Archive for February 18, 2019

DONNER REDUX? – 173 years

February 18, 2019

 

Well, I hope not.  Not really.  Not an actual  “redux”  but that’s been a word that’s popped up in my writings a lot this week.     As well as the location.

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A mother’s  thoughts  

173 years ago  the Donner Party left  their known world.    172 years ago the first rescue party made it to the members of the Donner party, camped here and there,  buried in the snow.

This week, in February, 2019,  Son will be heading in that direction —  heading exactly  for Donner Lake, exactly  172 years later.      He’ll be visiting his sister and her little family;   being “Uncle”  to Cooper.

Son  will be well fed, I’m sure;  he won’t have to eat his dog – or his friends,   but he’ll be equally buried in snow.       Here’s where he’ll be staying, somewhere under that snowstorm:

Truckee Storm now

Donner Lake is just over that snow bank.

His brother-in-law is clearing a path for him.  

Truckee MORE snow

Yeah,  well,  more snow in the forecast.  

The public school system has this week off – so they can go skiing.  Ski Week, they call it.   However, I just read a news article that tells them they can’t go skiing.   Too much snow!  Again.    Buried the lifts.

Too much snow

 

I’ve been to this area many times.  I’ve walked through the  Donner Party Museum.   It’s not a place where you want to buy trivial souvenirs from;  but  I have a reprint of the journal of young man, a keenly observant teenager;  harrowing writing  . . . . The church I go to when I’m out there is just across Alder Creek,  mentioned below in the Donner Party Timeline.    These people are very real to me.

This week our local weather forecast is  -1   (one below zero),  freezing rain, and 1-3 inches of   snow.    I have nothing to complain about.

Except the temporary  “loss” of my son.

 

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THIS WEEK IN FEBRUARY,    172 YEARS AGO

 

  • February 19, 1847: Patrick Breen’s diary: “Froze hard last night. 7 men arrived from California yesterday with som provisions, but left the greater part on the way. To day clear & warm for this region. Some of the men are gone to day to Donner’s Camp. Will start back on Monday.” Daniel Rhoads, one of the rescuers, recalled, “At sunset, we crossed Truckee Lake on the ice, and came to the spot where, we had been told, we should find the emigrants. We looked all around, but no living thing except ourselves was in sight. We raised a loud hello. And then we saw a woman emerge from a hole in the snow. As we approached her, several others made their appearance, in like manner coming out of the snow. They were gaunt with famine; and I never can forget the horrible, ghastly sight they presented. The first woman spoke in a hollow voice, very much agitated, and said, ‘Are you men from California or do you come from heaven?’
  • February 20, 1847: Catherine Pike dies. Three of the rescuers go to Alder Creek to check on the Donners.
  • February 21, 1847: Patrick Breen’s diary: “Thawey, warm day.” The rescuers return to the lake camp from Alder Creek bringing six emigrants who are strong enough to travel.
  • February 22, 1847: First Relief: Rescuers leave the lake camp with 23 refugees. Second Relief: After spending several days drying meat at Johnson’s Ranch, Reed’s party sets out for the mountains. Patrick Breen’s diary: “The Californians started this morning, 24 [23] in number, some in a very weak state. Fine morning. Wind S.W. for the 3 last days. Mrs Keysburg started & left Keysburg here[; he was] unable to go… Paddy Reid & Tho[mas]s. came back.” Patty Reed, eight years old, and her little brother Tommy give out and have to be taken back to the Breen cabin. Patty tells her mother “Well, Ma, if you never see me again, do the best that you can“; thirty-one people remain in the camps. There have been ten deaths at the lake camp and four at Alder Creek.
  • February 23, 1847: Patrick Breen’s diary: “Froze hard last night. To day fine & thawey. Has the appearance of spring. All but the deep snow. Wind S.S.E. Shot Towser [a dog] today & dressed his flesh. Mrs Graves came here this morning to borrow meat—dog or ox. They think I have meat to spare; but I know to the Contrary. They have plenty hides; I live principally on the same.
  • February 24, 1847: First Relief: John Denton is unable to continue and must be left behind.
  • February 25, 1847: First Relief: Ada Keseberg dies and is buried in the snow. Patrick Breen’s diary: “Froze hard last night. Fine & sunshiny to day. Wind W. Mrs Murphy says the wolves are about to dig up the dead bodies at her shanty; the nights are too cold to watch them; we hear them howl.
  • February 26, 1847: Patrick Breen’s diary: “Martha’s jaw swelled with the toothache: hungry times in camp; plenty hides, but the folks will not eat them. We eat them with a tolerable good apetite. Thanks be to Almighty God. Amen. Mrs Murphy said here yesterday that [she] thought she would Commence on Milt. & eat him. I don’t [think] that she has done so yet; it is distressing. The Donners, 4 days ago, told the California folks that they [would] commence to eat the dead people if they did not succeed, that day or next, in finding their cattle, [which were] then under ten or twelve feet of snow, & [the Donners] did not know the spot or near it; I suppose they have done so ere this time.

 

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH

February 18, 2019

“With Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, no rich or  poor,   no male or female, no slave or free . . . ..”

If in Black History Month we are supposed to honor great Blacks of the past . . .  then let’s see a few more:

My favorite man –

Pierre Toussant

He is Pierre Toussant.   A Catholic gentleman who lived from 1766 to 1853,  born a slave, was a reliable man of good character, learned a valued skilled trade, was eventually freed,  went into business for himself – but yet  not for himself and his wife and children alone —  he became the Founder of Catholic Charities  in the United States of America.

He relieved the suffering and ignorance of countless thousands of people in New York City.

(I started with more and have done less.)

I’ve written about him here at The Spruce Tunnel previously,   (Although now if you look him up elsewhere you may have to endure  atrocious anti-Trump rhetoric in some articles first, before you get down to the story of PIerre Toussant.)

You can read about his equally venerable wife, Juliet Noel, devoted to charitable works in New York City.

Bl Juliet Noel

Juliet Noel

A few of  their foundations and their charitable buildings still stand.    The life of these two people should be included among the great biographies of American history, although they are not being taught in our children’s textbooks.

Mother Mary Lange is another black woman in American History you should know:

Bl Mother Mary Lang

Born Elizabeth Clarisse Lange  (in Colonial Cuba — see the missionary work of St. Anthony Mary Claret), came to the United States in 1833, to South Carolina,  to Virginia,  then to Maryland,  and then opened free schools for Black children, with the encouragement of the Church.  Eventually she and a co-worker founded a new religious  order of women working   called the Oblate Sisters of Providence working with women and children in needy and poverty stricken situations,  teaching them all both faith and skilled work.

Bl Mother Mary Lang 2

(an early photograph of B. Mother Mary Lange)

(Their work still exists today, but I don’t know if they have been “modernized” into focusing on a more secularized “social justice.”   I hope not.  God is the foundation of  all justice.) 

Well,  that’s my contribution to Black History Month……

Of course the Catholic Church has many other “Black”  saints.

As St. Paul said,   “With Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, no rich or  poor,   no male or female, no slave or free . . . ..”

All are equal in the dignity and worth that God gave us.

 

A SERIOUS CHILD’S GAME

February 18, 2019

 

Putting the entertainment-news media on the dock, in this post.

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Children’s games are fun because children have the capacity to blur the line between reality and imagination.  These childish games are less fun  as the child matures because he’s beginning to have a firm grasp on what is imagination and what is reality.

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So here’s a common pretend game many of us learned in childhood —

We all know that men pray,

ch men pray

 

And we all know what this is:

ch pic

So the game starts like this:

Put your hands together and intertwine your fingers.  (“Here is the church.”)

ch do 3 is 1

 

Now place your thumbs together and  rotate your hands outwards so you can see your thumbs together.     (to make little doors)

c h do 1

Now move your two forefingers upwards and make them touch at the tips.   (“Here is the steeple.”)

ch 2

 

Now  OPEN   your hands apart,  and  “See all the people!”  —

ch do 4

 

Wiggle, wiggle,  wiggle  your fingers.  Those are the PEOPLE!
ch see thepeople

Little ones,  3, 4, 5, years old giggle with delight when they feel that blurry existence between “fingers”  and  “people.”    6, 7, even 8 years old  do it again to feel their “distance”  from childish beliefs, and they smile inwardly knowing they  know better,   they’re  becoming mature.

It’s a natural process,  children do it  themselves.

(This is why you don’t yell at your five year old for “lying” because he really doesn’t yet have the capacity to always, fully grasp when his statement is a ‘lie.”    In fact, you’ll retard this process if you respond with parental intimidation . . . the child will never feel safe when he contemplates, on his own,  what is reality and what is imagination. and so the process may never completely mature)

Maybe that’s what happened to the entertainment-news media.  They seem to get more howls of delight and glee (and rating$)   if they blur the line between what really happened and what they pretend had happened.

And they capitalize on how much of an agenda some of the public has internalized.   The entertainment-news-education media has taught many people that “America is a racist society.”    “Institutionalized racism,” they explain.

So dearly do they want to hang on to this idea that a young hijab-wearing student in an Ivy League University can fake an attack on herself and claim it was “white Americans”  — and be taken seriously without any proof.  Later, when she admits she lied, she receives no societal punishment, legal or otherwise.

Homosexual college students write homophobic  epithets on their own dorm room doors!

Political ads show outrageous atrocities committed against Black victims,  all imaginary and dramatized to imply these things are being done today.

Jusse Smollett,  an actor of some kind,   claimed to be attacked for his race and for his sexual proclivities by  some “white” men (who later turned out to be Black)  and was taken seriously by the news readers on network television.

Why did this almost work?   Because people on the network entertainment-news programs  solemnly intoned:   “This  . . .    is America   . . .     in 2019.”      I watched one woman say that on television,  just like a 6 year old discovering her wiggling fingers-people.

Furthermore:    “And those attackers were “wearing MAGA hats . . .”    Why that detail?   Because, it is repeatedly  and solemnly declared:       “Trump   . . .    divides this country  . . .   because he . . .    is a racist . . .   and a homophobe  . . . . ”

This would be a pretty long posting if I gave you so many more examples –  daily, really.

Maybe it’s our entertainment-news-education media programs that have never really stopped blurring the lines between imagination and reality.

ch whole thing

Here is the church

And here is the steeple

Open the doors

And see all the people!

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I would be remiss if I stopped right there.    Because- –   if we as a society live in that blurry magical line of what is real is what we want to be real,  then, like children,  are playing with fire.

It is the fire of Civil War and destruction, a collapse of all the societal safety nets that America has built up over the last two centuries.

Of course there’s a remedy, within easy grasp of every adult qua adult.

const

There is NO conflict between faith and reason,  between religion and reality,  between private and public  religious thinking.       Our Founding Fathers knew this, and also warned that the continuing success of this Republic,  based upon our Constitution,  relies upon the goodness and moral behavior of the  people of the United States,  “We The People.”    Alexis de Tocqueville observed and reported this about America in the early 19th century — as we were growing as a nation.   “America is great because America is good”  he said.

Post Govt needs Morality

The American people  were informed by their Christian faith –  not each individual personally,of course,   but in our laws and institutions, and public behavior.

As in the last two postings here,    Christian faith,  Christ – ” Christ is the Light of the world,”   ” His Light is the Life of Men, ”    the true enlightening of men’s minds, so that we can be a good and moral people:

ch the way

 

If, as a society, we can stumble our way back to Him,  then there is hope that we too, like an 8 year old,  will mature in our thinking – and be able to sustain our American Republic.