Links I Like

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I understand that everyone doesn’t love presidents as much as I do, but the story of Harry and Bess Truman’s 1953 road trip is a fun one. I doubt that you’ll read the book, but this article by the same author gives you the flavor of the thing.

I always love a good DIY kitchen project. Sichuan chili oil anyone?

On overeating.

Fashion plus food. I loved every second of this. If I were more into t-shirts with words, I might be all over these. 

If you tell me that there is a snack mix that can fulfill my every need, I’m at least going to look. 

I can imagine many, many applications for this peanut sauce.

Did somebody say roasted jalapeño hummus?

This bean and grain taco bowl  is the sort of thing dreams are made of.

Like many of my loves, my love for grits is improper. Thrown in some buffalo shrimp and I make no promises to maintain my decency.

Let’s sit together and think about cheesy potatoes. I might need to hold your hand.

 

 

 

Longview, Texas (1919)

One man was killed during the riot activities in Longview, Texas.

2

 

Significantly different stories involving the death of Lemuel Walters. This death is one of the chief factors leading up to the riot.

  • One version of the story involves Walter, a black man, being discovered in the bedroom of a white woman in a neighboring town. He was arrested and jailed. According to law enforcement, he was place on a Louisiana-bound train the evening of June 17, but was discovered the next morning dead, riddled with bullets, next to the railroad tracks. His death, in this version, is a mystery.
  • According to 4 (3 black, 1 white) inmates in the jail where Walters was taken, 10 white men who had keys to the cells had come and taken Walters from the jail. After a prominent black citizen, Samuel L.  Jones, heard of this story and approached county judge Erskine H. Bramlette asking for his help to pursue an investigation, these inmates were all relocated to other jails.

 

newspaper

The Chicago Defender was most popular black newspaper during this time, and boldly promoted racial equality. The Chicago Defender also encouraged southern blacks to leave the south and relocate to northern cities. This paper had both national distribution and covered issues of importance across the south. The paper regularly published, in graphic detail, the unfortunate circumstances that blacks had experienced because of their race.

The Chicago Defender, then, published an article describing Mr. Walter’s death. According to this article, Walter’s only crime was being involved with a white woman. The said that the woman had said that had she lived in the north that she would have married Walter. Also, it reported that she was so distraught after his murder that she was under the care of a physician. Finally, the article asserted that the sheriff had welcomed the white mob that took and murdered Mr. Walter.

Though the woman involved was not explicitly named in the article, her family members recognized this story and  were incensed. They felt that this article dishonored their family.

wrench

S. L. Jones was a known contributor to The Chicago Defender, and blamed for this article.  As a result, the woman’s brothers met him across from the court house and beat him severely with a wrench. Dr. Calvin Davis, a local black doctor and Mr. Jones’ friend, arrived shortly thereafter and took Jones to his office for treatment.

From this point, anger spread both in black and white communities as whites learned about the article, and as blacks learned about the beating.

Gregg County Judge Bramlette and Longview’s  Mayor Gabriel A. Bodenheim, upon learning of this tension, discouraged whites from additional actions against Jones.

crowd

 

However, that evening groups of both races moved through the area looking for members of the other race. At about 1:00 AM, a group of whites drove to Jones’ home. When they began to walk toward his house, they were surprised by gunfire from blacks inside the home. Those of the mom who had guns returned fire.

4

 

 

White men injured in this skirmish. 3 of these men were injured superficially by birdshot. One of them, who had taken cover under a nearby house, was discovered and beaten severely, suffering a fractured skull.

fire-alarm

The group fled. Some of them broke into the local hardware store to get guns and ammunition. They rang the fire alarm bell in order to summon others.

fire

 

At about 4:00 in the morning, a second group traveled to Jones’s home. They discovered the home was deserted. They set it on fire. Then the group set fire to a black dance hall that they suspected, correctly, housed ammunition. They set fire to Dr. Davis’s house, and the homes of other black citizens. When home owners protested, those property owners were beaten.

sunrise

In the morning, county officials realized that they needed outside assistance and contacted Governor William P. Hobby.

8

 

Number of Texas rangers sent to the area to help.

Understanding that this wasn’t enough, Judge Bramlette called the Governor Hobby again, asking for help.

100

Number of soldiers dispatched to Longview.

Matters were complicated by the one death that resulted from this riot.

Marion Bush was Dr. Davis’ father-in-law. The  sheriff approached him at his home offering to take him to the jail for his own protection. After some discussion, Bush agreed to go, however, he asked for a few moments to gather his hat. When he returned, he had a gun and had changed his mind, stating that he was not going. He also took a shot at the sheriff, and the sheriff’s counterpart. He missed both men. He fled, heading west along the railroad tracks.

The sheriff called a farmer that he knew, asking him to stop Bush.

He did just that, killing him with shots to the chest and neck.

soldier

Local officials feared additional outbreaks of violence, and asked the Governor for more help. The Governor responded by proclaiming martial law over the county. He ordered an additional 150 men to Longview for protective service. He placed Brigadier General R. H. McDill in command of all soldiers and rangers.

McDill instated a 10:30 PM to 6:00 AM curfew in Longview, prohibited groups of three or more from gathering on the streets, ordered the telephone operators to prohibit long-distance calls, and ordered all Longview and Kilgore (a neighboring area) to turn in their personal firearms at designated places by Sunday evening.

5000to7000

Number of firearms eventually turned in.

A citizens’ committee drafted a list of resolutions stating its position on the events in Longview. Among them:

  • disapproval of the shots fired by blacks from Mr. Jones’ home
  • disapproval of the article thought to be authored by Mr. Jones
  • opposition to the burning of black property
  • intention to prevent additional proper damage
  • approval of swift action by Governor Hobby
  • support of rangers and militia who had been sent to the area
  • delegation of Judge Bramlette, Sheriff Meredeth, and Mayor Bodenheim the authority to act with and advise the military officers

16

Names of white men who took part in the attack on Jones’ house that were discovered by investigations conducted. These men were arrested and charged with attempted murder. They were released on a $1000 bond each.

9

Names of white men who took part in burning black homes and the dance hall. These men were arrested and charged with arson. They were released on a $1000 bond each.

21

Names of black men who took part in the shooting from Jones’ house. These men were arrested and charged with assault with attempt to murder. They were placed temporarily in the county jail.

Both Jones and Davis left town and never returned.

bullhorn

Local leadership decided to explain the actions of the soldiers, officers and National Guardsmen  as well as the arrests to the community.

For the duration of the martial law period, no additional acts of violence were reported.

The black people who had been arrested were sent out of the county before martial law was lifted in order to protect them. They were accompanied by a general and a captain.

zero

White men who were tried for their part in the riot activities.

zero

Black men who were tried for their part in the riot activities.

zero

Additional news-worthy incidents that happened as a result of the riot.

 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1834)

carouselOn Tuesday, August 12, 1834 a white mob consisting of several hundred people attacked a building in Philadelphia which housed the Flying Horses, a popular carousel that served both blacks and whites in the area. The mob destroyed the building and fought against any black people (and presumably others) who offered resistance in this attack.

400to500

Estimated people involved in this conflict. After the building that housed the Flying Horses was destroyed, this group moved out of the city and into a nearby district, Moyamensing. Moyamensing formed the core of black residents in the area. Here ensued destruction and pillaging.

 

The rioters were chiefly young men, some of them Irish, some with criminal records, who occupied some of the lowest paying jobs in the area and lived in close proximity to the Flying Horses.

tug-of-war

 

In the depressed economy of 1834, blacks and the portion of the population who engaged in rioting were often in competition with each other for the scarce, low-paying  jobs that were available. This job competition contributed to tension between the groups.fourthousanddollars

 

Estimated damage caused as a result of the riot in 1834 dollars. Within the context of this poor area of Philadelphia, this damage was significant.

300

Special constables sworn in to restore peace once the rioting took hold.

3

 

Relevant events that occurred in the days leading up to the riot.

  • On August 8, a group of blacks attacked some members of the Fairmount Engine Company and took possession of some of their equipment.
  • On August 9, the son of one of Philadelphia’s prominent black families was attacked by a group of 50-60 young whites.
  • August 11, an altercation between a group of whites and a group of blacks happened at the Flying Horse.

3

Days of rioting that took place.

church

 

Rioters focused primarily on property. Homes were looted and destroyed. Also, churches were targeted. The justification for destroying the churches was grounded in complaints about the sounds associated with black worship services. Some community members found these sounds a nuisance and unnecessarily loud, or “disorderly and noisy.”

candle

Whites who lived in the area where the rioting took place identified their property by placing candles in their windows to prevent it from being destroyed.

60Number of rioters who were arrested. Ten of these rioters were appeared in court.

zero

Number of rioters who were fined, jailed or otherwise punished for their involvement with this riot.

 

In an open letter to the man inspired to dance at the urinal,

“So, my interpretation of events is that you didn’t know that there was an eleven-year-old in a nearby stall who could see you. He described in great detail your dancing and singing while peeing. Apparently you were really getting into it. The thing, though, that made him tell the story was that you put one hand on the bathroom wall, just slapped it up there. It was the hand that caught his attention.”

The N-word

profanity

I am no fool.

I knew that I would have to confront the n-word during some point in this project.

I just didn’t know that I would have to deal with it so early. There I was researching riot #1 when it first jumped out. Just like that.

I thought about putting this topic about it off for later, waiting, letting time help me figure out what to do here, what to say, but then I decided to just grab the bull by the horns. But then I got caught up in some other riots. Each time, I found the n-word. Again, this isn’t surprising at all, but it is a different experience to read it so many times in such a short period of time.

Because I am very uncomfortable with that particular word, I will not use it in the project. I will choose euphemism, making use of ellipses and square brackets. This way, I am able to communicate what I have read while indicating that I have made an edit to the text. There is one exception, though. Book titles. If the word is in the title of a book, I think that I’ll leave it if I feel the need to allude to said book.

Nobody said that this project was going to be comfortable.

This isn’t a decision that I flipped a coin and made. Historians typically don’t avoid the word. After all  if you’re studying history, you spend time with the words that were used. Primary documents include all of the things that time has deemed inappropriate, hateful, evil, wrong or what have you. It is a part of what you’re studying. So, in a sense, I’m breaking with some of the very traditions I’m turning to in order to frame the project.

I did my homework first, looking for books on the word. I was looking for an understanding of the word that went deeper than the one that I already had.

I began to read.

I long have understood that it is a racial slur, that has had a long history in the United States. It has also taken on some other uses, not without controversy. I hoped that this reading would help me to compose a concise post here about why I was making the decision I am here. What I learned instead is that it would require substantial research to get to that point. Considering the already daunting scope of this project that I’m not going to follow those numerous trails.

Besides, if the research that I’ve done so far says anything about the research that I’ll do during this project, I have the feeling that I’m about to be schooled on about 200 years of that explosive word’s usage.

 

The Amalgamation

obama1

I’ve been asked more than once whether I’d make a chocolate cupcake for President Obama because he is the first black president. Actually, most people who ask that say African-American president. However, considering that I have a website that explores the way that we use food language to describe women, I wasn’t too keen on using chocolate to interpret a president just because his skin is brown.

But what do you say about a president whose presidency we’re still living through? It’s too early to even summarize it. Making 44 cupcakes, generally, is a challenge. I’ve looked at the presidents through a variety of lenses. Because Barack Obama spent time in Hawaii as a child, I might work that element. However, I’ve tread over Hawaii with the McKinley cupcake. I could use Indonesian flavors because he spent time there, but that’s be almost like Hoover’s cupcake, taking advantage of a place he happened to live for a while. His left-handedness might have made for an interesting interpretation, but many of his predecessors were also lefties. Truman tried to achieve national health care long before Obamacare came along. He’s not even the only president to come to us by way of Illinois.

Barack Obama, though, is a reminder that no president is wholly unique. Each president borrows ideas from the men who came before him. Perhaps the presidency is more cumulative than we think. Perhaps the current president can always be viewed as an amalgamation of the previous residents of the executive mansion.

obama2

The cake:

Because I chose the amalgamation element, I wanted to nod toward another treat that is defined by the components that comprise it. That made me think of Neapolitan ice cream.  So, here we have a vanilla and chocolate chip cupcake with strawberry buttercream frosting. Since the presidency is a complex sophisticated job, the cupcake is filled with red-wine flavored whipped cream. At the end, I decided that the cupcake would have a chocolate shell because with some people, the only thing they’ll ever see is that brown exterior.

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The Decision Point

wbush1

As I’ve gotten closer, and closer to the present, it has become more of a challenge to figure out how to approach these cupcakes. This is more true for the last two presidents. In the preface to the book The Faiths of the Postwar Presidents, David Holmes says, “No president’s story is complete until his death– and even then, reevaluations frequently occur.”

Here, then, I’ll take a bit of a different approach to this cupcake. George W. Bush may very well be the reason that Head of State Cakes exists. You see, in the days leading up to the 2000 presidential election, I had a recurring dream about George W. Bush. In this dream, he stood in the middle of my childhood bed wearing dress socks, dress shoes, boxer shorts, a dress shirt and a tie. He stood there twirling a lasso. That is it. I had that dream time and time again until the election happened. Then it never happened again.

That’s one heck of a dream. And I spent some time trying to wrap my mind around it. That’s what led to me taking a poem about this dream to the writing group I had been attending. Later, showed the group a poem about President Nixon. At this point, someone asked me if I was planning to write a poem about each president. I quickly replied that I didn’t know enough about each of them to write a poem about each one.

But I realized that I could.

Here, an endeavor to read at least one book about each President of the United States began. When I finished, I had a hole in my heart that I chose to fill with, yes, cupcakes.

So you see, this project is directly linked to George W. Bush. Without him, and without that dream, none of this would be happening.

wbush2

The cake:

Because the ever important George W. Bush dream was set in my childhood bedroom, I decided to make a cupcake that might evoke childhood. Also, because George W. Bush is reputed to have enjoyed a lunch of peanut butter and honey sandwich regularly in the White House, peanut butter and honey would be the main flavors in this cupcake.

The cake itself is honey flavored with a peanut butter swirl. It’s topped with a vanilla buttercream and drizzled with honey. It’s garnished with a peanut butter filled pretzel.

The cupcake is called the Decision Point because that’s very close to the name of the book that he wrote which discusses some of the major decisions that he’s made in his life.

bush3