Originally Posted On: Uncle Spike’s Adventures
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
Here’s how to add your support to our message of peace:
1) Publish the following statement on your own blog
2) Post a link to Twitter (#BloggersUniteForPeace) and/or Facebook
3) Reblog this post or any post that replicates this statement
4) Request to be added to the signatory list below by adding a comment or mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
5) Add an image Widget using this image URL and link to this post
Out in the real world I try my best to spread this message everywhere I go via my license plate. Some days are easier than others.
Driving around with this message on a daily basis carries a huge responsibility. It forces me to control my urge to get angry at other drivers, even when they deserve it. It reminds me to be courteous; mindful and respectful of those around me.
Believe me when I tell you these are not easy tasks to accomplish! Living in a world where everything is moving at the speed of light, patience are sparse and tempers run high make it challenging at best, but I try and that is a start. Trying and succeeding are not the same.
“True peace cannot be dictated, it can only be built in co-operation between all peoples. None of us, no nation, no citizen, is free from some responsibility for this.” Quakers in Britain in 1943
So fellow bloggers stand together for Peace and … Enjoy the Ride!
It’s been a while since I’ve paused to do what I love so much, but better late than never folks. I bet you’re all wondering what the hell I’ve been up to over these past few months. Sadly the answer is NOT traveling the world with my lottery winnings in tow.
The biggest thing that has happened to us over the past few months is we have broken our ties with CABLE TELEVISION. That’s right people I am living the Antenna Life a/k/a Clean Livin’. Yes, I did say “no cable” and “antenna” in November of 2105.
This relationship came to erupt end when my son accidentally changed our plan via the remote when he was trying to order a movie. You know what prevents this from happening …. wearing your GLASSES.
Within minutes, I called our new server Verizon Fios to alert them of the accident. Of course, I acted as if my son were a toddler playing with the remote opposed to the 20-year old ordering some god forsaken movie in the middle of the day, but that didn’t seem to matter. He could have been legally blind, randomly hitting buttons and zero fucks would still be given!
This is when I was informed that our plan was no longer available. In less than an hour our plan disappeared? Yes. Apparently that’s how our plan rolled. I had no idea we had the playah of cable plans, the plan that jumped from one customer to the next without looking back.
After several calls to rectify this is a civil manner we were calmly told “there is NOTHING we can do.” Really? In 2015, there is N O T H I N G that can be done? Not a single button could be pushed to rectify an accidental incident for a new customer … nada! Alrighty then ….
Have you ever gone from calm, cool and collected to cursing like Tony Montana? I have.
scare the crap out of you bore you with the ugly details of these negotiations, just know they ended with more money in my pocket each month and a new pair of boots on my feet to prove it!
Leaving the 21st century wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be … for us. My son’s response was “Whew! I got out just in time!” and my daughter responded with “I think I just saw a dinosaur walk by.” They think we have lost our minds, but they weren’t paying the bill so we don’t care.
No fears people we do have a Smart TV that allows us an occasional re-entry into the current century via Netflix. But I must say, we’ve been enjoying the calmness of outdated sitcoms much much more than anything from this century. Less violence goes a long way, especially at bedtime.
I’ve been hooked on the original reality show The Munsters for weeks now. The Kardashians have nothing on this story line! Lilly and Herman recently had an awful argument, but no worries Grandpa and that hideous character Marilyn worked diligently to get them to make up. Do you see how deep I’m in? I’ll leave my other addiction, My Favorite Martian, for another post. I’m crushing hard on Bill Bixby … really hard.
Enjoy the Ride! Even if it’s in reverse, way back to the 70’s when we enjoyed life at a slower pace and weren’t polarized by fear, negativity and Donald Trump on a daily basis.
Although this is from 3 years ago, I think it is more relevant today. Enjoy this Second Ride….
Originally posted on Life With The Top Down:
In the spirit of Thanksgiving I wanted to share with you a powerful perspective on how Thankful we are to live in the country we do, even if the election didn’t go your way. Any who … I thought the excerpt below sent an important message that needed to be shared.
This is a really interesting way to put things in perspective.
If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following.
There would be:
- 57 Asians
- 21 Europeans
- 14 from the Western hemisphere, both north and south, and
- 8 Africans
- 52 would be female
- 48 would be male
- 70 would be non-white
- 30 would be white
- 70 would be non-Christian
- 30 would be Christian
- 6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth and all 6 would be from…
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Originally posted on Life With The Top Down:
I’ve been pondering about writing on this subject, but I decided it was necessary.
My feeling was the ticket availability was due to the lack of enthusiasm for venturing into NYC on 9/11, but I don’t think that was the case. It seemed to be business as usual 11 years later.
As we headed out in the wee hours of the morning, I couldn’t help but notice how this day seemed to mirror 11 years ago, as far as the weather was concerned anyway. It was absolutely perfect with clear blue skies, cool air and bright sunshine. No one expected the darkness we all experienced later that morning and I certainly didn’t anticipate what I experienced 11 years later, which was…
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Did you know it has been 2 months since LWTTD made an appearance? I certainly didn’t until WordPress kindly reminded me. Time flies .. right? When you’re “having fun” right?
I’m not going to dig up any unnecessary insanity, so lets just fast forward to July 29th, aka the beginning of a HEAT WAVE here in Philly when our air conditioner decided to say “Sayonara George family it’s been real!”
Day One: We suffered for what we thought would be one night of horrible sleeping conditions. The young adults living here reminded me more than once that “they never lived in these conditions.” Really? “Conditions?”
Day Two: Our Knight in Shining Armor arrives with freon to recharge our dying unit. It was equivalent to seeing a doctor running into the hospital with a beating heart in a cooler for me. My husband came in about an hour later to break the bad news .. “It’s not getting cold, there might be air in the line.” Translation: NO AIR!
Day Three: Since M E N do not communicate by actually speaking to one another on the phone and explaining the severity of a situation beyond “I’m sweating my balls off” the Knight in Shining Armor was not aware that we wanted him to come back and left his equipment on the job site until M O N D A Y! Sweating balls was much nicer than what I was thinking about doing to them in this moment.
Day Four: We accepted that sweating was going to be our new norm for the next couple of days, so of course my husband decided “Let’s re-do the laundry room!” Next thing you know I’m cleaning, scrubbing and picking out paint colors through beads of sweat dripping down my face. Obviously the heat had taken over my decision making skills.
Day Five: I was invited to a Baby Shower where I went to Ooo an Ahh in an air conditioned building with family, food, wine & cake. I left kicking and screaming!
Day Six: The struggle is real. This just happened to be the first day of our vacation, which I woke up to Peanut vomiting next to me … in our bed. Yep! I had plans for us to do something fun each day that didn’t involve sweat or vomit, but they went right into the shredder. So instead we decided to go look at a house. I already decided if it had air conditioning I would be making settlement.
While driving to our location my husband got a call. It was AC Mike a/k.a my Knight in Shining Armor. Normally I don’t condone being on the phone while driving, but it was DAY SIX of SWEATING so my screams of ANSWER IT! ANSWER IT! ANSWER IT! were legit.
AC Mike did come out, but only to call the Time of Death of our Carrier Unit at 6:15 Monday August 3, 2015. RIP!
Day Seven: At this point I started saying things like “It’s ONLY 86 in here” and “You can feel a breeze if you stand on the patio facing left.” Oh yea!
This is the day we had two Air Conditioning companies come out for estimates. Now, I have to tell you that we have NEVER EVER had a repairman in our house because my husband is able to fix anything….except air conditioners. Just imagine being these people right now.
We commit to a company, arrangements are made; and the weatherman announces that the heat & humidity will be leaving our area … of course it will.
The husband cannot just sit still and wait for the job to be done by the professional, so he started the job by taking everything apart. Then he rented some sort of who knows what tool that drilled a hole through our house along with a bunch of other things I know nothing about. Can you tell not doing this himself was killing him?
Day Eight: Let’s just say I may have been a little over enthusiastic this morning when our new unit arrived. Is it done yet? Is it done yet? Is it done yet?
I am happy to report that at 1:56 today cool air began filling our vents. Angels began to sing; and this overheated menopausal maiden began to smile!
Enjoy the Ride!
My weekend kicked off with what I would consider a Hyper-Sensitive day. No, I wasn’t leaving my tears all over Philly, but I was overly in touch to what was going on around me. Some of which could have left tears.
Keep in mind what you are about to read occurred on an 8-minute ride.
I was on my way to pick up my mom for our weekly food shopping extravaganza when I noticed a “man” walking down a very busy boulevard in my area. What made me question his humanness was the fact that he was wrapped in a white bath towel from head to toe and the resemblance to E.T. was uncanny. Call Home …. Please.
As I was sitting at what seemed like the longest light in the world, a woman crossed in front of my car. She was dressed in full Muslim garb, which isn’t something out of the ordinary these days, however the extreme hooker heels peeking out from under that garb took me by surprise. I could feel the blisters forming with each step. These shoes came right out of Lady Gaga’s closet!
Still adjusting my eyes from the hooker heels I made my left turn where I had the pleasure of sitting at yet another red light. This is where a minivan pulled up next to me trying way too hard to be cool. I thought minivans are where coolness goes to die.
This poor guy had all the windows open with the radio blasting on what may be the worst sound system on the planet. His song of choice for all of us within listening distance was Pitbull’s Culo. Here is a sample of my horror:
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Lets go (Let’s go)
Right about now, we need all the ladies to hit the danceflo’ (Dominicana)
If you got a big ol’ booty (Cubana, Mexicana)
And you like to set that motherfucker, let’s go! (Colombiana) (Boricua) Pitbull, Lil’ Jon, Heey, Heey!
The fact that I recognized this song might be the scariest part of the experience!
The car behind me couldn’t get away from the impromptu concert fast enough. It just zoomed right in front of me when the light changed. But no worries she found herself next to me at the next light. So predictable.
When this happens we are obligated to turn and acknowledge such drivers with an expressionless glare a/k/a victory.
What I was not prepared for was the zombie decal covering the entire window glaring back at me. At first I thought it was sporting a friendly peace sign, then I realized it’s clawing to be released. WTF!
Once I put my heart back in place the light turned green and the Zombie mobile cut in front of me again. As I tried to justify the big hurry I noticed a gold glittered dog bone magnet that read “Groomer” going across the trunk of her car. Ok, maybe the crazy driving is due to a grooming emergency.
Just when I thought I was safe she erratically turned into an apartment parking lot. At this point, I was really hoping to see a matted dog waiting for her assistance. Sadly for my corneas the only thing waiting was a young man in a Superman stance sporting an erection. Yerp!
This is when I decided to pause, opposed to heading straight for the nearest pole. There had to be some sort of lesson hidden within all this crazy. What was CC or that cosmic comedian better known as the universe trying to tell me?
M E M O
1. Wearing a bath towel on the boulevard was a reminder to stop letting the opinions of others fuel my journey;
2. Hidden hooker heels could have been a sign to stop holding back and just let my inner hooker heels shine;
3. Poor minivan guy was a little nudge to be more of myself in spite of my current surroundings;
4. The zombie desperately trying to escape was really me knowing that it’s indeed time to move forward; and
5. Erection guy’s message was loud and clear. Confidence is the key to making your dreams come true.
Enjoy the Ride!
I came across this amazing story 3 years ago and believe it should shared yet again. These men and their non-violent sacrifices should be recognized for their service at a time of war and their lifetime commitment to continue that service right here at home.
With Memorial Day approaching I would like give a well deserved nod to a group of very brave men. We rarely hear about this peaceful group, especially on holidays that memorialize war heroes, but they are heroes too. The Conscientious Objectors or CO’s as they were better known, provided services that were not combative. Non-combative rolls served this country long after the dust of the war had settled.
In my personal search for “something more” I began attending a Quaker Meeting in my area. After years of attending regularly I proudly made it official and became a Quaker. It was among this group where I first learned about these very brave peacemakers. Being a pacifist in a country that prides itself on war could not be easy, but that’s how Quakers roll. Throughout history they stood for unpopular injustices without batting an eye.
This story touched me for many reasons, but it hit home since I was raised in a neighborhood that literally sits in the backyard of this hospital. I grew up looking at the shells of these abandon buildings. They were a constant reminder of the horrors that took place.
Please take a minute to read this well written story by Joseph Shapiro. He brings the works of these very brave men and the POWER of PEACE to life. Click below to see and hear the moving work of these men. Their quiet works should be an inspiration to us all.
WWII Pacifists Exposed Mental Ward Horrors
In September of 1942, Warren Sawyer, a 23-year-old conscientious objector, reported for his volunteer assignment as an attendant at a state mental hospital. The young Quaker was one of thousands of pacifists who had refused to fight and instead were assigned to work in places few outsiders got to see — places like Philadelphia State Hospital, best known as Byberry.
“Byberry’s the last stop on the bus here in Philadelphia,” Sawyer recalls. “Any young man on the bus, other people knew that we were COs working at the hospital. And they’d make different kinds of remarks, supposedly talking to each other, but hoping that we hear. And you know: ‘Yellowbellies, slackers.’ ”
Those slurs were harsh. But not nearly as harsh as what awaited the young men inside the gates of the chaotic and overcrowded hospital for people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.
The young pacifists would be changed by what they saw in places like Byberry, and then become a force for change themselves.
Serving The Country At Home
Ten million men were drafted into the military during World War II. But more than 40,000 refused to go to war. These conscientious objectors came from more than 100 religions. But most were from the traditional peace churches: people from the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites and Quakers. Still, they wanted to serve their country. Many did serve in the military in noncombatant roles. Others did alternative service, like the 3,000 who were assigned to 62 state mental hospitals around the country.
“Well, I called them hellholes,” says Sawyer. “Terribly overcrowded. All we did and all we could do was just custodial care. Because when you have three men taking care of 350 incontinent patients with everything all over the floor, feces and urine and all that kind of thing.”
The smell got into his clothes and was so strong that even after he washed them, the smell lingered. “In the incontinent ward,” he says, “it took a few weeks before you got used to eating supper with the smell all through your clothes and everything.”
The “incontinent ward” was what the men called A Building. It was a large open room with a concrete slab for a floor. There were no chairs. There were no activities, no therapy, not even a radio to listen to. So hundreds of men — most of them naked — walked about aimlessly or hunched on the floor and huddled against the filthy bare walls.
Nearby was B Building; it was called the “violent ward” or the “death house,” because angry men sometimes violently attacked one another. In one room, rows and rows of men were strapped and shackled to their bed frames.
Sawyer wrote frequent letters home, and those letters provide some of the best surviving historical record of the conditions in those grim wards and of the work of the conscientious objectors at Byberry.
“It was in B Building, the death house,” he started in a letter written in September 1944 that explained one day of violence. “Due to the shortage of cuffs and straps and restraint locks that has prevailed in B Building for some time, one of the patients was able to get himself loose. He was a very dangerous fellow. He only had one cuff and strap on and he got out. He had a spoon that had been broken off at the end and was sharpened almost to a knife edge.”
“After he was loose, he went to another patient and jabbed him in the side of the neck on top of his shoulder and drove the spoon down about one inch deep, just missing the jugular vein.”
“Our work was to try to get attendants to realize these were ordinary people with a little problem and they needed help,” says John Bartholomew.
Working in such a brutal and chaotic place tested the men’s own ideals of nonviolence.
“But I found out there, the difference between violence and force,” says Hartman, who at the time was a young Methodist. “We used force. We’d grab a man and we’d pin him. And then maybe get a nurse if we could to give him a shot. But we didn’t use violence. And the difference was: It wasn’t unusual next day for the patient to come around and thank us for not using violence when we could have.”
There was lots of violence at Byberry. Many of the regular attendants were drunks who’d get fired at one state hospital and just move on to a job at the next. Some kept control by hitting patients with things like sawed-off broom handles or a rubber hose filled with buckshot.
Hartman says the patients came to appreciate the gentler manner of the conscientious objectors. “Cause they knew, the regular attendants, one of their tricks was to use a wet towel and put it around their neck and squeeze it. It, of course, choked them awful, but it didn’t make any mark on them so no state inspector could catch up with them,” he says.
Making A Lasting Impact
Still, the young pacifists worried that it wasn’t enough simply to show kindness. With the end of the war nearing, the conscientious objectors soon would be gone, but they didn’t want to leave behind a place where untrained and underpaid attendants ruled patients by brutality and violence.
So the conscientious objectors came up with a daring plan. Sawyer wrote about it in one of his letters home:
“We are working on a carefully laid out plan to blow this place open in two months,” he wrote. In secret, they went to newspapers, with details of the scandal inside the institution. “If we COs do nothing about this place to improve it,” Sawyer continued, “our stay here has been to no avail and we have accomplished nothing. Two other fellows and I are heading up this thing to launch a campaign and gather material.”
One of those other fellows was a conscientious objector named Charlie Lord.
Today, Lord, 89, lives in another Quaker retirement community, this one in Tennessee. In the living room of his brick bungalow, he flips through old yellowed photographs. “Here’s the original one. Here, 1946. This is the day room with dozens of naked men along the left wall.”
At Byberry, Lord sneaked a small Agfa camera in his jacket pocket. It was the camera he’d borrowed to take on his honeymoon. But he’d dropped it in a lake and then felt he had to buy the damaged camera from his friend. Now he could use it to take pictures to show conditions in the A and B buildings.
When no one was watching, he’d quickly shoot a picture without even looking through the viewfinder. “I’d try to fill the frame,” he says. “You know, not just have little people far away. I’d get up as close as I could. I was aware of composition. But the main thing was to show the truth.”
Over a few months, Lord filled three rolls of film, with 36 exposures each. His pictures showed the truth, in black and white. In the past, reformers and journalists like Dorothea Dix and Nellie Bly sneaked into institutions and wrote exposes about the horrific conditions there.
But Lord was one of the first to ever expose institutions by using the power of photography. “I just thought this would show people what it was like. It’s not, not somebody writing to describe something,” he says. “They can use flowery words or you know, do whatever they want. But if the photograph is there, you can’t deny it.”
One of the first people to see the photographs was Eleanor Roosevelt, in September 1945. A meeting was arranged between Roosevelt — whose husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, had died just a few months before — and a couple of the conscientious objectors from Byberry. They brought along Lord’s disturbing photos. But Roosevelt at first doubted them.
According to Steven Taylor, a professor of disability studies at Syracuse University, Roosevelt assumed these were photos from some institution in the South. She said she knew about those kinds of conditions in Mississippi or Alabama. When told that they had actually been taken at an institution in Philadelphia, Roosevelt then promised to support the reform campaign and wrote about what she’d seen to government health officials and journalists.
Lord’s photographs would have their biggest impact several months later, when they were published in Life magazine in May 1946.
Taylor says the images of thin, naked men lined against walls echoed some other disturbing images Americans had just seen. “The immediate reaction by many people to these photographs were that these look[ed] like the Nazi concentration camps. People could not believe that this was the way we treated people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities in our society,” he says. “So it created a kind of mass uproar, nationally.”
Of course, one can’t equate the conditions in American mental hospitals back then — no matter how inhumane — with the extermination of more than 6 million Jews and others. In fact, among those killed by the Nazis were up to 250,000 people with disabilities. They were mainly people with mental illness and intellectual disability, the same disabilities as the people who lived at American institutions like Byberry.
Still, Taylor, who has written a new book about the World War II conscientious objectors calledActs of Conscience: World War II, Mental Institutions and Religious Objectors, says the photos punctured a national sense of American superiority.
“We saved the world. We stood for human rights; we condemned the Holocaust,” he says. “America’s confidence was soaring in the immediate post-World War II era. We were morally superior; we were militarily superior. And I think this was a stark reminder that America wasn’t perfect. America had its shortcomings.”
In postwar America, the country turned to righting those shortcomings. Conscientious objectors from Byberry started a national association that helped train and professionalize workers at state hospitals. And, most of all, they helped improve the lives of the vulnerable people who lived in those state institutions.
The COs from Byberry continued to work for social change, in political activism and in the jobs they chose.
Charlie Lord became a professional photographer and a social worker. The Bartholomew brothers both went into social work. John Bartholomew worked for a mental health group that moved people out of institutions and into small group homes.
Neal Hartman was a teacher. Warren Sawyer sold real estate and is proudest of the way he helped integrate neighborhoods.
Sawyer says what he saw at Byberry — and what he saw could be changed — fortified his dedication to work for human rights. His work at Byberry, he says “changed my life in terms of appreciation of people who are forgotten. It makes me want to make people aware of the many things that need to be done, that people need to be involved in doing things.”
My daughter graduated from Lebanon Valley College here in Pennsylvania last Saturday. To say we are proud in an understatement.
The commencement address was based on the subjects of truth and knowledge. I sat in the audience hanging on every word. It was as if we were the only two in the room. I was meant to hear this speech.
You see, my daughter didn’t take the typical academic path to becoming a college graduate, her path reads like the plot of a LifeTime movie. It’s best to watch these movies from your couch, not play them out in your lives.
Eight years ago I set out to have some questions answered about what was going on behind closed doors at the grade school my children had attended. There were some red flags on the ground right from its inception, but it was much easier to turn a blind eye than to admit that something might be wrong with this miraculous academic facility that landed in our neighborhood wearing all sorts of bells and whistles with $0 tuition. Why would we ever rock that boat?
We were in the midst of requesting that our daughter be transitioned from a Special Education classroom into a full-time mainstream classroom. Sounds easy enough right?
She was diagnosed with learning differences in 3rd grade and had been in the Special Education system, but while she was in Middle School we felt it was time to move forward since she was doing so well. We were looking at her academic future and our belief that she would be attending college in just 3 more years. Perfect attendance. Straight A’s. Honor Roll. What else would we be thinking?
This is when we, including my daughter, were informed by what I like to consider the Sarah Palin of School Psychologists “your daughter will never go to college, not even a community college.” What?!
Have you ever been floored? I mean stunned to the point that you were paralyzed? That is how I felt in this moment. To this day I’m not sure what happened, but as I sat stunned my husband was reenacting a scene from Pulp Fiction, pushing the table across the room and demanding answers from pseudo Sarah on how a child receiving straight A’s throughout her entire academic career could not have the opportunity to attend college? Yikes!
The answer: She was being tested on what she knew and was not being challenged beyond her own knowledge. As if that weren’t enough to absorb, learning that the person making these educational decisions on behalf of my child was an ex police officer with a high school diploma. Let that sink in for a minute.
Immediately following this meeting I put my Nancy Drew cap on and began digging, but little did I know I was about to open a can of worms that escalated to the size of a vat overnight. Fast & Furious.
Fast forward after months of giving Nancy Drew a serious run for her money. Speaking before the School Reform Commission. Endless emails, letters and visits to the School District of Philadelphia. Visits to our State Representatives and Congressman. Meetings with the Inspector Generals Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. But most of all the relentless efforts of Martha Woodall, an educational reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Surprise! Life With The Top Down is a living breathing whistleblower. Yes, its true and I’m still getting shunned today as a result. Learn something new every day now don’t we.
Silly me, I thought people would be happy to know that the reason their kids weren’t receiving services was because millions of their tax dollars were being squandered by the administration, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Learning that everything you believed to be true is a fucking lie doesn’t go over very well among the masses.
The story is a long one that reads so much like a fiction novel it would leave you questioning its authenticity. Trust me, I lived it and still question it.
The bottom line is this … blah, blah, blah:
- Most popular Charter school in Philadelphia is in the middle of a scandal.
- Open the door to more scandals at 18 other schools.
- Millions stolen
- Federal Hearings
- Law Changes
- Justice Served
Here are a few of the many articles written about the insanity. Our First Amendment ROCKS!
Although justice had been served in a Federal Courtroom years ago, it was not served until May 9, 2015 for my daughter. We had put this part of our lives behind us, or so I thought. Two days before graduation my daughter sent me a photo of her transcript that read “Completed” with the words: JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED. Indeed it has ….
All of her hard work, determination and perseverance has paid off. I present to you one of the hardest working students from the Class of 2015.
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I decided to pay homage to my mother … Venita. My mother is the oldest of three children born to her Italian immigrant parents Vincenzo Torcini and Maria/Mary Landini in 1926.
Vincenzo left her life at 4 years old, shortly after the Great Depression entered. This left her mother faced with the burden of raising her young children alone, without any means to do so. After this abandonment, she suffered from what would most likely be considered a nervous breakdown today. No welfare, free housing or Valium for Mary.
Years later my mother was told that the apartment they were living in had caught fire and her mother was under the impression that the children perished. Needless to say that pushed her over the edge and lead her to the breakdown.
Scenarios like this were not uncommon especially among immigrant families during the Great Depression. Many of them could not find work to support their families, because they could not speak English. This frustration, piled on top of economic pressures led to abandonment and in some cases suicide.
This tragic set of circumstances left my mother and her siblings in the care of the Catholic Charities in Philadelphia. They were placed in an orphanage, followed by what was called a Shelter. This was emergency lodging that was set up in order accommodate all the families that had become homeless after the Depression. Some were run privately and were set up to serve cases like that of my mother’s family. These children needed homes until their parents were able to support them again.
My mother and her brother, who were only 14 months apart, were separately placed into homes. Unfortunately, their sister and youngest of the three, died of malnutrition while waiting for placement. The children were taken to several different homes before settling into somewhat permanent residences.
My uncle was raised by an Italian family in South Philadelphia, while my mother was raised by an Irish woman in North Philadelphia. To this day my mother refers to her as “the Irish woman who raised me.” She rarely refers to her by name, which was Ellen O’Malley. Ellen was a widow at a very young age, never had children of her own and never re-married. It was her single lifestyle that allowed her to open her home to these children. Giving children to single women..now that’s a switch.
Ellen O’Malley a/k/a “Auntie” cared for my mother from the time she was 7 years old until she was 16. There were other children placed during her time with “Auntie”, however they had parents that remained in their lives with weekly visitations. These children were just waiting for their parents to get work to rebuild their lives, but this was not the case for my mom. Her father never did return and her mother remained at the hospital until her death. This left my mother to just wait,wonder and hope.
Auntie did the best she could to raise her, however she did not express herself in a motherly way. This is understandable since the other children had mothers in their lives and she most likely didn’t want to impose.
To this day when my mother talks to me about her own mother I can hear the yearning of unanswered questions in her tone.
At now 88 years old she is still left to wonder if her face resembles that of her mother or father. No pictures, no trinkets, no memories of her own and surprisingly…not one ounce of resentment.
What is her secret? How did my mother raise (4) children of her own without ever experiencing the love and nurturing of her own mother?
I have to conclude … Momma, you were born this way. She is humble and naturally loving person who gained strength from her hardship that resonated into the enormous love she has for her own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
My mother still enjoys the talents of Lady Gaga and now that she has hooked up with Tony Bennett she loves her even more. My sister gave her the CD so she can rock out to the classics of her day.
At 88 Ventia is representing a slower version of that hip hat wearing, organic eating, interesting, funny, strong Lady Gaga loving Democrat I wrote about 3 years ago.
Today she seems to enjoy Dancing with the Stars in her living room more than going to the movies; looking at the photos in the People Magazine more than solving the crosswords: and returning home by 3 to avoid being exhausted or turning into a pumpkin the jury is still out on this one.
She can still drop hilarious one-liners to make us laugh and LOVE her family with all her heart and I am grateful every day to be on the receiving end of both.
Love you Momma …. Enjoy the Ride!
Well well well Mother Nature, it looks as though you may have redeemed yourself with these much-needed two days in a row filled with just the right amount of heat, sunshine and breezes to make the world good again.
Today was the perfect day to be happy so we rolled out the ole MLC (Mid Life Crisis) for the first time this season. It was so nice out we couldn’t bear the thought of Peanut and Landon cooped up in the house, so they hitched along.
As you can see Peanut is already convertible savvy with his hair blowing in the wind with zero fucks given about how he’ll look once we stop moving.
On the other hand, Landon decided to play it safe chillin’ in his bed for fear he would look like a tumble weed with eyes by the end of this adventure.
We took a ride to the Max Hansen Carversville Grocery, which is an incredible little slice of awesomeness in Bucks County. The food is I N S A N E and it’s loaded with local artisan do-dads, honey, jelly and so much more. It’s a MUST stop for anyone in the area.
We sat in a little picnic area to share a piece of lemon pound cake while being fully entertained two very rambunctious little boys and their newly rescued dog Kingston. Cuteness overload!
The brothers were rolling around on the grass professing in unison “I’m having sooooo much fun!” I would have joined them, but the thought of itchy eyes, a runny nose and hives stopped me in my tracks.
This place is a gem! The second you enter the Village of Carversville, you immediately feel as if you arrived in a DeLorean. It’s incredibly quaint, but with wi-fi and amazing food choices. No doubt this place is the cusp of both worlds. It was like being the third wheel on the simpler times meets good quality food hook-up.
When we first pulled up there was an older gentleman sitting on a bench listening to a baseball game on a small radio with a real live antenna. Seriously, I was waiting for the Beav and Wally to walk through the door.
We will heading back to this new find on May 30 for Carversville Day. There will be crafters, fun for the whole family with free parking and free admission. No doubt Ward & June Cleaver will be making an appearance that day.
This is exactly the type of place I want to settle down in. I would get to experience the simpler life, with modern amenities of course. Then when I’m itching for a sense of city life, I can just hop in the car for a 10 minute trip to New Hope, Pa., where Lord knows I’ll be able to see everything imaginable in 5 seconds for my fix. A win win in my book!
Take time to get your Groove on, even if it’s in a little town thrown back in time and Enjoy the Ride!