It’s concert week for my choir, so it’s been music all the time practically, a good week. Last night was our first performance, and today is our second (and last). I sold more tickets than usual, and I’m sure that’s due to the election. Everyone needs some happy, beautiful music.
The thing is, I was telling a choir friend, singing the words of the carols makes me realize that these days few people think the way the words describe. For example:
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.
People despise the poor, and think they are to blame for their troubles and their poverty. They equate them with criminals. This isn’t true of everyone of course, but for many, it is no longer honorable to help people who are struggling, unless the struggling person is themselves. In which case they are entitled to assistance, but not those other people. God, I am so negative! It’s because I’ve been researching the system that reinforced the connection between poverty and crime. I’ll be saying this a lot, but while it’s true that poor people commit crimes, they don’t commit them any more than the rich do, the two groups just commit different sets of crimes.
Anyway, I’ve become more aware of the language people use when talking about the poor.
My choir gathering in the gym before the concert.
I was walking by a Christmas tree stand and I overheard the sales person tell the woman looking at trees that the tree she was considering was $200!! It was 5 feet high, in a stand! Insane! But this place, maybe ten blocks away, had a sign saying their trees were … now I forget, but I think they said $60 – $85, except that sounds too low for the big ones. Still, walk a few blocks and completely different prices. I’m tempted!
So, I’ve been researching the creation of a “mental institution” called the Central Islip State Hospital. It was built to house the overflow from the lunatic asylum on Blackwell’s Island and for people who are not regular followers of my blog, I’m writing a book about Blackwell’s Island.
I’m working on the history of the hospital when it occurred to me, my grandmother Daisy was committed there and she died there just a few weeks later! I’d forgotten. I wrote about her in my book Waiting For My Cats to Die. I’d originally thought she died at Pilgrim State Hospital, but I’ve since discovered it was at Central Islip. From my book:
Daisy never married again because she was a strict Catholic and the Catholics don’t recognize divorce. She fell in love one more time but the Church wouldn’t give her an annulment. She lived alone with my mother for the rest of her life, working at one low-paying job after another until July 13, 1951, a month before she died, when she was admitted to [Central Islip State Hospital] on Long Island with the diagnosis of involutional psychosis, depressed type. She was “hallucinating, withdrawn and mildly assaultive,” her records state. “Mildly assaultive,” my friend Matt translates for me, means she didn’t want to be there and she struggled. I’m glad to hear she fought back but also sad because it means she was scared and wanted to go home.
Her records said she “was a cardiac as a child and had to stay in bed. She was away from school for three years but graduated at an early age.” Daisy was smart! Sadly, she died 24 days after being admitted, on August 6th. She was only 47, and my poor mother was only 16. My mother went to live with her father, and he died a year later! (My mother never really got over these deaths, which is not unusual.) Daisy’s diagnosis at death: Dementia praexox, paranoid type. Cause of death: Coronary thrombosis. This is Daisy on her wedding day.
And I’ve been meaning to post a link to the best comic of all time, which wonderfully represents the absolute tyranny of the sleep cat. You’re welcome.
Bleecker. In order to keeping working on the section I’m editing I need to check files that are only three feet away. But I’m screwed. Cannot move the sleeping kitty.