About Kay Strickland

I am a keeper of my family's lore, chasing after my ancestors' tales in south central New York, southwestern Pennsylvania and Southside Virginia. The stories and photographs that I share on this blog are my intellectual property. While I do my very best to provide well researched posts, I do not pretend to have reached genealogical proof standards. Therefore, much of this work is to generate conversation among interested parties. If you would like to share my work or my records, please contact me: dkaysdays (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sunshine…Finally

We have no shortage of water right now in the northeast.  So, when the shadows begin to appear, I gratefully acknowledge the sunshine at my table.

We have no shortage of water right now in the northeast. So, when the shadows begin to appear, I gratefully acknowledge the sunshine at my table.

Meow of the House

Her eyes.  Speak volumes.  If only I could translate!

Her eyes. Speak volumes. If only I could translate!

This Side of the Cast: Tulips, Shadows, and Light

Some days ago, I slipped on my descent from a rock outcrop, and landed with enough force to break my leg. Damn the bear that knocked down the bird feeder that I ridiculously had to right before the dew-soaked lichen had dried.

On a positive note, a broken anything reduces your world to essentials and not having to make so many damn choices is almost liberating.  Almost.  I would prefer to have full locomotion, but I will settle for a schedule that insists that I live this side of the cast, to my fullest.

With that end in mind, I practice yoga with each hobbled step I take, and engage in laugh therapy regularly throughout the day. And take time to see. my. limited. world.

These images feature what I saw, felt, loved, from this side of the cast today.

Petals of love and encouragement, from my husband.

Petals of love and encouragement, from my husband.

Tulip Study.2.EH Tulip Study.3.EH

A Raise in the South: Vintage Postcards

A road winding through the hilly farms of 1910 Greene County, Pennsylvania was likely to be pitted and ice pocked in late February.  Nevertheless, birthdays, particularly of beloved grandpas, required festive acknowledgements.  The Ruse family decided to let the mail do the travelling for Christopher’s seventy-third birthday, and, via USPS, invited young and old to shower the elderly carpenter with celebratory wishes.  Seven-year-old Donald Minor, my grandfather, received an invitation from Chris Ruse’s granddaughter, Helen E.

Dear Donald, We are having a surprise Postcard shower for Grandpa Ruse on March 13.  We want all of you to send a card and to tell everyone you see that knows him.

The adult who formed each cursive letter for Helen conveyed more than a mere request. On the front of the postcard greeting was a reproduction of an early twentieth century print, A Raise in the South.  In the scene, nine southern black men are gathered in a smoky, windowless room around a large table, mid-way through a hand of poker.  I suppose the cartoonish characters were meant to be child-appropriate and the title a clever play on the word “raise,” but a larger lesson was truly being dealt.

The Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War and Reconstruction had become firmly lodged in the national psyche by 1910, guiding the country’s sectional reunion.  According to this historiography, the war was fought by valiant white men, Yankee and Rebel, for the cause of liberty.  Emancipation of slaves had not been a wise move; African-Americans needed –and desired–the paternal governance of the superior white race.  Tossed from memory were tales of black heroism and self-efficacy. What lingered were caricatures of idleness and incompetence, portraits of black men seeing raises within the context of a game, not within  the framework of gainful employment.

The birthday invitation from one child to another was an early lesson in the state of race relations within the country Don and Helen would inherit.  Insidiously, cartoon postcards planted doubt and fear, which in turn sprouted justifications for the South’s use of murder, segregation, and disenfranchisement of black Americans in the effort to re-establish a country of white men, governed by white men.

Far from comic,  A Raise in the South, is a chilling reminder of mass media’s influence on public memory.

Postcard. "A Raise in the South," From Helen E. Ruse to Donald C. Minor, 27 February 1910. Donald Minor Postcard Collection, D. Kay Strickland Family History Library.

Postcard. “A Raise in the South,” From Helen E. Ruse to Donald C. Minor, 27 February 1910. Donald Minor Postcard Collection, D. Kay Strickland Family History Library.

Nature’s Mischief… No Foolin’

Outline of hope Witch Hazel Surprised