Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and places to go, with the purpose
of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

How I came to feel about my own painting.

Probably, I began to think about Art when I was a child and I was entranced by the storytelling of Norman Rockwell on the Saturday Evening Post covers of the magazines we subscribed to. AS I got older, it was hurtful to me to see the disrespect and even mockery that was directed at Rockwell's work by modern abstract painters. Of course, eventually I realized it was a familiar pattern in any new regime whereby the old leaders are sacrificed and the new 'top dogs' take over. Even though I studied art throughout my life in a wide variety of institutions from Glassboro State college, to the Academy of Fine Arts, and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and numerous smaller art schols such as Perkins Art Center, personally, I was always drawn to an artisan side of art, possibly best manifested in Illustration.

In a painting course that I took when I was an Art Minor at Glassboro, I disovered how to develop a 'concept' upon which to hang a dozen paintings, an exploration of color relationships where I put together puzzle pieces of colors that bounced off one another which gave the whole a kind of jumpy quality. I was pleased with my work but no one ever understood it and I had to explain the concept which inevitably ended in a kind of fade out. That was not what I wanted.

Soon enough, it became apparent to me that I was interested in communicating with y fellow humans, not just some level of elite viewers with Art backgrounds who could puzzle out what I was getting at. I wanted people to understand and enjoy what I painted immediately. Also, I wanted to become profiicient at realistic depiction. I wanted to learn and practice the skills of the tradition.

Along with that practice, came a current of desire to paint things that were meaningful to ME. The paintings were kind of worshipful objects, kind of relics. First I began with places near me that seemed to hold an emotional quality that reflected how I was feeling - that was the color pencil series of buildings in South Philadelphia. Then, I branched out to people, and to other objects tha reflected a feeling I had about something, for example, I did a still life painting of summer vegetables harvested from a friend's garden that spoke to me of the lively abundance of summer itself.

I guess that became the kind of piece meal of my personal style, places or people, or animals or things that had meaning to me personally, not a theory or idea. Also, when I realized my career was in teaching, not in the Art World, that had a big influence and kind of set me free. I didn't have a wider public to whom I had to appeal or customers or gallery owners, or even shows.

However, that did lead to a kind of dead end because then what do you do with all those paintings? Lately I have been giving them away.

Just wanted to share some thoughts about painting this morning as I sit here after our dog walk, my Uma and me. I should be thinking more about smells because the foul air of rotten eggs is wafting over all of us in the South Jersey and South Philadelphia area due to a truck at TA Travel Center, Berkeyley Rd in Paulsboro, having become overheated yesterday and forced to release some chemical called LUBRIZOL 1389 in order to vent rather than explode. Everyone in a 10 mile radius is smelling sulphur odor of rotten eggs. It isn't too bad here but it is held down to the ground by the cloud cover.

Monday, August 8, 2022


Today, I am fulfilling one of the items on my chore list which is to read at least one magazine every day until I make a dent or reach the bottom of my magazine pile. Today I am reading HARPERS August 2022 issue, an article entitled THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY: Can Suicide be predicted, by Will Stephenson. It should be no surprise to anyone who has been reading the newspapers or magazines that suicide has become a big problem not only in America but in the whole world. It is the second leading cause of death of young people ages 15 to 24, the ages when humans should be at their most vital and exuberant, their reproductive years! It is the 4th leading cause of death in people ages 18 to 65. They didn't give a statistic for my age which is 76. But I would guess that suicide declines at my age because death by disease beats us to it.

Suicide is very interesting to me because we have so much of it in our family, on both the paternal and maternal sides. Just to give two examples, My mother's maternal grandfather, William Collins Garwood shot himself. We know from oral history that he had a drinking problem which haas passed down through the generations of both sides of my family to my siblings but has somehow missed me, although part of that is choice as I chose at an early age to avoide consumption of any alcoholic beverages just as I chose to avoid putting any money into the lottery because among our addictions we have gambling addiction, also on both sides of the family. On my father's side, his maternal aunt, the twin of my grandmother Mabel Wright, whose name was Ella, hanged herself in the 1960's in the attic stairwell of Grandmom Mabel's house in Ocean City. The oral history has it that she had been mugged at her home in Indiana, and had fallen during the crime and hit her head which left her with dementia, depression, paranoia and eventually suicide. My grandmother and her brother, Joseph, known as Yock, had driven to Indiana to rescue her and brought her back to their home in Ocean City, but it was no use. Her paranoia and depression overtook her and she gave up her life.

Nearly everyone I have know has either had suicidal thoughts, attempted suicde at some point in their lives, or dated or known people who have one of those options in their history. Personally, I really enjoy the simple basics of existence, the sun in the trees, the dance of the leaves, the cool breeze, the companionship of cats and a dog, the change in the seasons, the outdoors, simple foods - so many many items on my smorgasbord of happiness that I can't list them all, so I have not wished to end my life, although I have read some books on it to prepare for the future should I become incapacitated in some terrible way.

The article gives the history of the spotty and so far, ineffectual research into suicide via the fields of Psychology and Statistical data collection, and neuroscience. So far there has been little of scientific standard level to base anything on though various pioneers have paved paths through the juncle of mysteries. One of the most promising is in the field of data gathering by a company called Qntfy (an abbreviation of 'quantify') which seeks ro mine social media use, e-mails, texts, browsing history, streaming and media history, to find patterns that algorhythms can quantify to predict suicidal potential. in Pittsburgh, cognitive scientist Marcel Just is working on using a device to evaluate fMRI brain scans to see if they can find a connection to suicidal behavior. The phrase that struck me was "you can look at the brain scan and see what is wrong with the thought"

What I found most surprising, as did the author of the article, was how little is actually known about such a widespread phenomena. What is more unnatural than to willfully end ones own life when most of nature is compulsively directed towards preserving it. And yet there has been evidence that other creatures have committed suicide as well as humans, even dogs!

To me, it seems as though some of the most essential life strategies that a person can research, develop and apply, are in the realm of creating and maximizing thought and behavior patterns that maximize health, positive thought patterns and orderly life habits. Even this week at my religious gathering, the Woodbury Society of Friends Meeting, our early discussion group before Silent Worship, had turned our minds to comtemplating how best to cope with the despair that the losses of aging often bring. We are half younger people, 24 to 50, and half older people 65 to 76. Some of us older people are facing disability due to accidents and aging, one is no longer able to get around on her own and most have faced loss of spouses or loved ones. Just being together and talking about these issues is one of the most healthful and pratical methods of coping. We find we are not alone and we get tips from one another on how to open the dark curtain and find the light.

Perhaps that is the single most effective behavior in which we can engage to help us in regard to the main causes of the loss of the wish to live: despair and hopelessness. For myself, along with socializing and talking about these things, I have found reading to be a rich resource. There are many choices we can make and which turn into habits which in itself turns into character, that can help us to create the kinds of lives we wish to inhabit and not the kind that are so painful we want to leave. It has been at those times of my greatest despair that I have turned to friends both casual and religious and where I have found the lifeline to my own rescue.

"Throw out the lifeline, throw out the lifeline

Someone is drifting away

Throw out the lifeline, throw out the lifeline

someone is sinking today.

An old Salvation Army hymn.

A beautiful and heart stirring rendition by a youth choir and orchestra from the Eastward Missions in Australia is on YouTube, and I had to contemplate these young people are the age of the group with the highest threat of suicide. Presumably membership in an orchestra and singing group such as this one might be the medicine to save a young life.

Happy Trails and while you are on the happy trail, throw out the lifeline to someone not as lucky! = Jo Ann

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Magazines and Mom - a duty and a pleasure to stay informed

Today is Thrsday, August 4th, 2022, and the opening headline on all my uninvited electronic newsfeeds, by which I mean my yahoo e-mail account, and my cell phone, was Alex Jones and his many attempts through INFO-WARS to wriggle out of responsibilty for his actions as a spreader of scurrilus lies and the force that sent a tide of crazed fans to torment the grieving parents of the chidren saughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

On that date, 20 year old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children aged 6 and 7 years old and six teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That tragedy was followed by an attack by Alex Jones via his filth spewing internet program, Info Wars, claiming that the shooting was a hoax, the parents were "crisis actors" and the whole thing was a plot to deprive Americans of their guns by inflaming the public. His legion of ill-informed and obviously disturbed fans bought into the lies he spread and several of them stalked, harrasssed, and threatened the grieving parents of the slain children.

Finally, several of the sets of parents took to the courts to stop Alex Jones from continuing his spew of deluded lies by suing him for slander and defamation. Jones immediately began to seek out ways to declare bankruptcy so he wouldn't have to pay the fines levied against him by the courts. The courts are now in the process of assigning the monetary damages.

First Jones tried to say he didn't say any of those lies, but evidence in the form of videos and recordings and text messages were produced that showed he knew he was lying and he did it to use the hysteria of his fans to promote his various 'snake oil' products which have so far made him millions in profits while it sickens his already sick fans. Along with his 'tonics' he sells survivalist gear, and military type protective armor.

Sadly, I have a relative who actually listens to him and believes him and dosed himself with some 'colloidal silver' concoction he bought until we had a family intervention and brought it to his attention that the skin of his face was turning purple and his nails were turing black. The Food and Drug Administration ordered Jones to stop selling these fake products and his array of products to kill the coronavirus (a blue toothpaste) none of which had any useful properties and many of which were also harmful

My nephew fell down the rabbit hole of Alex Jones conspiracy theory horror world and took his daughter with him. They both believe all the crap he spews, including his repetitive attack on all his detractors which consists of accusing them of being paedophiles and human traffickers. He was one of the instigators of the Pizza Gate idiocy that accused Hillary Clinton of running a child trafficking ring from a pizza parlor in Washington D.C. which eventuated in a gunman attacking and shooting up the place.

All through my childhood, our home had incoming magazines of many kinds: Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, National Geographic, House and Garden, Family Circle, Newsweek, and the daily Inquirer newspaper. My mother subsribed to all of these and I devoured them. We were well informed from a variety of sources - the newspaper, the magazines and the television news on the big three channels ABC, NBC, and CBS. Later, of course, we added PBS. My parents, both raised during the Depression, had gone to work in their teens and were not able to graduate from high school, nonetheless, they stayed well informed and they were self-educated.

So many working class and lower income homes today have no such investment in learning and they seem to slide into the warm and easy groove of getting all their information from facebook, on their cell phones, or internet sites. And even if they do get tv news, they tend to stick with the easy and scandal mongering FOX, owned by Rupert Murdoch, the pollution behind our own fouled information waters as well the the Fall of Britain into Brexit via Murdoch's take-over of their tabloid news media. He has been a mega-toxic pollutant in our time.

We are no longer an informed population, or rather I should say, too many are informed by one source and it isn't unbiased or in any way committed to the common good, but to the interests of oligarchs in our Capitalist society who use it to buy off the ignorant public, like the evil Donald Trump.

I have to honor my mother here for subscribing to those magazines and for supplying so many of the cultural tools that informed my youth and our whole family. She bought us book and both she and my father read the Readers Digest on subscription.

I have had to cut back on some of my subscriptions because unread magazines began to pile up in a basket by the sofa. I couldn't keep up. I had to let go of the SUnday New York Times as well because the print is too small for my diminishing eyesight. I have had to let go of Atlantic, Harpers, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker, but I am keeping The Week (an international news magazine), Discover (science), Early American Life, and Archaeology. This, I think, is a well rounded set of reading materials that I may have a better chance of keeping up with.

Adding to this array, I also read some online bulletins from The Society of Friends, of which I am a member: Friends Journal on-line, and the Salem Quarterly e-bulletin, to which I also contribute book reviews and other items usually regarding environmental issues.

What's on your coffee table? Happy Trails, my friends

Jo Ann

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Places to visit - the Hospital

Sorry I haven't been posting lately, in case anyone is actually out there visiting this blog!?! I was in the hosptal, so this post is about Lady of Lourdes Hospital and about Health.

While at the end of my Saturday shift volunteering at the James and Ann Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park on July 16th I began to experience heart pain. It had actually been happening off and on for some months but it always went away. Twice in the Spring, it had gotten really bad - a squeezing pain like a muscle cramp in my chest and my left arm went numb with tingling in my fingers of that hand. On those occasions, I simply took another high blood pressure pill and chewed a baby aspirin and it went away. On the Saturday of July 16th, however it didn't go away. I had also experienced excessive sweating and lightheadedness while grocery shopping the day before as well, so I got really worried. The pain lasted all night, so in the morning, I called my sister and she came over and took me to the hospital. >p/> One of the volunteers with whom I had been chatting when the pain started, told me the same thing had happened to him and when his pain lasted all night, he told his wife he thought he should go to the hospital. He had a heart attack at the hospital. That helped to convince me to go. Also, he told me he'd had a catheterization and a stent and he explained it to me in such a way that it relieved some of the terror I had about going to the hospital and having to have that done.

At Lady of Lourdes Hospital, every single person I met from the emergency room check-in to the monitoring nurses in the emergency cubicle, was wonderfully kind, courteous and reassuring.

It was my good fortune to have as my roommate a lovely woman, my age, who had come in with almost exactly the same symptoms. She had her adult children visiting in shifts and both she and they were kind, thoughtful, entertaining and encouraging as we went through our tests and procedures.

I am telling you this now so that if anything similar happens to you, you won't hesitate to go straight to Lady of Lourdes which is now under the Virtua umbrella and is their Heart Center! A cardiac doctor saw me in Emergency, then I was taken to my shared room. The nurses on our floor were unfailingly kind, thoughtful, and even shared personal anecdotes about family and their lives. It was extraordinary.

The tests were all much easier than I had expected thanks to the skill and expertise of the surgical nursing team and the entire staff. The catheterization was very quick and nearly painless. They go in via your arm now, not the groin, and it really only took about 10 or 15 minutes. You are awake in some kind of twilight anaesthesia, but entirely pain free and there must have been some brief lack of consciousness because I really can't remember the doctor doing the procedure, it was so quick. It was way way easier than a colonoscopy but more or less on that scale.

Both my roommate and myself had that procedure and we both had echocardiograms which show how the valves are working and the heart muscle. The catheterization shows whether there are blockages or narrowing in the arteries, in which case they can put a stent in immediately.

To my great relief it turned out that I had suffered coronary artery insufficiency due to my high blood pressure medications no longer being effective. I had no blockages and needed no stents, just a new and stronger medication. My poor roommate, however wasn't so lucky. they found she had an aortic aneurism. So I got to go home, and she had to stay for another procedure.

Nobody ever wants to go to the hospital, but I assure you that if you do, Lady of Lourdes is wonderful. I don't honestly know how the staff can maintain such calm, patient and warm demeanor with all they have to see and do on a daily basis. They really are Heroes.

By the way, a little historical note. I was at Lady of Lourdes Hospital, in Camden, when I was 16 back in 1962. Our new development had so taxed the local sewage system that they were releasing raw sewage (or it was escaping) into the Pennsauken Creek where all of us kids regularly swam. Fourteen of us contracted hepititis from it, and by the time mine was caught and diagnosed it had gotten bad. I was YELLOW from the formerly whites of my eyes to my toes. Back in those days, there were still nuns working in the hospital and I remember even then how kind everyone was and how from my window I could see the younger nuns in the back yard of the convent. We have a history, Lady of Lourdes and me.

The DASH diet was on my list from the hospital and I had a book on it and I have been following it religiously - I was motivated! As you might guess, it is a fresh produce, plant based diet which cautions us to note the sodium in anything we consume that comes packaged and also the sugar content. Since I was already a vegetarian (probably why I had no blockages) that part was easy for me, but it took a little effort to get out of my lazy food habits (pizza) and start steaming vegetables to put over rice or mix with pasta and to make sure I incorporate blueberries, bananas, strawberries and other berries in my high fiber granola cereal every morning.

the reward of my food effort is that I feel wonderful again and so grateful to be alive. The moral of the story is, if you have chest pain, don't hesitate - go straight to Lady of Lourdes. They will take good care of you. By the way, another motivator was that my neighbor's father had died just two weeks earlier from a sudden heart attack and he was more than 15 years younger than I am. Don't smoke, eat fresh fruit and vegetables, and don't wait if you have chest pain.

By the way, here is how simple it can be to eat fresh: aside from the berries and granola for breakfast, you can get grated carrots at the grocery store, and wash and chop some broccoli or cauliflower and put low-fat cottage cheese on it for lunch, and you can steam those and other vegetables and mix them with penny pasta and a low fat sauce for dinner! Voila!

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital opened in 1950, five years after I was born. The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes which sits atop the hospital was carved of Indiana granite in 1949. In 2011 it was damaged by an earthquake which also damaged the Washington Monument. Children in schools and parishioners all over South Jersey raised money to have the statue repaired and restored to her setting atop the hospital. She is now also crowned by a holo of lights and can be lit with different colors denoting a successful organ transplant, breast cancer awareness, heart health month, or, as was done recently, to celebrate the joining of Our Lady of Lourdes with the Virtua Health System. Camden City is lucky to have two stellar hospital to serve the surrounding communities, Cooper Hospital, and Our Lady of Lourdes.

Stay well my friends and Happy Trails! Jo Ann

Saturday, July 9, 2022

The ownership of Women's Bodies

Just now, I finished an article in the most reecent issue of Smithsonian Magazine about women traveling to North Dakota for divorces back in the late 1800's to early 1900's. This article seemed expecially prescient as we have just seen another change in the laws governing women's bodies - the overturn of Roe versus Wade, shuttled back to the States for their patchwork of revolving laws. Back in the time of the Dakota divorcees's, the states all had their own laws governing who could divorce under what circumstances and who got control of the children, men. For the most part, in most places, because women were not enfranchised, they had little control over how the laws were created and passed and as a result little control over their own lives, especially once married. Up to that time, in most places, women had NO legal protections whatsoever. They couldn't own property, sign contracts, inherit from parents or be prepared in any way for independent life through education as most higher education was denied to women. There were few ways for women to earn money outside of service such as laundry, or cleaning, service jobs, or of course, the selling of their own bodies in prostitution which especially in those days doomed them to death from veneral disease and violence.

Women had fought piece meal for changes but it wasn't until the Suffragists that real strides began to be made. Even in the Suffrage battle, the lines were drawn between the Suffragists who believed it should be fought at the State level, and those younger, next generation Suffragists like Alice Paul who believed it had to be fought at the Federal level with an amendment to the Constitution. During the time when women had no legal protections, even if a woman found a job at a mill, for example, her husband could legally claim her wages. He ould legally claim her body, and it was even legal for men to reape and beat wives as long as they didn't use a stick thicker than their thumb "rule of thumb" - and although marriage was the only course open to women for their adult lives for their survival, it was another kind of trap.

My great heroes have always been Margaret Sanger (birth control pioneer) and Alice Paul (Suffrage activist). At present I am reaading the biography of Alice Paul written by J.Zahniser and Amelia Frye. It seems so pertinent in this particular time of attack upon the rights of women to control their own bodies. Birth Control saved us. I was able to get my own education because I had access to birth control pills via Planned Parenthood. In those years from 20 to my thirties, I was able to get two college degrees and a career with a livable wage and benefits. Those benefits support me now in my old age. That living wage made it possible for me to buy a small house in which I still live.

I was divorced thirty-seven years ago. A long time ago I was able to forgive my ex-husband for his abusive, threatening behavior because I learned more and more about mental illness and I realized a lot of his rages and destructive outbursts were out of his control and the result of his illness. Nonetheless, I am sure he and I have vastly different opinions on whether I should have had to stay and endure them, and even if they were abusive. He probably felt justified in expressing his volcanic rage when it overtook him, and in breaking things and terrorizing me. I am sure he didn't even suspect the effect of his behavior on others, his parents as well as on me. Anything could set him off, most usually car trouble, but also anything going wrong in the home. Then he turned his fiery temper on me, because I was there, and because I was physically weaker, and also observably non-violent. He had nothing to fear except that I could leave him.

Recently, a 40 year old man was burned to death in a crash of a jet fueled stunt truck. Beneath the news article was a comment vilifying the way yahoo described the accident and accusing the news service of engaging in "leftist war on testosterone."

There is a gender battle going on in America today, not to mention in many parts of the world. The war is one of women trying to escape male domination. Often general public opinion seems to reflect the idea that any rights for women is a direct attack against male privilege. It is true that it is an attack on male domination over women. The main ways we must achieve independence is through control of our reproductive lives, education, careers that pay enough to live, and a voice in the laws that govern our lives. Sadly, the most excessive male domination is on world-wide display currently in Afghanistan where women can no longer be educated, move through their communities independently without a male guardian (guard) or exercise any control over their lives at all. They must be covered from head to toe because women are even held responsible for male lust in the world of the more backward Middle Eastern countries like Afghanistan.

What surprised me was how recent the divorce laws changed in places I thought of as bastions of liberal thinking - New York didn't change their divorce laws until 1960. When I got divorced, my exh-husband started the process because he had moved to Colorado and could use the no-fault laws to divorce me without having to give me any share in our joint property. What kept me from fighting him on the property issue was that he had a gun and that he was mentally unstable. In other words, he intiidated me with the threat of violence. I figured I could always get another house but I couldn't get another life. It was a price I was wiing to pay to be free of him. There is where gun violence figures into the equation too - domestic intimidation and violence through GUNS. The woman who had traveled to the Dakotas for her divorce, Blanche Molineaux, was seeking a divorce becaue her husband was in prison for murder. Even murder wasn't considered a sufficient cause for divorce in her own state of New York. The only cause was adultery. Interesting, because in the earlier part of the 1800's, a man could murder his wife and be exonerated if he suspected she had been adulterous. Most of the people in the Dakotas seeking divorce in the heyday of the divorce colony were women. Later Nevada became the new mecca for quick divorce.

Personally, I think animal agriculture has a lot to do with the struggle over control of our bodies. Since people can kidnap and enslave animals, breed them, imprison them and kill them, it is a short step to expand that domination to the control of women, much like the dystopian novel and recent tv series portrayed it - The Handmaid's Tale. Lots to think about, especially if you are a woman and a woman with a daughter! But just as our determination and perseverence has brought us this far, it will carry us forward to battle against the rising tide of injustice that faces us now.

May justice prevail! Jo Ann

Friday, June 17, 2022

Historic site interpreting, from an amateur/volunteer perspective

One of the my most enjoyed magazines over decades of magazine subscriptions, is EARLY AMERICAN LIFE. It has restoration of historic sites and homes, it has gardens, utilitarian craft as well as aesthetic, it has textile, pottery, tools, clothing - so much, I could just go on and on. And in the most recent issue, as is so often the case, they discussed interpretation of historic sites with the new awareness of the rich and fullsome world in the rooms behind, below and above the rooms of the 'Great Men, the State.' There was whole huge network of lives thronging through all those days of history, plowing, cooking, carving, boiling, feeding, gathering, commenting, laughing, crying, praying, planning - making.

One of the things I always enjoyed about the early tools of various crafts I have tried, is the meditative, routine, structured physicality of it. Each night when I go to bed, I look at two linoleum cut prints I did back in the 70's and of which I am still both proud and delighted. They were so laborious I cannot imaging such an undertaking now. I used to weave too. It was a lot like factory work, which I also did, in a Mill!

Anyhow, two of the historic sites in the article I was reading in EAL were being interpreted through the inhabitants, the servants, the enslaved and indentured workers. I am always drawn to the people, the ones whispering in the kitchen, laughing in the field, plunging the wooden stirrer into the cauldron of boiling laundry, shooting the heddle back and forth on the loom. These people are my antecedents and they are the ones I am interested in.

They are also the ones I would like to know more about at historic sites too. Much as I admire G. Washington, I am tired of him and would love to know more about Hercules, the talented chef who escaped, and Ona Judge, who also escaped and was never caught. What about the Native Lenape trader at the door who has a pelt to trade or a request for assistance in the 'businesses of the colonials' - these people have faded away into the background and they are the ones I want to see.

It is thrilling to me that newer historians are adopting this interest as well. Don't you want to know about that illiterate young camp follower in the train following her soldier husband's unit. She is hauling the baby, the toddler and her little girl with a wheelbarrow of camping supplies. Where did she come from? The Indentured servants of the James and Ann Whitall farm, where did they come from? Where did they go?

At least we have one diary of Ann Whitall, to have some view of the thoughts of a woman of that time. It is priceless!

Happy Trails! Jo Ann

Saturday, June 4, 2022

My time with Ann Whitall' Diary 6/4/22

Today I sat in Ann Whitall's living room, while we were open for tours, and as I always do, I thought about Ann. For so many years now, I have spent time in Ann Whitall's house, in what was her space throughtout the major part of her life. She walked these boards, looked at that fireplace, sat at her desk and wrote her thoughts. And I think the feeling I am left with after familiarity wit Ann's diary, is her search. She was looking in every direction for answers to the big questions like what is the right thing to do? Who has the besst instruction on right being.

Like me she had her upbringing, in the church, as had I throughtout my childhood at Gloria Dei Old Swede's Church. We got that road map,, and all the stories along the way to help guide you towards right action. And you had the lessons of the big wide secular world, the lessons of war and social upheaval, and economic disasters that altered lives, and then all that trickled down and you had the live action lessons of how your people dealt with all that, the personal perspective. Ann gives me not only her upbringing and religious education in her diary but also her frailty and faltering and seeking after strength. When I feel behind the literal words of her diay, I find the innocent young girl who enters marriage and has NINE PREGNANCIES AND EIGHT LIVE BIRTHS - EIGHT BABIES TO NURSE AND DIAPER AND CARE FOR IN EVERY INSTANCE - THAT'S 16 TO THIRTY TWO YEARS WORTH OF PARENTING - NEVER ENDING.

WHEN WE ARE TOGETHER AT WHITALL HOUSE, MY THOUGHTS AND OFTEN OUR CONVERSATION TURNS IN THE DIRECTION OF QUAKERS AND WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN. TODAY AN INTERN ASKED ME HOW QUAKERS VIEW THE BIBLE. FORTUNATELY I HAD JUST READ AN ESSAY IN FRIENDS' JOURNAL ABOUT THAT AND HOW THEY VIEWED IT WAS (AND I PARAPHRASE) THE TESTIMONY OF SOME RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES. TESTIMONY AND WITNESS ARE ALWAYS WORDS I HAVE HEARD IN reading or discussing the basics of the Society of Friends. The other interesting attitude is a stiffening and a wondering when people contemplate the Peace testimony. And that was always the hardest one for me. I don't want to swear to smething I am not sure of and I am not sure of Peace as a strategy fit for everyt situation. I wish it were.

This afternoon I was thinking of turn the other cheek. And it reminded me of something my father used to say, "A smart man never gets into a fight." That made sense to me, that ifyou were smart enough you could always come up with a non-violent olution. But he was a sailor in World War II, and I don't now how I woulld have been able to be a pacifist and have that faith at that time. I am not sure I do now, but there is a part of me that truly hopes I can find it in me now. My mother used to say, If all were known, all would be forgiven." One of the traits of the Friends that I like is that they always seem to be turning things over in their minds, not just spontaneiously reacting. I admire that quality and find it enviable and admirable, but hard for me to do. I am always geared up and hyped up for the spontaneeous, the fast reaction, like speed chess. There are lots of things I want to learn from the Friends I am a seeker.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

About FACE

May 25, Wednesday, noon 2022

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch. She had just come from the hair salon the day before and spent $400 on her hair. She was lamenting the high cost but she had been going to the same salon for so many years, they knew her and they knew her hair. Two or three weeks ago, I had all my hair cut off, all 14 inches of it, and I have a perpetually dishevelled short hair cut now. I don't care. Most of the people who know me have avoided commenting on the hair cut due to the perpetual dishevelment of it and the fact that it doesn't conform to any of the conventional hair styles for my age group which I think of as modified helmets.

Everyone my age, 70's, is sporting some version of what is known as the "bob" which is straight, close to the head, smooth, with bangs or bangs brushed to the side, and hair is jaw length. Most everyone I know also has eye make-up still and foundation, and blush and lipstick. I have given over with all that. These days I demand that the world accept me as I am - I don't blush and my eyes are wrinkled and my skin isn't a smooth unvarnished surface. Some of my friends even have injections in their faces to plump up lines and wrinkles. One recently had her upper lip done. She claimed to have lines going down over her upper lip. Now her upper lip is plumped up with a deep groove in the center for that furrow that goes from the center of the nose to the lip. It looks vaguely goatish.

It should be noted that I have diminishing eyesight along with all the other dimishments time extracts from those who survive to old-age. I can't see her lines or wrinkles. I probably have them too but I can't see mine either. First, I gave up eye-makeup. No more using a little liquid felt tip eye pen to outline my eyes in black. What for? Not only that, but I couldn't help noticing that in older women, the lines are squiggly and tend to run into the surrounding estuaries that surround their eyes. They can't see it. They can't even really see how they are putting on their eye liner because most people my age, though they may not have my eyesight disability, still can't see very well.

We do talk about these things, we older women. I spoke of it just a few days ago with a woman at the waiting room to my 2nd booster appointment at Cooper Health. She looked very pretty in a turquoise swirling design blouse, matching turquoise button earrings, dyed hair and the modest make-up of the older woman, foundation, mascara, lipstick. She told me she doesn't bother with rings or bracelets anymore. I gave all that up even before I stopped the rest of the masquerade. The first thing to go for me was the eye makeup - no more liner. I never bothered with foundation. Next I gave up blush and jewelry. It is just too much trouble and the rings get in the way of everything, most essentially washing your hands. Also I tended to lose the rights places where i took them off to wash my hands.

All the accoutrement of women's masquerade are CRIPPlING - they all hinder your progress from hair that can't cope with the wind, to rings that get caught in things and get lost, to bracelets, the same problems, and for younger women in the professional world, those crippling painful high heeled shoes. They throw you off balance and hurt your feet. They are awful. So are skirts, especially tight ones. You can't sit down without squeezing your thighs together and crossing your ankles. You are forced to constrain yourself! Bad enough being constrained by circumstance.

I don't even need to go into the topic of finger nails because I never went down that road - getting fake nails glued to your fingers with paint and decorations on them - essentially crippling use of your fingers for most everything.

I think about the word FACE - 'Facing up to your problems,' 'Putting on a good face,' 'About face,' the part of you that you put forward to the world and what it means. My current face is, "This is how I really look, this is the real me, face it.!" People don't care. It is your behavior that matters. I am obviously, by my uncolored white hair, an old lady and we get certain freedoms and respects at the same time that we are invisible and pushed to the outer spheres of most people's lives. We are the grandmoms even if we have no granchildren. We are everyone's grandmoms.

My grandmoms Lavinia and Mabel, were plain faced women. Lavinia wore no masquerade paraphernalia at all - plain long wispy white hair she coiled in a bun at her neck, plain sad, falling face. I loved her. I could see her beauty, the beauty of her soft wrinkled aging face. Grandmom Mabel took more pains for the public and she wore those snap on terribly painful earrings, had her hair cut and permed and wore lipstick, broaches, scarves, things like that. Lavinia was sad, Mabel was jolly. Mabel had been widowed in her 30's and got used to freedom, but Lavinia had been widowed in age and was permanently plunged into grief. Both wore rayon like dresses, narrow belts around their middles (no waists left here) and Cuban heeled lace up black shoes and stockings. Grandmom Lavinia wore faded cotten housedresses and house slippers at home, because she didn't go out much. I have a photo of the two of them that I keep within view everywhere in my house because they remind me of survival and resilience. Grandmom Lavinia has just allowed her middle aged daughters to take her to a hair salon where she had her long wispy white hair cut short and permed. She has a cap of white curls now, and even a rayon like pantsuit insted of the dress and crossed legs. Frankly, it is apparent that she doesnt' really care, like a baby or a doll, she simply permitted them to move her from place to place decking her out. They wanted to do it and she complied.

All that masquerade is about "attractiveness" as my friend and I were discussing at lunch yesterday. My friend would like to not be compelled to spend all that money for "roots, highlights, trim, glaze and blow-out. But she has a stronger desire to retain what she feels makes her attractive. She has a boyfriend, too, so that counts. She must maintain the appearance she had when she met him through on-line dating. It goes without saying he has always expected to be accepted as his natural self, with maybe the only nod to attractiveness being a neat haircut and neatly trimmed mustach. Also he keeeps clean and wears clean clothes. Giving up in old age can too far, when people give up on basic cleanliness - easy to do when taking a shower becomes a dangerous activity involving slippery surfaces and closed eyes uner running water. It's a whole big deal taking a shower and shampooing your hair - part of the reson I got mine cut off, the longer and heavier your hair the harder it is to shampoo safely in the shower (those hair products make the tube even slipperier) and then blow dry it. Short hair is safer and easier.

STATURE - I noticed the other day in the 7-11 convenience store, that when you are bigger, and I am 5 feet 7 the average height of a man, people give you more room and more respect. Also along with my height, I have some sturdy bulk. There were two or three men in the 7-11 behind me in line, and the two Middle Eastern counter workers. They notice you and how you are different and they even have thoughts you can almost see as cartoon bubbles. I had on jeans, a hooded sweatshirt over a black long sleeved tee shirt and my short hair and natural face. I could see one or two of the men kind of studying me discreetly, as animals will do when encountering one another, trying to figure out where I belong in the gender spectrum and I think they thought I was a lesbian, the careful studying way they observed me until I finished my purchase and left. The countermen struggled with conflicting emotions: they wanted to be brusk and rude and dismissive, as they usually are with second class women, but I was an American and so large, they had to maintain a basic level of store-keeper courtesy though there was definitely suspicion fighting its way into their expressions and mannerisms.

Women have been fighting the crippling effects of the female masquerade for hundreds of years and we have made significant progress but there is far far more to be done. From Amelia Bloomer fighting for pants and away from hoops and corsets, to the stripped down costumes of the roaring 20's the opening salvo in the twentieth century women's fashion revolution, and the origin of the bob, to the battle for comfortable walking shoes on the part of city workers slogging from the bus to the train to the airport and refusing the do it in high heels. They wore their sneakers and toted the awful high heels to work. Why do they wear them? Someone has convinced them it makes their legs more attractive but I think it makes them more attractive because it cripples them and shows they are willing to martyr themselves for the male gaze. Those shoes seem to say, "Sure, I'll give up my comfort, my welfare, my true self to please you! Choose me!"

One of the many things I like about this stage toward my final curtain, is the release from the trap of romance. I am free, on my own, and have no more torture of desire or wishful effort toward companionship of the romantic kind. I don't want a man in my house or the gravitational pull of companionship with a male/female parnership wihere what he wants and needs always comes before what she wants or needs. I don't want to cook or worry about meals or his moods, or changing the bed, or indulging in his sexual satisfaction. It is breathtakingly open spaces without all that encumbrance in your life. Same for parenthood. I didn't need to climb dangerous high mountains to get a big view, I just had to get old and free of all encumbrances, except for those I still manage - the dog and the cats. In fact, I have to stop writing immediately and get back to work on my mountain of laundrey from the traumatized big fat old cat I rescued who pisses on the furntiture covers regularly creating big piles of stinking laundry. Even though everything is covered, all the covers get pissed on and musth be washed and air dried to be used after the next boy-cat battle for territory leaves the furniture with large wet shadows of stinky cat urine.

Putting your best face forward (I know it is foot, but I am adapting.) Happy Trails! Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

My Post World War 11 Bungalow

Recently I met a woman who is renovating/restoring a late first period Conolinal house in Woodbury. It is a timber frame dwelling. Many years ago, I attended a lecture given by Joan Berkey on Timber frame houses of Cape May County. It was a fascinating talk and I bought her book which I never got around to reading until today.

I took a short lunch break and contemplated, again, my own somewhat historic house, which becomes more historic as time goes by. My house was built as a single house (as contrasted with a development house) in 1947 by a single man. When I bought it, it had a parlor, kitchen, bedroom and bath and a short attic. The attic was actually built to replace the flat roof with a pitched roof, likely because of the leaking that flat roofs are prone to. I surmise this because of the phantom light switch in my bedroom and the obviously replaced ceiling, which was done rather roughly. The dry wall seams are not very carefully taped and plastered. At one point there must have been a ceiling light in the bedroom that went with the now defunct switch, but ehere is no ceiling light now.

When I was teaching adult classes back in the 1980's, I had the good fortune to meet a woman whose aunt had once lived in this house. The aunt's name was Elsie Finch. This lady gave me some papers in a cardboard box which I have since lost, buried in the attic, which described some of the history of this house, the date it was built and that the land it was built upon had been a glue factory. Some years after this house was built, a development of bungalows was built around it, somewhat larger than this original house.

Among teh many things I have loved about this house from the firs time I saw it, has been that the original large trees that were here are still here. The trees, some of them, probably pre-date the house. Others were no doubt built at the time of the house due to their placement right next to the house on every side. The roof overhang is now not much more than a foot from the trunks of these trees, maples mostly.

My land is pie shaped so that at the street we are ten sidewalk squares along the street but at the back, my yard borders five other backyards. All the trees that were here when I bought it, nearly 40 years ago, are still here and I have added planted Christmas trees, many holly trees and the holly trees have propogated some offspring of their own.

We don t often think of houses from the 1940-s and 50's as historic but increasingly they are! We are a scant 20 years from these houses being a hundred hears old! I hadn't thought of my houe that way until I had a piece of EXCELLENT advice from a nice man, now deceased, who was married to an old friend of mine. I was ontemplating putting aluminum siding on my wooden clapboard house and he advised against it. He reminded me that there are FEW wooden sided houses around anymore, and that the aluminum siding would destroy the wooden siding because the wood, not being able to breathe and dry out, would rot. As it is the wooden siding is in good shape. I never burned adn re-painted as you are supposed to do. It has been painted twide over the eyars and wll we did was dust and wash the old siding, scrape off some of the old paint and paint over top of it. This seems to have protected it well enough and I have never even had any additional peeling. The windows are original too. This is all comforting to me in a strange way becaue it is the architecture I was brought up with, the old sash windows, the wooden siding, tree shaded yards, a nice little porch that I sit on at least once or twice every day.

It is a shame that there isn't more scholarship on houses from this era, such a very interesting period - the post Eorld War II Baby Boom era, the era of tract housing in New Jersey. Coincidentally, since I have always been a second hand store furniture hunter, the kitchen set I bought at Bill's 2nd Hand furniture store in Mt. Holly (I don't know if it is still there) was made in 1947 at Van Sciver's. And my bedroom furntirue is circa 1930's Waterfall Art Deco. I have a chiffarobe in the back room which is also 1920's 1930's era. It just happened that the furniture I bought was correct period to the house.

My big fear is that after I die, flippers or realtors will come here and demolish this 'histori bungalow' and cut down all these old trees in order to put up some huge modern house, and another piece of New Jersey history will be destroyed.

That's all I have to say about my Baby Boom bungalow for today, but who knows, maybe some day I will expand upon this. There are no books on this topic, I have looked! There are probably books about tract housing of the 1950's, such as Levittown and so on, but the 1940's seems underrepresented in literature.

Hope this gives you pausse to consider your own home and the history it no doubt has! Happy Trails - Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Monday, May 16, 2022

Memorial to a great person and a great friend - Christine Gilbreath Borget May 2022

Last week, May 10, 2022, the friend I knew for the longest time of my life died. We were exactly the same age, 76. Christine Gilbreath Borget was the most wholly good person, aside from my mother, that I ever knew. She was loyal, dedicated, had immense personal integrity, and used her energy in good causes throughout her life.

Christine was a school teacher, as was I. She taught in the Cinnaminson School District and was beloved by her students and admired and liked by her teacher colleagues. Chris attended what was then called Beaver College in Glenside, Pa. Like my old alma mater, Glassboro State College, Beaver has since changed its name to, I think, Arcadia. When I think of my old friend, and we were friends from about the age of 12 or 13, I have a flutter of old photographic memories, and one of them was from her college. Chris changed my life in so many ways, and one of those ways was the vision she provided of college. I remember one autumn I visited, maybe it was the first visit after she matriculated. The trees were full but some leaves were beginning to drift down, and there were small winding paths throughout the college grounds with girls in plaid skirts and knee socks peddling bikes rolling around. Chris took me to tour the building I always called the tower but it was like a castle, and I remember girls sitting in the window seats in the turret with books open, studying. Chris got to live in the castle for part of her years at Beaver. She showed me a world I had never known existed, and one I never had dreamed of or wanted until I saw it, then I wanted it for the rest of my life, the way some girls wanted a wedding. My old school is now Rowan University.

Chris was a scholarly girl all the time I knew her. In the beginning we were very different, but over the years, I became more and more like her. She was one of, if not the most, profound influences on my life. When we met, we were both strangers in a strange land. She had been the daughter of a Coast Guard father and so she and her mother and brother had lived in many places, most recently, Hawaii. She was new in our small town and I was new in our small town. I was a weird kid from the City of Philadephia, an unbalanced kid wobbling clumsily like an animal from a dark place suddenly forced into the bright sun. I didn't know where I was. Christ always knew where she was. She was at home in herself. I truly loved her. I believe she truly loved me too. One of the things we had in common was books. We both loved to read. Another thing we had in common was intellectual curiosity and a desire to know and understand. Something she had in full bloom but which lay dormant (or nascent) in me, was a spiritual guidance. I didn't know what to be or how to be and I was pulled by the winds of vagrant emotions, unstudied and unexamined. Chris was circumspect and steady. She had a clear and compelling sense of right and wrong. She taught it to me with endless discussions on all sorts of urgent questions of the times in which we lived, racism, sexism, the war in Vietnam. And we marched together in all of those causes. We marched against the war in Washington D.C. and we marched for Abortion Rights in Trenton, NJ. We both loved Gloria Steinem and books and history about the Suffrage movement. For my birthday this year, she bought me a subscription to MS. Magazine, which I had dropped decades ago. When I read it I will think of her.

Chris's brother, Mike, was two years younger than she as is my brother, Joe. Mike became an infectious disease expert and worked with the CDC. My brother, like our father before him, became an ironworker and a war veteran. Both of our brothers still live. Our mothers died relatively early. Chris's mother died of Lupus, a disease she suffered throughout our adolescence but of which I, as a feckless teen, took little notice. Her mother was acerbic, biting, and witty. Pat Gilbreath and my mother became best friends and they strolled through the Cherry Hill Mall together, took ceramic classes together, and hung out together when the kids were all in school; they sat in our kitchen drinking coffee and smoking menthol cigarettes. My mother's brand was Salems, but I can't remember Pat's brand and I can't ask Chris now either. That's something that happens when someone dies; you can't call them up for fact checking anymore.

We teens lived in a cul de sac in a new development somewhat cut off from the rest of the town of Maple Shade by the Pennsauken Creek on the north, a huge meadow on the east, that may have been part of the farm where the development was built. The other Shaders had all grown up together. Another of the Roland Avenue kids died recently, Jo McGuigan, and some years ago, Diane Judge. We played in the meadow and we swam in the creek until I came down with hepititis from the raw sewage being dumped by the overwhelmed municiple sewage plant into the Creek. Several kids got sick. I spent months in the hospital at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden and the rest of the year in bed on home-bound instruction. Chris was spared that time. I became an even more passionate reader and artist.

Chris and I shared an ardent Feminist awareness and she acted on it. She helped a group of women save and establish the Alice Paul Institute on the farm of the Paul family in Mount Laurel and for the rest of her life Chris was involved with the API. She was also a passionate Democratic political activist and worked for the Andy Kim campaign the past several years. She put action behind her views.

Although to this day, I wouldn't claim to have ever reached the level of goodness and self sacrifice and dedication that Chris embodied, she showed me the way to be a better person. We were just different. I was alway more drawn to the worlds of Art and Literature and I was more introverted and solitary. Chris was more outgoing and political.

All the memories of our childhood that I have, being teenagers together, going to high school together. We didn't stay as close over the intervening years but we also made sure to keep our contact open and alive, and we got together regularly for lunch, and we talked on the phone regularly, though there were long periods when Chris had no time to herself. She cared for her husband Art, who had diabetes which killed him. She rose from the awhes of her grief because they were so completely in love with one another, and she summoned the energy to take care of her father after her mother died. He father lived into his 90's and I always thought Chris would as well. She didn't smoke or drink, and didn't indulge in the drug fueled counter culture that I did, but cancer got her anyway. Well, both of us outlived our mothers, but I did hope for an old age toether.

Needless to say, her death brings mine ever closer and almost every day I feel as though I am saying a long last loving farewell to this exquisite and heartnbreaking world.

Sometimes the Happy trail is a trail of tears - Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com (if you wish to write me use the e-mail not the comments section which is basically an Outhouse for spam these days Thanks.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Reading and Writing - Old Books

Sometimes reaading the Sunday New York Times reminds me of the people of my tribe - the Intellectuals - and the things we share value in like books. It feels often as though the world is moving away from books and towards a world of screens, impermanence, temporary rendezvous with a text rather than a long term relationship.

I may not look at a book in my vast library for ten years but suddenly I will NEED that book and I will search my shelves u;ntil I find it. There are some books that happens with on a regular basis: BE HERE NOW is one and there have been an unfortunately large number of times when I have had to buy that book again because I just needed to have it and I couldn't find it. Another one I have looked for over and over again is The Dutch and Swedes in South Jersey, and the WPA GUIDE to New Jersey.

In the Sunday Styles section of the SNYT there was an article about rare book merchants and one of the books they entioned was a copy of Alan Ginsburg's HOWL That had belonged to singer Amy Winehouse who died of drig and alcohol abuse at a very young age. She was almost immediately famous when her son "My Dady Said to go to Rehab and I said No No No.
Her distinctive voice and delivery shot that song to the top of the charts and anyone who heard it would have taken immediate notice of it not only for the voice and style but the content - her struggle with drugs and alcohol. Anyway, she had been working out the lyrics to songs by writing in the margins of the Ginsburg book. They were looking through and getting ready to auction her 220 book collection. I thought that was an interesting valuation since both Ginsburg nd Winehouse are contemporaries not the kind of books you usually think of s rare books.

I love my books and I have loved books all my life from my earliest ages. They have been my road maps through the Wilderness that is life.

Happy Trails Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Walking Around the Neighborhood

Some years back, I read an article about a woman who took photographs of her hometown at sunrise every day for a year. I found that inspiring. Perhaps it helped me to look at my own daily walks around the neighborhood with new eyes.

So here is today's walk from the view of the "Sidewalk Garden tour" of my neighborhood in Mt. Ephraim. First let me set the parameters of my neighborhood. On the East is Kings Highway. My town spreads to the eastern side of Kings Highway but I am on the western side. To the South of my neighborhood is Market Street which tuns wetward to Route 130. On the West of my neighborhood is Northmont Avenue. There are streets westward of that but that isn't in my range, which is the daily 2 mile walk I take with my dog Uma.

To the North of my neighborhood is the Railroad and I believe the street on my side of the railroad is called Station Avenue. It has the Mary Bray School on the corner of Kings and Station, then the next landmark would be the Doughtery Senior Center, which is where i have my Senior Group first Monday of each month, and also where I deposit my doggie bags after I scoop behind Uma.

We start out on Hartka, because another dog walker friend of mine was recently attacked by two frustrated and angry yard dogs as she walked down the street. They knocked her to the ground and caused a crushed hip, broken femur, broken clavicle which almost hit her heart. Needless to say, Uma and I stay clear of that end of our street nowadays! The dogs are still there.

So the azaleas, sadly are almost finished. My neighborhood tends towards deep pink although one neighbor, Mark, who has a notable flower garden border, has a lovely pale purple azalea and two lovely white flowering trees. I am not up on my trees so I don't know what these trees are, the blossoms are four petal, open and about 2 1/2 inches across.

On all the lawns, I really enjoy the confetti sprinkle of tiny blue and yellow blossoms, which are the size of small shirt buttons and seem to me to be joyful. Always, I have been likewise fond of greeting the little arctic whites (that's what I call them - I don't know their real names. I should find out. Some yards on Hartka also have tiny purple cluster flowers in their lawns; one yard has remarkable deep purple, almost black tulips! >p/> The stars of the show, however, are the pink blossom trees along the railroad, maybe they are cherry blossom trees? There are about 50 or 60 of them all in a row, but they are now bare. Their pastel pink petals lie in puddles of color in the gutters along the street where they were blown by the windy weather we had last week. It is glorious when all those trees are in bloom at the same time.

Some notable yards are on the street behind mine where one clever and creative neighbor has broken free from the green lawn straitjacket of common yards adn has put in a "hardscape" rock garden which has a number of plants that do different things in different seasons.

My own yard is noteworthy because I have a wooded landscape, no lawn either. My frotn yard is graced with half a dozen old trees that were here when I moved in and to which I have added about ten or twelve hollies and other shrubs, especially forsythia, those early announcements that the sun is about to return. Today I was thinking how easy it is to understand th Egyptians worshiping the Sun God RA. The sun is the engine that runs the whole planet along with the water.

My neighbor across the street, Mike Hughes, has the BEST rhododendrun I have ever see outside a fancy formal garden park like Longwood Gardens. It is a story tall and so profuse with flowers when it blooms that I have to stand and stare.

Not one to settle for 'sight' I also have spreading patches of Lily of the Valley which provide a FRAGRANT path to my porch. I cans smell them when I get out of the car even. I also have Rose of Sharon, Day Lilies, and a Heliobore a gift from a certified gardener friend of mine who also gave me the Lily of the Valley, three in a small pot which have flourished in my yard. There are also irus which I moved from the front where they lived until I moved in and the trees and shrubs crowded them out of the sunlight. Now I have a round pond of them just beyond my stone patio.

Each season provides its own interesting display on my daily walk but spring is definitely the time to notice plants. Halloween it is decorations that catch the eye and naturally, at Christmas, it is lights. In summer I mostly long for and seek shade patches as I am not fond of the heat or too much sun, so that is the season I mourn the loss of the trees. For some years now, I have winced when I heard the unmistakeable grind of the tree cutters and I have shed a tear or two at the sight of the stumps, like tombstones, where trees and shade used to live.

What is that old song "You'll find your happiness lies, in front of your eyes right in your own backyard." Too True! I am grateful for my dog who gets me out every day whether I want to or not, because once I get out, I am so glad to be there in the sun and under the blue sky and in the company of the trees and flowers.

Happy Trails - Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Simple happiness in a small town

As I have written many times before, I LOVE my little bungalow! And I have been really happy in this small town for nearly 40 years. I have been blessed with the gift of good neighbors, unlike some of my poor neibhborhood acquaintances. Ever since I moved in I have been trying to put in a fern garden in the front yard. I always seemed to me to be the perfect conditions, shady and party sunny in mild patches, but it is true that the soil isn't terribly healthy and the trees take up a lot of the nutrients, still, ferns grown in the forext and my yard is like a micro-forest. Eventually, after many failures, both of the seed and plant type I resorted to hanging ferns on the perfect little porch. Last spring, I tried yet again. I bought three ferns advertised at PLATT'S Farm as shade loving and hardy and my nephew and Godson Archie planted them for me.

They grew and I had hope they were going to flourish. I watered, but still we hait a time in late summer when the extreme heat dried the ground faster than I could keep it hydrated with my watering can. They got dry and brown and my nephew accidentally weed whacked them. He said, "It's Okay, Aunt Jo Ann, they were dead anyway." But being optimistic, I had hopes that they weuld somehow come back.

Just today, I went out to get something from the car and I was thinking, as I walked down the three steps to the yard how I wished I had a fern garden, and there, like some fairytale wish fulfillment, were three thriving ferns joyfully lifting their fern arms to the sky! I was so thrilled, I had to call my brother on the phone and tell him. And that's not all. The Lily of the Valley are all in bloom now too!

Walking the dog today, I met an old man I have seen many times before but usually I see him walking along the railroad. I said Hi and congratulated hi on expanding his walking distance. He said he had been over to Rob's auto shop. Then he told me he was about to have, this week, his 90th birthday. He said he has survived two open heart surgeries, cataract removals, blindiness in one eye and diabetes but he can still enjoy a walk around town in the Spring. I told him he was a great role model and that I wished to live to see 90 as well.

It is really the simple, humble little things that can really make your day! Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Friday, April 29, 2022

Ancestry and a Book Review

Reading the Sunday New York Times Book Review, I came across this book ANCESTER TROUBLE, by Maud Newton. In the review they give this quote by Nanette Vonnegut, the daughter of Kurt Vonnegut "At the root of a lot of Art is an injury that needs addressing." I think that is certainly true and it made me think of the root of my search for ancestry: My mother's mysteriously missing parentage. For most of my early childhod, Grandmom and Grandpop Lyons were just that, my Grandparents. It wasn't until later, I am not even sure when, that it was revealed to me that Grandmom Lyons was actually my mother's Aunt and that she had addopted my mother and her sister Sally from the Camden Friendless Children's Home. I am not kidding, that was the name of the orphanage, which I have no doubt sent a shiver of outrage through my Grandmom Lyons every time she saw it on the front of the building where her nieces were being cared for until she wasold enough and married and could adopt them.

Probably this personal history emerged during my early teaching years when there was a passion for Oral History and teachers were given workshops on it. It may be that the trend was inspired by the Foxfire Books in which a teacher in George got his somewhat disaffected students to gather folk tales, recipes, and craft lore from the mountain neighbors around them. The Foxfire Books were instant best sellers and started a resurgence of interest in history and in particular local hisstory and family history.

But my questions never succeeded in gathering any relevant information and got brushed off and deflected. It was clear my Grandmother did not want to talk about my mother's parents, and my mother, herself, showed little serious interest in the past although she did offer some observations about the wome who ran the "Camden Friendless Children's Home." She told me they were nice young women who worked there, kind and polite and well educated. I am assuming they were young ladie from the middle class doing a kind of Charity work. My mother said the food was good and she didn't remember being unhappy there but she did remember one terrifying night when men came in through a window and kidnapped a child. She also recounted how her Grandfather often visited her with a bag of candy which she would eat until she got a stomach ache. She also remembered he was drunk.

Sometimes when I pestered my Grandmother for more information, she made up implausible and ridiculous lies and totally fictional names which put me off the track in my search. Some of her stories were that my mother's parents were killed in an automobile crash, that my mother's father was the son of a wealthy beer manufacturing family.

I don't know why this mystery should have engaged me as it did for all the years, no one else seemed to care, but I couldn't shake it off. I had to know who my mother's parents were and what happened to them.

It was the inspiration for my joining ancestry.com and my subsequent sporadic researches over the many decades. I discovered that my mother had another sister who was alive up until the early years of the 2000's and that she lived in the mid-west. Her name was Betty. My mother's other sister, Sally, lived in the same town we moved to in New Jersey, Maple Shade. She lived until recently and I was able to contact her. She and my mother had been estranged for most of my life. They had fallen out over several insulting and hurtful incidents. My mother, who I can vouch for as the most generous, kind hearted and helpful soul I have ever known, was always helping her sister who was always in one kind of trouble or another - divorce, emotional meltdowns, and I was too young to really understand what was wrong with her, but she couldn't cope. My mother often took care of Sally's two sons, one of whom eventually committed suicide. His name was Richy, but we called him Pip and he was named after his father Richard Scarpetti, who had been a window dresser in Philadelphia back in the days when the big stores had beautifully and imaginatively decorated window displays. He died early in his sons lives. Aunt Sally re-married, but by then the sisters weren't talking anymore. Sally's married name was Stulpenis. There was something about a loaned and not returned christening gown, but I know there must have been more.

Anyway, Sally was apparently the last one to see her father alive, and he lived into the 1970's. My mother's and her sister's father was named Goldy. He was the son of Quaker farmers in South Jersey, but apparently the ghost of rumor whisptered that he had a drinking problem. The girls mother died of pneumonia/tuberculosis following the Spanish Flu Epidemic after World War I. Her mother's name was Sarah Goldy. She was in her mid-twenties when she died. I have a couple of photographs of her and I wonder who will care when I am gone. These ancestors in their paper ghost form live with me, many of the on the bookshelves in my bedroom. They are people to me and I wanted their stories.

Now the question is, do I buy the book the review of which inspired all this thinking? I am trying to stop buying books on impulse, but this sounds like a good one.

I will let you know what I decide - right now, it is time for lunch.

Happy Trains! Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Walt Whitman Art and Poetry Center, Camden City, NJ

Sadly, I haven't visited the Whitman Center since I was a student back in the early 80's at Rutgers the State University in Camden. Actually I had a show there of paper sculpture during that time and I remember how beautiful that building was with a gorgeous mosaic in front that was created during the WPA in the 1930's. Anyhow I was just visiting Hoag Levins' HistoricCamdenCounty.com web site looking for a post from 2005 about the old cemeteries of Camden and I ran across this:

The second-floor gallery of the 1918 is hung with paintings, illustrations, fabric works, constructions and artifacts that cover a broad arc of African-American history and lore. They will remain on display through Oct. 3 and may be visited between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free. The exhibit is sponsored by the Walt Whitman Arts Center, the William Still Underground Railroad Foundation and the Camden County Historical Society.

Hoag Levins is a brilliant researcher/writer and I always enjoy his writings on Camden History. In fact, the cemetery piece I referred to in the beginning of this post was so intriguing that I went to find most of the cemeteries he wrote about! There are so many stories buried in this often forgotten paces and Hoag has helped to bring them back into the light!

Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Monday, April 25, 2022

Shenandoah Heritage by Carolyn and Jack Reeder

Monday, April 25, 2022

I am just finishing a book loaned to me yesterday from a Friend at the Woodbury Friends Meeting. I have been attending there since the first Sunday in January, but I was an attender at Philadelphia friends for several years when I lived there in the 1980's. Anyhow, two Friends had just returned from a vacation in Shenandoah and one, Etain Preston, had brought this book to share with us and to discus: Shenandoah Heritage - The Story of the People Before the Park.

As may be the case with many older people, one thing can set off a string of memories which we have by the trunkload. So anyhow, reading this book, I was reminded of the Foxfire series which came out in 1972 and was a sensation. So many young people were trying to get back to some older more rural, peaceful, and simple way of living that it struck a chord in their fantasies. I bought the set and when my parents retired to a mountain in West Virginia, I gave them to my father.

Of course, it wasn't all singin' on the porch and making corn husk dolls back in those days. We have tendency to either fantasize or vilify rural life when in fact, it was much like life anywhere else but with different acessories. Needless to say, along with the distilling of Moonshine, there cam a significant amount of drunkeness, violence, domestic abuse and child abuse. Just like in any small town or big city, there would have been the hardworking and clean living residents who took care of the animals and kept up the property, and the ne-er do wells who beat the kids and neglected the animals and let the fields go to bracken. Certainly then, as now, however, it was the craftspeople who made a mark and who were of most interest to me and in fact I have hanging in my kitchen the most beautiful woven whisk broom from an Appalachian demonstration of handcraft tht I saw in West Virginia on a visit to the folks in Maysville unincorporated I also have a handmade basket. And once every year I swould stop at the Honeymooners Souvenir Shop to buy my daughter a new pair of Cherokee moccasins. The Honeymooner Souvenir Shop is now, hilariously bearing the sign "Honeymooners Gun Shop."

So the Foxfire books came back to me and then I remembered a presentation my daughter gave on Death Songs at halloween in Philadelphia at the Mutter Museum one year. It was stellar! She had slides and songs and one Appalachian folk ballad that I remember was "She walks these hills in a long black veil, she visits my grave when the night winds wail, nobody knows, nobody sees but me" It is a song about a love triangle and love triangles were one of the many causes of murder in the chapter in the Shenandoah Heritage book I am reading. This chapter is about crime and vigilante justice and the shooting that attended drinking and jealous rages both deserved and imagined. As it said in the book, someone got shot and buried and that was that.

My brother lives in my parents house on the mountain but things are much different now than they were even in 1984 when my parents moved to West Virginia, and a world away from 1937 when my father, at age 16, worked on Skyline Drive with the CCC.

I reminded the people at Meeting Discussion group that New Jersey has rich resources of its own from the CCC days and you can see good displays as close at Parvin State Park and Bass River State Park.

Hope this has stirred some memories for you - by the way, my father was a big fan of caverns too and one of the ones near where he lived in West Virginia had a cave where moonshiners were said to have run a distillery. The caverns there were called Smoke Hole Caverns and visiting there was so reminiscent of the caverns we visited in the 1950's when my father bought his first stationwagon and the family hit the open road!

Happy Trails! Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Re-Enactor's at Whitall April 23, 2022

Paul Ferrante and sons demonstrate uiforms and accoutrement of Revolutionary era soldiers: Hessians, British and American.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Revolutionary War Soldier Re-enactors at Red Bank

What a fabulous presentation Paul Ferrante and two young men gave at Red Bank Battlefield on Saturday April 23rd at 1:00. Paul F. is a natural speaker, and he has collected a treasure trove of gear to show and explain to those of us who are interested in the Revolutionary War. One man was dressed as a Hessian, one as a Continental Soldier and one as a British Infantryman. Paul explained the details of the clothing and how they showed the rank and the job of the soldier wearing them. He also showed all the accoutrement a soldier would have to carry marching from assignment to assigment. He was equipped with all the tools of the trade, the weaponry and the tools needed to keep the weapons in working order. The audience of about 50 visitors and 8 volunteers was kept spellbound by the bounty of materials and the stories and information attached to them as Paul showed and demonstrated them. We finally got to see 'grapeshot' and other kinds of ammuniation as well.

One of the great privileges, I think, of being a volunteer at a historic site like the James and Ann Whitall House is the opportunity to meet and learn from the many trained, educated and self-educated, impassioned people who volunteer along with you. Any day that you are volunteering, you can learn so much from the other volunteers - each has his or her own area of expertise, his or her own passion, whether it is the battle on the water, or the gardening, or the history of the battles, or the details of the combatants, and so on, you are bound to learn new things and have a new field of interest opened for you.

Paul and his assistants are all Re-enactors, but I confess, I didn't take a pen and note pad with me, so I didn't take notes and can't remember their regiment, but they have promised to return and I will try to keep you posted so you can enjoy the presentation as well. Also, I am not on facebook, but if you are you can find more information about The James and Ann Whitall House and Red Bank there.

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I have a great interest in the WPA and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Two members of my Meeting have recently returned from a vacation in Shenandoah and they visited many historic sites including Appomatox Court House since one of the two is a Civil War Re-Enactor. But they also took the scenic SkyLine Drive and I have written many times about how my father when he was 16 joined the CCC and helped build the Skyline Drive. It was in the days, as he reminded me, before big machinery, and everything was done by hand, picks, shovels, axes, wheelbarrows, sweat and tears. It was one of the best times of his life. That was why he retired to West Virginia, so he could return to the mountains that enchanted him as a city boy in the CCC. One of the two Meeting Friends who had been on vacation in Shenandoah loaned me a book, 'Shenandoah Heritage, The Story of the People Before the Park' by Carolyn and Jack Reeder which I have been reading all afternoon. It is the story of the mountain people displaced by the park, many if not most of whom had been on their homesteads for generations. It reminded me of a series of books I had boght and read back in the 1970's called The Foxfire Books, about mountain craft and survival tools. I gave it to my father when he moved to West Virginia. That was a great set of books and a unique literary project and success.

Happy Trails! Jo Ann (remember, don't bother with comments function on this site, it is polluted by spam and bots - use my e-mail if you want to talk, thanks! wrightj45@yahoo.com)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Enjoy an Old-Fashioned Tea in the Whitall House Museum!

Enjoy an Old-Fashioned Tea in the Whitall House Museum! Sandwiches, Dessert, and of course, Tea will be served. "George Washington" will be visiting and chatting with our guests. After Tea, take a walk through the Gardens of the Whitall House and enjoy the lovely Red Bank Battlefield Park. Three seatings for tea are available on May 15, 2022. Space is limited, and reservations are required! Sponsored by the Gloucester Co. Certified Gardeners, Office of Land Preservation, and the Dept. of Parks and Rec. For more information and reservations, call 856-224-8045.

There was a very pretty decorative flyer with this announcewment but I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to copy and paste it, so all I could offer was the bare information. If you are a Mom treating yourself and a friend or sister - voila! If you are a son or daughter looking for something nice to do with Mom Voila! If you are a couple of friends who have had mothers and would like to celebrate your memories, let me repeat myself VOILA! Here you are!

My daughter will be away at a wedding so I am thinking I may round up a friend and try this myself!

Happy EARTH DAY this weekend! and I am sure I will be in touch again before Mother's day but this message was time sensitive as you must register before May 1st.

Jo Ann

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Earth Day and Spring 2022

A quote from Smithsonian Magazine, "Recognizing that their quality of life even survival depended on the same healthy environments, that non human species required, 20 million Americans nationwide participated in clean-up and tree planting and protest marches on the first Earth Day April 22, 1970." The article was about how people almost eradicated the Bald Eagle by shooting it in false assumption that it preyed upon small animals such as calves, lambs and so on. The Bald Eagle eats mainly fish.

As Earth Day once again approaches, I have been reading many books on trees and the environment including: FINDING THE MOTHER TREE, Simard, HOPE, Jane Goodall, LEGACY OF LUNA, Hill. The last mentioned book brings me to the subject of what one person can do. No doubt you have run across the plethora of articles out just now about plastic particles in -WELL EVERYTHING!!! The most recent shock was scientists finding it in our bloodstreams and wondering what kind of effects that can have on us.

This May many stores including my own ShopRite, will be banning single use plastic bags. I am so glad. If you read the articles about the plastic particulates, you will find that in landfills the bags break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they become non-biodegradeable particulates that then enter our water, our oceans, our food chain, and our bodies. So, here is one thing we can all do and that many European nations ahve already done. We can all carry re-usable shopping bags. I have quite a number by now as before the pandemic I had gone entirely to re-usable bags and then the pandemic struck and when we weren't so sure how it was spread, we all went back to single use bags, but now we know it is aerosole so we can get out our canvas, or oil cloth bags and stop using the plastics again. If like me, you re-used your plastic bags - I used them for cat litter scoopings - there are alternatives. A friend introduced me to biodegradeable bags that she bought by the case, so she gave me a bunch to try out. I just ordered them from amazon, both for my cat litter and the little rolled up dog scooping bags that I fit into a carrier on my dog leash.

Something else that I have been thinking about a lot is food waste. I don't have much food waste because I live alone and don't cook much. When I eat out, I take a glass bowl that can go in the microwave, to use for take-home left-overs. It has a spill proof lid and I have two dozen of them becaue I make soup once every two weeks and put them in the freezer, then take out one bowl at a time to microwave. The bowls are freezer and microwave safe and I bought them at Shop-Rite some years ago. They last forever and you can get replacement lids (the lids don't last forever) via amazon.

Lately, I have been recycling my clothes through a collection for the homeless run by a local man and a neighbor of his. They became involved through Cathedral Kitchen in Camden. So now when I change out my seasonal wardrobe, I take clothes that don't fit anymore to them for the homeless.

I am reminded of a wonderful Appalachian folk saying





I think I should paint that onto a plaque to hang in my house somewhere. We all have too much and I speak for myself. Another thing we can all do is buy less! Personally my drawers are stuffed to the limit with clothes. It is on my 'to do' list to go through them one drawer at a time, maybe one drawer a day, and gather up those things I don't use and give them to someone who can use them. I have already begun to limit my buying new things via strategies such as, when I stop in to Walmart - as infrequently as possible is one strategy - I do not walk through the women's department. I go straight to where the product is that I am buying and straight to check out. No browsing. My plaid shirts are a perfect example of overbuying by browsing. I love plaid and everytime I went to Walmart, I would pass the women's department and see beautiful plaids, perhaps a different color than I could remember having, so I would buy it. One day, going through a drawer, I discovered I had about two dozen plaid shirts that I NEVER wore! They just didn't fit into the lifestyle I have now which is t-shirts and sweat suits and gym outfits. Don't browse and don't buy!

Also, we can plant things to help our animal and insect friends such as milkweed for the butterflies and Rose of Sharon which I heartily recommend because it is hearty and will spread itself nicely into a pretty blooming border and which is good for the bees! I'm sure you are aware of the decline in the bees and how that will affect and is affecting all our tree and fruit crops that rely on pollinators.

Last but not least - be a little creative and step outside the box - do you really need a golf type lawn? BORING!! Already I have neighbors both in my town and in a neighboring town who have stopped being servants of convention and have rockscaped front yards with flowering plants, and total wildflower front yards, beautiful and interesting to look at. Personally, I have a woodland yard with hollies, various evergreen shrubs and trees (root ball Christmas trees from years past) and the original dozen or more deciduous trees. Just minutes ago, I was listening to the myriad bird songs from my small front porch. Please, please, don't poison the daisies! They are friendly, healthful to animals and to us, and pretty. They are much prettier than that desert of dull green that so many seem funeled into creating, you might as well have artifical plastic turf.

Well, that's enough to think about for today. Maybe you want to live on Mars, but I like this planet and just as I would like to keep my body alive and healthy as long as possible, I would like to do all I can to keep my home planet alive and healthy as long as possible.

One last obseration. I have thought about this for many years, ever since I joined the scheduled age related routine doctor visits. Why is it that the medical answer to health and fitness seemes entirely to be based on expensive testing for disease rather than on promoting health through fitness, diet, and exercise? They could be putting people on gym routines and diet plans not just stenting their clogged arteries, but they don't even seem to be aware or to care if they are aware of the connection between diet and exercise and heart health. I know, I am not naive, it isn't really about health but about business and profit and health doesn't generate profit, disease does. Show your rebel self by stepping outside the fast food, lawn service, video game corral - Get outside, go for a walk, adopt a helathy new habit each day and feel better!

Happy Trails! Jo Ann (oh yes - and plant a tree! We planted a seedling from the Salem Oak at our Woodbury Meeting a couple of weeks ago for Earth Day - what a great feeling!)

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Ben Franklin and War

Today, I will walk the dog then put on my costume to do volunteer tour guiding at the James and Ann Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park along the Delaware River. Coincidentally, this week on Monday and Tuesday, pbs showed the Ken Burns Documentary on Ben Franklin, so the Revolutionary War is much on my mind.

Needless to say the horror in Ukraine is with all of us everyday and each time I view the Judy Woodruff pbs News Hour, I end up crying over the suffering of the people in the Ukraine, most recently when a missile was shot at and struck hundreds of refugees, mostly women and children (Oh the children!) trying to flee from the violence. If you have raised a child, or remember being a child, or have children as relatives, you cannot help but have heartbreak at the thought of those frightened and vulnerable little beings getting killed and injured so an insane madman can push forward his criminal scheme to take over someone else's country. Over and over I ask myself why, in this time of history, we don't have more ways to stop insane men from inflicting such pain and destruction on others. There should be some way he could be arrested the same way we arrest a criminal head of a mob family, or the fraudulent head of a company. Our international body must somehow be made stronger to stop these kinds of eruptions in humanity.

Today, get to James and Ann Whitall House I will shadow one of the tour guides giving tours of the house. I am shadowing because I am returning to tour duty after a ten year hiatus that I took after my father died and some of my own health issues arose - a ruptured disk in my spine and knee problems. Anyhow, watching the Ben Franklin documentary helped to get me back into the atmosphere of those times of struggle and suffering. War!

I must say, I do respect and enjoy the Ken Burns style of documentary, the slow build up of detail and commentary into a rich body of biographical material to make some one or some event come to life. Ben Franklin really was such a magnificent and varied human being - so many gifts: diplomacy, scientific inquiry, writing, keeping and building a business, a civic service (the postal service). And he seemed to have a gift for enjoyment as well. And all from a poor uneducated escaped indentured boy. He didn't have a gift for husbandry or fatherhood though, Maybe that was asking too much. Anyhow, he was a great knight for our republic and we owe him honor and remembrance.

By the way, I have come home after my day at the Whitall House during Spring Festival and it was glorious! We had 700 people and what patient, polite, interested and delighful visitors. The families all brought lots of kids (good for the future) and the kids behaved remarkably well! All the people seemed so happy and grateful for all we had to share. It was a wonderful experience for me. I hope it was for them as well. It was free, sunny, a beautiful landscape and altogether and excellent outing for everyone.

Happy Trails! Jo Ann wrightj45@yahoo.com

Friday, April 8, 2022

Spring Festival Saturday, April 9, 2022 at Whitall House

Tomorrow, Saturday April 9 there will be a Spring Festival at the James and Ann Whitall House. There will be all kinds of demonstrations and activities and the weather looks good after 11. the festival is noon until 4:00, so you should find partly sunny weather! I will be there in the house in costume as I have returned as a docent to the Red Bank Battlefield this year! Hope you can make it. I am looking forward to it! My suggestion would be to wear a mask though as numbers are going up with Covid!

Hope to see you! Jo Ann

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Emotional Memory

Driving home from the Brooklawn ShopRite today on Kings Highway, I passed a house with an enclosed porch addition and it brought back such a strong childhood emotional memory of my family, as it was then, Dad, Mom and my brother Joe, driving from Philadelphia into New Jersey and down one of the Pikes, White Horse or Black Horse, I am not sure which, to Ocean City. We were going to visit my Grandmother Mabel Wright who lived there, for many years on 6th and Asbury Avenue and later on 1lth and Bay. As we drove through, what was to my city child's eyes, and in fact, in those days THE COUNTRY, I gazed at the small, tidy bungaows with their aprons of green lawn and their lawn ornaments of bird baths, or white wrought iron lawn furniture around shade trees and I felt so much joy and longing. We lived in a hard surface world of brick and concrete and asphalt with the ever present stench of the Publicker's whiskey Mash factory just below our neighborhood and the settling black gritty air of the vines of crowded highway encircling us.

New Jersey was a world of soft surfaces and the fragrance of cut grass and honeysuckle, the organic contours of tree lines behind the houses, and in the yards, patches of daffodils and forsythia in Spring, and roses and flowering trees in summer. What a world. It sent my young heart into a reverie. Today that feeling returned to me unbidden and unexpected. Afterwards, I thought it must be another of those functions of aging that I have heard about. We all know about hearing loss and diminishing eyesight, bad joints adn backs, and fading memory, but when they mention childhood memories suddenly floating to the fore, they don't mention the emotional memories. Actually, I don't think I ever thought of emotional memory before either, that is a memory that is pure feeling, rather than a short video clip of some event, or a picture memory of something you have seen. The memory produced today was pure feeling, a kind of glow in the heart and a dreamy return to another world which was my childhood.

It wasn't a sad childhood or in any way a deprived one, but there are things that I think of and have thought of throughout my life that I wish had been different. Recently I read a Friends Journal Essay about welcoming visitors from different classes. It fit with a book I read a year ago, CASTE, by I. Wilkerson. We have definite classes in our society and they have such different kinds of experiences for children growing up. A working class, urban child of my generation had some benefits modern children and children from higher socio/demographic classes may not have had. I had a non-working mother, for example. My mother was there every day, making breakfast, cooking dinner, at home after school and every weekend every day. A particular benefit of my childhood was that my mother was devoted to her vocation of home-making. She loved the home and she loved being a mother. She strove to provide us with so many things other children in our class and on our block didn't have. As I mentioned before, she collected green stamps and bought us Children's Encyclopedia. She bought me Children's Classics in Literatre for every holiday. My mother was different from the other mothers in our neighborhood. They all cleaned and clooked but my mother respected literature and she wanted to KNOW. We had magazines, National Geographic, Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post, House and Garden, FAmily Circle. My motheer was also creative and I often remember the things she made for us such as the baby cradle she made from an Oatmeal box for me. For her provision of these resources to my young mind I will be forever grateful. They made me who I am.

A day came when we, too, moved into a house in The Country, and we had a barbecue pit in the yard and a rock garden and grew vegetables and my father built a playhouse for the younger kids who had come along after we moved. And for that move to the Country, I will always be grateful as well. Maybe it's just me but I don't think that children should grow up in only hard surfaces. I think children need trees and plants and soft ground and good fragrances and seasons that don't go only from puddles to grimy snow and back. They need colored leaves and spring blooms and summer vegetables and white snow that lays a loving and soft blanket on rounded and curving contours other than parked cars. I am so thankful that I had that and that I was able to provide it for my daughter.

Some of the things that I wish had been different are the violence I was exposed to as an urban and working class child, and the alcoholism, and the horrible school I went to - all the insensitivity that children of the working class and in particular the urban working class are subjected to. There were places were gentleness and kindness and patience could be found, at the Grandmother's houses, and at church and Sunday School. I am sorry for children who don't have these sanctuaries in their lives.

Happy Trails, through the forest, the neighborhood, or MEMORY. Jo Ann