Reflections on the 2008 Election

The days following the 2008 election have been interesting. Although I knew the black community was pleased and excited that a black man had finally been nominated to run for President and that the polls were strongly in favor of his election, I was unprepared for the emotional response that was so visible on the streets, particularly in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. The sight of Jesse Jackson and others with tears streaming down their faces; in this instance, Oprah doesn’t count – those who have watched her through the years know she does what she refers to as “the ugly cry” over very small touching things. To the black community, this was no small victory; it was huge.

In these days they have recounted their long journey, from the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln, through Martin Luther King’s strong leadership with sit-ins and marches and enduring brutality, beatings and bombings, being denied education in our finer educational institutions to finally having a black man be judged, as Martin Luther King hoped, by the content of his character rather than by the color of his skin, and elected to serve as our President for the next four years. We have obviously come a long way – for the black man. But what about the white and black women? We had Hillary Clinton running for President – meaning, to some extent, we’ve come a long way there as well. But really, how far is that?

When facing the choice between voting for a senior citizen, a woman or a black man, the majority of our people chose a black man. Though I know our voting decisions are never black and white – no pun intended – this result makes me wonder what this election really says about us.

In assessing John McCain, his superior experience in leadership was never questioned. What did seem to be questioned was if he had, perhaps, passed his prime. I heard news commentators say things such as, “McCain kept repeating himself as though he had forgotten he’d already said that.” There is no doubt that if, and when, Clinton and Obama repeated themselves, it was either for emphasis or because the same response was, once again, pertinent to the question for them.

I heard commentators saying that John Kerry had been successful with the youth vote by 7% while Obama managed to bring in a 32% higher amount of the youth vote than McCain. The commentators’ suggestion was purely that our young people were drawn to Obama’s platform and message, but I would suggest that a far stronger factor was this country’s obsession with youth. AARP, in their magazine, has to go to an effort to point out and review any movies that show our aging population in any positive light. It is clear from viewing ads in any magazine, except AARP, that the focus of advertising dollars is on young people.

If that’s how it is for a senior citizen candidate, how have and do women fare? At the present time, there are apparently 16 women in the Senate, and 79 in the House. There are currently eight women governors. Historically, there have been 218 women in the United States House of Representatives, 36 of whom were elected as widows to complete their deceased husband’s term. There have been 35 women in the United States Senate since the establishment of that body in 1789, meaning that out of the 1,897 Americans who have served in the United States Senate since that time, 1.85% have been female. Interestingly, the first woman Senator was 87 years old and was appointed when they wanted someone who would NOT be a contender for the general election to complete an unexpired term. Because the Senate was not in session, no one believed she would have any opportunity to actually vote on anything. She served one day between her swearing in and the swearing in of the newly-elected male Senator.

Observing the nation’s responses to both Hillary and Sarah Palin was also interesting. Hillary is an exceedingly strong, even aggressive, woman. Here’s a quote about Hillary from an article for the Washington Monthly by Carl Cannon: “You know the rap: She’s too liberal, too polarizing, a feminist too threatening to male voters. Too much baggage. Too… Clinton. She can’t be elected in a general election; men aren’t willing to vote for a woman like Hillary; women don’t think much of her marriage–or her, for staying in it.”

It is not my intention at this time to discuss Sarah Palin’s true strengths and weaknesses as a candidate, but I would like to address some of the areas pertinent to her being a WOMAN candidate. Where people referred to Hillary as a “ball buster,” Sarah Palin seemed to be viewed as too attractive to be taken seriously. One man I heard say she clearly wasn’t experienced enough to be elected, although he got turned on watching her. And I heard women suggest she should not have even considered running for Vice President since she had five children, one of whom was handicapped. It was quite clear to them she should be a stay-at-home mom with all that on her plate. Let me say, it would never have occurred to anyone to suggest that Joe Biden should have been a stay-at-home Dad following the death of his wife and daughter when his sons clearly needed a hefty dose of ‘mothering’ as they struggled for life and health as well as emotional stability in the aftermath of that tragedy.

Additionally, in an interview on a Baptist university campus, both male and female students were asked what they thought of Sarah Palin as a Vice Presidential candidate. They were effusive in their warm response to her; it was clear her principles on abortion and marriage were in line with their own views. But then they were asked, “You would be fine if she ended up being President of our country?” They indicated their agreement with that possibility due to her conservative views. Then the interviewer asked, “Could she be a pastor of your church?” The answer was an absolute, “No way. That would be against the clear teaching of the Bible.”

As a young woman, I felt a strong call of God on my life, but at that time there WAS NO PLACE for a woman to serve (and in the conservative church that is still the case). Women could be wives and mothers and, if they HAD to work, they could work in retail or be a nurse, teacher or secretary, though, of course, their wages would be small because, “the company just can’t afford to take the wage from a MAN responsible for the upkeep of his family.”

I learned as an educated musician that I could be used to lead rehearsals and conduct the choir in the absence of the minister of music, but I could not sit on the platform and I was not permitted to lead the congregational singing. They chose a 17-year-old boy to do that – because, of course, he had the necessary genitalia.

Today, although as Hillary said, she put 18,000,000 cracks in the glass ceiling, that ceiling is still there. A preponderance of both men and women seem unwilling to see and live according to the biblical principle found in Galatians 3:28 that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So in these first days following the election as we watch the black community wiping away their tears of joy that Martin Luther King’s words regarding his dream have been fulfilled, women are still waiting for the fulfillment of Susan B. Anthony’s words when she said, “The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation.”

I can only add with a sad hopefulness, “that day will come … that day will come.”

Whatever You Do, Inspire Me!

A year or so ago, I watched an old 1940s war movie called “Journey for Margaret.” A young pregnant woman was wounded during an air raid and during an operation lost both the child and the ability to conceive further children. As a result, she began to cope with life with a lot of fake good cheer and alcoholic bolstering. I began to reflect on how any of us maintain our inspiration and motivation to continue in the face of frustration and loss.

In August 2007, I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit held annually at Crossings Church. In Bill Hybels’ last presentation he addressed this same subject as it relates to leaders – how do leaders stay inspired and motivated to continue leading and how do they inspire and motivate the members of their team or organization?

It’s a pertinent question; in different research studies someplace between 40% and 87% of employees leave their job as a response to frustration or lack of inspiration or motivation. Those of us who have been divorced can attest that people also leave marriages and families during those same times of lack of inspiration or motivation. It’s pretty clear that a discouraged leader, employee or family member doesn’t have a lot to draw on to hold the team, organization or family together.

The first question Hybels asked was, “Whose job is it to keep me, as a leader, motivated?” As a Christian leader, he looked to the Bible to find his answer. In I Samuel 30:6, scripture tells us that Samuel “encouraged himself in God.” Hybel’s conclusion – it’s truly up to the individual to keep up with his or her own call to leadership. Some of his suggestions for how to do that are:

  1. Stay clear about why you are doing what you’re doing
  2. Be sure you are maximizing your God-given gifts and talents – Focus on your strengths – Marcus Buckingham in First Break All the Rules, Now, Discover Your Strengths and in the most recent Go, Put Your Strengths to Work teaches how we are depleted from working in areas of our weaknesses and we are strengthened and excited when we are working in the areas of our strengths.
  3. Make sure the people you surround yourself with are inspired and inspiring – pay close attention to people who are de-motivators to you (even if one of them is you). We can take in so much daily garbage that we can demotivate our own self.
  4. Read great books (although there isn’t anything wrong with reading fiction; Hybels is talking about reading biographies and books on leadership that help you grow in the direction of your dreams)
  5. Rub shoulders with EIPs (exceptionally inspiring people) – take the time to seek them out
  6. Participate in inspiring events. That likely means you’ll need to spend some time thinking about what really does inspire you. That’s why I attend the Leadership Summit as well as the Maximum Impact seminars each year.
  7. Pay attention to your physical condition and to the disciplines that keep you fit, like exercise, proper nutrition, water and rest.
  8. Pay attention to your work environment – decorate it, clean it, organize it.
  9. Have inspiring recreation outside your work time that recreates you.
  10. This is one that generally gets neglected in the corporate world, but it is Hybels’ suggestion and mine – Practice daily spiritual disciplines. Sensing the voice of God speaking to your spirit can inspire you for days, months or even years.

Once we’ve dealt with our own inspiration and motivation, what’s the best way to motivate those around us? Collin Powell earlier in the day had said “Optimism is a force multiplier.” Optimism enhances everything that has to get done in a military or governmental setting. Hybels said number one on the list of how to motivate those around us is to Live a motivated life around them! Avoid negativity. Positivity is also a force multiplier. In addition to your own motivated life,

  1. Connect everyone you lead to a compelling cause
  2. Learn the inspiration language of each individual person on your team and speak it to them.
  3. Identify and reduce every de-motivating thing
  4. Celebrate every sign of progress

Finally, Hybels asked the question, “What would a church look like if everyone were inspired? We could ask here, “What would your business look like if you were all inspired?” Hybels once again went to scripture for his answer and found it in the second chapter of Acts. I won’t quote it in its entirety, but I will list some of the verb phrases:

They were all devoted to

everyone was filled with a sense of awe

the people gave to the poor at unprecedented levels

radical acceptance of one another

the community noticed and wanted to join them.

We all have dreams, goals, places where we serve and lead and we all get tired and frustrated when the results we hope for are delayed. It’s up to each one of us to discover and practice what motivates us so we can live a motivated life around the people we come in contact with – in our businesses, in our churches, in our communities, and in our families.

When the day is dark and dreary
And we know not where to go;
Don’t let your heart go weary,
Just keep this thought in mind…

It is better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark.
Better far that you light just one little candle,
All you need is a tiny spark.
If we’d all say a prayer that the world would be free,
A wonderful dawn of a new day we’d see…
And if everyone lit just one little candle,
What a bright world this would be.

Go Light your World!

My Wedding Day

87f75158cc611affa2af5ddeb25c4fd573d931a1-lWayne and I married at Capital Hill Baptist Church (SW 25th and Harvey) in Oklahoma City. Hugh Bumpas officiated. In the first photo, Rev. Bumpas had just pronounced us husband and wife and said, “You may kiss the bride.” Wayne had turned to leave as soon as Rev. Bumpas said we were husband and wife; however, I, as a stage performer, knew we had practiced the “kissing the bride” part of the ceremony, so I grabbed Wayne and pulled him back to complete the wedding process. All the attendants, the minister and the audience were laughing. The second photo took place as we licked our fingers after having shoved the piece of wedding cake in each other’s mouth.

Virginia and Her Little Girl – Late Fall and Winter 1940-1941

Me in a high chair

Me in a high chair

Mother enjoying her daughter on her lap

Mother enjoying her daughter on her lap

This picture looks like it was probably late fall in the yard of the house on Shartel. Mother’s recollections: “Donna Marie. Wasn’t she pretty! I got up every morning and bathed her, rolled her hair and got it all fixed. Every day, it was straight as a string. I didn’t have anything else in the world to do but play with her and take care of her.”

Who is that pretty girl in the mirror?

Who is that pretty girl in the mirror?

My First Home

Mother and Daddy lived at 2112 N Shartel when I was born. I was born at Wesley Hospital and Mother’s doctor was Dr. Harris. [Although Wayne was in the Air Force when I became pregnant, no obstetricians were available, so I was free to go  to the City to see Dr. Harris to confirm the pregnancy I was confident of and start me on prenatal care.] Mother loved Dr. Harris and he served as my pediatrician as well as mother’s physician for years. [She went to him when she was pregnant with Mickey, although she also had a physician in Gainesville where we lived in 1946.]

Delivered by ambulance - common for the time period

Delivered by ambulance – common for the time period

It was apparently typical to deliver the mother and baby home in an ambulance and the photo above is an advertising photo of the company that brought mother and me home from the hospital. Mother’s recollections of the house on Shartel are as follows: “The Peters owned this little house; it sat on the alley of Shartel and the street car ran right in front of our house. That was a little house and the Peters lived in front of us and then there was a garage and then this little house on the alley. It had 3 rooms. Bedroom, kitchen and a little bitty living room about like that you see . As a matter of fact the floor plan was about the same as this.” (describing her senior citizen apartment off SW 74th & May). Mother told me her brother, Johnnie, and his wife had lived there previously.

Fall 1940 looking north towards the Peters' house.

Fall 1940 looking north towards the Peters’ house.

In September 2011, I was looking on Google maps street view for the 2112 Shartel addresss and observed something that reminded me of the above photo taken of me outdoors in a high chair. I’d never known where that photo was taken and the relative similarity made me want to see the actual Shartel location rather that the street view online. I suppose it’s surprising that although I’d always known the address where mom and dad lived when I was born and had driven up and down Shartel any number of times, I’d never thought to look at the area and/or house we’d lived in when I was born. I called Kay and asked her if she’d like to drive over with me; she agreed and within a few minutes we were on our way across town.

My interpretation from Google maps street view was correct and the little house is still there. Kay and I both took photographs of the house and area and a 2011 photo of the home is below.

My highchair was situated at the top of the rise just past the left corner of the front of the house.

My highchair was situated at the top of the rise just past the left corner of the front of the house.

The House on Hardin Drive

2240 Hardin Drive - 1944
                                   2240 Hardin Drive when we lived there

Mother and Daddy bought the house at 2240 Hardin Drive when it was new in 1944. Mother had apparently wanted her own home with every fiber of her soul and she was so ecstatic to finally have her own home. Daddy had been having a very lucky streak in gambling and had won enough to pay cash for the house and to allow Mother the money to buy furniture, pictures, curtains, etc. Mother’s recollections are as follows: “2240 Hardin Drive, Donna was in kindergarten [at Creston Hills School]. We bought that house, gave $4200 for it. And after we moved in there, we put carpeting in the living room, dining room and the hall. And we put double car garage doors that went up. When we bought that place it had an orchard back there. I mean an orchard. We had a pear tree and 2 peach and apples — it seems to me like there were about 4 apple trees. And I made a garden. And there was a chicken house and I had some chickens behind the garage. [I can remember one of the roosters chasing me – it was a particularly mean chicken. Mother knew it was mean and it made her so angry that it tried to attack me that she wrung its neck and we had it for dinner.] And uh oh golly I had just everything in that garden. It wasn’t that big you know, nearly all of it was a garden, of course, there was a clothes line. And I had a ladder built for her so that she could… she loved to climb. And I had the ladder built so that she could look into her bedroom window. And I had furniture made for her, a cabinet and a bed big enough for her to get in, you know, with her dolls. And it had slats, you know, to hold it together. And I made the quilts and everything for it. And she’d get in that little bed and curl up. She was little. And oh, then I made… you see the bedroom, her bedroom [on the driveway side – last window] was great big and I had a daybed which was like a, well, you could fold it out and it would make a bed. It was like a divan really. And I built her a screen to put behind the divan and, oh, I made her a dresser out of 2 orange crates and made the skirt you know to go around it and I had a mirror cut – went to the glass place and had a mirror cut to put on top of that and a mirror to go behind it. And I had a barrel that nails come in and made a stool and covered that. Oh boy, I did everything in the world. You know she loved Crayolas and all behind this divan was her playhouse. And I went in there one day and she had written all over the wall. Kay asked ‘I bet you were not a very happy mommy at that time, were you?’ She replied ‘Well, there wasn’t very much you could do with it.’ But anyway, she had fun.”

There was a basement in that house – the entrance was through the closet in Mother and Daddy’s bedroom. Mother did the wash in the basement and that was where all my doll furniture was set up. I truly loved all that furniture and played with it a lot. In 1945, Daddy was caught cheating at cards/dominoes and the people he was playing with threatened to Connie Northrupkill him. Mother and Daddy packed up in the middle of the night and we moved out (went to Gainesville, Texas). They gave all my doll furniture to Connie Nothrup, a daughter of her friends, Melvin and Evelyn Northrup. We came back to Oklahoma City once (that I remember) to visit with the Northrups and I was so happy to be reunited with MY doll furniture and Connie informed me in no uncertain terms it was HER doll furniture. I truly resented her and don’t know if we ever saw them again. The Northrup’s son, Lauren, died about 1944 of leukemia. I had known him during the time of his illness and the thought of leukemia was a deep fear in me until well into my adulthood. It symbolized to me the ultimate threat of death – much more than polio, although polio was probably the largest fear of adults.

Northrup's Christmas card

[When I ran away with Jeannie when I was in high school, I ended up parking my car in front of the Northrup’s home – they lived someplace in the vicinity of 30th & Drexel at the time and it happened to be close to Harold Blevin’s mother’s boyfriend’s home. At some level, I hated to just desert my car and knowing it was in front of the home of someone I had known seemed reassuring.]

My bedroom window faced the house to the east of us; the bedroom on the west side of that house was occupied by a little boy. Mother said the two of us would often lie on our beds with the windows open and talk to one another.

I also remember sitting and playing quite often on the side/kitchen porch steps.

I had a collie dog while we lived on Hardin Drive. I don’t remember his name [Mother had always loved collies; she said they had one when she lived in Virginia]. Mother said he stayed with me constantly and I do remember a time when I was across the street and started to cross back to my yard; a car was coming and as I stepped into the street, the dog grabbed my hand with his mouth and held me back until it was safe to cross.

I was across the street one evening at dinner time. The little neighbor boy I played with had gone in to eat and I stayed in the back yard playing on some type of gym bar (it was probably attached to a swing set). I was showing off (he could see me through the dining room windows) by hanging by my heels. I slipped off the bar and fell to the ground, breaking my arm.

I also had my tonsils removed while we lived on Hardin Drive. Mother said she asked Dr. Harris what I would be able to eat and when it was appropriate to feed me. He said, “She’ll let you know when she’s able to eat. So, let her eat when she’s ready, but ice cream is soft and the cold will feel good.” Mother said when I got home I asked for an apple. She assumed I wouldn’t be able to eat it, but I did. Apparently I had no difficulties following the surgical procedure. Mother’s recollections of that time: “She had to have her tonsils taken out. She was the skinniest little thing, oh my goodness; and she was just so skinny and that Tommy would tease her every time he was home long enough to eat, you know. He would take her food from her and she’d cry. I told you about me throwing the milk bottle at him. We were eating dinner and he uh, every time we would sit down at the table, he would start teasing her and she wouldn’t eat. It would nearly kill me because she wouldn’t eat and she was so skinny. I had her milk and back in those days you had quart bottles and it was sitting by me and we were eating and he reached over and took her milk and put it behind something you know so she couldn’t reach it and she was crying. And I said ‘I want you to quit teasing her like that, I said, she doesn’t eat – leave her alone.'”

2240 Hardin Dr 12-2006
                                                               2240 Hardin Drive – 2006

I got a December 2006 photo of the house off the Assessor’s website. It has white bars on all the windows and across the front porch. The website shows the house has been added on to in the back and is currently over 2,200 square feet. The garage has had a carpet added as well. They updated the house in 2006. There is no mention of the basement. Apparently the arch on the right side of the house has been removed.

See also: My Doll With Hair