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Longing for Home
PUB DATE: 5/15/2016

Submissions the the Phoenix Airport Museum

In honor of the Arizona Artists Guild’s (AAG) 90 year anniversary, Phoenix Airport Museum is presenting an exhibition of artworks from its members. The show will be in Terminal 4, Level 3 from October 28, 2017 – May 13, 2018. I  submitted three pieces for considerations. I am up against some tough competition, but am hopeful that some of my work will be selected. I have been having a great time playing with happy ovals and am going to continue to do so for a while. Thanks to Charlie Wayman for the great photos.

‘Desert Play’ Acrylic Mixed Media 16″ X 20″
‘Ocean Play’ Acrylic Mixed Media 16″ X 20″
‘Lavender Play’ Acrylic Mixed Media 16″ X 20″

Honeymoon History

Lisa and Charlie Niagara Falls 2017

My husband Charlie and I were recently in Niagara Falls which was a wildly popular honeymoon place. Charlie and I didn’t take a honeymoon when we got married in 1984. Neither did the Characters in Longing For Home. Neither Charlie and I nor Irena and Seamus had the money to take a honeymoon. We just got married and went on with our lives.

Mary Koetting and grandson Joseph A Koetting

Honeymooons as wedding trips gained popularity in the 1800s. At first they were Bridal Trips where the couple would travel to visit family who weren’t able to make it to the wedding. It was more about becoming a part of the spouse’s family than about becoming a couple. The Bridal Trips reflected the cultural significance of marriage which was about making family alliances much more than it was about romantic love. My ancestors  Mary Adelheid Kopmeir Koetting and Joseph Bernard Koetting were married in the 1860s. They were not a good couple, she was very religious and I have blogged about him being a scoundrel. However, they were both from prominent Milwaukee families who had a wish to be united.

Florence Nightengale Family Home Embley Park

After a while couples extended the Bridal Trip to include a holiday with just the newly married couple. When I think of a honeymoon I think of a short trip followed by a return to home and work. In the 1800s the wealthy often took very long trips. Florence Nightingale’s parents took a several year tour of Italy and Greece when they were first married and returned to England with two children. Florence was named after the city of her birth.

Erie Canal

In the 1800s the US wealthy people would go to Europe, but Niagara Falls was also popular. Aron Burr’s (3rd Vice President) daughter took her honey moon in Niagara Falls. It was the opening of the Erie Canal that make Niagara really popular. By 1825 travelers could easily go from Albany to Buffalo, and newlyweds flocked to the falls with the beautiful view and lovely parks for walking and holding hands.

With the development of rail lines and roads Niagara Falls became a premier honeymoon site from the 1920-1950s. My in-laws spent their honeymoon there. It is still a honeymoon spot and is quite beautiful.

Horseshoe Falls

While it would have been nice to have a honeymoon, I think Charlie and I have done fine without one. We are traveling now that we are older and have a little more money. So if you are getting married, but not planning a honeymoon, don’t despair, you still have a chance of a good life together.

When the Irish Were the Undesirable Immigrants

Irish Woman 1849

The great wave of immigration from Ireland in the 1840s and 1850s overwhelmed the US and led to a swell of nationalism and racism. The Irish who came prior to the great famine were fairly well accepted, they tended to be Protestant and fairly well off. They distinguished themselves from the Catholic Irish by calling themselves ‘Scotts-Irish’. The Irish who came during the great famine were a different story. They were poor, Catholic, and considered less than human. The Irish of the 1840s and 1850s were despised in the US.

The Jeanie Johnson

The poverty of the Irish immigrating to the US during the potato famine cannot be overstated. They were starving at home, both from the failure of the potato crop, their primary source of nutrition, and from the English occupation of Ireland. The English exported food from Ireland during the famine in the name of protecting investors and promoting a free market society. The Irish who could manage to cobble together enough money for a fare crowded onto cargo ships and slavers for a three week passage to America. Some Irish even got funding from their English landlords who wished to export the ‘Irish problem’ to the US. The ships were overcrowded with poor sanitation and inadequate food and water. They were soon dubbed ‘coffin’ ships for the high death rates of passengers.

NYC slum 1890

The Irish arriving in the US were refugees. They had no belongings, no funds to invest in farms or business, and very few skills. Many of them also only spoke Irish, separating them from the English speaking American population. Most of the 2 million  Irish immigrants settled in cities. The staggering numbers of Irish overwhelmed the cities they settled in.  For example, Boston had 100,000 residence and swelled with 37,000 Irish immigrants. and took the most menial jobs, angering the Americans who were already at the bottom of the economy and feared that the Irish would undercut the wages. Irish men build canals and worked in factories while many women became servants. Not only did the Irish take jobs they took any available housing and turned neighborhoods into slums as landlords divided old houses and warehouses into small un-ventilated apartments. The slums, with poor schooling and underemployment, festered violence, mental illness and alcoholism in the formerly respectable, but now desperately poor Irish, further increasing the backlash from the non-Irish residence.

Washington Monument Under Construction

In addition to being poor refugees in need of social services, most of the Irish who immigrated during the great hunger were Catholic. At the time the US was a predominately Protestant country. The Pilgrims came, in part, to escape what they felt was the Catholic, or ‘papist’ influence in Europe. The prejudice against Catholics continued forward and was rampant in the 1800s. The papers and cartoons of the time were rampant with wild accusations about Catholics: Nuns were prisons and sexual victims of priests (with any babies being killed and buried). Even more damning was the assertion that Catholics reported to the pope and were immigrating to the US in order to set up a Catholic nation. Multiple anti-Catholic organizations formed and led to Nativist anti-Catholic riots. In one of the odder anti-Catholic episodes the Know-Nothings took the marble the Pope had donated to the Washington Monument, dubbed ‘The Pope Stone‘, smashed it and dumped it in the Potomac. The Vatican donated another stone in 1982.

The Usual Irish Way

Finally, the Irish were considered not quite human. English scientists of the time proposed that the Irish were closer to apes than to humans, drunk and dimwitted and that the subjugation of the Irish was for their own good. Racism, against Native Americans, African Americans and other people of color was not only rampant, but widely accepted. The Irish were lumped in with the other ‘non-white’ and therefore less human and considered people not entitled to rights. The issue was divisive enough that in 1855 Abraham Lincoln wrote in a letter: “As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

St Paddy’s Day Charleston 2016

The Irish persevered and worked their way into society. Now the Irish are accepted as an important part of American society and many non-Irish celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. I’d like to say that the Irish remembered the discrimination they endured and not inflict it on others. However, once they gained some power the Irish discriminated against the Asians. It really makes me think about how we are building hysteria about others who aren’t like us now. It may be the American way, but it doesn’t have to be.

Teaser from Story Circle Book Reviews

Find the full review at Story Circle Book Reviews – here is a little excerpt. The second part of the book takes place in Durango, Colorado. It is here the characters mature and develop the depth that stays with the reader long after reading. They buy a run-down cabin with good structural bones; it is on the outskirts of the town. They develop a sense of family with their neighbors; it is like a small United Nations village with so many different countries of origin represented on their street. The work together and thrive; it is an American melting pot. Meanwhile her father and her half-sisters lose their restaurant, and suffer financial difficulties as they move with the Slovenian community to another part of the west, no more Americanized than when they first immigrated. I believe the main point of Longing for Home—to truly find a home, it is necessary for immigrants to let go of their pasts and blend into their new lives in America.

Irish Monument to Choctaw Nation

Famine Memorial Dublin

I’ve talked on this blog about the Irish Famine: The Great Hunger in the 1840s that cost a million Irish lives and displaced millions more. When I last posted about the famine I wasn’t aware that the Choctaw Nation had responded to the Irish in need.

Choctaw Ball Players

In 1847 the Choctaw sent 710$ (5,000$ in today’s money) to the Irish, a people they didn’t know. What makes this story so compelling is that the Choctaw were in desperate need themselves. In 1830s they had been marched from Mississippi to Oklahoma in a trail of tears. The Choctaw were still desperately poor in the 1840s, but they were moved by the plight of the Irish and sent them money. 710$ was, of course, not enough to address the desperate need of the Irish. However, it was a powerful message to the Irish that they weren’t alone.

The Choctaw could have lumped the Irish in with all the other white people bent on genocide. They didn’t though, they opened their hearts and recognized what the Choctaw had in common with the Irish. They found compassion to reach out to others who were suffering.

Ireland has just commemorated a monument ‘Kindred Spirits’ to the Choctaw gift. The memorial is a beautiful bowl of feathers. If I ever go to Ireland I’ll definitely go to County Cork to see the monument.

The sharing spirit of the Choctaw nation is an amazing example of solidarity and hope that has inspired me this week. I hope you click on the links for more information and find this story inspiring as well.

Harvey Girls

Harvey House in rail station Belen New Mexico

Long before there were truck stops there were Harvey Houses. Fred Harvey was a cafe owner who saw an opportunity to open cafes along the rail lines. When he started business in 1870 most of the rail stops were limited to small eateries that sold beans and bread or other easy to make food. The quality wasn’t the best and many people packed their own food for trips. Harvey’s cafes were clean and served large portions of good fresh food. They also really went for class with fine china and Irish linen. Harvey had an association with the Santa Fe railroad. The railroad would take the passenger’s orders while they were on the train. The orders would be put out with the mail at a town before the stop and then telegraphed to the Harvey House. When the passengers got off the train, with only a half an hour for a meal while the train changed out the car and took on water, their meal would be already prepared and waiting for them. The waitresses even had signals for what type of drink passengers wanted. They would turn the cup a certain way to signal juice, milk or coffee so one server could quickly fill the drinks. It was the fast food of the time.

Diner Blue Plate

Harvey Houses are credited with the first blue plate special, an affordable complete meal on a blue patterned plate.

The thing the Harvey Houses became most known for though was the Harvey Girls. Fred Harvey hired girls between 18 and 30 of good character to work in his restaurants. The girls wore a black top, a large white apron and a white bow in their hair. It was a clever piece of marketing and they were easily recognizable. Historical websites sometimes gloss over the fact that he hired only white girls. That rankles me now, but it was a sign of the times. At any rate, many of the girls had never left the east coast and wanted a little adventure in the west. They generally are credited to helping tame the wild west. Many of the girls married and settled in the western territories. There is a cute Judy Garland movie ‘The Harvey Girls‘ where she plays a Harvey Girl and Angela Lansbury plays the madam of the local brothel. As part of my research for my second book I made my long suffering husband Charlie watch the movie, well, he loaded it up for me and watched part of it. If you want a light little bit of fluff check it out.

Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls

Memorial Day

Shiloh Cemetery – US Civil War

The US started Memorial Day celebrations after the Civil War. The US was reeling from the loss of 620,000 people killed in battle, the largest number of Americans ever killed in war. In 1868 the holiday, then called Decoration Day, was a day for putting flowers and flags on graves. The day in May was the Northern States Celebration. The Southern States had their own holiday in January.

WWI parade in Dallas

After WWI Memorial Day was expanded to be a way to honor all the soldiers who died in American wars. This year is the 100th anniversary of when the US entered into WWI. When I was in Kansas City I went to the National WWI Museum. If you are ever in Kansas City, eat the BBQ and visit the Museum. It was most informative about why WWI wasn’t the last World War. It was sobering and humbling that so many men and women gave their lives for our freedoms.

Vietnam Memorial

In 1971 Memorial Day was made a national holiday. It was the middle of the Vietnam War and the country was struggling with how  to honor the soldiers of a very unpopular war. I would like to say that was the last war, but I work at the VA and the price of freedom is visible in the halls every day.

Take a moment on Memorial Day to remember those who gave their lives. Traditionally it is at 3 pm. I will have a moment of silent gratefulness.

Tombstones at Arlington

For love of country they accepted death…  ~James A. Garfield

Cooking, but feeling lucky compared to 1890s

1958 Great Grandma Koetting in the front

So, Charlie and I are trying to be healthy, you know, cutting down on added sugar, no preservatives, that sort of thing. The thing is, it means I’m in the kitchen alot then I started thinking about how my great grandmothers cooked. They all cooked a hot meal everyday. Here is a quick list of things about the kitchen that have changed and that I’m really grateful for.

Kitchen pump
My Terrific Sink

Running water – Thank goodness for turning on the taps and having hot and cold water just come out. In 1900 the cities were mostly plumbed, but in the country people had wells or water tanks and a pump in the kitchen. I have a terrific sink, thanks to Charlie who put it in for me.


I also like my refrigerator. At the turn of the century people owned ice boxes. The top chamber has a place for ice and the food in the bottom is kept cool.  There was a whole industry of cutting ice from lakes in the winter and storing it in ice houses.  The ice man would come with deliveries on a regular basis. Ice boxes weren’t huge food storage because people shopped more often and usually ate less variety. Working class cooking in the early 1900s was fairly repetitive. The roast on Sunday would be re-purposed for most of the week with really simple meals. It was cheaper and fancy cooking wasn’t possible on a daily basis. Of course if you were rich you had a cook who could spend all day in the kitchen, but for everyone else meals were pretty simple

Early refrigerators

One thing that hasn’t changed over time is how families bond over food. My brother Kevin Morey and I had a good time making dinner for the rest of our family in my nice kitchen.

Kevin and Lisa in the kitchen