Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Last weekend I visited my first presidential library. I know!
Never mind that there's one right down the street, in Hyde Park; I'm going there next.
But for now, let's look at this one.
The JFK library was finished in 1977. I was curious about how this works. It turns out President Kennedy actually began selecting a site for the library himself, in 1963. The original site was near Harvard, but then Harvard, and more specifically, Cambridge, decided they didn't want all those tourists streaming in.
After the president was assassinated, a new site had to be found.
The museum was built on Columbia Point, overlooking the sea, which Kennedy loved, and the Boston harbor.
After much deliberation, Mrs. Kennedy selected I.M. Pei as the architect. One of the reasons she chose him was because he was the same age as her late husband, and she thought it would be fun to work on the project with someone with his kind of energy. He considered this project the most important of his career.
The building itself is breathtaking. When you walk in the front door, the entire atrium is open to the ceiling - the glass you see on the outside is all the open area inside. More on that later.
It's quite an easy place to navigate. You watch a film, then move through the exhibits. One of the first things on display is the Underwood typewriter John Kennedy used at Harvard.
Campaign office, 1960 presidential election. Kennedy, at age 43, defeated Richard Nixon to become the 34th president. (for all you kids out there)
Frank Sinatra sang a special version of "High Hopes" as Kennedy's campaign song. Since this was pre-iTunes...people had to buy the record and play it at home. My parents did, over and over.
Close-up, campaign headquarters desk.
Outdoor memorabilia. As I was taking this photo, this man's wife said, "Get off that bench! You aren't really supposed to sit on it!" As you can see, he wasn't too concerned. I was glad.
The object below, and its story, was one of my favorite things in the museum.
At this point, things start to get very glamorous and beautiful real fast.
Here's another favorite piece, below. The First Lady's words that accompany it make the Kennedys seem like any other couple, in some ways. Her words did that often throughout the museum. She seemed focused on making sure the library told their story with as much personal detail as possible.
Always the editor, Mrs. Kennedy.
These doors were delightful. Their vivid, lively colors must have been a unique addition to the White House.
I longed to put a period at the end of that piece above. Can you believe it's missing? I cannot.
Some of the drawings and poems Jacqueline Kennedy created throughout her life - spectacular!
At one point, a very loud guy standing next to me exclaimed to his friend, "I never knew this was a MUSEUM. I thought it was just a library. I'd have come a lot sooner." Never mind that it says so on the front of the building. It was actually great to see so many people there.
But he's right, it is a library too, and it's important to note some of the other things in the museum include an oral history project containing thousands of hours of interviews from people who were involved in the life of this president.
On the upper floor are the books, papers, photos and archives used by scholars and writers.
Outside, during the warmer months, the president's beloved 26-foot sailboat Victura is next to the dock on the grounds.
Back in the atrium, the Profiles in Courage award. First presented in 1990, it's a private award given in recognition of displays of courage similar to those JFK described in his book, Profiles in Courage.
The final quote as you exit the atrium, below.
Well, there's a glimpse. I hope you'll get there someday, or to one of the other presidential libraries.
There are thirteen in all.
Each one tells our stories too, in its own way.
There was much more to see at the JFK Library - and if you're interested, here are more of my photos.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
photo taken at GREER Chicago
I hope you voted. I’ll say that up front. It was important.
And I’m sorry if you didn’t like the stuff I've been posting on Facebook. Here’s the thing about Facebook. It’s social media. Media means sharing.
It’s my page. It’s a bulletin board. A chalkboard. I’m a writer. I’m nosy. I’m gonna write all over it and love it when you reply. It’s fun. It’s like the memo board you had on your door in college. You wrote stuff on it to be funny. Or serious. And when people replied, even better.
Did you get mad at the memo boards in college? What if someone wrote one of their political choices on their memo board? Did you tear it down? Did you hide it? Maybe you just learned to ignore it and your life went on pretty much as planned.
To those who oppose our president – your guy had two terms, now it’s our guy’s second term. It works out that way most of the time.
We’re supposed to be okay with that.
We’re supposed to be okay with that.
During those 8 long years, the worst I ever called your guy was a cowboy. Well, possibly an imbecile once or twice. And I might have played that internet game a couple times where you could throw a shoe at his head.
But I didn’t wish him dead or say he was ruining our country. Do you really think one person can do that? It takes a whole bunch of them to do that, and they're called senators, congress people, and oh yeah, citizens.
This election was the most important one I’ve ever voted in, as far as some of my strong convictions go.
It made a huge difference to me as a woman. The men who made insulting and degrading comments about rape needed to lose their jobs as representatives of the people. And they did.
The laws discriminating against gay marriage need to go. We have more work to do there. But it’s happening.
Cancer patients who’ve found pot to be the ONLY thing that makes them feel better need to be able to have it. And who the hell cares if somebody has a bag of pot anyway? It doesn’t matter. We have so many bigger problems that need to be addressed.
And 20 female senators get to help do it! The most ever! Representing the gender that makes up the largest piece of the population pie in the US. (pie!) It’s a start.
And all the women senators-elect won seats held by men. You have to be a woman to understand how great that feels. As I was in the car today, a DJ on the radio said, “Bet you're glad the election’s over. I hope your guy won, whoever he is.” Sigh. Yeah, she did, thanks. Over and over, she won.
Back to the Facebook thing. It’s not real life. We know that, right? I lost one friend on Facebook last night during my dance of joy during the election results. A guy my family has known for almost my whole life. That’s sad. When politics over ride years of friendship, that’s a serious thing. It happens I guess. If it bugged him so much, I’m glad he pulled the plug. I ask that any of you who are on the fence follow suit. Why read stuff that just makes you mad? You have better things to do, and you don’t need me to blacken your cloud.
As I was celebrate-texting with my daughter in the wee hours, I said, “I think I might have been a little gloaty about all the women winning.”
Her response: “Who cares?”
So let’s just get over ourselves now and get some more stuff done.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Haha! I just thought that’d be funny to write. But it’s true; I did.
My mom was a Democrat. If you said anything stupid around her about it, she’d cut you. She was the Carroll County recorder for over twenty years, so she met all the Democrats who came through town. I wish I could remember and repeat the things she said about the Republicans who dared set foot in the blue county of Carroll.
My dad, too, was 100% partisan. He voted for whoever was Irish.
He stopped telling us how he’d voted during the Reagan years. It drove my mom NUTS. I know it’s because he voted for Reagan. How could he not? Reagan played Knute Rockne, Notre Dame’s legendary football coach, also known as The Gipper, in the movies! And Notre Dame was my dad’s alma mater. And blue and gold are thicker than politics.
Reagan’s people also created a sketchy myth that traced his family’s roots to Ballyporeen, the parish in South Tipperary my dad’s father came from. This made some of the Sheehans recoil in horror, but I could tell my dad secretly loved it.
When I’d ask him how he voted, he'd say, “I voted for the guy I’d most like to sit down and have a beer with.” Seemed like a good strategy to me, especially then.
I cast my first vote in a presidential election for Jimmy Carter. He seemed much more amiable than Gerald Ford when you thought about having a Hamm’s with him. I was studying to be a teacher then in college – and everybody knows how liberal we teachers were.
I always voted for the guy who seemed like he’d listen to others, and not just stick to politics as usual. When I lived in Minnesota in 1998, this meant I voted for Jesse Ventura for governor. You're just gonna have to trust me on this one, he seemed like the best choice compared to the other guys. Maybe you had to be there. Never mind.
Well, in other words, this strategy doesn’t always work out.
Well, in other words, this strategy doesn’t always work out.
Skip to 2007: I found myself in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, between jobs and trying to figure out how to turn the page to the next chapter in my work life. So I had some time on my hands when the presidential candidates started coming to town.
Here’s all I knew then. The price we’d gotten for the house we’d just sold in Carroll, Iowa, was startlingly low. The price we’d just paid for our new one in Cedar Rapids was startlingly high. But we weren’t worried. It was in a good location, close to the Rockwell Collins plant and surrounded by trees. Perfect for resale if we ever wanted to move.
We had three kids with student loans and a sparse job market and all of them were about to leave our health insurance plans with little chance of having their own. Two other kids we loved were engaged in the war in Afghanistan.
I started listening to the stump speeches. Mind you, this is when John Edwards was still looking feasible, with his Dennis Quaid grin and his “poor boy from the wrong side of town” routine. Hillary was coming off as a bit shrill. Remember that?
And about this Obama fellow. I’d seen him declare his bid on the steps of the Illinois state capitol. I didn’t think he had a chance. He didn’t look like he thought so either that day. I didn’t pay much attention.
As caucus time came around, I paid more attention. That’s how I found myself walking through the snow to go hear Barack Obama’s speech in Cedar Rapids on January 2, 2008 – the night before the caucus.
As I walked into the Veteran’s Memorial Building, an old-school hall on May’s Island in the Cedar River, the smiling and engaging young people manning the doors invigorated me.
I walked right up front to a spot below the podium. Steve Wonder music played. Flags and bunting adorned the hall. A 20-foot stained glass window created by Grant Wood glimmered down on the proceedings.
Out he came, and the crowd roared. He walked to the small podium and picked up the microphone – no teleprompter then -- and looked those of us down front straight in the eye as he talked.
Among other things, he told us he was running for president because time is running out for us to make good on the things we need to do for our kids.
Here’s a little bit I recorded from that speech.
Looking at it now, what strikes me is this. He’s the same guy now that he was then; he just looks a little older now. He meant what he said then, and he means it now.
He’s gotten many of the things done he said he would. The economy went to hell in 2008. Our house barely sold for what we paid for it. We had to fire three realtors to get it done.
But our kids have insurance and jobs and house prices are doing better. And those wars are ending.
He’s an honest, intelligent, hard-working president who truly wants the best for every one of us. Not just a percentage of us. Not just the men. Not just the straight. Not just the corporate. Not just the Democrats.
I believe in him.
I could very much imagine sitting down to have a beer with him. And I don't even drink.
Please vote tomorrow! Don’t sit this one out. There’s too much left to do.