Category Archives: Uncategorized

Book Review: A Moonless, Starless Sky by Alexis Okeowo (2017)

This is a good, current book about war and religious conflict in several African countries, through four personal stories. The author is the daughter of Nigerian parents, raised in Alabama.

Among other stories, we learn about Eunice and Bosco, both abducted as adolescents by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. Bosco was forced to fight, and Eunice was given to him as a wife. Eunice herself was forced to cut off a woman’s hand, for working her farm on a Friday (which had been prohibited by the LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony, on alleged religious grounds). Eventually Eunice escaped, pregnant with her second child, and Bosco finally escaped and found her later.

Much to the horror of Eunice’s family, she chose to stay with Bosco. He had become protective of her and their children. In the social traditions of Africa, many women in Eunice’s position are helped by the families of their “husbands,” but their own villages, and the men there, regard them as ruined and unmarriageable. The women have to make the best choices available to them, even if others cannot understand.

The author does not pretend to have solutions.

Census Records & Human Error

Census records are valuable, but it is best to consider them carefully and find an additional source.

In my research, I found the 1900 Census taken in Livingston, Montana, was full of errors. My great-greatgrandfather, John Muncaster, was listed as immigrating in 1867; actually he became a naturalized citizen in 1876. The birth year listed for my great-greatgrandmother, Minerva Jane Davis, was wrong by four years. Her father was born in Kentucky, not Pennsylvania. Her daughter, Jessie, was listed as a son, and my great-grandmother, Beulah, was listed as age 16, when she was only 11 years old. (The picture was taken at her high school graduation in 1907.)

It is also difficult to research past history when the same name is used so many times! If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend putting the birth date next to the name, every time. My great-grandfather’s aunt, Mary E. Bellairs, who lived to be 106, somehow morphed into his sister on, but I was finally able to determine he never had a sister.

Good luck with your research!

Boat Trip to Anacapa Island

I don’t like being on a boat very long, but five or six hours is nice. I recently took a boat from Oxnard Harbor to Anacapa Island. A few people got off the boat to go hiking, but I did not. It is a protected reserve area for wild birds, and hiking is restricted.

The most interesting part of the story was when the guide told us the “church” on the island was actually just a covering for the water tanks. Fisherman used to go by (probably drunk) and shoot at the water tanks. The island has very little natural water, so this was a problem for the employees and researchers living there. Now that they’re covered, no more bullet holes.

We saw dolphins in the water, seemingly unafraid of humans. A nice trip!

Film Review: GET OUT

GET OUT has received a great deal of well-deserved attention. It plays with old-fashioned horror movie themes, and the updated version of scary white people who have no regard for the lives of others.  CHRIS is an innocent black man who unwittingly puts himself in danger of losing his very soul, by leaving the warm, friendly city for the white suburbs.

I haven’t seen very many films this year, so I can’t say if it should be deemed Best Picture, but I can certainly recommend that you give this film a close viewing, perhaps on a dark, rainy night, or even a bright, sunny afternoon.

47% Innocent

Dear Whiners and Complainers:

For the last year I have listened to you accusing all white women of destroying our society. This is largely due to the report that 53% of white women age 45-64 voted for the current inhabitant of the White House. Keep in mind that 47% of us did not.

I am not in charge of changing someone else’s vote. Political consciousness develops slowly. I hope we all learn from the absolute greed of the Republicans who are doing their best to cause damage to millions of U.S. citizens.

Roy Moore did not win. Complaints about “white women” who voted for Moore, have little value. It would be a better idea to support and promote better candidates, and a more comprehensive understanding of the true workings of power.

Happy Holidays!

Marilyn Sue Michel