The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 4th, 2015: Today in History

Born on April 4th, 1918, my dad would have been 97 today.  Later today, after I take Squiggy to the vet for whatever shot he’s scheduled to get, I’ll be heading down to the cemetery for a visit. One of my coworkers said that she couldn’t bear to go to the cemetery where her father is buried, but I don’t have such a hard time going to see my dad. Not that I don’t miss him, or my mum (it is harder for me when mum is the reason for my visit), but when I’m there and look around at so many of their old friends buried nearby, it’s somewhat comforting. Nearly every name I see is one that I know, or know of, from growing up in Brewster. And almost every day when I’m driving home from work, I pass the old entrance to the cemetery, and I wave and say ‘hi’ each time because, while out of sight from the road, I know that my parents are straight up that old drive, and among friends.

Today also marks 41 years since my maternal grandmother, Elizabeth “Bessie” Cook, died of breast cancer. Even though the film mammogram had been invented in 1969, five years later it was certainly not the common preventative screening method that it is today. So despite having undergone a double mastectomy, Grandma’s cancer was too far along to be stopped. I remember mum and I going to the nursing home a day or two after my sister, Anne, had given birth to Bessie’s first great-grandchild, my godson and oldest nephew, Michael. We believe that, knowing that Anne was due any day, Grandma had been stubbornly hanging on until Michael was born. Anne had taken one of those old instant photos of newborn Michael and mailed it to Grandma immediately, but it arrived too late for Bessie. I will never forget her funeral, with my mum clutching my hand and sobbing aloud when the church soloist started to sing “Ave Maria.” to this day, I cannot hear that song without flashing back to that harrowing moment.

Mum and Dad's Wedding - Left to Right, Grandpa Joe Sechny, "Baba", my dad, my mum, Grandma Bessie Cook, Grandpa Ralph Cook

Mum and Dad’s Wedding – Left to Right, Grandpa Joe Sechny, “Baba”, my dad, my mum, Grandma Bessie Cook, Grandpa Ralph Cook

On a more global scale, several much more important events occurred on this day in history:

-On April 4th, 1968, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. This alone makes April 4th a day that should live in infamy. (I’m sure that if those who wish to re-write American history according to their own delusions, schoolchildren will someday be taught that “The Great White Hope” James Earl Jones pulled the trigger.) Remarkably, Dr. King was only 39 years old at the time of his murder – remarkable considering how huge an impact his brief life’s work had on the Civil Rights of African-Americans and on our nation’s history.

-On April 4th, 1776, General George Washington began his march from Boston to New York, and his presence here in our little neck of the New York woods is commemorated by several roadside historical markers. For a time, Washington’s headquarters were located in what is known as the John Kane House here in Pawling.

John Kane House, once George Washington's Headquarters

John Kane House, once George Washington’s Headquarters

-On April 4th, 1841, President William Henry “I died in 30 days!” Harrison died of pneumonia, exactly one month after having insisted on giving his over-long inaugural address on a frigid day without a coat or hat.

-On April 4th, 1949, the NATO pact was signed.

-On April 4th, 1928, future U.S. Poet Laureate Maya Angelou was born.

-And on April 4th, 1865, supposedly Abraham Lincoln dreamt about his own assassination.

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about anything you’d like.


21 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 4th, 2015: Today in History

    • I remember going through all the old family photos after my father passed. I only wish mom and dad had taken time to write names on photos that included distant relative or friends. Names we’ll never know.

      • Back then — and I’m talking about going all the way back to the 19th century photos, like I have — putting names on the back of them was as rare as someone on the front smiling.

      • Luckily my mum had written names and sometimes the year or location on the backs of most of our old photos, at least for the ones from her family and then after they got married. My dad’s family, not so much.

  1. From the many hours I spent looking out the car window as a child I still remember certain types of signs along the road like series of Burma Shave jingles and Impeach Earl Warren and hundreds of Washington Slept Here. I wonder if Washington was just a tired General or taking advantage of certain ladies whose husbands were away? Was the amendment against stationing troops in private homes a result of Washington?

  2. I’m sure that if those who wish to re-write American history according to their own delusions, schoolchildren will someday be taught that “The Great White Hope” James Earl Jones pulled the trigger

    Don’t forget that group that wanted to honor James Earl Jones, but when they revealed the plaque, it said “James Earl Ray.” Mr. Jones was surprisingly good natured about it.

  3. As one who was raised a Lutheran I could never quite figure how it was that a man named after Martin Luther came to be, of all things, a BAPTIST preacher (there were, afaik, zero Baptists in S. Mn way back then, and since S. Mn. was “the world,” . . . ). Curiously, that was the only problem that I or anyone I personally knew in my first 21 years of life had with MLK Jr. It was several year later — late sixties when I lived in St. Louis County — that I “learned” that since he was black he was maybe not even human.

    I guess that’s what some call “growing up”?

  4. That is a marvelously wonderful photo of your parents and grandparents.
    Your Mum’s gown was so beautifully swirly long!
    Fabulous looking family!

    • Thanks, Ebb. However, what looked gorgeous on my 5’9″ mum did NOT look gorgeous on my 5′ frame. Although I had never planned – or even thought about – wearing her dress, when I realized how strongly she felt about it, I caved. The bodice fit okay, but the seamstress** had to let out the hip seams as far as they could go.

      **Our family, and previously Wayne’s family as well, lived in a development called Brewster Heights. Pretty much everyone who needed sewing done went to a woman named Marie Clair, who lived on the same road that Wayne’s family had. For decades, our families called her “Marie Clair, Seamstress to The Heights.” Heh.

  5. Here’s proof that Colorado Republicans are at least as stupid as Republicans anywhere else.

    Fake news story apparently prompts real legislation in Colorado

    Last week, the satirical National Report posted a fake story entitled “Colorado Pot Shop Accepting Food Stamps – Taxpayer Funded Marijuana for Welfare Recipients.” Other stories on the site include equally false items such as “Colorado Pot Shop Attempts To Disarm Citizens With ‘Weed for Guns’ Buyback Program,” “How Obama’s EPA Is Taking Away Your 2nd Amendment,” and “U.S. Caves to Iran In Nuclear Deal. Sharia Law Now to be Taught in U.S. Universities. Qurans to be Placed in Motel Rooms.” A conservative news site picked up the story, apparently duped. The Douglas County Republican Committee, also apparently believing the story real, linked to the report on its Twitter feed last Tuesday.

    A day later, [state Sen. Vicki] Marble’s bill was filed in the state Senate. Marble did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about her rationale, but two of her co-sponsors did. Rep. Dan Nordberg (R) observed that while “To my knowledge, there have been no incidences at marijuana establishments in the two weeks they’ve been open,” the bill is “consistent with the intent of Amendment 64, which is to ‘regulate marijuana like alcohol.’” Since the prohibition applies to liquor stores, he notes, it should thus also apply to marijuana vendors.

    What’s really fascinating is that Pot shops in Colorado don’t take checks or cards of any kind, they’re cash only. Period. I gotta wonder why someone bright enough to get elected to the State Senate could be so stupid as to not know that. But she’s a Republican, so . . . etc.

  6. Love the old photo, Jane — especially the tail coats! 🙂

    I’ve never gone to a cemetery to visit the grave of anyone I knew, and I never will. Most everyone in my family has been cremated anyway, and both of my parents are sitting on a shelf in my step-mother’s living room — which is beyond weird to me — while they wait to be interred at Arlington.

    I’m glad visiting the cemetery gives you comfort, Jane, and you seem to have the right outlook on the whole thing. I’ve just never felt the urge to put flowers on a grave, even though walking through graveyards is one of my favorite things!

    I remember driving back from that ill-fated roadtrip in 2008, with my youngest sister in tow. We stopped in Billings because she wanted to visit our grandmother’s grave. I had seen the grave before, but couldn’t remember exactly where it was, and frankly couldn’t be arsed to find out — even though I loved the crazy old woman — and my sister found yet another thing to despise about me. 😆 Hell, I wasn’t stopping her from finding out where the grave was! Thank goodness we were only about 12 hours from home… 😉

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