Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day and the Folks Where I Come From

By Regina Garson

"Remember the workers and thank the unions."

Labor Day is one of those days that I never really thought much about. But Labor Day is about the working folks and their rights in this country. It could be that Pea Ridge, where I grew up, was more important in that than I will ever know. I picked up tidbits from my granddaddy, "Bill Pickett," when I was a kid but kids do not really have the understanding to comprehend such until they are a whole lot older.

Pa Bill used to tell me about work in the coal mines. Those were some hard times and after working to the bone, poor as dirt the whole time, trying to feed his family, he was disabled with Black Lung. Now, after all those years, Black Lung is showing up again among the coal miners. I just heard that the other day. That is not a good thing.

The stories Pa Bill told me about life and work in the coal mines was what got me started writing in the first place. Before it was done, it had me thinking pretty hard about politics too.

Pa Bill was involved with the United Mine Workers of America and so were a lot of his family and friends in the Pea Ridge area. Sam Littlefield was among them. He was an important union leader and he is buried right there in Macedonia Cemetery. President of the United Mine Workers District 20 in Alabama, Sam Littlefield was shot and killed under very dubious, "supposedly random," circumstances in a hotel burglary, in Washington DC.

Although I could see that happening with some of the DC hotels that I have been in, he was up there for some important meetings to discuss some of the workplace issues that the coal miners were facing. A lot of the powers that be were not wonderfully happy that the coal miners were standing up for better conditions in the mines and their rights as workers. The circumstances of Sam Littlefield's death were never properly resolved in much of anybody's eyes, except maybe those of the folks who represented the coal mine owners and operators who also had an interest in those meetings. They were apparently quite happy that it was "declared" a random burglary.

Knowing the things that Pa Bill told me and where I came from, what our people went through, and then Sam Littlefield giving his very life working to make things better for the coal miners while others flat out died or worked until they were completely disabled and could not work another day in those mines, I have a real hard time when folks do not understand that unions and the rights of working folks are important. Blood was shed and lives lost when folks started trying to improve the conditions for the workers in this country. They were working to the bone and still starving.

It was not just on Pea Ridge though, it was all over the country. Those old union members did a lot of good toward improving the rights of the workers in this country and some of the ones from Pea Ridge were right there leading the fight. Give them a thought and a little bit of thanks as you fire up the grill. Remember the sacrifices of the good hard working folks who came before us. And that's my two cents on Labor Day.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Abortion Politics in Alabama

Logic, rhyme and reason have all left the state when it comes to abortion in Alabama. And I don't mean abortion per se; I mean "abortion politics." Make no mistake: None of this is honestly about abortion and it surely isn't about seeing to the rights and well-being of newborns. Both our laws and our record on such things as childhood poverty, infant mortality, healthcare and education all prove that one.

People in these parts get so riled up about abortions, they can't see straight. Some politicians, we are going to call them "abortion politicians," most notably the ones who don't have a logical platform to stand on, can't tell you one good thing they are going to work toward, and have a past that would make Mae West blush, routinely use the abortion issue to get people riled up against opponents to whom they can't hold a candle and don't have a chance beating this side of Hades in a real debate on real issues.

Not a platform to stand on? No problem. Yell, "Abortion!" Abysmal record? No problem. Yell, "Abortion!" Questionable behavior? Not a problem. Yell, "Abortion!" Really seriously questionable and abysmally immoral behavior? Yell, "Abortion! Abortion! Abortion!"

The special Alabama Senate race has taken the whole thing with abortion politics to entirely new levels. These abortion politicians have been keeping that abortion ball rolling, Kayla Moore, Roy Moore's wife, coined a brand new abortion term, "full-term abortion," just for her husband's campaign against Doug Jones. Not that it had any basis in reality, but it was surely a good play. It got folks riled up real good and they are still talking about those full-term abortions, which still don't have any basis in reality.

Not to be outdone, a copy and paste post flooding social media began by stating, "Doug Jones is not just pro abortion ... he is pro-late term abortion .... up until the time that the baby is outside the womb."

Let's take a minute here. If the baby is outside the womb, it has already been born. There goes that logic and reason again. In addition to federal standards, set by the Supreme Court, the different states also have guidelines. Ours is Alabama Code Title 26. Infants and Incompetents § 26-22-1 

I am not a lawyer, but from my understanding of that code, it is illegal to perform an abortion in Alabama if the fetus is to the point of viability. Different states set that point somewhere between 20 and 24 weeks. One point is clear though and that is that if the fetus is able to survive outside the womb, it is an illegal abortion.

Doug Jones said that he believed in following the law when it comes to abortion and he was clear on that. This thing about full-term and outside the womb abortions and twisting his words in a knot is at its very best a pile of abortion politician malarkey.

The Real Opponent


So what is going on here? In the current special election in Alabama, we have Roy Moore and Doug Jones running for the U.S. Senate seat that was left vacant when Jeff Sessions accepted the position as Attorney General under President Trump.

Roy Moore is mostly famous for not quite believing in equality for all. Since this discussion is abortion politics, I am not going to go into all that here. A nutshell is that he has made national news repeatedly because he did not  think that some group was entitled to equal rights under our laws. That includes discriminating against folks who have religions that are different from his, not believing that women deserve the same opportunities, not believing that those in the gay community deserve the same opportunities, including same-sex marriage, serving in the military, and the list goes on to include matters of racial equality.

Regarding all of these things, this has absolutely nothing to do with whether I might agree with any single person's choice of a lifestyle. However, one thing that I believe very strongly in is that we should all be treated equally under the law. That is a core American value and that one little detail is where I, along with a whole lot of folks seriously do not agree with Roy Moore.

If you are going to take a job in which you swear to uphold the Constitution and equality for all, then you need to be upholding the Constitution and supporting equality for all. If for some reason or other, you don't believe in equality for all, then you need to be getting another job, which is pretty much why he lost the jobs that he had in the past that related to upholding the law with equality for all.

The other thing that is very curious about all this is that, as a judge, for reasons that are perhaps now obvious, Moore has a very soft record on prison sentences for sex crimes. In the meantime, he was sending people to prison for refusing to obey whatever given law while he was breaking his own set of laws regarding equality. So what do you when questioned on such a matter as your belief in equality and upholding the laws that you have sworn to protect? Much less why you are breaking them. You yell, "Abortion!"

As to Doug Jones, the best I can tell, he never has made a whole lot of noise. He is not a grandstanding kind of person. He is a lawyer and served as a federal prosecutor, most famous for bringing the Klansmen to justice who were responsible for bombing a church and killing four little girls back in 1964. I have never heard a single thing that would come close to a smear on his character. Nothing. Not one iota. Just a smart hardworking man who not only believes in but also will work for equality for everybody. Coincidentally, if you hurt little girls, he is going to put you in jail. And he has spent his career doing just that.

So what is Moore to do when he is running against Jones, his integrity is questionable and his ability to uphold the law has been shown many times over to not be exactly where it should be? He yells, "Abortion!"

This happens repeatedly in Alabama. At the very least, it changes the subject, which is very often the only reason it was brought up in the first place. Things get mighty uncomfortable when you throw in the part about Moore being a mall stalking pervert that hit on teenage girls. I don't blame him for wanting to change the conversation.

And the thing is, it works. At the mention of abortion, people forget all about those very serious and important issues that were once part of the discussion.

Real Issues

Now, I am not saying that abortion is not a real issue. I am just saying that it is to the point that abortion politics are more an issue in Alabama than abortion ever was.

A recent headline, "Moore using Abortion to Shame Conservatives into Turning out to Vote for Him," nails it. That is exactly what he is doing and what so many politicians have done before him. If there is not a logical reason why anybody in his or her right mind would vote for you, play the abortion card. And these folks have it down to an art.

I am not buying any of that. Anybody with half a lick of sense knows that the best way to do something about the number of abortions is to nip it in the bud, before there is ever a problem. Make damn certain that every single person who is old enough to even halfway consider making whoopee has access to good, dependable and affordable birth control and that they know how to use it.

Do Something Real about the Abortion Rate

With today's wealth, technology and infrastructure, we have a real opportunity to reduce the number of abortions, not just in Alabama, but throughout the entire world. However, every time real progress is made on that, somebody starts lamenting that some poor woman somewhere might be making whoopee on somebody else's dime.

Folks get all riled up at the very thought that a poor person who has no means to afford birth control might engage in sexual intercourse, and they cut the funding and pull the access to the birth control, which increases the number of abortions all over again. You can't have it both ways. Either you do something about the abortion rate or you don't. None of this, but, but, but… poor women ought to be buying their own birth control. I am not even going to argue that they should be buying their own birth control, of course they should. 

Put Up or Shut Up

What I am saying is that if folks honestly wanted to do something about abortion, they would. Cut the highfaluting hoity-toity moralizing. You either do something real to cut down on the number of abortions by putting birth control where it is honestly needed or you shut your mouth. It is way past time to either "put up or shut up" when it comes to abortion.

I don't see that happening any time soon though. How could these abortion politicians convince folks to vote for them when the abortion card is the only thing they have going for them? And I do mean the only thing. The most ridiculous thing of all is that it works and now we have a mall creeper pervert arguing the abortion card. Everybody in town knew that he was a mall creeper pervert. I used to work at a mall. No. Just no. I sure know better than that malarkey.

That's my two cents. What's yours?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Gone Political

The blog here, formerly named Regina Garson’s Blog has gone political and renamed to accommodate My Two Cents (commentary on politics, social issues and life). My original blog is not gone though. It has been updated,upgraded, expanded and moved to my domain site, which used to be my author page and writing portfolio. It’s all still there. It has merely been rearranged and this Blogger Blog site will now be the home to My TwoCents, political and other commentary.

In the meantime, I’ve definitely been busy.

Connect with Me!

I have a brand new writing group on Facebook, Writing in the Digital Age. Writers at every level are welcome.

What used to be my author fan page on Facebook is now a hub for networking and talking shop for writers, editors, and social media influencers. Drop by to chew the fat if you take a notion.

My Y’all Facebook page focuses on Southern life and culture. It’s just to kickback and have a little fun, share a laugh. 

Twitter is rocking and there is a little bit of everything there. I do follow back.  My handle is @ReginaGarson

Although I lagged behind some, I am now on Instagram as well. Be sure to follow me there, my handle is reginagarson.

Like just about everybody else who loves to cook, I'm pretty active on Pinterest too these days. Feel free to check out by boards. In addition to recipes, my various musical involvements tend to pop up there. ReginaGarson on Pinterest.

That is it for now.

Also Visit: 


Don’t forget to check out my new blog site: Regina Garson’s Blog.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Short of a Political Resume

By Regina Garson
Short of a resume, this is a brief overview of my political related experience. Why I suddenly feel the need, I don't know. But I do.

My first experience going deeper into politics was after I had finished my last degree (BS Behavioral Science and BA English, double major), at Athens State College, now University (my first degree was in Advertising/Communications from the University of Alabama).

Anyway, early on, I had the opportunity to do some writing for one of the major minority publishing companies. I actually did some writing for a couple of them. My Behavioral Science curriculum was a split between sociology and psychology, so it was right in line with what I had been studying in school. With the way things were in the area where I grew up, which was just south of Birmingham, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement, I was excited to be able to do some work covering race issues. It was at this point that I started to go deeper on both social issues and politics and I also started to learn how the media worked on the coverage of the various social and political issues as well.

One of my regular assignments was to pull the news from the wire service. We had a set number of stories that I would pull every day on a given topic. My area was women's issues (employment issues, pay, benefits, sexual harassment, related political issues, etc.). So I'd go through and see what the news service had on that topic and pull the ones that I felt were the most important for the site.

One of the first things that I learned was that no matter how important a story might be, we could only run so many stories a day and sometimes things that I really did think were important would not be run because they didn't precisely fit what I was supposed to be pulling or there were no more news slots that day. So you always had to be thinking about which was the most important story to cover. I learned real quick that there is a whole lot more going on than people get in their daily news. That is true even when they try hard to keep up. There is more than one reason for that though, which I will not go into at this point.

Also, on both the writing and as a managing type editor, I covered various worker related political issues, a lot of Department of Labor related, race issues, women and minority equality issues. I  had the Asian American beat for a while, which has its own group of race issues entirely. Race issues aren't always what immediately comes to people's mind. We did some major work on WWII related race issues as well, things like the Japanese Internment and the Nanjing Massacre.

Oh the things you learn along the way, how about that camp they had in Tennessee, just in case they needed to exchange a few Jews for US POWs. Whatever work you do, you learn a thing or two that you never would have known if you hadn't been doing that work. A lot of mine had to do with politics and social issues. I went through stacks of books and articles on the subject and, of all things, ended up auditing a course on Chinese history for background before I was finished with one group of assignments.  Another time, I audited a course in Southern Sociology for some stuff I was writing. That is in addition to working toward my degrees and whatever other research I had to do to write a story or figure out what needed to be written, since I also assigned out stories.

During all that, I was mostly a pretty conservative Republican, but after a certain amount of time spent working with and covering all this stuff, I slowly migrated to the other side. Kind of like a know too much to go back kind of thing. I spent too much time way too deep in those issues. I am surely not the first person who has ever changed their mind on a political party.

Along the way, I took a trip to lobby in Washington on women's equality and workplace issues, at the Women's Equality Summit. I made it to a couple of those famous DC parties and I even got to hear Hillary Clinton talk, now that was something. I am not certain if I was more amazed at her  or being in a a situation to see how all that security comes together for somebody at that level. Anyway, it was all an experience to start to get my toes wet on how at least a few  things work in DC. I surely do love that town, any chance to go back and I have always been ready for more.

My main feminist area of interest had to do with childcare issues, especially regarding the hard time young working women and families have getting by with the cost of childcare. A lot of countries actually do a whole lot better than we do in the US on that one and young families especially do a whole lot better financially as a result. For a while, that was one of my areas of major political effort and coverage. I always felt like changes in that area would make a lot of difference in a lot of people's lives, but it has never been a trendy issue. Preaching about issues that aren't trendy and nobody wants to hear about no matter how much good some changes would do is something else. Oh well. Ivanka Trump is interested in that issue, hopefully she can get somewhere on it.

Although I have done other along the way, my next major political focused writing was with Forward Progressives, mostly covering national politics (see Regina Garson at Forward Progressives). Although I have slacked off on the writing credits somewhat lately, I pulled a lot of my daily commentary to Facebook instead. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I am not so sure. I still have my own blog though, and I have been transitioning this one into more of a political focus.

In the interest of consolidating, day jobs and all that, I had meanwhile pulled a lot of my daily commentary to my personal Facebook page. That might not have been such a good idea either, since I really did try to welcome and encourage bipartisan discussion. The discussions can get quite lively at times, you are welcome to follow me there if you are so inclined. It's a mixture of politics and personal and a lot of people follow me there for the politics.

I am also politically active on Twitter.

In addition to the above, I have also done a fair amount of writing on issues relating to the war on drugs and marijuana prohibition. some amount  educating folks on the war on drugs in general as well. My off line efforts in this area included an internship/practicum at Bradford Parkside Outpatient Addictions program. I have done just  a little speaking out on marijuana prohibition and the drug war related issues as well. Back in the day, I also took training and certified as a paraprofessional counselor, volunteered for a while with our local crisis services. That was in addition to the online resources that I developed and maintained for years. So I have various perspectives on the related issues, politically, as a writer/publisher, in the community and in my daily life.

After a tech writing gig in support of the NASA Ares program, my interest in space and space development continued to increase and I have done a pretty fair amount covering politically focused space issues as well. I was involved with Huntsville Space Professionals for a while and made it to DC for some space related efforts as well.

In the last few years, I decided to take my political involvements beyond writing and have been involved in area political efforts. If there is a town hall, forum or other political meeting nearby and I can make it, I am generally there.

Well aware that as hard as you try, you can't learn everything you need to know about life from books or even the Internet,  I also felt the need for some face-to-face training. In the last couple of years, I have attended political training in Montgomery, Alabama, a couple different political training sessions at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), and I took some local political training in Huntsville as well.

In the meantime, I  also wanted to learn more on how things worked from the perspective of a campaign, so when the opportunity presented itself, I ran for a position as a district DNC delegate this last year. It was my first political run and I didn't win but I got out there, got my feet wet and learned a lot of stuff about how campaigns work from the inside, which included more training. At the end, I didn't do that poorly, and did well in my category. So it's all good.

At this phase of my life, I feel confident enough in my combined politically related work experience, education and life to get out there and get more involved. I also try to read and keep up with what is going on in the news, with the media with the various as well.

Anyway, that is a quick overview of some of my political and social issue related experience. It seems that women continually confront the issue of  when is it time to blow your own horn, at what point have you turned into a narcissist braggart, and at what point do you say, hey folks, I have significant related experience, this is what I have been doing for the last ever how many years and I am not into being minimized because I have reached a certain age, I am a woman, or whatever. It could be that some of all of that is involved.

It could also be that it was a mistake taking so much of my commentary to Facebook. You never quit learning though, or hopefully you don't,  and I have been very active on social media and a lot of politics does indeed happen on social media, so I'll chalk that up to lessons learned because I also know that the minute you blink you eyes on some of this stuff, you have missed the boat. I sure don't pretend to know it all,  but the analyses I do have are a combination of the background of my experience, both education and work, and just being out there and involved. I also try to keep myself informed on an everyday basis and I learn new stuff all the time through my editorial work as well. I'm done.

Also Visit:

Regina Garson's Blog

Friday, January 20, 2017

Personal Musings On Trump's Inauguration

About the time that I went from being a Democrat to a Republican, one of my work tasks was to go through the news feeds of one of the major news services and pull a certain number of articles on a given topic, to be published every day. In addition to the articles that the publisher had us write in-house, this designated number of national stories was included as the day's news.

One thing that occurred to me, more like perplexed me, was that no matter how much you thought that certain things should or should not be covered, you were limited by the number of things you could publish and your topic area. Therefore, there was always a certain amount of stuff that you very much knew about and that in your soul, you knew really should be out there and that people really did need to know about but that never made the news.

That was just with the national news stories; in addition to that, on the various beats and such, any one writer can also only write so much and that too is governed by the slant of the publication for which you are writing or reporting. The things that I learned in the process had a significant influence on the change in my political leaning. Everything related also has to do with why I went independent on my own blog. Between work and other obligations, a certain amount just has to settle for Facebook. So follow me there if you feel like you are missing something with me.

Even though I don't produce nearly as much of my own stuff in the process of paying bills and such, it was what I needed to do. For all the years that I spent working with, writing, editing, pulling and publishing the various, along the way, I read stacks of books, and articles to educate myself in the related social and political areas that I was covering.

It absolutely amazes me that folks who have also spent ever how many years gaining experience in whatever their field somehow assume that a person who spends the same amount of time working with and studying the various social and political issues somehow crawled out from under a cabbage leaf with a poke bag full of smoke and that is how I/we whoever came to our political ideas.

Sorry folks, but I came to my political perspective from twenty some odd random years of experience, writing, editing, studying and covering the various as well as involvements in various doings on the local and state level.

I do understand that my side lost the election, but when you have as much experience in whatever field and your opinions are considered nothing more than hot air, there are not a whole lot of words for that. Most especially if people somehow expect that they should be respected for their own level of expertise in whatever field. After this recent, I don't have a clue why anyone would expect such at all, at least not from the likes of me.

People would understand what I was saying if I suggested that they go to a mechanic who decided to be a mechanic yesterday instead of twenty years ago. They would think that I was off my ever-loving rocker. Give the gal a chance. How about a plumber? Or how about a doctor? Why would you even consider a doctor's experience being of any kind of importance at all?

I feel that really heavy on a personal level, but it could be that is what was going on in this election as well. It's going to be an interesting four years and make no mistake I have enough experience in the field to know that without any kind of doubt whatsoever. Y'all have a good day and buckle up. We're all going to need our seat belts on this one.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Political Blogging: A Transition

Life is change, sometimes what we expect, and sometimes not so much. Y'all know, a while back, I was gleefully, or more like painstakingly transitioning this blog, and other as well, to a blog at my own domain - Thinking, it would all be one blog. And I did that - sort of.

At the time, it didn't quite click why it wouldn't necessarily be such a great idea to write about road-trips, poems and politics all on the same blog.

Meanwhile, this little blog is still sitting here, thank all you kind readers who kept coming back and kept reading, despite the fact that I was somewhere over there, on Regina Garson's "new" Blog.

It's still there, but "lessons learned," I'm moving the politics back over here, which best I can figure is mostly why folks are still coming back to this one. However, if it's the other stuff you prefer, not the political at all, or at least not going forward, click here for Southern style road-trips, a little bit of poetry, my writer's take on writing and life.

In the meantime, if you missed anything political, my more recent posts, in reverse chronological order, include:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On The Road – Solo And 60

Change – It could be that “change” is the definition of life. Whether you like it or not and whether you are ready or not, change is going to happen. I'll be 60 in a couple weeks. I was the one who was never going to retire. I was going to work until I died, and I had my life planned out to the minute.

One thing I never considered though was that mortality might get in the way and make some changes that I didn’t expect. Things that were not on my list.

It’s not like I took my health for granted. I have worked out all my life, starting in high school. I learned Tai Chi instead of getting surgery when I first had back problems, and I kept at it. I learned about nutrition and I ate right. Started that in high school too.

I was as healthy as a so called horse, and then I choked on a handful of junk food. Talk about karma or poetic justice – or something. I didn’t just choke. I spent upwards of a month in the hospital, living on tubes, and then I went back. A couple times. Change. Unintended. Unexpected. And a doozey. On a brighter note, thinking positive and all that, the doc said if I hadn't been in such good shape, I would not have survived. There is something to be said for survival. Change too, I suppose.

The thing is, in a so called blink of the eye, I went from right near the best shape of my life, to the slow doddering woman that takes way too much time at the front of the grocery store line. Just like that. In one instant.

This was not a slow progressive aging process. This was a blink of an eye and everything changes process. To say I was not prepared for the change would be the understatement of the millennium.

I’m not dead yet though and I’m still at it, huffing and puffing and tweaking those workouts one more time. Dreams and ambitions, I got plenty. Always did, but sometimes they need some rearranging along the way. Change and all that. You’d think I was the only one who had been in such a boat.

Despite the fact that I have no diseases, and I am still as healthy as a proverbial horse, I am a mangled mess. Kind of like a healthy, hobbling, rickety, but still running jalopy. Can’t get far at a whack, and my work outs these days are more a candidate for a meme gone awry than a fitness show. But as the saying goes: “I’m in really good shape for the shape that I’m in.”

I’m still working too, but to say it has been a challenge would be another great big understatement. The various surgeries and repercussions from the internal injuries left my digestive system a dubious mess, not to be discussed in polite company. The inordinate length of time I spent on an inordinate number of IVs left me without the full functionality of either hand. That cut my typing speed considerably, actually I had to learn to type all over again. I’m still pecking though. And my hands are a lot better than they were, but still nowhere close to as good as they used to be. See above about the grocery store line and trying to open your wallet when you are suddenly down to three fingers on each hand, still trying to figure how to do things all over again, with your current state of ability, and you got a line of people standing “patiently” behind you.

Could be all that sounds like too much information, but I, like many others, live by what they call the spoon theory. I have to pace myself, what can I do and what is realistic. How long is it really going to take?

If we are going to be blogging about going on the road in our elder years, which I’ll get to in a minute, every one of us in that boat has got something we got to deal with. If I go three days without eating right, I feel it. And if you are going on the road and you are not in the best of shape, unless you want the whole thing to turn into a nightmare, spend your time in the hotel room, or your tent, or your camper, if not the nearest ER, you are going to have to be prudent, and as the saying goes – act your age – at least on the health front.

Despite it all, I have mostly worked most of the time. Except maybe the five months that I was completely bedridden. I am not going to be quitting any time soon, but if I had any sense, I’d have put up a help wanted ad for a husband. A roommate. Or something. Could be I should have done that before I got to the shape that I was or am in now.

Actually, though, I am pretty happily single, so there is that.

I sure got side tracked.

But anyway, somewhere in the middle of all this, I get the idea, as many budding senior citizens have before me, that what I really need to do is to get some kind of RV, a camper of some sort and take to the road. Never mind the fact that I am flat broke, count it a blessing that I can now make it successfully through a grocery store line, and have to plan a year in advance to make it three hours away to visit family. I can get a fixer upper camper and fix it up. And wherever I park, I can sit a spell and write, do my work while I check out the scenery. And while I am at it, write about the world from the perspective of barely making it but still on this side of the daisies, a la the fantasies of a Lonely Planet existence, a world to see, not as young as I used to be and all that. It’s not just that. But it sure would be fun.
Convict Laborers around 1915, Florida.

I write and edit too, but back when I first decided that writing was what I wanted to do, it was things my granddaddy (William Joseph "Bill" Pickett) told me about the coal mines and convict labor that really touched my soul. Whatever else I did, I wanted to write about the things that I thought were important, about real people and the real story of things, real life stories that tend to get left out along the way. I always felt that way. And I have always tried to include what I could to inform people in my work as well. Stories and the side of things that needed telling.

There was this one poet in particular that I met and loved her work. She really influenced me in the way she thought and did things with her writing. Her name was Lucille Clifton. Although she was an activist type, she had her own style. She loved to travel and she’d visit all these plantations, which are a trendy tourist destination all over the South. None of that reminiscing about bygone Southern glory for her, she was African American, and she would go on these tours and ask about the slaves who built the place and did the work, and why weren’t they mentioned on the tour.

Saturn SA-5 launch, January 29, 1964.
NASA Photo.
It was always about the grand life of the plantation owners, not about the slaves and what they went through to build and keep the place going. Anyway, Lucille Clifton kept pushing at the plantation tours, until folks started including both sides of the story. And actually, that was progress. I always admired Lucille Clifton, her poetry was awesome. She inspired me and there is no doubt about that. I wouldn’t mind revisiting some old places too, getting down to the other side of some of those old stories.

There is always another side of the story to what you get on the tours. Like in Huntsville, with Von Braun and the space program. Everybody loves the Space Museum, at the US Space and Rocket Center. I’m a space geek for sure. But talk about slave drivers, what in the world does Von Braun have to do with slavery? Wasn’t he German? A Nazi at that. The way they talk about those old plantation owners, you’d think they were the only ones, or hopefully, at the very least, the last slave drivers in the South. Does Peenemünde ring any kind of bell? We’ll be back to that another day. I still love all things space, but reality is reality.

What about the old mills?

Those old mill buildings have intrigued me since I first moved to Huntsville. There are several in the area. Lowe Mill, also in Huntsville, is now one of the most trendy arts centers in the South, but another side of the mill history was that way back in the day, a photographer traveled through the area and took pictures of the kids working the machines. To say those pictures caused an uproar was an understatement. Those pictures were instrumental in drawing attention to/and ultimately the push toward changing the child labor laws in this whole country. Those were some pictures. Huntsville was actually pretty important in the history of children’s rights and the child labor laws in this country. Bet you didn’t know that about “Rocket City.”

Closing hour, Saturday noon, at Dallas Mill. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine.
Department of Commerce and Labor. Children's Bureau. (1912 - 1913)
In the meantime, I have a tent, and I have been checking out options. Pop-ups, campers, RVs, etc., the pros and cons of them all from the perspective of a 60 something single solo, somewhat rickety, female traveler with Lonely Planet fantasies and for whom a three hour journey is a monumental undertaking. But more on all that later, including each and every option you look for when you get the itch to hit the road and you are a single woman of a certain age in fair to dubious condition.

People are always writing about how to travel with the kiddos. From the beginning of time, college students have been taking to the road, but what about the oldsters? I know a few who have. But to say they have their own set of travel issues is another one of those understatements. And it’s not like I haven’t hit the road on my own before, but that was before the accident and although I am in a whole lot better shape than I was (when I was on various and sundry life support systems), I am not in anywhere close to the same shape I was in before that fateful handful of junk food.

So there’s that.

We will see where it all leads. I had many good years of good physical ability. I learned some things along the way, about the outdoors and such. At various times, I led Cub Scout and Girl Scout groups both. Things are most definitely different now. But I am not the only one on this planet to reach a certain age and realize that. The difference, I mean change. Even if we do the best we can with our health and our workouts, eat right, and really think we got it right, we are all subject to the whelms of nature and the reality of our own mortality. That doesn’t mean that life stops, or that we can’t get out there and enjoy it. It does mean that we might have to do a little more thinking and planning, but we’ll touch on that along the way too. There was a time not too very long ago that I never honestly thought I’d ever hit the road again to go anywhere, much less see 60, and now, as they say, my feet are itching.

I am not actually there yet, my birthday is June 12. Still got a few days to go. It’s going to take some doing to get on the road again too. You’d think I’d be lamenting the passage of years. Not me. It is a miracle on top of miracles that I am still walking this earth. If you want to talk about counting blessings, I got plenty to count.

Now let’s see what we can get into next.

Copyright 2015 Regina Pickett Garson

Regina Garson's Blog