Pete Seeger sang “Bring ‘Em Home,” a patriotic, soldier-honoring Vietnam War protest

Seeger died in January, 2014, at age 94. He loved adding a banjo sketch to his autograph!

Seeger died in January, 2014, at age 94. He loved adding a banjo sketch to his autograph!

If you were near my office when this clip is playing, you would hear me singing along with the great departed Pete Seeger.  I love the way he honors the troops even as he asks us to “Bring ‘Em Home.”

It’s actually a very patriotic song.  But it brings tears, as the concert was recorded in 1970, just a year after I lost my cousin, who lived next door to me when I was growing up, and a dear friend.


The woman behind The Wall: Maya Lin never forgot Vietnam’s names

VietnamWallStampA 21-year-old college student’s anonymous entry won a national competition. Her design, later known simply as “The Wall,” would create a lasting memorial to the Americans who died in the Vietnam War. 

Nevertheless, Maya Lin faced years of criticism, beginning with a “B” grade in her college class. Not until a 1994 documentary did the world fully know her side of the story.

 


Muhammad Ali fought the Vietnam war draft

muhammad (2)No one protested the Vietnam War era military draft louder than boxer Muhammad Ali.

Why wouldn’t he serve? How did Americans, and the government, react?  


Those favorite Fenway Park Pesky Pole seats might put the squeeze on Brandon in 2015

greenmonsterseats (2)If Brandon wanted his same right field seats in Fenway Park (section 93) for a 2015 game as a Christmas present, the holiday gift would cost anywhere from $35 to $75 – depending on date and visiting team. See what the Red Sox will charge for the best seats in the coming season:


Boston’s Iraq War protesters faced national spotlight in 2004

books_not_bombs_by_black_cat_rebel-d59wefl (2)

Illustration: Bullmoose

Brandon’s 2004 Iraq War protests had a real-life Boston parallel. When the city hosted the Democratic National Convention that year, protesters saw their opportunity.


John Lennon, Yoko Ono combined Vietnam War protest with Christmas

gr_happychristmas_johnlennonNot everyone in Canada opposing the Vietnam War remained quiet.

Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono staged a “bed-in” protest in 1969 Montreal. They gave press conferences from their hotel room bed speaking out against war. During the event, John and Yoko recorded the still-heard Happy Xmas (War Is Over), inviting random hotel room visitors to sing on the recording.

Here are the peace posters and billboards they unveiled around the world:


Why I’m giving thanks for creamed onions

LK_blog_pots&pansThanksgiving makes me grateful for family and family traditions, especially those related to food. For the first time in many years, I don’t have to cook this Thanksgiving. But if we were eating at home, or contributing to a meal with friends, I would make the creamed onions. This tradition is handed down from my Great-Grandmother McKelvey.

When I was a little girl, any mention of her name sent a frisson of fear through me. Though she died long before I was born, she apparently ruled her household, outside of Youngstown, Ohio, with an iron hand. Many of her rules, which my mother obeyed when she visited, related to cleanliness and the spread of germs: Don’t toss the dishtowel over your shoulder; it will pick up germs. Always dry yourself completely before stepping out of the tub onto the bathmat. Wipe the kitchen counters constantly.   

When I was older, I learned that Great-Grandmother had lost a son and a daughter to typhoid fever. My grandmother, who was the oldest child, also contracted typhoid; her hair fell out and she was frail for months. Great-Grandmother’s fear of germs was probably connected to the devastating experience of losing two children—and almost a third—in that pandemic. 

On Sundays when she was a little girl, my mother and her parents drove to the McKelvey’s house for a required family dinner.  The rules were in full force on those visits, but my mother remembered that the food was sumptuous and tasty. My great-grandparents lived on a farm, so I assume that much of what they ate came from their garden and the animals they raised. 

Creamed onions were one of my great-grandmother’s signature dishes, and as an adult, my mother believed that they were essential to the Thanksgiving meal. Mom prepared the onions ahead of time, since peeling them was labor intensive. Once cooked, she kept them warm in Great-Grandmother’s white enamel double boiler, which she had inherited—much to the distress of my mother’s aunts, who apparently coveted the pot. They were likely to exclaim, when they saw the double boiler: “Oh. So YOU got that!” (The aunts also disagreed as to whether the onions should be sliced, or left whole. Ours were sliced.)

The warming pot was similar to the one shown here, but with black handles. The bottom of the pot reminded me of a plump woman. The lid was pockmarked and the bottom was stained, but it did the job. When I was old enough to handle a paring knife, I helped Mom peel the onions. We stood side by side at the sink, tearing up as we slipped off the skins. After I was married, facing the challenge of my first turkey dinner, I called my mother to ask for the recipe and instructions. That phone call became an annual ritual. Every Thanksgiving, a few days before the meal, Mom and I discussed the creamed onions. Our conversations often segued into a family story, so I never wrote the recipe down. It was more fun to have those holiday chats.

Over the years, I’ve made onions in our Massachusetts kitchen; on a hot plate in a southern cousin’s country house (where the roux curdled); in a Vermont cabin; and in my parents’ assisted living facility. Once, my husband and I hosted a potluck Thanksgiving in our rented condo and our dear friend Lorni offered to bring the creamed onions.  I accepted; we had a big crowd and a small kitchen, so it helped to parcel out the jobs. A thick fog blanketed the roads on Thanksgiving Day. Lorni and other friends drove down from Vermont in a crowded mini-van. When a stop sign suddenly appeared in the gloom, Lorni slammed on the brakes—and the pot of creamed onions slid from the seat to the floor.  Her son sobbed because he’d never heard his mom “say those bad words;” creamed onions oozed across the van’s carpeted floor mats (which smelled oniony for months); and our friends arrived looking frazzled. Clearly, I should have made the onions.

My mother has been gone for three years. Sadly, I can no longer call her to ask for advice on food—or anything else. You can find many creamed onion versions online, but I hope that this one, based on my pre-turkey phone calls with Mom, is close to Great-Grandmother’s recipe:

  1. Take a bag of small white pearl onions. Wash them (per Great-Grandmother’s attention to cleanliness).  Parboil the onions with the skins on for about ten minutes or until just tender.
  2. Drain the onions but save the cooking water. When the onions are cool, slip the skins off while running them under cold water.  Leave whole, or slice thin, depending on your own family tradition.
  3. Make your favorite basic roux, blending butter (or a butter substitute) and flour. Whisk in a combination of onion water and milk.  (For those who avoid dairy, use chicken or vegetable broth with the onion water.) 
  4. Season with thyme, a bit of fresh crumbled sage, ground pepper, and a dash of white wine.
  5. Stir until the sauce thickens. Add the sliced or whole onions and heat through, or cook longer if the onions aren’t quite done. 
  6. Keep warm in a double boiler, preferably Great-Grandmother’s, until dinner is ready. Ladle into Great-Grandmother’s Blue Willow Spode serving dish.   (And yes: I got that.) Enjoy.

 Happy Thanksgiving!


Canadian Thanksgiving: Vietnam War resisters learned new traditions in new country

LK_blog_CanadianThanksgivingBrandon’s father lived in Canada during the Vietnam War. If his dad celebrated Thanksgiving in his adopted country, the deed would be done.

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving the second Monday in October, and was the first country to mark the tradition. Learn more here:


Are you an aspiring author for young readers?

LK_blog_graphic_pen_11.18_Attention, aspiring authors of books for young readers:

Guidelines for the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award have been posted. Each year, our committee reads over 100 submissions. We choose 2 or 3 winners, who share their work at our annual Discovery Awards Night–and also with an editor. Many previous winners have gone on to be published.

If you’re interested, go to http://penchildrensbook.wordpress.com


Why is ‘Sweet Caroline’ a Red Sox fan favorite?

LK_graphic_SweetCarolineWhy do Boston Red Sox fans, even Brandon, sing “Sweet Caroline” at every home game? Maybe because North and South Carolina don’t have major league ball? Here’s another theory, along with a surprise appearance from the man who created the Fenway Park anthem: