Tuesday, February 18, 2020

New Painting by Frank Baker Holmes Echoes Classic Themes

‘Still Life with Vermeer Postcard’
16”x20”, o/c
The Narrowsburg art scene is not my usual beat, but having just seen Frank Holmes' latest painting, it seemed noteworthy enough to draw attention to it. The 16"x 20" piece bears the straightforward title "Still Life with Vermeer Postcard," though it's anything but straightforward. You can find this painting at the River Gallery on Main Street in Narrowsburg, New York.

For those unfamiliar with Holmes, the story begin at the Pratt Institute where he received his Bachelor's degree in Brooklyn. Seven years later he came to Athens to work on his Masters at Ohio University. I was an art student there and, like many, impressed with what he was doing.

Vermeer detail.
In the early 70's the art scene was in a swirl because of the power of all these surging forces: the New York school, Pop Art, minimalism, conceptual art, and Happenings. It was an invigorating time for young artists, though simultaneously confusing, especially students looking for a clear path into the future.

In truth, there's never been a clear path. You have to draw or write or paint what feels authentic to you, and this is what Frank Holmes was doing, following his own inner muse.

The end result was his being honored with a Prix de Rome in 1973. You can read details of this experience here: Veteran Painter Frank Holmes Discusses His Prix de Rome and Life as an Artist
Detail. Hardwood floor, carpet, pedestal obelisk.
Some of the elements in this painting have been recurring in Holmes' paintings for half a century, most significantly the the patterned wallpaper designs, the hardwood floor and the references to classical art history, in this case Vermeer's "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" which I had the privilege of seeing when it was at the National Gallery circa 1995. It's one of the most famous paintings of history, comparable to DaVinci's Mona Lisa in stature.

Like Salvador Dali before him, Holmes is acknowledging or paying tribute to the Dutch artist whose technical expertise is widely revered and nearly unequaled.

Another common denominator in Frank Holmes' paintings is the originality of the composition. To produce a painting is an investment of time, and the subject matter must be of sufficient interest to maintain interest. In addition to engaging the viewer, it must of necessity engage the artist as well. The visual effects--the play of light, the illusion of depth, shape, substance--are all in play here.

Priced at $3,000 this painting is a steal.

Related Links
A Most Unusual Portrait: The Sarcophagus by Frank B. Holmes
Frank Holmes' Agony and Ecstasy: 20 Images from the Ohio Theater Project 
Frank Holmes Studio Tour, 2018
21 Frank Holmes Paintings On Pinterest

Monday, February 17, 2020

Black History Month: 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues

When I was born, my baby crib included--besides me--four Teddy bears. The unique feature of these bears was not their looks, since they varied in color and size, but rather their names. My parents named my Teddy bears after the Cleveland Indians starting rotation, which include three pitchers who would later be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

One of these pitchers was fireballer Bob Feller. (The other three were Bob Lemon, Early Wynn and Mike Garcia.) Feller, who was my favorite, had a white torso with black arms, legs and head. I can still picture myself carrying him around by that skinny, black arm.

Feller was one of many great ballplayers who had their careers interrupted by doing service in the U.S. military in World War II. Despite three years lost during his prime, he was the winningest pitcher in Cleveland Indians history.

I mention all this because of his role in becoming a bridge toward the integration of Major League baseball.

After the war, Feller came up with the idea of assembling a team of players for a barnstorming road tour in the off-season. Perhaps he was in it for the money, but the hunger for baseball was strong and if he could deliver an all-star show people would fill the stands to watch their heroes.

For opponents, he contacted the well-connected star pitcher of the Negro Leagues, Satchel Paige. Feller had seen Paige pitch back in the Thirties and knew he could muster up a team that would be competitive against the white pros of Major League Baseball. Feller chartered DC-3 planes to ferry the players to the 34 games he arranged. He also hired a doctor, a trainer, a lawyer and a publicity man.
Pittsburgh Crawfords. Satchell Paige third from left, back row. (Public domain)
While segregation was a shameful period in baseball history, the Negro Leagues were a resounding success and an immense source of pride for black America. Though Jackie Robinson is famous for having been first to cross the color barrier, I thought Satchel Paige was the coolest of the cool, and the Cleveland Indians became among the first to be peppered with black players from the Negro League.

I've not seen a lot written about it, but this year happens to be 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues. According to this story by Rob Ruck in the Chicago Reporter, on February 13, 1920,  "teams from eight cities formally created the Negro National League. Three decades of stellar play followed, as the league affirmed black competence and grace on the field, while forging a collective identity that brought together Northern-born blacks and their Southern brethren. And though Major League Baseball was segregated from the 1890s until 1947, these teams played countless interracial games in communities across the nation."

Ken Burns' fabulous documentary series on baseball was profoundly important because of the respect he showed for the Negro League and that other side of baseball history, some of it shameful, lest it be forgotten.

Larry Tye's 2010 story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted how those exhibitions featuring Bob Feller and Satchel Paige helped advance integration in baseball. No doubt this contributed to the Indians becoming leaders in welcoming people of color into the locker room.

Everyone remembers the name of Jackie Robinson, the first player to cross the color barrier, just as everyone remember Neil Armstrong, the first to walk on the moon, and George Washington, the first president. The second Negro League player to wear a Major League Baseball uniform was Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians. The year I was born he led the majors in runs scored and home runs.

Interestingly, my observation above (about being second means being forgotten) was first stated by Bob Feller himself.

Second black player to play in the Majors.
Of Doby, Bob Feller later said, "He was a great American, served the country in World War II, and he was a great ballplayer. He was kind of like Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, because he was the second African-American in the majors behind Jackie Robinson. He was just as good of a ballplayer, an exciting player, and a very good teammate."

The years after Larry Doby joined the team the Indians added more Black stars, Satchel Paige and Minnie Minoso. I remember seeing Minnie Minoso when I was a kid. Sometimes I liked players just because they had cool names. My grandfather used to take his grandsons (my brother Ron and I) to numerous Indians games in the 50s. There are baskets of memorable moments stored in our craniums.

I feel a measure of pride knowing that of the first 20 Negro League players to cross over into the Majors from 1947-1951, six were recruited by the Cleveland Indians. The New York Yankees did not recruit a black ballplayer until 1955, Elston Howard being their first.

I don't recall how old I was when I saw Elston Howard for the first time, but I remember him. I saw numerous Yankees-Indians double headers in the 1950s when the Indians were perennial also rans. (They did win the pennant in 1954,) What I remember was a game in which we had box seats directly behind home plate. Elston Howard was the Yankees catcher that day, and I remember observing how big he seemed.

He was also a powerful hitter, and in each game of that doubleheader he slammed a game-winning home run over the center field fence. They were impressive blasts, Cleveland having one of the longer center field fences.

These memories were all stirred when I saw the book at the top of this page on a shelf a Zenith Books last week. If you live here in Duluth, check it out.

Related Links
The Short Story of Satchel Paige
by Roman Mikhail on Medium

Satchel Paige Quotes

Major League Baseball: Some Things Have Changed, Some Haven't

More Memories of the Great American Pastime

Bob Feller dreamed up the idea of barnstorming with the Negro team during his long shifts manning anti-aircraft guns on the USS Alabama during World War II. He knew that getting other major-leaguers to join him would be easy, and he signed up the best. It was a unique time in baseball history, just before the color barrier came tumbling down. It would still be years before African Americans could live where they wanted. The Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination wasn't passed until 1964.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

So Many Books, So Little Time: New Acquisitions at the Duluth Public Library

Reports of the death of reading are greatly exaggerated.
One of my favorite pasttimes at the library is perusing the shelves where New Acquisitions are displayed. At our Duluth Public Library the non-fiction new arrivals are upstairs on the shelves located just beyond the help desk and before the magazines.

The new books are organized by categories, much like the library itself. Biographies, of which there are always an ample supply of new volumes, are on the right side, near the 921 section where all the rest of the biographies reside.

Today as I walked past this set of shelves I decided to take photos of books that I would like to take out and read, except that I have all kinds of other books already in progress. The variety of subject matter is quite compelling. Maybe something here will catch your eye and it will lure you in to fetch it.

Considering the size of our city, I'm somewhat surprised the library isn't busier. There are seldom lines at the checkout desk. The staff are exceedingly friendly and perpetually helpful. And you can't beat the price. It's all free. They've even eliminated the fines now.

Podcasts have become a major thing these days. Are you interested in podcasting?
Whatever new skill you want to learn, there are books for you. Starting a business? Investing? Coaching? Marketing? Running? Parenting? Learning how to live a better life?

Here are some of the new books that caught my eye.

It's never too late to start, some people say. This book will give you the lay of the land.
* * * * 
I hear this is an epidemic. 
* * * *
I was an adrenaline junky to some extent. Sooner or later you learn that
dying for a rush isn't really worth the price. 
* * * *
There are quite a few books addressing contemporary issues. This is one of them.
* * * *
This book is especially directed to women.
 * * * *
Life isn't just about money. Unfortunately you can't get far without it,
so we need to find balance. 
 * * * *
It's Black History Month. This looks like a good place to play catch-up.
* * * *
Applewhite is a TED speaker, as are a couple of the others. Evidently being a TED speaker
gives one cred in the publishing world these days. I need to polish up my speaking a bit.
This book is a manifesto against age discrimination and the degree to which
our culture is youth-obsessed. You can find reviews here on Amazon.

* * * *
This book is about the damage that has been done throughout our history
due to our excessive xenophobia.
 For just one example, see my article on the interment of 
Japanese Americans during WW2:
* * * *
This looks scary and all too real.  
* * * *
I lived in Puerto Rico in 1979. Things have changed.
* * * *
As I'm oft fond of saying, "Too many books, too little time."
That's a better problem than the reverse. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Backstory on Aphrodite and the Trojan War

The Destruction of Troy -- J.G. Trautmann
Though most of us are familiar with the story of the Trojan Horse, I'm willing to bet most of you do not recall--or ever knew--the beginning of this historical event, which took place over three millennia ago.

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. The impetus for this impudent act occurred on another plane, at the wedding of Peleus (a sea-nymph) and Thetis (a king), the future parents of Achilles.

All the gods of Olympus were invited except Eris, the goddess of discord. Angered by the snub, Eris gets her vengeance. Despite being uninvited, she shows up anyways and places a golden apple on the banquet table. The golden apple has an inscription: "For the Most Beautiful."

Naturally there are a lot of beautiful goddesses present, this being Mount Olympus and all. Three of the goddesses claimed the apple was intended for them. As a result, there was a beauty contest for which a judge had to be selected.

Though Zeus was asked to be the final arbiter of their beauty, he knew better than to get into that kind of situation. No doubt they were all beautiful, so let's just avoid that minefield altogether. He chooses instead to appoint a mortal, Paris of Troy, because of the wise manner in which Paris had handled a previous incident involving making a judgment.

The Judgment of Paris, by Peter Paul Rubens (1638)
Well, these goddesses were wily. As each presented herself to the young man, each also offered a bribe to help improve his ability to assess her worthiness. Hera, queen of the gods and wife of Zeus (you see why Zeus declined to be judge), promised Paris that he could be king of Europe and Asia. Athena--goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill--offered him wisdom and skill in war, her forte. Aphrodite--goddess of love, beauty, sensuality, pleasure and procreation--offered Paris the world's most beautiful woman.

There was, however, a major complication. This most beautiful woman in the world happened to be wife of King Menelaus. This didn''t stop Paris from choosing Aphrodite, which resulted in his whisking Helen away to Troy, infuriating the Greeks as well as Hera, who was actually the most beautiful of the goddesses.

Obviously Paris should not have been such a dolt, allowing himself to be seduced by this last option. Unfortunately, his behavior was consistent with that of a lot of guys I suppose, but let's not go there.

The end result was a war that lasted 10 years and which produced some very famous sayings and stories while destroying a lot of lives as well as a great city. Helen was indeed beautiful, and when her husband sent 1,000 ships to Troy in order to retrieve her, this saying was born: "The face that launched a thousand ships."

The familiar story of the Trojan Horse became the final chapter in this war, the means by which the armies of Greece laid Troy to waste.* It's a story that itself involves audacity, subterfuge, courage and cleverness. Like all great stories it includes a memorable image, and a decisive act.

Rubens produced several paintings on this theme. Oil sketch on copper, 1606.

*Trivia: When I was young I read a book about this Ten Years War and the Fall of Troy. One of the characters in the story was Hector, a Trojan prince and Troy's greatest fighter. There was a baseball player at the time named Hector Lopez, who played for the A's and the Yankees from 1955 to 1966. I don't now whether I latched on to Hector Lopez as someone cool because of the story of Troy, or I latched on to Troy's Hector as cool because of the Panama-born Lopez. I've liked the name Hector ever since.

Related Links
The Fall of Troy
The Judgement of Paris
Images on this page are public domain.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Transplant Costs: Heart, Lungs, Liver, Kidneys and More

It's Valentine's Day.  Could that be why today's Bible verse of the day is Love One Another?

John 13:34, 35 --“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

* * * *
Have you ever wondered what it costs to get a transplant if your heart gets broken?  I just learned that when it comes to the transplant business, there are actually two variables to consider. In addition to cost you have to also factor in time. Finding a heart, liver, lung or kidney isn't the same as picking out a suit at the clothing store. Availability is a factor as well.

According to the National Foundation for Transplants, here is a list of price tags for several major procedures.

Heart transplant: $1.382 million
Lung (one): $861 thousand
Liver: $812 thousand
Kidney: $414.8 thousand
Pancreas: $347 thousand

Since insurance will cover 80% of your bill, you only need to think about the 20% co-pay probably. That would be only be $276 thousand for the heart, for example.

The real kick-in-the-pants comes when you look at waiting lists.

New heart: 191 days
Lung: 185 days
Liver: 239 days
Kidney: 679 days
Pancreas: 679 days

* * * *
This is what the Tin Man wanted
more than anything.
(Yes, this is what your heart looks like.)
If your heart has been broken, or you simply feel heartless, here are the lyrics to the Tin Man's lament in The Wizard of Oz. If anything, it sometimes helps to know you're not the first who's ever needed a heart, or needed mending for the one they've got.

When a man's an empty kettle 
he should be on his mettle, 
And yet I'm torn apart. 
Just because I'm presumin' 
that I could be kind-a-human, 
If I only had a heart 

I'd be tender - I'd be gentle 
and awful sentimental 
Regarding love and art. 
I'd be friends with the sparrows ... 
and the boys who shoots the arrows 
If I only had a heart. 

Picture me - a balcony. 
Above a voice sings low. 
Dorothy: Wherefore art thou, Romeo? 
Tin Man: I hear a beat....How sweet. 

Just to register emotion,
jealousy - devotion, 
And really feel the part. 
I could stay young and chipper 
and I'd lock it with a zipper, 
If I only had a heart.

* * * *
Here's an extra verse I would add, if I only had an imagination:

I'd be light as a feather, 
I could dance through any weather
We'd be happy together
And I'd even wear your tether
Whether made of steel or leather
Yes, we'd prance about the heather
In regions here and nether
While I babbled bliss and blether
If I only had a heart.

Related Links
National Foundation for Transplants
Hearts by Anne Labovitz
Heart Trivia from the Franklin Institute

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Mirror of Our Acts Reveals Who We Are

"...leaning over the mirror of our acts, our souls will recognize what we are."
--Andre Gide, Journals

For nearly all of us mirrors play a role in our morning rituals. Whether for shaving or make-up, fixing one's hair or straightening one's tie, the mirror is a useful tool, presenting to our eyes a true reflection of what is there so we can fix it as we primp and preen.

On other occasions, a reassuring glance in the mirror before a job interview or an important date gives us confidence that at least the external things are taken care of -- our hair isn't mussed, collar turned right, no food crumbs on our chin.

At the end of the day there's another mirror which is equally valuable to us, and perhaps even more so once we practice using it. We can call it the mirror of our acts. As we quiet ourselves and reflect on the day, we discover that our actions reveal our souls as surely as the bathroom mirror reveals our faces.

The mirror of our acts reveals us as we truly are, giving a more precise picture of ourselves than we may wish to see. For it reveals not only our strengths, but also our limitations; it shows not only our inward beauty, but also the defects that mar that beauty. When I look back on my day, standing honestly before this mirror of my soul, what do I truly see reflected there? Thoughtfulness and sensitivity? Selfishness? Duplicity and deceit? Laziness? Industriousness? Courage? Courtesy? Foolish pride? Pettiness? The character defects we see need not discourage us. Recognizing one's shortcomings is the essential first step to the cure.

Taking time for reflection is an essential facet of personal growth, as important to our souls as diet and exercise are for our bodies. Whether it be at day's end, the middle of the night or early dawn, it can be a most useful tool to help us grow to our full stature as human beings.

* * * *
The above originally appeared in my unpublished 1993 devotional Nightfall: A Time To Reflect at the End of the Day and was re-published here on my blog in January 2017.

* * * *
Susie got a Kia Soul last week at The Duke Boys in Duluth. The result has been a lot of punning around. Here are a few one liners you might enjoy.
--Don't sell your Soul to the devil, sell it to The Duke Boys.
--When we found the car we began telling people she finally found her Soul.
--When I received the insurance documents for the glove box, I said, "It's a sad age we live in when you have to have paperwork for your Soul.
--When she visited our grandson, daughter and son-in-law in Iowa, we said she was just going wherever her Soul takes her.
--Like many modern vehicles due there's a thermometer reading on the dashboard. Susie can always know the temperature of her Soul.
--And when she saw a billboard that said, "Gardening feeds your soul" she replied, "No, my Soul runs on gasoline."
Alas. The temp on our thermometer today was 30 below. Stay warm.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Local Art Seen: Shaun Chosa's War Paint in the John Steffl Gallery

Shaun Chosa travelled throughout the country in his youth, visiting and living among various Native American tribes alongside his mother who was herself an artist. He does detailed pen and ink work that's been described as evocative, and sometimes whimsical. The current exhibition is titled War Paint and features larges canvases in an array of colors. His design work can be found locally on posters, CD covers and apparel. This show will be on display in the Steffl Gallery at the Duluth Art Institute through the end of March.


Water Protector
War Paint
Rain Dancer
Ride or Die II
Be sure to see all the exhibitions on display at the Depot. 
This show will be on display through the end of March, but 
the DAI Member Show only through the end of February.

For other art happenings in the Twin Ports be sure to visit

SPECIAL SHOUT OUT: DOCUMENT SPRING, a special event on February 20
which is part of a larger ongoing project, documenting change in our environment
through photography and the arts. An Oldenburg House program.  Details Here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Meet Duluth Toastmasters Club 1523: Dave Boe and Randine LePage

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” --Henry Ford

This past December I decided to start attending a Toastmasters group here in Duluth. Toastmasters is an international organization dedicated to helping people not only develop their public speaking skills but also their leadership skills.

If you're one of those people who would rather die than stand in front of a group and give a speech, well, this just might be what the doctor ordered to help you overcome that inner terror.

The group I joined--Toastmasters Chapter 1523--meets on Thursday evenings at the old Central High School downtown. What I liked about this group was the informality of the photo on their website. It was unpretentious and warm. When I showed up at my first meeting I found a room full of friendly people from all walks of life and all ages. Guests are always welcome, and when I returned they even welcomed me back.

This wasn't my first Toastmasters rodeo. When I moved to Duluth in 1986 I attended a handful of meetings in a basement downtown somewhere. David Ross, who worked in some capacity at a hospital in Moose Lake was part of that group. He had an unforgettable charisma and I was not surprised when a few years later he became head of the local Chamber of Commerce. I have no doubt his Toastmasters experience contributed to his career success.

In retrospect I believe it would have helped me personally to have continued at that time.

One of my favorite parts of the weekly meetings was the Table Topics exercise. Table Topics is an opportunity to give a short impromptu speech on a topic that you have not prepared for. It happens frequently in life that you may be asked to stand and share a few remarks on behalf of your company or organization. This weekly exercise helps you become comfortable when these situations pop up.

What follows is a brief introduction to two of our members here in Club 1523. Dave Boe is Vice President Public Relations and Randine LePage is Vice President Education/Treasurer. Sometime in the near future I will introduce several others whom I've been getting to know.

Dave Boe
Dave Boe
EN: How long have you been with Toastmasters?
Dave Boe: Since last Spring

EN: What prompted you to join?
DB: Saw a flyer at a coffee house about an open house of the Duluth Club and went. Very similar to when a woman at the Depot arm-twisted me to audition for a play a couple decades ago.

EN: What have you learned?
DB: If sharing my experiences is learning, then that's what I have learned. If hearing others' experiences, I have learned.

EN: What do you do for a career?
DB: I write, edit, consult and try to keep my ex's happy.

EN: Anything else you would like to add?
DB: 1 + 1 = 2
I've written for a ton of publications over the years. Got my start doing a harmless travel piece for the Ft. Riley Post. The editor (whom I just re-connected with) loved it. I somehow made travelling in Kansas interesting. Ended up working full-time for the Division PAO. Was just down there last Fall, and poured through the Morgue. Talk about memories. Continued in Germany, with black rooms and cut and paste. Since coming back to Duluth I've worked with a number of local and niche publications, some since folded. Did, and do, a lot of PR for politicians (did 12 years with Oberstar), the Air Show, other boards, etc. I'm currently engaged in developing a wargame and editing wargame rules. I also do the occasional Op/Ed for the DNT.

Randine LePage, CC ALB LD1
Randine LePage
I have been with Toastmasters since November 2010. I joined while navigating my last career change. I'd been told about it before but finally could get it in my schedule. I've learned more than I expected about myself and interpersonal communication in all areas of my life. I still don't love presenting and speaking, but I'm more effective and more comfortable with it. I've learned to tailor my style to my needs, abilities and skills, and those of the audience for my message. There is always more to learn to make that message even more succinct!

* * * *

Build a Better You
If you're looking for a fun way to improve your communication and leadership skills, Toastmasters is a warm, supportive environment to help you develop your potential in these areas. You learn more than public speaking skills. You'll become more confident in both impromptu speaking situations and in general speechwriting.

There are several Toastmasters clubs meeting in the Twin Ports. Club 1523 meets weekly after hours on Thursdays, which is more convenient for some. Guests are always welcome to visit. There's no pressure or obligation to join. Club 1523 is a warm cross section of veterans and beginners so you'll fit right in, whatever level you're at.

Here's more information on our club:

And for more information on Toastmasters International
visit https://www.toastmasters.org/

Monday, February 10, 2020

Aunt Clara Brown: A Story of Determination and Courage


Clara Brown (c. 1800–1885) was a former slave from Virginia who became a community leader, philanthropist and aided settlement of former slaves during the time of Colorado's Gold Rush. She was known as the 'Angel of the Rockies' and made her mark as Colorado's first black settler and an "official pioneer." She became a prosperous entrepreneur and another example of how much people can accomplish when they are determined.

I learned about her this past month through a children's book by Linda Lowery titled Aunt Clara Brown: Official Pioneer. I think back on my elementary school years in Maple Heights, Ohio, and how much I loved the library. I especially enjoyed reading biographies. Children's books are wonderful means of introducing minds to memorable people and their stories.

Clara Brown's life in many respects says much about slavery without preaching. She was born into slavery, married a slave at 18 and had children. But the children were property and he dearest Eliza Jane was sold to someone else when she was 10.

Clara Brown herself was sold numerous times and lived in various states. Through Lowery's book I learned that slaves could indeed have good masters and when her master died in the 1850s she was given the opportunity to buy her freedom, which she was most eager to do.

There have been a number of instances of Gold Fever in our history. The California Gold Rush in 1849, the Black Hills craze in the 1870s and the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s are a few I was familiar with. The Pike's Peak Gold Rush in 1859 morphed into the Colorado Gold Rush and the development of Colorado Territory.

Clara Brown was eager to go West when this prospecting craze hit. At first the caravan of pioneers were reluctant to have her come along when she sought them out in St. Louis, but she was determined and showed them her papers. She wasn't permitted to ride in the wagons, so she walked alongside the oxen on the 680 mile route as the wagon train headed out. Her only possessions to begin with were a washtub and boiler. At this time she was in her late 50s.

From the start she made herself useful, making meals, washing clothes, taking care of the sick, nursing them to health with herbal teas and other remedies. When they arrived the gold fever was everywhere. Men were too excited about prospecting to think about much else. So, for Clara Brown it was an entrepreneurial opportunity that she took advantage of.

In the Denver area, Brown settled in nearby Auraria where she worked at the City Bakery. Following the tide of miners heading into the mountains, Brown set up the first laundry in Colorado at Gilpin County in Gregory Gulch, now called Central City, Colorado. She also worked as a midwife, cook and nursemaid. After a while she was able to put aside $10,000, which was real money in those days. She then began buying up real estate.

She had a spiritual side and became one of the founding members of the nondenominational Union Sunday school through her affiliation with two Methodist missionary ministers. According to Wikipedia, "Brown gave generously of herself to those in the community. She hosted the first Methodist church services at her house and helped those in need any way she could, whether newly settled Euro-Americans or Native Americans. Lovingly called "Aunt Clara," her home was, "a hospital, a home, a general refuge for those who were sick or in poverty." She was quoted as saying, "I always go where Jesus calls me." The Catholic Church and the first Protestant church in the Rocky Mountains were built partly through Brown's donations toward their construction."

Her saga doesn't end here.

After the Civil War she had this strong compulsion to find her daughter so she returned East to Kentucky looking for her family. She learned that her husband and daughter Margaret were dead and that a son was lost. Still she pressed on in her quest to find Eliza Jane.

She failed in this effort, but helped between 16 and 26 relatives and former slaves to get a new start in life by bringing them to Colorado. She gave each family a home or piece of land and taught them how to go into business for themselves. In return she asked them to spread the word that she was still longing to find Eliza Jane.

By age 80 her own funds were depleted from helping others and from being cheated by real estate agents. (Even then old folks got taken advantage of.)

Colorado made an edict to call anyone who went to that territory before 1865 was an "official pioneer" and eligible for a pension. When she went to collect, however, she learned that you had to be white and you had to be a man.

Once again she leaned on her friends. She'd helped so many people that she was nicknamed "Aunt Clara Brown." Friends wrote letters, gave speeches, and ultimately succeeded in helping her get the official approval as a Pioneer, making her eligible for the pension she'd been denied.

When she was 83 she received a letter from a woman in Council Bluffs, Iowa saying that there was a woman who worked at the post office who had been a slave, and sold away from her mother when she was 10 or 11. Her name was Eliza Jane.

Clara Brown got on a train and headed East again. Her friends raised the money to pay for the trip. When she arrived, she caught a trolley to Second Street where a woman came running out to greet her. Could it be?

Sure enough, the eyes said it all.

Eliza Jane moved to Colorado and was standing at her mother's side when she received her Pioneer award in her wheelchair.

Today her great-great grandchildren are Denver Bronco fans. (I just had to throw that in here.)

One of the big takeaways for me was seeing how her commitment to helping others came back in turn when she needed it later. Her values and life example are lessons for all of us.

Related Links
Aunt Clara Brown: Official Pioneer
How Much Do You Know About Sojourner Truth

Sunday, February 9, 2020

2020 Duluth Dylan Fest Advance Schedule: May 16-24

2020 Duluth Dylan Fest Advance Schedule
May 16-24

Duluth Dylan Fest Kick Off Concert
Dan Israel + Opener TBD
Wussow’s Concert Cafe
7:00 PM | $5

Dylan Fest Poetry Event in Superior
Red Mug Coffeehouse
3:00-5:00 PM | Free
Duluth Dylan Fest Party with Cowboy Angel Blue
Cedar Bar and Lounge Superior
5:30-8:30 PM | Free

Dylan Fest Student Art Show
Opening Reception with live music by Born Too Late
Zeitgeist Atrium
5:00-7:00 PM | Free

Dylan Fest Acoustic Jam Session
with host Leslie Black
Bring your instruments or voice
Carmody Irish Pub
7:00-9:30 PM | Free

Live Dylan music by Greg Tiburzi
Sir Benedict’s Tavern
5:00-8:00 PM | Free

Dylan Film Night: Masked and Anonymous
Zinema 2
Live Music at 6:00 PM  Film at 7:00 PM | TBD

Dylan Night at the Ripple Bar
Dylan Music with Al Diesan from Italy
6:30-7:30 PM
Dylan and the Dead with Loaded Dice
8:00-10:00 PM | Free

Blood on the Tracks Express
Rolling-train music fest: Duluth up the North Shore
Boarding TBD at The Depot | Watch for Tickets:
Eventbrite.com and the Electric Fetus
Afterparty at the Depot with Live Dylan Music

Dylan Fest Singer-Songwriter Contest
Sacred Heart Music Center
7:00-10:30 PM | Free

Tour of Bob Dylan Sites in Duluth
Carpool at Armory Arts & Music Center Annex
9:00-11:00 AM | Free

Armory Arts & Music Center Open House
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Free

John Bushey Memorial Lecture by David
Engel, Author of Just Like Bob Zimmerman's
Blues: Dylan in Minnesota
Location TBD
3:00 – 4:30 PM | Free
Bob Dylan Revue Reunion Concert
Sacred Heart Music Center
7:30-10:30 PM | Tickets $10 on Eventbrite or $15 door

Dylan Fest Brunch
Zeitgeist Café
11:00 AM-1:00 PM | Live Music

Bob Dylan Front Porch Birthday Party
with Live Music
Dylan childhood home
519 N. 3rd Ave. East
1:30 PM | Free

Bob Dylan Birthday Party Continues
Sir Benedict’s Tavern
Live Dylan Music with Al Diesan from Italy
3:00-4:30 PM | Free
Tom O’Keefe and Friends
5:00-8:00 PM | Free

* * * * 
Life Is Good
Been listening to Visions of Johanna and My Back Pages tonight.
Over and over.
How many times can one listen to the same songs 
and never tire?
I guess for fans, the answer must be: Infinite.
* * * *
If you're a fan and have never been to the Northland, 
Dylan Fest in May is a good excuse to make the trek.
Stay current at www.bobdylanway.com
* * * *
Disclaimer: A few minor details may be subject to change. 

Coronavirus Update: What's the Latest?

What's true?
February 8. Here (above) are two adjacent tweets. 
One tweet states that 725 have died and there are near 35,000 cases.
The next says over 50,000 have died and 1.5 million are stricken.

Videos have been posted showing what are allegedly Chinese government workers 
welding doors shut at apartment buildings where people inside 
have the virus.

* * * *
Gallows Humor (Optional)
On the bright side, if the coronavirus is going to wipe out the human race this year, 
I won't have to worry so much about my diet, cholesterol and triglycerides now.

According to The Navy Times, the number of cases 
as of 2 days ago is 34,500, not 1.5 million.
According to Al Jazeera the number of actual instances of the disease 
is smaller, not larger.

So who is spreading the disinformation? What is their vested interest?
Are they simply malicious? Or does fear travel faster than reason?


According to New Scientist, developing a new vaccine for a new virus 
takes at least a year. So don't fall for promises that you can get rich by 
investing in a biotech that promises to solve it in three weeks.

On the other hand, this same article states,
"The good news is that a few existing drugs might help to save lives in the meantime.
And new treatments could be developed in as little as six months."

The aim here is to help reduce your anxiety
if you're susceptible to thinking the worst.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Local Art Seen: 22 Snapshots from the 2020 DAI Member Show

"Minnesota point (December)"--Ken Hanson
Thursday evening was the opening reception for the DAI Member Show. More than 145 artists had work on display in the Duluth Depot's Great Hall.

It really is impressive to see so much talent on display. The variety is also striking.

Here is a small segment of the larger whole.

I can't share everything here, so I'm just attempting to entice to come down and see the show. It will be on display through March 1.
"Common Origins II - color refraction"--Martin DeWitt
"Polly and the Fox"--Shawna Gilmore
"Windflowers"--Tonja Sell
"Regatta in the Rose Garden"--Claudia Faith
"Circus Royals"--Ingeborg von Agassiz
"Cycles"--Angela Elmendorf
"Curtain Call"--Don Lessard
Not a painting. The art of Duluth Grill. Wonderful spread, again.
"What Has My Brother Louie Done This Time?"--Christine Carter Eliason
"Personal"--Adam Swanson
"Paris Balcony (homage to Caillebotte)"--Matt Kania
"Tiny Dancers Backstage"--Amber Darliing Novak
(detail) "Not Accepted" -- Kris Nelson
(detail) "Not Accepted"
"Not Accepted"
"Nature at Rest: Look!"--Natalie Salminen Rude
"Stoic" -- John Heino

Till we meet again.