Birth Certificates of Patricia Ruth Millard, daughter of Lucile Millard (b. Ernstine Millard)

I’m putting these up because I may be the only person who has the physical objects. In 1929, when my mother, who was given the adopted name Molly Kathryn Smith, was born on August 27, 1929, the State of Florida permanently sealed adoption records.

Through sheer persistence my mother induced a clerical error in the 1960s and attained the birth certificate listing her bio-parents and spent the next decades tracking down her numerous aunts and uncles, none of whom was surprised by her existence, and, varying by physical and emotional distance from her birth mother, their sibling, accepting or not.

All this was done without the aid of the internet. I have found it difficult to go into existing genealogies on the Church of LDS or to update because the assumption seems to be that an adoptee gets a line — but had no past, and, since his/her bloodlines would not connect to bloodlines of the tree on which he or she appears, no future.

So for the sake of searchers, allow me to chronicle this here, since according to the State of Florida, the bio-birth certificate is for their eyes only. Patricia Ruth Millard who became Molly Kathryn Smith, had three children, two males and one female, all still living, and a son and a grand-daughter without issue. She died in Buncombe County, NC 7/8/2015.

Image (24)
Biological birth certificate of Patricia Ruth Millard, 08/27/29, Miami, FL USA
Image (25)
birth certificate of Mollie [Molly] Kathayrn [Kathyrn] Smith, 8/27/29. Miami, FL USA. (One line, multiple mistakes.) The internal registry numbers seem meaningless.
Image (26)
Death certificate of Lucille Stough (born Ernestine L. Millard). Note place of birth revised from El Dorado, TX, to New Mexico on death certificate, which gives no indication of Lucile’s parents’ names and adds a second l to first name.

Foyle’s War’s Teeth

Perhaps it was by design, or perhaps not, but the attention to period detail in the crime series Foyle’s War is remarkable and rare in a seemingly simple way: it gets teeth right.

Foyle’s War is a police drama featuring Detective Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchens). Many of the crimes he investigates in Hastings, Sussex during WWII are related to the conditions on the homefront including profiteering and sabotage, but jealousy and madness also provoke ordinary people to behave wickedly. The show premiered in 2002 and ended in 2015 after 28 90-minute episodes. The last episodes following the war find Foyle in London, working for MI5.

Foyle is a quiet, highly principled man. He is compassionate, but he does not suffer fools. He’s a widower with one son, Andrew, serving in the RAF. From the first episode onwards he is accompanied by Samantha Stewart (Sam) as his driver, and in the first five seasons he works with Sgt. Milner, a policeman who lost part of a leg in the war.

There are perhaps a half dozen other characters who appear in more than one episode, but for the most part, the cast is fluid.

Its creator, Anthony Horowitz, has attributed Foyle’s War appeal to the tone of the show. It defies the sentimental nostalgia for the war years, and Horowitz based many of the situations Foyle investigates on historical events. The New York Times acknowledges that Foyle’s War is typically “celebrated for the ‘historical accuracy’ (those are the words always used) achieved by its creator and writer, Anthony Horowitz. . . . The better word is probably scrupulousness — the special texture of the show owes to the faith we feel in Mr. Horowitz’s depiction of the clamped-down, suspicious yet doughty atmosphere of 1940s Britain, and to the trouble and expense to which the production has gone to recreate those times.”

In contrast, consider the criticism of Downton Abbey, which historian A. N. Wilson called a “sanitized fantasy.” Downton may get the place settings right, but “the servants in the program are far too clean,” according to historian Jennifer Newby: “The reality would have been a lot more grubby, I don’t think people realize that the servants stank.”

All I think you need to do to understand why Downton is fantastical and Foyle’s War is not, is to look at the teeth.

Foyle’s teeth

Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) has acceptable, ordinary teeth. There are no obvious flaws, other than a little yellowing. Foyle smiles easily – he has a very expressive face – but his smiles are usually closed.

Samantha (Sam) Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks). Sam’s mouth seems to change from the start of the series to its final episodes. In the opening episodes, Sam’s teeth seem to be a bit small for her mouth and there appear to be spaces between her teeth.

In the last series, her teeth seem capped and bonded.

Foyle's War
Sam Stewart (driver)

Sgt. Milner has good teeth, as does Foyle’s son, Andrew. The actors who portray them, Anthony Howell and Julian Mark Ovenden, were stage actors. I expect it would have been hard to find experienced actors to play young men in their twenties who have not had good dentistry.

What’s interesting is that the characters who have obvious problems with their teeth represent all social classes. A fisherman, a police commissioner, doctors, army brass, industrialists – all are at risk. Not everyone has bad teeth: a daughter of a wealthy family in Series 1, episode 1, has perfect teeth, as does a burn victim.

Let’s see some examples:

Foyles War
Fisherman in “White Feather”
Foyle's War
Hilda Pierce, MI5. Yellowed teeth.
Not bad teeth — but not perfect, either
Foyle's War
A doctor’s teeth
"The Funk Hole"
Overlapping teeth
Police Commissioner’s mouth
Series 5, epsiode 2
The brass in “Casualties of War”
Serie 4, episode 2. Guard in “Bad Blood”
The Hide; season 7. episode 3
A nanny missing a tooth
An industrialist’s functional but not dazzling teeth

Some do have good teeth:


I don’t know if in the between-the-wars period imperfect teeth could be fixed to look like what is considered normal today, but the family of Downton Abbey would have had the resources for cosmetic dentistry if needed and available. So it isn’t too surprising that Lady Mary, Mrs. Crawley, and the rest of the Granthams have 21st century American teeth.

But it would be very surprising if the servants of the house also have perfect smiles. And they do. This is a huge oversight for a series that claims to be true to its historical period.

Even scullery maid Daisy has a dazzling smile.
Downton Abbey
Housekeeper Mrs. Hughes’ perfect smile
Downton Abbey
Tenant farmer’s and cook’s healthy mouths. 
Lady's maid Anna's perfect smile
Maid Anna’s teeth are every bit as good as Lady Mary’s.

Let’s face it: imperfect teeth are taboo. There can be no glamour when there’s a crooked tooth.

But there can be no pretense of historical accuracy when the scullery maid has a smile that rivals an aristocrat’s.


The Audacity of Getty Images Exploiting Carol Highsmith, America’s Photographer

I first wrote about Carol Highsmith eight years ago, asking “Is Carol M. Highsmith the Most Generous Artist of Our Time?” The answer was yes then and remains so today. Others agree with this valuation, including C. Ford Peatross, director of Architecture, Design and Engineering, Prints and Photographs, Library of Congress, who in 2007 remarked: “The donation of her photographs [The Highsmith (Carol M.) Archive] is one of the greatest acts of generosity in the history of the Library.”

Highsmith has provided the Library of Congress with 31,828 images (as of today, 8/18/16)– and has stipulated that they be placed in the public domain. The Library expects that number will likely approach 100,000.

I was astounded to find an outstanding contemporary photographer’s work could be freely used. No licensing fees are required to use her images, but there should be a credit line, at the least identifying her as the Creator of the work, and preferably using this Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-123456].

After I posted the first time about Highsmith, I learned she was seeking sponsors for an ambitious project, photographing every state so that a record may be had of what America looked like in the first decades of the 21st century.  I’ve been following her progress since she started with Alabama, with sponsorship from philanthropist George F. Landegger.

You can imagine how appalled I was to read about the gross exploitation of Highsmith’s generosity by Getty Images.

In December 2015 Highsmith received notification from Alamay Ltd.’s License Compliance Services (LCS), (on behalf of Getty Images) demanding $120 because she was in breach of Getty’s licensing terms for the content of an image she had used on her website and accusing her of copyright infringement.

The image in question: one of Highsmith’s own and one she placed in the Library of Congress with the stipulation that it be placed in the public domain.

Apparently, Getty Images had been downloading her thousands of images, placing them on its site, and demanding licensing fees, as if Getty owned the images. In other words, they were doing exactly the opposite of Highsmith’s intention, which is to allow free use of her images. Using her images is not the same as owning her images.

Getty had 18,755 of Highsmith’s photos on its site.

The way this all came to light was because Getty “scrapes” the net, looking for uses of its images and checking license fees have been paid.

Eventually the scraper hit Highsmith’s website, and the scheme was exposed. Perhaps if Getty had been careful to credit Highsmith as the photographer, they would have realized sending Highsmith a threatening letter wasn’t a good idea.

Highsmith has filed a $1 billion dollar suit.

Writing for, IP specialist Attorney Bryan Sullivan summarizes the suit:

“against Getty Images targeting the ‘gross misuse’ of 18,755 of Highsmith’s photographs. According to the suit, ‘The defendants [Getty Images] have apparently misappropriated Ms. Highsmith’s generous gift to the American people…. [They] are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner.’ Highsmith claims that Getty was unlawfully telling users that they would have to buy a copyright license from Getty to use the images. ‘Likewise, nowhere on its website does Getty identify Ms. Highsmith as the copyright owner of the work.’”

Sullivan expects Getty will settle out of court.

A prediction: when she wins, Highsmith’s life will change in one way. She won’t have to seek sponsorships to make it possible for her to work night and day, and this means she’ll have more time to document America.

You can follow Highsmith’s travels on Facebook (Carol M. Highsmith’s America).

Here are four of Highsmith’s photos: “Porter Sculpture Park, Montrose, South Dakota,” “Alpine lakes and forest, Denali National Park, Alaska,” “Monument Valley View, Arizona,” and “July 4th fireworks, Washington, D.C.”Porter Sculpture Park

Alpine lakes and forest, in Denali National Park, Alaska04002rWashington, D.C. July 4th Fireworks

Credits: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photographs by Carol M. Highsmith [ LC-DIG-highsm-04547, LC-DIG-highsm-04272, LC-DIG-highsm-04002, LC-DIG-highsm-04460]

ESLD: Holding Steady

This week marks the first anniversary of what I for many months felt was a final descent. In the course of three weeks I had a massive esophageal bleed at my mother’s deathbed, had a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) installed, and was hospitalized with hepatic encephalopathy.

It took until April 21 for me to stop thinking about dying and to begin to think about living. The evening of the 20th I took a half-dose (by mistake) of a new sleep drug, and I had a paradoxical reaction: I could not sleep at all. I was awake for about 36 hours, and if you have ever experienced that, you know that around about hour 32, things can start to get quite interesting. It was Earth Day, and for three hours in the late afternoon I did nothing but watch the changing colors of the green leaves at the day turned to dusk.

And the next day I felt like my brain‘s reset button had been engaged.

I hit a plateau, I guess. It’s like I had been falling, falling, falling into the abyss but then the fall was interrupted, as if I had landed on an anomaly in the walls of this abyss, some unanticipated protuberance.

This doesn’t mean I can get all together out of the abyss; eventually the protuberance will erode, and the fall resume, but it isn’t happening now.

Now I have some distance from the events of the past year, perhaps I can describe some of those psycho-social aspects of my situation.

For much of last year I felt like all my psychic defenses had been breached. I was attracted by its title to Dion Fortune’s classic Psychic Self-Defense in which she describes the effects of psychic attacks by evil magicians or spirits and means of banishing them or protecting one’s self from further harm. I felt as if I had been attacked by malevolent forces – not bad magic mind you – but a free-floating malevolence.

I think magical thinking is an aspect of illness. I’m even a bit hesitant about saying things are going pretty well for fear that the saying so will make them go wrong.

I remember a particularly bad night when my daughter was hours late getting home (she had gone to the movies; phone off, etc.). I envisioned all the worst as having happened, and that here I was thinking things were pretty bad, and the Universe was going to say, “hey, you think things had been bad before but you have no idea just how bad bad can be” – a little like when you hear some particularly stupid parent tell a child who is crying to quit or else “I’ll give you something to cry about” and is then amazed that the child cries harder still.

Then there is last-time-it is. Is this my last Thanksgiving, my last birthday, my last Christmas? It doesn’t make it seem more precious: it ruins it.

Then there is the any of us could die at any time problem. While this is absolutely true, we don’t really believe it. It is a tralse — some truth, more falsity. Sometimes I feel like responding to that observation with a counter-offering: “in that case, why don’t we switch livers?” But these is no reason to offend folks who are trying to be kind.

I neglected my social life. It was easy to do so. I think I was like the spectre at the feast for much of the year, looking as exhausted and as beat as I felt. Maybe I imagined that people were pulling away from me. Maybe they were. It is an awkward situation.

It didn’t help matters when David Bowie died and the initial reports were that liver cancer was the cause (later clarified as pancreatic that had spread to the liver). Not all people who have liver cancer are cirrhotics, and not all cirrohtics get liver cancer. But cirrhosis is a definite risk factor.

I had decided long ago that if I developed liver cancer, I was not going to fight it (in fact, I think there is little that can be done when someone with ESLD gets liver cancer). I am supposed to go every six months to see if I have developed cancer, but I decided, why bother?

I will tell you why: in March we went on a vacation, and after nine months of doing nothing, I wasn’t prepared for walking a lot. After about a half hour, I would hurt worse and worse as a pain developed on my side and radiated to my back. Of course I decided well damn, I must have cancer.

So I went in for the ultrasound and blood test to see if maybe I was wrong. And I was. But I did have a severe vitamin D deficiency.

Throughout much of the night of my 36 hours of wakefulness I watched Bowie on youtube. He lived until he died. Made an album, wrote a play.

Maybe that contributed to my change of attitude, my finding the plateau. Or maybe it takes 9 months to transition from one existence to another.

I just know that when I finally did sleep, when I awoke, I decided that today I was not going to think about My Death.

And now that has become a habit.

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing: Introducing longtimecoming1963.wordpress

In two months much will be said about the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four girls as they prepared for church services on Sunday morning, September 15, 1963. Dozens of others in the church that morning were injured, including Sarah Collins, sister of one of the victims, who spent over a year in hospital. She’s been forgotten. So have two other black children killed that day: James Ware and Johnny Robinson. Who remembers them?

The deaths of these girls brought international attention to Birmingham and to the depravity, cruelty, and evil of those eager to kill rather than see extended to blacks the civil rights granted — at least on paper — by the Constitution.

Would their deaths still be remembered if the girls had been killed in a bombing at a roller rink the previous night? Or if it had been four deacons killed rather than four children? Who knows?

But in setting a bomb to detonate in a church on a Sunday and by killing four girls, the bombers broke two taboos: you don’t bomb churches on Sunday mornings and you don’t kill girl children.

What will be remembered this fall, I expect, is the worldwide outrage at this atrocity. What will be forgotten is the aftermath.

Four girls are murdered in an American church. What response would be expected other than for local, State, and National law enforcement and the citizenry to demand that the murderers be identified, prosecuted competently, and punished appropriately?

This didn’t happen. It could have happened in 1963, but the first conviction of one of the four men who executed the attack did not happen for 14 years, in 1977. Two others were convicted in 2001, 24 years after the first and 38 years after the crime.
How? Why?

What kind of society does not even bring to trial those who kill children?

As early as October 1963, Elizabeth Cobbs was working with the FBI to build a case against  her uncle by marriage, Robert Chambliss. She knew what the Ku Klux Klan did to informers. She was a single mother of a young son, struggling to get by, and she cooperated fully with the authorities. After months of risking her life meeting with agents, J. Edgar Hoover dropped the case. She knew what had happened but could do nothing more.

Then in 1977 Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley reopened the case, and to make a long story short, Elizabeth Cobbs’ testimony was finally heard in court and Robert Chambliss became the first man convicted for the bombing.

In 1994, Elizabeth H. Cobbs, now Petric J. Smith, published Long Time Coming: An Insider’s Story of the Birmingham Church Bombing That Rocked The World. It is out of print, its publisher defunct.

This is a story that shouldn’t be forgotten, and so Smith’s son and I have posted an electronic version of the text as a book blog here at WordPress: It’s a story of the moral courage of one individual and the active participation of the powerful in sheltering those who were evil and who did evil things.

This spring President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to the four girls killed. A great photo op, a nice symbolic gesture. But if he really wants to honor their memory, may I suggest he turn to the last chapter of Long Time Coming and choose any one of its questions about what happened in Birmingham, in Alabama, and in Washington DC in the months following September 15, 1963, and get to work on finding the answers and holding those responsible who chose not to do their jobs. A few are still alive. I guess there isn’t an equivalent opposite of a medal to be awarded posthumously to those who aided and abetted murderers.

By the way, in case you are wondering about the other two children killed in Birmingham on September 15, 1963, Cobbs/Smith can tell you:

During the afternoon two more black children died in other incidents in Birmingham: James Ware was shot on his bicycle by two white youths on a motorcycle, and Johnny Robinson was shot in the back by a policeman for throwing rocks at a car loaded with catcalling white youths displaying Confederate flags.

The juveniles who killed Ware were identified from photos taken at an NSRP rally that afternoon. One pleaded guilty to manslaughter; the other was convicted at trial. They each received seven-month suspended sentences.

Officer Jack Parker said he was firing at the feet of Johnny Robinson and his companion — with a shotgun — at 100 feet, and he was surprised when the youngster “appeared to stumble and fall.”

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama
Credit: The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. [LC-DIG-highsm-05063]
The Wales Window, which was donated to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by the people of Wales to replace a window destroyed by the 1963 bombing of the church.

Is David Mejia the Dumbest Defense Attorney in the US? Savannah Dietrich’s Attacker’s Lawyer Says Victim Ruined His Client’s Life

Yea, that’s a long title for this post. Let’s unpack it.

  • First we have Savannah Dietrich, the brave and angry young [a juvenile] woman who was assaulted by two jerks [also juveniles] who then posted their antics on line. When they got a slap-on-the-wrist (nod, nod, wink wink, boys will be boys), she tweeted their thugly names.
  • And there it would have ended had it not been for David Mejia, the lawyer for one of the criminals [I haven’t been able to establish whether he is the lawyer for Austin Zehnder or Will Frey III]. Defense Attorney Mejia filed a contempt motion against Dietrich, which had she been convicted could have landed her in jail for 180 days, so she and her family went to the Louisville [KY} Courier-Journal, and then the story went viral. Mejia retreated from the contempt order, later telling ABC’s “Nightline” August 20 that his intent wasn’t

to punish Dietrich, but to have a judge force her to delete her online posts about the boys. “I was hoping she would even have some remorse or an apology to give. That didn’t happen.”

  • Then the Courier-Journal filed a motion for release of court documents:

The original motion filed by the newspaper argued that “serious questions have been raised in this case about how the system has been used to protect, perhaps inappropriately, the two defendants who have admitted to abusing Ms. Dietrich, while at the same time unconstitutionally depriving Ms. Dietrich of her First Amendment rights to free speech.”

A ruling about this should be issued on Tuesday, August 28. In the mean time, Mejia has been a very busy guy. Continue reading “Is David Mejia the Dumbest Defense Attorney in the US? Savannah Dietrich’s Attacker’s Lawyer Says Victim Ruined His Client’s Life”

Instant Karma and Savannah Dietrich

All too infrequent are the instances of instant karma, but oh my how satisfying they  can be.

My last post was about the young lady in Kentucky, Savannah Dietrich, who was facing contempt charges with penalties including fines and jail time for naming the two juvenile thugs who sexually assaulted her, posted photos of their crimes on the net, and were allowed to plea bargain their cases down to sweet deals.

After she was charged for Tweeting their names, Savannah, also a juvenile, and her folks went to the Louisville, KY newspaper, and all hell broke loose as people worldwide came to her defense, and, what do you know: the scum’s names — Austin Zehnder and Will Frey III — are now all over the place.

Were it not for the contempt charges, only those who follow Savannah’s Twitter and whoever they told would know these guys’ names.

By trying to hurt her further, Zehnder and Frey ensured that googling their names — or Savannah’s –will forever take you to their crimes.

They wanted attention on the net? They’ve got it now. Google “zehnder frey” and Google reports “7,960,000 results.”

Instant Karma.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that

“David Mejia, an attorney for one of the teens, said given that the story has gone global because of a piece Saturday in The Courier-Journal, there was no reason to continue the contempt motion.

‘What could contempt do now?’  Mejia said in an interview, adding that the boys’ names have already been circulated far beyond the original tweet. ‘Seems like a rather useless exercise doesn’t it?’

Got that one right, guys.

And there is more to come: seems these two pieces of trash come from money (tuition and fees at their private school tops $12,000 a year), and there is — surprise! — some interesting good ole boy networking going on among the guilty and those who work for the “justice” system. Stay tuned.



Thank you, Savannah Dietrich

In August 2011 Savannah Dietrich, now 17, of Kentucky was sexually assaulted by two juvenile boys who then posted photos of their attack online; when they entered a plea bargain to receive what Savannah felt (and I’m sure she’s right) to be a lenient deal, Savannah twittered her disgust and named these thugs in her post. She then found herself facing a contempt of court charge with penalties of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $500.

What part don’t you get?

You didn’t know that in many US states juvenile court proceedings are not only closed to the public but even the victim is warned not to speak of what happens in these proceedings or else face criminal charges?

It’s not the kind of thing you would know, usually, and it defies common sense. That is why I am grateful to Savannah for having the guts to do it anyway — to make public the names of her attackers — at least briefly.

Yes, the boys’ defense attorney who entered the motion for the contempt charge against Savannah has now withdrawn it (62,000 people in one day signed a petition on to get the charges dropped). This does not mean, however, that the District Attorney can’t proceed with the charges (nothing would surprise me).

The media at large is still not naming the assailants, and Savannah’s legal position is too tenuous, I imagine, for her to re-post.  But she has brought a legal absurdity to the attention of some, at least.

Here’s the thing: court orders and court proceedings involving juvenile defendants are closed to the public and cannot be broadcast or published or released in any form unless specifically provisioned. The idea, I guess, is that juveniles don’t have the decision-making capacity of adults and so their mistakes should not follow them through life. Certainly I could go along with this in the case of a 10-year-old who stole a pack of gum.

But not for those who commit violent assaults. Not for teens who beat their girlfriends senseless or assault them sexually and post their doings on the net.

It’s bad enough that when they are adults, they can have the records of their actions expunged. It can all be for them as if it never happened. But that they can be shielded from the righteous anger of their victims, and that the system is set up so that the community cannot be warned that these foul pukes have committed such crimes — that is intolerable.

Now imagine if your daughter were invited to a party where these guys would be and became their next victim. You would never know that, were it not for the law itself,  she could have been warned that these kids were predators (why not use social media to alert the public of danger?). But as it stands, the justice system itself forbids this.

When these thugs’ probation is over and later when their records are expunged, they can pretend nothing ever happened. It’s all over.

For their victims, it isn’t over so easily or so quickly — if it is ever over for them at all.

Then there is the irony that it is only by seeking justice within the system that Savannah found herself facing criminal charges. If the matter hadn’t gone before a judge, she could have Twittered whatever she wanted about the scum. True, they could have sued her, but their identities wouldn’t be protected in civil proceedings, at least.

There is also a queerness to the law. Savannah’s knowledge of events is not derived from court records, but from personal experience. Is the intent of the confidentiality provisions to keep officers of the court from judges to clerks from gossiping in small communities or is it to shut up the victim?

Savannah’s life, her story, is just that — her story: no judge should have the right to limit her freedom to tell her story.

She has no status whatsoever, legally. She is not a party to the court proceedings. As a juvenile herself, her parent would have had to file the petition/press charges against the boys.

In a plea bargain, there is no trial. She was not even then a witness. She never had the chance to tell her story to the judge. She never had the chance to force her assailants and their parents to listen to what their spawn had done to her.

(Note: “Dietrich and her family told the newspaper they were unaware of the plea bargain and recommended sentence until just before it was announced in court.” If  they can prove this, it shows that the District Attorney’s office is staffed by incompetents or couldn’t be bothered to prepare for trial. I’d like to know who was subpoenaed — if anyone. But I never will. Since juvenile proceedings are shrouded in secrecy, who knows if the DA generally is lenient toward juveniles who commit sexual or physical assaults — if that is, they are wealthy enough to have attorneys in the good ole boy network? I’d Romney-bet you $10,000 the thugs weren’t minorities.)

From doing the right thing, going through all the proper legal channels, Savannah ended up with nothing but more suffering.

And she can’t even tell us about it.

This must change.

Finding America

In late April when I began my Anywhere But Here tour, knowing that the community where I had lived for nearly 30 years had failed me in so many fundamental ways, I didn’t know where I would end up.

I have found more than I hoped to.

I’m now in a community in which each morning when I turn to the editorial page of the local newspaper, this greets me:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Recognize that? It’s the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Space required: 3 inches by slightly less than .75 inch.

And this is what I found in my emailbox last night from the City Schools Superintendent [emphases added]:

“Greetings . . . City Schools Families and Staff,

Raising the achievement of all students!  That is our ‘strategic imperative’ for . . . City Schools as seven action teams continue the important work of crafting specific, measurable, achievable and realistic goals for our new strategic plan.  More than 200 of you have signed up for one of these teams and we really appreciate your investment in this project.

One of the teams has asked for your input and support. Your fellow stakeholders who are currently reviewing the many facets of a ‘year round’ calendar will next meet on Thursday, July 26 at 6:00 p.m. here in our boardroom . . . They would like to hear from as many of you as possible regarding this potential change to the way we schedule and deliver our curriculum.  So please plan to come to this July 26 meeting if you possibly can.”

Imagine that: over 200 families and staff working in teams on planning for their community schools. A parent (me) new to the community deemed a “stakeholder.” A request for “input and support.”  A desire “to hear from as many of you as possible.”

I settled for so little for so long. Why?

David Bowie, “America,” Concert for New York City, October 20, 2001.

Starting Over

Most of the posts from August 2011 to today, July 3, 2012, are gone from this blog. I have moved far away from where I lived last year, and I want to have what control I can over my story. I thought about deleting the blog altogether, but that would mean losing other posts and comments that many have found useful.

The thirty or so posts I’ve removed are not gone; they are simply in a new blog, one that doesn’t have as many personal identifiers as this one. They are there to be found through searching by those who need them. If there’s a post you remember seeing here and searching doesn’t get you there, write me at for links.

If you know what is missing, you will understand, and if you don’t, don’t worry about it.