Tag Archives: Les Green

Frances Beal: Voices of Feminism Oral History Project

One of my sisters discovered this March 18, 2005 interview with my mother’s first cousin, my first cousin once removed, Frances Beal this autumn, conducted by Loretta Ross. Fran is about 12 years younger than my mother and 13 years older than I am. Her kids are about a dozen years younger than my sisters and I. Her late mother, Charlotte Yates, was my beloved great aunt.

Her politics are far more liberal than mine. She, I suspect, would eschew the term “liberal” altogether, in favor of “radical”. What is truly interesting about the piece though, from my specific POV, is her retelling of her history, which invariably overlaps with mine.

Here’s a picture of Frances Beal.

The info in the italics is mine.

Frances Beal was born in Binghamton, NY, January 13, 1940, the daughter of Ernest Yates [ my maternal grandmother’s brother- ] who was of African American and Native American ancestry, and Charlotte Berman Yates, of radical Russian Jewish immigrant roots. When Fran’s father died in 1954, her mother moved the family to St. Albans, an integrated neighborhood in Queens. In addition to observing her mother’s participation in left politics, Fran was profoundly affected by the murder of Emmett Till , as was I. After graduating from Andrew Jackson High School in 1958, she became involved in civil rights activities and socialist politics while attending the University of Wisconsin.

She married James Beal, and from 1959 to 1966, they lived in France, where they had two children and Fran became attuned to the internationalist/anti-imperialist politics of post-colonial African liberation struggles…

BEAL: OK. I was born in a relatively small city, upstate New York, called Binghamton, New York , as was I. In school they used to tell us, Bing bought a ham and it weighed a ton: that’s how to spell Binghamton…
Continue reading Frances Beal: Voices of Feminism Oral History Project

The Crocodile Song

My father would have been 84 tomorrow. There’s a guy, Ray, who was my friend from second to ninth grade. He went to a different high school, and moved to the Finger Lakes region of New York State. However, I was in his wedding in October 1976, and I got to escort his mother, who was the Den mother of our Cub Scout troop, down the aisle.

He’s now my Facebook friend. About a month ago, unbidden, he started sending these messages, a verse at a time:

“Sung by: Les Green
To the kids of the ‘50s and ‘60s at Daniel S. Dickinson, PS #9 School, Binghamton, NY

“The Crocodile Song” Continue reading The Crocodile Song

J is for Just large enough, and Jupiter

When we were growing up, we lived on the first floor of a small two-story house, which was owned by my maternal grandmother; my paternal grandparents lived upstairs. On our floor was the master bedroom and kitchen in the back; the parlor, bathroom and another bedroom in the middle; and the living room in the front.

I had two younger sisters, so they eventually slept in bunkbeds in the second bedroom. To make a room for me Continue reading J is for Just large enough, and Jupiter

G is for Green Wedding

When I married Carol Powell on May 15, 1999, it was not only a blending of families, it was a mixing of family sizes. My family is very small, while hers is ginormous. Since both of my parents were only children, and all of my grandparents, by that point, were deceased, this was pretty much it on my side of the ledger: (L-R) my niece Rebecca, her mother/my sister Leslie, Carol, me, my mother Trudy, my late father Les, my niece Alexandria, and her mother/my sister Marcia.

Whereas my new wife had LOTS of relatives. My mother-in-law had seven siblings, my father-in-law two. My wife had three brothers and over 30 first cousins. I, of course, had no first cousins since I had no uncles or aunts. Continue reading G is for Green Wedding

D is for Dad's Death

Rescuing a bird

Hmm. I said to myself, “Self, do I really want to do this?” I had a whole ‘nother blogpost planned for today. but it IS the anniversary of the death of my father, Les Green. Moreover, it’s the 10th anniversary this very day. You know how those round numbers often hold special significance.

Top picture: Oui, c’est moi de l’enfant.

I wrote about the circumstances of his death five years ago. Here’s the peculiar thing: I misremembered the date that he told us he had prostate cancer! I wrote that he informed us in January 1998, when in fact it was January 1997, during the same trip we had the conversation about spanking.

How could I forget that detail? Easy: as I said before, he was SO cavaliar about it. It was as though he were discussing twisting his ankle. No big deal.

And I suppose maybe that’s what he thought. Continue reading D is for Dad's Death

Two Letters

When I was 22 or 23, I wrote my father a really nasty letter. I no longer recall what prompted this, though I’m sure he ticked me off in some way. Nor do I recall what was in it, except I’m sure there was something pointed about his spanking policy. I suppose my goal was to engage him, even angrily.

The results: he didn’t talk to me for six months. Any communication that took place went through my mother. But I should not have been surprised. My father’s modus operandi when angry was often to become like this black cloud, and he’d just shut down. One didn’t always know WHY he was upset, but you usually knew THAT he was upset. I was pained by this, and I hated having my mother in the middle of this triangulation.

So I wrote him another letter. Continue reading Two Letters

The Spanking Policy

Today is my sister Leslie’s birthday. Happy birthday, Leslie!
She is the middle child, and I’m the oldest, by sixteen and a half months. I have no recollection of my life without her.

Here’s one of those family stories, the telling of which will make more sense in a couple weeks, I hope.

The worst spanking I ever received directly involved her. I tell this tale not to embarrass her – after all, it WAS a half century ago – but to indicate how much that incident has imprinted on my whole life.

When I was four or five years old, Leslie marked up the piano with some crayons. My father went to Leslie and asked her who marked the piano, and she said that Roger did. So my father got the strap that hung in the kitchen – this brown leather thing about a foot long that barbers used to sharpen their razors – and started wailing on me. One of the things he was looking for from me was an apology, yet even in the midst of my pain, I was unable to do so. “I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!” I sobbed.

Eventually, and these are pretty much in the words of my father, recounting the incident years later, he figured that I was either really stupid or I was actually innocent. Finally, he requestioned Leslie, who finally confessed, and he started wailing on her. Continue reading The Spanking Policy