a fairly sensitive soul, who notices people’s feelings and reactions to their surroundings.  As such. weighing my words and actions has been a much higher priority, in my life, especially these past ten years.  Yes, I have had relapses, during the low water marks of grieving and recovery, not so many years ago.  Said friend has had much to do with the movement away from that low state, as has my personal faith.

I thoroughly enjoy the company of peaceful people, especially of women who have arrived at a state of personal peace.  The higher goals of one’s existence are far more achievable, when one is not pre-occupied with a set of self-conscious, other-imposed expectations.

All this underscores that emasculation,  depriving boys and men of their pursuit of meaning, in the name of gender equivalence, is the source of  much of the violence and aimless behaviour, which we see increasing in some quarters of the populace.  It cuts across all sectors of society, and its fingers may be found in the areas of drug abuse, domestic violence, unemployability, and general listlessness.

Emasculation does NOT proceed from giving women and girls the wherewithal to process their goals and pursue their dreams.  It does derive, though, from making gender equity a societal seesaw.  When Penny was alive, there was no time when her pursuits meant that mine did not matter, and vice versa.  My son’s dreams and goals matter no less than do those of my daughter-in-law, and vice versa.

Equity of opportunity and encouragement under the law does not mean equivalence of function, any more than any group of men or women must all do the same things.

Jordan Peterson calls for less political correctness, in the overall course of civic life.  To the extent that one group does not actively work to diminish another, I see his point.  I don’t really believe that there are all that many women who wish to emasculate the men and boys in their lives.  There is, though, an urgency that people attend to those who feel cut off from their hopes and dreams- regardless of the social inequality that led society to turn aside from their needs.  Again, gender equity is NOT a social seesaw.

 

Growing My Vision-Part 1

2

October 5, 2019-

At our Baha’i Unit Convention, this morning, I spotted a sign on the host’s chalkboard, with the message, “Build Vision”.  One of the constant mantras of my childhood was that we each had to see ourselves in five years, ten years, etc.

Most of us have thought of this, to the extent we think of it at all, in terms of education, career, size of family, etc.  I did all that, and now, as my formal career has little more than a year to run, albeit as a part-time substitute teacher, my vision is changing tack.

It’s always been natural, even impulsive, for me to take in the world, in my planning or visualizing.  Often, I have been chastised, for being too global.  I think the point was for me to be more present, in the here and now.  My head has made great strides, in that regard-and my focus is sharper, in the past dozen years, than it was long ago.  A good part of that came with being a caretaker. There is, as is said in such challenging environments as, say, the Alaskan Bush, the fact that “Ignorance, distraction and stupidity are the three Princes of Death”.

There is much that I have left to do, so keeping my broader vision global, whilst maintaining a sharp focus on what’s close at hand, has presented itself, with a welcome intensity.  If I slip, I know there are those among my faithful readers, not to mention, real time friends and family, who won’t hesitate to blow the whistle.

That is the supreme comfort.

Mass Assumptions

6

September 19, 2019-

I don’t know about you, but I am alternately amused and flummoxed by colloquialisms and popular beliefs, that don’t hold up in the court of scrutiny.  Bear with me; this is a potpourri.

  1. “Leprosy is returning to California, via the homeless population!” FACT:  There have been no cases of leprosy reported among the homeless, in California or anywhere else.  There IS a hygiene issue, due to several cities decriminalizing toileting in public.  While this is disgusting, it has nothing to do with leprosy.
  2. “California is forcing children to experiment with sexuality!”  FACT:  California’s guidelines on public sex education  are a lot less age appropriate than many would like.  Parents, and school districts, can, however, opt out of adopting these guidelines. (DISCLOSURE:  I believe sex education is primarily the duty of the parent(s).)
  3. “MYSELF should be used, instead of ME,  and mentioned first,when speaking or writing in the first person, or when mentioning self along with others.”  I still am more comfortable using ‘me’ or ‘I’, after referring to others in my company.
  4. “________ Year Anniversary” is ‘shorthand’ for ____________st(th) Anniversary.  How is being redundant shorthand for anything?  An anniversary IS the passage of one year.  There is no such thing as a ____ month anniversary, or a _____week anniversary.  It just SEEMS like time is dragging.
  5.  “If a Democrat is elected President, the stock markets will slam shut!”  FACT:  The stock markets, under Presidents Clinton and Obama, made fair gains-albeit not as much as has been the case under President Trump.  Markets don’t move lock step with whoever is President.  China, and other countries, actually have more influence on the markets than does a U.S. president.
  6. Lastly, and my favourite: “Everybody else can do this.  What is wrong with you?”  “Everybody else” refers to either 7.7 billion people, or to everyone else known to the speaker.  There is no way for him(her) to know what even everyone he or she knows can do or not do.                                                                                                             Those are just some things that passed through my consciousness today.

Full Moon Thirteenth

7

September 13, 2019-

Some topsy turvy day, this.

The work day was filled with

love and laughter.

Children with Downs syndrome

bring this about.

A crowded room,

at a ribbon cutting,

with children running about,

fully in joy and exuberance,

was better than any nap.

Another request for assistance,

from one of the most vicious people

I’ve ever known,

popped the balloon of joy.

It’s what that dark spirit does.

Am I a lesser soul,

for not putting myself at her disposal?

Prayers and chanting brought me back

to a place of light.

The power and fortitude of youth

imparts strength to those who

may be worn down, just a bit.

All in all, this Full Moon

Friday the Thirteenth

ended on a bright note.

Back In The Saddle

2

August 22, 2019-

I got in a full-day’s work today, after five months’ hiatus.  Of course, there hasn’t been a lot of idleness during that time, but I have missing being around children and youth, on  a regular basis, nipping at my consciousness.

Today went very well.  The few who wanted to mess around, didn’t meet with much success.  I am long past the point where I let mischief get to me.  On the other hand, I don’t let it spread.  The rules of the day are set by the regular teacher, so the parameters are already in place.

Children and teens know this is how things work, and those with whom I interact are quite relieved that I am not here to be a slacker.  Simply put, this brief period of my presence in their lives needs to be of support for their broader plans, hopes and dreams, and of deterrence to the obstacles, both self-induced and put in place by others, that would derail those broader plans.

My goal:  To be of maximum support, to each young person who comes into a room where I am working.

The Valley of Five Colleges

2

July 8, 2019, Amherst, MA-

I learned much from my growing-up years in Saugus-certainly a lot more than some people, who knew me when, ever suspected.  Some, especially in my family, still wonder how I’ve made it this far, ever managing to get out of my own way.  Truth be known, what I learned as a child and teen determined what I retained from my college and university days, and from many experiences thereafter.  I learned to survive in Saugus and how to thrive in Amherst.

Amherst both sheltered me from the real world and engaged the stretching of my comfort zone.  I came to this place of five institutions of higher learning, at a time when the women’s movement was coming into full flower (no pun intended) and when the residue of the anti- war movement was settling into an ennui of apathy.  Watergate rekindled a sense of outrage, for a time, but with Richard Nixon gone, by the Fall of 1974, many were back to focusing on I, Me and Mine.

I returned here today, for the first time since graduating in 1976, to see what, if anything, had really changed.  Amherst College is still the centerpiece of downtown. The University of Massachusetts is the town’s largest employer.  Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Hampshire College lie in a semi-circle to the south of Amherst,  I took a stroll around Amherst College and downtown Amherst, before heading up to the University campus.

Here a few views of Amherst College.

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The Loeb Center is a job placement hub for Amherst graduates.

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Bassett is one of two planetariums in Amherst.  Orchard Hill, on the University of Massachusetts campus, is the other.

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Henry Ward Beecher was a pioneer in the abolitionist movement, but was later the focus of scandal, showing the two sides of even the most ardent of  social reformers.  Nonetheless, he is honoured by Amherst College as one of its most prominent alumni.

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Lawrence Observatory, to which Bassett Planetarium is attached, is one of the first astronomical observatories in the United States, having been built in 1847.

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My walk around Amherst town began with lunch.  Fresh Side is a lovely Asian fusion cafe.

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St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church is one of the most prominent non-college edifices in town.

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Amherst Town Hall, though, is the signature Town Center building, across from the Town Green.

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Fast forward a bit and I found myself gazing at the High Rise Dormitory, completed just before I attended the University.

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Here is the Sciences Complex.

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This scene appealed to me, as  a fusion of two starkly different architectural styles.

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I headed south, after a brief visit to the University Commons, and gazed towards Mt. Holyoke, from a highway rest stop.  The Five Colleges were a solid unit in the 1970’s and are even more vital an educational force now.  The concept of a unified and diverse educational consortium has only gained traction, in the decades since.

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NEXT:  Danbury, The Second Clarion of the American Revolution

 

The School of Hope

4

June 28, 2019, St. Helena Island, SC-

I am of the opinion that there should be no child left behind-and I don’t mean to throw us back to the Federal educational initiative by that name, which only met the need in a limited fashion.

Truly meeting a child’s needs is something that no “one size fits all” program can possibly address. The basis for any effort to improve a person’s well-being is love for that person, as an extension of one’s love for humanity.

Penn Center, in the heart of this Sea Island near Beaufort, is a shining example of the true meaning of “No Child left Behind”.  Its genesis was the implementing of the Emancipation Proclamation. One thing that was ever in Abraham Lincoln’s mind, when he contemplated freeing the slaves in the Confederate States, was the immediate unleashing on Southern society of millions of illiterate people, the majority of whom were also not trained in any skilled trade.  “Forty acres and a mule”, the mantra of freed enslaved minister Garrison Frazier, turned into a scattershot attempt to relieve that society of its immediate burden, once it became actual Federal policy.  Lincoln himself, hamstrung by his own conviction that any given White man was inherently superior to any given person of another “race”, had no coherent plan to alleviate the situation.

So, it fell to Rev. Frazier and a council of educated Black men, in the Lowlands from Savannah to Charleston, to devise and implement a plan to establish a school for the children of the Sea Islands region. Penn School, established, as its name implies, with the support of the Society of Friends, became just such a school. It was initially established in 1862, even before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.  Truth be known, word had reached the Black community in Savannah that many slaveholders in Virginia, Louisiana and Georgia were teaching their male slaves how to read and write.  Many others had been taught, surreptitiously, by the wives and children of their masters. The former estate of a freed slave, Harvey Gantt, became the site of an expanded school, in 1864. By 1865, Quaker abolitionists in Philadelphia began supporting the school, and it was named Penn School.  In 1901, Hampton Institute, a Black college in Virginia, began sponsoring the school, which was cut off from public funding by Beaufort County’s segregationist leadership. Even with this assistance, though, the school continued to struggle.  In 1948, Penn School closed and Penn Center, a community development and cultural preservation institution, emerged on the property.

Today, Penn Center is a haven for the study and preservation of Gullah language and culture and for the promotion of Civil Rights.  Its York W. Bailey Museum has a wealth of African art and Gullah artifacts.  The Center promotes the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park, of which it is the epicenter, and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, from Florida to North Carolina.  It maintains active relationships with people in West and Central Africa, with the President of Sierra Leone visiting the Center, in 1988.

Here are some scenes of Penn Center’s grounds.  No photography is permitted in the Bailey Museum itself.

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The Gantt House  (Pine House) today serves as one of the learning sites for Penn Center.

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These storage cisterns were once the school’s main source of fresh water.

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This is Darrah Hall, Penn Center’s oldest building, built in 1903.  It is used for large events.

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The flat bottom boat is a staple of Low Country transportation.  This one was built and used by freed slaves.

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This is the Center’s Administration Building.

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Here is one of the first classroom buildings of Penn School, circa 1905.

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This complex was a beehive of activity, during my visit.  Vibrant teens were calling out friendly greetings to me, while their teachers were trying to get them focused on the activity of the afternoon.

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As in any community, a small cemetery has sprung up at Penn Center.

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I end with two shots of Brick Church, the original site of the school, and which predates Penn Center.

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There is much to learn, as yet, about Gullah Geechee culture, so I know this is far from my last visit to the Low Country.  Penn Center, though, gave me an excellent introduction.

NEXT:  The Wonder That Is Charleston

 

The World In Harbour Town

2

June 27-28, 2019, Hilton Head Island-

I made it to Hilton Head Island, if only for a night and the better part of  a day.  Today was a very full day on the road, with a lunch stop at New Moon Cafe, in far-off Aiken.  I will go somewhat out of my way to visit New Moon, because it’s all about the ambiance. Today did not disappoint.

After a lengthy ramble through the Low Country, I spent an hour or so in Beaufort-first looking for the Gullah Geechee Cultural Center, only to find it had moved and was closed by the time I got to the new location.  The town’s renewed prosperity is reflected in its Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, named for the former mayor, whose passion was revitalizing the dockside area of this port city.  Time was, when “America First” advocates would point to Beaufort as a place where people fighting poverty and famine should “turn, first”, during the Africa Famine Relief campaigns of the late 1960’s.  That is not the case today.  Beaufort is coming back.

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The sense of idyll is also found on Hilton Head Island, which I first visited with Penny and Aram, in 2007. On that particular day, torrential rain visited us, in the early morning. I opened the motel door, to find water at the level of the door stoop.  Fortunately, no alligators were present-as was the case earlier this year, with some other family members.  The property where we stayed in 2007 is now owned by Red Roof Inn.  The manager told me that drainage is still an issue for the property.  Tonight, though, the skies were clear and the ground dry.

I went over to Hilton Head Diner, where we had had pancakes for breakfast in ’07.  This time, I enjoyed dinner-a gourmet burger with waffle fries.  I sat at the counter, kibbitzing with one of the waitresses, Kim, and enjoying the tales of an island native named Mark.  His grandfather had built the causeway bridge that connects HH with the mainland.  After dinner, when I headed to my car, a local woman asked for help, in jump-starting her car. I found her battery had loose, rather poor connectivity. As Mark was a truck driver, I went back to the Diner and asked him for help.  He was able to rig a connection to her battery and we got her back on the road, in short order.

I found it necessary to pay admission to one of the staples of a Hilton Head visit:  Harbour Town, as the access is controlled by Sea Pines Resort- a golfer’s paradise.  I am not a golfer, but I like lighthouses and seaport areas and the day pass was reasonable, so in I went.  A light lunch at this relaxing patio bakery-cafe ensued.  The place was once the lighthouse keeper’s cottage.

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Hanging moss abounds in the Low Country.

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Here is Hilton Head Lighthouse, now a gift shop, operated by Sea Pines, which charges admission for those wanting to climb to the top.  The woman on the left and her sons in front were willing to be included in the photo, for scale.

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After walking around the area for several minutes, I came upon the same family looking at this unique boat.  Mystique is constructed almost entirely of teak and mahogany.

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Hilton Head, like other parts of the Low Country, was once the domain of Gullah Geechee culture, which used a blend of several West African languages and English, and preserved much of the traditional culture of enslaved Africans in the area.  Scant traces of the culture remain on Hilton Head, save Mitchelville, on the northwest corner of the island.  There was not much going on in Mitchelville, as I headed towards Penn Center, the first school for freed slave children, after the Civil War.  That unique institution is still offering the children of the Sea Islands a solid and complete education, blending practical skills with state-of-the-art technology and consideration of today’s issues.

As for Mitchelville, I do not take photos of people, especially in impoverished areas, without their consent.  Penn Center, on St. Helena Island, was much more amenable to a photographic record.  It is the subject of the next post.

 

Where Rock Got Its Groove On

2

June 21, 2019, Crossville, TN-

No, this little city in east central Tennessee has its charms, but rock’s birthplace is not its claim to fame.  That, of course, is a claim to be made by Memphis.

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I visited Sun Studio, one of my “gap” goals from years past.  In the early 1950’s, one Sam Phillips, an eager young musical production visionary, began this studio, on a shoe string budget. He had an idea that Gospel, Country and Blues, when blended together, would produce an amazing new sound. Sam was all about music as a means of expressing personal emotional power and he wanted to hear some rawness in the voices of those he auditioned.

Elvis Presley, happening by from his hometown of Tupelo, MS, was NOT one of those voices, initially.  He crooned, stuck to a mellow vibe-and bored Sam Phillips to tears.  After several auditions, Elvis’ mood changed, he rocked on out with a tune and got Sam and his crew running into the sound room, to see what was happening.  The rest is musical history.  Other musical greats, among them Johnny Cash, Ike and Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Howlin’Wolf, BB King and Roy Orbison got their big breaks with Sam and Sun Studio.

Here is Elvis, visiting Sun whilst on leave from the Army, doing a set with three of his contemporaries.  This session became known as The Million Dollar Quartet.

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Below, our host, Lahna, is recounting one of many stories about Sam and his vision of musical fusion.  You can spot a photo of Sam Phillips on the lower right.

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Here are some promos for Howlin’Wolf and Ike Turner (before Tina).  Ike was the pianist on the first-ever Rock n’Roll tune:  “Rocket 88”.

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Fun fact: If Sam DIDN’T like a demo record, this is what happened to it. (See floor).

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He was all about the base.

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Marion MacInnes was Sam’s office manager, and his faithful right hand.  Is anyone familiar with the contraption on the left?

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Lahna is giving her wrap-up for the tour, in front of the sound room window.  Another fun fact:  Larry Mullen, Jr., of the band U2, donated a set of drums to Sun Studio-for display purposes.

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This was an awesome bit of musical history, made all the more enjoyable by a woman who clearly knows her rock stuff.

I took a bit of a ride eastward, well before actually leaving Memphis, and found La Ceiba, the area’s only Honduran restaurant.  Its forte seems to be seafood, yet I was in the mood for chicken.  I ordered the first item on the menu, which puzzled the hostess.  It turned out to be fairly recognizable:  Lightly battered fried chicken, apparently not the hostess’s favourite, but good-tasting, nonetheless.  I also found the chips and sauce, (not salsa), potentially addicting.  La Ceiba is well worth a try.

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A long drive around the fringe of Nashville ensued, as it was getting late and I wanted to get here to my friends’ house, before they needed to turn in.

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NEXT:  Reflections on Three Days By A Pond