Friday, October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel Introduced Me to My Grandmother

Studs Terkel Introduced Me to My Grandmother. Really.

"Why have I always upset such gentle hearts? Why couldn't I have been my cute little button self and said the right thing"---Studs Terkel

Wow I lifted that quote from the Nation's article on Studs Terkel . Apparently he is describing a deciding moment in his life.

We need big, brash heros. Heros who are willing to "upset gentle hearts" in order to make right silent atrociousities. Tonight, Halloween, kids dress up and flaunt costumes of popular figures. But popular and heroic are rarely the same. So, I am going to remember a true hero, who shaped my life with a single book "Hard Times: An Oral History of Great Depression" .

That book introduced me to my grandmother, Because it got me to listen to my Grandmother. I was filled with assumption. Just because I saw her almost everyday, I thought I knew her. So, I the scholar who had read such a serious book, being a fifth grader, could now be an interviewer. Sitting down to do that interveiw, I knew what she was going to say-- or so I thought. But actually, no, I didn't know her at all, until I listened. Thank you Studs.

So she told me about the hard time she was born in. Harsh proverty, roaming with her mom, dad and about ten siblings. I heard in her voice that she felt she would never see justice. After all, she watched the lynching of a brother. She described that even as she learned parts of the language, of her mother who was a native american, she knew that that her mother's culture was dying, so she didn't want to learn that language. She said she regretted that she didn't. She also told me about what to do if menstrual cramps got painful and what to do if the baby doesn't cry right away when it is born. She said that for our family childbirth was easier after 30. I remember those talks as my Grandmother brushed her hair which grew to her knees. She brushed in long, continous strokes from the top of her head to the end of the hair shaft. Boy, I am glad I read that book.

I wonder if she and Studs had lived until November 5 what would they think. Not about who won or loss the election or how it was won or lost. Who knows if Obama will win or not, and that is not the question I wonder about. The question that bugs me is --Are we doing our best to make it a little better for everyone--honestly?

The world is quieter now without Studs on the radio, in the bookstore, on the rampage. I am not sure that the quiet is good. So I sit in that quiet, silently longing to watch my grandmother brushing her hair in those long eternal strokes--what I'd give to do that one more time--this Sunday I will sit in church and be grateful for the the big hero named Studs who taught me that life's greatest surprise happens when we listen to the ordinary people that we think we know and yet, don't know at all.

Every Child Left Behind

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Welcome to Blueberry Bacon

What is Blueberry Bacon,
well it is my favorite breakfast. And that dish describes me well. Blue or liberal sentiments with a little meat on the side. I don't mind fighting for what I believe and biting back. Mostly I will be a watch dog for local, state and national trends. Hope you enjoy.