Honoring black history

By Caryl Clem:

Chicago has been the front stage for introducing life changing famous black trail blazers. The first street in a major city to be named after a black women civil rights activist and journalist, Ida B. Wells was dedicated on February 11, 2019.  The last street change was done in 1968 to honor Martin Luther King.  In the magazine, “ Make It Better” February 2019 edition, on the list of what to do in Chicago is the new exhibit at the Museum entitled, “Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade 1808-1865 featuring free Saturdays February 9.16, and 23.  Celebrating Black History Month includes recognizing the dynamic black women leaders who make a difference in Chicago. Last year, this magazine did a feature article describing 42 influential black women in Chicago in all career fields.

Since artistic expression is a major tourist attraction for Chicago, several noteworthy black women are leading the way.  Currently, the Deputy Director of Development at Chicago’s Contemporary Art Museum is Gwendolyn Perry Davis. Last year, she promoted an exhibit of Howardena  Pindell, a black women pioneer in abstract art. Ms. Pindell is famous for her techniques working with circles. The interview begins with this quote, “All the pieces … are an attempt to unite my mind again, to mend the rupture.”—Howardena Pindell.  She was troubled as a child to notice the  red circles drawn beneath the dishes her family ate on when dining out on vacation trips. During this interview, titled Controlled Chaos by Jessica Lanay, Ms. Pindell explains why she wanted to change how circles influenced her life.

Perri L. Irmer is the President  & CEO of DuSable Museum of African-American History, a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. Ms.Irmer stated in the magazine article, “The DuSable Museum is elevating the often hidden histories of Chicagoans such as Jean Baptiste Point DuSable — the Haitian immigrant who founded our city — military leaders, educators, and other black Chicagoan’s whose contributions are illustrative of black accomplishment throughout society.”

The political landscape of Chicago has been shaped by twenty famous black women and men. A comprehensive description covering their various contributions from Jesse White, Chief Jude Timothy Evana, Barrack Obama and Emil Jones, Jr. a Kimberly Foxx, Toni Preckwinkle to name a few examples in Chicago Defender’s Top 20 Most Influential Political Figures by Mary L. Datcher, Managing Editor for Chicago Defender.

If you want to explore a well-known black neighborhood gathering place, take a trip to a non-profit café with a welcoming atmosphere that encourages conversation and friendship, Kusanya Café 825 W. 69th Street  Chicago  773-675-4758.  In Englewood, a rustic chic coffee shop nestled inside a 100 year old building, surrounded by the art work of local artists, it is a haven offering a safe place to meet and enjoy life.

As described in an article describing the café,” Kusanya is home to a variety of free, community-driven arts, culture, and educational events, including Saturday morning yoga, a farmers market on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 4-6 p.m., and an open mic on second Saturdays featuring storytellers from around the neighborhood and across the city.”

The tapestry of Chicago life has been made richer in texture by its black men and women. Chicago offers many opportunities to celebrate Black History in Chicago.

My Valentine

By Caryl Clem: (Wedding photo 70 years ago)

Sharing life with you carries no expiration date

To the contrary, time spent deepens how we relate

Your smile, your laugh, company and loving embrace

Bring me into a new realm, boundary free space

 

Life is a daily adventure to explore

With you, feeling stronger, secure

Ready to discover a rewarding future.

Beside you, positive feelings magnify

Enjoying life with you regains intensity

Rewarding moments too many to measure.

 

You listen when I need your silence

When I can’t speak, you’re my voice

In any weather, you’re my constant choice

To uncover with my lover, reasons to rejoice.

 

You’re a mix of mystery and stability

Companion, partner, we share cajolery

As we hold hands and shoot for the stars

Renewing zest for life by creating loving memoirs.

Food for thought

For Baby Boomers and their parents, the kitchen was the most visited room in the house. At the kitchen table, everyone gathered most evenings from 5-7 to have dinner together and it wasn’t a holiday either.

Dinner time could be the only time of day the entire family could discuss daily events and it was not just an extra-curricular activity, it was a required family moment. This was a sacred time and missing it was not an option. My dinner time was always 6pm; not a minute before or after. If I was blocks away from my home, a cell phone alarm was not available to remind me when to return for dinner.  On a warm summers evening or cold day in winter, my mother’s outdoor voice could be heard for blocks announcing that the dinner hour was approaching. A few children would hear the distant sounds of a dinner bell and you had better run in its direction.

Some were not reminded by their Mom or Dad screaming from the household porch or clanging the bell but were to show up at exactly the designated hour because that hour never changed regardless of illness or circumstances beyond control. There were serious consequences if arriving late or not at all.

Since most Moms were home, dinner time was their shining moment; one of Mom’s many talents along with organizing their children’s day and housekeeping. This was where they excelled at preparing mouthwatering recipes. Many meals followed a weekly plan that included special dinners on specific nights like Spagetti Tuesday and Meatloaf Thursday.

Meals were not popped in the microwave with help from Stouffers family size box. Jack’s Frozen Pizza and Swansons TV  Dinners was an exception only if Mom was bedridden. Then the crock pot started to make its appearance.

Making homemade dinners in the 1980’s/ 1990’s, for a short time I was home making an historic meat loaf, pork chops with mushroom and cheddar cheese sauce and all day long spaghetti sauce but then I turned to the crockpot. Crockpot dinners included a variety of stews along with a few Hamburger helper meals thrown in.

Today it is the Instant Pot. My 31 year old son bought me one last year for Mothers Day making all day stews and even desserts in less than an hour. I must say it is the best

But why not relive family mealtime memories together by pulling out the oil-stained metal recipe box and leaf through the crinkled notecards along with yellowed newspaper articles of recipes long ago.

You may even find the recipe you were so proud when you asked Mom to contribute her best creation to be published in the PTA recipe book along with your friends. That contribution had made you a star and if she had won any ribbons, it would be a wonderful story to share with each other as you prepare. If you look closely behind the recipe box on the shelf, the book will be there, I guarantee it.