20th Century, African American, Art, History, Minnesota

Gordon Parks’ Career Begins

images

1938
Gordon Parks had moved to St. Paul as a teenager and struggled through the depression working at odd jobs. One day he buys a camera in a pawn shop and in a matter of weeks has his first show at Eastman Kodak in Minneapolis. Thus begins a long, distinguished career as a photographer, composer, novelist, and filmmaker.

Ears that hear and eyes that see-the Lord has made them both. Proverbs 20:12

Gordon was born dead, or so the doctor thought, on November 30,1912 wrapped in a cloth and set aside. An observer had an idea to put the child in a tub of ice water, and gently rub ice over his body. Surprisingly, this homespun method worked, and he was revived! **

Parks was born the last child of fifteen to Andrew Jackson Parks and Sarah Ross. He worked on the family farm in Fort Scott, Kansas, and held a lifetime attachment to the land. Throughout his youth, he wrestled with the dichotomy of a place that was legally free, yet socially informed by the south. He went to a segregated school, and was discouraged from applying to college by his high school advisor because blacks “were not college material.” ** Sadly, Parks did not finish high school, but it didn’t stop his momentum.

About 1927, his mother died, and he was sent to live with his older sister in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Though she cared for him, Parks constantly fought with her husband, and eventually he was turned out of their home at age fifteen. He struggled with homelessness and poverty in the frigid winters, but survived by doing odd jobs working as a: porter, snow shoveler, busboy, semi-pro basketball player, and piano player for a brothel.**

Eventually, his life stabilized by getting steady work as a server on a train. This job had the fringe benefit of exposing him to different people, cultures, and opportunities. Inspired by the art exhibits of Chicago, he bought his first camera, a Voightlander Brilliant, from a pawn shop and began taking pictures.

Mr. Parks recounted that day saying: “Eastman Kodak developed the first roll of film…. and when I went for the prints, one of the clerks complimented me on my first efforts. ‘Keep it up and we’ll give you a show.’ I didn’t take him seriously and he realized it. ‘I mean it,’ he said. ‘You’ve got a good eye.’” ** He continued shooting, and they did give him the show as promised.

Spurred on by this success, Gordon went to the finest women’s clothing store in Saint Paul, Frank Murphy Fashions, and sought to demonstrate his skills in fashion photography. Though he double-exposed his first roll of film, the one photo that turned out was so elegant that they were willing to repeat the process.*** This began his acceptance in the world of fashion photography.
The success of his Murphy fashion shoots caught the eye of Marva Louis, the bride of the famed boxer Joe Louis. She inspired the Parks’ to consider moving to Chicago as there would be more fashion work for Gordon there. He ended up taking portraits of society women, but it opened the next door for them to move to Washington D.C.**ibid

In a strange turn of events, he was hired by the Farm Security Administration on the weight of an exhibition of his pictures of life on the life of city folks from Chicago’s South Side. Under the tutelage of Roy Stryker, he learned to tell stories in pictures that words could not convey. It was in this era that his most famous photo was born.**ibid

His first assignment given by Stryker was to buy and overcoat, get something to eat, and to catch a matinee. Thinking he had won the lottery, he went shopping, but the staff wouldn’t fit a black man. Next, he went to grab some lunch, but the diner refused to serve him unless he came to the back alley. He was shooed away from the theatre.

The coin dropped for himas he thought; “I can show the public what citizenship feels like as minority in the America of the 1940’s.” He later struck up a conversation with Eva Watson, an African-American janitor in his building the same day. She was willing to have her picture taken by Parks in the lobby of the FSA building, and “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.” was born.**ibid

Unknown

So here I am today, Lord, to watch and pray with You about Gordon Parks and his accomplishments in the arts. Let me reflect on how You are El Roi; the Strong One who Sees. You observe the events of time concurrently; past, present, and future. You see our externals, and our innermost thoughts and motivations.

I recall the promptings of the apostle Paul to the early church in Ephesus to use their hearts in “seeing”. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…” Ephesians 1:18 NIV**** I don’t know much about the spiritual life of Mr. Parks, but it is clear that You have downloaded this gift into him.

We give You thanks for this dualistic vision of Gordon Parks; to see people, places, and things in the light of eternity. We thank You that he instinctively saw value and meaning and dignity in the lives of those to whom society was blind. In his own way, he saw through the eyes of Christ.

Will You bless the inheritance given to Minnesota and the United States through the camera lens of Gordon Parks? Will You bless his figurative and literal children to see with the eyes of their hearts? Will You make us soft and receptive to these images of pain, beauty, unrest, and exaltation?

Forgive us, sweet Holy Spirit, we are flooded with images each day through our vices and devices, but we are still thirsty for one glance that inspires. Our conscience has cataracts and we don’t acknowledge the pure, the real, the noble, or Your pure light beaming into our eyes radiating from the faces of our neighbor. Help us, like Mr. Parks, to see because we have truly listened to the human actors in the drama of each day!

Come and heal our blindness! Come and let us hear! Open the eyes of our hearts in Minnesota so we can perceive the messages You are constantly sending to us through others. Open the apertures of our consciences so that we can also see inwardly. Add to our personal and cultural memory; click the shutter so we remember the moments when catch a glimpse of the Immortal and Invisible!

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** You Tube. “Half Past Autumn; The Life and Works of Gordon Parks”. Published by On the Road. February 8, 2017. Producer Craig Rice. Writer Lou Rother. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzeuL0d5Z_s
*** This photo can be viewed at the current website of Frank Murphy Fashions. http://www.frankmurphyfashions.com/about/history/
**** https://biblehub.com/ephesians/1-18.htm

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20th Century, History, Intercession, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Politics, Uncategorized

Benson Becomes Governor

J2 1936 p14

Jan 4, 1937
Elmer A. Benson takes office as the state’s 24th governor.* “He was elected in 1936 as Minnesota’s second Farmer-Labor Party governor with over 58 percent of the vote. He was defeated only two years later by an even larger margin. An outspoken champion of Minnesota’s workers and family farmers, Benson lacked the political gifts of his charismatic predecessor, Floyd B. Olson. However, many of his proposals—at first considered radical—became law in the decades that followed.”**

“Although the 1937 Legislature had given Benson–an early Socialist sympathizer–little of what he sought, many of his proposals became law during the 40 years that followed–property tax relief for homesteads; higher income tax rates for high-income individuals and corporations; mandatory workers’ compensation coverage for employees; a state Civil Service system; expanded state aid for schools, financed by income taxes; party designation for legislators.”***

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV

Eternal Father, today we remember Your patience, and applaud Your forbearing spirit! You allow Your children to struggle as we learn, and do not rush to our aid at the first obstacle. You are perfect in holiness, and yet kind in Your judgments.

We remember with You the governorship of Elmer A. Benson today. We see Your image in his heart to correct monopolistic powers, relieve homesteaders, and ease the burdens of farmers. We see Your image in Governor Benson’s patience and faithfulness. His most treasured goals were not accomplished in his term in office, but like so many leaders, by faith, he eventually saw them put into law. We see that he sought to build consensus in his support for unions, and to establish his Progressive ideals through the law rather than might. Will You bless the changes he initiated, and his heart to make life better for those in society that were suffering?

Will You forgive also the sins of his idealism? Where he overstepped the bounds of the Constitution and inserted the government between employee and employer relationship, will You give balance? Though he acted out his ideals in integrity, will You forgive where his actions of benevolent state government actually diminished individual choice and responsibility for ones’ decisions and actions? In Your mercy, hear our prayer.

We ask that You visit with us the utility of the progressive income tax. In one sense, those most able pay more of the costs of society, and those less able pay less costs of the state. To be more exact, those who earn more, pay a higher percentage of their income, and those who earn less pay a smaller percentage of their income. This is my question to You; if some bear more of the financial burden of society than others, will the sense of ownership and participation be increased as one pays more, and diminished as one pays less?

To take the idea further, what other arena of life do we love more as we participate less? You have said, “Where Your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) If this is true, then would not those paying a lesser percentage of their income also be investing less of their heart in Minnesota, and those who pay a higher percentage of their income be investing more of their heart in our state?

Help me explore some of the math of Your Word, Jesus. We know that the Israelites were commanded by You to bring 10% of their wealth as an offering.
“‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” Leviticus 27:30
But what of the Levites, the priestly lineage, who were not allowed to make wealth, or own property in the same sense of the rest of society?
“And the LORD instructed Moses, Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering.” Numbers 18:25,26 NIV

So, this is what we can gather from these examples from your chosen people; that You claim 10% of every type of wealth and resource in the land, and that those priests whose income and inheritance is dependent on Your Sovereignty and the gifts of the people must also give back to You 10% of their income. Is this an example of a graduated tithe, which to us may be similar to a tax?

What we do see quite clearly is that giving is proportional, and flexible to the type and amount of wealth one has. Also, it is repeated frequently that no one is exempt from giving to the Sovereign of Israel, but exhorted with the command “none shall appear before me empty-handed”. Please ponder these verses below with the Lord, and see what you think.

“You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.” Exodus 23:15

“You shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None shall appear before Me empty-handed.” Exodus 34:20

“Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.”
Deuteronomy 16:16

While modern society may not relate to commands of this type from You, Good Father, we catch some of Your meaning today. The tithe You command is a parallel to our concept of taxation. Offerings were a parallel of giving beyond the tithe, or what we might think of as charity, from out of a sense of devotion, sharing a blessing, or gratitude, and not necessity or compulsion.

May we find Your way to pay the costs of our society. May the future generations of Minnesotans show respect and humility before Your wisdom in this area. May we all contribute evenly and proportionately to the resources we are allotted by You. May we be free of the greed that comes from too much, and too little. May we not allow the enemy of all to divide us through bitter root judgments of our neighbors’ lineage, rank, or profession. May we trust in Your provision more, and not demand offerings from our community that even You do not demand. May we see the other side of the coin that, perhaps, Governor Benson missed; that failing to give in proportion will also yield a failure of heart commitment to our North Star state! May we all have a sense of participation, ownership, and even joy that comes from not appearing before You or our neighbors empty-handed!

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 3:8-12

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** http://www.mnopedia.org/person/benson-elmer-1895-1985
*** http://articles.latimes.com/1985-03-16/business/fi-27186_1_minnesota-politics

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20th Century, Culture, Economics, History, Minnesota, Politics, Uncategorized

Petersen Becomes Governor

Unknown

Aug 19, 1936
Hjalmar Petersen takes office as the state’s 23rd governor upon the death of Governor Floyd B. Olson. Following his short stint as governor, Petersen tries and fails four times to regain the office.*

“Hjalmer Petersen, the twenty-third governor of Minnesota, was born in Eskildstrup, Denmark on January 2, 1890. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of Denmark and Minnesota. At fourteen years old, he left school and went to work in the newspaper business, eventually founding the Askov American in 1914, a newspaper he owned the rest of his life. Petersen first entered politics as the clerk and then mayor of Askov. He also served as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1930 to 1934, and was the lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 1934 to 1936. On August 22, 1936, Governor Floyd B. Olson died in office, and Petersen, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. During his tenure, the federal unemployment insurance law was initiated; several labor disputes were dealt with; and significant judicial appointments were approved. After serving 134 days as governor, Petersen left office on January 2, 1936. He continued to stay politically active, serving as a member of the State Railroad and Warehouse Commission, a position he held until 1966. He also made several unsuccessful bids for the governor’s office, as well as a 1958 run for the U.S. Senate. Governor Hjalmar Petersen passed away on March 29, 1968 in Columbus, Ohio. Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.”**

What did Governor Petersen’s keystone legislation of unemployment look like in his era? Minnesotans who were discharged through no fault of their own were to receive $15 a week for up to 16 weeks as of May 1,1938.*** See the table below to compare and contrast what this amount meant to a worker back at its commencement.****

inflation-and-actual-prices

Shall we pray? Lord, we give You thanks for being the Governor of All, for being our shield and very great reward! We agree with Your covenant promises in Genesis 15 to Abraham and his children that Your favor is greater than the sum of all property, labor, and accomplishments. We remember and bless Your eternal words, and Your heart of unmerited goodness to all who believe!

Will You forgive us our broken trust in Your provision both in Governor Petersen’s era, and in the present? We have accepted wealth from the state that it does not create or own, but extracted from our neighbors. We have accepted the premise that our present condition of dysfunction becomes the problem of our functional neighbors. Will You forgive us this faulty logic and co-dependent relationship(s)?

What if the state had made unemployment insurance voluntary instead of mandatory? We can see at least three immediate benefits immediately from this premise. First, it would allow contributors to share their wealth freely with a true spirit of giving instead of the spirit of extortion through forced charity collected by the state. Secondly, it would remove politicians from the direct relationship between those with extra and those in need. Maybe this would remove a sense of entitlement of guaranteed benefits, and enable a sense of gratitude and trust towards givers from receivers because they would have no expectations?
Third, it would displace politicians’ from the false narrative that they were the givers of wealth, and undercut the credit they have taken for the gifts of others.
Will You forgive us for trusting in the politicians of Minnesota, and the provisions forced on our neighbor by the co-dependent law of unemployment insurance? We have assumed a co-dependent relationship between giver and receiver and state. Will You help us revisit these issues and remove the expectations, dependency, shame, and manipulation from helping each other? Will You remove what is false and create real relationship, real opportunity to give from the heart, and real gratitude? Will You fulfill the good intentions and desires of Hjalmer Petersen on Your terms, and show us a better, more honest way to love our unemployed neighbor?

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.nga.org/governor/hjalmar-petersen/
*** https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v48n10/v48n10p22.pdf
**** http://www.mybudget360.com/cost-of-living-1938-to-2015-inflation-history-cost-of-goods-inflation/

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20th Century, Climate, History, Minnesota, Prayer, Uncategorized

Heat Setting Record

Beards1

July 16, 1936
A temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit in Moorhead ties a record set in Beardsley in 1917 for the highest ever recorded in the state.*

Beardsley, Minnesota is a town of 233 people. It sits in the little “elbow” of Minnesota’s western border in Big Stone county. It’s name came from W.W. Beardsley who homesteaded its first farm and platted it ca. 1880.**

Another little snippet about the history of Big Stone county:
“Scientists declare that men lived on the shores of Big Stone Lake and Lake Traverse nearly twelve thousand years ago. A skeleton, thought by some investigators to be that of one of these people, was exhumed from a gravel pit in Browns Valley Village a few miles north of the Big Stone County line, in 1934. It is known as “The Browns Valley Man”. With the skeletons, were six beautiful flint artifacts of the oldest type that has been classified in America.

Evidences of a more recent prehistoric occupancy of Big Stone County by an Indian-like race are plentiful. Overlooking the lower part of Big Stone Lake, scattered along the Minnesota River below the foot of the lake, and on a prominence near Artichoke Lake, are a number of artificial mounds of earth which have been scientifically surveyed and mapped. Most of these mounds are round and of considerable size and some are flat-topped. Features of the fortified site 60 feet above the river at Odessa are an embankment 722 feet long and 20 feet wide with a height of 1½ to 2 feet, and a diamond-shaped mound varying from 42 to 54 feet in diameter, with a flat top, 20 X 28 feet.”***

Ok G-d, I don’t know a lot about this place other than it’s small, farming-oriented, and contains some ancient history. Oh, and it’s the site of the hottest recorded heat in my home state. Where do You want to lead me in prayer today?

I begin with giving thanks for this small town. You care about each and every place in this universe, and so I commend You for being so watchful over it today. We remember You as the Observant One of All today!

Next, I want to express gratitude for Your creation of weather, and how You masterfully control the climate of the world for the benefit of all creation, and for Your greatest purposes. We do not ponder enough how exactly You limit the range of high temperatures within the fairly narrow bandwidth that we can survive. Thank You, dear Father, that our high temperature record is only 115 degrees Fahrenheit!

However, we can be so fickle as a people because of the yearly swings we endure in our weather. Few places on the earth have a larger average yearly temperature swing. Where else on earth can it feel like 115 degrees in the summer, and down to minus 30 degrees in the winter?**** Forgive our offense to You in cursing the summer heat, and grumbling about the most frigid times in winter.

In sum, we thank You for the extremes of our climate, and for how they shape our character as a people. We are somewhat forced to relent and remember that we can’t control all the variables of our lives, and that is a good realization. We invite Your continued blessings on the weather over Beardsley, Big Stone, and the entire North Star State. Well done! You are the peace when we can’t take the heat!

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** http://lakesnwoods.com/Beardsley.htm
*** http://www.bigstonecounty.org/county_history/ancient_civilization.php
**** http://www.fox9.com/news/an-earth-rarity-minnesotas-large-temp-swings

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20th Century, Anti-Semitism, Fundamentalist, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized

William Bell Riley and Fundamentalist Anti-Semitism?

Unknown-1

1936
William Bell Riley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Minneapolis, founder of the World Fundamentals Christian Association (WFCA), and president of Northwestern Bible School advocates against socialism of New Deal, the black market, and unionism. His outspoken belief that Jews within the Bolshevist (Communist) movement were committing acts of conspiracy and treason labeled him an “Anti-Semite”.*

“It cannot be understated. Bolshevism was the greatest human slaughter of all time.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

(The following text is transcribed from the original scans available at the Riley collection at the University of Northwestern).

The Jew and Communism
October 1936

For three successive Sunday nights I have been giving a brief dissertation on Communism, the first of these – “Shivering at the Sight of a Silver Shirt,” the second – “The Red Shirt of Russia and a Shirtless Russia”, the third – “Is There Danger to America in Communism?”, and now tonight,- “What Has the Jew to do with Communism?”
A Paper entitled “Anti-Semitism in America”, a Jewish defender says:-
“Until the last few years it has been the Fundamentalists and Premillennialists who have been noted for teaching kindness to the Jews and for persistently promoting the preaching of the Gospel of the love of Christ to the Jews.”
This is absolutely true! I have been a member of the boards of the two Jewish Missions of this city; I was for years on the Board of Councilors of a New York Mission. As a Fundamentalist and a Premillenialist I accord to the Jews not only a great place in past history, but also a major place in prophecy, or history to come. But I also agree with another statement to be found in that same Jewish Defense Paper, namely,
“The Word of God offers no quarter to individual Jews who may be criminals. There is no warrant for dealing gently with an offender against the peace of society, because he happens to be a Jew.”
“Anti-Semitism” is a sadly misapplied term. If it means anything, it means “opposition to Abyssianians, Arabians, Palestinians, Phoenicians, Syrians, and the countries of the Euphrates and the Tigris;” and everybody knows there is no such opposition. The term adopted covers entirely too much, and in some cases is intended as a cloak against all conceivable crimes.
For instance Guilford and Liggett were brutally and cowardly murdered. They were murdered in the same way and in all probability by the same man (Minneapolis- based Jewish gangster Kid Cann a.k.a. Isadore Blumenfeld), and in each instance by a shotgun. But, when two people, witnesses to the second murder, testified as to the man they saw do the deed, it is very poor taste to cry “Anti-Semitism” and try, thereby, to prejudice the public against the justice that should have been meted out to a liquor vendor Jew!
The same principle applies when Jews are found leading Communistic meetings,- as in Chicago heading Communistic parades,- as in Minneapolis, directing Communistic banditry,- as in China, and murderous revolutions,- as in Russia.**

William Bell Riley, like many religious leaders of the 1920-30’s, was known as a vigorous advocate for his worldview. It was his organization, the World Christian Fundamentals Association that wired William Jennings Bryan urging him to act as counsel for the association in the Scopes Trial.*** He saw the movement of evolution as a force to dilute and delude people from the Word of G-d and His sovereignty over all creation. Academically, he resisted evolution education on the basis that it was neither sound science or necessarily observational. As an example, the fossil records did not record trans-species mutations that would be physical evidence of Darwin’s theory.

For these reasons, he battled and debated evolution in the public arena, and in proposed law.
“…the University of Minnesota, of which the students and president, Lotus Delta Coffman (1875-1938), provided the most effective opposition to Riley’s proposed anti-evolution law. Their resistance, based on the issue of academic freedom, together with lack of support for Riley’s campaign from denominations other than the Baptists and from the general public, doomed the anti-evolution measure. Nevertheless, Minnesota came closer than any other northern State to passing such a law.” ****

This could contribute to Riley’s distrust of academic culture, but how is failure to support evolution as part of the curriculum of the University of Minnesota an act offensive to Jewish culture of the era? Perhaps it can be better explained by the life experiences and fears of both the Fundamentalists’ and the Jewish political Progressives in Minneapolis? At the risk of over generalization, the author will nonetheless cite in broad terms the movements of these camps within the North Star state to further ponder motives.

Often, those in the Fundamentalist camp were Mid-Western in values, and saw life through a spiritual filter first, and one of politics or citizenship secondly. They were distrustful of the Eastern “Establishment” and the powerful influence it had already wielded on their lives. Their issues related to a sense of loss and control of Minnesota’s: farming, railroads, mining, land use, taxation, finance, culture, and a combined faith heritage of mostly Protestant and Catholic Churches. In short, an outsider changes the rules of the game, and picks winners and losers.

In a similar way, religiously observant Jews from Eastern Europe sought shelter in Minnesota, and viewed life through a spiritual filter first, and a political lens secondly. They had survived pograms of Russia, corruption and prejudice against their way of life in Poland, and wanted a place to be free. In many senses, their values aligned with the Mid-West, though their collective memory was longer, and more international in scope.

Conversely, when politically Progressive Jews had arrived here, usually from the East Coast, they exerted a considerable influence on the laws of this time period. They, in a general sense, sought the redemption of humanity not through the law of Moses or the acts of YHWH, but through mostly secular and political means. They also had survived the pograms of Russia, and the suppressions of Polish Catholic Nationalism, and these painful memories rightfully pushed them to distrust “Christian” leadership or the benevolence of the “Church”. For many, Marxism became a new Torah that could overcome the obstacles and stagnancy of the old world, and bring a new way through collectivism and faith in humankind.

It seems, in hindsight, that these Progressives and the Fundamentalists were designed to grind: one valued private property and the other the collectivization of all property, one espoused self-government as a virtue and the other the primacy of the state, and finally, one camp held G-d as the ultimate source of authority and the other deified man. Perhaps Riley actually believed that the political motives of these Progressives were the enemy of our Republic, and not their Jewish identity whether aligning with the religious or non-theistic expressions?

Having explored this premise as a backdrop, we return back to the saga of W.B. and the shirt sermons. Famed University of Minnesota Professor Hyman Berman believed that Riley displayed anti-Semitic behaviors during this epoch. In his book, “Anti-Semitism in Minnesota during the Great Depression”, he uses an example of Riley’s sermon, “Shivering at the Sight of a Silver Shirt” as evidence of the pastor’s bias. While Riley’s word use would make any modern, politically-correct scholar bristle, did they convey in context and intent a heart bent on anti-Semitism? **** Did they convey honest intellectual disagreement, or pass over into advocating hate, violence, and crimes against  the Jewish citizenry of Minnesota?

Let’s take a look at Riley’s actual words from a 1936 reprint of the sermon.

“This series of articles is not in defense of capitalism, nor is it written in defense of the Silver Shirts. We speak because we have noted of late a disposition to attack immediately and almost mercilessly any company of men who are known to stand four-square for the constitution of our land, and vigorously against communism. That is why we speak now of ‘shirts'” p2.******

Is it possible that this great local historian read meaning into the life and work of W.B. Riley that was not expressly noted in writing or implied verbally? Let’ explore the background of Berman to see what, if any conditions, may have filtered his perceptions.

“Berman’s childhood (the son of radical Jewish workers in the garment industry), his acquaintance with union leaders, leftist theoreticians, and writers, time in the U.S. Army, and studies at the City College of New York and Columbia University provided a textured backdrop to his move to the North Star State. In 1961, Berman claimed that he didn’t know Minnesota from Montana and that family members seriously wondered whether there were sidewalks in Minneapolis. Those perceptions changed quickly.” ****** https://cla.umn.edu/history/news-events/story/hyman-berman-1925-2015

So, we learn in this article that his family had radical leanings, he was immersed in unionism and leftism, his perceptions were shaped by CCNY and CU, and that he didn’t know much about the culture of Minnesota upon arrival. Is it possible that Berman “jumped the shark” with his powerful post-humous charges against Riley? We at least record that his educational and cultural backdrop was “designed to grind” against Fundamentalism apart from any offense taken by his faith, culture, or ancestry.

(Note: The author met with Berman twice before his death, and found him a brilliant, engaging, and liberally-minded thinker. A reasonable man in agreement or disagreement. Also, my parents had first hand knowledge of Dr. Riley and First Baptist Church of Minneapolis. They found no evidence of alleged Jewish bias, rather the simple gospel of its’ most famous congregant; Billy Graham. His gospel, in short, is that as we know the Christ, the Living Torah, we are enabled to fulfill Deuteronomy 6:4,5, Psalm 78:5, Zechariah 14:9, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27.

Good Father, we give You thanks that You see beyond the biases of human-beings, and our one-word characterizations of our fellow man! We remember to You the success and failures of Israel and the Church throughout time. We have hated too much, and loved too little. We have bludgeoned each other to death figuratively and literally. We have stolen from our brothers and sisters and dishonored our parents and heirs. We have allowed the laws of men to usurp Your eternal words. Will You have mercy on us?

Today, we bless the justice W.B Riley stood for in his passion for fundamentalism. He truly sought and pursued to know You, to love Your laws, and love Your Word. Yet, those as strong as him in the letter of the law often stumble in that they miss the spirit of the law. Will You forgive him, the WCFA, and his followers where he may have missed and mislead others from the spirit of Your Laws into religious pride?  We disavow where he rejected and spoke evil of his Jewish brothers; will You take these curses up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? Will You forgive the transference of his fears for the civic well-being on his congregation, and the state of Minnesota? Will You forgive any bitterness against Israel that came from clashes with Jewish advocates of: unionism, collectivism, Marxism, liberalism, and politicalization of science through evolutionism?

Will You forgive observant Jews any judgments made towards Dr. Riley, the Church, or toward Fundamentalists of this era? Will You forgive any transference from them that may have tainted the present, or threatens to skew our common future? Will You graft the Church more tightly to the Olive Tree? We haven’t yet recognized that we need each other to survive.

Will You forgive those who identify as Jews, but believe in the Messiah of Progressivism? Further will You forgive the atrocities of humanistic atheism in their age: the Revolution of 1917, Red Terror Bolshevism, the forced collectivization of the Ukraine 1931-32, Yezhovshchina, Polska Organizacja Wojskova, the Great Purge in Mongolia, and the Katyn Massacre? While these Progressives did not likely participate in these crimes, their worldview had damaged millions by 1936. Will You forgive their denial of this portion of reality? Will You forgive the counter-judgments of Jewish Communists towards: observant Jews, Dr. Riley, the Church, or towards Fundamentalists of this era?

Some of the fears of W.B. Riley have come true within our lifetimes. Our universities are dominated by viewpoints that are considered “secular, non-ideology”, yet are belief systems. The worship of political correctness is exactly like any world religion with all the attributes of a religion; its own vernacular, cultic objects and ceremonies, and a yearning for a future utopia where everything is submitted to tolerant uniformity. Can a student be an Orthodox Jew or Orthodox Christian and make it through a graduate program at the University of Minnesota in the sciences without being forced to publicly betray their faith or even the possibility that You are our First Cause?

Dear Lord, we still find ourselves at an impasse of relationship; perhaps not of religion. We broad-brush the motives of those whose we disagree.  We assume that we can fit an entire people or culture or movement under our neatly defined labels. This is wrong and is sin against You, and Your image within those whom we disagree. Have mercy on us!

Oftentimes, Progressive thinkers seek an external solution to an internal problem. I.E. “Others must change their beliefs, behaviors, and actions for me to be O.K., because I am not secure in my worth and identity.”
Meanwhile, the seekers of G-d search for an internal solution to an external problem.
I.E. “Because G-d has called me O.K., I am worthy and secure, therefore I can accept others’ beliefs, behaviors, and actions.”                                                                                                    Similarly, religious fundamentalists of any stripe can exhibit the same external solutions to inherently spiritual problems. I.E. “My problems can only be solved by legalistic observance to religious knowledge of G-d because I am not secure in in my relational knowledge of G-d.” Finally, sometimes atheists are more in tune with their heart than the members of a strict faith community. I.E. “I don’t care who gets the credit, I just want to see the naked clothed, the hungry fed, and to share with the poor ones.”

So we turn to Your Word, and to You as the Living Word for wisdom!

“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”  Apostle Paul in Romans 2:28,29

Further we see examples of Almighty G-d’s benevolently weighing humanity on the dual scales of internal and external justice!

“The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, and you will love Him with all your heart and all your soul, so that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:6

“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, remove the foreskins of your hearts, O men of Judah and people of Jerusalem. Otherwise, My wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish it, because of your evil deeds.” Jeremiah 4:4

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will punish all who are circumcised yet uncircumcised…” Jeremiah 9:25

“The one who is physically uncircumcised yet keeps the Law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.” Romans 2:27

Lord, help our unbeliefs and lack of relationship to those we perceive as enemies, or those who genuinely oppose us. May we love our enemy in Minnesota. May we love the enemies of the Jewish faith. May we love the enemies of the Christian faith. May we love the enemies of the Progressive faith. Put us in right relationship so we can listen to each other. Give us Your worthiness so we have something to offer our neighbor. May we find all solutions in El Roi, may we receive “I Am” and live in the present! Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on this broken relationship! Will You bless our future with real chesed; right relationship with G-d and all people?

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** Pulaski, Clement., “William Bell Riley and Fundamentalist Anti-Semitism”. July 14, 2017. Cited in http://faithful-nation.com/2017/07/14/william-bell-riley-and-fundamentalist-anti-semitism/
*** Numbers, Ronald L. “Creationism in 20th-Century America”., Science 218 (5 November 1982): pp 538-544
**** Szasz, Ferenc M., “William B. Riley and the Fight against Teaching of Evolution in Minnesota.” Minnesota History 1969 41(5): 201-216.
***** Berman, Hyman. “Anti-Semitism in Minnesota during the Great Depression”., New York : 1979.
****** Riley, W.B. “Shivering at the Sight of a Silver Shirt”. Publ. L.W. Camp: Mpls., MN. 1936. https://www.worldcat.org/title/shivering-at-the-sight-of-a-shirt/oclc/59759935

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20th Century, African American, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Transportation, Uncategorized

Truck Refrigeration System Invented

Unknown

http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/63jones.php

1935
Frederick McKinley Jones was a self-taught, African-American engineer who pioneered designs for mobile refrigeration. A former race car driver and mechanic, Jones created the first mechanical refrigeration system for trucks in 1935. Some of Jones’ other inventions were a portable x-ray machine, an air conditioning unit for military field hospitals, and a refrigerator for military field kitchens. A total of 61 patents were issued in Jones’ name.*

F. M. Jones had a rough start in life. His mother left his father, John Jones, at age seven, who struggled to both work and care for a son. In that era, orphanages would not readily admit a child born to an Irish dad and African-American mom. A Catholic priest, Father Ryan, took Fred in, gave him an education, and encouraged his mechanical abilities.**

Fred eventually found refuge on a large farm in Hallock, Minnesota. He discovered that he was adept at machinery and fixing things, and worked on handyman projects given him by the farm’s owner; Walter Hill. (A relative of rail tycoon James J. Hill) People in his town came to him with problems, and he would usually find a solution.

His concern for others was evident in the utility of his inventions. A doctor couldn’t move patients to the hospital for their x-rays, and so he invented a portable x-ray machine. The local movie theatre had issues with the poor audio quality of the new “talkies”, and he developed the Ultraphone Sound System so that everyone could hear the show.

He partnered with Jospeh Numero of Cinema Supplies to market his new audio system. Numero, though initially biased against Mr. Jones, soon came to treasure him as an engineer. Playing golf together, Numero made a joke that their associate Harry Werner “needed a fridge on his trucks” to solve his spoilage problems.

Thermo-King-1938

https://trsservice.com.au/thermo-king-history/

Frederick took the challenge seriously, and began work immediately gaining several more patents in the process. Mr Jones’ portable air-cooling units revolutionized the safe transport of produce and perishables for both the trucking and freight train industries. His invention enabled the modernization of the grocery store, and changed millions of lives through better access to fresh foods.***,**** F.M. Jones gave this advice to those seeking similar success;
“First, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Don’t be afraid to work.
Second, you have to read. All my life has been study and work.
Third, believe in yourself.” *****

We give You humble gratitude this day, Eternal Father, for being a G-d who generously shares and encourages the inventiveness of humanity! You only ask a few things of us in return: to remember that “I am the Lord your G-d…” (Exodus 20:2), that “You shall have no other gods before me…” (Exodus 20:3), and that “You shall not bow down to or worship…” (Exodus 20:4) the things that we (humans) have made. You have inspired us to create, but have mercifully given us guidelines in the use of our creations so that we do not arrogantly deify ourselves. Our lives are not long enough to express the thanksgiving You deserve!

Ruach ha Kodesh, what part of the incredible life of Frederick McKinley Jones do You wish to underscore today? Is he a type of Joseph; bringing service to those who oppose him? Is he a type of Daniel; seeing and calling to life that which doesn’t yet exist?

Like the Prince of Egypt, he found himself orphaned, yet under the tutelage of an exceptional teacher as if he was placed there for a purpose. He submitted to authority which honed and refined his character. Though both men experienced tragic betrayals and injustices, they looked beyond for their vindication. For Joseph, it came through his incredible and miraculous talents for civic planning, administration, and economics. For Mr. Jones, it came through a heart bent to help others through his G-d given genius in mechanics, science, origination, and innovation.

Similarly, Fred’s life had commonalities with the prophet Daniel. Both of these exceptional men were displaced from their homes, and were valued for their ability to learn. They were groomed to serve those foreign to them and accepted the challenge, yet their abilities went far beyond their stewards’ expectations. Through his disciplined prayer life and connection with G-d, Daniel saw hundreds of years in the future; he was the consultant of all consultants! F.M. Jones saw solutions and worked backwards to achieve them!

This leads the author to ponder the connections between acts of invention and prophetic acts. What say You, Elohim? Prophecy is both a call to the knowledge and practice of the written Word of G-d, and to relational knowledge of the Holy Spirit of Christ which simultaneously exists before, in, and after our conceptions of time. The human being who creates needs both a rudimentary core knowledge of process, matter, and materials, yet inwardly “sees” a connection previously thought impossible. All this to express heartfelt awe of this paradoxical nature of information and knowing the Informer of All!

We remember Fredrick McKinley Jones to You, and ask that You bless his literal and figurative children that find joy in machines, and happiness with dirty hands! We thank You that he chose the high path, and overcame the obstacles the enemy used to wound him: family rejection, loneliness, racial prejudice, and academic bias to name a few. Will You forgive the family of Minnesota our historic and present judgments against the Irishman, the African-American, those with ethnically mixed marriages, and their children?

Next, we ask that You replace these curses against these specific people groups with specific and powerful blessings. Will You give honor where it was taken? Will You enable these peoples to offer their inventions and prophecies to our society? Will You give our people both gifts of knowledge and commitment to eternal, unbroken relationship?

It’s astounding that the alertness, awareness, and insights of Mr. Jones made him follow through on a real problem wrapped in a joke. This one invention, a portable truck cooler, led to a whole chain of inventions around food distribution that surely was in Your mind first as a means of blessing the whole human race. What if Fred had not taken the challenge seriously? What insights and blessings have we backed down from today? Forgive our fears of doing an everyday task with greatness, or failing to see Your greatness in the nuts and blots of life! You have seen the end from the beginning, let Your people be faithful each step of the way: in attaining knowledge, in imagination, and in knowing Your benevolent nature. May we cooperate in moving Your blessings down the road to a better future for Minnesota and the whole earth! Amen!

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/science-and-technology/technology-biographies/frederick-mckinley-jones
*** https://www.shipabco.com/history-refrigerated-trucking/
**** https://trsservice.com.au/thermo-king-history/
***** Please watch this excellent synopsis of Frederick McKinley Jones’ life. InspirationalGoodNews!! I.G.N. (2014, December 13) citing Twin Cities Public Television ca 2004. (Making It Happen: Masters of Invention chapter “Hallock’s Handyman) Produced by Daniel Pierce Bergin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy4UkFN2njQ

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20th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized, Unions

Farmers Protest on Capitol Steps

sa5.2 p20

http://www.mnopedia.org/minnesota-farmer-labor-party-1924-1944

1935
Protesting farmers bring a starving cow and horse to the steps of the capitol to dramatize the desperate conditions in rural Minnesota. Droughts for the last six years have ruined crops and depleted the land.
With little growing, farmers don’t have anything to sell. With so little money in people’s pockets because of the depression, prices are low for whatever farmers can sell. Banks foreclose on many farms; others are simply abandoned. Out of this ferment, a coalition of reformers and radicals formed the Farmer-Labor Party. *

As a backstory to the political theatre of bringing starving animals to this protest in Saint Paul, we need to understand the dire need and impetus of the groups involved. Below, historian George H. Mayer gives a fine summary of the mindsets of Depression Era Minnesota farmers and workers.
“The farmer approached problems as a proprietor or petty capitalist. Relief to him meant a mitigation of conditions that interfered with successful farming. It involved such things as tax reduction, easier access to credit, and a floor under farm prices. His individualist psychology did not create scruples against government aid, but he welcomed it only as long as it improved agricultural conditions. When official paternalism took the form of public works or the dole, he openly opposed it because assistance on such terms forced him to abandon his chosen profession, to submerge his individuality in the labor crew, and to suffer the humiliation of the bread line. Besides, a public works program required increased revenue, and since the state relied heavily on the property tax, the cost of the program seemed likely to fall primarily on him.
At the opposite end of the seesaw sat the city worker, who sought relief from the hunger, exposure, and disease that followed the wake of unemployment. Dependent on an impersonal industrial machine, he had sloughed off the frontier tradition of individualism for the more serviceable doctrine of cooperation through trade unionism. Unlike the depressed farmer, the unemployed worker often had no property or economic stake to protect. He was largely immune to taxation and had nothing to lose by backing proposals to dilute property rights or redistribute the wealth. Driven by the primitive instinct to survive, the worker demanded financial relief measures from the state.” **

Even with bifurcated interests, rural and urban Minnesotans held this coalition together for about twenty six years. They shared the commonality of urgent and real need, and a common narrative of human effort quashed by the manipulations of external economic or political forces. So what were the fruits of this protest iconized by the farmers’ famished cow and the teamster’s hungry horse?

“Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party was the most successful labor party in United States history. Starting in 1918, it was a political federation of labor unions, not just a “labor friendly” political party. The Minnesota Farmer-Labor Association, a grouping of associated unions and farmers, provided the organic connection between labor and the party. Before the party merged with the Democrats in 1944, they had elected three governors, four U.S. Senators, and eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives.” ***

This protest strikes home with me and my father’s experiences in Depression Era rural Minnesota. His father, F.M. Jaracz, lost his farm in Kelliher, MN which drove him to sell moonshine under the cover of his Watkins route. He was busted under the Volstead Act and did eight years of Federal prison. My dad, Le Roy, became a ward of the state and was taken in by F.M.’s moonshine partners; the C.N. Orvis family.

The Orvis family also lost their farm, and were forced to live in a tiny, one-room rental in a local fishing resort called Runkle’s Cabins. They eventually lost that and lived on the dredging barge where Mr. Orvis was lucky enough to land a job. The family of eight did not have more than two rooms until World War II.

Dad was raised eating oatmeal, biscuits spread w/ lard, and “boiled dinner”. (Think of a catch-all “stone-soup” with a base of potatoes, rutabaga, and any meat shavings available. He wore ill-fitting hand-me-downs from the five boys, and wore shoes with cardboard soles nick-named “Hoover leather”. All the kids worked odd-jobs because their income for the family was indispensable.

So we turn and seek Your wisdom, El Gibbor (G-d of Strength); will You remember us when we gain and lose our vitality? Will You forgive our moments of strength when we arrogantly think we no longer need You? Will You forgive our moments of desperate want when we choose to blame You? We have sinned against You in this era of 1935, and still blame You for bad weather, ruined crops, lay-offs, and hiring freezes; have mercy.

We share the motive-conflicts of these ancestors: we simultaneously want You to shield our successes from You so we can own them, and disburse our failures to You or others so we can disown them. Why do we find it so hard to truly acknowledge our present reality? We are terrified to bring our sacred cows and ignoble steeds to the steps of Your capitol. By Your might, give us the grace to show our hands, especially when are dealt a raw deal.

Will You forgive this era its’ judgments made by farmers towards: the state government, the railroads and middle-men, and the wizards of Wall Street? Will You restore to them what was taken in the Depression? May the growers know Your unmerited favor and “ora et labora” to pass Your wisdom into all future farmers of Minnesota!

“The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.” Psalms 119:61 KJV ****

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** George H. Mayer, The Political Career of Floyd B. Olson, Reprint, (Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1987) 86-87.
*** Anfinson,Graeme. “A Short History of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party”. 01/07/2014. https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/07/a-short-history-of-the-minnesota-farm-labor-party/.                                                                                                                               **** https://biblehub.com/psalms/119-61.htm

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