Saturday, September 22, 2018

Driving between Tennessee and Georgia ... and memories

In my post of June 11, 2018, I mentioned that our black walnut tree had been uprooted by the wind and fallen on the roof of our Georgia house.  I drove from Nashville to Georgia to have it removed, then found a roofer who agreed to replace the roof in August.  In August I drove back to Georgia but he did not show up.  I had to find another roofer who agreed to replace the roof last Tuesday, September 18, so I drove back to Georgia on Sunday 16th, 2018.  Because of Hurricane Florence the insurance company had delayed our claim and not approved the new roofer.  The new date for the roof will be in October and I'll drive back here then.  Last month I stopped at my usual rest area on highway I-24 near South Pittsburg, Tennessee.  This time I could see a white blanket near the banks of the lake and as I approached was greeted by a million of little flowers with a sweet aroma (similar to jasmine.)  They formed a cascade of delicate flowers on the fence.  Their name is "Virgin's Bower" (aka Devil's Darning Needles or Old Man's Beard.)  This little flagrant flower is from a vine, the clematis virginiana, from the Ranunculaceae family (buttercup) it is aggressive and invasive.  The Cherokee Indians used it for medicinal purposes.

When I stopped again last Sunday the flowers were gone as well as the sun.  Below is a map showing where the rest stop is located between Tennessee and Georgia.

I am still in Georgia, working in the house, clearing, cleaning, giving away but I did hurt my back a bit as well as my recently operated knee by moving some heavy objects, so am taking a break today.  I'll drive back to Nashville in a couple of days.  All the closets are still packed full and while cleaning I always find some items I have not seen in years.  Again I found bags with old photos.  These are film pictures, taken years ago.  My scanner is now in Nashville but I copied some of the photos with my cell phone so I could show them here.

Looking at some of these photos brought back many good memories.  I did not look at all of them as I need to spend as much time as I can on clearing out the house.  I don't even watch TV apart from the news and weather, and lately the news brought back some memories that were not that good.  When I left Paris, France, in the early 1960s, to travel to the USA, a friend who had lived several years here gave me some advice.  He said that the US culture was very different from the French, that it was male-oriented.  He added that in France boys play with girls from an early age and feel comfortable with them and respect them.  They can have close female friends for years without any sexual situation.  But in the US, maybe because of boys' dominated sports, starting in schools, gender inequity starts early, and girls are supposed to care about boys' feelings but not vice versa.  He also said that there is a great deal of violence against women in the US that goes unreported because abusers are protected and women are discredited, disparaged and blamed.  So he added ... "you are pretty, so watch out."  And this was back in the 1960s ...  Below are some pictures I found of me from about that time.

On my way west I stopped in Washington, DC, to visit a girlfriend from college in the UK.  I remember that it was a lovely week-end.  My friend said that she had planned to have a picnic in a park with her boyfriend and that he had found a friend for me as a "blind date."  She added that he came from a very rich family in Maryland and had just been given a fabulous convertible car.  I did not know what a "blind date" was as we don't even have a French word for date, and told her I did not need one, but she said it would be fun.  We went to a secluded area of the park along a river, placed a blanket on the ground and the basket of food.  They had forgotten the ice for the sodas, and told me to get acquainted with him while they went to get ice.  I remember his car as being huge; I looked on Google to find one like his.  It was or similar to the Chevrolet Impala below.  He was proud of it and wanted to take me on a ride but I declined (I was not awed by that car as at the time my favorites were British sports cars, like the MG,  Morgan +4 or Jaguar.)  Then he asked if I was impressed that he attended an academy in Annapolis.  I did not know what that was and he made fun of me, saying I didn't know much but then I also was a foreigner, so that explained it.  He told me that it was the most prestigious naval academy in the world.  (Below pictures of the car, and of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.)

He said something like "You are from Gay Paree, then, you know more things like this ..." and he proceeded to pin me on the ground and grab my shirt.  I was terrified and did not know what to do.  I tried to move from under him but he was big.  I started to panic as he was grabbing my bra and pulling my trousers down.  But then I heard my friends coming back and he pulled away.  They could see I did not look right so I told them I had these terrible cramps and needed to get back home for medicine and they took me back.  I never told anyone ever, this is the first time I mention it.  I felt terrible shame that he would think because I was French I was easy and tried to forget it.  I'll give you one more time I was assaulted, at my first job, in San Francisco a few years later.  Here are pictures of me at about that time.  I found these yesterday, and they are not technically good.

My office in San Francisco was on Post Street, close to Union Square.  It was not very large, maybe about 50 employees or so.  I really enjoyed working there and had made many friends, male and women.  My best friends were a woman from Texas and also two gay males, who were wonderful gourmet cooks.  I was a purchasing clerk and had a kindly manager.  I never had to interact with the president of the company, an elder man, who was often away on business.  Below are pictures of San Francisco in the 1960s, with Union Square.  The postcard of Post Street is vintage, early 1900s.

About 2 or 3 years after I started working there one Friday (I remember it was a Friday because most people did not stay late) I decided to work late to finish some work.  I needed to count some items and went into the warehouse in the back - a huge warehouse.  It was very dark because of the week-end coming up.  I was not sure where the items were and walked up and down the aisles.  The president of the company came behind me and asked if he could help me.  I told him what I was looking for and when he led me to the back of the warehouse in almost total darkness I was not suspicious.  Alas, he turned on me, grabbed me and tried to undo my blouse.  I started to shout but he placed his hands on my mouth.  Again I was petrified and remembered my last encounter.  It was so dark there.  He pushed me against the shelves and I fought to get him to move his hands away, doing so I knocked a bunch of boxes on the shelf that went crashing down making a huge noise.  Unbeknownst to us there was a warehouse employee working and he came running to see what the noise was.  The president said it was a mouse that had scarred me.  I don't know if he believed it but I was able to get back to my desk and leave.  I was sick about it the whole week-end but did not tell anyone as I needed the job and knew no one would believe me since he was the president.  I did not even go to my Clairol hair modeling job that I had on week-ends.  (More pictures I found in the closet from that era.) 

I had two more instances like these in another company, but not as bad.  I never told anyone about any of them until now.  The first one happened in the early 1960s or more than 50 years ago!  But you know I have never forgotten and as I was writing this tears were falling down my cheek.  It's silly I know, it was such a long time ago.  I tried to forget but it had been traumatic and I could not.  I researched and found out that the US has 75% more rapes than in France, that it is one of the top 3 countries in the world for sexual assaults.  Every 98 seconds a woman is sexually assaulted in the US and one out of every 5 women is assaulted in college.  The US Justice Dept estimates that 300,000 American women are raped every year (but the CDC estimates that because it is highly unreported the number is closer to 1.3 millions.)  The US audience, male and female, does not seem to care and more assaults go unreported as the victims are usually not believed and blamed if they come forward (63% of assaults are unreported and 99% of aggressors go free.)  I read a couple of weeks ago that some men reported that when they were children (40+ years ago) and Altar Boys, they had been sexually assaulted by priests.  Those men were believed and not ostracized and harassed and no one sent them death threats - but then, they are men, aren't they?  As long as women are not taken seriously (women make 51% of the US population but only 19% of the Congress) there won't be much equality under the law.  The Parliamentary Union compared in 2018 women in parliament in 193 countries,  France came no. 14 and the US no. 103.  Well, I better talk about better memories from my old photographs.  Below, the top pictures are in Bruges, Belgium.  The bottom left is at Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC, Canada and on the bottom right the Tezcuco Plantation in Burnside, Louisiana, built in 1855.

The top left picture below was taken during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.  We had purchased tickets to attend the bicycle racing games in Stone Mountain.  The top right picture was taken in Browning, northwest Montana, the site of the tribal government of the Blackfeet Nation, an American Indian reservation established by treaty in 1855.  I had visited my younger daughter who was spending the summer in Montana for her Master's Thesis from Jones Hopkins University.  She was studying something about the health of Native American women.  The bottom two pictures were taken at Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, that borders Glacier National Park in Montana.

More pictures of the Blackfeet Nation festival.  The bottom right photo was taken on my 60th birthday with my two daughters. 

There are more pictures that I have not seen in ages.  It will be fun to go through those, once I am finished with the Georgia house.  But that won't be for many more months - after additional driving between Nashville and greater Atlanta, Georgia.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...