Going Postal

First I have to mention: Today, The Bottom of  Heaven is featuring Doret, TheHappyNappyBookseller on Humanizing Cholly Breedlove: Vilified? Redeemed? How did you respond to this character or how might we read him today?

Naughty Book Kitties t-shirt give away is meant to celebrate LGBT week. Find out more about the week on this great post at Multiculturalism Rocks.

now for today’s post…

I hate to come home with regrets and right now, I have one. I regret not having sent postcards to my nephews. I know, no one does those any more, do they? Me, I’m a letter writer from way back. I still think people enjoy receiving things, especially unexpected things, via postal mail. Letters and postcards can be tucked aways and saved in ways that emails cannot. Sure, what we put into the ether stays forever, but how do we always access it? I need something I can tie ribbons on, fold and refold, look at the handwriting and image that hand that wrote it.
Letters.
Did Emmett Till have a chance to send a postcard or letter home?
I like how this blog documents Letters of Note by providing an image of the original letter as well as a transcription. Posting an email wouldn’t be quite the same.
I don’t even have a postcard I picked up along the way to send them. I’ll have to do better next time!

Hey Y’All!I’m back!!

The joy I get from working in the library comes as much from obtaining information as it is from leading others to it. Last night, I returned from a an NEH Landmark seminar “The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music Culture, and History in the Mississippi Delta.”

Information isn’t just in books. It’s in the land, structures and people that surround us everywhere and especially in the Delta. It is of course, the most southern place on earth. The delta stretches from Memphis to Vicksburg and contains rich alluvial soil that produced cotton, sustained some of the most racist institutions on this planet, tuned the blues, country music AND rock and roll and nurtured the growth and spread of a large part of African American culture. Surely you know that Chicago is the largest city in the Delta?

The immensity of the Till case becomes a little more real when you sit a court room –that court room- with FBI agents, eyewitnesses and those who live it its aftermath. You realize it wasn’t that long ago that this child, in being a child, lost his life to what became a greater cause. I’ve never really been a fan of the blues, but when you hear recordings the daily songs of African Americans in the delta, or you hear Fannie Lou Hamer sing “This Little Light of Mine” you can’t help but appreciate the blues because you feel where it came from.

The poverty in Mississippi continues to be immense. The land is not poor, the people are not poor, but the poverty is immense. Gardens? Fresh fruits and vegetables?Starbucks? Thriving businesses? Honda dealers? ATT reception? Applebees? Parks? Zoos? Doctors? Fire hydrants near schools?  NO!!  But there are crop dusters, highest rate of obesity and AIDS in the country and there are huge fields of genetically engineered cotton, rice and soy fields. Seeds created, patented and owned by Monsanto and that means you cannot keep the seeds. The highly developed area along the coast is getting hit by recent oil spill, just like it got hit by Katrina. Tunica, to the north is developing thanks to the casinos, but this wealth is limited to Tunica county.

Oh for sure the racist practices that locked former slaves onto white owned land built a legacy the state cannot escape. Chinese were brought in and Italians were brought in to this race mess as well. The state can’t get passed it. Those who got tired of it left for Chicago, Detroit and places north early in the 20th century. It’s a legacy built on racism, not slavery: the Delta didn’t really develop until after the Civil War. It grew on systems of peonage and sharecropping.

Along with the growth of other major cities in the region was the growth of Mound Bayou, the only city in the country founded by freed slaves. In Mound Bayou Blacks could walk the streets freely, own their own businesses and educate their own children. In its day, it was the Mecca of Black America. When most cities in Mississippi had no hospital, Mound Bayou had two, one of which is credited with beginning HMOs in this country. It was the home of Medgar Evers. And now? The buildings, including the Tabourian Hospital are empty and collapsing.

I hated to see the poverty, the lacking of things that don’t reflect the wealth of the land, the pride of the people or their strength. I was humble by how much more I need to know about Charles McLaurin, Fannie Lou Hamer, BB King and so many, many more! I was impressed by the amount of libraries that I saw, one connected to the St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou. I loved going to Crustacian’s to eat the delicious fresh boiled seafood and chatting with the owners! I have my Fighting Okra ID (Delta State’s mascot is the Fighting Okra), my giraffe from Peter’s Pottery made from Mississippi clay and my 6 pack of Southern Pecan beer. You know I have books, just email me if you want titles! I didn’t expect to find the diversity that I did in the delta, things like Labanese restaurants that have been there for ages, tamales that are a regional specialty, Chinese groceries in all the small towns, Italian farmers or ever the fact that the first mayor of Greenville was Jewish. Rather than celebrate diversity, we seem to let diversity be divisive, don’t we?

I wasn’t real comfortable about going to Mississippi because I wondered how much it has really changed. Oh, there are still places not to go to but there are too many others that we must see to understand who we are, where so much of what do came from [btw, did you know ‘fair to middling’ is a term that comes from cotton grades?] and what we still need to do. We need the information that the people and places of the Delta give us!

SundayMorningReads

My mom’s passing away was softened by the presence of other mother figures in my life. Other female relatives stepped up to the plate. Friends shared their mom with me and even my contemporaries deepened their relationships with me. While I still miss her, my life enriched in other ways.
Why didn’t this happen when my dad passed away? Why didn’t friends share their dad? Or, does this bonding only occur to fill the void of the same sex parent?
Thinking about it, few of my friends and relatives had males left in their families to share. I have a very small family, most of which are single females. Most of my older female relatives are widows. Sure, there is some divorce but it doesn’t seem to be a significant amount.
Do we have different expectations on fathers than we do mothers? I mean, if you think about the horrid stores of young children who is left alone and they end up wandering the street in diapers, broiling in hot summer cars or caring for themselves in their own home, all the blame for neglect in these situations goes to the mother, not the father who was never there. Why not?
Do we expect that fathers will not care for their own children let alone those of others?
With the high expectations that my father set, I pretty much assumed when I divorced that my soon to be ex-husband would fit the mold of absentee father. My dad was a hands on dad way before it was in vogue. His days off were always spent taking us to a local cultural institution. When we were little, he held us, rocked us, told us stories, cleaned us, fed us and loved us. He never said the words “I love you” until we were grown and learned to say them to him first, but it didn’t matter  because we knew he loved us. The last time my daughter visited me, I slipped her $20 and told her I was doing it because whenever I drove home, my dad would always give me $20 and say “stop and buy yourself a hamburger on the way home”. It’s tough losing parents who you learn to depend upon!
I wanted to blog about men who have been able to step up and be father figures to others. But, who has done that? Ted Kennedy has done it but who else? It’s hard to look at public figures and know what they’ve done in terms of fathering because they have to walk the walk AND talk the talk. So, who do I know? What about educators? Bruce MacAllister fathers and so does Dr. Suggs. Who else?

Divorce is hard when children are involved. As common as it is today, it still tears our babies apart. Hell, it tears us apart! It was more difficult than I’m even going to try to explain for me to separate my mothering emotions from everything else that was riled up inside me and bubbling out through my mouth when I divorced. It gave me pause to realize my child support was being paid on time. Regardless of the details. Regardless of the details! My home, my family had fallen apart but my children’s had expanded. Yeah, we can look at it like that, now. I’m admitting it took me a long time to get here and I cannot even believe I’m admitting this out loud or in public, but when it comes to being a father figures, I have to admit my ex is one. When my children think of all the stuff in which they’ve been involved, their dad was there, not only for them but for their friends. From providing transportation to advice to a place to live, he’s done it. He does it. I honestly think that when he sees the needs of others’ children, he sees it as the needs of his children. Oh, to to the point that it can be embarrassing when it comes to giving out the advice, but it’s sincere.
I don’t talk to my children much about their dad. A long time ago, I decided their relationship with him was between him and them. But, some things you cannot miss. My daughter has blogged several times about him being there for her, doing whatever he could for her, regardless of the appreciation she may or may not have shown in the past. I can’t speak as definitively for my sons, but ‘ve seen things, heard things I know they love their dad and admire where he has sacrificed and what he does for others.  If a saint is a sinner that keeps on trying then…
I look at my dad, my grandad, brother and uncles and I know there are some good men out there and I cannot let myself fall into the trap of saying ‘all men are dogs’. What if my sons heard me say that?! In giving up personal issues, I’ve seen the goodness in someone else. I’d like to be preachy and say we have to sometimes let our men be men, give them the room to be fathers, but sometimes we have to open our eyes and see the goodness that already exists. Besides, it’s not about what we give them. Yes, there are monsters among us, male and female, but today, we’re lifting up the good men and letting them shine!
So to the good men, to the fathers who tie shoes, change diapers, pay tuition, discipline, go to the soccer games, pay the lawyers, take the babies to church, nurture communities, build families and support dreams and love their children unconditionally: HAPPY FATHERS DAY!

Interested in Genealogical Research?

Many ancestors – immigrants and pioneers, slaves, women, native peoples, and others – do not have compiled biographies. They are invisible in the historical record, except through census or other data collection entities. Where there are gaps, the stories can be told through early travelogues, letters, diaries, maps, texts and printed ephemera, photographs and other visual media.
Journey into the lives of ancestors through the published records and online resources at  the Library of Congress. .Join Library staff specialists to explore resources and learn strategies to assist the researcher in recreating the stories that define and shape a family tree.

The Local History & Genealogy Division will conduct a free, one-hour orientation via webinar, on Thursday, June 17,          2:00 -3:00 pm. Eastern Daylight Time. To register for the orientation, use the Participant Registration Form at http://www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/signup.php. Confirmation, log on instructions, and the handout will be sent via email.

Monday Mailbox

Please post a comment if you’d like to receive one of the follow books. Limit one book per person. Previous “MondayMailbox” recipients are ineligible. The first person to claim the book gets it! If you’re the first person, go ahead and send an email with your postal address to crazyquilts at hotmail dot com

Moribito: Guardian of the spirit by Nahoko Uuhashi (Uncorrected proof) YA

The day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson MG/YA

When Kambia Elaine flew in from Neptune by Lori Aurelia Williams YA –I read this one long before I began doing reviews. It is a wonderful book. It does have a sequel.

Have a reading filled week!