Category Archives: History

A Stew Full of Thoughts

My Dear Friends,

THOUGHT 1: Yet another fallout of the Pandemic…

Every time I think I have a handle on how to handle the world I and fellow beings presently inhabit, I lose the handle.  Why can’t I keep a steady hand on the wheel of my life?  I know the rules of safety.  I try my best to follow them… Social distancing, masking, hand washing, sanitizing, travel limits.

I am kidding you and myself because, of course I know why I can’t keep it steady.  I am not in control.

I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. I know the feeling well because I have been there many times before.

I think I am being vigilant. But then, I watch others out of my control, threaten themselves and others with their choices.  It then becomes my responsibility to set limits and put out the no vacancy sign.  It is so alien to the nature of this here beast. 

My door has always been open.  In the world today that is not an option. I can make some adjustments. And for this I am so very grateful that I am able to set up for a meal in the garden or the porch with safe spacing, masks and whatever else is necessary for the safety of all. 

THOUGHT 2A review of The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

I did not know the depth and the extent of the migration of Black Americans from the South to the North and to the West from 1915 – 1970.   For me, Ms. Wilkerson’s narrative is the foretelling of the ongoing struggle for Black equality we are experiencing at this time. She has chosen three protagonists from three different locations in three different decades of the migration.   Their detailed journey from the white racism of the South that followed them to the white racism of the North and West is shocking and a necessary and important tool in understanding how racism, subtle and not so subtle works. 

At the end of the book Ms. Wilkerson writes some notes about her methodology in putting this brilliant study together. She quotes from a 672 page report by a white-led Commission on the Chicago Riots of 1919 wherein the commission admonishes all.

THIS MUST CHANGE!

It is important for our white citizens always to remember that the Negroes alone of all our immigrants came to America against their will by the special compelling invitation of the whites; that the institution of slavery wast introduced, expanded and maintained by the United States by the white people and for their own benefit; and they likewise created the conditions that followed emancipation.

Our Negro problem, therefore, is not of the Negro’s making. No group in our population is less responsible for its existence. But every group is responsible for its continuance… Both races need to understand that their rights and duties are mutual and equal and their interests in the common good are identical… There is no help or healing in appraising past responsibilities or in present apportioning of praise or blame. The past is of value only as it aids in understanding the present; an understanding of the facts of the problem — a magnanimous understanding by both races — is the first step toward a solution.

Excerpt, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, page 543

The report came out in 1922. Last time I checked my calendar it was 2020.

THOUGHT 3:   IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE OBIT, EAT BREAKFAST

There is no way that I am going to leave you without a smile on your face and a laugh in your heart.  Even though my go-to cheerleader, Carl Reiner, left for quieter climes. 

I am sure Carl and Snoopy were in complete agreement.

Here is a documentary he narrated when he was only 94:

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Happy July 4th. It’s way past time to put our money (and our votes) where our mouths are…

Video

Music, A Book & Thou

My Dear Friends,

This won’t take long. In this blog I share two videos. One is a professional production. The other is what happens during pandemisolockatine.

First is a song, Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens featuring Yo-Yo Ma. Here is the introduction from Yo-Yo Ma’s Facebook Page:

There are so many stories made invisible: too-often-violent histories hidden beneath the surfaces of our cities, our institutions, our music. It’s our job to keep looking, to make them visible, to take action. Today is always a good day to learn. I’m honored to mark this 155th Juneteenth with a new song by the incomparable Rhiannon Giddens.  #blacklivesmatter #juneteenth #songsofchange

Lyrics to “Build a House” – Rhiannon Giddens featuring Yo-Yo Ma

You brought me here to build your house, build your house, build your house
You brought me here to build your house and grow your garden fine

I laid the brick and built your house, built your house, built your house
I laid the brick and built your house, raised the plants so high

And when you had the house and land, the house and land, the house and land
And when you had the house and land, then you told me “go.”

I found a place to build my house, build my house, build my house
I found a place to build my house since I couldn’t go back home

You said I couldn’t build a house, build a house, build a house
You said I couldn’t build a house, so you burned it down

So then I traveled far and wide, far and wide, far and wide
And then I traveled far and wide until I found a home

I learned your words and wrote a song, wrote a song, wrote a song
I learned your words and wrote a song to put my story down

But then you came and took my song, took my song, took my song
But then you came and took my song, playing it for your own

I took my bucket, lowered it down, lowered it down, lowered it down
I took my bucket, lowered it down, the well will never run dry.

You brought me here to build a house, build a house, build a house
You brought me here to build a house. I will not be moved.

No, I will not be moved. No, I will not be, I will not be, I will not be moved.


I am also reading a book that I think is important and that you might want to check out. It is titled, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. And don’t forget…

History Doesn’t Repeat Itself…

My Dear Friends,

In a recent coffee klatsch with my new very best friend, Voltaire, he reminded me, “Sally-Jane…

In light of this very wise and prescient statement, I am all too aware of how little we know of American History.  Of course, it didn’t help that history books until a recent time had a very one-sided version of what happened before, during and after the founding of these United States of America.

I am old enough to remember that my history books taught that many American Indian tribes were our enemies, but not how the enmity originated.

I don’t remember reading about President Andrew Jackson forcing them off their ancestral lands in the East onto the infamous march West… The Trail of Tears.

I don’t remember reading about President Andrew Johnson shredding Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation promises, aided and abetted by Confederate officers and soldiers into proclaiming Jim Crow as the law of the South and founding the KKK.

I could go on but I think I would rather present you with a cornucopia of gifted artists and writers who will, through document and performance, enlighten your way .

It has been spoken.  It has been written.  You cannot grow… You cannot know…

Where do I come from…?

How did I get here…?

Read on MacEveryone….  

Don’t ask me why I chose this book, She Would Be King: A Novel by Wayétu Moore. I knew nothing about it.  Maybe because I was celebrating my bookstore having finally  come out of its pandemic hibernation.  And the title was definitely quirky.  I chose a winner.  The author is black and beautiful and she writes like a dream.  In fact dreams have a lot to do with this magically and very realistic story.  I never understood what it meant to read a book of magic realism.  I’m not sure I do now but I am beginning to understand this category mixes the reality of the founding of Liberia in the 19th Century and the fantastical but oh, so real journey of the three main characters towards their destiny.  Their imprint is indelible in my psyche, my soul, but most of all, my spirit. 


In the PBS program, Twilight: Los Angeles, award-winning director Marc Levin weaves, Anna Deavere Smith’s powerful one-woman theater piece of the same name with news footage and interviews to create a portrait of rage, sorrow, loss, and battered hope surrounding the 1991 Rodney King beating, the violent aftermath of the 1992 verdict, and the lasting impact of the L.A. riots on America’s conscience.


I have a confession to make. I am usually not a podcast listener.  But I have an investigative reporter feeding me with brilliant podcasts.  She also happens to be my daughter.  

Here is what Dianne wrote to me about Jonathan Capehart’s podcast with Carol Anderson about her book White Rage:  The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide.

“Mom, Bottom line is all these policies that have kept black people down have kept all of us down in many ways.”

From the mouths of babes… she was one once… I have the pictures.

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. The best way to combat all racial inequalities is to use your voting power!!

P.P.S. Keep your sense of humor and your distance…

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “The other America” 1967

My Dear Friends,

By accident or fate, take your pick, I YouTubed upon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Stanford – “The other America” 1967 – a year before he was murdered.

This is part of the history we need to know.  

For me, it was as if he was alive and writing about the race relations of today, hopefully, not tomorrow.

Listen, my friends, just LISTEN.

Love, Sally-Jane

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee where he was shot on April 4, 1968.

Phooey! You are NOT Powerless!

My dear friends, 

I don’t know about you but with recent events, I have been witness to friends and relatives clucking of tongues, sighing, and head shaking, saying things like… “This is terrible.”  “Shocking!”  “What can I do?  I feel so powerless.”  Then, like the air going out of a balloon, nada!  We are not only tongue tied. We are idea tied.

Give me a break! You know about David slinging rocks at Goliath, right?  You heard how Joshua outplayed Louis Armstrong at the battle of Jericho, right?  Please my friends, use these metaphors to create a new reality of what you, you alone, can do.

Here is an example of what one citizen of the town of Northampton, MA did upon hearing that the town council in response to the recent protests was voting to increase the budget of the police department. OK, OK, so there is a whiff of nepotism in the air, the writer, Pamela Schwartz is my daughter.  Hey, leave us not forget, it’s my Blog and I gave myself permission.  All right?  All right!

So read on and hopefully we all can understand the many ways that we, as individuals, can make a difference and try to change this racist world we live in.

Click Here to Read Pamela’s Letter to Northampton Town Council

There is no quick fix.  There is, however, a very easy and simple way to slow our country’s downward spiral.  VOTE!        

If you are in doubt about the uselessness of your vote, please go to your PBS Streaming Channel (It’s as easy as it is important to add this app to your TV) and Tune in to the PBS Documentary ‘PBS’ American Experience: “The Vote

Cluck your tongues, sigh, shake your heads, but understand, the VOTE, is in your not really powerless hands.  Right?  Of course, right!

P.S. I leave you with a quote from Margaret Mead who struggled against world opinion and condemnation to provide safety and health for women and children …

P.P.S. And here’s another example of creative citizenry:

W.O.U. We Owe U

My Dear friends and family,

Have you been enjoying some of the most extraordinary watching on your computers, your television, your i- pads, your smart phones?  The outpouring from every cultural corner of the world has been extraordinary. 

Whether you choose to avail yourself of these privileges afforded you during this crises or not, if you are able, and it doesn’t have to be a large sum, but you have a debt that must be paid.

It is clear.  The world will never be the same.  There is a permanent change to all that were used to.  Much adjusting and adapting must be done.  Hopefully, most of it will be for the better. 

However, we must guard against those things that without our help will disappear and leave our lives the emptier and shallower, and in my thinking, more meaningless.  Of course, I am talking about those institutions we take for granted will always be there.  Without support, they will not.

Here are some suggestions:

The local hospital, the library, the live theatre, dance and music organizations, the museums, public radio and television, all of those you have, in the past subscribed to. These represent our cultural history.  It wasn’t so long ago we all went to see and hear a play, a recital, a dance, an opera, a lecture critical or not, something that challenged our minds and sensitivities.  Now we turn to all our electronic accoutrement and in the convenience of our homes and with the kind generosity of these very same institutions reap the continued benefit of that challenge.

They need your help to sustain that challenge for the future or they will be gone.  If we all do it, it doesn’t have to be much.  All those political ads that ask for $5 or $10…they are counting on the multiples of giving people to make the difference.  Be a multiple people person, and send to the group or groups of your choice what you can to help keep them alive.

And most importantly, send to your local shelter and food bank and community organizations that are helping people who have been displaced and discounted by this virus to get back onto their feet again.  Never far from my thoughts, ever:  “There but for the Grace of God…” I know you can finish the sentence.

Stay Well!

Love – Sally-Jane



AMERICA: Oh my god! Coronavirus! What should we do?

CALIFORNIA: Shut down your state.

AMERICA: Wait… what? Why?

CALIFORNIA: Because 40 million people live here and we did it early, and it’s working.

NEW YORK: Welcome aboard.

OHIO: Whoa… whoa… let’s not be hasty now. The president said that this whole coronavirus thing is a democratic hoax.

CALIFORNIA: He also said that windmills cause cancer. Shut down your state.

TEXAS: But the president said that we only have 15 cases and soon it’ll be zero.

CALIFORNIA: The president can’t count to fifteen. Nor even spell it. Shut down your state.

NEW JERSEY: Us too?

CALIFORNIA: Yes, you guys too. Just like when Christie shut down the bridge, but it’s your whole state.

FLORIDA: But what about all these kids here on spring break?? They spend a lot of money here!

CALIFORNIA: Those kids invented the tide pod challenge. Shut down your state.

LOUISIANA: But wait let’s have Mardi Gras first. It entertains people.

CALIFORNIA: It also kills them. Shut it down.

GEORGIA: Ok well how about we keep the state open for all of our mega churches? Maybe we can all pray really hard until the coronavirus just goes away!

CALIFORNIA: Which is working like a charm for mass shootings. Jesus told us to tell you to shut down your state.

OKLAHOMA: What about the tigers?

CALIFORNIA: What about a dentist. Shut it down.

WYOMING: Hold up, maybe we should go county by county like the president said.

CALIFORNIA: Stop acting like there are counties in Wyoming. There are no counties in Wyoming. Wyoming is a county. Shut it down.

PENNSYLVANIA: But big coal.

CALIFORNIA: But big death. Shut it.

WEST VIRGINIA: But we were the last state to get coronavirus!

CALIFORNIA: And don’t make us explain to you why that was. Shut it down.

NORTH CAROLINA: But the republican national convention is coming here!

CALIFORNIA: SHU…     Oh, ok fine, do what you want.



Finally, an explanation of the Coronavirus and why it is so different…. this is an important read.

Dear Friends,

This was sent to me by a friend and for those who still don’t understand the exponential characteristic of this virus (believe me, it has taken me a long time to “get” it… a Ms. Stubborn-Know-It-All… that’s me) it is a simple and clear explanation of why we should shut down until the curve turns the other way.  Please self distance and stay safe.

Feeling confused as to why Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu? Here it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps. Feel free to share this to others who don’t understand… It has to do with RNA sequencing…. i.e. genetics.


Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”. The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system. This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year… you get immunity two ways… through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.


Novel viruses, come from animals…. the WHO tracks novel viruses in animals (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu). But once one of these animal viruses mutates and starts to transfer from animals to humans… then it’s a problem. Why? 

Because we have no natural or acquired immunity. The RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so we can’t fight it off.


Now…. sometimes the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human. For years its only transmission is from an infected animal to a human before it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human… once that happens..we have a new contagion phase. And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, thats what decides how contagious, or how deadly, it’s gonna be..


H1N1 was deadly…. but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu. It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently, too.

Fast forward.


Now, here comes this Coronavirus… it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long… but one day, at an animal market in Wuhan China, in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from animal to people. At first, only animals could give it to a person… But here is the scary part…. in just TWO WEEKS it mutated again and gained the ability to jump from human to human. Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”.

This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity) took off like a rocket. And this was because humans have no known immunity… doctors have no known medicines for it. And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus changed itself in such a way that it causes great damage to human lungs.

That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza…. this one is slippery AF. And it’s a lung eater…And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain s, and strain L…. which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.

We really have no tools in our shed, with this. History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics. Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.


Factoid: Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed… (honestly… I understand him so much better now). Just like us, he had no tools in his shed, except social isolation…

And let me end by saying…. right now it’s hitting older folks harder… but this genome is so slippery… if it mutates again (and it will) who is to say, what it will do next.


Be smart folks… acting like you’re unafraid is so not sexy right now.

#flattenthecurve. Stay home folks… and share this to those that just are not catching on.

Source: Kymberli Dawn, Nurse in Oakland California

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Self-distancing is the most helpful and unselfish thing we can do.  Anyone who is offended by this necessary safety measure not only doesn’t get it… but worse than that THEY CAN’T COUNT.

I Am Not the Enemy

FORWARD

I am not the enemy. What I have been, I am embarrassed to admit, was a people pleaser.

BACKWARD

My starved for love childhood made me the psychobabble poster child for people pleasing. If I pleased you, you’d love me. It never worked. Over the years, I finally realized that and grew into my over the top personality that probably covered some of the early people pleasing and, at the same time, allowed me to worry less about not making someone angry with me.  All this too much information is because I am introducing a subject that I know is controversial and will definitely make some people, mostly women, upset and relegate me to the irrelevant. That would bring me to the unthinkable thought that my life experiences have no value.  I do not believe that. But just remember, this is my opinion and you do not have to agree with me.  Of course, you would feel better if you did.  However, I have made it into my eighth decade and people pleasing isn’t as important to me as my next breath.  

Not sure why but at this stage of my life I see patterns that I didn’t see in my forties or fifties.  At that time, I was taking each event in my world, no less the world around me, one event at a time.  Each event filled my vision and thoughts with answers and opinions that were, of course, the right answers and opinions.

I think in my 60’s and 70’s I became less sure.  I was still right most of the time but I really began hearing what someone else was thinking, opining, and thank goodness I was becoming less sure of my answers.

The fickle finger of fate was swinging indiscriminately all over the place.  This friend left, that relative passed on, and one after the other, my herd thinned.  Now fear reared its ugly head.  Was I next?  

I am getting to the subject.  Don’t push me.  I’m very nervous.

Women have always been The Second Sex .  Of course, there were many extraordinary exceptions.  (one of my favorites is Mary Wollstonecraft)  We were beaten, raped, manipulated, basically a silent voteless, thought-less-of peoples for centuries.  Frankly, much of that still goes on around the world and not just third world countries, but if you follow various modern day movements, it happens as well in our so called civilized Western Civilization.  

My personal second sex journey is and has been all over the place.  Having been abused as a child, I understood, very early, my femaleness had a market value.  I could use it to attract as the animals do. And oh, did I mention, I am an animal, too?  I realized if I was going to use my female animal sonar I would just have to be careful… and lucky.  

I followed the path of the 1950’s female diligently.  Marriage, housewife, children, except for a profound difference.  While in the womb, I was already singing, dancing and doing one-baby-girl shows.  I had to forgive my mother my childhood because I gave her one hell of a bumpy ride during pregnancy.

I had a career.  In my generation, having the passion that I had for my career was unusual and I needed and used my feminine sexual persona to further that career. All to say, I grew up in a world of the female as the sexual object of the all-powerful male.

Me, Tarzan!  You, Jane!

I reveled in this era of my female animal power. I was a flirt.  A “manizer”.

Hey Tarzan, yes, I’m Jane!  Got a light???

If I did this today, a man could report me for sexual harassment. Actually, if I did this today, I would probably be hospitalized for delusional fantasies.

My sexual prowess has dimmed. That’s the polite description of my physiognomy, which has been replaced by knee replacements and other parts.

All right already, I’m getting to it.

If a man was out of order, TOUGH!  You’re on your own.

There was no recourse.  So I did the best I could in an imperfect world. As an adult in show business, I gave off what they called mixed signals. In return,  I was flirted with and propositioned by womanizers, but never molested or attacked.  In my generation, it was accepted as one of the ways to relate to men. 

I’m sure young girls and women are startled by this confession.  However,  I think many older women would agree it was de rigueur, the norm in male/female relationships.  I was fortunate in that in all my years of “flirting”, I never met a predator.  Was I just lucky? They must have been out there, but without proof or facts what could we do.  And even if you had proof or facts, if these were men of power and importance,  who would listen to you?  All we had was word of mouth. We shared who the womanizers were.  So when you went for an audition you knew and went prepared.  I don’t remember hearing from any female friends that they were molested or attacked. 

Of course, back then, we carried what most victims carry to aid the predator… embarrassment and shame.  In certain ways, I was naïve and innocent but on some level I remembered there was a market value on the feminine mystique.  I remembered it from my childhood.  I was determined not to fall victim to my own embarrassment and shame again.  I would beat them at their own game.  A giggle, a wink, a wiggle, a blink… and out the door on a trot.

ONWARD

Today the female doesn’t need word of mouth.  Today we have social media.  Today we have #ME TOO! And herein lays the heart of my conundrum…

On the one side of the scale is the womanizer.  On the other side is the predator.  Some people may think they are the same.  I do not.  I call the womanizer a human who has an imbalance of animal in his humanity. The predator is pure ANIMAL… only the Mr. Hyde of  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Please understand, Scientific American has not asked for an interview to discuss my categorizations.  

In my view, they are not the same.  If they were then I, as a “manizer”, would need to be outed and arrested.  How do I tell the authorities, “Sir/Madam, my flirting was what some of us did as a learned technique to survive”.  It’s like the name of the movie, The Way Things Were.  One of the patterns that is consistent in my long life is the ongoing repetition of life; of clothing styles, of fads, of weather, of life cycles, Broadway shows…  

Look at what you did… now I am off point and I don’t know if I’ll ever get back.  Let me try.

If, as I believe, there is a difference between a womanizer and a predator, then I do not think we, as women having been dealt with unfairly by men as well as certain women, should use a broad brush to make all men villains. The case of Al Franken comes to mind.  I think we do not need to shoot first and then ask questions.  I think we need to stop the predator any way we can.  

We are women.  Please let us do it differently than men do.  Because no matter what you think… WE ARE DIFFERENT!

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

GIRLS, GUYS AND GUNS

O.K. so I don’t read the news. I don’t listen to the news. Except for periodicals and books, I am beholden to the kindness of friends and strangers for current events.

I think even the stratosphere reverberated with these last mass murders and I heard and felt the earth move.

The Universe spoke: ENOUGH! ENOUGH!

Without moral leadership, what is to be done???

Do I fall back on the “keeping of my sanity” rationale that this is all part of the human condition?

IMG_2189

I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion. Think about it: a mandatory 48-hours waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestor who call him a murderer.

After all, it makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers.

~ Original Author Unknown

Or do I take this seriously and send it out to my friends and family and pray we can get a groundswell going to press for legislation to prevent the next mass murder.

I opt for the groundswell (whatever that is), right? Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

IMG_2192

Learning How To Kiss the Blarney Stone

Once upon a time 5,000 years ago in a spot called New Grange in Ireland about 2 hours north of Dublin a bunch of cavemen and women met atop this very hill.  They joined hands and other parts and decided to develop a place where they could hold events. They don’t know for sure but mainly it was for various rites and rituals.  You know a wedding one day, next day a funeral .  A Celtic rental hall.

There were caves with drawings on the stone walls. Very primitive but very beautiful. We went there today. Kind of like Ireland’s Stonehenge.

As I squeezed myself into this narrow low ceilinged cave and the guide turned the lights off to show the path of sunlight… where and how the sun of the various solstices shone. A baby held by one of the tourists erupted into hysterical 😭 crying. Inwardly, I joined her and wondered why someone wasn’t holding me and assuring me that I would make it out of this cave alive.

I did make it out, by the way and I am sooo glad I went. Let’s put it this way…

It gave me no ease to hear I was under 5 tons of dirt and rock and nothing had ever moved…. YET!!!!  

Where’s the local Pub when you need one? Can you tell I’ve been touched with a bit of the blarney?  It’s catching and it’s wonderful.

Love ❤️ Sally-Jane