Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Compassion of Lexington's "Sweet Evenin' Breeze" - Angel of Good Samaritan Hospital :)


So, I think it's way past time for me to tell the Sweet Evenin' Breeze story again - because Christmastime especially is a time for compassion :)

About 20 years ago, when both my grandparents were still alive (who both lived to 91 - good, clean farm-living), my grandmother - whom I'd previously considered the most compassionate Christian in the world until that day - came home from church a bit rattled. 

She said, "I just helped Irene H. run some lesbians outta our Baptist Church. We stood up in front of God and everybody in the aisle, Irene gave a speech, and then cast them out. I stood beside her."

She said it with pride, but her face said she felt guilty and horrible.

My grandfather put his paper down, studied her face for a minute.

Pap:   "Oh yeah, well ain't you proud? Woooooweee, yes siree, Lawdy, I'd be proud if I was you - 'cuz I know'd that what's Jesus wouldda done.  Run 2 women sinners outta church for a sin you can't even prove, based on gossip. "

Granny: "Well, the bible says it's a sin."

Pap: "Well pride's a sin too, ain't it, and slander?  The bible says a lot of things, 'pending on who's doing the talking, but I thought it was 'sposed to be about Jesus..."
"... and your face says you don't feel so proud, you feel bad. That's because you know it ain't right to treat people thatta way. That's Paul's way, but it ain't what Jesus says..."
"... that Paul loved his Old Testament and his old church rules and control, that one.  Jesus didn't say nothing about it.  The only people he ran outta church were greedy and the only people he shamed were a bunch of Pharisees as hypocrites, judging other people on sin just like you and Irene did today..."
"... and by the way, we all know the truth about why Irene did that.  Because her own daughter's a lesbian.  She's just putting on a public show so nobody thinks it's her fault her daughter's gay, it ain't got nothing to do with Jesus, it has to do with Irene.  And I 'spect you know that, the whole town knows it."

Granny: "Well, we can't let that go on in our church, Orville, we might as well let molesters in there?"

Pap: "Oh Bullshit, Dolores, that ain't the same thing and you know it.  You think Irene's own daughter molests children?  I'm telling you them people can't help being gay, they can't help it! I don't care what the bible says with them old timey rule lovers.  Who would choose to be something that people feared and hated?"
"...That's why I don't go to church no more, nature is my church. A bunch of people sitting around making themselves feel better than everybody else by judging other people on rules they made up themselves, that's all church is now - it's as wrong as any other sin...."

"... and what about, Sweets, Dolores, you think he's a molester?  Do you ever think about him?  "
 Granny dropped her head.

Pap: "Yeah,  that's right.  I'd be ashamed, Dolores, I really would.  When you was anemic and so sick after Marth-Ann was born at Good Sam and back then, they wouldn't let me stay overnight - you were almost dead -  who came in and took care of you, held your hand all night, wiped your brow and sang hymns to ya, huh?"  Sweets, that's who.  Sweet Evenin' Breeze, Dolores...."

"...  and when I was so sick with 'pendicitis, thought I was gonna die, wanted someone just to shoot me and wondered if God was punishing me, who came into my room, brought me blankets for chills, held my hand, sang to me, said 'God ain't punishing you for nothing - we all gotta suffer sometimes in this life like Jesus, to know better what he went through for us -  but we'll do the best we can to make it stop'?"
"...Sweets, that's who. I'd never felt more ashamed of making fun of him or gays before then in my life, swore I never would say another word about them again. "

"... the Angel of Good Sam - Sweet Evenin' Breeze - ain't no better soul, man or woman, black nor white - than Sweets, Dolores, now you know it.  This whole town knows it, whether they admit it or not..."
" if anyone should be ashamed before God, it should be you and Irene H for how you treated them two, ashamed in honor of Sweets' memory.  Cause I KNOW'D God wouldn't send nobody like Sweets to hell, he was doing what God called him to do and believed in Jesus his own self, he counseled me on him directly, that night.  "

Who was my Pap referring to?

He was referring to the Angel of Good Samaritan - James Herndon/Sweet Evenin' Breeze - an African American, openly-transgendered, orderly/nurse.

Records show that Sweets was brought as an infant by his uncle to Good Samaritan Hospital for an eye injury and abandoned (though the rumor is that he was intersex or "hermaphrodite" as it was called at the time and thus why he was abandoned).  

The nurses there, raised him as their own.  To pay Good Sam back for their kindness, James/Sweets became an orderly, but considered himself a nurse - and by all accounts, he was the most compassionate, loving soul in Lexington, he sat with everyone, but sat longer with the worst of sufferers to comfort them - and in fact, forgave his uncle for abandoning him and lived and cared for him until his death :)

My grandfather got the true message of Christ, regardless of church rules or even church attendance - he saw the bigger Christian picture, whereas my grandmother didn't...

... as so did Sweet Evenin' Breeze...

... they understood that Christianity isn't about church rules, which Christ often defied himself when not based on love - it's about being a steward and servant of humanity just like Christ :)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

** Security Alert ***

FYI, we have a court case pending at the end of June with 2 of the online trolls (not in this country) who helped impersonate me online & other harassment. They did so initially as a favor to a few someone we know in THIS country who wanted to keep themselves out of legal trouble here. These 2 are currently out on bail & we anticipated retaliation

On blogs, they began by "hitting" friends with impersonations (fake profiles), then me (6x) to make it look like it was me doing it. 

Today, a childhood friend was "hit" in just such a manner and impersonated and also privately sent strange text messages.

What happened today raised flags, but could be random. 

If anyone else receives anything strange, please let us know so we can add it to the documentation. 

Yes, the timing is odd considering discussion about the situation with my daughter & family, but we're chalking this up to random coincidence & observing for now. Thanks

PS The difference between "impersonation" and "hacking."

Impersonation =  Right-clicking on someone's picture and creating a fake profile with it.

Hacking = actually entering your account.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Mini-Vacation Bargain - Barren River Lake, Lucas, Kentucky :)

Ah, just home from a much-needed mini-vacay before Mark returns to work Monday - Barren River Lake Resort - a GREAT bargain! :)

The first bird pic is of a Sandhill crane, the second is a Cormorant:)

And much to Mark's dismay, there are no pictures of Bigfoot/Sasquatch lol (However, there were several concrete statues of him in the area?)

 A Sandhill crane...

A cormorant...

Our babies at the beach ... :)

Forgive my lack of makeup in these photos..

Lol - Mark's face when Speed Racer (Mark) starting to let me drive the boat...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

#ShePersisted Part Deux :) Fantine, Belle Brezing and Susan Boyle :)

At first glance, those name may not appear to have much in common, but bear with me.

The impetus for this post is that on February 16th, The University of Kentucky will be showing the 1-hour documentary on Madam Belle Brezing.

Belle is one Lexington's most beloved historical figures, but it wasn't always that way. 

Remember Belle Watley, the red-haired Madam with the heart of gold who took pity on Scarlett in "Gone With the Wind" and drove her home from the party in her curtain-drawn carriage? 

She's based on Lexington Kentucky's Belle Brezing

 Though adored now, she was once considered Lexington's shame Her history will remind you a bit of Fantine from Les Miserables (forgive me if the details are off, the documentary will help) ...

Born illegitimately as Belle Cox, she barely knew her father, which of course was scandalous in the 1800s, so she adopted her stepfather's name of Brezing as cover. However, her mother and stepfather were reportedly abusive drug/alcohol addicts, which did not enhance her family's already tarnished reputation.

Knowing that due to her family's status, she would most likely never "marry well" (which was really the only choice women had at that time), combined with the fact her family was poor and that women were still prohibited from most types of jobs or business, she thus chose to quit school to become a maid for a wealthy family at the age of 14.

The family's son took a liking to Belle and soon thereafter, she found herself pregnant at age 16. Of course, she was released, the son denied being the father, and she was turned out into the street pregnant, knowing no one respectable would hire or marry her. Thus, she had no choice but to knock on a brothel door, asking if they were in need of a maid.

Her child, Daisy, unfortunately was mentally-challenged and needed special care and living in a brothel wasn't suitable regardless. Originally, she was cared for while working by a neighbor, but as Daisy needed more care, she needed to live permanently in a home for special needs children, so Belle went from maid of the brothel to becoming a lady of the evening to afford special care for her. 

Belle was highly intelligent and an avid reader and educated herself, learning to speak articulately and correctly. Thus, she worked her way up to becoming the business owner, the Madam - and not just any Madam - the most successful Madam east of the Mississippi

She dressed her ladies in the world's finest, dresses from Paris and Milan and if men abused the women, they were shown the door. She and staff entertained some of the most notable politicians, dignitaries, authors, opera singers, and business magnates in not only the country, but the world. 

Regardless, true to the movie, she could not travel by day without drawing curtains, so she mostly traveled at night in the same way.

She was also one of the most generous and charitable people in Lexington history; interestingly, a devout Catholic despite her profession.

In fact, she contributed heavily financially to building St. Joseph Hospital here in Lexington, anonymously initially, helping to personally care for the sick and wounded under a hooded cloak (also true to the movie) so as not to bring shame on the hospital.

And all the while, she spent every Sunday with her beloved Daisy at her special needs home, regardless of the jeers :)

Additionally, she had a collection of rare books from around the world which she also tried to donate in her name to UK, but they refused because of her reputation. Years later, she donated them anonymously and they accepted - so it's interesting they're honoring her now :)

Our favorite Lexington legend about her was that she was once dragged off to court for her business.

The judge inquired her whereabouts the prior evening and the nature of her business.

Belle replied, "Well judge? You oughtta know, you were there."

Case dismissed ;)
The flu epidemic and WWI crippled her business and brothels fell out of favor, so unfortunately, Belle died nearly penniless (and supposedly opium-addicted, though she previously had refused drugs), but at the age of 80 in 1940 :(

Despite her profession, Belle never missed a confession or mass, and thus was permitted by the Catholic church to be buried in a modest grave in Lexington's Catholic cemetery, "Calvary Cemetery," right across the street from the extraordinarily beautiful Lexington Cemetery.

Interestingly, visitors to the grave site note that the pillared gravestone directly behind her modest one says:

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." :)

Interest in Belle was revived in and around the 1970s and not only was more compassion shown towards her, but she was given a newfound respect, as a shrewd businesswomen who did the best she could with what life dealt her, and poor choices she made in her youth, but most importantly, that she retained her compassion for others despite all of it.

Thus, we once had a Belle Brezing stakes at Keeneland and a local beer named after her, and there is still a room at Lyndon House B&B named after her, a local play of her life gave sold-out performances in 2011, and in 2013, a local pub opened on Market Street called "Belle's Cocktail Lounge" in her honor.

As for me, despite net rumor, I never resorted to being a lady of the evening (not even close) - but there are a few other elements of her story I identify with.  In fact, all women seem to identify with her, in a way, much like Fantine - because there's something about her struggle as a single parent, the double-standard, and how women were viewed and treated in US history that resonates with all women, still today. 

In fact, she's sort of a heroine, here, because not only did she survive despite the nearly insurmountable odds - especially for women at that time - but for all that she able accomplish, despite the hand she was dealt, and she continued to give to others despite it.

So hats off to you, Ms. Belle - wish you could see how much Lexington loves you now - even Baptists! lol

Speaking of Fantine/Les Miserables, here's the exact moment Susan Boyle shocked the world with that voice, singing Fantine's song, "I Dreamed a Dream." 

 Despite her oddness, despite her appearance, despite her age and despite the ridicule - she persevered - and she won :)
Dedicated to all the women like Susan Boyle who just kept going. Triumph of the human spirit - which contrary to popular belief, includes the female spirit, too ;) #ShePersisted :) 

Still one of the most inspirational moments I have ever seen (especially what the judges say at the end) :) ...