Story Projects Fall 2015
AMH 1041 and AMH 2020Assignment: Write (and document) a story that has never been published before. Here are the opening paragraphs from the Story Project essays in one of my 4 classes.
Happy New Year!
My dad served in the military for thirty years, he retired from the Marine Corp this past January. We never talked about any of his time spent deployed overseas because of how sensitive the subject is for us, you see he’s my hero and he’s also my best friend. It took a lot of nerve to ask my dad to sit down and tell me about some of his memories in Iraq and Afghanistan but I’m honestly so glad I did, these stories are something I will always remember and cherish with my heart because I learned what it really takes to fight for your country.
It all started back in the1980’s in the Gulf of Mexico, specifically Louisiana and the southern Texas area. My dad got a job working for with the Baroid Company, an oil service company that sets up computer trailers on oil rigs. These computer trailers had about twenty sensors hooked up to the oilrig connected to the computer to analyze everything that was coming out of the hole while they were drilling. All kinds of stuff would come up like shale rock and different gases. My dad got this job during a serious surplus of crude oil called the 1980’s oil glut.
The origin of the Fighting M**** of Mahwah, New Jersey, began as a love story. The six M**** brothers who later became known as the “Fighting M****” were first generation American citizens. Their father,John M M****, was a young Polish citizen who had begun to resent the regimentation imposed on the people of his native country by the Russian Czar. Around that same time,John wanted to marry the love of his life,Karolina. However,Karolina was from a wealthy family and her parents forbid them to marry.Together, they then made a plan to move to the United States to escape the difficulties of the conflict in their homeland and so that her family could not prevent them from marrying. They sailed into Ellis Island in the same way that millions of other immigrants have arrived in America,searching for a new and better life.
They came to the United States to live, marry, and raise a family in the way that they chose. In 1919, following the end of World War I, John M**** and Karolina Ko***were married in Ramapo, New York. They later decided to settle nearby in Mahwah, New Jersey. There, John worked in a steel mill that made railroad parts and Karolina worked as a maid. On a meager income, they raised a large family. They had 9 children – Teresa, Joe, Francis “Frank”, Chester “Chuck”, Eddie, Steve, Johnny, Sophie, and Thomas “Tommy.” Their eldest child, Teresa, died at a very young age of infantile paralysis (polio). The infection ravaged her body, weakened her muscles and ultimately took her life.
Despite the early tragedy, the family was happy but poor. It was difficult for a factory worker and a maid to fully support so many children and feed so many mouths. Their children began to help contribute to the family income as soon as they were able. There were years of hardship due to both the lack of work and the Great Depression that the entire country faced.
I was born in Moscow, Russia on July 27th, 1994. My birth name was ******* . This is slightly harder to pronounce than my American name, ****** . My adoptive parents decided to keep some of my Russian heritage intact and moved Sergei from my first name to my middle name. This is the story of a Russian infant who was adopted by an American family, who survived the struggles that go with Russian adoption and the after effects.
As I am writing this unique story, I look back and think about how fortunate I was to be adopted from Russia. Why me? What mannerisms did I display or how did my personal looks attract my parents to pick me out of all the other children that were up for adoption? The commitments and responsibilities that families have to make to adopt can sometimes be overwhelming. In my case it was very overwhelming for both of my parents, especially for my mother. This wasn't just a one trip; sign papers and receive your new child deal. It required many phone calls, signing of papers, and two trips from the U.S to Russia.
My adoptive parents adopted me through an agency called the Lutheran Ministries of Florida. My adopted parents said the agency was horribly mismanaged because the agency never called when they were scheduled to and basically left my parents in the dust. After many failed attempts at communication they were finally given an application to fill out. After a stressful few months they were approved to start looking for children in Russian orphanages. This process consists of reviewing videotapes of children that are ten seconds long per child. It’s basically an audition. In my ten-second video I had an elephant in my hand, which was my adoptive mothers favorite animal. She also said I had a special energy that steered her towards me. Once she picked me she had to put in a request for adoption. They had to wait for approval before they could finally meet me for the first time.
On the first trip both of my adoptive parents came to Russia. They had to leave their eight-year-old son in Florida with family members. The first trip to Russia didn't work out as planned. The court denied my parents request to adopt and they had to come back to the U.S. As the second trip approached my adoptive father had to stay in Florida to watch his son and work. My adoptive mother went to Russia by herself to adopt me. She said this trip was scary because she had to carry around $20,000-$30,000 of cash on her. While in Russia she stayed with a Russian professor in his den because the hotels were egregious. After a few days of stress and miscommunication she was able to pick me up from the adoption center and bring me back to America. At three years old my life was about to change forever.
However, nothing in Russia is made easy. When we got to the airport security stopped us. Airport security said that my paperwork was missing a required stamp. They said that we would have to go to the courthouse and get the proper stamp so that I could leave the country. Upon arrival at the court house they told my adoptive mother they weren't going to stamp my paperwork because they believed something was wrong. My adoptive mother had an emotional break down and pleaded with the court. Luckily they felt bad and stamped my paperwork so that we could officially leave Russia.
My exhausted new mother and I still had to make it back to America, my new home. My mother said I was so fascinated with buttons and lights that I had to touch every little thing I saw. My first taste of American food was McDonalds. Supposedly, McDonalds French fries became my new obsession. The first gift I received was an American bear signifying my new home. I still have a Russian bear that I brought with me and will keep both bears for the rest of my life. The Russian bear signifies my heritage and the American bear signifies my new opportunities.
The brush gently slid across the canvas, leaving a trail of black paint in its wake. The last stroke was done and the words now that glowed against the white simply stated 2nd Star on the Right and Straight on till Morning. Cristina pushed her black hair out of her face and sat back to appreciate her masterpiece. The quote came from her all time favorite fairy tale Peter Pan. She'd spent many an hour reading and re-reading her own copy of it. The story of a boy who opened the door for Wendy, John, and Michael to go on a perfectly marvelous adventure. She was ever so jealous. What must it even be like to leave the familiar place of home and explore new places? She didn't know. She'd never even left Cuba, or been to the border.
Amidst her thoughts there entered a loud thumping noise as Juan, all two feet of him, came hurling through her door. His eyes were wide, and his hair askew, and he let out a loud cry. His favorite thing to do lately was to be an indian, and a very loud one at that. Cristina shook her head. The peace of the morning was over, Juan had surely woken up the rest of the house. She stood up and extended her hand to her brother, "Come on, Juan, let's go find some breakfast." He grinned up at her, and raced back out.
Her father was already downstairs, a bowl of untouched oatmeal in front of him, and the morning newspaper in his hands. Since the new ruler Castro had been elected in earlier 1959 her father had been getting increasingly more worried. There had been rumors going around about schools being over-turned, and even burned by Castro, and his men. But no one knew if they were really true or not.
Many young eighteen year old men were drafted and sent to basic training to prepare for what was to come. As a seventeen year old and about to graduate from High School my Uncle Allan S*** knew he had to sign up for the draft and likely to be called to report for duty. Him and a few others were looking for ways to avoid military combat service.
Like most young men, they were all looking for ways to escape this ordeal. Some men got lucky; whereas, most did not and was sent off for training because of the draft and the program that was passed in 1961, by President Kennedy.
He was to graduate in the year of 1964 from Miller County High School In Colquitt, Georgia. Unfortunately, that was also the time the Vietnam War was going on in South Vietnam. A law was passed under John F. Kennedy's presidency that every young man that was turning eighteen had to sign up for the draft, that is if your were a single man. Married men didn't have to sign up because they had a family to take care of and there would be no draft for them. Under this law there was no exception. When you turned eighteen and graduate from High School you were sent immediately to have a physical for the draft. Needless to say during the draft for the military all young men dreaded to see the letters sent home notifying you to sign up and if called to go get your physical.
Michael T**** was the oldest of six brothers and sisters. His father, Thomas Patrick T**, was an officer in the United States Air Force. After he graduated high school in 1966, which is also when Vietnam was starting to get pretty "hot" at this time, he didn’t have the best grades in the world, so he did not have good enough grades to get scholarships and go to school. He did not think that his parents had enough money to send him off to college, so he applied for the Coast Guard Academy and Naval ROTC, and he didn’t get accepted into any of those things. So he then decided that he would enlist in the army because this was the only branch where you could become and officer without having to go to college. All the rest of the branches, to be and officer, required a college degree. He enlisted in November of 1966, and he went to Fort Dix, New Jersey, in the winter time for basic training, where he caught pneumonia at the end and had to spend two weeks in the hospital. While he was there at Fort Dix, he took the test for Officer Candidate School (OCS) for artillery. He then passed the test and was accepted into Officer Candidate School for field artillery and was stationed at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. There he went through two months of individual advanced training, learning how to compute fire missions as an enlisted person. After this he was sent to OCS, he got commissioned as Second Lieutenant in his class out of 200 or more guys who graduated on the same day, which was December 5, 1967. After graduation, there were only two men sent to Germany, him being one, and all the rest were sent to Vietnam. In Germany, he was in the 3rd Armored Division and they were across the boarder from the Soviet Union. He had a two year obligation after he was commissioned, so he was guaranteed pretty much the whole time in Germany.
On April 29th, 1925 Marvin Via MacM was born to George Callahan MacM and Myrtle B. Via in Alleghany Springs, a hollow located in southwest Virginia. When Marvin was two years old his mother, Myrtle tragically died giving birth to Marvin's brother, Albert. Shortly after the tragic death of his mother and birth of his younger brother Albert, Marvin’s father George Callahan left the two young boys with their mothers mother, never to return. Marvin’s grandmother, Quincy Ella Alberta Kansas Thomas Via raised Marvin and his brother Albert; along side of her, Marvin’s Aunt Effie Via, Quincy Ella’s other daughter who was mentally handicapped. Marvin had a different childhood then most children raised in his day, living with his grandmother and aunt things clearly weren’t the same as other children's living conditions. But this was okay, considering Marvin and Albert both knew of nothing else, this life that they where living was completely normally to them and they had a closer relationship with their grandmother than one could imagine.
In 1942, at the age of 17 years old, young Marvin enlisted to join the U.S. Army. Shortly after Marvin enlisted into the U.S. Army he was sent to a camp in San Luis Obispo, California for combat engineers training and deployment. Marvin was entered into the 104th infantry division, also known as the Timberwolves Division, fighting in The Battle of The Bulge through out many parts of Europe. Marvin fought under command of General Terry De La Mesa Allen, also known as “Chief Timber-wolf” coming from the infantries nickname “The Timberwolves.” General Terry Allen is known to be “one of the finest American combat leaders of WWII.” General Allen believed his “non-coms and men must always come first..” which made his men very fond of him. General Allen was suggested to also “love his men too much” in return.
In the early days of September in the year of 1944, 2 years after Marvin enlisted in the Army and was sent to California, Marvin and the Timberwolves division departed from there camp in San Luis Obispo, California and sailed overseas. The Timberwolves division arrived in Cherbourg, France on September 7th, 1944 as the first American division to go directly from the U.S. states to France. Marvin and The Timberwolves division started traveling from place to place starting in the country of France. Shortly after Marvin arrived he got the opportunity to write home to his grandmother and Aunt Effie; “Dear Ma and Effie, I have a little time I will drop you a few more lines to let you know I am well and still getting along all right. I haven't gotten any mail for quite awhile so I don't hardly know what to write about. I hope you all are getting along all right. We have had a pretty nice day here today, a little rain but not so bad. It hasn't gotten so terrible cold here yet. Well I suppose I had better close for this time but will write you again when I can. Be good until next time. -with love Marvin”
On a snowy Pennsylvania day, a man named Frank Bell was born. The year was 1919. He was one of three children, two boys and one girl. He is my great grandpa, and he has lived an extraordinary life. When he was just a child, he and his family moved to New Jersey. His mother was a factory worker and his father was a proud World War veteran. He was always his father’s favorite child, even though he would never admit it. He admired his father as well. He wanted to be just like him. So naturally, he wanted to join the military when he got older. While he was growing up, his family always had good money. His father was a landowner who owned a couple hundred acers of land, where he cultivated crops. This brought in a lot of revenue to the family. Then came the great depression. His family took a huge financial hit, as did most families. My great grandfather was only 10 years old when the depression hit. His father couldn’t sell his crops, so he couldn’t pay the taxes on the land. They lost much of their land because of this. Also, all the banks in town closed down, so this caused them to lose all the money they had saved up over the years. Throughout my great grandfather’s teenage years, he worked on what was left of his father’s farm. His father was getting older and needed help around the farm, so he wouldn’t let him join the military until he turned 18. On his 18th birthday, he went and enrolled in the Navy. He wanted to join the Army, but he wasn’t allowed because of his high arches in his feet. He told me that he is glad that he joined the Navy so that he didn’t have to walk everywhere, he could get a ride on a big boat. This was in 1937. Still to this day, he tells me that that day was the best day of his life. While he was in the Navy, all of Europe was in a full out war. Like most Americans, my great grandfather wanted nothing to do with it. He felt that Europe should handle their own problems. My great grandfather was moved to the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in August of 1941. Little did he know, this would change his life forever. My great grandpa has told me the story of the bombing only once, and I can tell that it affected him deeply. It changed his life, in both good and bay ways. On the morning of December 7th, 1941he woke up around 6 o’clock. He got up, brushed his teeth, and got dressed. Every morning at 6:30, he would go for a run. After he got back from his run, he went to get breakfast. This was at around 7:30 am. While he was eating he suddenly heard a loud explosion followed by machine gun fire. He ran outside to see what was happening. Someone told him that they had been attacked. He told me that they had trained somewhat for something like this. Everyone had a certain job to do. My great grandfather rushed to his station, which consisted of a large machine gun. He started firing, but a bomb dropped about 50 feet from him. He said that’s the last thing that he remembers from that day. The next thing he knows, he wakes up in a makeshift hospital the next day. He was very confused. He saw a young lady tending to another victim about 10 feet away. He called her over. She came over to him. The young woman had deep blue eyes and bleach blonde hair. She was the most beautiful girl that he had ever seen. She came over to him, and he asked her what her name was. She said that her name was Lucille. She proceeded to tell him that a piece of scrap metal from an explosion hit him in his left ear. He was having trouble hearing what she was saying, but he didn’t really care what she was saying. All he could think about was how beautiful she was. He told me it was love at first sight. He had never believed in love at first sight. In fact, he told me about how he always laughed at his friends who claimed to be in love. He had butterfly is his stomach every time they talked. He was well enough to leave the hospital that day, but he didn’t want to. He wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. As they talked more and more, he found out that she was from Pennsylvania as well. In fact, she was from a small town an hour south of where he was from. She told him that before the war, she was a waitress at a small restaurant in the center of her hometown. While they were talking a day later, my great grandfather was told he was going home. He had lost 70% of his hearing, and he was told that he was no longer suitable for combat. The next day, he was on his way back home. He was devastated because he thought that he would never see the love of his life again. This devastated him. Not only could he no longer be in the army, he lost most of his hearing, and he thought that he lost Lucille forever. He was determined to see her again. But how? He was back home in Pennsylvania and she could be anywhere in the world. He went back to working on his father’s farm. Years went by, and the war finally ended with the drop of two atomic bombs in Japan. My grandfather saw this as an opportunity of possibly finding Lucille. He wanted to go to her town to see if she had returned, but he didn’t have a car. He asked to borrow the family car, but his father told him that he was wasting time looking for her. He said that there is no way that he would find her, and that hes crazy for even thinking about it. But she was all he could think about. He wondered if she ever thought about him. He wondered if she even remembers him. Hell, he didn’t even know if she was alive. He had to find out. He couldn’t sit and wonder anymore. So one night, he took his parents car and set off to that little town an hour south. He arrived in the middle of the night, and fell asleep in the car. He was awoken by the sunlight the next morning. He drove to the restaurant. He sat in the car for a while when he got there. He didn’t know what he was going to say when he say, if he would be able to speak at all. He finally collected himself and walked in.
I’m going to tell you a little something about an old Macon fighter called Scrapiron Greene. While doing my research and talking to some distant family, I repeatedly received the same response: first a chuckle then the line “Oh, he was a character”, and he was a character all right. During his lifetime he was a singer, a motorcycle cop, a clerk at the Dempsey, a marine, bootlegger, and a few other things including my great grandfather. He traveled everywhere and knew everybody, leaving behind a truly out of the ordinary legacy as well as a son who’s story might just be more interesting than his own.
In a small house on Second Street in Macon, Georgia there lived seven Greene boys. Edgar, the oldest, was killed in World War I, Millard was in the Navy during the same war but got back home unharmed, and Alva died at 18 of the flu just before he was supposed to go into the service. Scrapiron, whose name was Henry was born next in 1903, then Jesse, Fred, and Willie. In a small town with not much to do they made their own fun, which mainly consisted of rough physical activity. His brother Jesse explained “Henry was Macon’s best with a slingshot, he could knock a bird right out the top of a tree.” He didn’t really play sports much though, just a little baseball and of course, the boxing, which starts to explain the strange nickname. Growing up, the Greene boys were all members of the Second Street Gang and a couple blocks over were the Orange Street sluggers, a neighboring gang who they would often play baseball against. Here is where Henry met future professional heavyweight boxer W.L. Stribling and his little brother Baby. Henry started sparring with W.L. when he was 15 and it was Stribling’s father who gave him the nickname, remarking one day that he was tough as iron. Scrapiron wasn’t a great fighter by any means but at six feet and 175 pounds he was tough and hard to handle. W.L. liked to spar with him for this reason. He fought on many of Stribling’s cards in Macon and a couple occasions out of town. This made Scrapiron the tough guy that he came to be later on.
A local Macon newspaper once did a short story on Henry a while after he passed as they thought it would pass as an entertaining account. In this document Scrapiron was described as a likable guy who was always the life of the party. Quick to tell a joke, his personality was infectious, however so was his appetite for danger. At 17 he joined the Marines but not long after he went back home in search of more thrilling experiences. At one point in his youth Greene transported bootleg whiskey through the South on the back of his motorcycle and then, ironically enough, several years later became a policeman. He discovered he not only had a passion for fighting but also singing and started singing at the Macon auditorium. Scrapiron retired the old nickname and became known around town as the singing cop. However affluent his desire for adrenaline was, he ultimately settled down at 26 and had three sons and three daughters including one in particular, Claude Greene.
This is the story of a man who lived a life full of many struggles. A man that had done many great things with that life as well. Someone I have always visited but never knew of the life that he lived until talking with his family about all his items that would tell a story. Evelio Lee Almeda is that very man and I would like to share the story of his life so people remember what an amazing man he is.
Evelio was born the twenty seventh of December in the year of 1923 in Tampa, Florida. His family came from Cuba to have a better life for him. Though they did not speak any English at all. When Evelio was around five years old, his mother died. He was to live with his aunt but she already had children of her own to deal with of her own, so he was sent to the orphanage to live. The nuns in the Catholic Church in which he went to would whip him for speaking Spanish. Literally they would punish Evelio for speaking Spanish at all. Quite a hardship to go through to live in America as a young boy. This however did not stop him from being a trouble maker there. A spirit like his could not be broken so easily. He would find ways to still be a child and have fun with the others. I was interested that he was really person who had to go through such things. He lived with the nuns there until the age of eighteen.
My grandmother was born in May of 1941. It was in December that same year that the United States was pulled into World War II with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
My great grandfather and great grandmother lived in Melrose Park, Illinois. They had three children: Donna, born in 1938; Roy, born in 1940, and my grandmother, Patricia, born in 1941. My great grandfather worked at the American Can Company that manufactured tin cans. American Can is best known for it being the birthplace of the beer can which it began making in 1935. He was a tool and die maker, basically a machinist that made die molds for the cans. My great grandfather had three brothers, my Grandfather being the eldest one of them. Once the United States was pulled into World War II, in 1942 the four brothers all went to enlist. Three of the four were able to enlist. One of my great grandfather’s brothers’ served in the Air Force and the other two served in the Navy. My great grandfather, however, wasn’t able to enlist. Since he was twenty-eight years old, married, with three children and a fourth on the way, they would not allow him to enlist. Although they were taking pretty much anyone between the ages of 18 and 45 who wanted to enlist, there were certain exceptions. Being married with three, almost four children, was one of them. This made my great grandfather very upset. He wanted to help in the war and fight on behalf of America. Instead, he stayed back in the United States and took care of his growing family. Even my great grandfather’s brother-in-law, enlisted and went into the Air Force becoming an aerial gunner. My great grandmother, however, was glad my great grandfather wasn’t able to serve, she wanted him at home to help with the children.
Since the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent depression, people didn’t have a lot. My great grandparents didn’t own a house or a car. They lived in a small apartment with their three, soon to be four, children. They walked to the store, the movies, and the doctors came to you as they made house calls then. Life was modest, but became worse with the onset of the war.
World War II had been going on since 1941 and the United States had troops overseas it needed to food and cloth. This caused shortages for those on the home front. The United States had scarce supplies of processed and canned foods as these were sent overseas to the soldiers. Imported foods like coffee and sugar were also limited because of importing restrictions. In October of 1943, my great grandmother received ration books for her and my great grandfather and even one for each of their children. The United States Government’s Office of Price Administration had established a system of rationing and distributing foods that were in short supply.
My grandmother, Patricia, was only two years’ old and had her own ration book. When it was time to get their rations, my great grandmother and her three children would all walk to the National Tea Company, their local grocery store, for their food rations. They all had to go and all had to have their ration books in their possession. My great grandmother could not just bring the ration book for one of her children. The child and their ration book had to both be present.
To begin with, my grandfather, Chester Coachman is an 85 year old veteran who has served in the army for 3+ years. At just the age of eighteen, he was drafted by the U.S army. Throughout his life, he has been faced with many trials and tribulations that an average person almost likely would not have been able to handle on the regular. He has learned a lot about the world in his time of serving and also accomplished and did a lot. Back as far as he could remember, he used to shoot a lot. About as long as 400 yards with a M1 rifle. My grandfather has a lot of experiences and seen a lot of things that would be excruciating to most. He has served in Germany, Holland, and France within the 3 years of being in the army.
The army has definitely left him with health issues; such as problems with his sight and also hearing. My grandfather is a very strong man. The reason I mention this is because at just the age of five he had to overcome the worst thing ever; something that no one is ever prepared to see or hear. Losing his mother to an illness. That takes a lot out of a young child that doesn’t quite understand why things happen the way they happen and also when things would never be the same after learning this kind of information. This has deeply affected him throughout his whole life and to try and take away the pain, he has did nothing but positive things in his life. Serving our country is a great example. I know that there’s a lot of people that go through this such event of losing a close loved one, but my grandfather is like no other man that I have seen before.
He has taught me how to be strong and fear nothing and understand that the sky's the limit. Listening to his stories when I was younger was a bit much but now that I’m older and wiser, it has taught me a lot about having strength. This is exactly why I felt that my grandfather would be perfect for my history paper. In this research paper, I will go through some events in details that has taken place in his life while he was serving and also after he has served in the army.
The first event happened back in the year of 1947. A couple of caucasian men asked Chester to take a ride with them on the boat. Things were really segregated back in those days when this occurred. Not giving much thought into it, Chester gladly hopped on as if everything was all good without any suspicion between the two races. Before getting on the boat and heading out, they were pretty calmed about things. After about 15 minutes of boat riding, they bluntly told him to get off the boat while they were in the middle of the ocean. Two miles out from the shore to be exact.
There was no rational thinking of the possible dangers that were waiting ahead. He didn't have any belongings, any food, or anything to help him stay above the water or help him stay alive for that crucial time being. They were a bunch of heartless people who thought Chester didn’t deserve to live another second. Chester was forced to swim two miles to a place called the Virginia Keys where his kind would be on the beach just talking and socializing like normal people do.
It was a fortunate thing that the army taught Chester how to become a pro at swimming. It was also a fortunate thing that black people stayed together and as soon as the people seen Chester, they came rushing to his rescue. He was a strong man and was prepared for any battle that awaited him in life, because of this he was not left traumatized. The army prepared you for any possible dangers. It was just an unfortunate situation that he was unaware of the intentions of the men that lured him into becoming a victim of racial profiling.
They intentionally left him in the middle of the ocean to suffer a horrible death. It could have been from drowning or even getting ripped into shreds by predators such as the most frightening animal of them all, a great white shark. Chester told me and I quote “drowning is the most horrible way to die because it’s not a quick death, you actually feel yourself drifting away.” There was no sympathy for Chester, just hateful, spiteful and bitter men acting as if they got the last say so with the length of his life. He came out of that situation alive and well and that’s all that matters. He told me that when this took place he just felt his heart sank down into his stomach. He says he has never been so humiliated and belittled in his younger years. He was hurt that they would trick him into thinking he was just going for an outing with a few potential friends but that wasn't the case at all.He has some crazy stories that he always share with his grandchildren and for that, he isn’t a boring grandparent who lived life day to day. He is the true definition of a survivor.
In the spring on 1989 my mom, Bobbi Zimmerman-Carr and her friends got together to create “The Yale Journal of Law and Feminism.” The events that led up to the first publication are intriguing with everything from angry lesbians to my mom’s cat Mocha hiding in the walls of a classroom. Everything began the day my mom decided to choose Yale out of all the Universities she’d been accepted to. My mom chose Yale because she knew she could broaden her opinions and her education while attending Yale. Even before going to Yale my mom was a feminist, and she believed that Yale could tap into her passion for women’s rights. Being a woman in the south wasn’t easy and my mom was ready to change that. My mom believed that Congress didn’t have the power to tell women who to be or what to do with their bodies. Women were on the edge of change in the late 80’s and it was a good time to be involved with groups of women who wanted to change the laws.
During my mom’s first year at Yale, she met several women who helped her navigate the small Connecticut town. Ursula, Allison, Susan and Jacklyn all helped contribute to the beginning of a revolution for women. Ursula, who was my mom’s closest friend is described as sophisticated and the type of woman who fit right in to Yale’s atmosphere. Ursula had long brown curly hair and had a look in her eyes that meant business. Being that my mom was from the south, Ursula took my mom under her wing and showed her the ways of a northern woman. Ursula explained to my mom that upper class people had a “code” that they lived by and made sure to give my mom all the details so that she would be able to fit in around campus, especially since my mom was attending Yale on a scholarship.
While Ursula and my mom spent time together, they met other women on campus who shared the same passion for women’s rights. Allison, who was also attending Yale on a scholarship, became the “third musketeer” and eventually Ursula, Allison and my mom became extremely close. As semesters passed, the girls became obsessed with finding ways to spread the word about feminism and their other passion, which was law. The girls came up with the idea to create The Yale Journal of Law and Feminism. After much thought, the girls featured an ethnically different statue of liberty on the cover of the journal. This was no ordinary statue of liberty, because lady liberty was shown “peeking out” from behind a blindfold, which symbolized women not turning a blind eye to the laws about women.
As a first generation American, for the duration of my upbringing, I have had exposure to a variety of different ethnic influences including, Jamaican and Trinidad culture from my father’s side, and British and Nigerian influence from my mother’s side. Growing up, I knew my family was different from most of my friends, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I was able to reasonably interpret the stories my grandparents told me as a child. Many people today underestimate the significance a historical event can have on a person’s life. Unless an individual is directly affected by a chaotic event it’s nearly impossible to understand the gravity of the situation without walking in their shoes. The world has changed tremendously over the past few decades and it’s difficult to contemplate the hardships many of our recent ancestors had to overcome. While violence is still prevalent, I am grateful to live in a time period where people are more accepting, tolerant, and understanding, than ever before. I have been blessed to have never experienced a traumatic event such as war, however my grandparents were not quite as fortunate. They are living proof of how the human spirit and love can drive us to create our future and change our destiny. This is the story of how my grandparents met and how the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, almost prevented my existence entirely.