Monthly Archives: November 2013

Washing sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving day . . .

Thanksgiving1895Marguerite’s Musings:

On Thanksgiving Day I’ll be off  for our 2013 family holiday gathering. It’s a day when I’m not wondering if the laundry basket is full, or the bed made, the carpet vacuumed, or the newspapers picked up from the front porch where they’ve stacked up for days.

On Thanksgiving I’m in charge of washing sweet potatoes to bake and serve with butter. While scrubbing the sweet potatoes, I’m remembering the story of the 100th monkey –about how a single monkey on an island discovers how to wash a sweet potato in a stream, eat it, and not struggle later with grit grinding down on his/her tongue or churning down in the gut.

Another monkey watches and washes his/her sweet potato until there’s a tipping point when the 100th monkey follows the same routine. Then, all the monkeys on one island instantly wash and eat their sweet potatoes in the same way which happens without any sweet potato washing lectures or workshops or demonstrations.

The insightful lesson on how to wash sweet potatoes travels on invisible jet streams of knowledge, or the collective monkey unconscious, until monkeys all over the world wash their sweet potatoes in the same way to clean off the grime and dirt before sitting down to dinner. This is what comes to mind when I’m troubled about so many critical situations facing us on Planet Earth and how change often occurs on levels far beyond our awareness and comprehension.

This morning I carried my empty glass bottles out to the driveway recycling bin and remembered back to the 1970s, when I was young, when Toshi and Pete Seeger practiced glass and newspaper recycling for everyone to see. Pete, America’s troubadour, didn’t pay someone to wash his sweet potatoes or sort his newspaper from glass. The Seegers modeled recycling for everyone from the little retreat that Pete built where the Seeger family lived and overlooked the Hudson River near Beacon, NY.

One day Pete Seeger drove up to the parking lot of Green Haven prison in the Mid-Hudson Valley in his old pickup filled to the brim with bottles and plastic and papers, on route to a recycling center. He grabbed his old banjo from the truck’s front seat and marched up to the prison’s front door, reported to the guard station, presented his driver’s license, and filled out forms and papers so he could enter the cement fortress and visit with those of us in the prison school. Pete opened his mouth as wide as he could and belted out one song after another.

The officers in the towers above the 30-foot walls stared down at Pete Seeger’s pickup filled with bottles and newspapers as they witnessed one of the first monkeys on the block wash away the grime and dirt and gravel from a highly-evolved institution with its electric chair, barbed wire fences, and gun towers with guards and machine guns. That’s how change happens, in increments, as words and deeds are passed around.

Image above by Marianna Sloan (1875-1954). The artwork for the Women’s Edition of The Press. From the Library of Congress. Color lithograph.

Marguerite’s Musings is a feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel, the “go to” place since 2009, for news and views of the suffrage movement and how the movement inspires us today.

A tale of lemon meringue pie, women’s suffrage style

Marguerite's MusingsMarguerite’s Musings:

When Thanksgiving comes around each year, I love to cook and become the center of attention like I did at age ten.

My mother Wilma didn’t mind telling people about how she was a terrible cook. This was always accompanied by the explanation that her own mother, Edna Kearns, was a suffrage and women’s rights activist, and not a terribly good cook either. Because Edna had died when my mother was a young teen, even boiling water had been a challenge for my mom. So, in the absence of any of the other young’ins in my family stepping forward to care about Sunday dinners, I vowed to become a good cook.

Photo by Annie MoleLemon meringue was a delicate and delicious dessert surprise –the one thing I could carry from the kitchen and present to everyone at the dinner table, guaranteed to evoke waves of comments and compliments.

Lemon meringue pie was lip-smacking good. Roll out the pie dough. Clean up the flour mess. Make everything from scratch. No lemon pudding mix. Not me.

I dug into the back kitchen cabinet for my mom’s double boiler to prepare the lemon custard with fresh lemons, egg yokes and sugar. Yum. Bake the pie and hold the meringue until the end. Then, beat the egg whites with sugar until they form a stuff peak and spread over the top of the baked custard pie. That’s what I remember. Place the pie back in the oven and toast to a quick brown.

“You’ll make a good wife for some man, someday,” my father said after polishing off every crumb on his plate and standing in line for more. I don’t ever remember making lemon meringue pie for any of my husbands. Nor do I ever remember them making it for me. Perhaps it’s time to search for a women’s suffrage lemon meringue pie recipe as Thanksgiving approaches. There are several great suffrage movement recipe books online. I can see my dad peeking around the corner of some heavenly cloud and wondering if I’m searching for a new husband.

Follow Marguerite’s Musings on Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Postings twice a week and a newsletter four times a year. Suffrage Wagon Cooking School has yet to schedule a lesson on making lemon meringue pie. But stay tuned; you never know!

Photo of meringue by Annie Mole.

The story about womens suffrage activist Edna Kearns that has a lot of juice!

The "Spirit of 1776" article in "New York Archives"You can read all about the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon’s confrontation and threats in an article from the fall issue of “New York Archives” that’s still on the stands. The trip from New York City to Long Island for a month of campaigning in 1913 had a high point when the wagon arrived in Huntington, NY in a grand parade. People who were lined up on both sides of the street witnessed a historic event. That’s when the confrontation and threats were recorded by a Brooklyn Daily Eagle reporter. You can read all about it! This article gives an overview of the campaign wagon’s history and what was going on at this time. Check out the entire womens suffrage history feature piece by Marguerite Kearns in the fall edition of “New York Archives,” the quarterly publication of the Archives Partnership Trust. I call it the definitive suffrage wagon story, so don’t miss it! Read all about it!

Check in with the Suffrage Wagon feature platform where there are special features that don’t manifest when you get this message just by email and all the special effects are sliced out for efficiency. Touch into the magazine format once in a while. Make Suffrage Wagon News Channel a part of your daily check-in.

Signs of life for NYS’s suffrage centennial, plus Susan B. Anthony & News Notes

Susan-B-Anthony-PrincessThe suffrage movement or “women’s suffrage” may seem like a niche topic, yet the news items  concerning Votes for Women events and activities increase by the day. Here’s a sampling:

Statewide conference planning underway for 2017 suffrage centennial of women voting in New York State by CRREO (the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach) and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at SUNY New Paltz. Yeah! #1. #2.

If Susan B. Anthony were a Disney princess. #1. #2. What would Susan B. Anthony think of secrecy in government? One commentator wonders why all the secrecy when naming an elementary school after Susan B. #1. #2.  And why is the South Dakota school being named after Susan B. Anthony when another suffrage leader, Matilda Joslyn Gage, had South Dakota connections? #1. #2. Kick-Ass quotes from Susan B. Anthony. #1. #2.One upstate New York woman dresses her daughter as strong women, including Susan B. Anthony, Jane Goodall, Helen Keller. #1. #2.

Women voters will face challenges in voting because of name changes. #1. What are women voters concerned about? This commentator says that the women’s vote is essential to an election outcome, yet many political strategists still don’t understand what women really want. #1. #2. Legislation is pending in Congress (HR 863 and S. 398) that would create a Congressional Commission to identify a building site for a national women’s museum. Where do your representatives stand on this? #1. #2.

Voiceless speeches played an important role in the public relations strategies of the suffrage movement. Check out an excellent article illustrating this point. #1. #2. Kate Roosevelt and her campaign to oppose the right of women voting in New York State. #1. #2. Women in the Civil War and their role in the suffrage movement. #1. #2. Colorado women reflect on how far they’ve come as voters in the past 120 years since their suffrage movement achieved victory. #1. 

A commentator from Iowa claims that suffragists like Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone and Elizabeth Cady Stanton have become household names. She makes the point that equal pay for equal work still leaves much to be desired. Her point is well taken, though it’s still debatable if the names of these individuals roll off the tongue of many Americans easily. See #1. #2.

Follow the suffrage wagon with postings twice a week and a special newsletter four times a year? Where else do you get  up-to-date news about the suffrage movement, as well as today’s news and views and stories? New York History features my writing with Olivia Twine, as well as LetsRockTheCradle.com. We’re shaking up the “Cradle” of the U.S. women’s rights movement. How about joining us?

News from 100 years ago: Grandmother Edna Kearns’ Better Babies Campaign

Safe Fabric JournaL, NOV 2013I suspect that Grandmother Edna Kearns is behind some of our family activity these days. Though I never knew my grandmother because she died in 1934, she influenced my life profoundly. And it’s not just me. Edna has another granddaughter, Winifred Culp, who’s a mover and shaker, and the spirit is spreading. See Safe Fabric Journal, November 2013 issue where Winifred speaks about NearSea Naturals and her new project, SAFEfabric.org.

Edna Kearns wasn’t simply interested in the vote. She vowed to expand the range of women’s influence with her Better Babies campaign. See October 31, 1913 article from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The campaign went on for weeks, and who would have thought that classes on mothering and lobbying for social programs would be so controversial! Some of Edna’s suffrage associates were of the opinion their colleague shouldn’t mix up the issues in the suffrage movement, and Edna got her wrists smacked as a result.Edna persisted nonetheless. She didn’t believe in compartmentalizing and took her commitment to womens suffrage seriously. And if we go back to Grandmother Edna, my mother Wilma and forward, we’re touching into five generations in my family who are out in the traffic of life as movers and shakers.

Image above from an ad in one of Grandmother Edna’s womens suffrage newsletters. Visit the Suffrage Wagon platform for special features.

Points of view about Elizabeth Cady Stanton on her November birthday!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Cady Stanton copyNovember 12th is Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s birthday, and it’s my mother Wilma’s birthday as well. And don’t forget my friend and collaborator Olivia Twine who weighs in with November 12th as her birthday. November is heavily weighted with women’s birthdays, and the National Women’s History Project does a great job of pointing this out.

After a trip to the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States this fall, we stood witness to the places that percolated with activity and risks during the 19th century. And these free thought activists experienced their share of criticism as well. Each year we promote travel to Seneca Falls, NY and the national park there with a virtual birthday party for Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Join us this year!

But not everyone is taking a seat at the virtual birthday party. Blogger Mikki Kendall believes that Elizabeth Cady Stanton is a skeleton in the closet of feminism. Listen to her audio. Lori Ginzberg, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s biographer, expresses what it was like to write a biography of Stanton, the first serious biography in decades, and she doesn’t spare any words about Stanton’s mixed history in the suffrage movement.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton Stanton caused waves on many levels. And the purpose of studying any period of history is to draw a circle around it and examine the details, the warts, the high and low points. The suffragists were as varied as any group of women voters today, and we continue to build on their strong shoulders. Here at Suffrage Wagon News Channel we rock the cradle by embracing the suffrage movement as an important part of American history.

Visit Seneca Falls, New York: Historic gateway to the Finger Lakes. Seneca Falls has an insider’s guide. Women’s Rights National Historic ParkNational Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY. Find out about other historic sites to visit in the “Cradle” of the suffrage movement near Seneca Falls, NY. A one-hour documentary about  Seneca Falls, NY and nine teenage girls who visited there to discover themselves and their history. Ideas for teachers. Review of novel about Seneca Falls by Tara Bloyd.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with twice-weekly posts of news and views of the suffrage movement.

Two-part article about the politics of the proposed Harriet Tubman national park

Suffrage Wagon News NotesThe report of the 2013 blogging tour of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States continues with a two-part article by Olivia Twine and Marguerite Kearns in New York History.

Part I:  “The politics of Harriet Tubman and Barack Obama.” #1. #2. Part II: “Harriet Tubman and the Projected National Park.” #1. #2.

Overview of the 2013 blogging tour of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

MORE NEWS NOTES:  There’s a new play about suffragette Annie Kenney in the UK. Another example of how the Brits love their suffrage history. #1. #2.  An excellent overview about the history of granting various groups the right to vote puts woman’s suffrage in a broader perspective. #1. #2.  A new book about suffragist Anna Howard Shaw from the University of Illinois Press. #1. #2.  Jerusalem women remembered for their role in Palestinian politics. #1. #2. “Votes for Women” quilt project auctions off quilt to raise money for women’s health issues. #1. #2.

Visit our multi-media platform of news and stories of the suffrage movement.