Thursday, November 25, 2021

Gordon Parks, photographer

When I read that HBO has just premiered a new documentary about the life of Gordon Parks, the African American photographer of LIFE magazine fame, it immediately took me back to New York City in the 50's. Dick, my husband to be, had just left LIFE in 1957 to start his own free-lance photography business and he loved to tell me about the interesting years that he'd spent there.  

This part of my book, "My Halcyon Years" tells of his relationship with Gordon. 


Gordon Parks was a favorite of Dicks. He had been on the staff at LIFE about 5 years when Dick first met him. He found him to be very friendly and easy to talk to. Often the two of them would head out in the same direction after work and they would team up. Dick said that was always exciting because he never knew what Gordon would do or say next.

Gordon had the sort of humor that made fun of life. (Not LIFE, but the real thing.) One of the goofy things he loved to do was to act drunk. If you were walking with him on a city street he would suddenly scoot over to the edge of the sidewalk and continue walking, one foot on the street and one on the sidewalk … making it look like he was staggering.

Dick recalled with relish the time that he did that and an elderly couple saw him and looked disgusted. They made some barbed remarks about him and even used the “N” word. It was just at that time that a well-known (white) man about town recognized Gordon and called out, “I see my favorite photographer is up to his old tricks” at which point Gordon hopped back on the sidewalk and gave him a big hug.

The old couple was flabbergasted and didn't know what to think as they watched him revert to his sober charming self. Gordon just chuckled and gave them a big smile and a saucy wave as he walked off arm in arm with his friend.

Gordon Parks was famous for putting his clients at ease and portraying the “real” person in his photos but Dick said he was like a chameleon. He seemed to have so many personalities that Dick said it made him wonder who the “real” Gordon Parks was.


You can see why I am so excited to view the documentary and I love the title too:

 "A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks" 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021



Best wishes to all my blogger friends ... including the Canadians who always beat us to the big day.


Friday, November 19, 2021

Some good news for a change

(I don't usually post things that I've read in the news but I thought this was something very positive and lord knows we can all use that ... especially in America right now.)


The race to preserve one of the largest remaining tropical rainforests in the Americas got a big boost recently. In April 2021, a coalition of conservative partners, led by the Nature Conservancy, purchased 236,000 acres of tropical forest in north western Belize to create the BELIZE MAYA FOREST RESERVE.

Along with saving some of the most biodiverse forests in the world from denuding and development, the new protected area - which is contiguous with the neighboring Rio Bravo Conservation Mgt. Area - closes a huge gap in a vital wildlife corridor that runs from southeast Mexico through Guatemala and into Belize.

The combined reserve, which protects nearly a tenth of Belize’s land area, safeguards and connects essential habitats for an amazing variety of endemic and endangered wild things. These include the tapir, Belize’s national animal; black howler monkeys; more than 400 species of birds; and some of Central America’s largest surviving populations of jaguar.

Monday, November 15, 2021


In 1941 my oldest sister gave me a wonderful present for my 8th birthday. She took me to the world-famous Radio City Music Hall in New York City to see a live stage show performance and the introduction of Disney's ground-breaking movie, the musical, “Fantasia”.

The movie portrayed cartoon characters performing their skits to classical music. Leopold Stokowski conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra and I sat in a trance as the music wrapped around me. It literally felt like the music was carrying me up and into the movie that was enfolding.

I particularly remember “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” featuring Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician who gets himself into and out of a bunch of predicaments. At one sequence he is practically over-run by a battery of brooms carrying buckets of water

Fantasia” never became a box office success but it was an enormous treat for me and I loved it. However, the memory that burns the brightest happened AFTER the movie was over. Two of the live stage show performers returned to say goodbye to us but instead they began sparring with each other. Finally one of the men came to the front of the stage and after he'd apologized for his partners actions he said, “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here”. Quickly his partner rushed to the front and loudly chimed in with, “and I thank you from my bottom, too”….while proceeding to turn his back on the audience, dropping his pants and "mooning" the lot of us !!

How shocking! How crude! How DELIGHTFUL!! My virgin 8-year-old ears were burning but I thrilled to the naughtiness of it all. I couldn’t wait to get home to share the experience (in great detail and with many embellishments) with all my young friends!!


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

“The Big Deal”

America in 1933 was a far different place than now. For starters it was much more rural, there were far fewer people and it was deep, deep into a depression. It was also the year I was born !

Of course I was unaware of it then, but it was a time of huge change in our country. FDR, (Dem.) was elected and he pushed 15 major bills through the Democratic-held Congress, among them being the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Public Works Administration (PWA), and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which were all designed to get people back to work by building federally funded infrastructure projects.

As one historian recently said, "Very few people today realize how close the country was on the verge of a second civil war or a revolution in 1933 before FDR took office”. Does this sound familiar? I fear that a “second civil war or a revolution” is on our doorstep right now. It's up to us to lock the door before they force themselves in !

President Biden is often ridiculed for his un-statesman like presence in front of a microphone, but we sure can't quibble with his accomplishments. When Congress reopens he will be signing a huge infrastructure package, and one (as he had hoped for) that enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

In the words of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, “Franklin Delano Roosevelt was known for passing the “The New Deal” and Theodore Roosevelt was known for “The Square Deal” but Biden’s agenda represents “The Big Deal”.

Friday, November 05, 2021

Candidates of color ...

I found it very interesting to see that candidates of color made history in last Tuesday's elections. Even in staid, old Boston where Michelle Wu, daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, was elected Mayor and broke the 199 year streak of WHITE MA LE city leaders.

Clearly there is a revolution brewing and the Republicans are grabbing hold. It is not just Trump that is spurring this on. The party is appealing to the working class voter with their concentration on WHITE IDENTITY. I am amazed that this actually means more to them than all the perks that the Democrats are promising with their “Build Back Better” agenda...a list of items that would greatly improve these working class voter's daily lives!

What scares me most is that so much of what we hear from the Republicans are statements based on lies or misconceptions and these voters seem to be buying it. Their fear of “the browning of America” is so strong that they can't see beyond the next election. They seem to forget that we are a nation built on immigrants and, if they are honest, they will check out their heritage and realize that they were never #1.

Wake up America … your egos will be the death of democracy for our country.