Books are Fragile

But books are so fragile. Paper and leather and wood cannot stand up to fire or water or time.

And there is one thing I know is true in this world: only what is remembered survives. Only what is written has a chance in the future. People forget. Rivers rise. Stories and songs are snuffed out every time some town takes a fever or loses to a man with a little power.

Destruction is common. Creation is rare.

Because I know this truth, I must do two things. First, I must collect and keep as many pieces of record and evidence as I can, to ensure that they do not pass out of this world. Second, I must write my own record so that it survives. I must write the people in my life into the record as well, just as the Midwife did, so that they survive, too. I sometimes do as she did, putting the book into their hands. I write it for them. I did it more when I was younger. I trusted too much then.

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere 3) by Meg Elison

Acknowledge the Past

We must acknowledge the past in order to regain trust and to seize the future.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

Being Irish in America

Steve held close to his heart his family’s connection to Ireland. It is an interesting aspect of the Irish in America that Steve, like others of his generation who were several generations removed from Ireland, felt that being Irish defined who they were. Possibly, it had to do with the identity it gave them. Saying that you were Irish was comparable to claiming membership in a distinct fraternity with a common tradition, secret rituals, and assured friendships wherever you found a fellow member of the Irish diaspora. The Irish gloried in their family, their neighborhood, and their love of the language. For Steve, it granted him entrée into the big leagues, where many young men of Irish descent were entering the American mainstream.

Steve Hannagan: Prince of the Press Agents and Titan of Modern Public Relations by Michael K. Townsley


Irish Female Shamans

When Auntie Shea came from Ireland, she only spoke Gaelic . She found her way to Bloody Plank Road by going from firehouse to firehouse and asking directions. ( She apparently discovered that at least one fireman was a recent Irish immigrant, who spoke Gaelic, or they could point to someone in the community familiar with Gaelic.)

Steve’s family saw their Auntie Shea as more than a relative; she embodied the sense of place , stories , magic , religious fervor, aphorisms, and arcane powers of Ireland. It seemed that only women of Irish descent had these powers, which may have come from Viking lore or Druidic traditions. She knew how to apply the secret knowledge to keep the evil spirits at bay and was rarely baffled by anything, whether it was tragic or comic , that could knock someone’s life off course. She seemed to always have a ready explanation to cover good , sad , or bad news ; and in Irish neighborhoods , there was a surfeit of the latter two. As anyone familiar with these Irish female shamans knows , they can deal with anything . There was always a pinch of salt to be thrown , a saying that fit the moment, or an appropriate prayer to beseech guardian angels or the saints to help in time of need .

Steve Hannagan: Prince of the Press Agents and Titan of Modern Public Relations by Michael K. Townsley


Irish Democrat

Uncle Steve was an esteemed member of the Democratic Party and held numerous political offices in Lafayette . His saloon , conveniently located across the street from the Tippecanoe County Courthouse, was his bailiwick for the various offices that he held. Many children of Irish immigrants, like Uncle Steve, climbed the ladder of success within the friendly climes and ward healing of the Democratic Party. The party helped these descendants of Ireland escape the anti – Irish prejudice that had confined the hated “ Micks ” to Irish ghettos like Bloody Plank Road. The Democratic Party granted the perquisites of political power to Irish-Americans because the close-knit Irish families reliably delivered the necessary votes keeping the party in power. As a favored member of the party , Uncle Steve found jobs for his family and their children, giving them a lift up the ladder. In one instance , Uncle Steve arranged for his nephew Harry Hannagan, blind since childhood, to hold the job of supervisor of weights and measures for the city. Sometimes in politics , the holding of the job was more important than doing the job!

Steve Hannagan: Prince of the Press Agents and Titan of Modern Public Relations by Michael K. Townsley


History: French Canadian Immigration

I am going to tell you as well as I can the story of the French Canadian textile worker; what brought him here; how he came, lived, worked, played and suffered until he was recognized as a patriotic, useful and respected citizen, no longer a ‘frog’ and ‘pea soup eater,’ a despised Canuck. And it’s the story of all the French Canadians who settled in New England mill towns. The picture of one French Canadian textile worker and the picture of another are just as much alike as deux gouttes d’eau, or, as we have learned to say in English, like two peas in a pod.

French Canadian Textile Worker, U.S. Work Projects Administration, Federal Writers’ Project, Library of Congress, a Narrative by Lemay, Philippe (Author) and Pare, Louis (Reporter), series: Folklore Project, Life Histories, 1936-39, MSS55715: BOX A718

Purpose Lies in the Search


Flippant and sorrowful by turns, he read his books of history frantically, looking for a fact or story that would trigger his insight and give him the broad vision that might explain their actions to themselves. So seers always spend their lives, seeking a perfect understanding that inevitably eludes them; some finally falling into madness, while others realize at last that their purpose lies not in the unachievable goal, but in the seeking of it.

Earth Logic (Elemental Logic) by Laurie J. Marks

Thanksgiving Book Review: Dinner with Criminals

I have to admit to being conflicted about this book.

The good: The illustrations are wonderful and the story is an exciting wild west adventure whose main character is a girl!

The bad: The adventure involves meeting (surviving), sharing Thanksgiving dinner, and dancing with the notorious outlaw Butch Cassidy. The story paints Butch Cassidy as…well…a really nice guy!

These quotes illustrate this conflict:

Clara watched to see who Bob – Butch – would choose for a partner. He came straight for her! He bowed. “May I have this dance?” He asked.
Clara stared at him. His blue eyes twinkled. She had to be brave for mama’s sake. “Mr. Cassidy…are you going to rob our train?” she blurted.
Butch roared with laughter. “I saw right away you were sharp,” he said. “How did you know who I was?”
“I saw your picture on a poster,” Clara said.
“Well, a poster don’t tell the whole story of a man,” Butch said. “We’ve all worked as cowhands here. These people have been good to us. And we’re just saying thanks today.” He winked. “We won’t rob your train. I wouldn’t want to scare your mama after she’s had such a nice time.”

While Butch Cassady’s life story isn’t as violent, bloody, and pro-confederate politics (e.g.: slavery) as wild west criminals like Jesse James, he was still a thief who robbed banks, payroll payments (read: taking the entire paycheck for the vast majority of a small town), and ranchers (e.g.: cattle rustling).

These were facts that I kept rolling around in my head while I read this story about a little girl who is smart and brave enough to identify the man in the wanted poster as the benevolent host of an impromptu rescue of a snow-bound train and the Thanksgiving feast that hosted a large number of strangers from that train.

This book would make an excellent starting point for a discussion about the many different ways that people can behave, as well as the many different ways that history can be presented.

Note: The book is written for older kids, with significantly more text than is generally found in picture books.

An Outlaw Thanksgiving by Emily Arnold McCully
Winner of the Caldecott Medal

Ordering Books: Whether you are building a family library or simply looking for a fun way to build-up to the holiday celebration, having brand new books shipped to your home, in your child’s name, is a great way to do it. To a child, it is super exciting to receive a package in the mail, addressed to them! They may even want to read their brand-new book immediately AND before bed.

Library Holds: If you’d prefer to review the books before buying them, or need to maintain a tight budget, then use the local library. Go to the library website, locate the book and place it on hold. When the notification arrives, bring the child along and let them help find the books in the on-hold shelves.

Crucial Storytelling


We had been taught not to look back. We had been trained to disconnect from family and our homelands. We had swapped our stories for a dream. To survive we need to find, and then share, our interlinking stories.

White Birch, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir by Nora Murphy


US Dept of State 2016 Trafficking In Persons Report


Today, we continue the long journey toward an America and a world where liberty and equality are not reserved for some, but extended to all. Across the globe, including right here at home, millions of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. We remain committed to abolishing slavery in all its forms and draw strength from the courage and resolve of generations past.

President Barack Obama

The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:
➤ sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
➤ the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within these definitions.

2016 Trafficking In Persons Report (PDF)(Home Page)