Personal $$$ Deficits


Nearly twenty-five percent of American families with young children live in poverty.

One-third of women report foregoing basic necessities to pay for health care.

More than half of women have delayed seeking medical care due to costs.

The USA has no paid-family leave for new mothers.

Child care costs more than college in a majority of the states.

Nearly half (48%) of private-sector workers and 78% of food and public accommodation workers are denied even a single paid sick day!

More Than Books by Donna Braden

As we launch our annual book sale, it seems more than apt to share a wonderful reminiscence of a favorite-childhood library. The author is Dearborn resident Donna Braden, a graduate of the prestigious Winterthur program who is employed as a curator at The Henry Ford. Recall how your own favorite library shaped your love of reading and polished your imagination.

Carnegie libraries or Greek-temple-style libraries or modern open-plan libraries.  To me, the library in South Euclid, Ohio—the library of my childhood—surpassed them all.  My library filled an old mansion, a place where people had once eaten and slept and entertained before books lined the shelves in all the rooms.  The place had atmosphere and personality and mystery. 

 

I grew up in a basic, no-frills post-war house, just like the other houses in my neighborhood.  But mere blocks away, the house that would later become the South Euclid library was full of frills:  intricate flagstone walks, colorful slate roof tiles, massive wooden beams that formed peaked gables, multi-paned lead-glass windows, carved stone archways.  Every outside angle, every inside room was varied, distinctive and exotic. 

 

Once the library published a booklet with a floor plan of the original home, a visit there took on added meaning.  That little-circular room with the kids’ picture books, the one with the row of windows looking out over the back lawn of the estate?  That had been the breakfast room!  The long-rectangular room for kids’ fiction, with the carved stone fireplace?  The room where I had shyly reported about books I had read for the Summer Book Club?  That had been the dining room.  And on it went.  Kids’ non-fiction had been the kitchen.  Early Readers were in the pantry.  A student-study room was aptly placed in what had once been the study.  They repaired books in the old potting shed.  Atop the grand-stone staircase on the second floor was perhaps best of all—the tiled bathroom with an old-claw-foot bathtub! The art and music books were in rooms that had all been bedrooms. Past and present melded into a seamless tapestry in my mind, adding extra magic to the books themselves. 

 

When I was sixteen, the South Euclid library became the place of my first paying job.  A dollar-ten an hour, to be a “library page”—funny name for a book-shelver.  So, I lived up to the title they gave me. I made sure my job actually involved paging through books as much as shelving.  Hmm, isn’t that an interesting graphic style in that new children’s book?  I must check that out. There are those Betsy-Tacy books I used to read when I was little.  I think I’ll just take a look at them to see why I loved them so much.  What’s this in my shelving pile?  A new book on Monet—we’re studying his work in art class. I need to flip through those pages; my teacher will be impressed with my knowledge and insight. 

 

I’m sure the librarians knew about my book-paging habit.  Sometimes they’d show up unawares to keep me on my toes.  But I was on to them as much as they were on to me.  I attuned my ears to the clicking sound of their high heels. Maybe they figured that, for a dollar-ten an hour, it was an acceptable job perk.  They never called me on it, and I discovered a lot of great books in the process.

 

One special job was checking record albums in and out.  I became the master of record album-checking.  I took great pride in scrutinizing them for new scratches when they were returned, carefully taking them out of their jackets and slowly cleaning them with a cloth.  But the best part of being the master record album-checker was that they were all there for my own pleasure.  I turned that job into my personal music appreciation class.  One week it would be Handel’s Water Music, the next Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, with an occasional Simon-and-Garfunkel album thrown in for variation.

 

I hadn’t thought about the South Euclid library for decades. But this past June, on a family trip, I showed my husband and daughter around the place.  I led them from room to room, recounting layers of memories. Both proved patient and came to know me a little better that day. Not too much had changed over the years–same rooms, same shelves, same views from  multi-paned, lead-glass windows.  But something was missing. Where were all the people whose cars filled the parking lot?

 

Eventually, we spotted people coming up from and going down into the old cellar.  In my day, the cellar had been a junky place for overflow books—low ceilings, no windows, claustrophobic.  I told my family there was nothing in the cellar worth seeing; and just to prove it, led the way to show them.

 

Was I surprised!  The lower level had been fixed-up into a new media center, with a door that led to a flower-strewn patio.  The people were here!  Not with the books upstairs, but with the computers downstairs.  My old library had lulled me into thinking it was the same. It wasn’t. Life had evolved.

 

I can’t bring back the old days, and I don’t even want to.  But, my childhood and adolescent experiences at the South Euclid library did lay the groundwork for my lifelong love of reading, my appreciation of classical music, my delight in mysterious old houses.  It also helped me hone something more intangible than any those things—my imagination.

Global Purchases

Recently, Beverly Reiter, program vice-president for our branch, gave me a great tip about buying American-made shoes at Hershey’s Shoes in Garden City on Ford Road. She specifically recommended a brand of handcrafted women’s shoes named SAS, which it turns out is the name of a corporation in San Antonio, Texas. SAS stands for San Antonio Shoes. According to their website their:  “passion for shoemaking started with Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden. By the 1970’s shoemaking was leaving the United States and many of those who remained were cutting corners to compete with less expensive imports. Neither Terry nor Lew wanted to compromise on quality, so in 1976 they quit their jobs in the shoe industry and started SAS. They crafted every shoe by hand, with attention to detail and the best materials available. We wanted our shoes to be so comfortable that you didn’t want to take them off! Soon friends told friends about their ‘really, really, really comfortable new shoes’; and before long SAS became a national brand without any national advertising. The shoes..are the result of 30 years of hard work, dedication, and belief…. Every day we work to make sure the SAS name continues to stand for superb craftsmanship and extraordinary comfort.” It is a reassuring tale of success in the face of all of the obstacles thrown at American manufacturing by the global economy.

That brought to mind a thought-provoking essay written by L. Marie Bernier who is part of the Wednesday-morning creative writing class which meets at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

Marie’s essay, entitled, “The Economy in 2012” will change your perception of the myriad objects which we buy to fill our dwellings:

 According to the Republicans, our lousy economy is all the fault of the Democrats. Of course, the  Democrats think the Republicans are to blame.

    Spain has almost fifty percent unemployment among young-adult males. Things are nearly as bad or worse in Greece, Italy and Egypt. Even ever-mighty Germany is having some serious economic problems. My friends in Great Britain write they have been made redundant. I understand that means they have lost their jobs. I don’t know whom they are blaming. Probably a Prime Minister, a King or somebody.

    Maybe, just maybe, we all need to share the blame. The blueberries in my kitchen came from Canada. The strawberries are from Mexico. I don’t know where the bananas came from. The television, coffee-maker and the blood pressure machine came from China. The microwave was manufactured in Korea.  My kitchen towels came from India.

    In my dining room the good china came from England, but the stoneware and two trays were made in Japan. There are some fancy baskets for rolls and stuff. I don’t know where they were made, but I brought them home from Jamaica.

    The wall phone in the kitchen came from Mexico, but the phone in the bedroom was shipped from Singapore. I don’t know where my cell phone came from, but the phone in my computer room was made in Mexico, and the answering machine was made in China. I did not have the energy to flip my computer and printer over; so I don’t know who made them.

    In my bedroom the television is a Magnavox, and I don’t know where it came from, but the remote control was made in the Philippines. However, the double A batteries were made in the good-ole USA!

    The bedroom-ceiling fan came from China. The alarm clock was also made in China. One camera was made in China, but another camera states: “assembled in USA” from foreign parts. They didn’t say which foreign parts.

    The television in the living room says Toshiba, and another box says Comcast. I’m pretty sure Comcast didn’t make the TV, or did they? I think the Lazy Boy chairs in the living room were made in Monroe–or assembled there–or maybe not.

    The hand lotion in the bathroom came from Mexico, but the face cream came from Canada. The bath towels were shipped from China, but Irish Spring and Dove soap were made in the good-ole USA. Good for them–and me.

    I just checked six pairs of the shoes in my closet. They were made in Mexico, Italy, China and Cambodia. My orthopedic sandals, called Wolkys, made for walking, supposedly from Belgium, on closer examination, seem to have been made in Mexico.

    My So-Slimming slacks were made in Cambodia, before they landed in Chico’s. The silver jacket and vest were made in Vietnam. The long dress, for special occasions, came from Indonesia. The jazzy polka-dot slacks from Chico’s and the snazzy maxi-skirt from Victoria’s Secret were both made in Vietnam. The posh, new, faux-fur jacket, that looks just like someone’s shaggy-old dog, came from China.

    Oh, yes, and in my garage, there is a Rav4 made by Toyota.

    Now, why do you suppose the economy is so bad?

Marie’s compendium makes me reconsider the line: geography is destiny! Meanwhile I think I should go buy a new pair of shoes…at Hershey’s in Garden City.

RIP: Eva Figes, Author and Feminist

In the protest-driven and raucous-rebellious 1970s, three books drove the feminist agenda: Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1969), Germaine Greer’s Female Eunuch (1970), and  Eva Figes’ Patriarchal Attitudes (1970).

 
Raising two children after an acrimonious divorce at age 38, Figes examined the inequality inherent in marriage as well as  women’s inferior status in society: “The much vaunted male logic isn’t logical, because they display prejudices — against half the human race — that are considered prejudices according to any dictionary definition.”

 
Her anger and sense of righteousness steeped in her like hot tea after she experienced workplace discrimination. Her divorce proceedings further amplified her anger. Like other women of that era, her ex-husband had to guarantee the lease for her home. She was receiving no alimony by the way!

“Minutes” by “Minutes”

The minutes taken at the first AAUW general meeting in 1882, were written in a neat hand and went on for pages. Sixty-five college graduates from eight colleges and universities met together in Boston. Their goal was to change perceived injustice in their world. The journey they began continues 130 years later. Each successive generation has become one more link to forge a great chain of equality. Imagine all the minutes written by hand, typed and duplicated on reams of paper and now zooming across the net.

Kudos to AAUW’s philanthropic efforts!

We can all feel good about what we are achieving in AAUW. In addition to focusing upon research, education and advocacy, we are among the elite philanthropic organizations.
AAUW was recently recognized as a top charity by the Huffington Post, Charity Navigator, and even NerdWallet!

In addition, GreatNonprofits has again recognized AAUW was as a top-rated women’s empowerment organization! GreatNonprofits catalogs and shares reviews of nonprofit organizations around the world. The website allows the public to post stories about and rate their experiences with nonprofits and to find out more about the organizations they are interested in supporting.

Congressman Dingell responds

September 12, 2012

Ms. Anne Louise Gautreau
Dearborn, Michigan 48124

Dear Ms. Gautreau:

Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 3435, the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act.  I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, H.R. 3435, the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act, was introduced by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) on November 16, 2011, and this legislation was referred to the House Committee on Armed Services, of which I am not a member.  If enacted, the STOP Act would establish a Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Council, as an independent entity from the Department of Defense (DoD), outside its chain of command.  This council would review cases of sexually related offenses that has been referred to a military appellate court or the Department of Justice (DOJ), and would submit a report to the Secretary of Defense, Congress, and the Attorney General on each Director request for referral to a higher court.  The main task of the office created by the STOP Act would be to investigate, prevent, and reduce the amount of sexual assault incidents in the Armed Forces.  Additionally, H.R. 3435 would also create a database known as the Military Sexual Registry, which would collect and maintain all of the data related to military sexual assault incidents.

You may be interested to know I am a strong supporter of our nation’s domestic violence laws.  I have been a steadfast supporter of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) since its introduction and passage by a bipartisan majority in 1994.  VAWA has proven to be a giant step forward in our country’s response to violence against women.  It recognized the devastating impact that gender-based crimes have on women and took action to combat such offenses by offering grants to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations.  These grants have provided invaluable funding to improve prosecution of violent crimes against women, encourage arrests in domestic violence incidents, provide rape prevention and education programs, and promote other important initiatives to combat gender-based crime.  You can rest assured I will keep your comments in mind should this legislation reach the House floor for a vote.

Again, thank you for being in touch.  For news on current federal legislative issues, please visit my website at www.house.gov/dingell; you can also sign up there to receive my e-newsletter.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me again if I may be of assistance with this or any other matter of concern.

With every good wish,

Sincerely,

John Dingell
Member of Congress

With Permission: Joel Robinson

These striking photographs are the work of Canadian-photographer, Joel Robinson. I contacted him recently to gain permission to use his work, and he most generously agreed. I was hoping the Dearborn Press & Guide would use one of his images to accompany yesterday’s “Be Our Guest” column written by yours truly and entitled “Portable magic available for a low price at sale.” The title alludes to Stephen King’s metaphor, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” For me Joel Robinson’s photographs capture the magic of being a fully engaged bibliophile. Check out his website http://joelrobisonphoto.wordpress.com/. Etsy sells his work for very reasonable prices as well.

Looking forward to seeing all of the AAUW-Dearborn branch faithful this week at the book sale at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center!

Delicious insights about reading books

  • I was the kid who got in trouble for reading past my bedtime.
  • If I could be paid to read books, I think I would die happy.
  • I like to walk down the aisles of the library or bookstore and say hello to the books I’ve already read. It’s like greeting an old friend.
  • Asking a bookworm to name their favorite book is like asking a mother to pick a favorite child.
  • I am reading this book because I don’t want to think about my life. I believe it is what is known as escapism.
  • I adore the feeling of being completely taken in by a book. When the tears of joy or sadness wet your cheeks. When you snort with laughter in a crowd. When you shout at the pages in anger.
  • I read slower toward the end of the book because I don’t want it to end.
  • When I finish a book, I close the back cover and just sit there.
  • I reread books not because I forgot. I reread to make sure I remember.
  • The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think. — Harper Lee
  • No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for READING or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance. — Confucius
  • The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. — Jane Austen

Source of first nine quotations: Phillipe Watkins’ “Peg-it Board”

Victors or Unwitting Victims?

What is success? Does it reside in cognitive, physical, emotional, social or spiritual satisfaction? Is it dependent upon gender traits? Is it rooted in cultural constructs or the rule of law? Is it apolitical or totally akin to political doctrines today?

The New York Times has printed a thought provoking review about a controversial new book, THE END OF MEN And the Rise of Women, by Hanna Rosin in this Sunday’s book-review section.

Jennifer Homans, the reviewer states: “a new matriarchy is emerging, run by young, ambitious, capable women who — faced with men who can’t or won’t be full partners — are taking matters into their own hands.” But the crux of the matter is how differently class reflects the newly emerging matriarchal America.

 
“Rosin’s chapter on women at ‘the top’ indulges the soul-searching of educated women trying to ‘have it all.’ She gives us Silicon Valley as today’s mecca, insisting that companies like Google and Facebook — flexible, new-economy places — are (in spite of their notorious frat-house cultures) solving the problems of women and children and work.”

 
The ideal of women reaching the top and then turning around to reach down and pull others up behind them is still a rarity: “…women aren’t always, or even usually, looking out for other women — or even being nice to them. Many prefer to work with men; and some are willing to put in the long hours it takes to wrest their way up the chain of command.”

 
Putting the book’s provocative title aside, it is a fact that men in the upper-class positions are not going anywhere soon! However, the dynamic of a more matriarchal economy is occurring in the middle and lower classes. Among men who lost jobs in manufacturing, many are still unemployed. Many more have simply dropped out of the labor market altogether as the women in their lives and government subsidies keep them functioning. The statistics are almost unfathomable: “…since 2000 the manufacturing economy has lost six million jobs, a third of its total work force — much of it male. In 1950, 1 in 20 men in their prime were not working; today the number is a terrifying 1 in 5.”

 
The new global economy has down-shifted America into a service economy. Rosin posits that interpersonal skills, emotional I.Q., willingness to communicate and ability to focus favor women’s strengths.  She presents forceful statistics: “By 2009 there were as many women as men in the work force, and today the average wife contributes some 42.2 percent of her family’s income — up sharply from the 2 percent to 6 percent that women contributed in 1970. For every two men who will get a bachelor’s degree this year, there will be three women graduates.”

 
Even as women grow more dominant in the world of work, pursue more education, and take more command of household decisions, love and marriage still call fetchingly and smear logic with enchanting emotional-and-physical reverberations.

 
One thing is certain. The past keeps flowing into the present. Consider how prominently access to birth control, abortion and equal pay for equal work have repeatedly surfaced in campaigns at every level.

 

See “Worth Considering Carefully” posted on September 11, 2012, for David Brooks’ take on the same book.