A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Deja Vu


        Once again D.L. Hammons is hosting the Deju Vu Blogfest.  This is the blogging event where participants are invited to share one of their lesser performing blog posts in order to give a wider audience one more chance to read what they may have missed.  My post comes from early February of 2015.  Weirdo addresses the topic of "Being Different".

Arlee at Christmas in Tennessee 2004

        To be called a weirdo is not something to which most of us aspire.  When I was a kid I didn't necessarily think of myself as a weirdo nor did I want to be thought of as one.  But I really didn't think that much about it either.   After all, I was just a kid and being weird is often synonymous with being a kid.  Kids are mostly in their own world of imagination and from the standpoint of an adult they might seem a bit la-la--you know--out there so to speak.   Adults expect silliness and naiveté from children. I delivered on a regular basis.

       There were plenty of other kids whom I thought were a bit odd, but I didn't usually count myself in that category. Oh, there were those times when I reveled in doing weird things. But that's when I was on a mission of strangeness. Whether it was to annoy, shock, amuse, or for whatever other reason, when I was trying to be weird, I was happy if I fulfilled that mission which I had initially set out to do.

      For the most part though I was a normal child. I made decent grades and the teachers always had good reports to send home about me. That's mostly been me even into adulthood. Employers liked me and I always got promotions. I've typically had good relationships with people--other than certain people who were really weird in kind of a bad way.

        And yet I see myself as a bit on the weird side.   Not wacky weird or scary or like some kind of a pervert or anything like that.  My neighbors and people who I encounter in public probably rarely give me a second look because I appear to be so damn normal.  When I'm in Walmart no one would ever think to take a picture of me to post on the internet because I look so--well--normal.   That's me--Mr. Normal Average Guy.

         It's some of my tastes I guess that put me out there some.  I like classical music, seventies rock, and jazz influenced pop music from the 20's and 30's.  My interest in films is eclectic though I have a strong interest in the films of Fellini, David Lynch, and old film noir.  I often read things that most people I know don't read.  Give me a thin crust pizza with onions, jalapenos, and anchovies and I'm in food heaven.

         I'm not saying that I'm the only one in the world who likes the things I like, but often I feel in a distinct minority regarding my tastes.  Some people think I'm weird because of what I like.  Or they at least think I like odd things.  I know there are plenty of people who do like what I like but I rarely seem to encounter them.  My tastes don't bother me, but often I have no one with whom to share what I like.  I never have anyone to discuss Fellini movies with me.  When my pizza arrives you can bet that I'll likely be the only one eating it if I've ordered my favorite.

         Being different is fine with me.   I've not only gotten used to it, but I'm a bit proud of it.  A lifetime of being a bit of a weirdo is something that one usually can adapt to.   After all, we're all just a bit daft in our own ways.  Aren't we?   Well, don't just stare at me like I'm weird or something.  Come on and admit it:  You're a bit of a weirdo too--in one way or another.

          I think its kind of the human condition.

         Do you think you're weird?   What do you think comprises "weirdness"?    Who are some weirdos that you have known?

          For more Deja Vu fun visit D.L. Hammons for the list of participants.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fear and Oblivion

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 44th week, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        When I was a child I was fearless when it came to the woes facing the world.  My fears dealt more with issues at school or being embarrassed because I did something stupid.  Nuclear destruction or devastation from natural forces barely crossed my mind other than a certain fascination with those things.  Disasters such as these were movie themes or fantasies in my head.  Nothing to be concerned about or of which to be afraid.

        Even though in school we regularly had disaster duck and cover drills, the concept was far from any reality in my mind.   Even during the tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis, hiding under my desk periodically in preparation for the bombs to come or hearing the ominous sounds of the air raid sirens that were tested precisely at noon one Friday each month did not instill trembling within me.  On the contrary the drills and exercises were fuel for fantasy rather than a reminder of the reality of any threat to my existence.

        During the fifties and sixties I developed a curiosity and edgy enjoyment regarding things that should reasonably instill fear and dread in most of us.  A part of me longed to see giant mutated insects, prehistoric beasts, or monstrous entities roaming my neighborhood and destroying the city in which we lived.  An atomic bomb detonated in some nearby city seemed like an interesting possibility.

         When I was in junior high school I read John Hersey's Hiroshima--a true account of the first use of the atom bomb on a city.  The book impacted me, yet still did not frighten me in any way.  If anything, reading the book made me even more curious about the horrors of a major disaster.  My interest wouldn't necessarily translate into any strong desire to experience actual horror, but I did have a deep seated interest in the subject.

         Since childhood I've had an interest in the topic of world annihilation and that continues to this day.  Judging from the popularity of apocalyptic and dystopian genres I'm not the only one.   The B sci-fi movies of the 1950's have become in more recent times big budget extravaganzas as well as intriguing low cost indie films.   More than one television show has addressed the topic in varying ways from the serious to the comedic.   Apocalypse, death, and destruction seem to translate into big money.

         Do you think many people in our time have a societal death wish of sorts?    Do you enjoy films in the genres that center around fear and oblivion?   Do you have any favorite apocalyptic or catastrophically themed films?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Securing a Place in History

Arlee Bird a.k.a. Lee Jackson of the Juggling Jacksons

An Estate in Limbo

      For many of us our biggest mark on history will be our tombstone and whatever memories we leave behind with those who knew us or knew about us.   Having a memoir published is a big step in establishing a physical presence in history no matter how big or small that place might be.  Recently I came upon another concept of legacy in the tangible sense--becoming a part of a museum collection.

      My own story of this type of archived preservation memory relates to my family's reputation as a professional juggling act.  Though we may have not been widely known to the general public, the name of The Juggling Jacksons was known to many jugglers as well as others in the world of entertainment.  When my father was still living he and my mother would regularly attend jugglers' conventions and other gatherings thus establishing themselves in that community as iconic figures in juggling history.

       With my mother's passing in November of 2014 it became evident to me and my siblings that her house and everything in it would have to be sold, disbursed among ourselves, or gotten rid of in some way.  Part of this estate included decades worth of juggling props and artifacts.   None of the family had the proper space or wherewithal to hang on to these items even though we were aware of the sentimental value as well as the potential historical value.  Since none of the family continues to work in the juggling profession these props served no functional purpose to any of us.

A Fortuitous Inquiry

       A few years prior to my mother's death a juggler who at that time was working professionally in the art learned of the treasure trove of juggling memorabilia residing in my mother's house.  He passed this information to another professional juggler and juggling historian by the name of David Cain.

      David had been building a considerable collection of anything related to juggling for many years, maintaining space in his home as a juggling museum and touring juggling gatherings throughout the country with his collection.  Upon learning about the accumulation that my mother had, David contacted us to see if we were interested in donating to the museum.   We told him we'd think about it and left it there.

       Nearly a year after my mother's death, our family put her house on the market.  As we began clearing out her possessions, keeping what we wanted and selling, donating, or throwing away other things, I got back in touch with David Cain.  Juggling equipment was not going to be something easy to sell and we sure didn't want to just throw it all away.   Within a few weeks David drove down to Tennessee from his home in Ohio and loaded up nearly everything we had to add to his museum collection

        He was excited with this addition to his collection and we were pleased to have found a reasonable way to remove these from our possession finding a suitable home for them.  The arrangement served all concerned very well.

The Future of the Juggling Jacksons Collection

         David Cain is highly regarded as a collector of juggling history and his home museum is open to interested parties by appointment.  He has created a very fine website (links below) that details much of his collection to date.  Though his collection currently resides in his home, David dreams of one day establishing an official museum space for his valuable collection.

          Perhaps eventually the collection will end up as part of a larger museum or in a permanent juggling museum devoted to the art of juggling and the related history.  Whatever the case may be, the Juggling Jackson legacy will carry on through its place in the Historical Juggling Props collection.

           I encourage all of my readers to stop in to visit the online museum at Historical Juggling Props:  an Online Museum.  There is a lot of interesting information as well as many photos of items in David Cain's collection.  David has even added my blogs on his link page.  For those who are interested in furthering the outreach of this collection there is also information on how you can donate or offer your services in some way.

           Be sure to visit the Juggling Jacksons page at the site to see my family's contribution to the collection.  Since I hadn't gone through the props that we had in storage, I was very surprised at the extent of our collection as well as how good of condition these props were considering the amount of use they had endured.  Many of these juggling props are akin to works of art in my view.

          Another stop you might enjoy is the Juggling Jewels page.  The "Jewels" were an all female juggling act originally from England.  They worked extensively during the vaudeville era up to about 1950.   In 1967 one of the surviving members who lived in Roanoke, Virginia had gotten wind of our family and sent us some of their historical props which were included in the collection my family sent to David Cain.  He has credited us with this contribution on that page.

          I hope you will "visit" David's museum online to see some of the history of juggling which most people might never even think about.   Definitely visit the "Home Museum Display" page as I think you'll be impressed by the size of Cain's collection to date.  And it's always growing!

          Hopefully one day I can visit the Juggling Museum in person to see my part in preserving juggling history as well as marvel at the array of fun things that David Cain has accumulated so far.

          Have you donated any family or personal heirlooms to a museum or some other collection?   Do you have any things that you think might be good for museum preservation?     What are some of the most unique museum collections that you have seen or heard about?