Month: April 2020
JFK’s Last Evening Spent In Awkward Company Of Mariachis
November 21, 1963
Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas
Jackie and Jack, Lady Bird and LBJ attending a LULAC (League of United Latin-American Citizens ) function
Anyone else feel awkward when the mariachi band comes by? You smile and nod when they sidle up beside your table, but of course you can’t sing along. You don’t want to eat while they’re playing, or resume conversation with your guests because that would be rude, so you smile and wait it out. Should you tip? How would you even tip when their hands are full? I’m trying to eat Combo #4. Please move along. I’ll enjoy it more when you’re 10 feet away.
Texas Landscapes of 1938
Statement Wall 1938
Wild Rice Is Life
Four incredibly color-coordinated pale faces chat about patterns with Chippewa Chief Big Bear in Itasca Park, Minnesota back in 1935. His tribesman sold many items to visitors, including beaded bags, baskets, toy birch-bark canoes, and other handicrafts. They also held husking parties, such as these, with the intent to supply rice for sportsmen’s game banquets.
While other tribes chose corn as their main crop, the Chippewa lived in a “place where there is food upon the water” surrounding the Great Lakes region. Wild rice, or “manoomin” in the Ojibwe language, was integral to their diets as well as their entire way of life. Wisconsin Chippewans have harvested manoomin for centuries.
In 2018, Chippewa Indians from Turtle Lake, Wisconsin continued to gather in the name of rice, hosting their 45th annual Wild Rice Festival. The pow-wow was the showstopper.
While rice beds have been diminishing, threatened by climate issues, pipelines, and mines, Chippewans struggle to protect the crop by reseeding lakes and waterways, hoping to meet the needs of their communities as well as pass on the culture to younger generations.
Who knew wild rice was such a big deal? To most of us, it’s just a side option at restaurants.
Or a delectable holiday dish, such as this cranberry squash wild rice pilaf.
Seriously, I could eat that right now.
Check and see if your state celebrates wild rice as well. Why, we even have a Texas Wild Rice Festival in San Marcos! There’s the mayor floating the river in the middle of the festival.
Prices seem fair in most places, even if you don’t get a pow-wow or float down a river.
And don’t forget to dress up!
When You Want The COVID Vaccine But You Hate Needles
Countdown To May Day
Perhaps your state will start re-opening as per its Phase I guidelines on May 1st. Perhaps it’s May 8th. All I know is it WILL be May, and folks will be getting prepped and ready to shine.
Betty can breathe on Martha, and Martha can cough on Mary.
Carl won’t have to wipe down that wooden chair seat after he gets up.
The line at Great Clips will stretch past the adjacent Subway and Pizza Hut in the strip malls.
The cleaners will be packed with piles of people’s threadbare sweats and yoga pants.
Cobblers will be cobbling.
Diners will be packed elbow-to-elbow.
People might even board public transportation.
Ew. Seriously gross. Kirk is even having second thoughts about cushions never cleaned.
Butchers will be butchering, fileting, de-boning, and slicing deli meats and cheeses.
Department store racks will be scoured for wider waistbands.
Bars and restaurants, clubs and dance halls will throw open their doors and welcome the traumatized masses, stumbling in to relearn dances, to rebuild their tolerance to cocktails, and use public restrooms.
The streets will sound with joyous rapture and merry harmony. “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye” to coronavirus.
At least…for now.
All The King’s Horses And All The King’s Men Couldn’t Put The Economy Back Together Again
Looking at this image of debris washed up along Galveston’s seawall as Hurricane Carla battered the coastline in September of 1961 made me reflect on the powerful beating our economy has taken in a period of only five weeks. Yesterday, my childhood restaurant closed, one where I have fond memories of eating gingerbread pancakes and broccoli sour cream omelets, washed down with iced hibiscus tea at the dawn of the 80s. It had an hour wait nearly every weekend for 40 years, and now it has no wait. Another trendy Austin hotspot folded this morning. So much for their lemon shrimp linguine. How can everything tumble so quickly?
Our favorite haunts are pummeled, as we stand helplessly by. So much for the Pleasure Pier.
The water keeps rising. The Mobil is inoperable, but we don’t need the gas because we can’t go anywhere. The Motor Hotel is flooded, but we’re not allowed to travel from home, so it barely registers.
Down is up, and up is down. Small businesses fold; delivery services soar. Horses stand on patios.
Boats prop tilted on the highway.
In the aftermath, we try to salvage what we can. Sift through the rubble.
What do we do now? We have no income. We have no idea if our jobs will exist when we return to them. How will we pay our bills? We don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. This stimulus check will barely get us through the next month on essentials.
So we cry and comfort each other.
We wonder if the lives saved by isolation outnumbers the lives lost by suicide, outnumbers the families left unfed and unsheltered, down to their last double digits in their savings accounts. And still it goes on.
But we can see the light. We can walk toward it. The world will once again re-open, battered and bruised, but hopefully more united, more focused on true priorities and aware of invisible dangers. Together, we will wade out.
Boxes And Boxes Of Babies
Today we continue in our appreciation for the medical field, who has been streeeeetched to their limits during these past several weeks, and will probably all be suffering from PTSD for the rest of their lives. But back in July of 1970, high-haired Connie Wharton and Jean Davis were keeping it casual and lowkey while lifting newborns out of stork/kitten/kangaroo boxes at Jefferson Davis Hospital, the first publicly-owned Houston hospital to accept low-income patients.
Fun fact Friday: the hospital was largely abandoned in the 80s, thought to be full of ghosts, named a city landmark, and then
destroyed renovated into artist lofts for the rich and crafty. Plus, everyone knows buildings cannot be named after a former president of the Confederate States; we’re too busy erasing history to make everything PC.
This next image shows nurses and patients at Houston’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the Fifth Ward in March of 1959. Nobody likes to be barefoot, donning a hospital gown, but some encouragement, attention, and a fire truck can go a long way toward healing.
Our final Houston-based medical subject is Dr. Katharine Hsu, a pediatric doctor who came to America from China in 1948. She served as Chief Resident Physician in Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital in Shanghai, but when the Japanese invaded the city in l94l, she fled through enemy lines and joined her husband at Chung Cheng Medical College as Head of Pediatrics. Here she takes vitals of a shirtless youngster in July of 1953 at–you guessed it–Jefferson Davis Hospital.
Fun Fact Friday: After tuberculosis took the lives of her brother and sister, she made it her goal to stop the spread. She established a one-room, one-nurse pediatric TB facility which later expanded into the Children’s TB Clinic and Hospital, where she worked from 1953 to 1969.
Per her obituary in 2007, she died at the age of 93.
When the use of the drug Isoniazid proved beneficial in treating TB patients, Katharine envisioned using it as a preventive against the disease. Since her extensive testing and studies proved overwhelmingly successful, the preventive treatment was adopted worldwide…The International Biographical Center of Cambridge named her International Woman of the Year in l996-l997 for her contributions to medicine, research, and education.
Today we salute the men and women in past and present medical fields, doing their best to keep the rest of us alive, with all the skills to treat and diagnose when we are helpless and vulnerable.
Why I Don’t Have Polio
Henry L. Hohl Elementary, April 1955: The first Houston-area students await the newly available Salk vaccine.
Needles aren’t fun, but they’re even less fun while wearing formalwear, like this group below.
Just like little Casey Carl Vaughn above, I, too, received an injection of the vaccine as a youngster. I imagine that’s also why you don’t have polio. Unless you do.
Below you’ll see a free clinic offered by the Houston health department in May of 1961. Residents lined up at the Minimax Store, where volunteers doled out 50,000 inoculations in one week. Ain’t nobody got time for paralysis.
Albert Sabin provided a cheaper alternative to Salk’s vaccine, by adding drops of vaccine to sugar cubes. No injection necessary.
This Houston nurse followed suit in 1962, adding drops of vaccine to sugar cubes.
But it was too little, too late for these polio-afflicted children in Philadelphia, shown way back in 1950 at a meeting with the chairman of the city’s March of Dimes organization. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries). Sometimes timing is everything.