Thursday, April 30, 2015

No. 146 - April 30, 2015 – Ketchikan, Totem Poles, and Postcards

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Erika, from the Ketchikan Museum, emailed me using our contact form to ask about some of the images in their collection from the Gold Rush years in Alaska. The museum had, she told me, a number of images from Arthur C. Pillsbury, who had passed through the town on his way up to the mining fields with his cameras, including the circuit panorama camera he had designed and built while a senior at Stanford in 1897. He paused to record images of the totem poles and native people, as they worked and carried out their every day lives. These shots show the inside of native homes with the mixture of possessions of their own making along with objects manufactured elsewhere.

These images fascinate people today, showed a world now lost, and many of them have survived as post cards. While postal cards were in use from around 1851 the one penny post cards, privately printed, were only authorized by Congress on May 19, 1898.

The City of Ketchikan sponsors two museums, one for the largest existing collection of native totem poles and another for the history of their community stretching back to its founding in the 1880s to process the abundant salmon in the offshore waters.

The most southern town in Alaska, Ketchikan is also the earliest town, boasting a population of around 8,000 people, making it the tenth largest town in Alaska.

Today the Totem Heritage Center serves the town as a cultural center, a resource for appreciating and continuing the artistic traditions of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people.

Grandfather went to Alaska to record the opening of the mining fields. Once there, he became fascinated by its native population, caught in a transition enforced on them by the overwhelming influence of Western culture. Those images which remain are still compelling today.

As Grandfather traveled through Alaska he would sometimes leave a supply of glass negatives with a local merchant, starting a Pillsbury Studio to print more cards. Purchased and mailed, these traveled around the world.

His originals were lost on April 18, 1906 in the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. So, when one of his images turns up from places you would never expect each one is precious. And even now the number of images rediscovered is steadily increasing. I never know what to expect when I open an email. But it can be wonderful.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

No. 145 – April 23, 2015 – Snow Flakes, Heart Aches and Prayer

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

It's not that there were a lot of snow flakes today – it was having any of them still with us when Mother's Day is right around the corner and stories are starting to receive 4th of July merchandise. Of course, I'm from California and there we expect winter to last maybe a weekend. So I watched the snow flakes drift down for a while trying to make it to the ground. Our lives are like snow flakes, you know. Living can be tough, even when gravity is working with you instead of against you.

For all of us life is uncertain. Good and bad, things happen. That is one of the reasons I signed up to pray.

At St. Peter Church we have a Cycle of Prayer. Pat Hazeltine sends out the names of people who need our prayers and we send those prayers out to God for them. It is a wonderful experience to know you are not alone. As you pray, others are as well. We connect and grow.

There was a time when requests came in over the telephone, now we receive these via the internet. So sometimes I open my email box and there is a Prayer Request waiting for me. I always open them first. You never know what you will find. Sometimes you know the person; sometimes it is a complete stranger whose life you will touch – and it does not matter.

As Christians we know we are One in Christ and so praying for someone we will never meet, holding them in your mind and heart as you reach out for them in prayer, matters.

There are no rules for prayer. You pray for those who have died, those left to mourn and those struggling with the problems to which each of us are subject. Prayers are given for those who have made it through surgery and those facing any kind of hardship you can imagine.

Praying always makes me feel closer to Christ, that ineffable presence which is always there if we will put aside ego and receive Him.

Prayer brings insights to your own life as well. The act of praying breaks down the barriers within which life builds even without our knowing it. Prayer has become a path to self-discovery for me, and for millions.

Snowflakes and prayers. Unexpected blessings releasing us to more fully love one another.

Friday, April 17, 2015

No. 144 – April 17, 2015 – Bushnell, Zenger, and the Shot Heard 'Round the World

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
His last name was Bushnell, and if his voice had not been raised during jury deliberations in 1670 William Penn, who had defied the Crown and preached his Quaker faith, would not have lived to found Pennsylvania. Many in Ashtabula have roots in the former colony east of here, which he named.
Bushnell and his fellow jurors were confined and fined for their temerity when they defied the royal mandate to find Penn guilty. The lives of Penn and his friend, Mead, hung by two dissenting votes.
The judge sent the jury back three times to reconsider their verdict saying, “a verdict that the court will accept, and you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco....We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it."
It took a writ of Habeas Corpus to free the jurors, Penn and Mead. Penn came to the colonies and so was Pennsylvania founded.
The English tradition for the Common Law and the rights of the people to defy the dictates of authority again influenced the writing in 1735 during the trial of John Peter Zenger, who had defied the Royal Governor of New York and published the truth about him.
Zenger languished in prison for eight months before standing trial. But the publication of his newspaper continued, overseen by his wife.
Words, the truth, are the first defense against oppression. Disinformation and the suppression of truth destroy freedom. The Founders, who were certainly aware of both precedents, Penn and Zenger. They understood the nasty tendencies of government to use its power to stifle dissent and the truth.
The ratification of the Constitution hung in the balance as Mason traded with Madison and the deciding factor was the inclusion of the Bill of Rights that secured to each of us guarantees for the limitation of government power.
It is the ideas thus enshrined that connect us to the truth of America's Mission Statement. America is made up of people who are, themselves, the government. The truth matters.
Today, it is the suppression of the truth by authorities by redaction, evasion and deceit again threaten the essential freedoms won for us by our ancestors. We need the facts because truth is the foundation of freedom.
April 18th marks the 260th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Get the truth, it matters to each of us.

Friday, April 10, 2015

No. 143 – April 9, 2015 – Family History, Family Pride

By Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

My cousin, Peni Jo Renner, wrote a book last year about a mutual ancestor, Rebecca Eames. Titled, “Puritan Witch - The Redemption of Rebecca Eames,” the brief volume tells Rebecca's story as she is accused of witchcraft, tried, found guilty, and waits for the sentence of hanging to be carried out in a prison where, unless your family paid, you would be left to starve to death.

The books shines light new, and a very human light, on the a period of American history which has been detached from the descendants of those who lived it. By so doing the real roots of conflict were buried. Until Renner's book was published it was easy for many who do not share this heritage to fictionalize these very personal histories, providing salacious scenarios to those who were not touched by the morality story played out in the lives of a people who confronted an abuse of power by those who saw opportunity for profit. Using the gullibility of those around them significant transfers of property took place.

In 1649 law was passed which made witchcraft a capital offense, opening the door for the trials, which took place in 1692. After the accusation of a capital crime was made the property of the accused could be seized immediately. Asset forfeiture remains with us today.

Royal Governor William Phips released those imprisoned on February 21st, 1693. The reaction of the accusers was to beg for his protection from just retaliation. None occurred, these were lawful people, determined to do right.

For five generations there were no marriages between the descendants of the accursed and their accusers. They remembered. I suggest this baptism of pain awakened their descendants to the dangers inherent in the abuse of power.

What was the impact of these events on people who saw the ugliness play out and then lived with the aftermath in the same small communities for generations? How were their ideas about freedom, individual rights, and their relationship with God affected? Accusers and accused, how did it shape today for all of us?

Myself, I am proud to be a descendant of Mary Barker, twelve when she was imprisoned, and her cousin, George, thirteen. This history still has much to tell us about our world today.

What we take away from the experiences of life defines us and our descendants, if we remember. And read Puritan Witch.

Friday, April 3, 2015

No. 142 – April 2, 2015 – They Got Mail! The Back Channels Connecting Big Oil with Bush and Clinton

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Andrew Kreig's coverage of Hillary Clinton's secret email system, written in three parts, delves into the issues which he says provide,scant scrutiny of the most sinister implications for the public.” These are certainly riveting, named by Kreig as, “Arms Smuggling: The Obama-Clinton-Petraeus 'Iran-Contra' Scandal, the Duplicity and Disloyalty by Gen. David Petraeus and the Conflict of Interest In Clinton Foundation/Hillary Clinton 2016 Funding.”
Enough there to generate multiple books and even conferences for journalists digging into the morass to extract hard evidence.
Kreig's book, “Presidential Puppetry,” as mentioned in his article on Clinton's mail system, “What's Important About Hillary Clinton's Emails,” ties back to a similar evasion of transparency for emails by Karl Rove during the Bush W. administration and then the revelations hacked into public sight by Romanian hacker, Marcel-Lehel Lazar of, “19 political intelligence memos totaling 66 pages from former 1990s Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal to Clinton between August 2012 and early February 2013.”
As the narrative marches back in time we encounter the covert involvement of the CIA in Benghazi and a plot of overthrown the Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have promoted the same kind of operations. Kreig neatly points to the similarity between Obama's training and arming of 'rebels' and the Iran-Contra run-running of the Reagan Administration.
Oil figures largely in the picture.
Ensuring actions which violate the law and are prohibited by Congress presents a probable need to ensure these actions do not come to the attention of the public. This is clearly a need for the individuals in all administrations since emailing began. This leads to the questions, “who wrote the email system used by Hillary? Was this her own system, used only by her? “
As you read through Kreig's article you find some names popping up or recognize that some individuals, for instance Karl Rove, have long understood the need for tight security when engaging in illegal actions, for instance, election fraud carried out so these same individuals could control the White House.
Is this a system which was written because some earlier event brought this vulnerability to the attention of a group of individuals, Democrats and Republicans, who realized it was necessary their convert communications had to be protected from public view? This had to have happened after communication by email became ubiquitous, say in the early 2000's.
Just asking.