#OnThisDay: The Wilmot Proviso of 1846

“The what?” you say. I must admit I’m guilty, too. I had to look it up.

In a nutshell, the Wilmot Proviso of 1846 was a failed attempt in the US Congress to ban slavery in the western territories the US obtained as a result of the Mexican-American War. It was just this type action that paved the way for the American Civil War in 1861.

Photo by Tasha Jolley on Unsplash

The proviso was named for David Wilmot, the Congressman from Pennsylvania who introduced it on August 8, 1846. The proviso was a rider on a $2 million appropriations bill three months into the Mexican-American War. The bill passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate.

Some background

Photo by Edgar Moran on Unsplash

Perhaps in the southwestern US states, the Mexican-American War is taught in elementary and high schools, but it was my experience in North Carolina that the two-year war in the 1840s was just mentioned in passing. Or perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention. Anyway, I had to do some research to find the details of the Wilmot Proviso.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 prohibited slavery in the remaining Louisiana Territory above the 36th parallel, 30 north latitude line. The “compromise” was that Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state at the same time Maine was admitted as a free state.

Photo by Ray Shrewsberry on Unsplash

The controversy over the annexation of the Republic of Texas enters into the story, as did New Mexico and California, which had been captured by the US during the Mexican-American War. After substantial land area gains by the US early in the war, Congress started setting its sights on more expansion from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Slavery was a hot button issue and Democrats and Whigs (the two main political parties in the US at that time) tried to keep it out of national politics. There was no way to avoid it, however. It was the proverbial “elephant in the room.”

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

There was disagreement within the Democratic Party over the way Martin Van Buren had been denied the party’s nomination for US President in 1844 when southern delegates uncovered an old convention rule that required a nominee to receive a two-thirds vote by delegates. (I didn’t take time to thoroughly research that. I’m sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye.)

More and more over time, the Mexican-American War was more popular in the southern states than in the northern states. It was seen by many in the south as a way to gain more territory where slavery would be accepted.

Back to the Wilmot Proviso

President James K. Polk sent a request to Congress for $2 million to boost negotiations with Mexico to end the war. That was on Saturday, August 8, 1846. Congress was scheduled to adjourn two days later. A special night session was arranged by the Democrats so the request could be considered.

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

Rules mandated that debate be limited to two hours. No one member of Congress could speak for more than ten minutes. A Polk supporter and friend to many southerners, David Wilmot was selected to present the bill to help ensure its passage.

The following language was included in the proviso that would apply to all territory the United States would acquire from Mexico by virtue of any peace treaty: “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted.”

The Senate took up the House bill and there was a push to pass it with the exception of the Wilmot Proviso. The Democratic politicians thought the House would then be forced to pass the bill without the proviso due to the bewitching midnight hour when Congress had to adjourn.

Senator John Davis, a Massachusetts Whig, schemed that he would speak on the floor of the Senate so long that the Senate would have to vote on the bill as written because it would be too late to return the bill to the House of Representatives.

Does anyone know what time it is?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

In a twist of fate (or by design?), there was an eight-minute difference in the official clocks of the Senate and the House. The clock in the House struck midnight before Davis could call for the vote in the Senate. The 1846 session of Congress had adjourned without full passage of the $2 million bill.

Proponents introduced the bill again in 1847 as a $3 million bill, but it had the same results. There were efforts to resurrect the proviso in 1848 as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, but those efforts also failed.

The Wilmot Proviso would have effectively made the 1820 Missouri Compromise null and void.

What happened about slavery in the western territories/states?

California’s constitution banned slavery, so it was given statehood as a free state in 1850. Nevada was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1864. The US. acquired New Mexico and Utah in 1848, and slavery was legal in those territories until slavery was banned in all US territories in 1862.

How did Texas play into this?

My research about the Wilmot Proviso prompted me to delve into the history of Texas. The Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States and granted statehood in 1845 – just months before the debates over the Wilmot Proviso began. I knew there were slaves in Texas. We just recently celebrated Juneteenth, marking the anniversary of the slaves in Texas finally being told they were free.

I learned that there were African slaves in Texas as early as 1529. Texas joined the United States as a slave state. Slavery was a deciding factor in the annexation of the Republic of Texas while James K. Polk was US president.

Photo by Vivian Arcidiacono on Unsplash

Therefore, since Texas was already a US state prior to the debate over the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, slavery in Texas wouldn’t have been affected by the proviso, had it passed. It would have only pertained to territories the US gained as a result of the Mexican-American War.

What a difference one action or inaction can make

My research last week brought to mind how nations evolve and how peoples’ lives can turn on a dime with decisions made by governments. What if the Wilmot Proviso had passed in 1846 (or 1847 or 1848?) What if Texas had not been a state in 1846? What if the US had not won the Mexican-American War? What if the South had won the Civil War? What if African slaves had never been brought to North America? What if America had been defeated in the American Revolutionary War? What if Germany and Japan had won World War II?

How different world history would be if just one of those decisions or wars had gone the other way!

Aftermath of the Wilmot Proviso

If nothing else, the Wilmot Proviso brought to light how divided the United States was between the North and the South. The Democrats and Whigs were both split by regional loyalties.

Neither party wanted to vote on the issue of slavery, but the vote on the Wilmot Proviso pulled the cover off and began to lay bare the true division within the country. What had begun some 70 years earlier as an experiment in democracy was now under more pressure than ever and would ultimately be tested in a civil war just 15 years later.

Photo by Juan Manuel Merino on Unsplash

Even with the end of that civil war, the issue of race relations in the United States would not be settled and, sadly, remains a point of conflict to this day. It is still “the elephant in the room” – that difficult conversation we still struggle with in our society today.

Since my last blog post

As you might guess, I spent several hours researching the Wilmot Proviso and condensing my findings into a somewhat digestible blog post. You’re probably saying, “That was more than I wanted to know about the Wilmot Proviso.” I felt the same way as the history got increasingly complicated.

With the Wilmot Proviso out of the way, I turned my focus to working on my family cookbook project, my historical short stories, and some reading.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’ve already read a one this month and I’m ready to share my thoughts about it in my September 5 blog post.

Life is short. Make time for friends and family.

If you don’t have a hobby, find one.

Don’t forget the people of Ukraine, Uvalde, and Highland Park, etc. and the people in Kentucky whose lives have been turned upside down by flooding.

Janet

Books Read in July 2022

Suddenly, it’s the first Monday in August! Summer months fly back too quickly for me. (I’m not a fall or winter person.) Today’s blog post is about the books I read in July. I hope my comments will prompt you to read one or more of them.

I try to always point out that I’m not a book reviewer. I just like to share my thoughts about some of the books I read. I don’t follow any book review guidelines. I don’t receive books for review. I get 99.9% of my books from the public library. I’m not beholding to any of the authors I mention – or to any publishers. Reading is just part of my journey as a writer.


The Foundling, by Ann Leary

The Foundling, by Ann Leary

This novel is based on an experience of the author’s grandmother. It’s Ms. Leary’s fourth novel, but the first one of hers that I’ve read.

Set in 1927, The Foundling is the story of two women who grew up in the same orphanage.

As an adult, one of them is falsely accused of being “simple-minded” and is incarcerated in a facility for such women of child-bearing age. They’ll all be released when they can no longer have a child. The “reasoning” behind that policy is that a simple-minded woman will pass on her mental deficiencies to her children.

As an adult, the other woman gets a job working in the facility where her long ago childhood friend is being held against her will.

The female worker is determined to get her friend released because she knows she shouldn’t be in the facility. Along the way, the worker befriends a newspaper reporter who has always wanted to write an exposé about the facility.

At times, I found the worker to be too gullible, but I was completely drawn into the story and had to keep reading to find out what happened in the end.


Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet, by Sally Cronin

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet, by Sally Cronin

This is an e-book I purchase several years ago. It landed on my TBR and there it stayed. I follow Sally Cronin’s blog and she follows mine. Please check out one of her posts from yesterday. ( https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/07/31/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-memoir-waterford-ireland-history-the-colour-of-life-the-shop-and-bakery-family-1840s-1940s-by-geoff-cronin/).

I finally got around to reading one of her books. Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a delightful collection of Sally’s stories. They run the gamut from humorous to sad and bittersweet. I enjoyed each one and found it impossible to choose a favorite.

It’s not the only book of yours I’ll read, Sally! I promise!


Sparring Partners, by John Grisham

Sparring Partners, by John Grisham

This latest book by John Grisham is a collection of three novellas. By definition, a novella is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel.

If you do an online search for guidelines about word counts, you’ll find there’s no ironclad publishing industry agreement. Trust me. I’ve tried to find definitive guidelines. I tend to give more credence to Brian A. Klems, the online editor for Writer’s Digest magazine than to some of the other sources. Mr. Klems said a short story is 1,500 to 30,000 words; a novella is 30,000 to 50,000 words; and a novel is 55,000 to 300,000 words. As you can see, there’s a lot of leeway in there.

That being said, I don’t know the word counts of Mr. Grisham’s novellas in Sparring Partners. The title of the book is a clue that each of the novellas is about lawyers.

The first one is the longest of the three novellas. It’s about a lawyer who steals settlement money from clients and then abandons his family and flees the United States. He’s had no contact with anyone for years. The plot gets quite involved. A local reporter is determined to unravel the mystery of the lawyer’s disappearance. Rumors swirl about the lawyer’s whereabouts and there’s speculation he has returned to the area. His wife is dying of cancer. One of their two daughters wants to talk to him. Is he being investigated or have the authorities just written him off?

The second novella is called “Strawberry Moon.” It was my favorite of the three, which probably qualifies me as a proverbial “bleeding heart liberal.” It is a touching story about a young man who is in the wrong place at the wrong time as a young teen and ends up on death row. That’s where he’s been for 15 years and he’s scheduled to be executed tonight.

Mr. Grisham has a knack for getting across his philosophy about a moral issue in his books – something that novice authors are advised to avoid. I love how Mr. Grisham is able to pull it off and remain one of America’s most prolific authors. The moral issue he tackles in “Strawberry Moon” is capital punishment. He also conveys the importance of books and how books (and a person who gets books into the hands of a death row prisoner) can have a profound impact on a prisoner.

“Strawberry Moon” brought me to tears – which a story rarely does.

The third novella in Sparring Partners is about a young man who enters a hospital for relatively routine surgery and leaves the hospital paralyzed. A lawyer wants to make a big splash by winning a tremendous settlement from the hospital for his client.

I had trouble getting into this novella and completely lost interest in the plot when it came to light that there was a snake in someone’s house. It was after midnight when I got to that part of the story. Not good! I didn’t read the rest of the story. Just sayin’.

I highly recommend the first two novellas in Sparring Partners. I’ve heard that Mr. Grisham enjoyed writing this format, so maybe he’ll write more novellas for us. I hope so – as long as he leaves the snakes out!


Gray Mountain, by John Grisham

Gray Mountain, by John Grisham

It was coincidental that I read two books last month by John Grisham. That can happen when you’re on the waitlist at the public library for multiple books by one author. Murphy’s Law sometimes kicks in, and you get both books at the same time.

When I logged into my Goodreads.com account to list this novel on my “Currently Reading” list, I discovered that I’d already read the book and given it four stars. The funny (and slightly frightening thing) is that I have no recollection of having read the book.

The “up” side of that is that I got to enjoy it all over again. With absolutely no memory of the plot, every twist, turn, and development was a surprise.

In true Grisham fashion, this legal thriller grabbed my interest from the beginning and never let me go. It took me back to the dark economic days of 2008 with the failures of huge financial institutions and the uncertainly of the time.

The book follows Samantha Cofer from the day she is laid off by a large financial institution in New York City and given the option of working for a short-listed nonprofit organization for free for one year. The reward would be that she might get a job again with the company that laid her off.

Samantha signs on with a nonprofit in southwestern Virginia’s coal country and is introduced to the underbelly of big coal companies and the way in which they rape the Appalachian Mountains and leave wildlife and people in dire straits and in worse conditions than they were before strip mining started destroying mountains from the top down with the resulting debris cutting off streams and the resulting slurry behind forever – or until a dam breaks and it crashes down the mountains to pollute the water, destroy homes, and wreck peoples’ lives.

I listened to Gray Mountain on a Playaway device while I took my daily walks. Some days I walked longer than planned, because I wanted to keep listening to the book. Books can be good for your physical health, as well as good for your mental health.

I highly recommend the book… even if you’ve read it. Or, especially if you’ve read it but forgotten all about it.


Since my last blog post

My sister and I have been busy compiling family favorite recipes and typing them in my new Atticus writing software program. We hope to publish them! I’ll keep you posted on our progress toward that goal.

I’ve also been organizing my thoughts toward publishing some historical short stories. One I’m considering writing has led me to early 18th century research about Essex County, Virginia – a place one of my ancestors lived in the early 1700s.

My historical novels are on the back burner but not forgotten as I turn my immediate attention to things I can start publishing on a smaller scale.


Until my next blog post

Keep reading! I hope you have at least one good book to read.

Make time for family, friends, and a hobby.

Start writing a journal or a book. You know you have a book in you that’s begging to come out!

Don’t forget the people of Ukraine, Uvalde, or Highland Park, etc.

Also, add to that list the people of eastern Kentucky as well as the wildfire areas in the western United States. Do what you can.

Janet

Three Books Read in June 2022

The month of June brought a nice variety of books to me. I found myself listening to one on a Playaway device while I walked, listening to one on CD, reading part of a very long print book, as well as parts of a couple of e-books.

Here are my thoughts on three of those books.


What Happened to the Bennetts, by Lisa Scottoline

What Happened to the Bennetts, by Lisa Scottoline

A pickup truck driver appears to want to carjack the Bennett family in this latest book by Lisa Scottoline, but nothing in this novel turns out to be as it seems. In the incident, the Bennett daughter is killed. Her parents and brother are put in the witness protection program, but it soon becomes clear that all the FBI agents aren’t on the up-and-up.

The book is written in first-person, from the viewpoint of Mr. Bennett.

For my taste, this novel was longer than it should have been. Perhaps that’s because I was listening to it on Playaway from the public library.

My main takeaway from the novel was how innocent, victimized people can have their lives turned upside down when forced to enter the witness protection program for their own safety.


A Sacred Oath, by Mark T. Esper

A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times, by Mark T. Esper

When I requested this book by former US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, I didn’t realize it was more than 700 pages long. I admit that I didn’t read every word of it.

Secretary Esper writes about his efforts to modernize and improve the US military.

The book did refresh my memory about some things that Trump did while in the White House. Secretary Esper’s book gives some details of conflicts he had with Trump. Esper was especially irritated about Trump’s constant attempt to politicize the military.

He writes about how he and Gen. Mark A. Milley felt duped and used by Trump on June 1, 2020 when he instructed them to go with him to see the damage that had been done to St. John’s Episcopal Church the night before during protests against the murder of George Floyd. It turned out to just be a political photo op for Trump, which made Secretary Esper incredibly uncomfortable.

Secretary Esper writes about Trump’s dislike for Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel and the president’s knee-jerk request that the Department of Defense pull 9,500 military personnel and their 10,000 to 20,000 family members out of Germany in three months.

And there was Trump’s grandiose desire for a military parade in Washington, DC that would have rivaled those typical of Russia, China, and North Korea.

I hope Secretary Esper spoke for most of us when he wrote the following:

“The most shocking and troubling event of the Trump presidency was the organization and incitement of a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and stopped the constitutional process Congress was following to affirm the election and transfer of power to a new president. I never thought I would see what happened on Capitol Hill that day.”

It’s a sad narrative when the US Secretary of Defense has to see himself as a buffer between the US President and the US Constitution. I’ve just hit the highlights.


The Alzheimer’s Prevention Food Guide, by Sue Stillman Linja, RDN LD and SeAnne Sefaii-Waite PhD RDN LD

The Alzheimer’s Prevention Food Guide, by Sue Stillman Linja, RDN LD and SeAnne Sefaii-Waite PhD RDN LD

After reading about the MIND diet, which is based on the theory that we might be able to postpone getting Alzheimer’s Disease for a few years by eating certain foods and avoiding certain other foods, I found The Alzheimer’s Prevention Food Guide at the public library.

I found it to be a thorough, yet simple, food guide. It is well organized and takes a great many foods one-by-one and tells exactly why each one is good for us and why it is particularly good if you’re trying to take steps to possibly postpone Alzheimer’s Disease. Among the benefits listed for each one are anti-inflammatory, cognitive function, nerve function, memory, cell regeneration, and sleep enhancement.

The foods addressed in the book are all healthy. Their connection to Alzheimer’s isn’t totally proven, but what do you have to lose by giving them a try?


Since my last blog post

I appreciate Sally Cronin highlighting my June 27, 2022 blog post on her blog, https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/07/02/smorgasbord-blogger-weekly-july-2nd-2022-writing-d-g-kaye-with-wendy-van-camp-review-olga-nunez-miret-stress-david-kanigan-idioms-janet-morrison-wip-stevie-turner-personalities-cheryl/ . (That’s a long URL. I hope it works!) My blog has been visited by a number of Sally’s readers. If you’ve never visited her blog, I highly recommend it. She blogs about book, music, and throws in some humorous videos and cartoons. It really is a smorgasbord.

I’ve continued to work on my genealogy.

I’m considering buying Atticus writing/book publishing software to help me get some of my projects e-published or possibly published in paperback form. I’ve been impressed with their customer service. I e-mailed them a question and have received two prompt and helpful replies!


Until my next blog post

I hope you have at least one good book to read and a rewarding hobby to relax with.

Spend some quality time with family and friends.

Remember the people of Ukraine; Uvalde, Texas; and the people of Highland Park, Illinois – especially the orphaned two-year-old boy and the partially-paralyzed little boy.

Janet

A Book Chock-Full of Gems

Early last summer, I finished reading Madeleine L’Engle {Herself}: Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase. It’s a collection of Ms. L’Engle’s statements about writing and other topics. You might be familiar with her Newberry Medal winner A Wrinkle in Time or one of her other 49 books.

Madeleine L’Engle {Herself} is a book to be savored. Each page is a quote of something Ms. L’Engle said or wrote about life.

Each quote is a gem. Therefore, I allowed myself to read no more than two pages per day. I wanted the reading of the book to last as long as possible. My few minutes with the book each day soon became my favorite part of the day. I’ve tried finding another book of equal quality and richness that I can read in tiny snatches each day, but nothing has measured up to this book.

It’s one of those rare books that I visit again and again. I enjoy just reading and savoring each random page.

I considered making memes of Ms. L’Engle’s words of wisdom for Facebook, Twitter, or my blog, but there was no way to settle on just a few. To use all of them or even a sizeable percentage of them would put me under the jail for copyright infringement.

Therefore, I’ll share just a few quotes from the book with you, and leave it to you to pamper yourself by reading the entire book.

From page 19, “Again and Again”

Photo credit: Jason Heung on unsplash.com

“With free will, we are able to try something new. Maybe it doesn’t work, or we make mistakes and learn from them. We try something else. That doesn’t work, either. So we try yet something else again. When I study the working processes of the great artists I am awed at the hundreds and hundreds of sketches made before the painter begins to be ready to put anything on the canvas. It gives me fresh courage to know of the massive revision Dostoyevsky make of all his books – the hundreds of pages that got written and thrown out before one was kept. A performer must rehearse and rehearse and rehearse, making mistakes, discarding, trying again and again.”

From page 164, “Creativity in Children”

Photo credit: Catherine Hammond on unsplash.com

“I don’t think all children have to write, but I think they all have to read. Reading is an incredibly creative act. Once a schoolchild asked about all the illustrations in my books and was a little bit surprised that they’re not illustrated. He’d read them and seen the illustrations in his own mind. So to read a book is to create a book. To read a book is to listen, to visualize, to see. If the reader, child or adult, cannot create the book along with the writer, the book is stillborn.”

From page 145, “Story Is Revelatory”

“Your point of view as a human being is going to come over in your work whether you know it or not. There’s no way you can hide it. So if you are a Christian, your work is going to be Christian. There’s no way you can hide that. If you’re not, you can talk about Jesus all you like and it’s not going to be Christian. If you are someone who cares about human beings, that’s going to come over in your work. If you are indifferent to the fate of other people, that’s also going to show.

“You cannot hide yourself, and that’s a very scary thing – particularly true, oddly enough in fiction. Sometimes in nonfiction you can hide yourself behind statistics and facts, but in fiction you are writing story, and story is revelatory. One of the wonderful things that comes out of story is that you not only find out more about your characters, ultimately you are helping to write your own story.”

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re like me, you have more books you want to read than you have time to read them.

Madeleine L’Engle {Herself}: Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase

After reading the above quotes from Madeleine L’Engle {Herself}: Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase, I hope you’ll decide to add that book to your collection. You’ll want to read it more than once.

Make time for a hobby. I’ve let my dulcimer sit in its case in the corner of the room for so long that the case needs to be dusted. That’s never a good sign if you’re trying to learn how to play a musical instrument.

Remember the people of Ukraine and Uvalde, Texas.

Janet

#OnThisDay: Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, 1954

The recent “leak” that the United States Supreme Court is on track to abolish the 1973 landmark decision Roe v Wade should stand as a wake-up call to all Americans.

Even a 49-year-old Supreme Court decision that has stood the test of time and numerous challenges, can be undone by five Supreme Court Associate Justices who claimed under oath before Congress that they had no intention of voting to undo that 1973 Court decision.

This begs the question, “What comes next? What other US Supreme Court decisions will be wiped away by this Court which was “stacked” by our former president and the radical “right” in Congress?

If I just “stepped on your toes,” so be it.

Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, 1954

This brings me to the topic of today’s blog post, which I chose months ago because it is the anniversary of another landmark US Supreme Court decision, Brown v Board of Education of Topeka. It was 68 years ago today that the Court published its unanimous decision on that case, which made it illegal to have separate public school systems based on race.

Photo credit: CDC on unspash.com

Until Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, it was legal for states to have “separate but equal” school systems for the different races. Everyone knew there was nothing equal about them, but they were legal in the eyes of the law.

The Brown v Board of Education of Topeka decision overturned the 1896 US Supreme Court case, Plessy v Ferguson. Plessy v Ferguson is proof that the US Supreme Court can make terrible mistakes. That decision ruled that having “separate but equal” school systems for each racial group was all right, and now it was deemed legal under the U.S. Constitution.

I grew up in the racially-segregated South. Before you get too puffed up about being from one of the other sections of the United States, though, take a moment to consider your childhood. Segregation might not have been mandated where you lived, but were your community and schools racially-integrated prior to the 1960s?

In a recent conversation with a friend from the Midwest, I said that our public schools here in Cabarrus County, NC were integrated when I was in the seventh grade. That was 1965. The person I was talking to made an interesting remark: “I lived in a non-segregated state, but I didn’t go to school with black students until high school. I lived in a farming community and there just weren’t any black people.”

Since I also grew up in a farming community, I found it strange that there weren’t a mix of white people and black people where she grew up. It was interesting to hear her perspective on the issue.

To our more-enlightened 21st century minds, it seems ridiculous that prior to Brown v Board of Education of Topeka it was legal to have racially-segregated public school systems. Since I was born in 1953, 1954 doesn’t seem very long ago. (Please stop rolling your eyes. If you don’t already understand, you will someday.)

The dual school systems didn’t disappear overnight – not by long shot. They continued here in Cabarrus County until the beginning of the 1966-67 school year. The previous school year, students had the option of attending the school not designated for their race. Few students chose to do that. For instance, in the previously all-white school of 1,000 students that I attended, only three black students chose to enroll in 1965. Looking back on it, I can’t imagine the courage it took for them to do so.

The following school year, the previously all-black schools in the county were closed. The buildings weren’t even used! I believe that’s proof in and of itself that the school board members knew that previously all-black schools weren’t on par with the previously all-white schools. Or, perhaps they knew that most white parents wouldn’t want their children assigned to those previously all-black schools. They carried a stigma which was based on racial bias and a deep-seated prejudice.

What a luxury the school board had then to let school buildings sit empty. It was just a couple of years before the county’s population started growing so fast that the school board was never again able to build schools fast enough to keep up.

The mid-1960s were volatile years as school desegregation took place. Southern states were held up by the national media as a backward place where white people resented black people and wanted their schools kept separate. That’s what we were told and we didn’t know any better until race riots broke out in Boston in September 1974 when the public schools there were ordered to desegregate.

In conclusion

In light of this history and what I read last week in Viola Davis’ memoir, Finding Me, I’m left to conclude that people everywhere are prejudiced against people who don’t look like they do.

We see racial profiling and discrimination all over the United States. Housing redlining takes place every day as mortgage lenders find ways to disguise such practices which limits where people of color can purchase homes. Every time I think this no longer takes place, investigative reporters uncover proof that I’m wrong.

I’ve come to realize that the desegregation of public schools didn’t always translate into equal opportunity. Students of all races and economic backgrounds experience different levels of support and nurture at home. Those of us who grew up in happy homes were blissfully unaware that some of our fellow students were subjected to abuse and neglect in their homes. Teachers — knowingly or unknowingly — bring their own prejudices into the classroom. So do students. It’s human nature, and it’s something we all need to be aware of as we interact with one another in our daily lives. You don’t know what the other person might be going through in his or her personal life.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have one or more good books to read this week.

Take time for a hobby, family, and friends.

Remember the people of Ukraine.

Janet

You should know who Julian Francis Abele was

Everyone reading my blog has probably heard of Duke University. It’s a world-renowned university located in Durham, North Carolina. You might not know of its meager beginnings, and you might not know that the architect responsible for its magnificent West Campus was a black man.

I’ve lived in North Carolina my entire life, and I only recently learned who Julian Francis Abele was.

First, here’s a very brief early history of the university.

In 1838, a subscription-supported school called Brown’s Schoolhouse was established in the Randolph County community of Trinity. The school’s name changed a couple of times over the years but was settled as Trinity College in 1859.

In 1892, Trinity College moved to Durham, North Carolina. With heavy financial support from Washington Duke and Julian S. Carr – both Methodists – the name was changed to Duke in December 1924. That was then James B. Duke, son of Washington Duke, established The Duke Endowment. It was a $40 million trust fund set up for its interest to be divided between various hospitals, orphanages, the Methodist Church, three colleges, and the university to be built around Trinity College. In today’s dollars, the $40 million endowment would be equivalent to more than $630 million.

But what did Julian Francis Abele have to do with this?

Julian Francis Abele was born April 30, 1881 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – so this Saturday will be the 141st anniversary of his birth. In 1902, Abele was the first black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. All four years of undergraduate school there, Abele worked in the mornings as a designer at the Louis Hickman Architectural Firm and took afternoon and evening classes at the university.

Horace Trumbauer, a nationally-recognized Philadelphia architect, hired Abele. He sent Abele to study abroad for three years. Upon returning from Europe in 1906, Abele joined Trumbauer’s firm and by 1909 had become the company’s chief designer. When Trumbauer died in 1938, Abele became head of the company.

The company designed numerous buildings in Philadelphia, a number of mansions in Newport and New York, and the Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University.

But my interest in writing about Julian Francis Abele today is his contributions to the gorgeous English Gothic and Georgian buildings at Duke University. Over the 30-year period of 1924 to 1954, he was the primary designer of the university’s West Campus.

Photo credit: Pattern on unsplash.com

If you’ve not had the pleasure of visiting Duke University…

Photographs of the buildings on the Duke University campus don’t do justice to the beauty of the architecture. The centerpiece of the campus and grandest example of Julian Francis Abele’s work is Duke Chapel.

Exterior of Duke Chapel. Photo credit: Chuck Givens on unsplash.com

“Chapel” in this case is an understatement, for the chapel is more of a cathedral than a chapel in the common sense of the word. The chapel interior is 63 feet wide, 291 feet long, and the nave proper is 73 feet tall.

Inside Duke Chapel. Photo credit: Chuck Givens on unsplash.com

Standing on the highest point on the planned campus in 1925, James B. Duke said that it was on that place that the chapel should be built. It would be the highest point and the center of the campus. The cornerstone was laid in 1930, and it is said that students enjoyed watching the stone cutters and the progression of construction of the chapel over the next two years. Little did those white students know that the chief designer of the edifice was a black man.

In fact, it wasn’t until Julian Francis Abele’s granddaughter, Susan Cook, brought to public light in 1986 that a person of color had designed the magnificent focal point of the Duke campus. While students protested apartheid in South Africa, Susan Cook wrote a letter to the student newspaper to make it known that her grandfather had designed their beloved West Campus.

Portraits of Abele now hang in the main administration building on campus and in the Gothic Reading Room in Rubenstein Library alongside those of former Duke presidents and board chairs. In 2016, and the main quadrangle on campus, which stretches from the Clocktower Quad to the Davison Quad – and to the Chapel Quad – was named the Abele Quad.

As quoted from https://today.duke.edu/2016/03/abele, upon the naming of the Abele Quad in 2016, Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead said, “Julian Abele brought the idea of Duke University to life. It is an astonishing face that, in the deepest days of racial segregation, a black architect designed the beauty of this campus. Now, everyone who lives, works, studies and visits the heart of Duke’s campus will be reminded of Abele’s role in its creation.”

Shocking to our 21st century minds, is the fact that the racial prejudices of the early- and mid-20th century deterred Mr. Abele from visiting the Duke University campus to see his designs come to fruition and caused him not to be admitted to the American Institute of Architects until 1942.

Mr. Abele died in Philadelphia on April 23, 1950, which was 72 years ago this past Saturday.

Visit Duke University in person or virtually

If you’re ever zipping along on Interstates 40 or 85 in Durham, take several hours to leave the hustle and bustle behind and visit the Duke University campus. Duke Chapel is open every day from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Stroll around the campus and be sure to visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. (Visit https://gardens.duke.edu/ for information about parking and what’s in bloom.)

Visit https://chapel.duke.edu/about-chapel/history-architecture to take a virtual tour of the Duke University campus and to watch a tour of Duke Chapel. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the links to various aspects of the chapel to learn more about the 77 stained-glass windows, the portal, the carillon, and the four pipe organs (including the diminutive 2014 153-wooden pipe positive organ that can be moved about within the chapel for small concerts.

Since my last blog post

I continue not to be at my best, but as energy allows I work on my novel, read, or do online research.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read.

Remember the people of Ukraine and count your blessings.

Janet

Where do you stand on cursive writing?

As promised last week, today my blog is about the third book I read in March. It’s about the history of handwriting and the debate over whether children today should be taught cursive writing. I say, “Yes!” and I’ll explain why later.

Photo credit: Aaron Burden on unsplash.com

The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, by Anne Trubek

“Put your John Hancock here.” How many times have we of a certain age heard that? We, of course, immediately know that is a euphemism for our signature. But does a child of the 21st century know that? I understand that children today don’t have a clue what “clockwise” or “counterclockwise” mean. Yikes!

I discovered The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, by Anne Trubek while looking for a different book. I found this 154-page book fascinating and thought-provoking.

Trubek meticulously takes the reader on a journey through history. She shares facts about cuneiform and hieroglyphics. (Did you know that most cuneiform clay tablets can fit in your hand? In photographs, they look huge.) She explains how tedious and time-consuming it was for Sumerians to learn how to write and the hours people in ancient oral-based civilizations spent on memorization.

Egyptians invented writing on papyrus. When the Greeks adopted that practice, though, their papyrus was inferior and their scrolls were smaller. (Did you know that the size of ancient Greek scrolls has a bearing on literature today? For instance, the size of a scroll dictated the length of a play. Who knew?)

Socrates was anti-writing. He maintained that if people learned how to write, they’d lose their skill for remembering the spoken word. There’s probably some truth to that.

People in oral civilizations couldn’t look things up like we can today, so they developed elaborate mnemonics and also used additive structure (and… and… and) to help them remember important things. An example of this can be found in the Book of Genesis in The Bible: “In the beginning God created… and… and….”

It was the Romans who stopped using papyrus and started using parchment. Parchment made it easier to make books. Trubek says that bookstores had been established in Rome by the first century B.C.E. Take a moment to visualize that. It makes me smile.

Trubek talks about the development of the various scripts and the high-esteem held for scribes back in the day. She points out that the invention of the printing press put scribes out of business; however, the ones with good penmanship reinvented themselves and traveled around offering handwriting schools.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading handwritten documents from the 1700s and 1800s. I admire the elaborate and visually beautiful handwriting of the 1800s; however, it is sometimes difficult to decipher. One of the most interesting parts of Trubek’s book was about the evolution of handwriting in America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Although I’ve admired the lovely handwriting of the 1800s, I’d never researched why and how it was replaced with our contemporary handwriting.

Briefly, Platt Rogers Spencer developed that flowing, fancy script we associate with the 1800s. (If you don’t know what I’m referring to, think about the Coca-Cola logo. That’s an example of Spencerian script.) Spencer proclaimed that having good penmanship was a sign that you were a Christian, educated, and a proper person. His students were advised to practice their penmanship six to twelve hours a day. (I’m sorry, Mr. Spencer, but life’s too short!)

Part of a page from my great-grandfather’s 1912 daybook

I’m reminded that in my great-grandfather’s daybooks from the 1890s and first decade of the 1900s, he occasionally mentioned that his children or grandchildren had gone to writing school that evening. That writing school was conducted at night in the Pine Hill one-room schoolhouse in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Notice the curly-ques Great-Grandpa made in his capital F and capital W. Also, he randomly capitalized words. I learned from Trubek’s book that such practice was part of the Spencerian script.

A.N. Palmer came along and made modifications to Spencerian script after he went to work for the Iowa Railroad and saw how time-consuming it was for the employees to record all the details required by industrialization. He removed all the curly-ques required by Spencerian script and made handwriting much easier after 1920.

Trubek’s book also covers such things as the collecting of autographs, which started in the mid-1800s, and graphology, which was started by a French priest in the 1800s.

The science of analyzing handwriting for evidentiary purposes in a court of law has had to evolve over the years. One used to be able to use the force one’s fingers used to press typewriter keys to prove who typed a document. The wear and tear on the parts of a typewriter could prove on which typewriter a document was created.

Photo credit: Csabi Elter

Consider that for a moment. I’m showing my age, but I learned to type on a manual typewriter. Now, the justice system is faced with determining the true identity of a person who electronically “signs” his or her name. How things have changed in the last 50 years!

When I think about handwriting and how people rarely hand write letters today, it makes me sad. Last year, my sister and I assisted a 97-year-old friend who wanted to preserve the letters he and his wife wrote to one another during the Korean War. What a treasure those letters are! We organized the letters in chronological order and placed them in archival binders. Hopefully, some of his descendants will see the value in those letters. When people go off to war now, they can telephone and text their loved ones. Few of those communications are saved for posterity.

In her book, Trubek points out that if a child isn’t taught cursive writing by the fourth grade, an important window of opportunity will close. She says that it is by that age that a typical child needs to master cursive in order for him or her to achieve cognitive automaticity.

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema

Trubeck says if cursive isn’t mastered by then, the child will continue to struggle with handwriting. It will forever be a skill the person has trouble with because they didn’t learn it early enough for it to become something they can do without thinking about it. She says the “up” side of this is that this child might be able to type faster than someone who is better at handwriting.

To that, I would say it’s a big price to pay. This person might be able to get a higher-paying job later on, but what if he or she grows up and wants to do historical research for pay or for fun?

Photo credit: Alessio Fiorentino

Not being able to read handwritten primary sources will definitely be a drawback. There’s no substitute for primary sources in historical or genealogical research. In my own genealogical research I’ve found many instances where names in census and other records have been misread when they’ve been converted to typed records. When the typed copies are taken for fact, misinformation is perpetuated.

In the arena of the debate over teaching cursive or not, I still come down on the side of teaching it for the very reason I just gave.

Do you think children should be taught cursive?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and why you come down on one side or the other. Or, perhaps you don’t have an opinion.

For my readers in other English-speaking countries

Is there a debate about continuing to teach children cursive writing in other English-speaking countries aside from the United States?

Since my last blog post

I borrowed another book about handwriting from the public library. Power Penmanship: An Illustrated Guide to Enhancing Your Image Through the Art of Handwriting Style, by Janet Ernst, helped me address several (well, actually, six letters I’d gotten a bit sloppy in writing.)

I blame taking shorthand in high school for ruining my handwriting. Since that was 50 years ago, I decided it was time to stop making excuses and start making corrections. After spending just 10 minutes a day for six consecutive days, I was able to see some improvement. I think we never get too old to try to improve something about ourselves.

After much brainstorming about the opening scenes in the historical novel I’m writing, The Heirloom (working title), I have started working on a new plot angle. I’d hoped to switch gears from brainstorming to rewriting those opening scenes last week, but my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in the UK) relapse continued to drastically limit my work. When my energy level is this low, it’s tempting to stop trying to write; however, I was feeling a little better by the time the weekend rolled around. I’m back to work on The Heirloom as of Saturday. My journey as a writer surely is bumpy!

Until my next blog post

I hope you have the energy to do all the things you need or want to do.

Remember the people of Ukraine.

Janet

How much do you value your public library?

When I planned today’s topic, the war had not begun in Ukraine. When I wrote the rough draft, the people of Ukraine were not fleeing for their lives. What has happened in the last month put the topic of public libraries in a whole new light.

Kyiv, Ukraine before mid-February 2022. Photo credit: hristo sahatchiev on unsplash.com

National Public Radio (NPR) here in the United States reported this week that libraries in Ukraine are doing what libraries do. Just as historic statues are being sand-bagged and stained-glass windows in 13th century churches are being covered in metal shields, the library staffs and volunteers are working around the clock to save what they can. Irreplaceable library items and collections are being taken to other countries for safe keeping.

According to this NPR report, https://www.npr.org/2022/03/09/1085220209/ukraine-libraries-bomb-shelters, libraries there are offering classes on making camouflage and are serving as bomb shelters. It’s what libraries do when push comes to shove.

I can’t image living in such a situation as the Ukrainians are dealing with. A couple of months ago, they were working, playing, going to school, eating in restaurants, going shopping, and enjoying the benefits of libraries. Today they are fighting for their very lives and the survival of their democracy.

Lviv, Ukraine. Photo credit: Nataliia Kvitovska on unsplash.com

My library experience

It’s odd how some months I read quite a few books and some months I read only one or two. I couldn’t afford to purchase most of those books, so how did a I manage to read so much?

I have two free public library systems to thank for all of them. Before you say, “Public libraries aren’t free; I pay for those libraries and their books with my tax dollars,” I agree; however, regardless of your tax status or how much or how little you pay in taxes, you can use those libraries.

Harrisburg Branch of Cabarrus County Public Library System

In the big scheme of things, only a few of your tax dollars are earmarked for public libraries. When you want or need to use the vast resources of your public library, it doesn’t cost you one cent.

I have access to the public library system in the county in which I live. A few years ago, my sister and I paid $100 to have lifetime household access to the library system in the adjacent county in which we used to live. It’s the best $100 we ever spent. Some adjacent counties have reciprocal agreements. You might want to check into that.

If you despair of paying local property tax, just pretend that all your tax dollars go to support the public libraries in your city or county. When local government funds get tight, the library system is usually the first service to bite the dust.

We saw library hours drastically cut during The Great Recession, and it took longer for operations to get back to normal than it did for the doors to be locked almost overnight.

In my county, at least, each branch manager can tell you how many people come through the doors and how many books are checked out every month. The director of the public library system uses those statistics every May and June to prove to the county commissioners how important the library system is. The more the commissioners know how much the system is being used, the harder it will be for them to cut library budgets.

A library card is free. All you need is proof of residency to get one. The public library has computers for the public to use, newspapers for you to read, books in various formats for you to check out, magazines for you to read on-site and sometimes to check out, and music CDs for you to borrow.

Most public library branches offer programs for adults and children and classes you can take. For instance, a few years ago I took a free course about Excel at my local library. The library is also a good, safe, public place for your child to meet with a tutor.

I borrow e-books, borrow books on CD, download books on MP3, borrow large print books, and regular print books. I borrow past issues of magazines. I borrow music CDs. I attend programs and get to hear authors speak (or did before the pandemic.) There are reference books I can use on site. I can do research and read microfilmed records in the local history/genealogy room.

If your hobby is genealogy, but you prefer not to pay for a subscription to a service such as Ancestry.com, inquire about it at your local public library. The one in my town has an Ancestry.com membership that’s free to the public. Through it, you can access all US Census records that have been released as public information.

If you aren’t taking advantage of your local public library, please remedy that immediately! While you’re there, see if it has a copy of my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, on the shelf. If it doesn’t, ask if it can be added to the collection. Did you know you can do that? You can inquire in person at your local branch or you can probably submit a request through your library’s website. There are no guarantees, but such requests will be given consideration by the library system’s administrators.

Free public libraries help to “level the playing field.” We need more of that in this time when the gap between “the haves” and “the have nots” seems to be widening.

Where else can you get all that and more?

Never, never, never take public libraries for granted!

Since my last blog post

Do you ever have one of those weeks when you feel like you were busy but when Friday rolls around you can’t remember anything you accomplished? That sounds like me last Friday when I sat down to type this paragraph.

I didn’t work on my novel like I should have or planned to do, but I made a lot of progress on the old graveyard photography project I mentioned in last Monday’s blog post.

I’ve also been taking pictures of items my sister and I have that belonged to our parents or grandparents. We’re adding them to a photo album we’ve dedicated to such items in which we write the history of each item so future generations that end up with them will know where they came from. It will be up to future generations to decide what to keep and what to discard, but at least they’ll know why each item held importance to us.

I also did some cross-stitching and college basketball watching. After all, it was the first week of “March Madness” in the United States.

Until my next blog post

Keep checking out library books! I hope you have a good one to read this week.

Find time for a hobby.

Read newspapers, listen to NPR, and watch reputable news broadcasts on TV. Don’t shy away from watching the news because “it’s all bad” or you “don’t want to see that.” You owe it to yourself and your fellow residents of your country and this world to keep up with current events.

I cringe every time someone tells me they don’t watch the news – like someone did last week. Just because you choose not to be aware of what’s happening doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Janet

Using ALL your senses in your writing

One of my favorite quotes about writing is this one from Russian playwright and short story writer, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

I included that quote when I touched on the topic of writing all the senses in my February 14, 2022, blog post, Can Movies Help You Write? Today I’m going a bit deeper into the subject.

As an aspiring novelist, I have a lot to learn. To try to remember all the things a scene needs to include can be overwhelming. It’s not enough to stay in the head of your point-of-view character at all times. It’s not enough to be cognizant of pacing. It’s not enough to remember to throw in a red herring once in a while or to vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs. It’s not enough to include all characters’ body language (but only what the point-of-view character notices.) A writer must also remember to include what the point-of-view character sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches.

In addition, a writer today is told to keep in mind that today’s reader has a short attention span. If that’s true, I probably lost most of my audience midway through the previous paragraph.

For those of you still reading this blog post, I’ll continue. I say all this (1) to make fiction readers appreciate some of the work it takes to write a novel you’ll enjoy; and (2) to lead up to a recommended blog series you might benefit from if you’re studying the art and craft of writing.

In 2020, Joan Hall wrote a series of blog posts about using all the senses, including the 6th Sense, in your writing. Here are the links to Ms. Hall’s six blog posts about the senses:

Sight: Photo Credit: Davidson Luna on Unsplash.com

Post number one in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/02/14/using-the-five-senses-sight/.


Smell: Photo Credit: Motunrayo Babtunde on Unsplash.com

Post number two in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/using-the-five-senses-smell/.

Taste: Photo Credit: Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.com

Post number three in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/03/11/using-the-five-senses-taste/.

Sound: Photo Credit: Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash.com

Post number four in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/03/27/using-the-five-senses-sound/.

Touch: Photo Credit: Jocelyn Morales on Unsplash.com

Post number five in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/using-the-five-senses-touch/.

I couldn’t find a photo to represent the Sixth Sense in the way I wanted to here, so use your own imagination for the sense of knowing in advance that something is going to happen. Have you experienced it? I have, and it can be unsettling.

Post number six in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/04/29/the-sixth-sense/.

I might be accused of cheating here by giving you the links to Joan Hall’s blog posts about writing the senses, but she’s far more experienced in writing and more knowledgeable of the subject than I.

The Internet has made it possible for writers to learn from others in ways that weren’t possible before the 1990s. It gives us a marvelous platform on which to share ideas and give each other feedback. I’ve learned a great deal from writers like Joan Hall through blog posts and online articles.

I hope you find Joan Hall’s blog series helpful if, like me, you’re learning to write. I started to say, “write fiction,” but creative nonfiction also entails using all the senses.

I felt vindicated when I read Ms. Hall’s article about the sixth sense, for I was already using it in my The Doubloon novel manuscript. I was pleased that I thought to do that before being told that I should consider it.


Since my last blog post

I took a short break from writing last week to work on a project I started 20 years ago for my church. It involves taking photographs of the grave markers in four of the church’s cemeteries. When a congregation has a 271-years history, it can end up with multiple cemeteries on the different sides of various creeks.

Old Rocky River Graveyard, October 2021

Digital photography allows me to read the inscription on many of the markers that cannot be read in person due to the ravages of time. March and October are the best months to take pictures in these rural cemeteries due to the angle of the sunlight and the number of large trees that surround and have grown up inside them. I’m taking advantage of the month of March to get back to a project I’ve neglected for a few years.

My project might sound morbid to some of you, but I don’t see it like that at all. Some of my immigrant ancestors are buried in each of the four cemeteries, so I feel like I’m honoring them in a small way by making a permanent record of the inscriptions on their grave markers.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read — one that you can’t wait to get back to.

If you’re writing, painting, or endeavoring to do anything creative, I hope you produce some rewarding and satisfying work this week.

Stay safe and well. Please come back next week to see what my next blog post is about.

By the way, on Wednesday, pause to consider that it’s National Book Smuggler Day in Lithuania. Here’s the scoop:

In 1864, Russian authorities outlawed the printing of books using the Latin alphabet in Lithuania and tried to force the Cyrillic alphabet on Lithuanian speakers. A newspaperman, Jurgis Bielinis, created an underground network to get Lithuanian books smuggled into the country. Some who were caught were banished to Siberia or shot in the head. The ban lasted until 1904 but is still remembered on March 16, which is the date of Bielinis’ birth. You can find more about this online. It’s an inspiring bit of history I wasn’t aware of until recently.

There are two lessons we can learn from this: (1) The Russian government never stops being Russia; and (2) Regardless of what a book contains, it’s never a good idea to withhold access to it, for book banning and the banning of knowledge never have positive results.

May the free world continue to support the people of Ukraine.

Janet

My Little White Dog

My little white dog died last Monday. He was the perfect dog for my sister and me, and we will forever miss him. It’s been a difficult week, but each day gets a little bit easier as we deal with our loss.

Those of you who are “dog people” understand. Those of you who aren’t, I can’t explain to you how sad it is to lose one.

Notice his Carolina Panthers pillow in the background.

He was a rescue dog, and we’ll never understand how his former family turned him out to fend for himself in a city until he was picked up by the county’s animal control personnel. He was rescued from the animal shelter by a dog rescue organization, and it was through that organization that this sweet little white dog adopted my sister and me.

He took us on as his project. I guess we were his “purpose.” He helped us do everything and was our constant companion and caregiver. I think he thought we were helpless, and that’s why it was so hard for him to let go last Monday afternoon.

He was so proud the day in 2014 when my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina arrived!

I tried to determine if the poem, “My Little White Dog,” by Nell Gay White was in the public domain, but I couldn’t find any information about Ms. White or her poem. I’m going out on a limb here and sharing that poem with you today. I copied it years ago because it touched my heart. I didn’t even have a little white dog at that time, but the one pictured in this blog post has given my sister and me joy every single day of the last eight and one-half years.



My Little White Dog, by Nell Gay White

“I wonder if Christ had a little white dog,

All curly and wooly like mine,

With two silly ears and a nose round and wet,

And two tender brown eyes that shine?

“I’m sure if he had, that little white dog

Knew right from the first he was God.

He needed no proof that Christ was divine –

But just worshipped the ground where he trod.

“I’m afraid that he hadn’t because I have read

That he prayed in the garden alone;

For all of his friends and disciples had fled

Even Peter, the one called a stone.

“And, Oh, I am sure that a little white dog

With a heart so tender and warm,

Would never have left him to suffer alone

But creeping right under his arm.

“Would have licked those dear fingers, in agony clasped,

And counting all favors but loss ,

When they took him away, would have trotted behind

And followed him quite to the Cross.”

Just chillin’ on the sofa


Until my next blog post

Take care of yourself.

Janet