Monday, January 29, 2018


For years I have been pointing out to you the problems with the curriculum of our schools. At what point will you realize that your "support" makes you complicit with this failure!

Can you believe that only 41% of Dothan City Students children are proficient in reading? That means that 59% are not. That is okay with you? 

Since hiring your State of Alabama Chief Academic Officer, Barbara Cooper, your reading scores on the National Assessment of Academic Progress have dropped in Reading from the 26th percentile TO THE 50TH PERCENTILE. 


Or the review on my blog 

In Dothan, this sad situation is with a student teacher ratio of 18 to 1. Not bad. That used to be the goal they told us would produce perfect schools as they demanded more money. 

You mean that didn't work? Need more money, right?

As usual with the bigotry of low expectations and the cruelty of condescension your superintendent blames the children. 

"Ledbetter said about 66 percent of students in the city school system qualify for free or reduced lunch meals, which the federal government uses as an indicator of poverty. Ledbetter said the Dothan City Schools low-income students performed significantly better than the statewide average for students living in poverty. Ledbetter said that shows that the system’s efforts to support children from low-income homes are bearing fruit."


Years ago a group of parents, concerned citizens, brought Black educator, John Winston, to speak to the very rude Dothan School Board. He brought these minority children living in housing projects from the 25th percentile to the 80th, saw reading disabilities fall from 40 to about one and saw discipline problems disappear. This is the same group of children the administration CONTINUES TO BLAME for the schools' failure! How can you afford not to get your teachers trained in this and give those children A CHANCE!

Dothan Eagle once again you have managed to put lipstick on a pig. You are partly to blame for this tragedy.

Say what?

"Ledbetter said drop-offs in performance between elementary and middle school remain a problem and will likely always be a problem because of how children develop."

I will tell you what I saw. They memorize a rolodex of words with whole word/look say (oh, forgive me, they're now using an eclectic approach, which means they're using whole language because it is so much fun! and Much easier!) And then since they have been able to read only books with vocabularies limited to those words, the opportunity for broad reading is then limited because they CANNOT DECODE UNFAMILIAR WORDS and so obviously their vocabulary is limited!

 NOW, thirty years after we first brought this to the attention of the Dothan School Board, they continue the precipitous slide into becoming Chicago where only 1 in 4 can read! Keep on following that crowd and with those wonderful good intentions and you know exactly where that will lead. 

Oh, but that is the life those children our schools have failed are actually living.

This book remains relevant.

Do you see these "attack skills" in your classrooms? Then they are not learning to read phonetically and they are not really teaching those children to read!

 How many more children can you afford to lose? Where are your elected representatives? How can they just sit by and continue to support this ridiculous pretense at education?

I am outraged. I thank God my own Dothan grandchildren are able to attend a private school. But what a shame that the others must accept this excuse for an education and continue to have the public support it!

Go participate with a Cat in the Hat parade. That will teach them to read. No, what it really does is discourage them. There's a lot of fun to be had with reading. Got that. So why can some do it and I can't? Do you really think they DON'T WANT TO READ? How cruel to lead them to water and not let them drink! TEACH THEM!

Join in a Yes We Can March. Throw more money at it. Made you feel good, didn't it? Let's have an awards ceremony. That has worked so well in the past.

And by the way, the best answer for the homeless, hopeless, helpless and hungry is to GIVE THEM A REAL EDUCATION AND A CHANCE!

Too cheap I guess.

Though this is sold on a Christian website for home schoolers, it is not a religious document, it merely enables children to actually read the Bible as did many, many children BEFORE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

Cheap and effective and, of course, forbidden to our schools. 

Response on Facebook:

My Answer for the Homeless through my novels in the Mint Julep Mysteries Trilogy

  In the Mint Julep Mysteries Trilogy I address the problem with Homelessness. Here are excerpts from several Chapters: 

Book I
Creme de Cassis and Murder 
Suddenly famous, talented people called Ruby wanting to join Sadie Summer in performing at that charity event. The more that called the more Ruby and Reverend Ledbetter realized that Ruby T’s Roadhouse would simply not be big enough. So they moved it to the field across from Miss Ruby’s Roadhouse. They got generators and borrowed sound equipment and a flatbed trailer from the group that put on Birmingham’s City Stages. 
The list of stars wanting to participate expanded beyond our state borders. The event grew and grew to be our generation’s version of Woodstock there in the fields of Cox County, Alabama, because Miss Ruby of Ruby T’s had the vision to ask her relative if he would ask his friend -- herself a survivor to come and lend a hand to raise some money to help those who had got down and needed a hand to get up.
Adam said there would be a worldwide audience for that show. The networks bid against one another for the privilege of televising this production that Miss Ruby’s relative decided to take a hand in. People trickled in at first and then came the flood that made donations at the gate. The news stations reported the phenomena and there came a deluge. Volunteers brought cookers and the smell of barbecue filled the air. Alf’s was the most popular. Porta-potties were brought in from Selma and Montgomery and the party began
I was found and alive though it took me a while to recover from whatever Freddie had doped me up with. But, I survived. Freddie and Willie were in jail. They would not rob me of my joy. I would not allow them to hold onto any piece of me. 
There was no way I was missing my chance to dance and sing with Sadie Summer. Julio opened the show and from that point forward the world was his oyster. He and Estrellita joined forces for a couple of duets and I knew from the glassy eyed looks, the gasps, hoots and whistles that the world had its new Donny and Marie … Latin Country … go figure. And then Julio went classical and the audience cheered his Spanish guitar. They rocked the house with a medley of familiar hits recorded by Hispanic recording artists. Estrellita was already everyone’s darling and tonight Julio joined her as a star in his own right and not just the sidekick of a show on the Dishing It Network.  
One star after another sang and danced. You just couldn’t think it could possibly get any better and then they called Sadie Summer to the stage.  
Patsy and Joy joined Sister, Faye Lynne, Florence, Bernice and me as we sat together with the other performers on a flatbed surrounded by the security those big stars needed. They held tambourines in their hands and would pretend to participate while we sang and danced. We had not filmed their segment yet. They promised not to leave until we taped the show. I really thought Joy had a thing for Elvis if you want to know the truth.
I was too nervous to be much affected by the big names with whom we sat. What truly impressed me was their kindness to me and their generosity to Ruby T’s vision I wore my Sadie Summer-like fringed shift and was getting cold feet. Who was I to think I could sing with Sadie Summer?  She was a super star and I was a pretender, a fraud, a Dishing It Network star that couldn’t cook!
Miss Ruby motioned her girls to the stage.  
“Miss Ruby, I don’t know if I can do this,” I whispered shaking like a leaf.  
“This ain’t about you, Dabney,” Miss Ruby said. “Some of these folks are here just to see you, believe it or not. They ain’t no explainin’ it, I know, but they are.”
Well, that was encouraging. Not!
“Besides. You don’t go out there and do the best you can do those bitches have won.”
No way in hell I’d back down now! With Ruby T, conniving was a fine art. 
I looked at the ladies standing there with me. I had made a commitment to myself and to this wonderful group of women.  
I hurried with them behind the flatbed to come out to back up the amazing survivor. Suddenly the crowd stood and cheered. Sadie called me forward. I stepped back thinking the cheers were for her. She just smiled and extended her hand as if passing the adulation to me. The applause continued, but I knew whom the crowd had come to see. 
She sang “Secret Dancing” with our group dancing along behind her, Faye Lynne shining. The crowd cheered. She sang “Cross the Deep River” and they raved. And then she turned and handed me a microphone and together we sang “Commotion.” In spite of all of my bruises I shimmied and I shook and I had enough air to make it through the song. Faye Lynne could dance, but I could sing, and I gave it all I had. 
But Sadie Summer was the Star, the Master. She did not just sing. She flirted, she pranced, she shimmied, and she sweated like crazy. The standing ovation went on and on and on. She called out all who had sung before.
Julio calmed things down with “God Bless America” and everyone sang along reading the words off the screen behind the stage. 
The periwinkle blue sky darkened as the brilliant pink of the setting sun crept up on it. Miss Ruby took center stage. Glittering like a strobe light with the lights shining on her silver sequined dress Ruby T commandeered the stage and requested silence. 
She stood there for a moment. Then she said, “I want to thank my cousin S. TEE for helping me to organize this event and for calling on his friends.” Ruby T wasn’t much on public speaking. So she urged me forward. “And now, my friend, herself a survivor has a few words.” 
I walked to the front of the stage overwhelmed by the cheers and applause, the total outpouring of love. I was humbled. 
I had been reluctant to speak, but Ruby was insistent. Why she wanted me, I’ll never know. But, she had asked me to say a few words there at the end. I hoped I could do justice to Miss Ruby’s faith. 
 I hesitated a moment clasping my hands before me and bowing to their kindness. I took in the crowd and accepted their wonderful welcome. I took the microphone and, though I looked out into the sea of faces before me, I thought of those I had seen on the streets. 
“They are homeless, hopeless, helpless, and hungry,” I said, picturing them as I had seen them. “They are mothers, sisters, daughters. Sometimes they hold their little ones by the hand and walk with small steps because the little ones have very short legs. On their backs they wear the knapsacks that tell that some kind soul, or perhaps a Rescue Mission, provided a few toiletries and maybe a few clothes. They are fathers, brothers, sons who have perhaps just lost their jobs and everything with it. Or just lost their way. One day, some way, they could be you. They could be me. They could be our sister, brother or child.”
“I knew a woman once. A Black woman. Hattie Bea helped my parents raise me.”
“Her parents abandoned her and her mentally challenged sister and left them with grandparents who abused her sister. One day she had enough. Her sister had been abused one too many times. She took her sister by the hand that day and led her down the red clay dirt road of South Alabama and never looked back.” 
“She was homeless, hopeless, helpless and hungry with a sister who trusted her. Perhaps not a child, but childlike. A Jewish lady happened to be on the sidewalk sweeping in front of her store and saw the girl walk toward her, her chin up and her eyes determined, but anxious, her sister shuffling along behind her holding her hand. That woman smiled at her, offered her food and something to drink. Some shade to rest in. She recommended her for a job cleaning at the hotel across the street.” 
“She never had much, but she never forgot the Jewish lady who helped her that day. She was as honest as the day was long. The little she had she shared and made a difference in many other lives. Including mine.”
“She told me about her early life. And then she said, ‘Chile, sometimes ya gotta get down to git up.’”
“I lost my husband and the world fell in around me. I’ve been thrown in a well and thought there was no way out. I have been kidnapped and terrorized. Always I remembered Hattie Bea’s words, ‘Chile, sometimes ya gotta git down to git up.’”
“Bernice here lost her husband. She’d tell you…’Chile…’” Reverend Ledbetter recognized a time to jump in and said, “‘Ya gotta git down to git up’.”
                  “Sadie Summer hit rock bottom with a husband that abused her and children that depended on her and she would tell you”… the sea of people chimed in saying “Ya gotta git down to git up.”
“So, while I thank you all tonight for looking into your hearts and finding compassion for the homeless, the hopeless, the helpless, and the hungry, I want each one of you who might at this moment be homeless, feeling hopeless and helpless and being hungry -- in Hattie Bea’s words -- ’Chile, sometimes ya gotta git down to git up.’”
I looked at Gavin sitting with Harvey and Senator Hartwell Banks. Turns out Harvey and Hartwell are identical twins. But I would always be able to tell them apart.  
“Love could be waiting one aisle away at Home Depot.”
I looked at Sister. “Reconciliation with a loved one could be a phone call away.”  
I looked at Ruby T. “A life changing friendship may be sitting on a piano bench at a church you’ve been invited to attend.”
I looked at Bob the CEO of the Dishing It Network. “A new career could be one room over in a restaurant.”
Fabio winked at me. “A book you have written might actually get published.”
“Today I can no longer say that I am ‘almost sixty.’ When this fabulous journey started and I was ‘almost sixty’ I could never have imagined the surprises life still had for me.” I looked at the sea of faces before me. The children I adored looked up at me.  
“Today I am sixty.”
Cheers erupted from the crowd before me. After all I’d been through, making it to sixty needed to be cheered, I figured.  
“My children ask me ‘What color is the sky in your world, Mom’?  And I can truthfully say ‘Blue skies, Baby. With white puffy clouds because no life is without a little rain.’ Thank you all for joining me on this wonderful ride.”
I lifted my hands to the skies above … a universally understood “thank you.”
 Then I threw a kiss to the reluctant angel I knew watched from a cloud. 
I stepped back.  
There was nothing more for me to say.(Mint Juleps Trilogy, p. 389-393, Sharman Jean Burson)

Everybody laughed. The world famous gardens around Waverly, the plantation house that inspired Partying on the Plantation, our Dishing It Network Show, started with just such an observation. 
“I remember the allotment gardens I saw throughout Europe. If we divide the land around the central facility into small garden plots, our tent city residents could grow fruits and vegetables to cook in the soup kitchen at the community center, give to the schools, and sell at a farmer’s market to make a little money.” (p. 419 Mint Julep Mysteries Trilogy (Sharman Jean Burson)
The result of that big event to raise money for the homeless, hopeless, hungry and helpless was the Garden:
Book II, Mint Juleps and Murder
Chapter Two

I got up early and turned on the Weather Channel praying for the rains from the predicted very early in the season hurricane to hold off. Fortunately, the welcome sun now shone through in a break in the weather bands for the long planned Victory Garden dedication. I prayed it would last long enough for the judges’ decision and my surprise announcement, but from the look of the dark clouds rolling in over the needled pines, I had my doubts. 
We considered cancelling, but decided that wouldn’t be fair to the gardeners who had worked so hard. The winds and rain of the approaching hurricane would beat the vegetation down and spoil the effects they had worked so hard to achieve. Julio drove the limousine under the arched sign where my eyes lingered above the pillared entrance. I was as excited about the announcement of the name of the gardens that sign would proclaim to the world as I was about any of the prizes we would award. 
As I walked, with Elvis and Ralph escorting me, to the stage from the limousine where Julio would wait for me, I heard many foreign languages mingled with the distinctive Cox County drawl of the locals. A large Hispanic population now lived in Cox County to plant trees on the pine plantations, so the many Spanish conversations didn’t surprise me. The now familiar media with cameras and microphones arranged themselves about the stage, once again a flatbed trailer, from which Ruby and I would speak. They were eager to find out who would win the one thousand dollar first prize for the best garden and another for the best garden shed. 
I blinked with the barrage of flashes from the media lights wishing the photographers would focus on the people to whom these gardens were dedicated rather than me. 
“The sin of pride was upon me,” I mouthed to myself before standing to take my place on the stage the morning after taping those shows. I recalled the opening words by Atlanta Constitution writer Celestine Sibley in her book A Place Called Sweet Apple as I stepped forward to the podium on the stage. 
I wore sunglasses today. The effects of those strawberries still pounded behind my eyes. My heart filled. I stood alone, dressed in a royal blue A-line fighting the sporadic gusts of wind to keep my huge white brimmed hat, on my head. I looked out at the lush allotment garden before me and the crowd that had gathered for the awards ceremony. Ruby and the event planners had decided against rows of metal chairs that would just have sunk down in the soft dirt since they could not predict the size of the crowd.
These individual allotment gardens brought pride not just to me, but to the many veterans who originally formed a large part of the tent city of homeless who once camped in this field needing help to find their way home. Now those who had accepted the challenge stood proudly in their gardens awaiting the awards announcements. We called these Victory Gardens to honor them and their service. Today I represented the major sponsor of the Victory Gardens, the Dishing It Network and Sister’s and my award winning cooking show Partying on the Plantation. Only Sister wasn’t there. 
I glanced over at the sheet covered sign above the pillared entrance and immediately looked down at the Soul Sisters -- Bernice, Florence, Betty Lee, and Faye Lynne, also wearing sunglasses to cover her bloodshot eyes-- standing in the crowd before me. Ruby sat on the stage behind me prepared to present awards. For the moment, in spite of the expected storm, it was a beautiful day. A glorious day. A perfect day.

 Book III, Mayans, Muscadine and Murder

Six Weeks Later
Today was one of those days you wanted to capture like a lightning bug in a bottle so you could enjoy the glow over and over. It began with the dedication of the Victory Garden, a garden ravaged by a storm, but still standing with beauty continuing to burst forth. Instead of honoring a dead soldier, we honored a live hero. We uncovered the sign that said Kendrick Newkirk Victory Garden
Bernice hasn’t let go of her man since she got out of the hospital. He’s joined Bernice down at Soul Sisters as pastry chef, a job no one ever knew was his second choice for a profession ever since was five years old and helped his grandmother bake a chocolate layer cake. Having a background job suits him for the moment, but he spends lots of time at the Victory Garden and in the tent city. Kendrick has been where they’ve been and talks their language. He’s good at getting them to the services they need so they can get better and go home. Like he did. (p. 572, Mint Julep Trilogy, Sharman Jean Burson

Friday, January 26, 2018


Recently a 12 year old at Surfside Middle School in Panama City, Florida, committed suicide because of bullying. My heart breaks for all involved. Sue Harrell, the Principal at that school, is my Sunday School teacher and a finer woman never lived. I know she is heartbroken and challenging every word and action she uttered and took. This is a serious problem -- but it is nothing new. Technology has merely put this problem on steroids.

Her parents and the children (12 year olds) are all a part of a modern tragedy. What could we have done; what could we have said? An impulsive act resulting from a bad situation created a tragedy. Are there answers? I don't know. I just know that bullying is not a new thing.

Several years ago, my oldest granddaughter experienced bullying at a local charter school. She came out of school crying one day. My daughter said to herself, my daughter doesn't have to take this. She immediately drove over to Holy Nativity and our granddaughter found a wonderful welcome. (By the way, after they were separated by schools and time, those girls became friends.)

Years ago, I remember being bullied. It is not fun. "You're so fat, how do you make it down the hall," taunted two chubby male classmates. I told my mother that afternoon, crying. She said, "You just tell them, 'You don't have to pay for my groceries, so don't you worry about it!'"

Not exactly the best comeback, but I thought it was brilliant.

One of those boys died fairly early and the other is now blind. I do not revel in their troubles, but, just as mother said, I outgrew that and had many happy things happen.

It didn't stop there. My father moved us from the church I grew up in to a new one inhabited by those who shunned me most. They refused to sit by me. Mean girls existed even then. (I am 67 now.) Those painful feelings never leave you. And church is not always the answer because their parents take them to church just like you do yours.

Am I saying the lessons taught in church don't sink in and make people better? Only if they actually internalize the lessons and first they must be taught and not just with words, but with example. So many churches are caught up in special projects and serving others as a GROUP that the responsibility of the INDIVIDUAL "to do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is lost.

(I had another bad day that I remember well-- got sent to the office by a teacher, a unique experience for me. I checked out of school and they did not challenge me seeing how upset I was. My mother said, "You are wearing red. That is your bad luck color. Change clothes and go back to school." I did and she was right. Silly I know, but I had a WONDERFUL mother! who apparently knew her simple minded daughter well.)

I also remember the shunning when I helped a guy I later found out everyone said was gay learn the cheers before tryouts. He could do back handsprings all the way across the gym. We practiced on my front yard. I did not see him as gay. I did not have a clue what gay was! I saw him as a friend I had made while working on a play who wanted to be a cheerleader and needed my help. I was shocked by their reaction. Needless to say, he did not get cheerleader. Now, I will bet if I had known to talk with him about bullying, he would have had a story. But, he went on to a successful career in New York as a dancer. Sadly, he later died of AIDS.

Fortunately, we did not have cell phones or computers with Twitter and Facebook.

So, my conclusion after this observation is:
  1. If your child is bullied, consider moving your child to a different school. The administration NEEDS to help you expedite that move.
  2. Take the technology away from your child. They do not HAVE TO HAVE phones or computers. You are not punishing them, you are saving them from an addiction that can kill. 
Now let me make a comment from the perspective of years, I was a very privileged child. My father and mother loved me and supported me. I lived in a beautiful home with nearly around the clock help. I see now that those bad experiences gave me great empathy and insight into the emotions of others and took me out of my privileged self into the feelings of others, quite an asset in life. So if your child is having trouble in school, he/she might benefit from what I learned:


  1. READ! You will be amazed how many friends you can find in books. I read every book in my mother's extensive Book of the Month Club library when I was twelve. Wonderful books written by great authors: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Taylor Caldwell, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Meet people who have overcome real troubles and lived truly inspirational lives.
  2. I joined everything and tried out for everything in high school. (Future Teachers of America, Latini Socii, Spanish Club, Thespian Society, National Honor Society, Morning Devotional, lost weight and got Cheerleader-- a real shocker to those who designed my pigeon hole.) I discovered so many GREAT people out there that I had never met!
  3. I learned that I made better friends with those older than me than I did with those my age. (Of course, in high school, that can be only one or two years!) Though it has continued through old age and I find I have friends much younger and much older!
  4. I learned to sit with those who sat alone. I learned to stand with those standing alone as I had with Evelyn Davis (older than us, special education, looking so sad as she stood alone on the Elementary school playground) and to do that when attending social events for ladies organizations, churches, etc.
  5. I learned to SMILE because that attracts people to you.
  6. I learned to be interested in OTHER people. That came naturally with me because I am truly interested.
  7. LISTEN! Everyone has a story. And many have all their words stored up and need someone to talk to. 
  8. I have learned you never have enough friends, though time limits how much time you have to "be" a friend. (That is one reason I love Facebook from that perspective. I must say I have encountered "mean girls" on Facebook. Oddly no guys. That is what the "Unfriend" button is for! Delete is great for emails you don't want to read.)
  9. My mother said those girls were jealous. Of what, I could not imagine! I was a lonely little fat girl and they were pretty and popular. They were blessed with "a group." How can the group be special if you let everybody in? So, never, never, never expect to be included in THAT group.
  10. It is a big world. When you grow up you can get out of that town and the pigeon hole they have built for you and be whomever YOU WANT TO BE!
  11. EVERY ONE IS NOT GOING TO LIKE YOU. Those words to a daughter having trouble with bullying at a Christian school came from a psychiatrist to whom that I will always be grateful. It helped me as well. I, of course, want everyone to like me. But, if you ever stand for anything, you will find that is impossible.
  12. There are other schools. Your child IS A CHILD. The administration needs to work with you. Too often we expect them to be adults. We are the adults. Pray. Remember there are other places, other people. Our children are not yet armed with the sword and the shield and much of the current curriculum undermines faith with New Age techniques. You may not know that as we often "just trust" they know what to put into our children's minds and the best way to handle things. My family's answer of getting my children out of a bad situation may not be an option for you. 
My little brother had someone commit suicide in his apartment when he was a Freshman at the University of Alabama. His friend had never experienced failure. When he graduated and did not get the job he wanted he could not face it. He took a gun and blew his brains out. Elkanah went to see what the noise was and found a sight he will never forget. Because suicide can sometimes be contagious we worried about him.

I was so proud of his reaction. "That was a permanent solution to a temporary problem," he said.

We will through life face many of those temporary problems, something to share with children. Those who love us must remind us it is a temporary problem. A door closed in one direction. Our God will open another in a different direction. More wonderful. More exciting. More purposeful. Than the door we want opened.

Beautiful, little skinny people experience bullying just like this little fat girl did. Handsome, smart, privileged young men experience bullying. Look out of your own haze of the current situation into the eyes of someone who may be experiencing the same or worse.

Encourage those bullied and tell them that God will use every experience to prepare them for the future He has prepared for them. Sometimes you have to be caught up in the belly of the whale to find yourself on a far shore for a purpose only He can see. Character gets tempered in fire like steel.

They will probably think "what do you know about it?" So don't give up.


But, if you think this might inspire your despairing child, continue on. 

I guess it is all of those experiences that I draw upon to write the novels I write. I began with the inspiration that my fourth great grandmother was Cherokee. Who could have been more bullied than Native Americans? (Swimming with Serpents). The second book put those Red Stick Native Americans in the Negro Fort with free and escaped slaves. The fort was blown up by a gunboat sent by Andrew Jackson July 17, 1816. (In Pursuit). Try to find that fort now. It is now called Fort Gadsden and if the bear has once more pulled down the sign you might not find it! The third in the series that I am working on now, brings that group of escapees to Angola in South Florida pursued by a bunch of raiders led by Native Americans associated with the Americans, sent by Jackson to rid the Peninsula of the former Red Sticks and escaped slaves. Two little boys (with whom we can all relate) come together to find their mother (with whom every Mother can identify), caught up in this turmoil.

Bullied? I would say so!

All of those events are true, there are major characters that are fictional, but they interact with real people in true situations. They are published by Mercer University.

Has all that went before prepared me as a privileged white woman to write this? That is something we should all realize. You don't get to where you are supposed to go, meet who you are supposed to meet, without trials and tribulations along the way. In other words, sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince.

Through 23 & Me I have also found a a genetic connection to West Africa, a tad of Ashkenazi Jew, and according to Tribal DNA a Mayan/Mexican/Native American connection, in addition to the primary Northern European DNA. That is a cocktail of cultures that probably most of us will find. 

I want to share here the wisdom of "the help" who never seemed like "the help" but my best friend and as dear as any relative.

Mattie Lee Martin, my beloved Mammy
Jean Gillis Burson and Mattie Lee Martin 

Nobody could have experienced more bullying than my Mammy.

Her parents abandoned her and her mentally challenged sister with their grandparents. Those grandparents abused her sister one too many times. Mammy took her by the hand and led her down those dirt country roads into the downtown area of Dothan, Alabama. A Jewish lady, Mrs. Bender, saw the two children and stopped sweeping the sidewalk to speak to them. Mammy (Mattie Lee) told her what had happened to them so Mrs. Bender took them in, gave them both something to drink, and I imagine, from how much Mammy loved her, gave her suitable clothes to go across the street to ask for a job to the Wadlington Hotel. She started off very low on the totem pole cleaning rooms and wound up as a cook there and then later in the kitchen at the Houston Hotel. From there she became a private cook for Dr. Mazyck who told my father, a friend and a physician who had privileges at Moody Hospital, about her (founded by Dr. Mazyck's father-in-law, Dr. Moody).

Mammy was much impressed by Marjorie Moody Mazyck. She was the epitome of a lady in Mammy's eyes and Mammy was determined that I learn from what Margie Mazyck taught her.

What did that mean?

Mammy did the best she could to turn these cow's ears into silk purses.
  1. Mammy taught me that my father deserved my respect. I would never have thought of disrespecting him and never called him anything but, "Sir." 
  2. The Meat goes in front of the doctor who sits at the head of he table. 
  3. The fork goes with the napkin to the left, the knife and spoon to the right of the plate. 
  4. "You too bossy! You ain't gone have any friends." I've tried to do better, but maybe not hard enough sometimes!  
  5. And so much more that I cannot remember at the moment.
Mammy's life was never easy. She worked hard. She raised and educated a daughter who brought her a granddaughter that she adored. Dr. Mazyck had given her a home close to the church. That church life sustained her. She did not let circumstance determine her future. She helped all who came to her door. She taught by example. She loved greatly. And she loved me... one of my greatest blessings.

Fortunately, when I wound up in tears, I had both my mother and Mammy there to encourage me. Mammy wanted me to "be somebody." "Yo daddy, he be somebody and you got to be somebody too!" and I knew she meant more than make a lot of money. Mammy looked into people's hearts as did my mother. Their experiences guided their lives.

And I pray God they will continue to guide mine until the day I see them again ... and perhaps through this introduction you may benefit from their wonderful role model.

What is happening to that child at that moment is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER! It is hard for those who have survived childhood to see it.

I had great mentors in my mother, grandmother and Mammy. I pray that your children/grandchildren can draw from your own spiritual strength and wisdom to guide them. And perhaps the experiences of others to encourage them as well.

Remember Grandparents, God doesn't let you retire. "Speak of these things when you lie down, when you rise up, when you walk by the way."

My grandmother's lessons came tempered with the smell of Ben Gay and a jar for her false teeth, "Muddin's Little Chompers." 

Just so you children never think that life as an adult is always perfect, much to my dismay, in addition to all the WONDERFUL things that have happened to me, I must admit that people will continue to surprise you throughout your life! Among the many surprises I have encountered, I
  1. joined one of the best sororities (THE BEST) on campus only to have a part of that group in high school, including those two boys, pledge a fraternity that converted many into alcoholics ignore me and be rude to several of my pledge sisters at a pledge swap. They humiliated me because I had spoken so highly of them to my pledge sisters. 
  2. have had former friends walk on the other side of the street because I opposed Whole Language and wanted to bring a Back To Basics curriculum into our schools.
  3. have walked back into a graduate school classroom with my skirt still tucked into my underpants after going to the bathroom. (Nope that was not bullying, but I was so embarrassed I wished I could die! We can "show our butt" accidentally, of course, at any age.)
  4. have been accused in a newspaper "letter to the editor" of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan and Flat Earthers for opposing the "innovations" that have brought about the decline of our schools. (Who would have had reason to spread those rumors and why?)
  5. have been told not to come back to a restaurant, after I, as president of the organization bringing the Colonial Dames to eat there, the owner called me up afterwards and accused me of opening a present (that I did not do)
  6. have been told not to come back to a fruit stand because I spent too much time finding the perfect basket of peaches (I did do that) 
  7. been amazed when members of a church group (not the one I now attend) chastised me for speaking out on pornography posturing as quality literature promoted in 11th grade COMMON CORE literature (past teachers still circling the wagons)
  8. been removed from a board of a directors after organizing events, handling publicity and promoting the organization through television, etc. and writing and sending the newsletter -- because I used some of the emails to invite some folks to the Panhandle Eagle Forum organizational meeting.  The words of that former preacher when he called me still ring in my ears, "I polled the executive committee and we have decided you have an agenda and have betrayed our trust."(Their invitation to join had surprised me, I did not seek the position.) 
If striving to get a better education for children through an organization with values and dedication to making the world a safer, better place for children then I guess I have an agenda. But I really do not know WHAT he was referring to. I just promised I would never do anything to put myself into proximity with that man ever again!

BTW, I did offer them some of the historical fiction novels I have written as a gift to do with as they chose -- give as a door prize, sell, whatever --that were handed back to me early on in a bag saying they had voted not to support Historical Fiction) Apparently someone was offended. As a friend said, "Someone on that Board has an agenda." Odd, isn't it?

Strangely, Uzi Baram archaeologist at the University of South Florida who is researching Angola, took the time to congratulate me on the books saying Historical Fiction inspired many to come conduct archaeology in Israel after James Michener's The Source. (I, in no way, compare my novels to Michener's but bringing attention to that which has been forgotten through Historical Fiction is not a bad thing!)

Silly, isn't it? That is my point. Survive this. This is the least of the problems you will face in life and if you bear up under this you have flexed your Survivor muscles.

Make a list of your own of hurtful things. Stick them in the back of your Bible. Look at them after time has passed and see how silly they are, yet how hurtful those silly things can be so you will not do that to anyone else.

But, I will guarantee you that lots of people are crazy and it will go on. Share with your mother -- or email me about these silly things-- and we will laugh about it. Mean people spread rumors to hurt you and build themselves up. 

The purpose of this addition is just to show children that MEAN PEOPLE -- girls and boys, men and women can be found anywhere at any age. They will continue to shock and amaze you. We just have to pull on our big girl panties and deal with it. (Or big boy Fruit of the Loom.)

Be true to yourself because THAT IS WHAT MATTERS. And that means YOUR LIFE MATTERS! YOU JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT FOR YET! Do not let anyone else be your validation for life. Who are They?

God bless you all. Remember "All things work together for good to those who Love God and are according to His Purposes."

I pray for those children. I pray for you as parents and grandparents.