Ohio on my mind

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On the Cincinnati riverfront in May 2016.

The Buckeye State and the Beaver State have so little in common that it’s hard to think of a logical start to this post.

Ohio is a typical Midwestern state stretching from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River, a political swing state with a big industrial base but also a big chunk of poverty-stricken Appalachia. With 12 million people, its population triples that of Oregon.

Oregon has the Pacific Coast, the Cascade Mountains and Crater Lake, and is a reliably blue state, one of just five left where Democrats control the governor’s office and both houses in the legislature. We’re so predictable that neither Trump nor Clinton campaigned here last year, knowing that our few electoral votes would go to Hillary.

So I’m just going to dive in and say that as a longtime Oregonian, it’s odd to realize how much the state of Ohio has intruded on my consciousness during the past year.

The connection took root last spring when I spent some time in Ohio at the tail end of a whirlwind trip whose main purpose was to see four baseball games in three cities in the space of five days. I began in Pittsburgh, then shimmied over to Ohio.

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My rental car and airbnb rental in the Ohio City historic district of Cleveland.

I saw one game in Cleveland and spent the night there, then drove to Cincinnati and did the same there.

Before then, I’d passed through Cleveland twice before in the mid-70s as a college student heading to summer internships in Washington, D.C., and again more recently on a road trip with my daughter to get her settled for graduate school in Pittsburgh. We made time to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Years earlier, Simone and I also got a look at Oberlin College, on the outskirts of Cleveland, as she was considering where to go for undergraduate school. (Thank goodness, she didn’t choose Oberlin.)

In any case, here’s how Ohio has burrowed itself into my mind:

— When I visited in May, the first highway sign that greeted me upon entering the state bore the name of Governor John Kasich. Hey, remember him?

— Arriving early for the baseball game in downtown Cleveland, I was dazzled by Progressive Field, one of the most beautiful stadiums I’ve seen. In the fall, the Indians would return to the World Series and lose a heartbreaking Game 7 to the Chicago Cubs.

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Progressive Field is a great venue. It was ranked as Major League Baseball’s best ballpark in a 2008 Sports Illustrated fan opinion poll.

— A short walk away is Quicken Loans Arena, bearing larger-than-life images of LeBron James and his teammates. In June, a month after my visit, the Cavaliers would win the NBA Championship in a thrilling Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors. In July, delegates to the Republican National Convention would nominate Trump for president.

— In Cincinnati, I got to attend a Reds game with Anne Saker, my former co-worker at The Oregonian. A native Ohioan, she’s now working as a reporter at The Cincinnati Enquirer. Peter Bhatia, my former boss in Portland, is now the editor at the Enquirer. The newspaper made the news last fall when its editorial board endorsed Clinton for president — the first time in nearly a century that it had backed a Democrat.

 (Click on images to view captions.)

— Before the game, I had lunch with Rachel Lippolis, a regular contributor to this blog over the years. Though we’ve been online friends for several years, this was the first time we’d met in person. Rachel, another native Ohioan, was pregnant then and became a mother in October. For some odd reason, her alma mater, Denison College, is represented among the college and university banners lining one wall of the entrance to the building where I work for an education nonprofit.

— That afternoon, I also explored the Queen City’s riverfront. Looking south into Kentucky, I hadn’t realized the Ohio River had served as the dividing line between the free North and the Southern slave states. It was a powerful, wrenching moment that stays with me still. Part of the reason why is that I spent some time in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, learning more about the region’s history and viewing museum exhibits that included an actual slave pen with shackles chained to the floor. Chilling.

— Back in Oregon, I became a grandparent in late July. Looking for a suitable gift for daughter-in-law Jamie, I stumbled upon a wonderful book and blog titled “Becoming Mother.” I  bought the book and sent off a complimentary email to its author, Sharon Tjaden-Glass.

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Sharon Tjaden-Glass

We became Facebook friends and soon enough, Sharon landed in this space as a guest blogger, writing about life in a swing state and then about the horror of discovering her baby’s due date was Inauguration Day. She lives in Dayton, a place I came nowhere near during my 2016 trip. I don’t imagine we’ll ever meet, but it’s still nice to connect with a millennial who’s a kindred spirit. (Her newborn son delayed his arrival until early February.)

— Two books I read during the latter half of 2016 were set in Ohio. One, by Celeste Ng, is titled “Everything I Never Told You,” and takes place in the late ’70s in the fictional small town of Middlewood. The novel is centered on the tensions within a family made up of a Chinese American father, an Anglo mother and their three reclusive children. The other, by J.D. Vance, is “Hillbilly Elegy,” a memoir of growing up amidst generational poverty and low educational expectations in Appalachia, first in eastern Kentucky and then in southwest Ohio, in the now-decaying steel town of Middletown.

— A Netflix movie that Lori and I rented was filmed on location in Ohio. “Liberal Arts” stars Josh Radnor as a disillusioned New Yorker who returns to campus at the invitation of a retiring favorite professor. The scenery at Kenyon College is breathtaking, reminiscent of Oregon’s many hues of green. And the movie, also starring Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister to the Olsen twins), is actually pretty good.

— Before the year ended, I met with another former co-worker, Steve Woodward, when I was looking for ideas to incorporate into my college teaching this term. Steve was a guest lecturer in two of my classes last week and, wouldn’t you know it, he too is from Dayton and a graduate of nearby Wright State University. Once a reporter and editor at The Oregonian, Steve is now CEO of his own online news startup and one of the most forward-thinking individuals I know.

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The “Sing the Queen City” 3D Art Sculpture, is the signature piece and part of the ArtWorks urban public art project known as “CincyInk.” (Photography by Brooke Hanna.)

I could go on about my discovery of a little indie band called Over The Rhine, named for a neighborhood in Cincinnati. Or about my newfound love of Cincinnati Chili, a no-beans chili made with cinnamon, cloves and chocolate that’s paired with spaghetti and shredded cheddar cheese. But that might make a person wonder if I’m thinking of moving to Ohio.

No. Way.

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Summer of change

By Anne Saker

Our family has reached the astonishing stage where half of the 17 nieces and nephews have launched or finished courses of higher education. This fall, we send off a bumper crop of scholars, Audrey, Courtney and Margaret, to the University of Utah, Syracuse University and Purdue University.

Even we elders, usually so unfeeling in our dotage, are excited for them, adulthood just arrived, everything possible, electricity crackling in this summer with Black Lives Matter and “I’m With Her” and Zika virus and Brexit as our young ladies approach their grand departures from their nests.

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The Class of 2020: From left, Audrey, Courtney and Margaret.

The anticipation reminded me of my own summer before college, when I yearned for that leap into the world with all its chaos, fire, absurdity, confusion and beauty. The news brimmed with the raucous and riotous, in August of 1977, the disco interregnum between the Watergate/Vietnam War nightmare and the Reagan ascension. So I couldn’t resist a peek back in time; thanks, internet …

Aug. 1: Former Lockheed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers crashes the news helicopter he was flying in Los Angeles. Even then, I learned an important lesson of journalism: Sometimes, the news writes itself. I knew, from a history book, that the Soviets shot down the spy plane that Powers was flying over Russia in 1960 and tossed him in prison as a spy. In 1962, the United States traded a Soviet agent for Powers at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin. Tom Hanks just made a movie about the deal. Plus – it’s a funny word now, Soviet.

Aug. 3: Radio Shack issues a press release introducing TRS-80 computer, and within weeks thousands were ordered. Radio Shack pushed a slice of the postwar American middle class to become early adopters. This machine brought a roomful of computing power into the suburban home and weaned a generation of coding nerds. Today, Radio Shack is in bankruptcy, and we wear computers on our wrists to count our steps.

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Anne Saker

Aug. 4: President Jimmy Carter establishes the Department of Energy. Carter was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who trained in the early days of the nuclear fleet. Perhaps more than any other president, Carter understood how energy was a matter of national security. Still, even today, small-minded people mock him. Fortunately, Carter is a decent human being who in the past two years has beaten the Guinea worm and brain cancer.

Aug. 9: The military controlled government of Uruguay announces that it will return the nation to civilian rule through general elections in 1981. That kind of talk happened a lot then in many nations throughout South and Central America. At the time of this particular announcement, the Uruguayan military had imprisoned thousands of people. Decades later, one of them, a socialist farmer named Jose Mujica, was elected president.

Aug. 10: Cops catch psycho killer. I read in the Columbus Citizen-Journal (may it rest in peace) that an employee of the U.S. Postal Service, David Berkowitz, had been arrested in Yonkers, New York, as the “Son of Sam” killer. Berkowitz at first claimed that he fired his gun at women on the orders of a dog, although he rolled back on that last detail later. Still, New York City had been paralyzed for the summer by this guy, and the whole story felt like a metaphor of all urban life.

Aug. 16: The King dies. We were at Hastings Pool, where everyone brought a transistor radio, when WCOL-AM in Columbus played “Love Me Tender,” and the deejay cried on the air. How can Elvis be dead? He was a giant, bigger than life, a paradigm shift, a musical force of nature. In time, most of us came to acceptance. Yet Elvis denial remains a significant cottage industry.

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From the author’s Elvis-box collection. Nearly 40 years later and still “All Shook Up.”

Aug. 20: NASA launches Voyager 2. The companion satellite, Voyager 1, launched 15 days later. I have loved the Voyagers ever since, for sending back spectacular knowledge of the outer planets and the edge of the solar system — and carrying out into the universe the golden record disc of human sound, a testament that, appearances to the contrary on the home planet, we like to think we come in peace.

Aug. 31: Ian Smith wins presidency of Rhodesia. Even a coddled, sheltered young American could see in 1977 that this “election” was one of the death throes of colonial racial segregation in Africa. Now, we call the country by the name its majority people eventually were able to choose, Zimbabwe.

Funny — the world felt like it was coming apart then, too.

As my nieces place their dorm orders at Bed Bath & Beyond, I send them off with a few bucks for a nice lunch off campus. I want them to remember this summer of change not as a blur before the main event but as a season of clarity. The world awaits, but no rush. Yes, it’s thrilling, but it’s . . . complicated. Enjoy the buffer that is college.

But who listens to that noise? The world will deliver its wisdom. Gently, I hope, o so gently.

***

Anne Saker, a career daily journalist, is a staff writer at The Cincinnati Enquirer. She lives with her cat Cleo the Brave in an East Walnut Hills apartment house where, legend reports, Janis Joplin frequently came to party.

Editor’s note: I had the pleasure of recruiting Anne to The Oregonian in 2004 after she’d spent a decade knocking the cover off the ball as a reporter in North Carolina. When my Midwest baseball road trip brought me to Cincinnati earlier this year, it gave me an opportunity to reconnect with Anne, a native Ohioan who roots for the Reds and embraces life with elan.

 Tomorrow: Alana Cox, All in for the Olympics

The Queen City

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A Portland visitor on the Cincinnati riverfront.

First impressions can validate a gut feeling or they can be wildly misleading. In the case of Cincinnati, if my visit last week had been a first date, I’d be very open to a second one.

As with Cleveland the day before, I spent less than 24 hours in Cincinnati, barely enough time to form snap judgments. But since that’s all I’ve got to go on, my quick take amounts to this: Cincinnati is, on the surface, an appealing place with lots of hills and trees, a dynamic riverfront, a mix of gleaming and tattered structures, gourmet restaurants, and a historical legacy centered on its location directly across the Ohio River from Kentucky, a slave-holding state.

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The Cincinnati skyline, viewed from the southern shore of the Ohio River.

Dubbed The Queen City because of spectacular growth in the years after its founding in the late 18th century, Cincinnati later became a major center for the Underground Railroad for slaves fleeing to the north. Yet, race relations, racial profiling and police brutality have been an issue, as they have in most U.S. cities, and I saw distressed areas north of downtown where large numbers of African Americans live in substandard housing amid few thriving businesses.

The city was wracked by a four-day riot in 2001, the largest in the U.S. since the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and last year drew national attention when a white campus police officer shot an unarmed black man after a routine traffic stop. (Of course, so did Cleveland, when a cop fatally shot Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old holding a pellet gun.)

In short, Cincinnati is an intriguing place I’d like to see more of.

***

I rolled into town just before 1 p.m. Friday, following a 250-mile drive that cut diagonally across Ohio, from the industrial Northeast to the more rural Southwest and passed through Columbus, the state capital.

It was Day Four of my five-day baseball road trip that took me to three major league stadiums in Pennsylvania and Ohio. I’d never been anywhere near Cincinnati but I had plans to reconnect with a friend who’d worked with me at The Oregonian and to meet a fellow blogger I’d only known through online correspondence.

Had he been in town, I most certainly would have spent time with Peter Bhatia, my former boss at The Oregonian and now editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer. Unfortunately, work required him to be in Chicago.

And so the visit began at Arnold’s Bar and Grill, the city’s oldest tavern, established in 1861.

I met Rachel Lippolis for lunch, finally coming face to face with someone who’d first come to my attention when I was first exploring the blogosphere. I came across her blog and was impressed with her intelligent writing and choice of topics, ranging from literature to politics to baseball.

She’s a librarian, quiet by nature, married and newly pregnant, and a native of Cincinnati. She’s been a contributor to my Voices of August guest blogging project from the start, and I anticipate she will write something for our online community once again this year. Nice to put a face to a name.

On Rachel’s recommendation, I headed to the riverfront and was dazzled by what I saw. From my vantage point facing south, I could see on my right the football stadium where the Bengals play and, to my left, the Great American Ball Park that is the home of the Reds.

Directly in front of me, the majestic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, connecting Ohio and Kentucky. Below, a grassy park and asphalt path for joggers and bicyclists. Behind me, a 3D art sculpture proclaiming “Sing The Queen City” and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Oh, how I wish I had more time at the museum. Even a 30-minute visit was educational, though. I learned more about Cincinnati’s conflicted past. Though the city served as a center for abolitionists and safe harbor for fugitive slaves able to cross the Ohio River at its narrowest points, many white Ohioans moved south during the Civil War to fight for the Confederacy, according to Ohio History Central.

There in the museum, viewing an actual slave pen (chains bolted to the floor to prevent escape) and reading of the barbaric slave trade that thrived across the river, I felt an overwhelming sadness, along with contempt for all those who participated in an economic and social structure built on the backs of men, women and children who were treated as subhuman chattel. Shame on America.

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Brooke and George.

Wandering the riverfront, I was experimenting with different locations and angles for a selfie when a young woman approached and offered to take my picture. Sure, I said. She took several photos, all of which turned out nicely.

Turns out she was a professional photographer from Georgia who regularly offers to shoot pictures for tourists. Indeed, I saw her make the same pitch to a woman who was photographing her two girls. She introduced herself as Brooke and shot a quick selfie of us. A nice, random moment.

***

Checked into my airbnb room and briefly met my host, Ian, a high school physics teacher who lives with his dog and two cats near the University of Cincinnati. He struck me as a nice guy, but circumstances were such that we only had time for a quick hello and no sit-down conversation.

I headed to the ballpark to meet with Anne Saker, a talented reporter I helped recruit to The Oregonian and a bonafide baseball fan. Anne was born in Columbus, went to school at Ohio University, and is now back at The Cincinnati Enquirer, where she once worked as a college intern.

It was great to hang out with Anne, who is one of the most gracious and outgoing people on the planet. She knows her home state, her city and her hometown baseball team all very well, and it was a pleasure to talk with her about all that while swapping newsroom war stories. We traded thoughts about the past, present and future of journalism, shared baseball anecdotes, and reminisced about our shared history in Portland. Sure hope she makes it back to Oregon again.

As for the ballpark, what can I say?

Like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Cincinnati is an amazing place to see a ballgame. Great American Ball Park, GABP for short, opened in 2003 on the banks of the Ohio River. It’s equipped with a state-of-the-art jumbo scoreboard, a wide concourse featuring an actual market with chilled beverages and fresh fruit as well as the usual fare of grilled sausages, pizza and cheese coneys, a local favorite featuring the city’s signature Cincinnati Chili, onions and shredded cheese on a steamed bun and hotdog.

Our tickets were on the first-base side several rows up behind the Reds’ dugout. We sat in the shade on a warm night, a welcome contrast to Cleveland, where the night before the game-time temperature started at 54 and fell to 51. It was not only Fireworks Friday but Star Wars Night, so the whole Midwest vibe took on an extra layer of Disneyesque wholesomeness.

The game featured the two weakest teams in the National League’s Central Division and yet another one-sided outcome. The Reds won easily, 5-1, and fans enjoyed a post-game fireworks celebration.

***

On Saturday morning, I got up early, ran through the University of Cincinnati campus, checked out of my room and headed downtown for a final meal — a delicious croissant omelette with fresh fruit at the small and cozy French Cafe.

I crossed the Roebling Bridge into Covington, Kentucky, and admired the Cincinnati skyline, all the while aware I was looking across a body of water that separated North from South, freedom from slavery.

En route to the airport, which lies about 20 miles away in Northern Kentucky, I marveled at the physical beauty of the area — green, rolling hills — and soaked up the last few moments of my trip to the Midwest.

I packed a lot of activities and as many people as I could into my five-day, four-night adventure. Though the purpose of the trip was to see professional baseball in three cities separated by just a few hundred miles, I came home with new experiences, new and rekindled friendships, and a better sense of this region to add to my bank of memories.

I’d love to do it again. Next time, though, I may have to take Charlotte with me.

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Missed my little terrier mix, Charlotte. Toward the end of the trip, my wife texted: “I think she misses you.”

 

 

Midwest baseball road trip

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The Pittsburgh skyline looms above the right field fence at PNC Park.

Five days. Four nights. Three baseball games in three cities. Two states. One rental car. One baseball fan. One generous wife.

Add them all up and you get one jam-packed, solo trip to see six baseball teams in three stadiums in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

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As part of the deal, you get to hang out with new and older friends, stay in the homes of three strangers, feast on tasty foods, visit a couple of museums, and be alone with your thoughts as you drive hundreds of miles on interstate highways where Northeast meets Midwest and the Rust Belt transitions into America’s Heartland.

Self indulgent?

Yes.

Enjoyable?

Totally.

Call it the Great Midwest Baseball Road Trip of 2016.*

* (I understand western Pennsylvania is part of the Northeast, but five of the six teams I saw are from landlocked states so I’m keeping it simple and going with “Midwest.”)

***

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Progressive Field in Cleveland — one of three impressive baseball stadiums I visited within a four-day span.

As a youth baseball player and lifelong fan, I’ve always fantasized about seeing a game in every Major League Baseball park. Living on the West Coast, it was easy to get to the first six. Reaching those in other regions of the country has been challenging at times but after this trip I’ve now been to 25 stadiums, leaving just 5 to go.

Several years ago I’d done something like this on a smaller scale when I drove my dad from his home in rural New Mexico to Arizona so we could see 3 games in 3 days at 3 ballparks during spring training. That preseason fling was a piece of cake because we stayed in one place and the parks were relatively close to each other in the Phoenix metro area.

In contrast, this trip required not just more time but more planning. And I got a big assist with the logistics from my mother, a devoted fan of the Oakland A’s right up until the day she died. (More on that below.)

I flew from Portland to Pittsburgh late Monday night and arrived Tuesday morning. I saw games there Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. I drove to Cleveland the next day and saw a game that Thursday night. I drove to Cincinnati the next day and saw a game that Friday night. I flew home the next day and arrived Saturday evening, just ahead of Mother’s Day.

Some might wonder why I did this alone. Why not ask a friend to come along?

Well, a trip like this isn’t out of the ordinary for me. When I traveled the country as The Oregonian’s newsroom recruiter, I was typically on my own, flying to cities I often hadn’t been to before, getting a rental car and staying in a blur of hotels.

Frankly, that’s how I managed to see ballgames in so many different places. If my work  hadn’t taken me to places like Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Minneapolis, I most likely would have gone there on my own.

Having retired at the end of last year, time wasn’t the issue in planning this excursion. Rather, it was a matter of finding game dates in nearby cities within a few days that wouldn’t cause havoc for Lori, knowing she had to maintain her work schedule, manage our three pets and respond to any household issues that came up in my absence.

Bless her. She agreed.

***

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Visiting Mom at her residential group home in July 2013.

My late mom had a role in this too. .

When she died in the fall of 2013, I had to cancel a work-related trip to Iowa. The airline wouldn’t refund the full cost of my ticket but I did get a voucher for partial credit. It was enough for a one-way ticket I could use at a later date.

Well, that opportunity presented itself when I made my travel arrangements. The flight from Cincinnati to Portland was essentially free. I’d like to think Mom would be happy knowing she contributed to my Midwest adventure.

For the record,  my two favorite teams went without a win in my presence.

In Pittsburgh, the Pirates lost twice to the Cubs. In Cleveland, the visiting Tigers fell to the Indians.

In Cincinnati, I had no vested interest in either team so I didn’t mind at all cheering the Reds to victory over the visiting Brewers.

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Wearing a Cuban National Baseball Team jersey at the Cincinnati riverfront.

Though baseball was the main attraction, I’ve got to say the overall adventure was mighty fine. The combination of new and familiar experiences, hanging with friends, and seeing more of this landlocked part of the country made for a great trip.

It was fun to be in Pittsburgh again. It was sobering to spend time in Cleveland. And it was an epiphany to visit Cincinnati for the first time.

Map: Zesco Inc.

Tomorrow: The Steel City

Sarah Grimké’s moral courage

Until the abolition of slavery in 1865, Cincinnati and the Ohio River marked a passage to freedom.

By Rachel Lippolis

I started to tell my friend and writing partner about the latest book I read, “The Invention of Wings,” by Sue Monk Kidd.  After a couple of minutes, she said, “You’re really in the perfect job for you.”

I laughed.  Of course I am — I work in a library.  I spend my days picking out books to deliver to teachers and older patrons living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  I couldn’t ask for a more perfect job.  After a patron recommended Kidd’s book, I requested it from my library’s downloadable collection, and tore though it in less than a week.

Hetty “Handful” Grimké begins the narrative:

“There was a time in Africa the people could fly.  Mauma told me this one night when I was ten years old. She said, ‘Handful, your granny-mauma saw it for herself. She say they flew over trees and clouds. She say they flew like blackbirds.  When we came here, we left that magic behind.” 

When Sarah Grimké turns 11, in 1803, Charleston, South Carolina, she is given 10-year-old Hetty, a slave.  Sarah tries to refuse:

“ ‘……Mother, please let, let me……let me give Hetty back to you.’ Give Hetty Back.  As if she was mine after all. As if owning people was as natural as breathing. For all my resistance about slavery, I breathed that foul air, too.” 

The_Invention_of_Wings_seal-thumbThe narrative shifts back and forth between Sarah—an intelligent girl who devours the books in her father’s library and is stifled by the limitations placed on women of her time and place—and Hetty, a girl who is bound by slavery’s shackles but whose inner life is unbridled.  There is a scene early on, when both Sarah and Hetty lay together on the roof of the Grimké estate, sharing secrets and dreams; this is the closest they will ever be to equal.

The story moves quickly, jumping ahead to the 1810s, 1820s, and finally the 1830s.  Sarah is prohibited from studying her father’s books after it is discovered she taught Handful how to read; she is instead tasked with finding a suitable husband.  She becomes godmother to her little sister, Angelina, and teaches the little girl about the evils of slavery before she can even walk.  Handful, meanwhile, mourns the disappearance of her mother, the house seamstress, who escaped the Grimké plantation but may have been recaptured. Sarah tries to find her voice and Handful struggles to survive in a society that does not recognize her as fully human.

It wasn’t until the book’s afterward that I discovered Sarah Grimké and her sister Angelina were based on real historical figures.  As daughters from a slave-owning family, they could speak of witnessing slavery’s horror first-hand. In 1836, Sarah published an Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States, hoping she would influence the ministers, who would then appeal to their congregants:

“The system of slavery is necessarily cruel. The lust of dominion inevitably produces hardness of heart, because the state of mind which craves unlimited power, such as slavery confers, involves a desire to use that power, and although I know there are exceptions to the exercise of barbarity on the bodies of slaves, I maintain that there can be no exceptions to the exercise of the most soul-withering cruelty on the minds of the enslaved.”

Unfortunately, the clergy wasn’t ready for such a radical idea.  As passionate as they were about the cause of abolition, the sisters found themselves limited by their sex, not taken seriously by many men, and at times only able to speak to female audiences. Sarah published a series of letters on the equality of women.  In one of the letters she wrote, “WHATSOEVER IT IS MORALLY RIGHT FOR A MAN TO DO, IT IS MORALLY RIGHT FOR A WOMAN TO DO” (the caps were all hers). Her fight for abolition also became a fight for women’s rights.  She and her sister’s letters and public lectures influenced Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who helped organized the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848.

Rachel Lippolis in California.

Rachel Lippolis in California.

By imagining Sarah’s childhood and trying to illustrate how she became such a forceful advocate for immediate abolition, author Sue Monk Kidd brings attention to a name that should be taught in schools everywhere. I grew up and continue to live in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Our downtown sits on the Ohio River, which forms the state’s southern border and, until the abolition of slavery in 1865, marked the passage to freedom. The Freedom Center opened its doors in 2004, showcasing the Cincinnati region’s historical importance as a part of the Underground Railroad, with a number of churches and private homes providing shelter and guidance for escaped slaves.  The museum not only has exhibits about slavery in the United States, but it also highlights forms of modern day slavery.

Watch a YouTube video “Journey to Freedom.

I encourage anyone interested to read Kidd’s “The Invention of Wings” or, at least, read more about the Grimké sisters.  I think we could use all examples of moral courage we can find.

Rachel Lippolis spends her days in the Outreach Department of Cincinnati’s Public Library, and her evenings nesting in the house she bought with her husband of fourteen months.  Some day she will finish her novel.

*****

Editor’s note: Soon after I started the original Rough and Rede, I found myself exploring the blogosphere just to see what was out there. I stumbled upon Perfect Sand, a beautifully written blog by someone who obviously knew books and current events. That’s how I came to know Rachel Colina (now Lippolis). One of these days, we might meet in person.

Tomorrow: “The Dance” by David Quisenberry