Author Archive - The History Chicks

Episode 89: Marie Laveau

Posted 28 May 2017 by
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Poor Marie Laveau! She’s often remembered as either a sinner or a saint… and not too often as a multi-nuanced, very real woman who who held power at a time and place when powerful women were rare.

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Marie never sat for a portrait, but maybe she was a gorgeous as depicted in this one by Frank Schneider (1920 based on George Catlin that’s presumed destroyed) wikicommons

Marie’s story is a tangled web of myth, truth and half-truths with a whole lotta holes. She was illiterate so any record of her comes through legal documents, a few secondary sources and, well, that’s about it. Fun! (If your idea of “fun” is trying to detangle her tale.) Even her birthday comes with a disclaimer and was only (historically speaking) discovered recently. More fun! So what do we know for sure?

Marie was born around the beginning of the 1800s in New Orleans, Louisiana to a free woman of color, Marguerite D’Arcantel. The “father” line was blank but it’s presumed to be Charles Laveaux. (You caught that “x” didn’t you? Charles used it, Marie is usually referred to without it. See? What a tangled web.)

This is NOT the house that Marie lived in on St. Ann's Street--it's gone-- but a random, lovely cottage in the French Quarter

This is NOT the house that Marie lived in on St. Ann’s Street–it’s gone– but a random, lovely cottage all fancied up, in the French Quarter

Marie lived in New Orleans her entire life, married as a teenager to Jacques Paris who disappeared from the narrative within just a few years. She entered a common law relationship with *deep breath* Louis-Christophe Dominic Dumesnil de Glapion and had between 5 and 15 children. She worked as a hairdresser, was a practicing Catholic and also a practicing Voodoo Queen.

Marie's home church...right?! St. Louis Cathedral

Marie’s home church…right?! St. Louis Cathedral

She had a very philanthropic heart, was deeply tied to her community, led many public and private Voodoo services, made a nice living selling gris-gris and used her spiritual gifts to help people of all colors and social levels.

Gris-Gris, Charles Gadolfo (art just classes up the joint, doesn't it?)

Gris-Gris, Charles Gadolfo (art just classes up the joint, doesn’t it?) wikicommons

She died on June 15,1881. Although, quite mysteriously, it seemed as if she didn’t. Marie II (more than likely her daughter but not enough evidence to claim it as truth) took over Marie, Senior’s gig–rituals, clients and all, only the heart of Marie 2.0 wasn’t the same and the activities became a bit more…let’s go with “naughty.”

Wow, Chicks, that doesn’t look like enough solid intel for a full show.

We talk about cool stuff like the possible cultural appropriation of Marie's style (forced on her) with Dolley Madison's (a choice.)

We talk about cool stuff like the possible cultural appropriation of Marie’s style (forced on her) with Dolley Madison’s (a choice.) We also talk about how much we love Dolley.

Hahaha…have you not met us? We compare the myths and legends of not only Marie but Voodoo in general; we talk about life of women of color at that ever-changing (and not for the better) time in US history, and the unusual history of New Orleans (and gush, Susan knows what it means to miss New Orleans.)

Marie’s legend grew fast and hard after her death and the voodoo religion was turned into a tourist attracting industry. You guys! New Orleans has a lot of beauty and history (and not all of that is beautiful)–you should visit Marie’s tomb, but that’s just a short jaunt in a city FULL of long jaunts.

Marie's tomb and why we can't have nice things. Keep your grimy hands off of it!

Marie’s tomb and why we can’t have nice things. Keep your grimy hands off of it!

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Time Travel with The History Chicks

If you aren’t with Susan on Anti-Website Music, maybe giving this ditty a play while you scroll around might be fun. Maybe.

 

Books!

Carolyn Long, this is the favorite of both of us

Carolyn Long, this is the favorite of both of us

And we both liked this one a great deal, Ina Fandrich (the woman who discovered the baptismal certificate)

And we both liked this one a great deal, Ina Fandrich (the woman who discovered the baptismal certificate)

Martha Ward

Martha Ward

The book Beckett recommended to learn more about the differences and histories.

The book Beckett recommended to learn more about the differences and histories.

The "recipe" book we quoted at the beginning of the show.

The “recipe” book we quoted at the beginning of the show, The life and works of Marie Laveau by Raul Canizares

FIction-- Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett- part of the Discworld Series. Also proof that Susan has begun it, and the Android Rosemary font that she prefers and makes Beckett's eye twitch.

Fiction– Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett- part of the Discworld Series. Also proof that Susan has begun it, and the Android Rosemary font that she prefers and makes Beckett’s eye twitch.

Travel!

We aren’t travel guides, but there is so much more to do in New Orleans than focus on the touristy voodoo, but you’ll probably want to do some type of tour since you now a bit about Marie and her times.

Highly recommended cemetery and French Quarter walking tours (and the name! Right?) Two Chicks Tours (recommended guides, Grey Sweeney Perkins or George “Loki” Williams specifically but all are good) and also the tour group, Friends of the Cabildo.

This place is stunning and really a terrific way to learn more about the city–Lousiana State Museum and Inside The Cabildo

 

 

Web!

For some more information about early 19th century medicine, check  out the Melnick Medical Museum

You may want to turn off your speakers, but there is a plethora of intel on here: French Creoles dot com

This is a good write up about how Ina Fandrich discovered what is now accepted as the birthdate of Marie. It will also give you a bit of insight into exactly how much work goes into the biographies that we devour in no time! How birth certificate was discovered

We didn’t talk about this but you might find some really great information about preservation and architecture of New Orleans at Preserving New Orleans.

Movies!

Only two that are even remotely related that we would suggest, although you might keep your eye out for the 2017 release (still being filmed as we post) called, Laveau. You can follow the production on the IMDB page.

With Bette Davis set during Marie's era

With Bette Davis set during Marie’s era

"Nope. Nope. Nope, nope nope." Susan

“Nope. Nope. Nope, nope nope.” Susan

 

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Anne with an “E” Recap: Episode 2

Posted 19 May 2017 by
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I am no bird and no net shall ensnare me directed by Helen Shaver

or: Anne canon? We don’t need no stinkin’ Anne canon!

Looking for Anne of Green Gables in Anne with an "E"

Looking for Anne of Green Gables in Anne with an “E” (Courtesy Netflix)

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Anne With An “E” Recap: Episode 1

Posted 12 May 2017 by
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via imdb

via imdb

Over the next several weeks we’re going to be recapping the new Netflix series, Anne with an “E”. If you’re new here- hello! Glad you found us! We hope you’ll stick around and listen to our usual fare: conversations about historical women (logically, you could start with our last one about Anne of Green Gables author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.)

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Episode 88: Lucy Maud Montgomery

Posted 6 May 2017 by
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framedLucy_Maud_Montgomery v smallAn abandoned little girl raised by elderly guardians during the Victorian era on Prince Edward Island, Canada. It sounds like the premise for a book, and it was, but it was also the early life of author Lucy Maud Montgomery. (more…)

Episode 87: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Part Two

Posted 17 April 2017 by
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Part one followed Eleanor’s life from her birth through to the big cliffhanger: after divorcing King Louis and heading back to Aquitaine she popped up only a few weeks later married again to 18 year-old, King in Training, Henry FitzEmpress of Anjou.

The newlyweds took the “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission” strategy and didn’t ask their king (Louis) if they could marry but, really? Would he have given it? No, he would not. Henry’s star was rising and his parents were powerful and connected. His mother, Empress Matilda, needs her own episode, she was that powerful and after a lifetime of civil war over the crown of England (Matilda was beat to it by her cousin, Stephen) Henry’s military training was substantial and he was very good at it. But the biggie? When Eleanor’s lands combined with Henry’s they controlled more than half of modern day France.

Eleanor's fancy new seal and one of the few illustrations of her

Eleanor’s fancy new seal and one of the few illustrations of her

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Episode 86: Eleanor of Aquitaine Part One

Posted 26 March 2017 by
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You voted for Eleanor of Aquitaine in our last Guaranteed Content Poll. Excellent choice! The Queen of both France and England, and the mother of royalty, she contributed more than looking pretty in a crown – she ruled. And by that we mean, she RULED!

EleanorAkvitanie1068

Eleanor’s seal

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Episode 85: Artemisia Gentileschi

Posted 4 March 2017 by
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There are people who define Artemisia’s life by the trauma she endured, it’s where they begin her story and where they return time and time again.

We aren’t those people. While her rape as a teenager must have influenced her, what this Master Baroque painter did after that is where we spend most of this episode. (We do suggest that an adult preview the audio of this episode before letting kids listen.)

Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting

Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting

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Episode 84: Ida B. Wells

Posted 11 February 2017 by
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Ida B. Wells- born a slave, educated in a post-Civil War south and left to care for her family at an early age. She grew to become a teacher, a writer, a crusader for civil rights, a suffragist, a wife and mother. A woman of strength and character who dared to speak up and challenge those who desired to oppress others, even when her own safety was at risk.

How could we not talk about a woman like this?

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Episode 83: Lucille Ball, Part Two

Posted 28 January 2017 by
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In Part One, Lucille Ball worked her way up the entertainment ladder, married, had a baby and launched a new television show (which seems like enough for a full life,) but Lucille’s life was about to get MUCH fuller.

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After I Love Lucy debuted in 1951, Lucille rapidly achieved the superstar status that she had worked over half her life for. (And for those of you looking for inspiration from women of experienced age…she was 40 when the show began AND when she had her first child.) You wanted the lyrics to the theme song so you could sing along, right? (more…)

Episode 82: Lucille Ball, Part One

Posted 31 December 2016 by
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She was named Lucille Désirée Ball at birth, used the stage name Diane Belmont, married an Arnaz and a Morton but the only name we really need? Lucy. To talk about her life from its roots in upstate New York to her legacy as an American icon–we’re going to need a couple episodes.

1945 glamour and darker hair! Yankee Army Weekly

1945 glamour and darker hair! Yankee Army Weekly

Lucille was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, NY to Henry and Désirée Ball who quickly moved her to Montana and then Michigan where Henry found work. But by age five her father had died and her mother took her back to Jamestown right before her little brother, Fred was born. She had a bit of a bounce-around childhood: some of the time she lived with her maternal grandparents, some with her step-grandparents and some of it in a big multi-generational house with her mom, step-dad, brother, aunt, cousin and grandfather.

House in Celoron, NY. courtesy 59Lucylane.com

Grandpa Hunt’s big house in Celoron, NY.  Courtesy 59Lucylane.com

Lucille started her long climb to stardom with teenage years as a bobbed-wild girl, a quick, failed trip to a New York City drama school and attempts at live theater and chorus lines. She finally found her people (and steady work) as a dress model for Hattie Carnegie in New York City.

It's always " Bette, Bette, Bette..."

It’s always ” Bette, Bette, Bette…”

A high profile job as a cigarette ad model led to her first step on the ladder of success in Hollywood! Her six- week contract as a showgirl morphed to six months then a year. While she always considered the Jamestown area ” home” she was able to move her family to the sunshine of California.

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“The Goldwyn Girls” That’s her! First of many uncredited or bit parts for Lucille

Of course we go into a lot more detail in the show- her Adventures in Hair Color, her successful steps forward and her crushing steps backward, her family dynamics, people who gave her a boost up the ladder, and little bits of trivia along the way. Lucille’s was no overnight stardom story–she worked HARD and SMART for years and took as many jobs as she could, learning and honing her comedic and acting skills along the way.

Don't smoke, Kids.

Don’t smoke, Kids.  Flickr

Speaking of not paying one’s dues…although Lucille had dated (for networking or fun…who are we to judge? But we do talk about it) nothing prepared her for the whirlwind and electric romance with a young, new-to-show-business Cuban musician with a flashy smile and big personality named Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III–“Desi” for short. “Lucy” was his nickname for Lucille and passion, in all it’s incarnations, ruled their relationship. In no time they had eloped and settled into married life.

And separated life.

And almost divorced life.

And, many times, reconciliation life.

Lucille’s career went up, then down…until a stint on a very popular radio show led to a chance at a CBS TV show for her. But she wanted to work with Desi (heck, she wanted to know where Desi was all the time.) CBS said America wouldn’t believe an interracial couple were really married (uh, duh? They had been married for almost 10 years. America can’t be that dumb.) (Don’t answer that.)

Lucille and Richard Denning in My Favorite Husband

Lucille and Richard Denning in My Favorite Husband

The two came up with a strategy to prove that America would not only believe they were a couple (the easy part) but they would adore and be highly entertained by them (the trickier part.) While they were creating that environment across the country in live shows, they were also trying to create a family. And, because this is how life works out, Lucille gave birth shortly after they filmed the pilot for I Love Lucy, to their first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz (creative with the names, right?)

Movie career- check!

Marriage and family-check!

Launch herself into history? Come back for Part Two and we’ll talk about all that.

 

TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS

Most of the media recommendations will be on the shownotes for Part Two, but we thought you might enjoy these that are relevant to Part One:

The ranch house with the coveted orange and avocado trees is no more…but this post on the San Fernando Valley blog has a very thorough search for it and a TON of pictures that you’re going to want to see.

And here is the original pilot, it didn’t air but sold the show to Phillip Morris and proved that–oh. shock.– they are believable as a married couple and funny as all heck.

And Lucille singing and dancing just after she met Desi, in Dance, Girl,Dance

And the fight scene we talked about! See you again in Part, Two!