Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Correspondence

What a happy day it was when one of Ginni's post cards or notes arrived at the doll museum! These went right up on the bulletin board at the office where everyone could see them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

UW-Tacoma plans to honor Japanese Language School | Tacoma Weekly

This article from the Tacoma Weekly shows a planned recognition of the Japanese Language School. This school was present in the neighborhood not far from the Tacoma Main Library before World War Two, and an effort to preserve the building continued for years. UW-Tacoma plans to honor Japanese Language School Tacoma Weekly

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yard Sale Poem

Poem from 1877 that I found at a Yard Sale in 1987

Last Sunday, as I went around a corner towards a yard sale, I recognized those front steps and the steep bank. This was where I found a poem, years before, among other letters in a box of old papers. The box was laid out with other yard sale items.

Because the poem was written by a Hancher and was with Iowa items and from the midwest, I thought of the Writers' Workshop and decided to mail it to Marvin Bell. This is the poem as I copied it into a diary in 1987 - Found today (8/30/87) at a yard sale to mail to Marvin Bell at The Iowa City Writers' Workshop

This world seems cold seems sad & drear,

It seems a sea of temporal woe.

Perhaps the Lord hath seen "twere best,

That I immortal joys should know:

All Else than Him seems but a blank;
Life's rugged road seems dark & drear;

It seems as if 'twere - ah! too vain!

To try to think of aught to cheer.

The past has been to me, a blank?

Ah no! Then I was filled with hope;

The present come & seems so drear,

I can but in the darkness grope;

But Lord in thee I'll put my trust,

Whatever evil may betide;

And when my mission here is done,

I trust that thou my soul wilt guide

Into the haven of the blest
Where all is joy, and peace, and love;

where sickness comes not neither death:

Oh! There I'll rest with thee above!

An hour has passed! A ray of hope

Springs on my path, my heart to cheer.

Oh! That the darkness of this hour,

Would cease; and untold joy appear:

Twould bring relief to one who sits,

And watches me with anxious heart;

Who longs to see those joys appear;

And all this misery depart.

Ever yours

J W Hancher
, Ohio


Last Sunday, August 14th, 2011, I reminded the homeowner, a lady, about the letter I had found, years before. That evening I located the event as August 30th, 1987, during my first year in a large one-room apartment with a galley kitchen.

Because of the name Hancher and the midwest location I addressed it to Marvin Bell at the Iowa City Writers' Workshop. In 1987 there was a Sunday pickup at the mail box near the pharmacy. I still remember that the letter hit the bottom of an empty mailbox with a lonesome thud. The mail had already been picked up, it would have to wait overnight.

Then remorse set in. Had I been impetuous to just put on a stamp and mail it, should I have sent it registered mail?

On the phone on Thursday to the International Workshop, which transferred my call to the Writers' Workshop with no letter found, I tried directory assistance and called Marvin Bell at home. He said he tried to call me. I probably was doing the laundry.

He sent the poem to acquisitions at the university library where they would decide if they wanted it or if it should be sent to Iowa Wesleyan. Iowa Wesleyan was the choice.

The yard sale in 2011 was again a treasury. The theme here was beautiful knick knacks, and they were wonderful. When I spoke to the lady, while I was looking through some Nancy Drew books, an old pot-holder weaving frame, she remembered me. I had brought a copy of correspondence I had with Iowa over to her at that long-ago time.

She said on Sunday that eventually they had arranged for more of the correspondence to be sent to Iowa to a Greek living community, a fraternity or sorority.

The return to this same yard sale from twenty-four years before took me across thoughts into the times I have known since then. I lived in five apartments in four old buildings in the two neighboring historic districts from 1974 to 2004 - thirty years of Historic Tacoma. Presently I am in yet another historic Tacoma Neighborhood.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Part Five

Part Five: On Their Way

And so they were on their way - Ginni, Shadow, Gypsy, and Ms.
Torvaldsen. Ms. Torvaldsen had contacted media and that day's paper included an article about the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Part Four


In the middle of the night Ginni sat at her table beside the cafe curtains at the kitchen window. Only a stove light was on, and above the curtains Ginni could make out one or two stars in the dark sky. Shadow was asleep on his kitchen rug and Gypsy was asleep, her head inside her shell, in her aquarium.

On her refrigerator was Ginni's list under its fridge magnet: Ms Torvaldsen was with media and public relations for the doll museum and would accompany Ginni, Shadow, and Gypsy to take photographs and tapes of the trip and the performances.

In her kitchen the night before the trip, Ginni was happy that Ms. Torvaldsen would be with them - for although Ginni had not realized she felt anxious, Ginni had once again had the bad dream about Gypsy being forgotten.

"But how we called and called to the volunteer as he was walking away from putting the pond turtles into the aquarium. Poor Gypsy!"

After that Gypsy lived with Ginni and Shadow.

"Why am I dreaming this again and again? Surely I cannot be afraid that Gypsy will be forgotten on our trip? Perhaps Ms. Torvaldsen will also help with Gypsy."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Report for the Summer Reading Club on a book about Stieg Larsson and herself by Eva Gabrielsson


The book is written with Marie-Francoise Colombani, and translated from the French by Linda Coverdale.

For the many readers of the Millenium series Eva Gabrielsson tells about her shared experience with Stieg Larsson. Connections to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest are many and clearly made. Places and people they knew are described in the books. Also described in the books are memories Stieg Larsson shared with her about his childhood:

"At the beginning of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist accepts an offer from Henrik Vanger, Harriet Vanger's uncle, to move into the guest house not far from Hedestad. It's the middle of winter, and he describes the 'ice roses that formed on the inside of the windows': they were the same ones that used to fascinate Stieg in his grandparents' home..."(Gabrielsson, Page 9)

They made a visit together to the little house that was Stieg Larsson's first home. Photos of this house are in the book.

Bible references were central clues in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo mystery and important is her explanation of the Bible in Scandinavia. Gabrielsson liked to light candles in old churches they visited together. Also important is her identity as an architect. The thirty years Stieg Larsson and Eva Gabrielsson spent together were lived in a city apartment. Her struggle to hold on to the apartment, which is her home, after Stieg Larsson died, is central to the book.

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour, Part Three


The doll museum wanted Ginni to look her best and suggested she choose pieces to bring along from storage. The costuming department was a floor above the great hall. In a far storage room was a section where clothes fit Ginni.

In Ginni's current primary voters' pamphlet the announcement "We're bringing back an old tradition" stirred her again and again to thoughts of the flag. This remained in her thoughts as she opened the windowshade to let light into the dim storage room..

"Will my everyday dress be right for the train ride?" wondered Ginni, as she and Shadow planned what to bring.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Story of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour - Part Two


Ginni is employed at the doll museum. In the great hall Ginni plays the role of Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring. Ginni can wear the Native American Costume owned by the Doll Museum, it fits quite well. For this reason Ginni was chosen for her job. The museum had also owned a Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring marionette. But an Older Sister with talent for blonde wool yarn turned the marionette into Alice in Wonderland.

When Ginni got the letter from the group called The "I Am An American" Speaking Tour, which had chosen Ginni to speak on the topic, "Good Citizenship", Ginni had to explain this to the Doll Museum and ask for a leave of absence.

The Doll Museum was happy for Ginni. This would be a chance for Ginni to make a difference. They could arrange some baskets and drums beneath the cigar box felts where Ginni usually stands.

The magnificent cigar box felts are close to a hundred years old.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Story of Ginni and The "I Am An American" Speaking Tour


In Ginni's current primary voters' pamphlet the announcement "We're bringing back an old tradition" stirred her to thoughts of the flag. This was the announcement:

Citizenship Day was first celebrated in May, 1940 and was called "I am an American" Day.

In 1952, it was moved to September 17, Constitution Day, to correspond with the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787. Tacoma's last celebration was in 1949.

Today we consider Citizenship/Constitution Day as the birthday for our country. It serves as a means for American citizens to express pride in their citizenship. Constitution Day also designates a time to honor the Constitution of America and learn more about this famous piece of legislation.

The pamphlet included photos of Jason Lee Middle School auditorium on "I am an American Day."

Ginni had attended a junior high school. To be a doll in junior high school had meant so much to her. A few days later she got a letter from a group called The "I Am An American" Speaking Tour. They had chosen Ginni to speak on the topic, "Good Citizenship". The Speaking Tour Group would pay all Ginni's expenses on her tour to places in the United States, including housing and Amtrak train fare.

Shadow and Ginni had always been friends. Of course Shadow and Ginni would both go on the tour. Gypsy had always been Ginni's friend. Of course Gypsy would also go on the tour with Shadow and Ginni.

In The Story Of Ginni and the "I Am An American" Speaking Tour, the part of Ginni is played by a collector's doll. The part of Shadow is played by a bendable toy dog. The part of Gypsy is played by a ceramic turtle figurine.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Report for the Adult Summer Reading Club - on Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky

Fire Sale (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York: 2005) is set in South Chicago, where the narrator, private detective V.I. Warshawski was a child. "In this town, your childhood home dogs you your whole life."(Page 8). As an amplification of the priority we need to make about being aware of where objects come from, the novel is set in a small flag factory, and characters in the novel reflect the hardships and dangers of people at work to craft the flags, symbols of the United States.

One motivator for me to read Fire Sale was the Bysen family characters, who own BySmart and are modeled after people who own Walmart. Presently in the news in Walmart's Food Deserts: Greening the Bottom Line by Eric Holt Gimenez: First Lady Michelle Obama announced that SUPERVALU, Walgreens and Walmart committed to open or expand 1,500 supermarkets across America's food deserts -- low-income areas without easy access to a supermarket. Gimenez concludes - if greening the food deserts are a policy priority, then we need more than just new supermarkets. We need programs that reduce record high income inequality and create jobs with decent living wages.

One motivator for me to read Sara Paretsky's Fire Sale was the current primary election voter's pamphlet. A section about the Pierce County Citizenship Celebration illustrates "We're bringing back an old tradition," with photographs of flags from 1941's "I am an American Day."

"The soft fabric was falling from her machine into a wooden box: the U.S. flag must not touch the ground." (Page 112) The factory's worker's daughters are on the basketball team narrator private detective Warshawski has volunteered to coach, and concerned about how meager the funding is for the girls' positive involvement and activity, she approaches the Bysen (BySmart) family with a request for support. The factory worker feeds six people on her small salary. A theme of the novel is teen pregnanacy. The girls sleep in flag sheets. The story centers around an explosion and fire at the factory, which becomes an even more grim place just after the fire: "...still some bolts of fabric in their plastic sheathing,...the edges had been eaten by rodents, charmed to have such soft nest-building material laid out for them." (Page 370).

Some chapter titles refer to cowboy songs, "Home, Home on the Range", for example, as a reference to the homonym Byson and Bison.