Episode 178: Marjorie Merriweather Post, Part One

Posted 11 June 2021 by
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Marjorie, circa 1942

Marjorie Merriweather Post was not just a society hostess (although she was that, magnificently) she was also a woman raised in a business world who was excluded from the front lines of that business because, “that’s just not done, Young Lady.” But, when she gained power over her own life and her own (massive) fortune, she created change in both the world and in the packaged food industry. She did it all with such style and flair, we decided to let her have two episodes.

In Part One, we cover the life of Marjorie through her childhood as the only child of CW and Ella Merriweather Post (of the Battle Creek Posts, darling) up until her second marriage to a man who, when he spoke, people listened.

From the early 70s:

From the late 70s:

From the 80s:

You get the idea.

Marjorie came from very middle-class roots, although when her father created a coffee substitute (with an ad campaign of wild health claims) and the first pre-packaged cereal (with the same marketing strategy) the family coffers began to fill…

…then spill over…

…I think we’re gonna need a bigger coffer.

Marjorie with CW when she was just a wee tot! See how close they are? (That’s a distance joke.) (Probably not a good one.) public domain

 

Mama Ella Wikicommons

The heiress to the Post Postum Company attended finishing school at the Mount Vernon Seminary in Washington, DC, and, upon graduation, Marjorie married Edward Bennett Close, of the Greenwich Closes, my dear. Upon the death of her father, Marjorie inherited his wealth and started to use it. But, after having two daughters, Edward’s WWI deployment, and Marjorie’s blossoming independence, the couple divorced.

Marjorie soon found love again with Edward Francis Hutton–that’s E.F. Hutton and…

Marjorie and E.F. lived large…as in a massive sailboat yacht, a camp lake compound in the Adirondacks, an expansive hunting lodge estate on Long Island, and a cottage mansion in Palm Beach.

When the Palm Beach “cottage” wasn’t big enough to throw the kind of parties Marjorie wanted, she began to build her dream oasis on the island: a place with a view of both the ocean and Lake Worth where she could see from land to sea.

Mar-a-Lago.

And, while on that massive yacht, a meal of a previously frozen goose from a local grocer inspired Marjorie to see a path to realizing her father’s dream for the Postum Company expansion in the prepackaged food market. After meeting with the man who had created the local, small, frozen food business, all she had to do was convince her husband who she had made the Chairman of the Board of the Postum Company.

That scientist grocer: Clarence Birdseye.

EF was not convinced.

And that’s where we must leave you in this episode. It’s 1923 and a Marjorie has a whole lot of living left in her!

 

Episode 177: Loïe Fuller

Posted 25 May 2021 by
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Loïe Fuller is often remembered as a dancer, but that hardly covers her contributions to the arts. Sure, she was a dancer, but also an actress, a chemist, an artist, and a pioneer in stage lighting and choreography. She was inquisitive and energetic, full of creativity and drive. She was the belle of Paris and the Art Nouveau movement, and she was an art agent of sorts who matched up her artist friends with her art buying ones…but she is best referred to as La Loïe, THE Loïe, one of a kind.

Are you having an “oh! Her?” moment looking at this? by Jules Cheret, wikicommons

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Episode 176: Mary Seacole, Revisited

Posted 10 May 2021 by
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Mary circa 1871, with medals she didn’t earn, but it wasn’t illegal for her to wear and they really do spiff up her outfit, don’t they?

In honor of International Nurses Day on May 12, we decided to revisit the life of Mary Seacole. Sure, Florence Nightingale would have been a more obvious choice, but, well, she was too obvious. Mary was a contemporary of Florence, they even had an encounter during their lives, but Mary aided soldiers during the Crimean War a bit differently than Florence did and headed right down to the front lines to help make people comfortable (and sell some food.) Mary was beloved, brave, smart, ambitious, and enchanted most everyone she met.

 

Time Travel with The History Chicks

For the links of things we talked about in this episode, visit Mary’s original shownotes here: Mary Seacole

For information about the Local’s Meet-up dinner in London on August 7th, and to see if there are any spots for the tour, visit LIKE MINDS TOURS.

Women in Medicine Playlist

In order of Nurseyness:

Florence Nightingale, Episode 137

Clara Barton, Episode 111

Lydia Pinkham, Episode 126

Marie Curie, Episode 158

And then some turn-your-head-sideways-and-squint women of medicine:

Louisa May Alcott, Episode 142

Mary Mallon, Episode 149 (thanks to Sean A. in the Lounge for pointing this out)

 

 

Episode 175: Maya Angelou, Part Three

Posted 28 April 2021 by
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Maya at Elon University, 2012, Elon Universtiy via Flickr

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, entertainer, director, producer, mom, friend…but she was most masterful at sharing her life with the perfect collections of words. We use the best ones we can muster to share her remarkable life story.

We wrap up our three-part series on Dr. Angelou beginning as Maya leaves Africa to headed back to the US and work for civil rights leader, and friend, Malcolm X ‘s Organization of African American Unity.  His assassination not long after her arrival sent her into both grief and a search for the next chapter in her life.

Writing. She felt led to be a writer, and the best place for that was back with her literary friends in New York. While there, she took an opportunity to work with her old friend, Martin Luther King, Jr…who was assassinated right before her first day.

But setbacks in life often lead to the perfect path. She threw herself into writing a 10-part PBS series, Blacks, Blues, Black! which lead, in 1969, the publication of her first autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

For the rest of her (long) life, she combined all of her life experiences, her gifts, her skills, and her wisdom and shared it with the world. She was a memoirist, a poet, a playwright, a songwriter, a performer, a lecturer, an educator…a grandmother…she loved and lost, and all along the way she captured her words in the perfect order projected by her strong personality (and often her unique voice) to leave her mark on our world.

1993 Clinton inauguration Courtesy Clinton Presidential Library

 

President Obama bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 Courtesy White House

Maya Angelou died on May 28th, 2014 at the age of 86. No one can tell her story like she did, so we’ll leave you with Maya herself sharing a little of her words and wisdom.

 

 

Time Travel With The History Chicks

 

Books!

Not technically a book, but Maya Angelou: The Autobiographies from BBC is a six-part, audio dramatization of some of her work. Susan got it for one credit on Audible and had an amazing experience. You can learn more at THIS LINK TO BBC.

You can read every one of her perfectly chosen words in this massive tome: 

Not technically a book, but Maya Angelou: The Autobiographies from BBC is a six-part, audio dramatization of some of her work. Susan got it for one credit on Audible and had an amazing experience. You can learn more at THIS LINK TO BBC

The only detailed biography Susan could find but written before her death by Marcia Anne Gillespie, Rosa Johnson Butler, and Richard A. Long; foreword by Oprah Winfrey

 

Maya’s essays about memorable food in her life and the recipes- delightful! (And her fried chicken recipe is in here!)

 

More autobiographical essays with recipes for international dishes all based around her weight loss through portion control.

 

By Editors of Essence Magazine, essays about her.

 

Great series for kids, by Ellen LaBrecque

Web!

Here is a whole lot of information (and pictures) about the Rosenwald Schools like the one a young Maya Johnson attended: The Rosenwald Schools.

Short NPR interview in the last year of her life, and one where she talks about her time with Porgy and Bess.

There was some discussion about the pronunciation of her name, we went with Maya’s which we found here: Maya Angelou Explains Her Name.

Brain Pickings article about the daily routines of famous writers.

An article on the Quote Investigator site discussing the phrase “Churchillian Drift” coined by radio host, Nigel Rees of the BBC show Quote Unquote (so QI is fact-checking something the OG quote fact-checker said.)

There is a Maya Barbie…do we know what to think about this? 

Her estate maintains a website, there is some information, pictures, and a link to the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation if you would like to get involved in her life’s work.

Some information (read: the opening of the hole Beckett fell down) the Hawaiian Jazz scene.

Maya’s obituary through a Caribbean lens.

Lift Every Voice and Sing lyrics and essay (from the Library of Congress, no less!)

“Summertime” from Porgy and Bess, Metropolitan Opera:

This makes sense if you listened to the episode, but we simply can not leave it out!

Caged Bird Songs, Maya’s own words with a beat, it may be an acquired taste.

 

Moving Pictures!

Maya’s first adventure in television occurred in 1968 when she wrote, produced, and hosted a 10-part PBS series Blacks, Blues, Black! The whole series is online HERE!

If you would like to learn about the incredible discovery that made our viewing (here in the future) possible, here’s an article about it: From The Archive

I know why the Caged Bird Sings with Diahann Carroll (movie)

There are so very many interviews with her, if you start with this one, with her dear friend, Oprah, YouTube will connect you with maaaaany more.

PBS has an American experience about Dr. Angelou, it’s streaming on Prime through the PBS Documentaries subscription, but you may be able to find it elsewhere, here’s more information about that Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.

And, finally, we want you to listen to Maya read and speak her own words, she left so many treasures for us.

 

We’re going to be in London in August and would love for you to join us for a Thames River Dinner cruise on August 7th, 2021! Get more info and sign-up here at Like Minds Travel

The first break song was A Fork Where a Fork Don’t Fit by James Harper, the second was Sonata Pathétique in C minor by Mario Ajero

End music: Press On by Loot

music used with permission by both iLicenseMusic and James Harper

 

 

Episode 174: Maya Angelou, Part Two

Posted 21 April 2021 by
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Russell Mondy, via Flikr

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, entertainer, director, producer, mom, friend…but she was most masterful at sharing her life with the perfect collections of words. We use the best one we can muster to share her remarkable life story. (And a lot of them, this is going to take three episodes.)

In this, Part Two of Maya’s story, we begin with a teenage Marguerite/Maya giving birth to her son, Clyde Bailey Johnson (who later changed his name to “Guy” so we use that through the rest of the episode…one name change per subject is enough, don’t you think?)  We go through her tumultuous/exciting/brave/terrifying early adult years, her many jobs, her stage and singing career, her burgeoning civil rights activism, her life as a “wife” and journalist in Cairo, and, then, as a single mom and journalist in Ghana.

Aaaand then we stop. Why? Because we were so enthralled by her story that, after two full episodes, we had yet to get to the part where she starts writing books! In this episode we are still almost a decade out from her very first memoir, the thing she is most known for. Because there is so much left of Maya’s life to talk about, we decided not to race through it, but to break it into an unprecedented (for us) three-part series.

Part Three will be ready for your ears next week. All of the media recommendations will be in the shownotes for that episode.

Episode 173: Maya Angelou, Part One

Posted 31 March 2021 by
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Dave Allocca LIFE Photo Collection 1994

 

This episode includes non-graphic descriptions of assaults, including one of a child. We give a heads-up in the body of the episode.

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, entertainer, teacher, director, producer, mom, and friend but she was most masterful at sharing her life and wisdom with the most perfect collections of words. We use the bests one we can muster up to share her remarkable life story.

This is going to take us two three episodes.

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Episode 173: The Bowery Boys and the Shirtwaist Strike of 1909

Posted 15 March 2021 by
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We have been talking with our friends Greg Young and Tom Meyers, The Bowery Boys, for years about doing a project together. This isn’t that, but it is a subject that a lot (A LOT) of people have requested of us. Because it’s a bit out of our focus, we thought there’s no one better than Greg and Tom, experts in New York City history, to tell you about the city’s early 1900s women’s protest movements and how they are tragically tied to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. (more…)

Episode 172: Women of the Wild West, Revisted

Posted 2 March 2021 by
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First up: Calamity Jane

 

Belle Starr

 

And we end with end with Kansas City’s own, Annie Chambers

After spending so much time talking about the Harvey Girls and Fred Harvey, we got to thinking of their contemporaries (more…)

Episode 171: The Harvey Girls

Posted 23 February 2021 by
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Harvey Girls, undated, Creative Commons

Over 100,000 women left their hometowns for adventure, a job (and maybe to find a husband) to become Harvey Girls. These poised, skilled, efficient, charming women waited on customers in Harvey House restaurants all across the US and stayed to help establish communities in growing towns.  But, it’s impossible to tell the tale of these brave women who helped settle the American West without talking about the man behind them: Fred Harvey.

Mr. Fred Harvey, the man behind the women. Public domain

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Episode 170: Ella Fitzgerald, Revisit (and a request)

Posted 2 February 2021 by
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From a rough start on the streets of Harlem to the Apollo stage, smokey clubs, years on the road, and in recording studios Ella led the world through the trends and wild ride that was the musical scene during most of the last century.

If Ella’s story touches you like it touched us, would you please consider supporting the musical arts in your own community or through the Jazz Foundation of America? This is not sponsored, it’s just a cause that is near and dear to our hearts and we know that, with no shows, live musicians are struggling around the country due to the pandemic.

Shownotes and recommendations for this episode are here, in the Way Back Machine.