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Amelia's Closet of Memories

 
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Amelia Boucherie
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Joined: 26 May 2011
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Can Be Found: Here. There. My feet tend to wander.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:02 pm    Post subject: Amelia's Closet of Memories Reply with quote

My memories may not go as far back as many others of my ilk, but for me they are nonetheless important. I did indeed begin my life during some very interesting times. It is not extraordinary for those of us reborn to lose our connection to our roots as time stretches forever forward. New experiences can leave little room for the old and easily forgotten. In the hopes of retaining a sense of my history, or rather my origins, I wish to keep some form of record. A diary of memories, so to speak.

From time to time, I will share tidbits of my life before and since. Just little snippets of my past that I find of interest or import. Do not count this as some form of timeline, for my memories do not flow as they were gained, but rather tantalize and tease in random order.

May I discover wisdom in this endeavor, and, if nothing else, perhaps give a picture of my life that I might pass on to those I call my children.

Ame
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Amelia Boucherie
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Wyrmling


Joined: 26 May 2011
Posts: 6
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Can Be Found: Here. There. My feet tend to wander.
498.36 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:33 pm    Post subject: The Death of Silent Movies Reply with quote

When I was a girl I would beg my father to take me to Nickelodeon - where short, silent films would be shown on a large screen while someone played a piano in time to the moving pictures. My favorite was a series of shorts called "The Perils of Pauline".

But in 1927 films changed forever. I was 25 years old and still enjoying my former life when "The Jazz Singer" was released. It ran for 88 glorious minutes and was the first talking, singing musical I had the pleasure of viewing.

It was also the death of Silent Films. After "The Jazz Singer" silent films lost their luster. It did take a few years for "Talkies" to become the norm but it was the inevitable future of the industry.

Looking back today the only aspect of silent films I miss? The piano players. Sometimes they played such beautiful music - and intermission was where their talents truly shone.

Today, in the twenty-first century, I look back at "The Jazz Singer" and cringe - what was once a beautiful, amazing moment in my past life now looks somewhat creepy and far more suited labeled a B-Film today. My how things change.

Care to take a peek?
The Jazz Singer; Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet


Last edited by Amelia Boucherie on Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Amelia Boucherie
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Wyrmling


Joined: 26 May 2011
Posts: 6
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Can Be Found: Here. There. My feet tend to wander.
498.36 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:42 pm    Post subject: The First Time I Voted Reply with quote

I still vividly recall the first time I was allowed to vote. It was 1920 and I was all of 18 years old. It was, in a word, exhilarating. And quite the big deal, I might add. The ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed on August 18, 1920, granting women across the U.S. the right to vote – no matter the color, race or class. As I cast my first vote I felt the weight of the fight that many women had waged over the past decades resting on my shoulders. It was a great and wondrous opportunity. It was also a declaration of independence for women in the United States as well. No longer were we simply chattel to the men in our lives. We were at long last free as any man. I was thoroughly excited and slightly overwhelmed.



In 1870, long before I was even a sparkle in my parents’ eyes, the 15th amendment was ratified granting African American Men the right to vote. During this social era, there was still a prevalent belief that women were not intelligent enough to make decisions on politics. Poppycock, I say and so did many wonderful women who stepped up and fought for women’s suffrage.



When I was a child I knew all about the Suffragette movement. My Maman was a suffragette herself. She was a very wise woman and set on seeing equality for all women in her lifetime. She may not be counted as a famous hero of the cause, but she is one of my personal heroes. Most will surely think of Susan B. Anthony, but she is not someone I would call a personal hero. That honor goes to three others outside my Maman: Ida B. Wells, Lucy Stone and Alice Paul. For me they were true heroes that stood up for the rights of all women, no matter the race or class. They spent their lives in the pursuit of women’s equality.



Although today we still face many inequalities as women, they are far fewer than in the early days of the Twentieth Century and the years before. To all women, young and old, cherish your right to vote, cherish your freedoms, for they were hard won for us by many glorious and brave women who sacrificed much to progress equality for our sex. We should honor them for the freedom they have won for us. And continue fighting for true equality for all.

Read More About My Personal Heroes Here:
Ida B. Wells (a.k.a. Ida B. Wells-Barnett)
Lucy Stone
Alice Paul
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Amelia Boucherie
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Joined: 26 May 2011
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Can Be Found: Here. There. My feet tend to wander.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:01 pm    Post subject: Ame's Closet: World War I and the Spanish Influenza Epidemic Reply with quote



World War I and the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918.

These two events are closely tied together for me as I shall explain.



In 1917 when the American Government voted to join the Great War in Europe I was fifteen years old. I attended Ursuline Academy, a private catholic school for girls. I can easily recall how utterly unimportant the war was for my young fifteen year old self. That was until my Father chose to enlist.



You see, a far more interesting event was unfolding on a local level at the time that was tightly linked to the newly stated declaration of war. It was the closing of The District, a.k.a. "Storyville". The District was New Orleans' answer to legalized prostitution.



Growing up I had an occasional glimpse of the Basin Street Demimonde, in their fabulous frocks and fashionable coiffures. The houses along Basin Street were lovely and as whimsical as the ladies that paraded outside before them. I was particularly drawn to the Octoroons. To me their beauty was exotic and intriguing; I would envision wickedly wild stories of their backgrounds, of forbidden love filled with rebellion and passionate adventures which led to their birth and beauty. The growing popularity of Jazz alongside the opulence of the Basin Street Houses were indeed quite attractive for my youthful imagination. For a girl of my "station" it was considered scandalous and out-of-bounds, fruits I should never indulge in. Odd how we are pulled towards the very things society wishes to keep us from.

Years later I would recognize how the women had been exploited and how my young mind could only see the richness of the moment but not the depth or magnitude of their situation. It is what makes youth innocent in a way that can never be recaptured once it's lost.



The District, founded in 1897, had come under scrutiny in 1917 because the Secretary of War, Newton Baker, did not want US troops to have "distractions" while waiting for their deployment overseas. New Orleans Government was pressed to close Storyville for the betterment of the Navy boys stationed in our fair city. The government was right to be concerned, as Sexually Transmitted Diseases, a.k.a. Venereal Disease, VD, and STD, were rampant at the time. Storyville was no exception. The legalization of prostitution was by accident, as the laws the city enacted were meant to stifle the trade rather than encourage it. No actions had been taken to ensure the health of those "plying the trade" or those partaking of the "pickups". There were some "cures" available at the time for some of the STDs, but none of them were pleasant nor could the infected be sure if they were cured or not.



The entire affair of Storyville was rife with scandal and was the talk of the town for many months after due to the fallout that literally littered our very streets. Many of the "lewd" women were left homeless due to the laws imposed in 1897 which made it illegal to rent rooms to them outside of the boundaries of the now defunct District. It was plainly obvious everywhere we went that a crisis was upon us. Once proud and beautiful, the former Demimonde were reduced to beseeching "the pious" for mere scraps of food. My friends and I saw the crime in what was happening to those poor women, whereas the rest of the public seemed oblivious to their plight and instead blamed the disenfranchised women for their own debasement. It truly is a reflection of our culture that we can instigate situations that create crisis, like that of homelessness, and then somehow turn those in dire need into the villains. I have seen it played out time and time again, I am sorry to admit. Humans can be blind and heartless when it suits them and yet spew piety as if they hold the highest of morals. But I digress.



My Papa was caught up in the fervor of war as, it seemed, were all the men folk. He was too old to enlist, over 30, as a foot soldier, but he was able to obtain a position as an officer which he eagerly accepted to my Maman's dismay. A mere three weeks later he was off to unknown parts to do unknown things. My Maman was lost in despair for several months until Papa's letters began to arrive. Assured that he was still alive, she began to brighten up a bit. But too soon a new tragedy struck the world and we in New Orleans could only wait to see if it would find its way into our lives as well.



As The Great War played out all across Europe, we in America heard the stories and saw handfuls of printed newspaper pictures which kept it somewhat surreal. But then in 1918 the Spanish Influenza struck. In New Orleans we got our news from our local newspaper, The Times-Picayune. In the early Spring of 1918 we read about an outbreak of influenza, but thought little about it. By August of that year, we were inundated with the daily register of death counts from across the globe. Accounts held that the Spanish Influenza was hitting the healthiest the hardest. Blessedly, as many said, we in New Orleans had been spared. Specialists, doctors and other scientific types predicted that we might not see an outbreak in our city. They were horribly wrong.



September 29, 1918, the first death in New Orleans was reported. By October 7th the New Orleans Board of Health called for mandatory reporting of those infected. It was too late, there were already 7,000 active cases of the flu and it was spreading quickly. October 9th the City shut down all public areas, closed all schools and asked businesses to consider doing the same. Restaurants and soda shops emptied. Streetcars were forced to adhere to a mandatory allotted number of passengers to aid in keeping infection down. Businesses were asked to close or cut down to skeleton crews. The city came to a standstill.



The Great War, World War I, ended on November 11. 1918. It ended on a whimper hindered by the Flu Pandemic, as we in New Orleans were too busy counting our dead alongside so many others worldwide.

It was the healthiest among us that fell. I lost many friends during the epidemic as age was no barrier. Perhaps war hadn't touched our shores, or marred our land, it hadn't destroyed our factories and leveled our cities, but disease had laid the cold hand of death upon us. It ravaged families, friends, loved and unloved alike. It spared few and gave not a single damn in passing.

Quote:
Between October 1918 and April 1919, the city experienced a staggering 54,089 cases of influenza. Of these, 3,489 died - a case fatality rate of 6.5%, and an excess death rate of 734 per 100,000. Only Pittsburgh (806) and Philadelphia (748) - the two cities with the worst epidemics in the nation - had higher death rates.
Influenza Encyclopedia


It has been bandied about by scholars and scientists that without the Great War there may never have been the Spanish Influenza Pandemic. But the outcome is the same: many of the healthiest of us died. War is Hell, and it brings blight and terror in its wake. Never doubt that. Can the good that comes from war validate it? From my perspective I can answer with a clear and decisive "yes". Authoritarianism in any form leads to a darkness that kills even the brightest of hope within. No matter what, freedom is always worth fighting and sacrificing for.

On the upside, the homecoming of my Papa was quite uplifting. It took several months after the war before he was released from service. He was much thinner than he had been when he'd left. He had a haunted look that stayed with him until his death. He never talked about the Great War, what he'd done or seen. But he was home with us and that was all that really mattered. Happiness must be savored for it is short-lived and comes in tiny spurts - when it blesses you, hang on to every moment.

Ame

Read More About these Topics:
World War I & Its Aftermath
Influenza Encyclopedia
Storyville, New Orleans Wikipedia
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