Musing

The School Prostitution Built

lou graham

Y’all, I just love useless knowledge.  I especially love reading or listening to stories about how something came to be.  Recently, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Lore. This particular episode was all about the founding of Seattle, its great fire, and its subsequent rise from the ashes.

One of the most fascinating characters in Seattle history is a lady named Lou Graham.  Ms. Graham was a Madame. She owned several brothels including one that still stands today on the corner of South Washington and Third Avenue.  It, ironically, is now called the Washington Court Building. But, that’s not the most interesting part.  Ms. Graham was a German immigrant who worked hard, had a great head for business, and knew how to court power and influence.  She used her power, influence, and money for philanthropy in her new town and granted loans to the city and the city’s wealthy elite when the city hit financial troubles – like after the great fire.  At the time of her death, she was one of, if not the, richest woman in America. 

The funny thing about all of her wealth, she had no direct descendants or a spouse to leave her substantial fortune to when she died. She had a will. The will stated the money should be distributed to various relations back home in Germany.  Apparently, despite all of her power and influence when she was alive, it didn’t count for much when she died.  Her will was ignored and the City of Seattle used her fortune to establish the public school system.  While a good and noble thing and worthy cause to be sure, it sort of sucks that a bunch of men, the same men that probably frequented her establishment felt they were better stewards of her money.  If you research her online some sources say these relatives in Germany were frauds, that they really weren’t relatives.  Other sources make it appear her will wasn’t a proper document.  However, I feel like it was just another case of a bunch of powerful people trying to pull rank on someone they couldn’t control. 

If you want to listen to the podcast that led me down this rabbit hole, it’s called Lore, episode 98, entitled, Never Alone. You can find it here.  I pulled the picture for this blog off the internet. A simple Google search will produce more images and information but this was her crowning jewel establishment. I think it looks rather plain and boring – sturdy even. One would never suspect its origins. 

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Musing

Yes, Annelle, I pray

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How does the old saying go? Never talk about religion or politics in polite conversation. I guess I’m not very polite. Last week I talked about politics so this week I thought I’d touch on religion.

This topic happened organically. I didn’t intend to discuss religion. The preschool I work for is faith based. Apparently, it’s time to overhaul its online presence so all the teachers have to come up with a new bio and picture and they want to know our favorite Bible verse.

Before I go any further I should state for the record I am a Christian. I’m not a shout it from the rooftops, ask everyone I meet if they are saved and would they like to attend church with me this Sunday type of Christian but I am Christian. However, when I got the email I needed a favorite bible verse all I could think of was, “Jesus wept” and the Christmas story as told by Linus in Charlie Brown Christmas.

I started feeling like a shitty Christian because I couldn’t quote verses. I decided I would quiz some of my holier friends about their favorite verses. I’m not gonna lie; I was going to straight up steal a favorite Bible verse. I’m not proud. But, I quickly realized none of their verses fit me. So, I did what I should have done in the first place. I dug my old high school student Bible out of my keepsake box. This thing still smells like smoke from my parent’s house. It’s falling apart. The whole maps section in the back is just gone but I can’t bear to get rid of it. This thing and my youth group quite possibly kept me out of jail in my wilder days. I started flipping through the tissue thin pages looking at highlighted passages and was finally able to settle on a few. John 14:1, Philippians 4:4 and 1 Corinthians 13:13.

This exercise helped me discover something about myself. I don’t need to memorize words written by random guys thousands of years ago to prove I’m a good Christian. I just need to remember the overall teachings. As the old Tom T. Hall country song says, “Me and Jesus, got our own thing goin’. We don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s all about.”

If you’re curious. I settled on 1 Corinthians for the verse I gave to my work as my favorite but I wanted nothing more than to list John 2 where Jesus turns water into wine simply for the shock factor.

Photo Credit: I lifted this meme off the internet. No copyright infringement intended. I’m using it under fair use. I just love Ouiser Boudreaux. I aspire to be like her one day.

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Musing

Life Update and a Milestone

A few years ago a dear friend from West Texas told me, “I’m busier than the best whore in the whore house on two for one night.” At the time, I just thought it was hilarious and not much else. These last few weeks I understand what that is like to the nth degree.

The week before Thanksgiving was spent gearing up to go out of town and Thanksgiving celebrations at the Preschool where I work. Thanksgiving week we were out of town. It was lovely and I had planned to cover that topic this week but instead, I spent this whole week just trying to get caught up from being out of town.
My house was dirty. I had 10,000 loads of laundry. We all immediately had to go back to work and school after being gone a whole week. My kids had the end of Football season games. And, I found out today my job is changing from three days a week to five days a week – every week – not just when they need a temp. My oldest turns 16 next week and I haven’t done a damn thing towards Christmas. I’ve not decorated. I’ve not bought anything. I’m seriously scrambling and behind the eight ball. And, if you know or have read this blog long enough, you know I don’t do anything halfway. There are no half assed jinglers here. We jingle all the damn way.

I said all that to say – a proper post is coming.

In other news, I have been doing this blog thing for three years now. I still only have about 50 subscribers which is slightly frustrating. Maybe all those friends that keep telling me I’m funny are full of shit or have bad taste. Just kidding, y’all. (Whispers – not really). I think I’m just not everyone’s coffee cup of vodka.

Also, it’s officially time to move from Metroburg as I saw someone at the grocery store today that recognized me slumming without makeup and wearing a mask. When you can live in a town and get recognized or when people know your business, it’s time to move.

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Musing

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th and I’m not ashamed to admit I asked my hubs if he wanted me to throw some holy water on him before he walked out the door to go to work.

It was 8 months ago on Friday, March 13 that shit hit the fan. I can’t believe it’s been 8 months. To be honest, time has no meaning anymore.  What happened two months ago could just as easily be two weeks ago. But, humanity adapts. There is a new normal. Just the other day, I left work wearing my mask and was halfway home before I realized I was still wearing it. The preschool where I work has a rule that you must wear your mask while on school property – even in the parking lot while walking to and from the building. I’m so used to wearing it, I simply forgot to take it off.

I’m not so sure I like this new normal. While I can see how what we are doing to prevent spread is for the greater good (mask wearing, etc.), I see massive government overreach – like in California and New York. The long term ramifications of this pandemic will be studied for decades and perhaps centuries to come.

Besides the new normal, there’s also Covid fatigue. I’m pretty sure most of us are feeling that right about now. I know I am. I don’t know how safe it is but I’m doing everything I ever did pre-covid only I’m wearing my mask and washing my hands so much my skin is cracking. I walk the trails near my house. I go to work. I go to the grocery. I hit up TJ Maxx and Costco. I go out to eat. I see friends although we sit far apart. My mother in law visited last week. I didn’t hug her or get right up in her face but she stayed in my home. These are all acceptable risks or at least risks I’m willing to take.

What are you doing? What are you comfortable with? Are you still living in a bubble? I don’t blame anyone for doing what they feel comfortable doing as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s safety.

 

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Musing, Uncategorized

Cotton

cotton flower

Several years ago, I was in Nashville seeing family for the holidays. I can’t remember the ends and outs of the conversation but at some juncture, my youngest half brother said something that has stuck with me ever since. He said and yes, I’m quoting here, “We should have picked our own cotton.”

At the time I thought that was the most racist thing I’d ever heard in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I even said as much because I’ve never been one to mince words. He countered with it would have solved a lot of problems. Again, at the time, I couldn’t see his statement was a little bit brilliant. I was too busy being outraged and offended. Hindsight is an amazing teacher.

So, what if we had picked our own cotton? What would that have looked like for our country? Slavery would still have been an issue. It was legal and worldwide for centuries. Hell, it still exists in some fashion with sex trafficking. Although, I doubt it would have been as big of a problem for our country as it has been. The south probably wouldn’t have been quite so geared toward the planter class. Sure there would have still been plantations but they probably wouldn’t have been as big. It would have taken a lot of money to pay all those people a wage instead of buying folks for a flat price and making them work. All of that money shelled out for wages would have kept the plantations smaller. It would be interesting to know if it would have accelerated the industrial revolution. After all, the north had most of the manufacturing while the south was mostly agrarian.

But, what of the subjugation of a whole race? That’s hardly a new concept and the United States doesn’t hold the patent on that behavior. The caste system was around long before the United States was even a dream. Its effects can still be seen worldwide. Forms of the caste system are still alive and well. While not the same as slavery, some can see parallels in the treatment of Chinese and Irish immigrants during the turn of the last century as well as the undocumented and newly arrived Hispanic people of today. The undocumented are often forced to work ridiculously hard, for a pittance and no security. Living in Texas I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard peers say things like “Just go get you an illegal to do that yard work or I have a girl who does my house for dirt cheap and I pay her in cash.” I always shake my head when I hear this. I fear we are setting ourselves up for another group to rise up against “the man”. Just last week we had some concrete work done at our house.  The guy that came out to bid the work and schedule the job was a white guy. The crew that came to do the work was 100% Hispanic. The only person on the whole job that could communicate with us was the lead guy and even that was broken English at best.

What are we supposed to do in these situations? I don’t want to contribute to the subjugation of a particular group of people yet I don’t want to be the asshole that calls up the company and complains.  I don’t know if these workmen are here legally or illegally. It would be wrong for me to assume either way. At the end of the day, I want these guys to get paid fairly for the work they are doing. I want them to have options. I don’t want a particular job or occupation to automatically be for one race or group only. Yet, I feel our society is kinda set up that way. Don’t most of us try to steer our kids away from manual labor type jobs? Let someone else’s kid do that menial/manual labor job; you’re going to college and making something of yourself. Sound familiar?

How can we be part of the solution instead of the problem? I’m not sure. I do a lot of do it yourself but clearly, that’s not enough. I don’t have the skills to do that concrete work.  I did hire a reputable company to do the work but what if they hire people for a pittance.  What if they employ undocumented folks and don’t pay them anything? I’d like to think they don’t but again, I don’t know.  In the meantime, I will mow the grass and clean the house and the hubs and I will continue to DIY projects as much as possible. I will do what I can to pick my own (metaphorical) cotton.

Photo credit: Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

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Musing

Dairy King

There’s an old phrase that says you can’t go home. I, for one, believe it. Being the sentimental fool that I am, I hate to see a change that I didn’t instigate. When one goes home you see how the world has marched on without you – growing and changing while you have stayed the same in relation to that place.  It’s a little bit heartbreaking – at least for me.

This last Friday another piece of my childhood died. No, it wasn’t a person. It was a place, The Dairy King Drive-In in Nashville, TN.  Its original location was walking distance from my house. It served cones, shakes and homemade fried pies along with burgers and fries. Sometime in the 1970s they started serving a meat and three plate lunch every Monday through Friday. I can still taste their cornbread cakes that came with every meal. They came out in these little wax paper sandwich baggies.  They didn’t even need butter as they were dripping with butter or maybe it was grease – but they were so delicious.

The place flooded more times than anyone could count but they rebuilt and kept dishing out great food. Over the years, they grew and expanded to include the original building and an air-conditioned eating space right next door.  When the whole city of Nashville endured a massive flood in 2010 everyone thought they were done for good. But, like a phoenix from the ashes, they rebuilt in a new place where they wouldn’t get flooded again but in the same neighborhood of Woodbine/South Nashville.

Even though I rarely return to Nashville, I still followed their page on Facebook.  Last week, when they announced this would be their last week of business it was all I could do not to jump in the car and drive 14 hours just for one of their plate lunches. It absolutely broke my heart. I have wonderful childhood memories of talking my mother or one of her siblings into taking me to get a cone at night after dinner. When my Granny was sick with cancer their plate lunches were about the only thing she’d eat. To think I will never again be able to get those cornbread cakes in a wax sandwich bag just hurts me down to my soul.

I understand why they are closing. They just can’t make ends meet with all the Covid-19 restaurant closures and the new mortgage from the “new” 2010 building.  As they said in their farewell Facebook post, they cannot cover 100% of their expenses on 50% of their income. I know countless other businesses are in the same boat. Covid isn’t only killing people, it’s destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.

I wish I could do something to help Dairy King re-open/stay afloat but since they have put the business up for sale, I’m pretty sure I can’t. Instead, I will get take out from my favorite mom and pop Chinese or Mexican place. It’s not the same but hopefully, it will make a slight difference to another small business.

Photo Note: I’d love to add a photo on this one but they are all someone else property.  If you want to see what the place looked like just google Dairy King Nashville.  Maybe a local Nashville artist will paint the building before it’s gone. I’d buy a copy of that.

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Musing

Time for a break

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As the kids say these days, we did a thing. We took the great American road to the Gulf Coast and it was glorious. We drove through 5 states and it took us two days although we could’ve done it in one. We passed giant RV buses, pull behind campers and mini-winnies. Nearly every car we passed had a clamshell on top or a trailer hitch shelf carrying a cooler or beach chairs.

I rediscovered things about this part of the country that I had forgotten – the way the marsh smells, cattails in ditches, adorable fruit stands on two lane roads that sell boiled peanuts, tomatoes the size of softballs and molases. I forgot the accents of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  I have a strong Southern accent. No one would ever mistake me for a New Yorker that’s for sure but there are tiny nuances in those states’ accents I had totally forgotten. Every store, and I do mean every store, carries beach goods, towels and sunscreen. Everyone is laid back and rarely in a hurry – from cashiers at the grocery store to the lady cleaning the pool area of the condo.  Servers are about the only people who hustle. What’s crazy is no one seems to mind the slow pace.  

As for the beach, the waves and sunshine were plentiful. Nearly every afternoon there was a 2 pm rain storm. And, there was seafood. So. Much. Seafood. I had forgotten how much I loved eating things that had been swimming in the ocean only a few hours ago.

We laid on the beach and drank beer. We boogie boarded and fished in the marshes and Intercoastal waterway with frozen bait shrimp. One night we played mini golf which jogged our memory. It seems on every beach vacation we’ve ever been on we’ve played mini golf. Go figure that would be our thing as we are not real golfers.

We all stayed up as long as we wanted and got up when we felt like it. The only day we used an alarm clock was on the day we had to check out. Since I’m a horrible sleeper, I usually got up and watched the sun rise over the water. I could easily spend the rest of my life waking up to the sound of the ocean. 

Before we left, I did something I always do every time I go to the beach. I stand there with my feet in at the edge of the water and I stare out into that vast blue horizon. I say a prayer of sorts.  I silently thank the ocean for a great time and for being there all beautiful and powerful. I promise to return even though I never know when that will be. Finally, I close my eyes and just listen for a few minutes while letting the water pull the sand and thus me into the ocean. After a few seconds, I am truly at peace. I have sand and salt water in my veins. I am sure of it. 

Photo Credit: Me

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Musing

Crying Jag

photo of woman covering her face

I cried today.  That’s nothing new. Every since this pandemic/quarantine started I cry about something every few days. I never know what will set me off.  Sometimes its the lack of something, sometimes it’s the feeling of being trapped, others its the feeling that nothing will ever feel normal or an injustice of some sort. Sometimes it’s sheer frustration over everything, all the million little things combined together that I can’t pick just one.  All I know is that I’m so done I can’t take another piece of bad or frustrating news no matter how big or small.

My latest crying jag comes compliments of a podcast by writer Sean Dietrich.  I was listening to his June 5th (yes I know a month late) entry entitled Essays from a Turbulent World.  The first story he tells just got to me. There I stood washing produce I’d just picked up at the store when big ole fat tears started rolling down my face. This guy is the writer I wish I was. He summed up all that I had been feeling in one little essay.

Here’s a link to the episode I spoke of but I invite you to download it on your platform of choice.
https://seanofthesouthshow.com/2020/06/05/essays-from-a-turbulent-world-sean-of-the-south/

Deitrich is on Facebook. He posts a daily essay there that has become my little ritual. Before I begin my day, I sit there on my couch with my coffee and read his essay before I look at my news app.  About a month ago, I discovered he did a podcast reading his essays among other things. He sounds like a Southern Garrison Keilor. His voice is both gruff and soothing and to me embodies a Southern gentleman.  He often speaks of music, fishing, his dogs, good food, manual labor, love, and family.  He pokes fun at things like Southern Baptists and how hell hath no fury like a woman who didn’t get her Tupperware back from a funeral wake.  In other words, he talks about all the things that make the world go round.  He’s worth a look or a listen.

Photo by Eternal Happiness free from Pexels.com.

 

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Musing

Daydream

I have a distinct memory of being on my red swing set in my grandmother’s back yard shortly after the last summer vacation I would have until I became an adult. I was five and about to start Kindergarten. I was day dreaming about going to school but instead of heading off to the elementary school a few miles from my house, I was daydreaming about starting school in Florida. I remember this daydream because it was my favorite one.  It’s the one I’d often revisit when I was sad or in winter when I thought the days of cold, gray skies would never end.  I would close my eyes and imagine walking down 30A to go to a bus stop. I could see in my minds eye the white sugar sand at the edge of the blacktop road. I would imagine walking in that sand right next to the grass. If I tried hard enough I could remember the faint smell of Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil. I imagined if I lived there I would get home from school every afternoon and instead of running to my trusty swing set I would instead head to the beach and play in the ocean.

As I have gotten older my daydream has shifted. I dream of a cute but very humble cinderblock shack across the street or maybe one street over from the beach. Something close enough that I can open my bedroom window and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of waves crashing on the beach. I’d have a shitty job at a souvenir shop or maybe CVS, making just enough money to cover the absolute basics expenses. I might or might not have a car – maybe just a moped or bike. When I wasn’t doing the things I had to do like working, eating, and sleeping, I would be on the beach.

I don’t know if this daydream will ever become a reality or if it will just remain a daydream for the rest of my life. I’d like to think one day it will happen but as recent weeks have shown there’s just no way to truly plan as some things are just out of our hands.  Still, it’s nice to have to goal, a dream, a hope. 

Photo Credit: Probably my Mom. This is me on that last trip. 

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Musing

Bird Watch

black binocular on round deviceI had a realization today. Do y’all remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about being stalked by cardinal birds?  Well, ever since that post went live I have not seen another cardinal on my daily walks. Not. One. Cardinal. I’ve seen blue jays and robins. I’ve seen tiny finches and other birds that I don’t even know their names.  Hell, I even saw a few vultures eating what appeared to be some squirrel roadkill but not one cardinal.  I find that very strange and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Additionally, some of you will remember Phyllis and George the Mallard duck pair. They seemed to have gone away sometime in May.  We finally got the pool clean and ready for swimming and the pump broke, so we fixed it and then it broke again. When it was finally fixed, here comes Phyllis and George. Poor Phyllis, I think she’s a couple of sandwiches shy of a picnic because right around Memorial day she laid her eggs either in the water or on the deck and they rolled into the water.  She left and we thought she was gone for good. It would make sense that they would migrate by now because it’s hot as Satan’s armpit.  Nope, a couple of nights ago they landed gracefully into the pool while we were eating dinner.  I calmly walked out and told them they could hang out in the yard but not in our pool.  They have tried to come a few times but mostly the cycle is they land, we come out and tell them to get out of the pool and they fly off before they can poop in the pool.  We’ll see how much longer this goes on.

Photo credit: Skitterphoto on Pexels

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