What? No Boxes this Year?

On the Friday before Veterans Day, Dr V -- the professor whose office shares a small narrow hallway with mine -- stood in my office door and smiled.

I had a student in the office, but the look on Dr V's face was such that I had to interrupt our deep discussion and ask WHAT???

Melissa, he said in a deep voice accented with his breeze of African lilt, every year for Veterans Day, every YEAR, there are bags and boxes and lines of students filling the hallway with donations. What happened? 

I sit quietly and nod.

He's right. I haven't mentioned this. I figure people usually DON'T talk about what they aren't doing, so I'm completely in the scope of normal.

I didn't tell my classes this semester that all my other classes for uncountable semesters have pulled together for a variety of causes and events from sending boxes to soldiers at war to throwing dinner parties for local vets living in transitional housing. I didn't tell them about how much fun previous classes have had.

I didn't tell them anything because this semester they aren't doing it.

That's right. This semester I stopped having a service project and substituted it with a large research project, asking my students to prepare a slice of history "only they can tell."

Why? Good question. I have an answer.

Last Easter my students and I delivered over 50 baskets to the doorsteps of veterans living in transitional housing. We worked up a huge sweat going up and down the stairs bringing baskets of chocolate and toiletries and treats but no one complained, no one got tired.

On Easter Day I woke up extra early to bring baskets and bags and boxes to a group home of profoundly disabled adults where Alex, one of my students, lived.  We had a blast and I took a bunch of pictures.

That afternoon when I got home, my 9 year old son Zack walked up and looked me right in the eye.

"No Easter eggs, and no Easter basket this has been a strange Eater," he said, in a voice that sounded like he was trying to figure this out.

"Oh no," I said.

I wanted to say "Oh no I completely forgot to take care of you" but that sounded worse.

"So either the Easter Bunny is fake or he forgot me," Zack says and I realize the depth of my transgression.

I spent the day before Easter fixing up baskets for strangers. I didn't boil eggs, didn't hide eggs, didn't buy basket grass or Cadbury eggs.

Nothing. I lost myself in work and my students and forgot my son (and my daughter, who actually didn't mention a thing or complain, but ohhh she has her days, it just wasn't THIS day).

Zack won't always  be in elementary school, he won't always want to study vocabulary with me, talk about Minecraft with me and generally interrogate me about miniscule facts he doubts, but while it lasts I need to be open, I need to make space.

And that's why, this year on Veteran's Day, there were no boxes, no baskets, no dinners.

This year I'm working a little harder at being Zack's mom, every chance I can get.


AMH 2020 MWF Exam #3 Study Guide*

Here are the possible questions for Exam #3:
20 will be on the exam @ 10 points each.  
Prepare notecard-sized answer, not ½ page essays!
I will grade as following:  correct= 10 points, half correct= 5 points, incorrect = 0

1.     How did the Bikini get its name?
2.     Explain “nuclear family” and the context from which it received its name*
3.     Explain the Baby Boom
4.     Why and how did the USSR support Castro’s Revolution?
5.     Why was General MacArthur fired?
6.     Explain the Creation of Israel (1948)
7.     Connect: Chinese Civil War, Taiwan, UN Security Council and 1950 Korean War
8.     List 5 NATO Countries
9.     List 5 countries that received Marshall Plan money
10.  List 5 countries on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain in Europe
11.  List the US Presidents from 1940-1968
12.  Question on Berlin Blockade and Airlift
13.  Question on Iron Curtain Telegram
14.  Question on 1953 Kinsey Report
15.  Question on Langston Hughes’ “From Beaumont to Detroit”
16.  Question on Japanese in the US during WW2
17.  Question on NSC-68
18.  Question on Atomic CafĂ© Videos
19.  Question on Building Berlin Wall Video
20.  Question on Castro’s rise to power in Cuba
21.  Question on Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan
22.  Question on Suez Crisis
23.  Question on Francis Gary Powers
24.   Question on The Rosenbergs
25.  Question on Cuban Missile Crisis
26.  Question on Operation Pedro Pan
27.  Question on “The Problem that has No Name”
28.   Question on “A Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie”
29.  Question on Mrs. America
30.  Question on House of the Future Video
31.   Question on Bay of Pigs
32.  Question on Operation Mongoose
33.  Question on Operation Ajax
34.  Question on Levittowns
35.  Question on Women and Work 1940-1970
36.  Question on GI Bill of Rights (1944) 

C is for Cookie Butter

For just a few precious days I have nothing to write, nothing to grade and no Science Fair project to fund and document.  

I won't tell you where I went (hint: it rhymes with Trader Schmo's) but I can tell you it was quite an adventure. It was much more bare boned than I'd expected, with smaller aisles blocked by people apparently picking each other up while drooling over triple dipped chocolate cherries and the such.

I bought a few things to cook spaghetti for dinner, and found it didn't cost more than Publix or Target, and the packages were an exciting break from the national brands that usually  dominate my selections. Besides that, I bought this. 


I found it by a jar of swirls of chocolate and peanut butter, hanging out where nutella would have been at another store.

Cookie butter. My inner cookie monster roared with excitement.
I brought it home and tried it with a spoon. 

It tastes like ground up sugarcookies, mixed with...sugar? and a little graham crackery flavor. 

 The advice printed on the jar of cookie butter says to spread it on toast, pancakes or waffles, but I strongly suggest that unless you have great life insurance you should stick to eating it with a spoon while quietly hoarding it from your loved ones. 


AMH 2020 - For Exam #3 (11/15)


*In addition to the videos posted on Blackboard for Exam #3

Review: Berlin Blockade and Airlift

Review: Iron Curtain Speech

New/Required: NSC-68

Review: Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan

New/Required: Francis Gary Powers

New/Required: Rosenbergs

Review: Korean War

Review: Cuba


Review: Part 1 of Feminine Mystique: “ The Problem that has No Name”

Review Lecture: A Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie

Required: Mrs. America
Required: House of the Future

AMH 1041 Research ideas and Feedback. Insert smiley face. Draft 1 Due 11/12.


The time my grandfather was stuck in a hole during WW2.*Yes! Where was he? what unit was he with? What was he doing? Place it in the context of the bigger war.

Where my great-great grandmother came from. *Perhaps. This could be a short essay and not very story-liscious. [ex: “I looked her up on Ancestry. I found out she’s from Alabama.”]

My grandfather’s role in the race wars of Boca. *Absolutely, definitely. I demand you forget your other topics and write on this.

I’m supposedly a part of the Black Foot Indiana Tribe. *You must must must go find this out. Who told you about this? How would they have known? Your story will be great, no matter what you find out, as long as you tie it to the bigger picture in American history.

History of how my family has been pressed down. *This sounds pretty general; hunt for a story that represents many of the challenges and tie it to US history.

  • How and why did my family come from the US to Cuba?
  • My great-grandparents journey from Germany to the US.
  • How my family arrived here from France.
  • Why my grandfather came from Armenia to America.

*If you can tell a detailed narrow story that covers their actual trip --  or maybe the three month period that included leaving and settling in -- this story would be a winner.  In the wrong hands, this could be a stale narrative of dates and places. Make sure to add history. Were they part of something bigger? What pushed them? What pulled them? What did they bring? Who did they know? Who helped them when they arrived? What cultural tools/baggage did they bring that helped or hurt them? Did they plan to come forever or were they just coming for awhile?

My grandmother was born in 1916; can I write about all the changes she’s seen in the decades of her life? *That would be very broad, to make this a “story” try limiting it to one specific sector she’s seen the most amount of change.


My great-uncle’s experiences fighting the Korean War. *Yes but make sure it isn’t a listing, it has to be a story.

Story about my great grandpa in WW2. *Pretty vague; go find the story!

My family on the Mormon pioneer trail. *Delicious. Green light.

My great grandfather operated mines in Arizona. *There have to be stories there!

History of my family moving from Italy to Vermont. *I’d definitely like to see what you can find as far as push/pull factors and whether they were part of a chain migration, perhaps as groups of skilled craftsmen to build cities?  

Story of my ancestor who worked for the King of England. *Interesting but if you’re using it for this class it has to be tied deeply to the narrative of US history. Was this at a crucial point in US-British relations?

My family’s educational history. *This could be interesting – but make sure it isn’t a report, it needs to be a story.

My family’s journey from plantations to office work.*Delightful.

A family legend. *Maybe. I need to know the legend and whether it can be linked to something substantial.


My grandma’s life on a plantation. *Perhaps. This could be too much of report. If you pursue this, I suggest you focus on a story about a single event that showed challenges/opportunities that characterized much of her life on the plantation.

Why my grandfather went to prison. *Maybe. You might get a simple answer, and not one you’d  want published in a book. His action has to tie to bigger themes in US history, so if you don’t know why he was arrested then you can’t know if it’s historically relevant.

Why I am the only light skinned person in my family.  *Well, asking that question can bring out a lot of historical themes. I won’t tell you to not do it, but I’m not sure it’s something that can be sorted out and written about in the limitation of the deadlines of this class.

Why is there a family war? *This is a question worth asking, however it probably won’t tie to US history. Or it might.  Either way, there could be an easier story to research.

History of my grandfather’s struggle. *That’s along the right lines, but I need to know what kind of struggle. Was it interior or exterior? Physical, mental, legal?  Just that I’m asking these questions means you could be on the right track.

History of my great-grandfather’s house in Chicago. *That could be interesting, it could be part of the 1920s housing boom, or earlier? Go find out!

Why my grandfather came to America and then went back. *Interesting. Go find out if it was a family obligation, or social pressure, or WW2?

What my grandma did while my grandpa was away at war. *This sounds interesting! Green light.

How my family created a candy company years ago. *This could be interesting; keep it a story and not a report, and make SURE to connect the story to US history.

Religious history of my family. *Green light. Make sure it is a STORY and it isn’t a “report” and that it ties to larger events in US history.

How my grandfather went from being the manager at a coal mine to starting his own coal mine company. *Yes. This will be interesting; place it in context of some history of the mines in the region he works.


History of my grandmother’s marriage. *It depends! Can you narrow it down to one good story and tie it to US history?

What secret my family hid in New Jersey. * Do you know it or are you going to find out? Do they want you to write about it and have it published in a book? Does it tie to US history? This could be great, or it could be an awful idea.

Why running from the Navy made sense. *Who? When? Were they dodging the Vietnam draft? Or WW2? This could be interesting.

The factories my grandmother worked at in Philly. *Maybe! Can you narrow it to a story on why she started or the day she got promoted or overcame a challenge? Need to tie it to US history.

How my family became wealthy. *Can it be told in a story and tied to US history? And before you submit it - Are you sure your family wants you to publish it?

My grandmother was the first to go “Greek” in our family. *Maybe. You have to get a story at the core of this – was she encouraged? Discouraged? How did her family react? How did this affect the rest of the generations of your family? Tie it bigger trends in US history.

Learn more about my grandfather I never met. *I’m not sure you’ll be able to learn a good story and connect it to US history, but then again there could be treasure waiting for you if you research this. It’s up to you.

Why my grandfather was an orphan. *Maybe. Do you know the story already, or is it hidden in sealed files? This could be too tough to research in our limited time.

History of my religion.  *This sounds way too big, and more like a report.

My great grandfather’s ship gets torpedoed and he survives for 5 days on a raft. *Go research it! This could be great. And if it turns out to be a family legend, that would be an interesting story too.

How my grandfather became the mayor of Naples, Florida.*This could be really interesting! Was he the first of anything – first in your family to run for office? First in your family to live in Florida (pioneer!)? You have to tie this to US history….What major issues in the US or locally caused him to run or affected his term?

History of my Mom’s first car. *This could be interesting. Make it a story, and it has to tie to US history and not be a listing of specifications etc.

History of the Chattahoochie Crazy House. *I’m not sure that’s what it was called. This story has to be something only YOU can tell; what do you bring to this? Ex: you from the community and always heard legends that now you want to research.

How my cousin went AWOL from the military. *Well, um, is he (she?) OK with you writing about this and having it published? If not, drop it like it’s hot.  If you do write about this, could be quite a story, especially if it ties well  to our current wars. If the story doesn’t tie to any bigger picture issue, you might want to look for something else to research.

The history of my church. *Could be good. Could be great. Depends. If you mean “the Catholic Church” then this is too huge. If you mean a particular congregation that has historical roots, this could be good, but it can’t be a report. It has to be a story, perhaps of the impact the church had on a particular movement or neighborhood or mission. Tie it to US history!

The history of racism and how it affected my grandparents. *OK – but narrow it to one well-told historically grounded story that captures the essence of their challenge.

The history of how my grandparents met at a bar. *They want you to tell this?? Well, is it historically relevant? Ex – was he shipping out to Vietnam? Or returning from the Korean War? Or had they just marched at a protest?

How one side of my family became sharecroppers on a plantation in Georgia. *This could be a great story if you know the moment they became sharecroppers, and place it in context of the bigger picture of sharecropping/what challenges they faced.