Last week my friend Lisa sent me an article from the Washington Post. Mystery writer Gail Lukasik tells the story of her mother's mixed race ancestry inWhite Like Her. I found the article so fascinating, I ordered the book! I love family histories, especially when a secret is involved. An excerpt of the article is below:
I’d never seen my mother so afraid.
“Promise me,” she pleaded, “you won’t tell anyone until after I die. How will I hold my head up with my friends?”
For two years, I’d waited for the right moment to confront my mother with the shocking discovery I made in 1995 while scrolling through the 1900 Louisiana census records. In the records, my mother’s father, Azemar Frederic of New Orleans, and his entire family were designated black.
The discovery had left me reeling, confused and in need of answers. My sense of white identity had been shattered.
My mother’s visit to my home in Illinois seemed like the right moment. This was not a conversation I wanted to have on the phone.
Author Gail Lukasik
But my mother’s fearful plea for secrecy only added to my confusion about my racial identity. As did her 1921 birth certificate that I obtained from the state of Louisiana, which listed her race as “col” (colored),and a 1940 Louisiana census record, which listed my mother, Alvera Frederic, as Neg/Negro, working in a tea shop in New Orleans. Four years later, she moved north and married my white father.
Reluctantly, I agreed to keep my mother’s secret. For 17 years I told no one, except my husband, my two children and two close friends that my mother was passing as white. It was the longest and most difficult secret I’d ever held.
My mother’s pale, olive skin and European features appeared to belie the government documents defining her as African American, allowing her to escape that public designation for most of her adult life.
In the silence of those 17 years, I tried to break through my mother’s wall of silence. But every time I tried, she politely but firmly changed the subject. Her refusal to talk about her mixed race only fueled my curiosity. How had she deceived my racist white father? Why was she so fearful and ashamed of her black heritage?
Using my skills as a seasoned mystery author, I started sifting through the details of her life, looking for clues that would help me understand her. But this real-life mystery only intensified as I tried to sort truth from fiction.
I am eagerly awaiting for my copy of White Like Her to arrive! Any secrets in your family?
I'm always looking for quick, easy and delicious meals, and this one sounds like a winner from Fix It and Forget It, one of my favorite slow-cooker cookbooks. Enjoy!
African Chicken Treat
1 1/2 cups water
2 t chicken bouillon granules
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 cup red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
8 skinless chicken thighs
1/2 crunchy peanut butter
crushed chili pepper of your choice
Combine water, chicken bouillon granules, celery, onions and peppers in slow cooker. Spread peanut butter on both sides of chicken. Sprinkle with chili pepper. PLace on top of ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 5-6 hours.
I'd serve this with rice and a salad. I have another African chicken recipe, but this one sounds a lot easier! I love peanut butter with chicken. Do you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!
I still can't believe David Cassidy is no longer with us, dead at the age of sixty-seven. When I was seven and eight years old, during the heyday of The Partridge Familytelevision series, I had posters of him from Teen Magazine plastered on my closet door. Of course, I'm sure I wasn't the only one. David Cassidy had quite a teen (and grade school) following back in the day. Wikipedia says, "Though he wanted to become a respected rock musician along the lines of Mick Jagger, his channel to stardom launched him into the ranks of teen idol, a brand he loathed until much later in life, when he managed to come to terms with his bubblegum pop beginnings." I stopped following his career many decades ago, but it was still a shock to hear of his death. Were you a David Cassidy fan? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Take time to be thankful for all of your blessings, love on your family and friends, and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner! I'm off from blogging this week but will be back next Monday.
Last week I re-posted and article about a film starring Jean Harlow. This week I'm re-posting another article about Jean, this time regarding her beautiful, but tragic platinum hair.
Jean Harlow, the sultry sex goddess of 1930's Hollywood, is quoted as saying, "If it wasn't for my hair, nobody would know I'm alive." If you've never heard of Jean Harlow, she's the original Platinum Blonde and Blonde Bombshell.
I got to thinking about Jean Harlow yesterday as a used bleach to do a load of laundry. I would never dye my hair, but I did chemically straighten it for decades. For the past year I've "gone natural" because I decided I was sick of chemicals. But check out the toxic regimen Jean Harlow subjected herself to each week to maintain her platinum tresses while a super star at MGM Studios:
"I used to bleach her hair and make it 'platinum blonde,'" Alfred Pagano, hairdresser to the stars, once said. "We used peroxide, ammonia, Chlorox, and Lux flakes! Can you believe that?"
Although I do believe that, it's mighty hard to think that Harlow would subject herself to such a painful process. And Chlorox, when mixed with amonia produces noxious gas and hydrochloric acid. I'm not a chemist, but that sounds pretty deadly to me.
Jean Harlow was plagued with a multitude of health issues and died in 1937 at twenty-six, while at the peak of her career. That hair regimen certainly didn't do anything to increase her longevity.
Harlow's medical records became unsealed in the late 1990s, so if you care to read up on what actually caused her death, clickhere.
Had you ever heard of Jean Harlow? If so, what's your favorite Jean Harlow movie? Mine is Dinner at Eight.