Lori Henriksen

author of The Winter Loon


12 Comments

Zippity Do Dah

Z

 

When I chose Zippity Do Dah for my Z post, I thought it was just a song to sing when you are happy. But in reading about the origins and lyrics of the song, I learned it is surrounded by controversy. So much for singing Zippity Do Dah and doing the dance of joy because we have all reached the end of the A to Z Challenge. Some facts I didn’t know:

~ The song is from a Disney movie called Song of the South about Br’er Rabbit and Uncle Remus.

~ The movie was released in 1946 and criticized by the NAACP: “the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery . . . [the film] unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of the facts.”

~ The stars of the movie and others disagreed. Actress Hattie McDaniel who played the character Tempy in Song of the South and sang Sooner or Later said: “If I had for one moment considered any part of the picture degrading or harmful to my people I would not have appeared therein.”

~Hattie McDaniel is better remembered as the first black actress to win an Oscar in 1939 for her role of Mammy in Gone With the Wind. Her roles portraying hard-working black women were often criticized as stereotypes, and she was criticized for not being politically active. She is loosely quoted as saying, “I can play a maid in the movies for $700 a week or work as a maid downtown for $7 a week.”

~ Hattie McDaniel lost her battle with breast cancer in Los Angeles, California, on October 26, 1952. Since her death, McDaniel has been posthumously awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Additionally, in 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. A well-received biography on her life was published in 2005—Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, by Jill Watts.

~ You can watch her Oscar acceptance speech and read 5 more facts about her here:

http://www.biography.com/news/hattie-mcdaniel-oscar-facts

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~ James Baskett who sang Zippity Do Dah in the film, Song of the South, agreed with Hattie McDaniel, saying, “I believe that certain groups are doing my race more harm in seeking to create dissension than can ever possibly come out of the Song of the South.”

I end with James Baskett  in a You Tube video singing  Zippity Do Dah:

 

 

Have a beautiful day and thanks for stopping by the A to Z Challenge. You can see other bloggers participating in the Challenge:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-z-challenge-sign-up-list-2016.html

 

 

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3 Comments

Yearning

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Yearning ~ Longing, craving, hunger, thirst, ache

Maya Angelou experienced and later wrote about oppression of black American women as seen through her child eyes in the 1930s and her own later experience as a woman struggling to survive and raise her child. Through her books and poetry she sheds light on the abuse and brutality of racism. She writes of the dehumanizing effects of slavery and the yearning to be free. She writes about how segregation made people feel and how freedom is taken for granted.

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Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

~Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou wrote too many books to list here. Check out her top 10 works at:

http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/top-10-works-of-maya-angelou/

Maya Angelou died May 28, 2014 at the age of 86. Her wisdom lives on:

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7 Comments

Xenial

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Xenial ~ of, relating to, or constituting hospitality or relations between host and guest and especially among the ancient Greeks between persons of different cities. ~ Miriam-Webster Dictionary

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During the A to Z Challenge, each of us participating has opened the door and invited both strangers and friends into our world.

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes Xenial as pertaining to the friendly relation between host and guest, relating to hospitality.

One of the most respectful forms of hospitality during the 1930s was welcoming guests and sharing a meal. Women cooked and served food even in the poorest of households. It was a sign of good manners to offer food and drink, no matter how poor the household.

Women were often the breadwinners in families. They sewed clothes, tended gardens, and were responsible to stay within the food budget. Hospitality could be expensive. Enjoying one another’s company at potlucks, where each woman brought a dish to share was one way to extend the generosity of hospitality to friends and family.

Women were creative with the less expensive sources of protein: rice, beans, and cheese. Spam and bologna substituted for beef, pork and lamb. Chickens could be raised in the yard and became a staple Sunday sit-down meal for the after-church crowd.

No matter what a woman’s economic circumstances, she did her best to put food on the table and share a meal:

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Thanks for stopping by.


8 Comments

WASPs

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This post is inspired by a PBS program honoring the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) ~  We Served Too: The Story of the WASP.

A trailer is available http://www.wstthemovie.com

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In 1939, the day after German tanks rolled into Warsaw, Poland, a woman pilot named Jacqueline Cochran wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt to suggest the use of experienced women pilots in the Armed Forces. Almost a year later, another pilot, Nancy Harkness Love, made the same suggestion to the Ferrying Division of the Armed Forces.

It wasn’t until September 1942 that the Air Transport Command (ATC) realized the reality of a lack of experienced pilots to ferry newly produced warplanes to air bases across the country. The demand for male combat pilots overseas left the ATC with a dilemma until someone remembered and considered Nancy Love’s letter of 1940.

Love was hired to recruit 25 of the most qualified women pilots in the country to ferry military aircraft. The value of the women pilots got the attention of General Henry Arnold of the Army Air Force. He approved a program to train a large group of women as ferry pilots. Cochran and Love recruited the pilots and engineered the program that became Women Air Force Services (WASP).

~Most of the recruited women had 1,000 hours of flying time prior to entering the training.

~They trained for a few weeks before being assigned a post.

~1,074 eventually women graduated from the program.

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~The WASP flew every type of plane in the Army’s arsenal.

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~They served as flight instructors, tow-target pilots for gunnery training—yes with real ammunition, engineering flight test pilots, and flew radio controlled planes.

~The WASP were hired under Civil Service. They paid for their own uniforms, lodging and personal travel to and from home.

~WASPs were deactivated in December 1944 without military benefits and without recognition. The surviving women were moved to seek recognition in the mid-1970s when the Navy announced that for the FIRST time in history women would be permitted to fly military planes.

~In 1977 the WASP gained their belated military benefits and recognition.

~In 2010 the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor by Congress.

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Highland Veterans Memorial Park, Wisconsin

Thirty-eight WASP lost their lives in service to their country.

P.S. I just learned that William M. Miller, a former Southern Oregon Historical society Historian and history columnist for the Medford Mail Tribune newspaper has written a book To Live and Die a WASP that is a tribute to the 38 WASP  who did not survive. The book is available on Amazon.

 

http://WilliamMMiller.com/

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2 Comments

Violence

V

A brief and incomplete history of violence against women:

During the 1800s husbands had the choice of whether or not to beat their wives. It was a right and a privilege condoned by society. All states in the U.S. made “wife beating” illegal by 1920, the same year women won the right to vote. It was presumed, under the umbrella of privacy and sanctity of home, that there was a reluctance to interfere when men beat or raped their wives.

However, a recent 2013 article The Exit Myth: Family Law, Gender Roles, and changing Attitudes Toward Female Victims of Domestic Violence by Carolyn B. Ramsey

http://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1029&context=mjgl

suggests that until 1930 offenders were likely to be charged in criminal court and sentenced to a jail term. Wife killers often faced the death penalty and juries tended to acquit women who killed their husbands in self-defense.

It is now thought that changing gender roles, women exercising their right to vote and entering the workforce, led to  the premise that women were capable of leaving an abusive relationship. Sympathy for female victims of violence in the home waned. The changing view that women no longer needed to be cared for in paternalistic ways resulted in a period of apathy, leaving women of the 1930s basically unprotected from domestic violence.

In 1945 the State of California passed a law that made corporal injury of a wife, or cruel and inhumane punishment of a child, a felony. But it wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 70s that The Women’s Liberation Movement set the stage for the legal protection of battered women by claiming that what goes on in the privacy of people’s homes is deeply political.

In 1994 Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), part of the federal Crime Victims Act, which funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence, allows women to seek civil rights remedies for gender-related crimes, and provides training to increase police and court officials’ sensitivity. Its attempt to connect the crime of violence with an assault on civil rights was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court.

The VAWA has been controversial and subsequently improved and expanded in 2000, 2005 and again in 2013 (giving jurisdiction to Native American tribal leaders).

Domestic violence is now a serious crime.

 Recognize violence. Don’t sweep it under the rug

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Domestic violence — also called intimate partner violence — occurs between people in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse and threats of abuse. Men are sometimes abused by partners, but domestic violence is most often directed toward women. Domestic violence can happen in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.

It might not be easy to identify domestic violence at first. While some relationships are clearly abusive from the outset, abuse often starts subtly and gets worse over time. You might be experiencing domestic violence if you’re in a relationship with someone who:

  • Calls you names, insults you or puts you down
  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school
  • Prevents or discourages you from seeing family members or friends
  • Tries to control how you spend money, where you go, what medicines you take or what you wear
  • Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
  • Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Threatens you with violence or a weapon
  • Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
  • Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
  • Blames you for his or her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it

If you’re lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you might also be experiencing domestic violence if you’re in a relationship with someone who:

  • Threatens to tell friends, family, colleagues or community members your sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Tells you that authorities won’t help a lesbian, bisexual or transgender person
  • Tells you that leaving the relationship means you’re admitting that lesbian, bisexual or transgender relationships are deviant
  • Says women can’t be violent
  • Justifies abuse by telling you that you’re not “really” lesbian, bisexual or transgender

From: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/domestic-violence/art-20048397

More information: http://www.domesticviolenceroundtable.org/domestic-violence-cycle.html

U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 TTY 1-800-787-3224

 

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Stop and Report Violence

 

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The capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest meaning and significance.

~Pablo Casals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2 Comments

University Life

U

During the Depression years, a college major was expected to be practical. Grants and scholarships were available, especially for higher degrees. Women more than likely still needed to work to supplement any financial assistance.

According to Margaret Nash writing in Citizenship for the College Girl, The basic assumption in the 1930s was that women should marry. There was also the perception that college educated women were less likely to marry, either because they “waited too long” or because the college experience which broadened their minds deluded them into believing “marriage should be between equals.”

The demeaning cultural attitudes didn’t hold determined woman back from attending. College. Activism came alive at the University of Washington in 1934 when Professor of Psychology, William Wilson, spoke to an assembly of female students.

He urged them to challenge the stereotypes and take advantage of their higher education. His speech argued that “young women have earned membership in this underclass scholastic honorary through [their] docile attitude and diligence in doing what [they] are told on assignments. But now is [the] chance to forget that and really get an education by looking beyond the daily assignment.”

Quote from: Women at the UW – University of Washington
https://depts.washington.edu/…/women_uw_ch

No one has been able to seal that can of worms.

Heading to Class

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Protests

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Campus Protest 1935

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Political Rally 1930

 

 

 

 

 

Sports

U of M hockey

1930s Women’s hockey

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1930s Brown U archers                  

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1930s Harvard Tennis

 


6 Comments

The Threat of War

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The threat of war wasn’t much on the minds of America during the early 1930s. Dealing with the economic and social issues of the Great Depression occupied most people’s time.

After World War I, during the 1920s and 1930s, the U.S., weary of war, moved toward isolationism, described as the avoidance of political and military commitments to our alliances with foreign powers, particularly those of Europe.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Isolationism.aspx as

A powerful force in isolationism was the peace movement that attracted women who had won the right to vote in 1920.

The destructive forces of WWI and the hardships of women’s lives during wartime further strengthened women against the U.S. getting involved in overseas conflict. However, toward the end of the 1930s, even though unemployment was still high, the social reforms of FDR’s New Deal raised the hope of many men and women that the crisis had passed.

People in America began to take notice of the rise in fascism overseas, Hitler’s takeover of Germany, and Mussolini in Italy. In addition, the aggressiveness of Japan got the attention of the U.S. population. All of this, plus learning that Hitler’s intent was to conquer the world scared people into moving away from isolation. Debates raged around the country until on a peaceful Sunday morning at 7:55 Honolulu time, December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. On December 8, President Roosevelt went before Congress to declare war against Japan and enter World War II.

Suddenly, the women who for the last decade had worked for 50% less than a man at menial jobs became the workforce as the men went off to war.

Women found out how strong they could be.

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How important they could be.

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How they could do the same jobs as a man.

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My mother working in Chrysler Corporation factory during War years

 

 


4 Comments

Smoking

In The Winter Loon, all the cowgirls roll their own smokes. Rollie theaches Ruth the technique, and Ruth takes up smoking right away, splurging on cheap loose tobacco and rolling papers. Back home, Ruth stops smoking to save money until she meets Gisela who offers her a Pall Mall from the red and white package.

No wonder women in the 1930s were hooked on cigarettes.

Cigarettes were chic:

 

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Cigarettes were sexually alluring:

 

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Cigarettes were healthy and good for you:

 

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Here are some interesting facts from an American Public Health Association article: The Physician in U.S. cigarette advertising 1930-1953.

During the 1920s, the first medical reports linking smoking to cancer appeared. Many newspaper editors refused to publish rather than offend tobacco companies and lose advertising dollars.

Advertising slogans in the 1930s promoted the advantages of smoking. A Luckies campaign extolled the virtues of staying slim – “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.” Another Luckies ad suggested: 20,679 physicians say Luckies are less irritating.

Phillip Morris jumped on the bandwagon in 1937, taking an ad in The Saturday Evening Post that said, “According to a group of doctors . . . when smokers changed to Phillip Morris, every case of irritation cleared completely and definitely improved.

Advertisements appeared in medical journals for the first time in the 1930s–tobacco companies’ effort to develop a symbiotic relationship with physicians.

It wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s that major medical reports confirmed smoking causes serious disease.


6 Comments

Rodeo

R

Rodeo athletes from the 1920s and 1930s were talented and tough. One woman who changed the landscape of rodeo is Bonnie McCarroll. She was from southern Idaho and won many bronc riding contests, including Cheyenne, Madison Square Garden and Wembley, England.

McCarroll wasn’t competing at Pendleton the day she was killed, September 19, 1929. She was thirty-four years old, giving her last performance  as an exhibition before retirement. The organizers assigned a bronc named Black Cat for her to ride. According to a description from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Black Cat fell and went into a forward somersault. He recovered and began to buck, but McCarroll was riding hobbled and her left foot caught in the stirrups.

Riding hobbled means tying the stirrups together beneath the horse. It was considered an easier, but more dangerous method than riding slick with stirrups loose. The Pendleton roundup required that women ride hobbled even though McCarroll preferred to ride slick. The rest is history and documented in the film by Steve Wurstas called From Cheyenne to Pendleton: The Rise and Fall of the Rodeo Cowgirl. Here’s a trailer. The film is on DVD and available from libraries

 

 


10 Comments

Queer

Q

This post is a short and incomplete history of the word Queer. (Becoming Visible, An Illustrated History of Lesbian and Gay Life In Twentieth-Century America; Molly McGarry and Fred Wasserman gives an in-depth history through the 1990s.)

The characters in The Winter Loon live in an era where women who formed lifelong partnerships would not have considered or called themselves queer and most likely not even lesbian. It was an era when articles, vice reports, psychologists like  Havelock Ellis, and authors like Radcliffe Hall who wrote The Well of Loneliness, used terms like pervert, deviant, and invert to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. It was an era when same-sex  partners, seeking to live, work and play as productive citizens, kept their love  and lives hidden.

I can’t imagine how difficult and frightening it must have been to live a concealed life in that era. It is especially close for me because I wrote The Winter Loon based on what I knew of my mother’s life. She was a rodeo performer, a clinical psychologist and always had a woman companion who I believe was her lover during the Thirties and Forties. I wanted to explore and write a novel that shined a light on how different life was in the 1930s for lesbians.

During World War II, thousands of lesbians and gay men met others like themselves and began to realize they were part of a larger group.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/5/25/1094817/-Remembering-LGBT-History-How-World-War-II-Changed-Gay-and-Lesbian-Life-in-America

In 1951, Donald Webster Cory wrote a book called The Homosexual in America. He observed that most homosexuals at the time hid their sexuality because of shame and fear of social persecution. He stated that only when people dared to be open could others do the same. A few courageous people took the challenge, but persecution and fear held more back.

There were changes during the 1960s with the Stonewall Riots and demonstrations for Equality for Homosexuals. Gay liberation was threatened by society’s definition of homosexuality as a mental illness until 1974. Anger spilled over in the decade of the Seventies. In the 1980s and 1990s the AIDS epidemic led to political activism in the gay community. The Nineties became the Year of the Queer.

We’re here! We’re queer!

We’re fabulous! Get used to it!

~Queer Nation Chant

Queer Nation is an LGBT activist organization founded in New York City in March 1990 by AIDS activists from ACT UP New York (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). Those who rejected the terms gay and lesbian as too limiting and mainstream, proudly adopted the self-designation, queer. Diversity has been a source of strength for activism and the controversy continues as lives, attitudes and politics change.

The Twenty-first century so far carries on the tradition of changing labels and use of terms to describe the LGBT community. Today, LGBTQ+ represents the diverse experiences of people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and allies.

PFLAG

Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the nation’s largest family and ally organization. Uniting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) with families, friends, and allies, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality and full societal affirmation of LGBTQ people through its threefold mission of support, education, and advocacy. Find out more at:

http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=191#sthash.F4lTj4o6.dpuf

A definition of “Queer” from PFLAG:

https://community.pflag.org/abouttheq

 

 

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