Jewish Women and the Columbus Jewish Historical Society

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Founders of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Toby Brief, when she talked to the American Association of University Women, about the Columbus Jewish Historical Society and showed us around their little museum in Bexley.

The mission of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society is to collect, preserve, and publish materials on the history of the Jewish people of Columbus and central Ohio; to encourage projects, celebrations, and activities which spread authentic information concerning Columbus and central Ohio Jewish history; to create a Society concerned with the past, present, and future; and to enlighten the membership of the Society, the Jewish community and the general public on the achievements of our people and the growth of Jewish community life from the days of the early settlers.

They began this organization in 1981 but the work toward Jewish refugees began after the 1830’s when Jewish people first came to the Columbus area. Anti-Semitism was not as huge in Columbus as in other cities, so they were able to start businesses (such as the Lazarus Department Stores), rent and purchase homes without much issue.

In around 1910, organizations began to develop to support the hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews (and other Eastern Europeans) that were now surfacing in the Columbus area. These organizations made sure that these people did not go on welfare and could find jobs and learn the language. Jewish women were politically

Pauline Permutter Steinem

active but their focus was mostly on birth control and poverty with regard to the refugees. While suffrage was the main focus of women around the nation, their priority was to their people’s needs first. This does not mean that they neglected suffrage however, as there were many Jewish women involved. In Ohio we had Pauline Perlmutter Steinem from Toledo (aka Gloria’s Grandma).

There are other Jewish Historical Societies within Ohio including the Maltz museum (Beachwood, Ohio) and the Skirbal museum which is at the Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati, Ohio). Toledo and Dayton are currently working on museums as well. If you can get a chance to get down to Bexley and visit this museum, their exhibits rotate every six months. Currently, they are featuring a Prohibition collection featuring Jewish people who were involved locally in this this era. In the past they had an exhibit about women and their hats which apparently was quite an elegant and well received show. The Bexley museum is in the Esther C. Melton building around the corner from Jewish Family Services. They are open to the public, Monday through Friday from 10-3:30 or you can make an appointment for groups. Please note that all of the photos here are from CJHS or their website, with the exception of the Pauline Steinem photo which came from a google search.

Prohibition Photo (CJHS)

Prohibition Photo (CJHS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

CJHS

Columbus Jewish Historical Society (CJHS)

 

 

Author’s Note: Acculturation has been an important aspect of welcoming refugees to our country until more recently when the push has been to assure they have welfare and not much attention is paid to learning English. Now, it is easily perceived by many as having no concern for acculturation at all. It is a great disservice to our country and creates a lack of respect toward newer immigrants. This is sad to me, as I grew up in the Hungarian-American community where they continue to help immigrants settle in the Ohio area. It seems strange to think we wouldn’t want to focus on acculturation as this would assure success for all of us.

 

 

Prominent Columbus Black Women from Second Baptist Church

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Recently, I met with Sandra Jamison who is a member of Second Baptist Church and part (board member?) of the James Preston Poindexter Foundation. Second Baptist Church is the oldest Black Baptist Church in Columbus and Reverend Poindexter was a very outspoken and prominent leader for this parish and community. Ms. Jamison and I met at the Ohio Local History Alliance Conference last weekend and shared with me a list of these wonderful women who once attended her church. The list was created by another woman in her church and she handed me a copy of it. I am listing these women here and sharing photos and notes if I can find them. If you are aware of any information on these women, I invite you to contact me with more information. Also, don’t hesitate to post on my FB group Ohio Women in History.

Blanche M. Van Hook – She was a society columnist featuring black women as well as working for the city. She was also known for writing about the Lucy Depp Park neighborhood. She was born in approximately 1896 in Ohio and died here in 1970.

Helen Carter Moses – She was a composer, organist and teacher (Sandra said that she learned to play piano from her).

Daisy Hall Rice – Beautician

Helen Jenkins Davis- She was born in the 1880’s and lived until the 1980’s. She was one of the first black teachers in Columbus. She graduated from her teaching college in 1916 but it would not be until 1921 that she was able to find a position because of her race.  In 1976, she was the first witness to be called in regard to a school segregation case that would eventually lead to the Supreme Court making a decision on this once again. She is mentioned in the book Beyond Busing: Reflections on Urban Segregation, the Courts and Equality. There is now a scholarship in her memory and a FB group.

Jessie Stephens Glover – Is the first black female to graduate from the Ohio State University in 1905 with a B.A. in Modern Languages. For awhile she lived in Florida and taught German and English at what is now Florida A&M University. She later moved to Virginia to teach at what is now Virginia State University before moving back to Ohio for marriage and to raise their two daughters.  She became an activist and volunteered to be a probation officer for the Domestic Relations court. She was born in 1882, in Ohio, the daughter of former slaves and lived until 1966. Her biography is featured in Profiles of Ohio Women 1803-2003.

Edna Bryce – She was a club woman and entrepreneur who owned a flower shop.

Isabella Ridgway – Founder of an “old folks” home for blacks, in the early 1900’s. It is named after her and continues to this day. There is also a foundation in her name which began in 2016.

Constance Jean Nichols – Born in Marietta, Ohio and a graduate of the Ohio State University. She was a devoted activist, was one of the founders of the Vanguard League— an organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination against African Americans in Columbus. She was also responsible for helping to get the Ohio Theater integrated.

E. Carrie Coles – Was a member of the Housewives League.

Nell Moffett – Was once a Principal at Mt. Vernon Avenue Elementary School.

Cora Jordan White – Executive Secretary at the Blue Triangle Branch Y.W.C.A.

Anna Hughes – Administrator, Ohio Avenue Day Nursery

Belle Carter – She was a Pioneer Teacher, Social Worker, and a Probation Officer in the Court of Domestic Relations.

Mayme Artis – Piano Teacher

Anna B. Jones – She was born in about 1871 and became a Philanthropist and Community Activist

Interview with Tracy Lawson, Ohio Writer

This is my first interview, here on Ohio Women’s History Project and I am starting with Tracy Lawson, whom I met at the recent Ohio Local History Alliance Conference. Tracy is an Ohio based writer who is known for her most recent work “Pride of the Valley,” which is a historical account of her ancestors. Tracy won “Best Non-fiction History,” in 2012 from the Ohio Professional Writer’s Association. In 2013, she was selected to present at Ohioana Book Festival. She also holds a 5-star selection from Reader’s Favorite Book Reviews. Tracy has written in several genre’s which you can find on Amazon and by clicking the book photo above. The following is the Q&A format I submitted to her:

  1. How long have you been a writer and what made you choose to go in this direction?

I always wanted to be a writer, from the time I learned how to read. But I finally found the time to try when my daughter was in high school. My first book was published in 2012, and since then I’ve published six more, and have two in progress.

  1. What plans do you have for your next book?

My next book is historical fiction, based on events in the life of my 6x great grandparents. I’ve written nonfiction history books, and also thriller novels, so this is like the perfect mash-up of what I like to write—a thrilling tale of a woman thwarting a conspiracy that could have changed the course of the American Revolution.

  1. What struggles did you face while working on your books?

I sometimes wrestle with writer’s block or, perhaps it’s better called writer’s insecurity. First drafts can be messy, and often the story doesn’t fully develop until it’s been through a few drafts. It can take a while for the story that’s in my head to emerge on the page.

  1. What woman in history has inspired you and why?

When I was younger, I found the story of Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, fascinating. It showed just how vital it was to be able to communicate, read, and study to develop one’s mind. I’m also a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, both as a pioneer and as an author.

  1. What woman in your ancestry inspired you and why?

Anna Asbury Stone, the subject of my current work-in-progress, inspired me      because she was willing to risk her safety—not only to come to the aid of her husband and brothers, but to deliver a dispatch to General Washington while she was being pursued!

  1. What advice would you give young women about tackling their future?

Don’t be afraid of hard work and don’t expect to land in your dream job right away. Study something that will allow you to earn a living and support yourself. My daughter loved dance and theater—but she majored in economics in college, and is now in grad school and planning to be a college professor.

  1. When you think of the upcoming 100th anniversary passing the 19th amendment, what sticks out in your mind?

Wow this is a tough one. I wonder what the women who fought for our right to vote would think if they could see the candidates we have to choose from. I think they’d be disappointed.

Tracy Lawson

Eliza Hill Helps Settle the Ohio Frontier

While researching and writing my book Pride of the Valley: Sifting through the History of the Mount Healthy Mill, one of my goals was to profile each of the six generations of families that owned the business during its one hundred thirty years of operation.

I discovered many discrepancies and the understandable muddling of facts that happens over time, and felt compelled to set the record straight wherever possible–and especially when it came to the women in the story. Of course the women of the first two generations–Eliza Hendrickson Hill and Rachel Maria Hill Rogers–were the hardest to get to know.

It saddened me when the names of the women were incorrectly reported, for the women I mentioned in my book didn’t hold jobs that distinguished them in the community. They didn’t leave wills or journals, and the first surviving photograph of one of them dates to 1866. Their mention in historical records is seldom more than a report of to whom they were married. I figured the least I could do was make sure their names and their spouses were sorted properly.

Throughout much of history, a young woman’s first duty was to marry; her family often wielded more influence over the choice of husband than she did. Eliza Hendrickson was eighteen years old when she married Jediah Hill in 1815. Rachel Maria Hill, Jediah and Eliza’s only child, was a mere sixteen years old when she married Henry Rogers, who was ten years her senior. I’ve often wondered if that marriage came about because Jediah decided Henry, who was his hired hand, was the man he wanted to take over operation of his mill one day, and offered Rachel’s hand as part of the deal.

As it turned out, I would locate much more detailed information about the women in the four subsequent generations, but in this article, I’d like to focus on Eliza Hendrickson Hill, the family’s matriarch.

When Jediah and Eliza migrated to Ohio with their three-year-old daughter, Rachel, in 1819, Eliza made the first essential contribution to establishing the little family’s home and business. They left a well-established community in New Jersey and started from ground zero on the frontier.

While we may marvel at Jediah Hill’s acumen in siting and building a water-powered sawmill, women like Eliza were no less skilled. Trained in household management from an early age, by the time a woman was old enough to marry, she had vast stores of practical knowledge essential to their family’s survival.

Though they lived only a mile from the town site, Eliza likely would have been responsible for managing all her daily tasks—food preparation, laundry, planting a garden, minding their toddler, and more—without help.

On a typical day, Eliza may have set out to accomplish one major task—perhaps laundry. But she would still have to begin that day by stirring up the fire, cooking breakfast, washing dishes, airing bedding, and caring for her child and the stock—perhaps horses, chickens, cows, pigs, and sheep—before tackling the larger job. Laundry required hauling buckets of water to heat, scrubbing the clothing with homemade soap, and then boiling everything to kill any lice or fleas in the fabric.

There was no spin cycle, so everything had to be lifted, dripping wet, from the rinse water, wrung out by hand, and hung up to dry. Depending on the size of the family and the number of hands to help, this labor-intensive enterprise could take all day, bearing in mind, of course, that the lady of the house must budget the time to cook the midday meal for her family.

Should she finish before it was time to start supper—one wonders what she might choose to do with her leisure time. A bit of mending? Adding a few lines to the letter she was writing to the home folks? Helping one of the children learn their letters? Weeding the kitchen garden? Drying herbs to use for seasoning and for treating illness?

The old saying, ‘Man’s work is from sun to sun, but women’s work is never done’ surely rang true for nineteenth-century women everywhere.

Once the supplies she had brought from New Jersey ran out, Eliza would have needed to grow or make more—not just to sew the family’s clothes, but likely to grow the flax and raise the sheep that would provide the raw materials, spin the thread, and either weave the cloth herself or take it to the nearest webster.

As the community grew, the division of labor allowed both men and women to specialize in what they did best. What a blessing it must have been to be able to purchase items in a general store!

There is evidence that Jediah took his wife’s needs into consideration when building the large family homestead, which was likely completed in time for their daughter Rachel’s wedding in 1832. In the stone-floored cellar, Jediah dug a well so it was not necessary for his wife to go outside to fetch water.

As the family’s business prospered, Jediah and Henry, his son-in-law, sought to expand the sawmill to grind flour and cornmeal. In August 1838, all four family members took a working vacation to New Jersey. Though travel in antebellum America was distinctly unpleasant, I am so glad Eliza and Rachel went along on the trip, for it would have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Henry kept a journal of the trip, and mentioned someone in the family having an upset stomach or headache nearly every day. Traveling in a wagon, they suffered through both the heat of late summer and cold temperatures as summer turned to fall.

Thankfully, the trip was not all misery. Henry mentioned seeing the sights in Columbus, Zanesville, Philadelphia, and Trenton, and paying extended visits to family in three different cities. He noted that Eliza and Rachel had written ahead to a dressmaker in the city to have new gowns made, and that they had taken their bonnets to the milliner’s to have them trimmed in the latest fashion. Everyone in the family enjoyed shopping at the extensive market in Philadelphia.

You can learn more about the family’s experiences on their trip. Henry’s journal is the subject of my book Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More: Explorations of Henry Rogers’ 1838 Journal of Travel from Southwestern Ohio to New York City.

 

 

 

 

Names on the Ohio Women’s History Project Shirts

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Ohio Women’s History Project T-shirts

Available at https://ohiowomenshistory.com/womens-history-store/

I want to be clear that this is just a sample of the names of women in Ohio History, it is not all of them. These are names that I could fit on a t-shirt and names of women I have begun to write about on this website, plus a few more. I made sure to get names of women that were “firsts” at something. I also tried to only get one name in different categories, and this is why all the first ladies from Ohio are not on here. If you haven’t bought your t-shirt yet, click on the link above and see the different items which are featured. Let’s educate others about Ohio Women’s History, ONE T-SHIRT AT A TIME!

Agnes May Driscoll – Coder/Mathmetician

Annie Oakley – Sharp shooter

Belle Sherwin – Activist

Berenice Abbott – Photographer

Bernice Pyke – First woman to be a delegate for the Democratic Nat’l Convention

Betsy Mix Cowles – Activist Abolition

Betty Zane – American Revolution Heroine

Charity Edna Earley – First AA woman to be an Army Officer

Dorothy Fuldheim – Journalist

Eliza Bryant – Humanitarian

Ella P. Stewart – First AA woman Pharmacist

Emma “Grandma” Gatewood – First woman to walk the Appalachian Trail

Erma Bombeck – Comedian

Evelyn Ryan – Prize winner of Defiance, Ohio (movie made about her life)

Florence Harding – First Lady

Florence Ellinwood Allen – First woman on the state Supreme Court

Florence Z. Melton – Shoe Manufacturer

Frances Jennings Casement – Suffragist

Frances Bolton – First woman to Congress/House of Rep.

Hallie Brown – Educator/Activist

Harriet Beecher Stowe – Writer

Henrietta Buckler Seiberling – Founder of AA/Oxford Group

Jane Scott – Journalist/Musicians

Jerrie Mock – First woman to fly solo around the world

Judith Resnik – Astronaut

Lillian Wald – Nurse

Lillian Gish – Silent film star

Lucy Stone – Suffragist

Lucy Webb Hayes – First Lady

Maude C. Waitt – One of the First women to the state Senate

Mildred Wirt Benson – aka Carolyn Keene (or Nancy Drew’s writer)

Nettie Cronise Lutes – First woman admitted to state bar as a Lawyer

Phyllis Diller – Comedian

Ruby Dee – Actress

Ruth Lyons – Radio/TV

Sarah Worthington – Philanthropist and daughter of Governor

Sharon Ann Lane – Vietnam Nurse

Sojourner Truth – Suffragist/Activist

Victoria Woodhull – First woman to run for President of the US

Ohio Local History Alliance Conference 2019

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Thank you to everyone who came out and supported Ohio Women’s History Project this year at the conference! If you wished to have a receipt, don’t forget to email me at ladyjatbay@gmail.com and let me know your name and how many shirts or prints that you paid for and I can send this back to you. If you still wanted to purchase a shirt, you can click on the store at the top of this page.

Ohio Local History Alliance held an amazing conference and I think we all learned a great deal from these presentations. We now have good ideas about how to take our museums, non-profits and new businesses forward in the years ahead. Below are some of the workshops I attended and information that I learned. I have included some links so that you might be able to research this more on your own.

The first workshop that I attended was given by Megan Woods, Cultural Resources

Megan Woods

Division Director at the Ohio History Connection. Her workshop was “Ohio Women’s Suffrage Centennial.” Megan discussed how to be included on their event page on the Ohio Suffrage Centennial website. The Ohio Suffrage Centennial Commission was passed on May 2019 by Governor Mike DeWine. There is currently a travelling exhibit of banners and a trading card project going on in Northwest Ohio by the Trumbull County Historical Society.  There are also book discussion groups and you can get a list of books to read for your own groups through the Ohio League of Women Voters. In August of 2020 there will be a huge celebration that is in the planning stages at this time. Akron is working on a statue to honor Sojourner Truth. Case Western Reserve is hoping to get a play produced entitled the “Taming of the Anti.” All these and more can be found on their website above.

Harriet Taylor Upton

She spoke about three women in particular from Ohio, Harriett Taylor Upton who started in Ravenna and ended up in Warren. She brought the National Women’s Suffrage Association to Warren. She became the Vice Chairman of the Republican National Committee and was a part of the D.A.R. (Daughter’s of the American Revolution).

She also shared about Florence Allen who was the first female judge in Ohio but began her career first as a musician and journalist. She had left Ohio for New York to study law and then returned to eventually receive a nomination to the Ohio Supreme Court. Later she would be nominated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Federal Supreme Court. Florence also wrote several books about the law.

Haley Quinn Brown

The third woman was Haley Quinn Brown who was a black woman that eventually came to Wilberforce, Ohio. She was the Dean of Tuskeegee Institute, an International Public Speaker and the President of the Colored Women’s League. She was very involved in the temperance movement as well.

We listened to various people in the audience talk about their projects. One of which is that the Girl Scouts of Ohio are working on a badge to commemorate being a good citizen and learning about the voting process.

I then attended a Grant Management Basics workshop with Jennifer Souers-Chevraux who is the owner of Illumine Creative Solutions, LLC. Jennifer taught us about ways to be organized in a fashion that would help guarantee success with the grant already received. She also gave us several non-profit organizations to help with your business.

Tracy Lawson, the author of a historical book entitled “Pride of the Valley,” engaged

Savannah Homa, Tracy Lawson and Keilah Israel

with Mt. Healthy school in Springfield, to help kids become interested in their ancestry through family trees. Two young ladies came to report on their findings. These future female historians were Savannah Homa and Keilah Israel. There were a total of eight boys and girls involved in this project.

These young girls were very bright and had amazing insight into what they had discovered on this project. I was very impressed with their advanced level of thinking.

At lunch time, on Friday, we listened to Nekole Alligood from the Delaware Nation speak on re-patriating native American remains that might be found in a family member’s home. There is an organization called NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) which handles this type of service in a culturally appropriate way so as to bring peace to the departed. When such an event occurs it needs to be a sacred event with no press invited to the ceremony.  Nekole also made us aware of the fact that there are 44 federally recognized tribes that stem from Ohio. I wondered how many there were that were not recognized. We also learned that native American’s were not recognized or given U.S. citizenship until 1924. Even today, the issue of young women kidnapped from reservations, (which are often isolated locations with people living far from others) for purposes of human trafficking. The issue of rape was brought up many years ago in an article written for Amnesty International that I recall reading. I believe this took place in Alaska. It is interesting to note that girls are kidnapped from reservations but not outside of the reservation (i.e., non-natives). This is a huge concern because the reservations are meant to be protected lands – so why are the people on them not protected?

Sue Plummer and Christine Anderson

Another workshop I attended was on the “Women of King Records.” King Records was a recording studio, manufacturer and shipping warehouse run by Syd Nathan between 1943-1971, in the Cincinnati area. Christine Anderson, a professor from Xavier University in Cincinnati and Sue Plummer an Ohio History Service Corps Alumni, have been conducting research to uncover the women who produced music during that time. They shared a spreadsheet with their findings which held 2,054 recordings of various genres including hillbilly, Doo-Wop, funk and soul. They gave us access to this spreadsheet which includes links to YouTube videos if they were available. I am not sure whether or not it is acceptable to share this link so I will keep that to myself. You can however access this website which appears to be linked to Xavier University.

As you can imagined I had a wonderful time at this conference but I feel safe in saying most people seemed to be having a good time. There were smiles on these eager faces, as they walked about and the people I talked with all agreed that they enjoyed attending.

Remember #olhaempowers to follow on Instagram or Twitter.

Hungarian Americans Celebrate!

All over Ohio, we have Hungarian churches that once flourished and now are seeing a decline in membership – often closing doors (i.e., Cleveland several of them). However, the festivals, all over the state, still seem to see a rise in numbers coming out to share in their cultural identity. Here in Columbus we not only have Hungarian festivals in the summer but Italian, Irish, Greek, among the remaining European ethnicity. These festivals are put together by dedicated European/American women and men who tirelessly put in volunteer hours to share their passion with the public. This past weekend, braving 100 + degree temperatures, people flocked to St. Ladislaus Catholic Church where, once again, the Hungarian Cultural Association (HCA) put on their (50th? approximately) annual fete. It is important to keep the old ways alive through: stories, dances, folk songs, recipes, family so that the next generation won’t forget their history. Here are some photos taken by myself and Olga Kovacs both members of the HCA.

 

Days Gone By

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Mabel Snider Vail

I have not written anything significant since returning to Ohio. Am I really a writer or was I just walking down memory lane in California and trying to keep everything I remembered about Ohio from slipping away. From dying forever. Returning to Ohio, it is all dead and gone and buried and will never return again. The fact of this is too difficult to bear. I must bear it because I don’t have a choice in this matter. Yet, I yearn for better times, more decent times. I yearn for people to remind younger ones of these things and for them to listen. But they don’t because their parents don’t teach them to have respect for their elders.

There is so much to learn from your elders. So many stories, history, life in simpler times, ways in which people behaved, values, and there is strength in learning these things and a sense of pride that you begin to embody when you know this. When I look at our life today, it is as if everyone has given up and retreated into social media caves that they daren’t go out and behave like civilized people in society. And yet, they will attend an event, if it means a social media “moment.” Everything must be a social media moment in today’s culture because we can’t just enjoy that time with our friends or even complete strangers as we grow and learn as people. Everything must be shared. Perhaps they want to make sure, like I do, that history isn’t forgotten this time. And yet, history, what we do know and what was documented is precious simply because it is rare – the documentation – and only certain things were preserved. Certain things lasted because it was stored properly or because the universe deemed we would have this memory and somehow, miraculously, that one thing survived.

Lazarus women at work, Columbus, OH

I want to remember the smell of the grass out in the country, which seemed to smell differently when there were no chemicals in the ground (from Monsanto type companies) and it was just pure and native and normal. When cornstalks were not tightly grown together and you could actually walk through the fields of corn and play hide and seek or have a romantic lover’s tryst. I want to go to bed listening to the crickets in the field and let this be my lullaby rather than my Ipad playing synthesized music on the meditation app. I want to see young girls dressed in little dresses with black patent leather shoes, hats and tiny purses just to go to the movies or shopping with grandma. Not girls who wear generic clothes that look like they are from the thrift shop so that no one can guess what their sex is or because mom doesn’t care because no one cares. I want to go out in clothing that says “Me” and makes women envious and men turn their heads. And yet, I want to compete with other women as we admire each other’s choice of style and fashionable creation. Instead, everyone dresses like slobs in jeans and t-shirts and men look like a plumber or a farmer or a factory worker. Though in my day, no factory would hire them dressed like people are today. You wouldn’t even be hired as a farmer or an electrician because a guy dressed like he is today would be seen as irresponsible and lazy and weak and they would be right.

I’d like to go to a fair where it is just simple and people are laughing and older women have their summer best dresses on with hats and simple shoes and are walking and talking together about their times long ago. Young people are with their parents (2) learning the rules of what will happen that day and how many tickets they can [afford to buy] for rides. The families walk together, children respecting their parents and waiting to see what decisions their parents will make. Eager with anticipation of what is allowed or not.

I’d like to walk around to a store that I can get to from my house. A store that I walk to, simply to get out of the house and take a walk. Maybe I look around, maybe I buy something, mainly I talk to the shopkeeper about the town and what has been happening that week. I might stop at the grocer’s and pick up something I need. Instead, I drive to the gym and workout and take my shower. I drive to the grocer’s, too far because it is the better neighborhood for shopping and I trust the produce there. I will be with decent people here and not the one’s closer to my home. My home is in a nice neighborhood but on the outskirts of our little village it is not. It is dangerous and not a fun place to walk and go shopping. The stores in walking distance probably sell drugs on the side, or their customers do and I don’t want to be near this or associated with this. I wasn’t raised this way and I’d rather read about it in the police news as to what action they accomplished for the week. Reading this news helps me to feel safer in my little nook of the world. From the time I was able to ride my two wheel bike (without emergency wheels), I was running errands for my mom in town, where we lived. I felt so free and independent doing this shopping and being held responsible. I would see other children doing errands for their parents and we waved and acknowledged with a look that we were aware of our important deeds for the day.

I would love to go in a business and see professional people working there.  People who take their jobs seriously because they are glad to have a job. Environments where the customer is taken seriously and looked up to because they are the key to the business becoming bigger and stronger. The customer is key to the employee proving how good they are at what they do. Instead, I see people dressed like slobs who could care less whether you are there or not. They make their obligatory “welcomes” which you feel are inauthentic just by the way they pronounce the words “Can I help you with something?” They could really care less about helping you, they are just counting the minutes to break or lunch or closing time so they can get home and follow their media. Of course sometimes, you can see people in businesses looking at their media when they are supposed to be working. They don’t even wait to go home because media is more important than their job. When you went into a business, in the past, you felt you were wealthy and important. The butcher, the baker, the retailer, the TV salesman, they were all greeting you in a spontaneous and unique and authentic way that was meant for you. If they knew you well, they were greeting a friend and you would have a chat without even mentioning what you were there for, for quite some time. Your friendship was equally important to your sale. If you bought something, you might get a discount or a little extra.

I would love to see children playing outside, like the ones across my street. Mom sits out on her lounge chair, with her bathing suit and portable stereo next to her. The kids drench each other with the hose and laugh and scream when the cold water hits them. They run around and play tag or they skip rope or play hopscotch or ride bikes in circles in front of their house – all within the view of mom. When we got older we went out on our own in sets, pairs or groups and we talked about people that we saw around us. We might also sit in our backyards and pretend to get a tan, even though the sun would burn us and give our friend a nice olive complexion. We’d gossip about boys and talk about other girls and what they did and didn’t do. We’d share activities we had gotten up to with our families. Sometimes we might scold each other for a way in which we had behaved and teach each other what would have been more proper. We’d envy each other’s clothes or shoes or the way the other did their nails or their hair. We’d talk about our futures. This was what friendship was for. It was real and in person and honest and silly but sacred. No one knew about what happened except the person or persons who were right there in that moment. It didn’t matter.

I loved going to restaurants where the level of cleanliness was taken for granted, not something you had to be careful of. The food was homemade by some immigrant from a European background. You dressed for the style of the restaurant and the waiters and waitresses were in uniforms – no matter where you went. Your order was important to them and they took care to get it right. Their boss would always be observing and noting and remarking to them later what they needed to do differently.  It was a place you went to on a special occasion, not because you were too lazy to cook. You treated this outing special and you knew to behave special. Everyone had their place and their role.

Marzetti’s restaurant Columbus, Ohio

In fact, no matter where you went, people wore uniforms and knew their place and their role. Whether it was carpenters or garbage men or postal men or waitresses or secretaries or receptionists, you wore a professional uniform or style that was indicative of the business you served. These employees had respect for themselves and showed this in their manner of dress. By dressing in a decent way, even if you were the trash man, you appreciated your job and took pride in what you did for a living. Even the gas station attendant wore a uniform and smiled authentically as you pulled your car up. They were happy to look under the hood. Often these were young people doing the services of the day. Their first jobs and they knew it was not forever or even if it was, they had dreams of what they would accomplish one day. They might take over the gas station once the old man retired. They might go on to study some trade at school or college; once they earned enough to help their parents pay tuition. They might just be thinking about buying their first car or taking that special someone on a date. The job was a place of building and creating yourself. Your boss was someone who showed you the way and one day you would go back and thank him or her for that first start out in life.

Even though I don’t go to church anymore, because I am not of that faith, I admired the way we all diligently walked in the door and sat in our “assigned” seats. Everyone seemed to have a certain time in which they arrived and a seat that they liked the best. I always enjoyed passing other churches on the way to ours and observing the styles women chose for that day. I secretly envied the shoes and made notes in my head as to what the style was should I ever be able to afford them. In church, there were unwritten rules. You didn’t turn around to see who had just come in (but kids did). Some older folks still followed rules of women on one side and men on the other. Some did not. Some were widows or widowers and they were fond of little children. After the service we went downstairs and socialized and drank coffee (the adults did and from a tall percolator). They discussed their lives or the sermon or matters of the church. The kids ran around. Sometimes we might be allowed to walk down the street to the bakery and get a donut. One, mind you, per person. Church was a sacred place that people respected and they respected themselves and the manner in which they arrived and dressed. Now it is a jeans and flip flop place with guitar players instead of organists and it is about fitting in with society rather than having values that had been passed down from one generation to the next. It gives people a sense of belonging but has fallen apart. Churches are shutting down all over the country and are in such disrepair. No matter how desperately they try to fit in, ultimately, there is no need for them when it is easier to stay home and sleep in. To not have a belief but to self-soothe with too many cookies or candy or soda or chips and have the waistline get larger and larger. Single parent families are more and more of what is normal because there were no values taught to them in the first place. Marriage is about sex and having fun rather than waiting and building a foundation.

Women’s Guild, Hungarian church, Columbus, OH

I miss going to grandma’s house and seeing the aunts and uncles sitting around her, waiting their turn to speak. Her home was where you knew to behave differently than your own home. You behaved like you were in a castle and the queen had walked in the room. She dressed nicely, you had the best manners, you ate what you were served, you played quietly, you spoke when you were addressed. It was formal but taught us to respect ourselves. When I look back on these times now, I see that the discipline was very important in making me the person that I am today. While it may have been a little too strict at times, I still value the meaning of the lesson. I know it can be taught in a nicer way now and even a strict way without the use of belts and paddles. Yet, people don’t do this. They entitle their children because it is easier to pacify them rather than stand firm and set limits and teach boundaries and begin to watch them grow into responsible people. It takes too much work to build a fine young man or lady. You can’t let the child get away with anything. When you do, it is too late and they will continue to take advantage. Teaching children how to behave gives them a sense of respect for themselves, for you, for society and helps them to know their place in the world. They grow up to behave properly around others and have respect for their environments and dress professionally and decently while in public. Grandma was our matriarch and we all talk about her now as if she were a saint. We laugh at those moments where she had let her guard down, just a little. I remember the fan in the room. It sat there blowing that much needed air to keep us all cool on hot summer days. I remember my uncles taking turns standing in front of it. The noise it made as background music while the adults were discussing the challenges of the day.

I miss grandma because she was that person you admired from afar as she was not the type to coddle you. You knew that she had the wisdom and whatever she said was the right answer. It was right because all the adults told you it was right and explained that you had to revere her. If she said you could dress a certain way, your parents acquiesced. If she said a movie was acceptable to watch, you went. She managed the family and made sure they were all good parents who raised their children the way she had raised them. We listened.

Ohio Writer Margaret Peterson Haddix

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This time I am not giving you an account of an Ohio Woman in History but a female writer from Ohio who writes children’s books. I chose her book, “Uprising” which is about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire which occurred on March 25, 1911. This tragedy occurred in New York and claimed the lives of 146 people (123 women and 23 men). The majority of the victims were between the ages of 14-23 years old. Ms. Haddix chose to do a historical fiction to discuss this terrible incident by focusing her story around three women who might have been involved. She carefully researched her book in great detail (which she tells you in an author’s note at the end).

This included a strike that occurred between the months of 1909-1910. This strike demanded many things, hoping to make working conditions fairer and safer. The union caved too quickly and did not even secure a “closed” shop which would have meant that Triangle could not hire non-union workers. Shortly after sending the strikers back to work, the “promises” quickly faded. It is odd that the union wasn’t called to the mat in court, as well as the owners of Triangle Shirtwaist Company, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris. Had the union succeeded in securing rights for the worker’s this horrible event would not have happened.

The story which unfolds is beautifully told. Ms. Haddix breaks the story up by the three girl’s names, so that we hear each of their voices. One is a Russian Jew, Yetta; then there is Bella an Italian that had recently arrived and finally there is Jane, a wealthy young American woman ripe on the heels of the suffragist’s movement. At first none of them even know each other but through various events are brought together. At the end, only one of them will survive and this is not a secret as you are told this at the beginning of the book. And, like with “The Nightingale,” by Kristen Hannah (another historical novel but about German occupied France) the ending is a surprise.

The story has romance, it is of course ripe with suspense and the characters all have self-reflection. In the end, the writer tells us how she knows what happened to the other two characters. This is Ms. Haddix’s way of answering all of the reader’s questions. The most significant is “How could she possibly know.”

Naturally, I knew about this piece of history and as it happened, it came up at least twice, prior to reading this, while I was judging National History Day. Since I had purchased the book a year prior, at Ohioana, I knew I needed to sit down and pour over the pages which were now begging to be read. While reading this book, another issue kept gnawing at me that always has since our factories were signed over to China under the Clinton regime. What a waste! For years since the trade agreement was signed and our small towns (quite a few in Ohio, including Middletown which you read about in “Hillbilly Elegy” by another Ohioan, J.D. Vance) have been turned into meth labs and are screaming for answers to bring back a dwindling economy stolen from them 20+ years ago. All the work that these men and women went through, several decades ago, to create: fair wage laws, equal employment, age limits and humane working conditions; completely lost by the stroke of a President’s hand. Now, American factories are in communist countries, third world environments that have none of these rights at hand.

When I read this book and I hope many of you will as well, I think particularly of 146 workers who died in vain. What would Yetta think if she saw that what the striker’s worked for only became a temporary fix? What has happened to unions that were there to protect the worker’s jobs? I keep wondering if the unions had caved just like they did at the end of the shirtwaist worker’s strike. Max and Isaac, the owners of Triangle Shirtwaist Company are just two CEO’s not unlike those of our big corporations today. These multimillion dollar companies, today, are no more interested in their employees or even their customers. Perhaps we have better laws now to protect employees from a fire breaking out in a building but there are just different issues at hand in this generation. As I am a therapist in my day job, I often hear employees talking about how 1. They can’t talk to Human Resources anymore because they are in another country or state (different time zones). 2. They are expected to work off the clock (or on salary) and take text messages and phone calls 24/7 in some cases. That is to say, whenever the boss has a question. Meanwhile, as a customer, when was the last time you called a corporation and actually spoke to a receptionist? Likewise, how often did you get the right person on the phone or had to call back several times. How long was it between the time you first called the company, till the time you got your answer?

Serious questions that politicians always fight about to get votes but never really solve.

Right History

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People that love history and are involved in it on some level, are factual people. Whether it is the Renaissance Festival, where they are dressing up in authentic costumes or movie directors/costume designers/set artists, that are paying attention to detail or writers who write either historical non-fiction or fiction. The most important part is to get it right.

The first thing a person who loves history will do, is look for the mistakes. Not intentionally but unintentionally. When I watch a movie, if I see something that is glaring – such as a minority who is a foreigner to that country and would not have been there in that time period – it throws me off. I can’t watch it anymore because if this is wrong, so is everything else. It would be like putting a dinosaur on Downton Abbey. Why would you? It would look ridiculous.

The most important thing about historical writing, movies, etc… is to allow the viewer to feel as if they are in another time period. Escapism, naturally, because the viewer is so passionate about this time period, they want to feel they are there. You can’t do that with a dinosaur on Downton Abbey. Not unless you are selling your craft as a fantasy/sci-fi period piece. Then of course you have a whole different genre of people watching it and it, most likely, won’t be history lovers.

The same thing goes for people who are writing about someone’s life and then project their politically correct opinions into the story line. Taking us out of the story for a moment so the author can bash the person for wearing fur, for example. Recently, when I read a book on Florence Harding, the author had to point out the fact that Florence was really big on animal right philanthropy and yet she wore fur stoles and coats. In my opinion, the book should have something on the cover that states “this is a politically driven book by the author.” I wouldn’t have cared to purchase it if I had known this because she took me out of the story for a moment to hear her opinion. Animal rights in Florence’s time period meant domestic animals. She was concerned about the rights of pets because she had a love for these furry creatures. In that time period, it was very normal for middle to upper class women to wear fur. This showed other people that you had achieved a certain financial status. We have been concerned about fashion and the way we look since time began. It wasn’t until PETA formed in 1980 that people began to turn their noses up at fur. Anything prior to 1980, should not be discussing politically correct opinions because it is not a fact during that time period, it is just an opinion. No one cares about peoples modern opinions about a time period, they only care about the time period.

This sounds terribly mean but if you want to talk or write or show history, than do that. If you want to do politically correct than write a book that bashes women in history or their fashions. Two different audience mindsets and genres. You could also write a thesis or dissertation for a class – or blog it.

There is nothing to be ashamed of when you are portraying history or researching it. It has happened, you can’t go back. You can learn from it though and gain knowledge, this is why history lovers enjoy this. It is also because there are certain aspects of history that we adore and wish were still present now.

When you hear someone say “I miss the old days” many people will say “Oh yeah, when it was racist, they smoke cigarettes and drank, etc…” It really has nothing to do with that. We miss the old days because at that time people had more respect for the way they dressed. They had work ethics and overall, were decent people. You knew where you stood in life. We didn’t have the word “terrorist” in our repertoire or “arsenal of weapons.” We sat on our porches and drank lemonade. We didn’t worry about going to a spiritual building or a shopping mall or a restaurant or a tall building. Missing the old days doesn’t mean we are gullible and we are unaware of the context of that time period. We are amateur historians, after all, and this is the most important thing to us is understanding the whole picture. Sometimes people are just into the fashion, or the cars, or the homes or the mannerisms. No one who loves a time period is saying “I loved the 40’s because it would have been fun to be in a German occupied village.”

History is rich and so exciting to be a viewer of when it is done accurately and with characters who look like the originals. Unfortunately, this accuracy is falling by the wayside with plays like “Hamilton” and books that insert their 21st Century mindset. It is depressing because children are being misinformed and given an image of a time period that never existed. It also means that I have to review information I am hoping to look at by watching trailers or checking the authors background to make sure they are focused on authenticity rather than comedy or political beliefs. It is faux history, I think, not the right history.