Tag Archives: Trenton NJ

Ms. Edith Savage-Jennings

I found her! The woman I wrote about as “Elder Sister” is introduced below by the Women’s March in New Jersey website:

“Legendary NJ Civil Rights icon Edith Savage-Jennings needs no introduction but she gets one anyway for her boundless contributions to a better, fairer America. Edith has been the guest to the White House under every President of the United States since Franklin Roosevelt. At age ten, she met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she was selected to hand the First Lady flowers on behalf of the NJ State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. Although told not to speak, Savage thanked Mrs. Roosevelt which led to the two becoming pen pals for the remainder of Mrs. Roosevelt’s life. At twelve years old Edith joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.) At only 13 years old Edith helped to integrate the Capital Theater in Trenton, New Jersey when she refused to sit in the balcony which was the designated seating area for blacks. Her first job was in the sheriff’s office where she continued to speak out against discrimination. Edith Savage-Jennings has received over 100 awards and honors for her work in Civil Rights. In 2016 she was inducted into the New Jersey Women’s Hall of Fame. The city of Trenton proclaimed February 19, 2016 Edith Savage-Jennings Day.”

There are prophets among us! Picture from Wikipedia, taken one week ago in Trenton.

https://sites.google.com/view/womensmarchonnewjersey/home

Women's March on New Jersey 1 21 17 - 31640308853.jpg

Advertisements

Women’s March in Trenton (2)

If you read my previous post, you know why I passed on the big marches in DC and Philadelphia… Another reason to go to Trenton was to help out a friend who is currently “mobility impaired”. We decided to attend the rally in front of the State House.

When we arrived, I missed most of what the speaker was saying, due to the quirks of the microphone in the open air. We moved forward a little before the next speaker, an African American woman, began. I wish I could tell you her name. I’ll take the liberty of calling her Elder Sister. I believe she was 90+ years old. Elder Sister spoke about her experiences in Trenton as a young teenager. She integrated two businesses by refusing to cooperate with segregated arrangements. One was a hotdog stand, the other a movie theater. It was good to hear her recount her successes. She offered encouragement to continue the struggle for equality and justice. I wish the setting had offered a chance for us to learn more about her life.

I was reminded of another account by a young woman fighting against racism. This account comes from the writings of Maya Angelou, probably from her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I’m giving you this from memory, having read the book within a few years of its publication in 1969. Maya Angelou went to live with her Grandmother in the deep South, and resented how meanly the white women in that town treated their hired housekeepers. One day she spoke up, told a woman she was unfair and that she wouldn’t work at that house any more. She returned home and, perhaps with pride (?), recounted the incident. Maya Angelou’s Grandmother took her immediately, before dark, to the train station and sent her away, back up north, for her safety.

Elder Sister and Maya Angelou were born around the same time. Their accounts differ, but I strongly suspect Trenton also resisted integration and other social changes. Maybe not as harshly as the rural South, but change can’t always have been as easy as Elder Sister’s brief discussion made it sound.

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if these two women could have met, shared their experiences, poured out more advice for the younger generations! Maya Angelou, sadly, died in 2014, at her home in Winston-Salem NC. Wikipedia, in a LONG article, describes her as “…poet, memoirist and civil rights activist”. She recited poetry at the Presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton, received numerous prizes and was commemorated by the US Postal Service on a stamp.

What about Elder Sister? I don’t know! An account of her life story would be such a treasure. I expect she deserves awards and honors. All I can do is say THANK YOU here.

What a blessing to us all when wise women share their stories!

Reading with a cold – 2017: R P Evans (new to me) and Janet Evanovich (again!)

Once again, the January cold. I’m pleased to say it was not as severe as last year (see January 4, 2016), when I lost a whole week to coughing and general misery. Judicious use of OTC medications got me back on my feet promptly.

But I did some therapeutic reading, of course! Janet Evanovich came through with her 23rd Stephanie Plum novel. The usual lightweight plot, but, hey, the characters are old friends and Trenton is still Trenton. Keep it up, my friend!

A random grab at the public library yielded up “The Mistletoe Inn” by Richard Paul Evans. A Christmas romance was just the right thing! The setting (a writers conference) was fun but the romancing couple took off to Bethlehem PA, which actually sounded like a European Christmas market. Maybe I need to check out Bethlehem one of these years! (Or Europe in December, for that matter.) Our heroine had suffered a run of selfish sweeties, so it was great to see her find love and marriage with a man who appreciated her. This book is part of a series, so maybe I’ll try another next year.

Reading with a cold – Janet Evanovich and JK Rowling

For the past week, I have been too sick (the common cold, but it felt like the plague) for even halfway serious reading. I was so sick I resorted rereading. I pulled Harry Potter off the shelf, and raced through the second book, Chamber of Secrets. I’m not sure why that one called out to me, but it hit the spot and kept me happily entertained.

I have lots of good memories related to JK Rowling’s blockbuster Harry Potter series. The first book came out in 1997, when my sons were 7 and 13 years old. I honestly don’t remember our reactions to the first book, nor do I remember if I read it out loud to my younger son. The series continued, and we got hooked. By the fourth book, we were ordering our family copy in advance and then arguing over who got to read it first.

I always found the movies relatively peripheral, at least in terms of plot. I’m beyond astonished that the wonderfully well cast ensemble of child actors held together so well through eight movies!

By the time I read the seventh and final book, I was completely engrossed. To me the conclusion was not only vivid and compelling, but also highly visual. I finished the book late at night, turned out the light and watched the action in my imagination…

The seven hard cover volumes of Harry Potter will always have space on my shelf.

I won’t say quite the same for Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, which now number 22. I only own a few. The rest came from the library or books on tape. But I have a soft spot for Evanovich, who also wrote some holiday novels and the “between the numbers” books. (I’ve reviewed at least four Evanovich offerings in this blog.) I root for Evanovich because she’s a Jersey girl and writes about the poor, benighted city of Trenton. She’s so damn funny, and the characters she has created feel like friends – I want to keep in touch with them. In a critical mood, I can tell you what’s wrong with the Stephanie Plum novels (formulaic, possibly racist, etc.) but I can’t resist them.

Tricky Twenty-two was extra fun for me because the main plot (there are always several) is set at a local university and peopled with academic eccentrics. A lot crazier than MY crowd of academic eccentrics… Loads of fun.

I hope I don’t get another cold before the next Stephanie Plum novel comes out in November of 2016 (according to Amazon).

I wonder if these two writers have ever met?! Probably not. They are both inventive, and might have lots of fun swapping plot ideas. May they both write on and on!

Giving the city of Trenton another chance

I’ve never been charitable about Trenton. I’ve lived in New Jersey forty years (!!), but in that time I think I went to Trenton voluntarily only twice, to cheer for the Thunder, Trenton’s minor league baseball team. Otherwise, I went to Trenton for work, under duress, and I blessed the occasional opportunity to attend a meeting by teleconference and save myself the three hour round trip drive. (Wait, I’m forgetting… I also once participated in a political demonstration at the state capital.)

Imagine my surprise, then, upon receiving an INVITATION to a social event in Trenton! My husband’s alumni association offered a docent-led tour of the Trenton City Museum, to be followed by a potluck/barbeque at a home nearby.

In Trenton?? Yes! Said museum is located in an old mansion in Cadwalader Park on the north side of Trenton. We decided to accept this unusual proposition, and headed up Route 206 last weekend, trusting to GPS to get us to our destination.

Cadwalader Park was occupied by family groups using the barbeque grills. Our group assembled at Ellarslie Mansion. It’s present incarnation as the Trenton City Museum began in 1971. Our docent/tour guide/hostess has been a Trustee of the Museum for many years.

I knew that Trenton had an industrial past, but the details (about ceramics manufacturing) were much more interesting than I expected. Additionally, the annual juried art show was in progress. All the entries were for sale. Some were decidedly tempting!

After our tour we drove to a home half a block away, a big, old stone mansion with a charming back yard, where we relaxed and socialized.

So… I take back most of what I’ve said about Trenton! There is hope for it, and citizens are working for its improvement. The day may come when I’ll say to a friend “Let’s go up to Trenton, see the Museum, go to a restaurant…” Won’t that be a surprise?!

“Takedown Twenty” by Janet Evanovich

Last Friday I ended my work week positively flattened – tired and gloomy. Too many hours in front of the computer, too much data, an important meeting postponed again… My personal black cloud followed me home. 

But guess what? I made a cup of tea and settled on the couch with my bff Janet, and half an hour later, I was laughing. Janet Evanovich can always do it for me! I’ve read all 20 of her Stephanie Plum novels and several from her “between the numbers” series.

OK, so it’s trash, full of stereotypes and tasteless jokes, but sometimes it’s EXACTLY what I want. Stephanie and her now familiar family are eccentric. Her two boyfriends are sexy. Stephanie’s career as a bail bond enforcer brings her up against some very scary villains.

In this 20th Stephanie Plum story, Gramma Mazur (the wildest senior you ever met) is threatened by the evil Uncle Sunny, a relative of one of Stephanie’s boyfriends. Stephanie and her sidekick Lula keep investigating, rescue Gramma and barely escape being buried alive in wet cement. Stephanie survives getting tossed off a bridge into the Delaware River.

Part of the appeal is that all of this takes place in Trenton, NJ. Trenton! I can’t say I “know” Stephanie’s neighborhood (Chambersburg – it’s for real) but I’ve passed through it. I’ve gone to Trenton two or three times a year for (no kidding) thirty years. For work, and once in a while for baseball (the Trenton Thunder, minor league ball at its best).

In terms of the American economy, Trenton is my “indicator city”. If I hear that the economy is improving, I look at Trenton. Does it look different? Is Trenton doing better? No. In all these years, Trenton has not changed. There it is, one step above Camden (I don’t dare go there), two steps above Detroit (glad it’s hundred of miles away).

And there’s Stephanie, setting cars on fire, gobbling pizza, chasing bad guys and taking care of her family. Keep writing, Janet. I need you!