Saturday, March 11, 2023

Book cover: "The Wolf in Olga's Kitchen"

Title: The Wolf in Olga's Kitchen
Original title (Russian): Rebyata i Zveryata, published in 1925 in the Soviet Union
Author: Olga Vasilievna Perovskaya (1902-1961)
Illustrator: Angie Culfogienis 
Translator: Fainna Glagoleva
Publication year of this edition: 1969, The Bobbs-Merrill Company
Dust jacket price: $5.50, the equivalent of $45 today — this was a pricey book!
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 229
Perovskaya's dedication: I dedicate these childhood recollections to the bright memory of my dear parents.
Dust jacket excerpt: "THE CHARACTERS: Four sisters — Olga, Sonya, Natasha, Yulia; their mother and father; a wolf, a donkey, a fawn, a tiger cub, a fox, and an assortment of others, both human and animal. THE PLACE: Though it could be almost anywhere, anywhere there is easy access to a wolf, that is, the place is a village in central Russia which lies between two large rivers and is surrounded by mountains, forests, green valleys, and orchards. ... These are Olga Perovskaya's reminiscences of her childhood. Told with great warmth and humor, they evoke all the joys of childhood. She and her sisters are real."
First paragraph: "There is a fertile, blossoming plateau between two large rivers in Central Asia. Its name is Kazakh is Djety-Su, which means Seven Rivers. There are mountains, forest, green valleys, and orchards in Seven Rivers. One city, especially, is famed for its great apple orchards. This is Alma-Ata, which means 'Father of Apples.'"
Where is Alma-Ata? It is the largest city in Kazakhstan, located in the southeastern part of the country, and is now known in the West as Almaty. In 1906, when the author was 4 years old, its estimated population was 27,000. Today, it is home to more than 2 million people.
Random passage from the middle #1: "Now that we had two donkeys we would spend our days journeying up and down the mountains and through the forest. When someone asked Father where we were, he would go out on the porch and train his field glasses on the mountains. There, high up on the ridge of a mountain or on a slope, were two little donkeys climbing like goats with bright flashes of cotton dresses in between."
Random passage from the middle #2: "By winter the foxes had grown gorgeous new fur coats. They were healthy and lively and played very interesting games. The first snow fell at the beginning of November. Then the cold weather set in. The stoves were burning brightly in the houses and smoke rose from the chimneys above the white trees."
Goodreads rating: 4.33 stars on a five-star scale (with 171 ratings)
Goodreads review #1: In 2011, Sanal wrote: "Read this book when I was a little child. I was never the same after it. This taught me the value of compassion, and why you should be nice to every living being. I think every kid should read this wonderful book."
Goodreads review #2: Here's an excerpt of what Mary Deepthy wrote in 2013 (lightly edited): "I got this book from my elder sis, at the age of 8 or 9. I don't remember how many times I have read & re-read this. Amazing stories. ... I used to imagine myself in her place, and take my lambs along with me to empty fields —to grass. So many years have passed. But I still have the book with me, in perfect shape. It came with me to my husband's home, and then to our own house in Bangalore. I will pass it on to my son Aamie." 
Note: This book has also been published in English under the title Kids and Cubs.
Smoky, one of our 14 indoor cats. We do not have any foxes, tigers or wolves.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Two postcards mailed by my
great-grandmother Greta

Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988), my great-grandmother, spent much of her time traveling the world, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. Here are a couple of postcards that I pulled, pretty much at random, from the mail that she sent back to her husband, daughter and grandchildren (including my mother, Mary) back in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

The top card shows the cliffside Hotel Excelsior (which opened in 1834) in Sorrento, Italy. There's no date and I can't read a date on the postmark. It's mailed to my mom and my Uncle Charles, and I'd guess it was sent in the early to mid 1960s, when they were teenagers. The cursive note from Greta states:
Sat a.m.
Off for Capri, a nice warm day. Shops open at 8, so I have already been in there. Woke up early. You would love it here! Met some nice people on tour. Glen Ridge, N.J., couple I have talked to alot. No real young people. Lots of Americans here. 

The second card  show Piscadera Bay Club in CuraƧao, Netherlands Antilles. Apparently it's fun to relax on the cannons there. This card is dated April 1, 1966, and Greta mailed it to her daughter, who she oddly addresses as "Mrs. Adams Ingham" (my grandmother Helen was long since divorced at that point). This message states:

How are you? Hot weather Wed. & Thur. On ocean to-day so cooler — just right. Went in bathing & heard lecture about Jamaica & Haiti & a travelogue. What about perfume for you? Not heard. No parka around. Still meeting new people. No rain. 



Here are the stamps (Jamaica land shells) that Greta used for this card.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

"Satan's Bid for Your Child" and where have I heard all this before?

OK, so, this is a staplebound booklet featuring the text of "Satan's Bid for Your Child," a long sermon that was delivered by Pastor Jack Hyles on May 23, 1971, at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. The sermon runs for 27½ single-spaced pages in the booklet.

This is the July 1972 third printing of the booklet. As of this printing, 300,000 copies of "Satan's Bid for Your Child" had been distributed across the United States. I don't know how many additional printings followed. Or how many drawers this booklet is still tucked away in. Copies aren't especially hard to find. The original sermon would have also been heard by the thousands who were bused in to attend Hyle's mega-church that day and by the untold number of folks listening along on the live radio broadcast.

All of that's a shame.

It's a bunch of moral panic nonsense.

Plus, Hyles was quite the hypocrite. (And likely far worse than that.)1

Not much has changed in 52 years, has it? Just the platforms via which the moralizing, nonsense, irrational fear and hatred can be transmitted to the susceptible masses.

We're deeply embedded in another moral panic in America at the moment. It's an especially hateful and harmful one. Dangerous folks are creating hysteria and convincing people to be afraid of children's books, of teaching students the full and true history of the United States, of transgender people, of refugees seeking asylum, of sex education, and of almost everything else that doesn't specifically relate to white evangelicals and their narrow worldview. And while doing all of this, many of them outrageously cast themselves as the true victims.

I'm going to use some asterisks in the middle of words in the next few paragraphs, because I don't want to give these folks even the tiniest benefit of search-engine amplification.

At a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference last night in Maryland, political commentator M*chael Kn*wles spewed this hatred: "There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing. If transgenderism is true, If men really can become women, then it's true for everybody of all ages. If transgenderism is false — as it is — if men really can't become women — as they cannot — then it's false for everybody too. And if it's false, then we should not indulge it. ... For the good of society, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely."

That last despicable sentence — that threat of erasure, elimination or whatever you might perceive from such barbed words — drew loud applause from the audience.

And, no matter how you perceive those words, there can be no doubt that Kn*wles and other conservatives are putting transgender lives and livelihoods at risk with their venom and aggression. What they're doing is evil, full stop.

Then there's this, from this morning's coverage in The Washington Post of what's happening in the state governed by 2024 GOP presidential hopeful R*n DeS*ntis:
"Florida legislators have proposed a spate of new laws that would reshape K-12 and higher education in the state, from requiring teachers to use pronouns matching children’s sex as assigned at birth to establishing a universal school choice voucher program.

"The half-dozen bills, filed by a cast of GOP state representatives and senators, come shortly before the launch of Florida’s legislative session Tuesday. Other proposals in the mix include eliminating college majors in gender studies, nixing diversity efforts at universities and job protections for tenured faculty, strengthening parents’ ability to veto K-12 class materials and extending a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality — from third grade up to eighth grade."
Those are anti-democratic, anti-education, anti-LGBTQ initiatives from a state that's already been emboldened by its "success" in banning all sorts of books and curriculum from public schools. 

But, like I said, moral panics are nothing new in America. What's different this time, perhaps, is the ability of those in positions of power and influence to leverage moral panics for actions that cause widespread and real harm. Also, the verdict is still out on whether we as nation can successfully push back against this wave of hatred and prejudice, as we've done with past waves.

So let's circle back to Hyles and "Satan's Bid for Your Child." Here are some excerpts from his sermon 52 years ago. You may find some of it outrageous. Some of it laughable. Some of it hypocritical. But you should find all of it familiar. We've been down this path many times, the path of pointing fingers at the people, the institutions and the arts that we perceive to be "ruining" America. 

  • "The truth is that many parents do not know what is happening in our public schools. Hence, I am going to be very frank tonight and spend myself to save your boys and girls."
  • "Have you ever been taught evolution?"
  • "Do any of your teachers wear pant-dresses?"
  • "Have you ever heard the American way of life, the establishment, and capitalism criticized by a teacher?"
  • "Have you been asked to read such books as Of Mice and Men, Soul on Ice, The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, or any other book that includes cursing?"
  • "That battle is not just to save a country; it is to save your children!"
  • "Satan is after your child. He has pointed every gun in his arsenal at the soul, body, and mind of your child, and he is basically doing it through the school room."
  • "During the years of this extensive effort to use our educational system to help change the American way of thinking, a key propaganda gimmick used to keep communists, socialists, and other undesirables on teaching staffs was the cry of 'academic freedom.'"
  • "Many of you do not know what your kids are reading. You have not checked. You have no idea, so I have to tell you. I'm going to open a few of the books. I will not say the bad words; I'll just spell them."
  • "Television and radio programs by the dozens which have traditionally been for good solid music now have on their programs such guests as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I can't sing, I don't know much about music, but I know that is not music!"
  • "We must get back to decency. Rock music is ruining our young people and overwhelming our country with communism. What can we do about it? Here is what we must do: 1. Teenagers, destroy every record, picture, and magazine you have that has anything to do with these revolutionary singing groups. Don't give them away. Burn them! Break them! Destroy them!"
  • "Sensitivity training is sex education encouraging students to express all points of view freely. They also use four-letter words."
  • "Get your child into a Christian school. I mean it."
  • "It is time we called a national emergency on the devil. We've got to do it. Let's save our children!"

Not much has changed, has it? Hyles died in 2001. Were he alive in today's world, I strongly suspect that he would have attended and applauded at last night's CPAC gathering in Maryland.

But, wait, there's more (unfortunately)
Related posts
1. Excerpts from those sources:
  • "The Women Who Knew Jack Hyles" (by David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, Sept. 5, 2021): "Each of these testimonies agree in major points that should cause any Bible-believing preacher to reject Jack Hyles as a gross hypocrite who was unqualified to be a pastor and as a cult leader rather than a true shepherd under Jesus Christ."
  • "Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church" (by Bryan Smith, Chicago magazine, Dec. 11, 2012): "Multiple websites tracking the First Baptist Church of Hammond have identified more than a dozen men with ties to the church — many of whom graduated from its college, Hyles-Anderson, or its annual Pastors’ Schools — who fanned out around the country, preaching at their own churches and racking up a string of arrests and civil lawsuits, including physical abuse of minors, sexual molestation, and rape."