Monday, November 5, 2018

Anniversary of the Everett Massacre

Today is the anniversary of a horrific incident (which seems too mild of a word to use), where innocent men lost their lives at the hands of vigilantes who disagreed idealogically.  The Everett Massacre reminds us Americans how we have a capacity to turn thoughtless,  ugly, really, when it comes to our divisions.  Today, we still have not learned lessons from our past.

The University of Washington has a wonderful archive on the Everett Massacre, also known as "Bloody Sunday," here:  On this site are photos, stories, faces of the people involved.

The following is a repost from my "Chasing Rabbits" page at

On November 5, 1916, about 250 Wobblies boarded the steamers Verona and Calista bound for Everett, Washington, to protest harassment and censorship at the hands of law enforcement, vigilantes, and armed strikebreakers supporting the local lumber and milling companies. Their employers and AFL-affiliated labor councils wanted “open shop.” Forty IWWs had already been arrested, stripped, and made to run a gauntlet of several hundred vigilantes, who beat them with guns, clubs, and whips, near Seattle a week earlier.

When the Verona glided into Everett’s dock first, armed vigilantes and law enforcement met the boat. Other men, some drunk, waited in tugboats that began surrounding the steamer in a semicircle. On a hill above, a crowd formed to watch the anticipated violence, and some could hear the IWWs singing “Hold the Fort.” While a member of the steamer’s crew tied the boat to the dock, a sheriff and his deputies approached and began a heated exchange with some of the men on board. Then one shot rang out.

Gun shots opened immediately—a crossfire—with the Veronatrapped between vigilantes in the tugboats and law enforcement and other vigilantes on the docks. Deputies, hidden in a warehouse along the docks, also opened fire.  Men panicked in the boat, almost capsizing it, and some dove into the water while many others, who could not swim, fell overboard. Quick to act, a Wobbly cut the ties to the dock, ordered the engines reversed, and the Verona made her escape backing out of the area.

Afterwards, four men lay dead on its decks, one was dying, and thirty-one were wounded. At the dock, one deputy was killed, another was dying, and twenty wounded. An unknown number fell overboard, some wounded, and their bodies never found. What was to be called Bloody Sunday was immediately known as the Everett Massacre to workingmen. No one knows who fired that first shot.

Was Frank Little there as some have written? Not likely. In Michigan during August 1916, Frank had been kidnapped, mock hanged, and beaten senseless. In fact, some of his injuries were still evident when he was hanged for real on August 1, 1917. By mid-November 1916, an ailing Frank Little was in Chicago, involved with the IWW’s general executive board, preparing for the upcoming IWW convention. No doubt, the recent Everett Massacre was certainly on the board members’ minds.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

La Bruja de Calle Piedmont

This morning I had one of those rare moments, reveries really, when I was back in El Paso. Perhaps it’s because today is Halloween, or because I am working on Jane Street family anecdotes, threshing the chaff from tiny story-seeds. I recalled sitting in Dr. John O. West’s American folklore class at the University of Texas of El Paso. Such a perfect mesh of courses—part history and part English. Well, not exactly factual history, but more like searching out El Paso lore, deciphering the spinning from the historical context. This course probably benefited me more than my nine hours of Shakespeare did in the long run. If Dr. West were still alive, I would hug his neck! I fell in love with collecting American oral history.

I collected all sorts of local stories for this class, some superstitions, quite common in a border town such as El Paso, as well as personal narratives about past events including Pancho Villa’s various forays into El Paso and Juarez. The UTEP campus sits just above the Rio Grande, not far from where Villa attacked US forces and a dense Mexican American neighborhood existed, where family narratives are rich with information and detail. I could imagine Villa’s battles, just below my classroom in the Liberal Arts building, where bullets, losing velocity, rolled off old roofs near where I parked my car, before hiking through sand dunes to the campus; where a secret, decaying wooden door, also below an old house near campus, with a tortuga (turtle) painted on it, when opened, took smugglers and gun runners under the river between Juarez and El Paso.

I had been a guest of honor, along with golfer Lee Trevino, singer Bobby Goldsboro, and the governor of Chihuahua in the Juarez mayor’s reception room in 1971, a year before I took West’s course. There were bullet holes peppered all over the ancient adobe city buildings still. Later, when we tore down an old adobe barn on a property my parents owned, we found shell casings mired in the clay. These tangible experiences enhanced my collection of old narratives and their descriptions of the Mexican Revolution. I also had learned that the seeds of truth in some tales were buried so deeply that the lore and superstitions surrounding them were made up in order to keep the curious from learning the truth.

That brings me to la bruja de Calle Piedmont, or the witch on (of) Piedmont Street.

When I was a teenager in El Paso, Texas, I recall excitement at lunch one day, as some upperclassmen recounted their experiences of the night before, trying to get close to an infamous “haunted house” we all knew about. In fact, no matter which of the thirteen high schools one attended in El Paso in 1967, everyone knew of this house. On one side of Franklin Mountain, in an old neighborhood that I now understand was the 3000 block of Piedmont Street, supposedly lived this ancient hag in an ancient adobe, a formidable witch who practiced Satanic arts. She allegedly had no electricity and lit up the house by candlelight each evening, enhancing her black magic within. These boys had lived to tell their stories, though one claimed that the witch came at him with a butcher knife when he brazenly stepped on her porch and looked through the window! Whispers between classes and at lunch further developed this story, and it was decided that my group of friends should try the same thing—that is, try to touch the Witch-on-Piedmont-Street’s house, even ring her doorbell, if she had one.

That Friday night, six of us loaded into what I recall was an old rambler, certainly not quick but safe with our bodies crammed within. All were boys except for my best friend and I who knew better than to go on such a fool’s errand, including driving on Scenic Drive over the mountain to the west side of El Paso. We were northeast El Paso kids, mainly military brats who could find plenty to do near our 1950s box houses and a shell-strewn military range. There we felt fairly safe. But this was crazy. 

I recall the boys knew where to drive in the dark neighborhood near Piedmont Street. We rolled up to a “T” where our street dead-ended and Piedmont Street loomed before us and parked dead center in the street. It was pitch-black, my eyes blind to the infamous house and any details of other homes on either side of us. No street lights, no moon or stars to break the black nothingness. No, we had not been drinking, but our adrenaline was pumping with fear and excitement. I knew I was NOT going to touch her house, but I wanted to see if the witch really would come out as the boys approached. My girlfriend and I, like two-peas-in-a-pod, snuggled against each other, crouching and giggling with nervousness, behind the others.

BOOM! BOOM! The sound of a shotgun blasted twice. I couldn’t make my legs move fast enough before we dove behind what must have been an arborvitae bush, so dense it was. My friend crowded underneath its branches with me, and I felt my bladder lose control. Humiliating. At about the same time, the rambler began reversing back down the street, all four doors wide open, with screams of “Get in! Get in!” reverberating in the old mountainside neighborhood. We ran, jumped into the moving vehicle, and tried to slam the doors shut as we heard yet another BOOM! Miraculously, no one fell out.

At the bottom of the hill awaited El Paso’s finest, his patrol car’s light revolving red and blue. “Are you ok?” the officer asked. Incredibly no one had been hit. And while we indignantly wanted to point fingers at the witch uphill, we were more afraid of being hauled off to jail and having to call our parents. I recall sitting in my wet pants, realizing that beyond my “accident” possibly having been witnessed by boys who would tell all at school the next day, I would probably be grounded “for life,” as I had been several times before. Stupid, stupid.

“Do you realize how dangerous your stunt was?” demanded the cop. Indeed, we did. 

 “Last night, two boys had to be taken to Thomason (hospital) to have buckshot taken out of their butts! You were lucky. Her daughter lives down the street, and she reported you as soon as she saw your taillights. She also warned her mother that you were on your way. You kids need to stop harassing the old lady!”

With that, we were let go.

The bruja had a daughter? I remember letting that fact sink in. She was human, after all, and I began to feel both pity and curiosity for her. In 2005, an El Paso newspaper picked up the story of the haunted house on Piedmont Street. A married couple had disappeared from the residence in the 1950s, and some believed that they had been murdered and buried beneath the floorboards of the house. The disappearances had widespread publicity and much speculation, from espionage to murder to UFO abductions. The house became known for its ghosts. An old city patrolman later complained that he “would get a hundred calls…all these kids would stop by the house because they thought the house was haunted, and they would scare this poor old lady who (once) lived there.”

So, we kids had made a crime scene, its particulars long forgotten, part of El Paso’s folklore. No witch, but a morbid story for certain.

I was teaching English to a bunch of El Paso freshmen seventeen years later. I assigned them to collect various types of El Paso folklore. One student Billy, whose father was a UTEP quarterback years before I was at UTEP myself, shared the witch-on-Piedmont-Street story. After all, his father claimed to have been up to the house and seen the old lady in person. Young Billy excitedly shared that the witch still inhabited Piedmont Street, and that he, too, would touch her door. I smiled at him as I told him my story too.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Bindle Stiff (Hobo), from Chasing Rabbits,

When I was a kid at Halloween in El Paso, Texas, I often resorted to the easiest costume I could put together, short of cutting two holes in a white sheet and trick-or-treating as a ghost. While many of my peers often dressed as beatniks, my friends and I would dress as hoboes. Easy. Ragged clothes, smudged cheeks, holey tennis shoes, a bag on a stick, and voila! We didn’t intend to be cruel. After all, some schools had Hobo Day where everyone dressed up. With Roger Miller singing “King of the Road” on our transistor radios, we were inspired! Going door to door, we begged for our handouts, Halloween treats.

I also had no idea that part of the ‘60s lexicon originated from the original hoboes, or bindle stiffs (called thus because of the bag or bindle they carried on their backs). My friends and I used their words, including tramp (hobo), ditch (to get rid of something), can (police station), fink (or in our case, a “rat fink,” a person who snitches), flop or dump (place to “hang.”) Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

Not until I was deep into my California research of Frank Little did I realize the significance of the hobo culture, how it originated, its connection to me, and, of course, my famous hobo-agitator uncle. I must admit—I had hated this historical period, that is, early twentieth century with its industrial growth, labor unions, and robber barons. When I taught US history many years later, I was still uninspired to dig deeply in the era. Until Frank.

Just like Frank, I grew up in an anti-establishment period. The United States was experiencing an unpopular war in the 1960s, in contrast to years between 1914 and 1917, when Americans were deeply divided about getting into World War I. Many American workers had found themselves displaced during Reconstruction, families often struggling to start all over again after the Civil War. Their children and grandchildren, faced with family debt and hopelessness, often tramped, becoming part of a temporary labor force across the country. Throw in two economic panics (1893 and 1907), a heavily-enlisted immigration force to fuel the American industrial revolution, mechanization, and labor unrest, and a growing population of unskilled migratory workers hit the road seeking work.

Many of these men had left homes in the East or were recent immigrants who found the American dream out of reach. If one were to ask for an inventory of skills in a hobo camp or “jungle,” a diversity of trades would be found. American economic conditions between 1907 and 1914 had compelled even skilled men to search for seasonable jobs, their homes and families often lost. Some preferred drifting with no responsibilities and required little to satisfy their needs. However, walking was not their preferred method of drifting from job to job.

A recent television car advertisement shows a dreamy-faced young woman traveling in an open box car, her Labrador retriever beside her. Freedom. Then her daydream cuts to reality, sitting in a wonderful car that can take her on an open road deviating away from the train’s tracks. While this scene is enticing, riding the rails was a dangerous endeavor for Wobblies who often became hoboes. 

Freeloading train travel had inherent dangers. Because railroad workers were unionized, a paid-up union membership card usually protected men, including IWWs, and provided them with free passage. Brakemen otherwise booted off freeloaders without union affiliations. But trains also carried bootleggers and hijackers who stole hoboes’ small valuables at gunpoint. Later, railroad detectives patrolled to make sure “stiffs” could not board idle trains. Jumping on and off slow-moving trains was dangerous in itself. Some men died or lost limbs. As an example, in 1913 my uncle miscalculated a jump onto a Western Pacific train and badly sprained his ankle.

Like Frank, hoboes were typically apolitical and rarely stayed in one place long enough to vote. While AFL’s Samuel Gompers asserted that the lot of the migratory worker was worse than slavery, the AFL did little to help migrants who did not vote. Thus, the Industrial Workers of the World—which did not discriminate ethnicity, creed, color, or gender—captured their memberships.

When hoboes did stay in one place, it was a “jungle” or camp, often near railroad tracks and water, where a fluctuating population could find the most basic needs for survival or quickly board a train for work. In describing the migratory farm worker, Frank once wrote, “When you see one tramping along the road, he generally has a load on his back that the average prospector would be ashamed to put on a jackass. In fact, most of the jackasses would have enough sense to kick it off.” During harvest season, he added, a steady line of these bindle stiffs “tramping down the highway” begged for the “right to work to earn enough to buy a little grub, take it down to the jungles by a river or beside an irrigation ditch, and then cook it up in old tin cans which their masters had thrown away.”

Recently, as we drove through Fresno’s downtown streets, I wondered about this new generation of bindle stiffs, the homeless we saw living in an enormous tent-and-cardboard colony, its blue-and-tan tarps fluttering in soft warm breezes. Were they workers, or “occupiers”?

Just a hundred years earlier, a poster hung in a Fresno's IWW hall. A drawing of a bindle stiff walking down a railroad track with his bundle over his arm read: “He built the ROAD with others of his CLASS, he built the road and now for many a mile he packs his load and wonders why the H--ll he built the road. The "Blanket Stiff.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Woodie Guthrie, Another Life Cut Short

I'm busy preparing my presentation for the High Plains Book Festival so no new post. Since today is the anniversary of American folk singer and writer Woody Guthrie's death, I honor him, reposting a blog from my "Chasing Rabbits" page:

I first came across Woody Guthrie while researching another lyricist, IWW Joe Hill, whom Guthrie had honored through verse. Both men composed lyrics for working class audiences, though a generation apart. But unlike the Swedish-born Hill, Guthrie was an American product, born in Okemah, Oklahoma, the son of a cowboy-politician and musical mother. And like my Oklahoman uncle Frank Little, he witnessed his family’s economic collapse; Frank’s, after the Panic of 1893 and years of drought, and Guthrie’s, after Oklahoma’s oil boom collapsed. So, it is no surprise that all three men—Guthrie, Hill, and Little—preached populist sentiments that appealed to workers.

The second time Woody Guthrie’s name popped up was during an academic review of my manuscript, Frank Little and the IWW: The Blood That Stained an American Family. An Oklahoma historian strongly supported its publication stating, though he personally was a “left wing” kind of guy, he was reminded of a story about Woody Guthrie when Guthrie was accused of being too far left-wing. Guthrie had responded in his best Okie drawl, “Aw, left-wing, right-wing, chicken wing, it don’t make no difference to me, I just support programs that help my people.” I loved that. The professor went on to say that thoughtful readers of any point on the ideological spectrum could see the importance of my book in modern day when “red state” Oklahoma means conservative Republican, but during Frank’s life, it meant far left, as in “reds” or socialists.

This analysis got me to thinking. Guthrie’s reminder that no matter our philosophical differences or our political perspectives, most Americans want the best for their brothers and sisters. Frank Little was no different, and his passion for helping workers and their families was sincere. It is the context in which he lived that colors his historical prominence, thus requiring an informed, educated mind to evaluate his contributions in American history.

Like Frank, Woody Guthrie was a hobo during a period of his life. He had headed west looking for work during the Depression, riding freight trains and walking the open road, all the while observing folk he encountered daily in tent jungles. Also like Frank, Guthrie found native antagonism toward these same itinerant farm workers who had invaded the Golden State looking for any type of work. 

Ultimately Woody Guthrie found his soapbox—on a radio show. A Guthrie family organization states that, through radio airwaves, Guthrie “developed his talent for controversial social commentary and criticism. On topics ranging from corrupt politicians, lawyers, and businessmen to praising the compassionate and humanist principles of Jesus Christ, the outlaw hero Pretty Boy Floyd, and the union organizers that were fighting for the rights of migrant workers in California’s agricultural communities, Guthrie proved himself a hard-hitting advocate for truth, fairness, and justice” []. Later Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and others from his circle, were targeted for their activist stances on such issues as the right to unionize, equal rights, and free speech. Sound familiar?

We all know Woody Guthrie’s song, “This Land is My Land.” But I find that his “Dust Bowl” ballads best liken his views to Frank Little’s:

Wherever little children are hungry and cry
Wherever people ain't free
Wherever men are fightin' for their rights
That's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma
That's where I'm a-gonna be 

From “Tom Joad” 

Another life cut short, Woody Guthrie died from Huntington’s Disease in 1967 at the age of 55.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

David Street, Hollywood Actor

I just returned from interviewing Jane Street’s grandson and gained a wealth of information.  He had already destroyed some of her work, and I was prepared to find little. Imagine my excitement to discover about a 1 ½” stack of her type-written writings. Poems, short stories, jokes, protest articles.  Who knew there would be so much more to Jane Street—artist, musician, author. Oh my! 

Last year when I was beginning my early research in Denver, I looked for Jane in the Colorado History Center archives and Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection.  I was able to investigate Denver’s strong women’s suffrage movement, even holding original Susan B. Anthony letters. Yet I discovered Jane was a ghost—all knew of her presence, some details about her work—but no physical evidence remained.  Thrilling and disappointing at the same time.  Where was Jane’s DNA, remnants of her work?

Now I am holding her papers in my hands.  I have begun reading them and will likely read them dozens of times before I can fully assess what she wanted the reader to know.

One strand I will have to address in my final manuscript is her motherhood.  Without a doubt, she loved her children dearly, so much that some individuals criticized her devotion to the children over the cause of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), affecting her profoundly. With all the turmoil in her life, her children certainly bore the scars, despite her care.  As a result, Jane’s sons and daughter traveled similar life-paths as their mother, enduring tragedies of their own.  In particular is her youngest son, Charles Patrick Devlin, stage name David Street.

David Street is an unmemorable individual that some of you may have actually seen on the big screen.  You wouldn’t have noticed much since David Street was a “B” actor in Hollywood from 1949 until 1962.  Yet, the paparazzi followed his activities intently, furnishing black and white glossies for Hollywood rags, generally because he was usually in the company of well-known, glamorous leading ladies, including Jayne Mansfield, Ava Gardner, and Marilyn Maxwell.  Though David inherited his mother’s musical talent, he also bore her self-destructive proclivities. 

“Tall, dark and handsome singer David Street seemed to have all the necessary credentials for musical film stardom in the 1940s, but his career fell drastically short and today is better remembered, if at all, for his tabloid-exposed private life.  From IMDb.

Actress Mary Beth Hughes, One of David Street's Many Starlet-Wives

He was married seven times to starlets of incredible beauty—Sharon Lee; Marilyn Maxwell; Mary Beth Hughes; Mary Francis Wilhite; Cathleen Gourley, stage name Lois Andrews; Elaine Perry; and probably the most famous of his wives was Debralee Griffin, stage name Debra Paget.  Some of these marriages lasted mere days, some divorces due to addiction and/or spending problems.  Jane's grandson reported that spending $300 on shoes definitely caused stress in one marriage when David was not earning enough to support his lavish lifestyle.  Yet he loaned Jane money when she needed it.

Did Jane’s personal relationships and care differ among her children, perhaps because of her life experiences?  Possibly.  How much impacted the lives of her children? Her papers reveal much.  I will have to see what Jane tells me.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Jane, too?

On a flight to Las Vegas, Nevada, my destination before heading to Bullhead, Arizona, and an interview with Jane Street’s grandson. I have waited all year for this opportunity. The trip is certainly refreshing after watching the drama this week regarding the Judge Brett Kavanaugh hearings. I wept during testimonies—for both individuals. I, like most everyone else, felt drained and saddened.

Have you noticed all the women who have “come out” to claim “me too”? Fact is, if you ask women close to my age if they have had some sort of real or perceived sexual harassment, assault or attack, many, if not most, will say yes. And with good reason. Perhaps this is because women have become increasingly empowered since my generation, the “burning-bra” era, as society finally confirmed that certain behaviors were not okay. Change has been slow, but change has happened.

I, like many women, have experiential responses when I hear stories of sexual assault. I recall sexual harassment on the job where I worked as a receptionist (except when I was expected to serve my boss his coffee twice-a-day). I endured sexual innuendos, wolf whistles (wait, I admit I miss those), and embarrassing confrontations. When I finally complained about a particular sexual advance to the aggressor himself, I was “let go” two weeks before I was already scheduled to quit.

I was also a GuyRex product, a beauty queen, a Miss Texas contestant, who modeled her body in swimsuit several times. Although I don’t recall shame, I do recall a stupid interview question about whom I would most desire to date, from a grinning Dallas-Cowboy-quarterback panel member, expecting to hear his name. I was ashamed to have been thus questioned when I could cite every fact about the city I was representing. True, I put myself in that situation. The Miss Texas/Miss Universe was admittedly a “meat” contest, unlike the Miss America-Miss Texas contest that paid for my college education. (Piano, everyone. I know you just wondered.)

Sixty years ago, I was sexually abused, and I can remember everything. The summer smells of cut-grass, the way our weeping willow looked with its fronds cut like my 1950s’ bangs. I remember his plaid shirt, my brother’s shouts, my parents’ response, or actually lack of appropriate response. Yes, like so many women my age, I am a Me-too-er.

 But I am no victim or survivor--two terms I absolutely abhor. I am a winner.

I am also a proud mother of sons and a wife to a wonderful, loving man. Yet, I fear for them. My sons are white and will grow up, God willing, to become old white men. This is not cut and dry like some want to make the issue—that men need to “shut up,” are predators, cannot be trusted, and their alleged victims too afraid to speak out. Good mothers raise wonderful sons to be good friends to women. Good fathers teach their boys to love and respect women. And, this grandmother will make certain her granddaughter will be strong and never fear speaking out. No wonder I was so drained after watching historical, high drama yesterday. I hurt for both of them and their families.

While listening to the hearing, I was also working on Jane Street and the Housemaid Rebellion: Sex, Syndicalism, and Denver’s Capitol Hill. I rediscovered a letter that Jane wrote to a Mrs. Elmer Bruse in 1917, explaining how she organized the maids. Embedded within the letter Jane confirms being sexually assaulted by men who opposed her organization. (I have other evidence to this fact as well.) She also describes how the house that she rented for maids, who were between jobs and without income, was labeled a prostitution house by local employment agencies who wanted to discredit her maids. Domestics came to her to find work, only to be solicited at the curb. Not only did these agencies publicize that her “club house” was a house of ill-repute, but they tried to pimp helpless, needy girls. Both actions, assaults and sexual solicitations, were acts of aggression, meant to change Jane’s behavior.

What stuck out to me, as the hearing’s senators were trying to decipher a high-school boy’s yearbook braggadocio, was that Jane was not screaming out “Me, too!” She appeared to expect this type of behavior, a form of sabotage. Sad. She warned Mrs. Bruse that “sex can come rushing into your office like a great hurricane and blow all the papers of industrialism out the windows.” Jane patiently explains and accepts that there will be workplace sexual harassment, and perhaps even assault. No woman in 1917 would dream of saying “not me, too.”

Today is different, thank God. In fact, women “have come a long way, baby.” (For my younger female readers, this was part of a cigarette-ad campaign.) Yes, I am Woman (can’t help myself, everyone)! I am not a survivor, but a winner.

And like this Jane, Jane Street never portrays herself as a victim, but one who continued to work aggressively to make a difference.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

So what does a book title suggest? The part after the colon?

Have you ever been to a wine tasting?  You sip a delicious Shiraz and next want to try a Sangiovese.  But before you can move on to the next wine, you must rinse the taste out of your mouth with a sip of water, or the two flavors will meld, giving a false impression.  In other words, you have to sample each wine independently, so your palate can savor the true depth of flavors.  It's that way with writing too.

Anyone who has ever known me will testify that I am a multi-multi-tasker.  Truth is, the only way I can appear that way is to do things in chunks, blind to other demands.  One piece at a time gets the job done.  Unfortunately, I have not followed my usual work mantra this past year, primarily because I couldn't wrap my brain around complex issues in my Jane Street and the Housemaid Rebellion:  Sex, Syndicalism, and Denver's Capitol Hill while taking numerous trips relating to the success of Frank Little and the IWW:  The Blood That Stained an American Family, and caring for my dying mother. So, I dabbled with the project while beginning another one, one that provided an artificial salve to other demands in my life.

I tried to work on two books at the same time! Can't do it! Now I am taking those sips of water in order to wash away the second book until Jane Street is finished.  A trip to Missouri with friends (no book research) and Gulf Coast fishing helps wash away some of the taste.  Fishing in a kayak with a resident alligator nearby definitely helps one concentrate on other issues!

Afterwards, I will go to Bullhead, Arizona, to interview Jane Street's grandson, who was raised by Jane seventy or so years ago. He should provide insight into Jane's personality. After putting together my timelines, rereading all my research, I should be in a better place, ready to begin writing.  Just looking over all the work I have done, I realize this story is wonderful - one that needs to be told.

So what does a book title suggest?  The part after the colon?  In this case, the following.

Sex.  Free love, free love societies, union members forcing themselves on immigrant girls who do not have the power to say "no."  Sex also refers to the subordination of women to men in the early 1900s.   Fighting for the right to vote, supporting WWI efforts, YWCA, education.

Syndicalism.  When an economic group, like a workers' union, proposes that a group, in this case, house servants, be organized and managed by the workers.  Enter the IWW [Industrial Workers of the World], where everyone is supposed to be treated equally.  See Sex.

Denver's Capitol Hill.  A smug, elite residential area where smug, elite mistresses spend their free time at club meetings and galas, events designed to help them feel like they are contributing to American injustices, such as supporting the war effort, women's education, and dismantling a particular housemaid union.  Their husbands, men of enormous power, own and operate mining interests near Denver, own and direct  cattle-raising interests in Wyoming, own and edit newspapers that help propel their political interests, or are already politicians. Don't get me wrong.  Some of these organizations were necessary and made a difference.  Others were simply held to make willing society-page editors take notice.  And, they did.

Then here comes Jane Street.  She shook up things, while her life was being turned over by sex and syndicalism.  It's a great story.

The Housemaids’ Defiance by Denver Housemaids’ Union
Lyrics & links to sheet music & karaoke download:
We are coming all together;
We are organized to stay.
For nigh on fifty years or more,
We’ve worked for little pay.
But now we’ve got our union,
We’ll do it never more.

It’s a long day for housemaid Mary;
It’s a long day’s hard toil.
It’s a burden too hard to carry,
So our mistress’s schemes we’ll foil.
We’ll be silent no longer.
We won’t be kept down.
And we’re out for a shorter day this summer,
Or we’ll fix Denver town.