Part 7: Jun 11 – 25, ’20

June 11- 25, 2020

Editor’s note:  Truer words were never spoken!  Many people are resistant to wearing a protective  face mask!  As we start Part 7, just about 3 months since our isolation started, almost two weeks have gone by with absolutely no emails. It speaks to the difficulty of our discussing the race relations problems that are being unearthed.  Also, our emails got slightly out of order.  I have tried to put them into a reasonable order, but they appear very disjointed.  My apologies, Liz Webfoot

6/11/20 — “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur.  75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”
— President Trump on Twitter


*For your birthday, she knits you an unwanted scarf. To be used as a balaclava?
* She belongs to a decentralized group with no leadership structure that claims to be discussing a “book,” but no one ever reads the book and all they seem to do is drink wine.
* Is always talking on the phone with an “aunt” you have never actually met in person. Aunt TIFA????
* Always walking into rooms and claiming not to know why he walked into the room. Likely.
* He “trips” over and breaks your child’s Lego police station when walking through the living room in the dark.
* Total and bewildering lack of nostalgia for good old days.
* Gathers with loose-knit, disorderly group of figures you have never met to play “mah-jongg,” governed by mysterious “rule cards” issued annually from a nebulous central authority.
* Suddenly, for no reason, will appear or pretend to be asleep.
* Insists on producing container of nuts whenever there is company. Why? Code of some kind?
* Carries peppermints (chemical irritant?) in purse at all times.
* Is taking Centrum Silver. But for what reason? Surely to build up strength for the coming confrontation.
* Keeps forwarding you what appear on the surface to be emails of jokes someone has typed out from a Reader’s Digest; claims to think you would “enjoy”; must be some sort of recruitment or propaganda or hidden message.
* Hired a clown for your child’s birthday — part of the Juggalo command structure?
* Big tin of Christmas popcorn mysteriously replenishes itself. WHO IS HELPING?!
* You gave her a Precious Moments figurine of a law enforcement officer, but she hasn’t displayed it.
* Remembers things from the past in incredible, exhausting detail, but recent ones only sporadically? Cover of some kind.
* She claims not to know how to use her phone, yet always appears upside-down on FaceTime, which should be impossible without hacking capabilities.
* If he is to be believed, he spends hours playing bridge.
* He is walking non-threateningly at a public protest.
Chris Hollister Hila

6/11/20 — Responses from classmates:
* Ha! Kim
* G
reat laugh! Thanks! Betsy
* We are all very scary!! Barbara Hartt Hise
* Good response – one almost hopes we’re not safe and can answer back – amy
* Getting close, they haven’t mentioned chat groups though!
     Chris Hollister Hila

6/11/20 — Love it! I guess we’re all guilty of quite a few – I can certainly relate to the phone upside down, and who knows what my two book groups might really be up to? – thanks for sharing! Speaking of book groups, are any of you reading books on race and racism you would recommend? Somewhat related, I’ve read “The Nickel boys”, by Coulson Whitehead, and “The Night Watchman” byLouise Erdrich, and recommend them both highly, and have just started “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X Kendi – a history of racist ideas in America- from its beginnings. (with a couple of mysteries thrown in, of course) . Hope you’re all well, surviving lockdown, and not feeling too restricted. We are doing fine, eating all too well , reconnecting with old friends and family over Zoom and still enjoying each other’s company in our house. Doesn’t look as though we’ll be able to get to Vermont this summer – we’re hoping for October, but who knows when we’ll be able to travel again. Hope you’re all surviving and doing well,  Dee de Ferranti Abrahamse

6/11/20 — I’m sure you’ve read JUST MERCY.  Marian

6/11/20 — I’d add “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Cindy Dennett Yee

6/11/20 — I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard that “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin diAngelo is supposed to be good.  Kim

6/11/20 — Yes- and I went on a civil rights tour to Montgomery last fall with my sister and two friends – we got to see his lynching memorial amd museum, a real inspiration.  Dee

6/11/20 —  Hi Dee et al,  Your mentioning Nickel Boys brought a few other books regarding black lives from the last few years, to mind…I’m sure you read Between the World and Me by Coates. More recently he wrote Water Dancerwhich was based on Harriet Tubman’s experiences. I preferred his non-fiction. Three horrific books, The Blood of Emmett Till, Writing to save a life and Unexampled Courage, lay out racist events in heart-wrenching detail. The subtitle of Unexampled Courage was The blinding of Sgt Isaac Woodward and the awakening of President Harry Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring., telling how the civil rights cause developed. And Writing to save a life by John Edgar Wideman tells about Emmett Till and his father.
     Thanks for your suggestions…I will look for a copy of The Night Watchman. Sue Carr

6/13/20 –I am also watching all the Spike Lee films I haven’t seen before.  Barbara Williamson Bucholtz

6/13/20 — My favorite read last year for my Book Club was an odd little novel in paperback entitled “Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan, which I had never heard of before nor since.  It is described by the publisher as follows:
     “Eleven-year old George Washington Black — or Wash — a field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is initially terrified when he is chosen to be the manservant of his master’s brother.  To his surprise, however, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist.  Soon Wash is initiated into a world where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human.  But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, they must abandon everything and flee.  Spanning the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, London to Morocco, Washington Black is a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, and of a world destroyed and made whole again.”
     The events of the last couple of weeks as well as this Chat email string make me want to reread it again, and I heartily recommend that all of you seek it out too for a fascinating adventure story, filled with wisdom, fantasy, disappointment, and direction.  Judy K  Judy Marshall Kennedy

6/13/20 —  My book club read it also;  a great read!  I felt like cheering, as I did after seeing Hidden Figures.  Frannie Blair

6/14/20 — I was born and grew up in Arkansas, which was part of the Confederacy.  My parents and grandparents also were born and lived there, and my paternal great grandfather fought in the Confederate army.  Even though I lived in a state that celebrated Robert E. Lee’s birthday as a state holiday, I came to realize that It is not appropriate to glorify people who advocated slavery, white supremacy and treason against the United States.  The symbolism of those statues and the confederate flag are not just hurtful, they signal that we, as a country, still haven’t moved past the idea of white supremacy.
     So I say, take down the statues and other symbols.  I agree that our history should be recorded but we don’t need the actual objects–photos and explanations will be enough.  I would hate to think of the Smithsonian having to store full-size statues of obscure Confederate generals.  
     And for the record, I checked.  Last year Asa Hutchinson, Republican governor of Arkansas, ordered the Arkansas statuary hall statues of Uriah Milton Rose and James P. Clarke removed.  Rose was identified as “fiercely loyal to the confederacy” and Clarke said upholding white supremacy was the keystone of the Democratic party.  Clarke’s great grandson wrote in 2018 that his statue should be removed and replaced with either Daisy Bates or a member of the Little Rock Nine.  That has happened:  Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash are now the Arkansans who will be in the statuary hall.

     I hope to hear more opinions on this. Susan Pogue Krock

6/14/20 — Why shouldn’t the Smithsonian take possession of the statues commemorating confederate military? They are now collecting signs from the scenes of protests. Wouldn’t “our nations attic” be an appropriate place to view the statues, along with the history needed to understand their place in our past as a country.  Dottie Smith Mann

6/14/20 — Makes great good sense, Sue. And thanks for the very interesting family history. Herstory. Dottie

Do you think you and daddy might be brave enough to sleep in your own beds now?

6/14/20 –I watched replays of yesterday’s hearings and am reminded of long ago days when math and science nerds would be jeered at in high school classrooms. Earlier than that, on elementary school playgrounds. Those of us without their affinity for numbers and precision were made uncomfortable I think. And may have attributed smugness to them which was perhaps just a quiet comfortable relationship with numbers and formulae and hypotheses.
     Now I watch Rand Paul confront Dr. Fauci and remember. When I watched the smart kid at the blackboard with the right answer, and heard the snickers coming from the back of the classroom.
     Know what I’m talking about?  Betcha  some of you whiz kids tried to cover-up all that wonderful ability. At least till you got to Mount Holyoke where all kinds of abilities were appreciated. Or at least so I like to think all these years later.
     Right now  I (creature of variable definitions and enigmatic imagery) value the data/ turned into models /turned into probabilities which  give some reassurance in a scary time. And those calm, serious speakers yesterday seasoned their words with “probability, more likely,” etc. They are dashing romantic heroes these days. 
     Know what I mean? Dottie Smith Mann

6/14/20 — We arrived in Hayward June 1. We have been quarantining (of sorts) for two weeks. We have been social distancing with friends, grocery shopping with masks at 6:30 AM and otherwise staying at home.  We are being much more diligent than most up here. It is appalling to us how many don’t wear masks. It’s such a simple way to help prevent the spread.  But it is good to be up here, able to be outside doing yard work and taking boat rides. We have been doing a little carry out but don’t yet feel comfortable eating at restaurants.
     This drive up was our last. After 20 years of driving about 1775 miles each way we are now planning to fly.
     Hope everyone is staying well.  Barbara Hartt Hise        

(This is in response to Dottie’s inquiry about our going north. Sorry I didn’t take it off the Chat group.)

6/14/20 — We are all interested to hear! I would love to know more about the actual journey — where did you stop? Was it a problem getting gas? Did you stay overnight somewhere? It is all so very strange!
     I was supposed to have left today on a Lewis and Clark River Cruise from Spokane to Portland. Fortunately, trip was cancelled so there was no argument about getting my money back but I am sorry that I don’t envision doing that cruise until there is a vaccine! I opted for a cash refund rather than taking their tempting offer for a 125% credit — bird in hand, and all that!!  Cheers  Kim

6/14/20 — We stopped two nights on the way up. We usually just stop when we feel like it but made reservations this time to make sure we were in recommended motels. We had reports from many ahead of us that the Marriott motels were diligent about sanitizing and left time between rebooking rooms. We stayed in a Fairfield Inn in Chattanooga the first night and a Courtyard in Rockford IL the second. It worked out well. We had carry out food along the way and pizza delivered to our room the second night. GA seemed wide open and lots of traffic. We drove right through. IL was buttoned up tightly, so we felt safer. We did miss our dinner each night celebrating about 700 +/- miles under our belts.
     After much discussion about whether to make the trip at all we are glad we did. It’s great to be here. Barbara

6/14/20 — Thanks!!!  Thumbs up.  Helpful info. Glad it worked out well for you!  Kim

6/15/20 — Thank you for your thoughtful and informative email on Confederate statues and symbols, Susan.
     Your recognitions of the inappropriateness of glorifying Confederate icons is not a surprise to me, knowing you as I do, but your account of the opinions and actions of James P. Clarke’s greatgrandson and of Asa Hutchinson, a Republican governor of Arkansas, was news that both surprises and delights me. How wonderful to think of Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash as memorialized  this way. Sandra (Iger) Kohler

6/15/20 — Thank you for your report, Barbara, of being a rule follower. Those of us who are in that camp are finding it a bit difficult just now. My daughter is finding the neighborhood are playing together as tho nothing has changed. Her kids are feeling left out but, hopefully, they will be fine. Marian

6/15/20 — Here it what happened to me: I sent a long email to you all asking for the start of a good meaty conversation around what’s going on today. I won’t mention the topics here because maybe it, too, will be censored. The message I received was: “550 5.7.0 Unacceptable Content (SNF)”
     Does anyone know about this? What is considered unacceptable?
If any of you want the email, I can send it privately. Just send me your email address. Dottie, I’m sending it to you. Liz Webfoot

6/15/20  Liz and everyone. I think the relative silence is probably due to the sheer volume and speed of unsettling events which have engulfed every thinking human in our circles. Here is a talk that was on the New Yorker radio hour this weekend.  As I listened to this I felt like it was us, Mt. Holyoke women sitting in a dorm living room discussing racial problems. Please listen carefully to what she is saying about “our” social/political structures.
     When I returned to the US after 40 years away one of the first things I heard on the radio was a discussion about college approaches to racial problems. One of the speakers was a dean of Mt. Holyoke (I believe she was black) proudly presenting Mt. Holyoke’s program which included a separate dorm for black students?     I was shocked. I had not paid attention to what was going on in the US and I had assumed that by 2000 the new generation would simply be a majority “brown” and not thinking of racial differences.

     I am not saying that the New Yorker discussion is wrong. I think it is very good. If we look at the racial problems with an entirely different perspective we might be able to help.
Chris Hollister Hila

6/16/20 — Yes I do wonder about that naughty word or words!!!???
Ready to talk very soon. Today no, yep tomorrow.
Love to all at this time of so many emotions, Dottie Smith Mann

6/16/20 — My poem:
I fell asleep in my car
Blocking the school pick up line
A kid took my picture
He posted it on snap chat for all to see
He might have thought I was dead
The police didn’t come
Kids woke me up
I drove away alive and happy
I am white (and 81)! Christina Hollister Hila

6/16/20 — Love it!  Barbara Hartt Hise

6/16/20 — Yes, this is all very strange. Liz, I read your email and then wrote mine with the link to New Yorker Radio Hour discussion. (Ed note:  I don’t think it went through to anyone.  There was a confusion of emails.)  When I wanted to refer back to your email I could not find it. Thought I must have read an old email or something. Very strange.
Chris Hollister Hila

6/17/20 –Some of you may have already learned of this through your local news, but we here in the Mount Washington Valley just had the most unusual and awesome graduation EVER — Kennett High School graduates and their families rode the Big Quad ski lift at Mt Cranmore, our iconic in-town ski area, to receive their diplomas and a “photo op” at  the TOP!
     There were something like 150 graduates, and it took all day, i.e.from 8 am to 4 pm, to get them up-and-down the mountain properly distanced on the Quad to complete handing out the diplomas.  Two graduates were even accompanied by their service dogs who  attend school with them, and the dogs were also awarded graduation certificates and an appropriate “goodie-bag” from our local Four Your Own Paws pet shop. (I hasten to say that the dogs and their masters did not ride the Quad but hiked up the mountain instead.)
     Each student was allowed 4 invited guests, and it was requested that only those guests who were going up the mountain with their student attend — so as not to have people standing around bunched together at the bottom of the mountain.  Instead, the students and their families created the “KHS Kar Karavan,”  a drive thru town at 5 pm so that valley residents like Dan and me could line Rte 16 in our cars (or stand 6 feet apart on the side of the road in masks) to cheer and honk in celebration of their creativity, endurance, and good spirits.  It was truly a “grand day” for the valley, and a big success!!
     A 3-minute youtube video was created and if you are interested, go on youtube and search for it … I dare not put this as a link in this email as I fear that our Chat platform will reject it as too commercial when it’s really not.  Judy K  Judy Marshall Kennedy
*That was just wonderful and so inspiring! (Of course, I got all choked up! Terrific idea and so memorable for the graduates!) Best wishes to all! Kim
* What a special graduation. Beautiful.  Nancy C
* Ditto to Kim’s message! Sherry Urner
* So good to read something positive and wonderful and inspirational. Very creative. Thanks for sharing. Liz T.

6/16/20 — Thanks, Judy, for the video and the blurb. Lucky kids! I watched the video. How much fun for them. I spent a lot of my youth in that area. We’re heading for Maine the beginning of July for a week on our island — determined to social distance all the way, and hoping that some other family members can join us. We never made it last year so I’m thrilled to be making plans.
     I finally decided to make an appointment with the dermatologist because it’s been way too long. Even though I’ve been using 100 block sunscreen, I’m afraid I’ve had way-too-much sun and have some spots that disturb me. Playing golf it is impossible not to expose oneself for four or more hours. The exercise is wonderful for fat me, but the sun isn’t great for me. I had a lot of MOHS a year or so back. Now that I finally picked up the phone and called, the first appointment I can get is October 1. Boy oh boy, that’s what I get for waiting so long. I am nervous waiting for 4 months.
     We continue to enjoy our pandemic meals, and I’m wondering if anyone has a favorite recipe. One of ours is pink shrimp on pasta: shrimp, garlic, sliced mushrooms or artichoke hearts, tomato paste, lemon juice, and vermouth with a hefty sprinkle of parmesan. Today I made my first batch of gazpacho — always hard to beat. Send your favorite recipe — I’d love a surprise.
     I am trying to find out who is the person/persons who checks our emails and makes the decision that something is inappropriate and cannot be sent to the group. If anyone knows anything about that, please write me personally at I had hoped we could start some good discussions following up on the topics that are current.
     Cheers and hugs to you all — Liz Webfoot (Liz Hottel Barrett)

6/17/20 — That all sounds so wonderful. I barely remember my high school graduation – of course I have had a couple more, but these students will remember theirs!  Sallie Crittendon

6/17/20 — Not too much fun cooking for one, but I did pull out my mother’s old Butterscotch Tapioca recipe that I enjoyed as a kid and just made my third batch since getting the tapioca from Amazon (in a box that looks exactly the same!). Probably the first time I’ve made this in over 40 years! It does taste yummy — and very comforting!! Cheers Kim

 [Here’s my email  that didn’t get through at first.  I’m guessing the problem has been corrected — obviously had nothing to do with the content of the letter or the length or the enclosures.  Harumph.  And so I’ll try again.]  “So now I’m interested.  A few people jumped in, but I’m interested in how you have grown in the past 60 years as regards race relations.  All of us in this chat group are white, and we live across the country, although other than Kim and Dee, I’m not sure how many live in western states.   I’m kind of stepping out of line when I say that I’m curious as to 
1. how your life embraces or doesn’t embrace the challenge we now have as a country as regards race relations

2. your church or synagogue and the part it plays/played in framing
your attitude towards people of color
3. whether or not you have you attended workshops or similar to deal
with race relations and any biases you might have or had — or
whether you even feel you need help
4. how you feel about the problems with the police and what’s being done nationwide or in your state — and how you feel about your local police
 5. how integrated is the location of your residence — the town, city, neighborhood

     There are a host of topics that we can thoughtfully “get into”.  Since we have so much time to think and read and write, I’d love the good meaty conversation kicked off by Susan Pogue Krock.
Hugs and cheers – Liz Webfoot

6/27/20 — I’m finding lots of company in reading about racism and white privilege.  Last fall I went with my sister Katie and two other friends on a Civil Rights trip to Montgomery, sponsored by the Center for Courage and Renewal.  It was an amazing, life changing weekend, with discussions about racism and slavery, and visits to th  museum and lynching memorial developed by Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative, the Southern Poverty Law Center and sites like  Martin Luther King’s church and Selma, where we got to walk across the bridge.  I don’t know whether this group is doing the trip this year, but here are lots of other groups that sponsor tours.  One memory that sticks out was the cemetery in Selma, where there is a whole area tended by the Daughters of the Confederacy, with flags on graves and statues of confederate leaders very well tended – showing us the legacy of slavery is alive and well.  But it was really moving to see King’s church and his pastoral study, preserved just as it had been, and be welcomed by the congregation today keeping his legacy alive. 
     I’m also in a group ready “White Fragility” together to talk about our own lives and prejudices we may not confront. My main reaction so far is how white my upbringing was – I can only remember one place where I knew blacks and had black friends, when we lived in Cincinnati – otherwise, can’t remember any contacts with blacks at all, including MHC, with the exception of one student in a Latin class – I think she was a year or two behind us.   Am I missing something? We didn’t have cleaners or other servants  most of the itme I was growing up, so I don’t have memories of seeing blacks in those positions.  Were your childhoods as white as mine?  Coming to California for my first job was eye opening, and has been a delight – our city has large populations with all different backgrounds – an old black community that has been here for generations, newer and very large hispanic population, refugee communities from the 70s from Vietnam, Cambodia  and  recent immigrant Philippino and Samoan groups, with nearby Korean communities as well.  Made  for a great student population at my university, and for  my sons in high school.  
     Right now, I’m reading “Stamped from the Beginning” – a history of racism from the earliest settlements to the present  by Ibram X Kendi- it’s good,  – even mind blowing – a whole different story about the Civil War than Iv’e ever read,  with Lincoln coming off as much less heroic that we are used to – but long. I’m going to try a shorter book of his  – ” How to Be An an Antiracist” next.  ” Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, was amazing.  What are the rest of you reading or doing? We had protest marches here, but I didn’t go, since they weren’t keeping any social distance.  
     Best to you all — hope you’re all well and keeping sane!
Dee Abrahamse  PS. I Am also reading “Stamped at the Beginning “. Yes it is eye opening”!

6/27/20 — When Paul and I started traveling internationally as well as domestically, I got a sense of how small this world really is. Living on a park, I can see people playing in the park or walking their dogs but I realize that few of them are people of color. 
Jennifer Bagster-Collins Seaver
6/27/20 — I have just watched a talk by Carolyn Finney on the Middlebury College website.  I found it very moving and informative about how it feels to be in the skin of a person of color.  I hope yu can find it and see it to the end.  I thought I was not a racist.  I have to think, again. It has helped in my thnking, a great deal.   Marian Strong Moore

6/27/20 — Tried to watch Carolyn Finney but it isn’t yet available though website says they will be downloading it, so I’ll keep a lookout.  It sounds really worthwhile.  
     I remember several pivotal incidents when I was growing up, but like Dee, there weren’t many blacks in my life.   In the seventh grade, I invited all the girls in my class to a birthday party except for Dottie Muse, the one black girl.  I remember agonizing over the decision but we decided she “probably wouldn’t be comfortable” and “perhaps some of the other girls wouldn’t come” so we didn’t include her.  I have never forgotten how distressed that decision made me but I certainly wasn’t strong enough to buck the trend. 
     Another incident that stands out in my mind was after college when I was staying with my aunt in Belmont, MA while I went to music school.  My family joined us for Thanksgiving dinner and discussion moved to how upset my aunt was that a black professor had bought a house in the neighborhood, thus potentially affecting property values.  I tried to argue but ended up in tears and leaving the table.  Later on in life, we did have a black usher and black flower girl (not related) in our wedding, and Poppy Cannon for whom I worked at the time, wrote an article about it for the Amsterdam News  –she was a columnist there because she had been married to Walter White, head of the NAACP.   So I guess it was a pretty big deal at the time.   I remember my mother-in-law tried to engage George Shirley’s wife (he was the usher) and she wasn’t very forthcoming so my mother-in-law said “You don’t make it  very easy, do you?” and Gladys replied: “And I don’t intend to!”   
     When I lived in L.A., I was in a production at the Beverly Hills Playhouse of a musical version of A Patch of  Blue  which of course had a number of black cast members.  I’ll never forget when the lead male came back from lunch, having been stopped and questioned by police, obviously just for being black in Beverly Hills!  I was outraged and sympathetic but I honestly never began to understand what “systemic racism” means until the terrible George Floyd incident and all that has followed.   There have been several Black Lives Matter demonstrations here in Santa Barbara, but honestly, there are relatively few black residents here and I’m quite sure that many times they have been judged as not belonging because of their color.   
     I am cautiously optimistic that this time we might actually see some important changes.   Some already have started to happen but it will still be a long road.  Kim Holmquist

6/25/20 — RE:  Unacceptable Content.  After reading about error messages, parsing my email and sending it out in sections, I determined that there was no wording that was unacceptable.  Not the end of the problem, but definitely the end of my spending any more time  on it.  Liz Hottel Barrett, Web Mistress