Background - Parents 002

 

My mother’s maiden name was Gertrude Birmingham.  She was a somewhat formal person who did not like nicknames.  While some people named Gertrude are called Gerty or some similar short name (I think my grandmother was called by that nickname), mother really hated any such name.  I am not sure who started it, but she did accept and seemed to like the name Trudy and that is the name I always heard my father use with her.  His name was Angelo Henry Cuneo, but he did not like the name Angelo that means Angel in Italian.  So he always used the name A. Henry Cuneo in business and throughout his life as far as I knew.  Mother and other adults in the family called him Harry.  But that all gets us a little ahead of this particular article.

 

Gertrude and Henry were on a boat to Alaska.  Henry was in plain clothes.  This means he was not wearing the traditional clothing of a priest.  As one may recall from an earlier article, he was a priest in the Franciscan order a group of Catholics who followed the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi.

"St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology, was a Roman Catholic saint who took the gospel literally by following all Jesus said and did.”
http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/francis/

'Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.’”
http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/francis/who_was.asp

 

My dad - Harry - was in the throes of at least an ethical crisis if not something even more profound.  Gertrude had recently had a close friend die on a mountain top, and had never recovered from her quarrel with the Catholic Church over her father’s burial.  Dad must have decided to resign as a priest at that time.  This was a momentous decision for him to make.  This meant he was excommunicated from the church.  The church condemned him to eternal damnation.  It was taken much more seriously then than it is in this day and age.  They met on the boat, apparently fell in love rather quickly. and got married.  I say apparently quite quickly because the boat would have gone from California to Alaska and back to California.  Mother lived in Colorado, but they were married in California.  At least I have always presumed thusly because mother did tell me that she and dad took a trip through the Redwoods in California.
 

The Redwoods are huge trees that are in what is now a national park.  I remember some photographs mother had of the Redwood forests.  They were on some sort of tour bus, and the tour bus drove through the tree in a space nature had made at the separation of two major roots of the tree.  That is how big the trees are in that area! 


Anyway, dad must have gone back to California, and let the church know his decision. The Church did not allow then, and still does not allow priests to be married.  So he would have had to sever his relationship with the church just after his return from Alaska (I think).  I am guessing, but I believe that they were married in 1927, 81 years ago.  Economic times were very hard during those years.  There was a depression.  Dad had been a teacher of ethics in a Catholic University.  He now had no job, he had no training for another job.  He had been excommunicated from the church.  Mother’s law firm would have been defunct I am guessing following the death of her friend.  They had some serious problems to face together.  They were not spring chickens either.  Mother was born in 1894 and Dad was born in 1895.  So mother was about 33 and dad about 32.  People that age usually have built up some assets by that time.  Mother may have had a small amount put aside, but certainly Dad would not have had much cash or other assets.

 

He went to family members – particularly my Uncle Len for help – for some financial assistance.  Uncle Len is what I always called him, but he was my father’s Uncle.  His name was Leonard Bossana, and I think he must have been my Grandmother’s brother, but I never got a clear picture of the relationships.  Anyway, Uncle Len who was a rather wealthy man married to a rather wealthy woman refused to help him at all.  In fact, the whole family was cold to him because he had left the church.  The tentacles of the church are strong.  As a matter of fact, Dad never broke loose from what he felt was the disdain others would feel if they learned he had left the church.  I think that is why he never talked to me about being a priest, or about what he had learned about the bible, or any of that kind of stuff.  He was afraid, I think, that because I was young, I would talk about his background, and the word would get out, and people would shun him or would take their business elsewhere if they were clients.  Society changed in their attitude toward priests who change jobs, but Dad never changed because the emotional scars were so deep.

 

Dad somehow was able to take some courses in accounting at Leland Stanford University, a prestigious university in California, but did not have the money to continue there for more course work as he would have liked to have done.  Mother who had actively done work in accounting was a dominant force in his accounting education.  Between Stanford and mother he became well versed in accounting procedures and practice.

 

Mother’s youngest sister (Muriel) lived with her husband (named Harry – so both dad and my uncle were called Harry by those in the family) in Kansas City, Missouri where he grew up.  She had met him and had married him while a student at the University of Michigan, the same school that mother had attended.  Both mother and dad were friendly with Aunt Muriel and Uncle Harry.  While Uncle Harry was just starting a law practice and could not materially contribute large amounts to their financial well being, I think they provided an emotional support which I am sure was greatly needed at this point in their lives.

So, mother and father migrated to Kansas City, Missouri where they settled and lived out their lives.  Mother had had some accounting courses and in fact had had accounting experience, and was able to do accounting work in Kansas City.  I do not know all the places she worked, but there was one business that hired her.  That was the Business and Professional Woman’s Club, a group of women who struggled against the vicissitudes of the times which women faced.  It was not a full time job, but she remained as their bookkeeper for many years.  Dad had a very difficult time finding work.  Partly, he had problems because it was depression times, and partly it was because he felt he could tell no one of his educational and work background.  He looked like a 32-year-old who had no work or educational experience.  Perhaps, it was once said by my mother, he looked like a man just getting out of jail who could not document his background.

 

In 1928, my sister, Lorna, was born.  Her birthday is March 4th.  I was born about 3 ½ years later in August of 1931.  My folks had very hard economic times during those years.  At some point, dad got a job with the WPA (Work Projects Administration) which was a group set up by the government to give people work and to help them and the country through the depression.  He was a timekeeper for the WPA.  Gradually he built a work history, and got jobs with accounting firms.  One such job took him to Mexico, which was a perfect fit for him since he spoke Spanish very well.  Remember he had been a priest in California in the missions there, missions which served the Spanish speaking population.  My parents told me that at one time they raised mushrooms in the basement of their residence, and then sold them around the neighborhood to raise some money on which to live.  Dad also made some wine at times, but I don’t believe he sold that to others.  I think that was purely for the consumption of Mother and Dad and company.

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

American children of the 19th century had a reputation. Returning British visitors reported on American kids who showed no respect, who swore and fought, who appeared — at age 10 — “calling for liquor at the bar, or puffing a cigar in the streets,” as one wrote. There were really no children in 19th-century America, travelers often claimed, only “small stuck-up caricatures of men and women.”

 

This was not a “carefree” nation, too rough-hewed to teach proper manners; adults deliberately chose to express new values by raising “go-ahead” boys and girls. The result mixed democracy and mob rule, assertiveness and cruelty, sudden freedom and strict boundaries. Visitors noted how American fathers would brag that their disobedient children were actually “young republicans,” liberated from old hierarchies. Children were still expected to be deferential to elders, but many were trained to embody their nation’s revolutionary virtues. “The theory of the equality” was present at the ballot box, according to one sympathetic Englishman, but “rampant in the nursery.”

 

Boys, in particular, spent their childhoods in a rowdy outdoor subculture. After age 5 or so they needed little attention from their mothers, but were not big enough to help their fathers work. So until age 10 or 12 they spent much of their time playing or fighting.

 

The writer William Dean Howells recalled his ordinary, violent Ohio childhood, immersed in his loose gang of pals, rarely catching a “glimpse of life much higher than the middle of a man.” Howells’s peers were “always stoning something,” whether friends, rivals or stray dogs. They left a trail of maimed animals behind them, often hurt in sloppy attempts to domesticate wild pets.

 

And though we envision innocents playing with a hoop and a stick, many preferred “mumbletypeg” — a game where two players competed to see who could throw a knife closer to his own foot. Stabbing yourself meant a win by default.

 

Left to their own devices, boys learned an assertive style that shaped their futures. The story of every 19th-century empire builder — Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt — seems to begin with a striving 10-year-old. “Boy culture” offered training for the challenges of American manhood and a reprieve before a life of labor.

 

But these unsupervised boys also formed gangs that harassed the mentally ill, the handicapped and racial and ethnic minorities. Boys played an outsize role in the anti-Irish pogroms in 1840s Philadelphia, the brutal New York City draft riots targeting African-Americans during the Civil War and attacks on Chinese laborers in Gilded Age California. These children did not invent the bigotry rampant in white America, but their unrestrained upbringing let them enact what their parents mostly muttered.

 

Their sisters followed a different path. Girls were usually assigned more of their mothers’ tasks. An 8-year-old girl would be expected to help with the wash or other physically demanding tasks, while her brother might simply be too small, too slow or too annoying to drive the plow with his father. But despite their drudgery, 19th-century American girls still found time for tree climbing, bonfire building and waterfall-jumping antics. There were few pretty pink princesses in 19th-century America: Girls were too rowdy and too republican for that.

 

So how did we get from “democratic sucklings” to helicopter parents? Though many point to a rise of parental worrying after the 1970s, this was an incremental change in a movement that began a hundred years earlier.

 

In the last quarter of the 19th century, middle-class parents launched a self-conscious project to protect children. Urban professionals began to focus on children’s vulnerabilities. Well-to-do worriers no longer needed to raise tough dairymaids or cunning newsboys; the changing economy demanded careful managers of businesses or households, and restrained company men, capable of navigating big institutions.

 

Demographics played a role as well: By 1900 American women had half as many children as they did in 1800, and those children were twice as likely to live through infancy as they were in 1850. Ironically, as their children faced fewer dangers, parents worried more about their protection.

 

Instead of seeing boys and girls as capable, clever, knockabout scamps, many reconceived children as vulnerable, weak and naïve. Reformers introduced child labor laws, divided kids by age in school and monitored their play. Jane Addams particularly worked to fit children into the new industrial order, condemning “this stupid experiment of organizing work and failing to organize play.”

 

There was good reason to tame the boys and girls of the 19th century, if only for stray cats’ sake. But somewhere between Jane Addams and Nancy Grace, Americans lost track of their larger goal. Earlier parents raised their kids to express values their society trumpeted.

 

“Precocious” 19th-century troublemakers asserted their parents’ democratic beliefs and fit into an economy that had little use for 8-year-olds but idealized striving, self-made men. Reformers designed their Boy Scouts to meet the demands of the 20th century, teaching organization and rebalancing the relationship between play and work. Both movements agreed, in their didactic ways, that playtime shaped future citizens.

 

Does the overprotected child articulate values we are proud of in 2014? Nothing is easier than judging other peoples’ parenting, but there is a side of contemporary American culture — fearful, litigious, controlling — that we do not brag about but that we reveal in our child rearing, and that runs contrary to our self-image as an open, optimistic nation. Maybe this is why sheltering parents come in for so much easy criticism: A visit to the playground exposes traits we would rather not recognize.

 

There is, however, a saving grace that parents will notice this summer. Kids are harder to guide and shape, as William Dean Howells put it, “than grown people are apt to think.” It is as true today as it was two centuries ago: “Everywhere and always the world of boys is outside of the laws that govern grown-up communities.” Somehow, they’ll manage to go their own way.

 

________________________________

 

A National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society who is writing a book on the role of young people in 19th-century American democracy.

0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

But President Xi Jinping has targeted Mr. Zhou in an extraordinary corruption inquiry, a first for a Chinese party leader of Mr. Zhou’s rank, and put his family’s extensive business interests in the cross hairs.

 

Even by the cutthroat standards of Chinese politics, it is a bold maneuver. The finances of the families of senior leaders are among the deepest and most politically delicate secrets in China. The party has for years followed a tacit rule that relatives of the elite could prosper from the country’s economic opening, which rewarded loyalty and helped avert rifts in the leadership.

Zhou Family Ties

1 Comments

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

Read More 0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

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