Rightfully Hers: Happy 100th to the Suffs!

This August marks the 100th anniversary of the “Women’s Vote” win that was an epic 72-year struggle, spanning two generations of women. Elizabeth Cady-Stanton kicked it off by writing the “Declaration of Sentiments” in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY, before her daughter Harriot Stanton-Blatch was even born. In 1902 the mom died (at 86 years old) and the daughter took the torch and traveled around the country speaking for Women’s Suffrage. Harriot spoke in Exeter, NH in 1902, as a matter of fact, when the women’s voting issue was going to be on the 1903 NH State ballot (it failed).  The fight went on for almost another 20 years. Harriot was 64 when the 19th Amendment/right for women to vote was ratified by the 36th state, and was finally adopted.

Did you know that there are 29 statues and monuments in NYC’s Central Park? Guess how many are in honor of real women? (Alice in Wonderland does not count.) The answer is ZERO. Until later this month, that is. A giant bronze Suffragette memorial will be installed featuring Cady-Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth. Yep, three ladies sitting around a tea-table, getting stuff done. Many of you recognize the classic women’s circle motif.

This bronze gladdens my heart almost in the same way that a surprise re-naming of a building on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy (a prep school in my town) did. There I was in the audience, listening to the usual opening day assembly, when the principal sprung that announcement upon us at the end. He said that the founder, John Phillips, had married a widow, Elizabeth, with some money. (And of course, in those times all the woman’s money became lost to her and was the property of her new husband , boo-hiss). The principal then said it was only fair that her name be written back into the founding history, so it was to be writ large across the top of a central building. There had been nary a mention of her since the 1700’s. I found tears running down my face at the surprise announcement. I looked around me and saw the same reaction in many other women in the audience.

I am trying to write some women back into history too. My third book in the Exeter trilogy will be set in the Suffragette era, when Harriot comes to town to speak. I have looked in all the usual places to try to find names of the Exeter Suffs. I can only find one, Kate Davis, and very small mention at that. Mon Dieu!!

So…. the game is afoot, the hunt is on! What a thrill!  I hope to dig up an entire gaggle of Suffs, and make them into a “Golden Girls”-style group for book #3. A women’s circle, sitting in Exeter at a tea-table, getting stuff done. Wish me luck in the dusty archives!

Happy 100th to the visionaries from yesteryear, and THANK YOU!!

RM Allen, neo-Suff, August 2020

PS In the meantime, book #2 “Incident at Ioka” featuring Abolitionist-era Exeter is now out and in the stores, or online at https://www.amazon.com/Incident-Ioka-Maryvonne-Mini-Mystery/dp/0988374439  I hope you will buy it and support my projects. Thanks 😊

FYI: Here is a family wedding from 1929 in upstate NY, to put you in the mood. I wonder if any of these relations were Suffs? I love the fashions… men in their Princeton outfits, women like flowers wafting on the garden breeze. I like looking at the shoes too…   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsNTr5xZn88

Summer 2020: Justice and Liberty …for all

It is summer solstice, the lazy days should be stretching before us, but instead all the world seems in retrograde.

For a long time there have been people working on issues of equality. (That is a vast understatement.) But finally a great many people have joined them and are putting their own shoulders to the locked door as well. This past month, the door has finally been ripped off its hinges, and all that was hidden is now bursting forth in a spurt of chaos. It is both terrifying and beautiful.

July 4th, Independence Day, is almost upon us, and it looks like the day of freedom may finally become more true. Take for example the story of Exeter, NH Revolutionary War soldier Jude Hall, whom I profile in my local mystery “Incident at Exeter Tavern.”

undefinedJude fought for eight years, from Bunker Hill to Ticonderoga and more. Yay for the black patriot! He “earned” his freedom from slavery. Isn’t “earned” an interesting choice of words in the land of the free?  

Jude was repaid by having three of his grown sons kidnapped into Southern slavery. One was kidnapped by an Exeter resident while his mother, Rhoda, fought him off in their home on Drinkwater Road. The teen victim sailed on Capt. Isaac Stone’s ship Wallace out of Newburyport and was sold in Virginia. There was no accountability. Neither is there account of this in the local papers, but the story is recorded twenty years later in Garrison’s Liberator. After Jude died, Rhoda left town. Wouldn’t you?

This story so angered me that it served as the catalyst for action. What action? Write a report about the historic community and sit down with 100 people in this town and ask them to act upon any one of the bulleted suggestions at the end. I found that the majority of the people were unaware of the history.  

So, I then wrote a book about it, hoping to reach a different audience than history buffs. But that one slim book was not enough to tell even a fraction of the story of the historic black community in Exeter, so it has become a trilogy. Volume #2 will be launched in July. (Vol. 3/Suffragettes date is TBD).

“Incident at Ioka” looks at abolitionist-era Exeter and its black community as the Civil War approaches. I write these stories “light” on purpose, so you can just taste a sliver of the bitter flavor, but you know it is there. Scholars can fill you in on the more nefarious aspects.

But even that trilogy only tells a fraction of the “Black Exeter” story, and still has a relatively small reach. So, as a form of redress, the profits from these three slim books will be donated towards a physical commemoration of the historic black community that once thrived near Swasey Parkway.

A proposal has been drafted (which will be presented to the town officials in July) to form a simple pocket-park in the names of Jude & Rhoda Hall down by the river. I am hoping to get NH State designation to further the reach. You can see the proposal at this link.

Hall pocket park proposal

It seems the time is ripe for local citizens to put our shoulders into it in Exeter, and let the cleansing light splay across our hidden history.

PS. This blog post is written to inspire you. I know many of my followers live elsewhere… what can you do in your town?

PSS: Here is the small report with the bulleted list of suggestions at the end:

PSSS: See me say all this in a graveside video for the 2020 American Independence Festival !!

Book Launch (in social isolation)

At the very beginning of social isolation, the local paper called me to write a story about what one does when your book launch gets swallowed up by the virus. Here is a link to the article: https://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20200409/incident-at-exeter-tavern-author-launches-new-book-in-self-isolation

Two months have passed, and I have spent the cold, rainy, and isolated spring of 2020 writing the second book in the trilogy. (I had the research done, and planned to begin writing in the fall.) The second book is now out to my editors, then will come back to me for the tedious process of tweaking, and figuring out the art. I am not sure when I will launch it. Are you sure of anything right now??

As a preview, I will tell you some things about it. This book is historical-fiction set in Abolitionist era Exeter, late summer 1841 to be exact, and today as well. A hurricane is approaching, and the chairperson of the select board is missing. We go to various barbershops, and learn about an Exeter-born barber who was also an Abolitionist poet: James Monroe Whitfield.

Maryvonne is still driving about town in the Zeus-mobile. She visits the old Clifford House, (know today as the Gilman-Garrison House) the Masonic Temple, and the Ioka. There is a crazy art show, songs by Nina Simone, and of course… a drink recipe.

This cozy-caper is entitled “Incident at Ioka.” (The Ioka is an abandoned movie theater in Exeter, built in 1915.)

I will update you if/when things progress. In the meantime, enjoy this 2020 “Summer of Safe-Six”!

~RM Allen

You Must Be The One To Write It

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it. ~ Toni Morrison

“Toni Morrison – The Pieces I Am”, a 2019 documentary, was offered as a selection on a recent flight I took aboard American Airlines. I had heard about this film because a woman from my hometown, Sandra Guzman, was integral in making it. She looked for films on Toni, and finding none, decided to make one. And now the writer Toni is gone, but her physical presence has been forever captured in this excellent film.

I wanted to read a book about Jude Hall, black Revolutionary War soldier of Exeter, NH, and his wife Rhoda. But I could not find one. So, although I am not the most experienced writer, nevertheless I researched and wrote one: “Incident at Exeter Tavern.”

I am not a scholar, but an activist hoping to inspire local scholars and experienced writers. I found about Jude and the historic black community about two years ago and have been promoting awareness of it ever since on social media with a small PowerPoint of facts.

Inspired by Bryan Stephenson, I began a “Community Remembrance Project”, writing a small lineage report and setting a goal of sitting with 100 local people to share it with… and ask for help. I am up to about 75. If you read it, then it will be 76 🙂 Thanks!

Again, I am not a scholar or experienced writer, but I do hope you read my small mystery book, “Incident at Exeter Tavern”, and pass it on to others. I would appreciate it.

Or maybe write your own.

~~~~~~~~~~~ small reports below~~~~~~~~~

2020 Overhaul: New Book, New Site

Hello friends!

It is 2020 and time for an overhaul, on many levels. I am sure you can feel this in your own lives. As for me, I put my newest book up online last week and then decided to overhaul my website. Many days later, I am now ready to present you with a new website that shows a more holistic view of my various endeavors: www.RM-Allen.com

This new site replaces the old NHGoddess.com and streamlines my sprawling array of websites, Facebook pages, Twitters. etc. It gets kinda crazy after a while, don’t you feel that too? So I had to downsize. Simplicity is one of my mottos, after all 🙂

Dedicated to Rhoda Hall,
Jude’s wife.

Now (drumroll) on to the new book, “Incident at Exeter Tavern”, which is the first in a trilogy of mini-mysteries all set in Exeter, NH. The books are historical-fiction in nature and will highlight some of the hidden histories of Exeter, all in the name of telling a more inclusive public history.

In the first book, the contributions of the local black soldiers in the Revolutionary War are dug up and dusted off. Strong women abound in my books, so expect a heavy dose of feminism and fun too. And maybe a topic or two that only a women would dare put in print. On the serious side, the three books will start to ask the question: “What would redress look like in Exeter?”

The second in the series is in the research phase now and will be set in Exeter’s Abolitionist era. But for now, please take a look at the first book -in paperback or Kindle. You can get it online right now – yes!

Or you can wait until my official launch at Water Street Bookstore in a month or so. I will also be speaking for a few minutes in the “Race Matters” 3-part series being held at the Exeter Historical Society in Jan/Feb/March. (My gig is on Feb. 24th.) And then look for me at the annual ExeterLitFest on April 4th, 2020.

Here is a little widget that lets you peek into the book. I really hope you like it. Much love, and thanks for your support! ~ RM Allen

Sneak Peek at New Book

I have some news for you my friends – I have been working on a new book this summer! It is still  a work in progress but, targeted to be out in early 2020 if all goes well. I ask you, what would redress look like in Exeter??

Incident at Exeter Tavern

~ A Maryvonne Mini-Mystery ~

By RM Allen

One hot summer weekend in July, something odd is about to happen at the old tavern. The whole village is getting ready for fun and celebration at the annual Independence Festival weekend down by the river, in one of the oldest parts of town, when space and time collide.

Something has gone missing. Or has it? Maryvonne has set up her easel across from the old tavern early one morning when she is visited by early American novelist Tabitha Gilman Tenney, and begins to learn about some of the contributions of the Revolutionary War era black community in Exeter, New Hampshire.

  • Exeter Green Press, (January 2020)
  • Exeter, New Hampshire
  • ISBN-13:   978-0-9883744-2-3
  • 150 pages, $14.00 Kindle $4.99

EXCERPT

The car keys landed on Mal’s open laptop keyboard, and the machine blinked to life. Maryvonne was embarrassed, and hoped she had done no damage. She went around behind the desk to inspect the computer to make sure nothing looked broken. The keyboard looked fine. Maryvonne’s eyes scanned over the lit screen and she didn’t see any scratches. But then her eyes caught on the words on the screen, and she stopped short. The document on the screen was entitled “Dunlap Broadside Heist Plan.” She felt a bit of a shock go through her system. Would Mal do something like that?

amplify HER voice

amplify HER voice

by RM Allen, Feb 27, 2019

amplify her voice

I recently learned of the global initiative to edit Wikipedia specifically to include the contributions of women and femmes, so I signed up to participate. One needs only to open a Wikipedia account, read the guidelines on referencing and such, and do a few practice bits. Then you are ready to amplify the fading voices of yesterday’s women by adding HERstory into HIStory as it appears online today. So, I have been adding in the names of women and minorities into the current incomplete HIStory of my NH town.

Then I wanted to add a brand-new entry for an author from my town who wrote six books in the 1960s and 70s. But that listing was denied by the moderators, reason listed as both she and her books were not notable enough. This made me wonder what it is to be considered “notable” and who decrees on the value of any published book.

To wit: I recently the book The Truths We Hold by presidential candidate Kamala Harris and I loved it. Later, I read a review about the book by a reviewer from NPR – who did not love it – reason being that she felt it was not really a normal book, but a political platform piece. But that is exactly why I thought it was great!

It is my conjecture that Kamala is participating in the creation of a new genre of book, and one that is sorely needed. Her book is a combination memoir, auto-biography, and political platform. Coming away from this bio-plat book you feel you know not only her resume, but her entire value system. I feel this is important information to have when I am casting my vote on election day. She amplified her own voice by setting this bio-plat book out there and in doing so SHE set the tone, not her challengers or the media.

I believe that greed and sustainability are situated at opposite ends of a spectrum, and Kamala has proven that she sits far closer to the sustainability end and roots out and prosecutes those who do their shady deals at the greed end. Kamala is a woman of values who has been working in a man’s world since she began her career. This strong woman has evidently learned how to move right through the BS and get things done, while still being likable. For example, by writing this bio-plat for the public in spite of knowing that a book of this nature blurs some fixed genre lines in the world of the literati.

I am not quite sure of the genre of the small books that I write either, nor do I care. What is important to me is that my voice amplifies the voices and thoughts of many other women I know on the matters of feminine spirituality and sustainability.

Through the “sacred art of inspiration” I hope my goddess guidebook series will encourage women to contribute more publicly. Deeds not words my friend, and small deeds count as well! Through the reading of this blog post, perhaps you dear reader will be inspired to “amplify her voice” by editing the Wikipedia entry for your town. Or perhaps to make it your business to; add notable women into school curriculums, create art or film or stories on them, or speak in public about them. Maybe one or two of you will even run for office yourself – and become a “notable” while you serve others!

Namaste 😊

amplify her voice

Who Writes Herstory?

Who writes history?

It is time to re-examine traditional narratives and do some inclusive re-writes.

For example, I would have bet money that my very “white” NH town had always been so. But I fell down a rabbit hole while looking for a rabbit, and found also that my town had the highest percentage of blacks in the entire state directly after the Revolutionary War. It is unclear why. The NH blacks who fought in the war earned their freedom, pensions and then settled in my town buying homes, opening businesses and starting families. I was astonished to learn this! The black community they established was erased within 100 years, both from the actual town and also in the memory of the citizens.

My town of Exeter was the Revolutionary capital of NH then and home to various military officers and their funding. Perhaps they made promises to the black soldiers? Perhaps those promises are why blacks made up 4.7% of the citizenry in 1790? It is unclear. Why is it unclear? Because those writing the town’s grand, white and male, history back then did not include it. Or perhaps it was purposely excluded? I don’t know. But what I do know it that it is time to re-examine and redress – by including.

My town is all the poorer for not letting that community flourish. I can only imagine the interesting contributions those ladies and gentlemen would have made here. In the four or so generations that the community existed (mainly near the west bank of the Squamscott River) there were many blacks that influenced the culture of this town. For example, in the following small report I give you the exploits and achievements of one family as they began their uphill climb from slavery.

james-monroe-whitfield-ovalDown in that rabbit hole I met James Monroe Whitfield, a black abolitionist poet who was born in 1822 on Whitfield’s Lane, later renamed to Elliot Street. His 1853 book America and other poems was held in the Library of Congress, but curiously, was not in any of our libraries. His name was virtually unknown in our town. But I invite you now to read my small report james monroe whitfield family lineage rm allen, and then join me in saying: “Welcome home James”!

During my research I noticed that both people of color and women were glaringly missing from the history of my town, as published on Wikipedia. So I learned how to submit to Wikipedia -thus writing in a bit of herstory and theirstory back into history.

On January 25 and February 15 the “Where The Future Came From” symposium encourages people to join them in an Art & Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon to make history more inclusive. Why don’t you give it a try too?

Dark n’ Dreary 2018

Dark n’ Dreary in 2018

by RM Allen

Hill. Ford. Hopefully there will never be another name added to this list.

On September 27th I attended a “Solidarity Speak Out” on City Hall Plaza in Boston to show support for the courage of Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford. That same day she was to testify about her teen-aged trauma in front of the entire country, and a row of old white guys in suits. A great many other women have similar stories of trauma. About one hundred women gathered in Boston in front of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s offices to speak their own stories aloud in front of the crowd and the tv news cameras. As I watched, woman after woman walked to the front and speak about what happened when they were five years old, or at their high school, or at Welcome to College night, or with their father-in-law, the nice guy next door – it just went on and on. I was repulsed.

boston speak out sept 27 2018 blasey ford

For some, this was the very first time they had spoken their truth aloud. After each story the crowd said “We believe you.” Some speakers cried, some were pissed, some dejected. Some had been successful in legally prosecuting their perp. Others had never told a soul. Why? Because they thought they wouldn’t be believed. One woman, after telling her story said she never told the police. Then she swept her hand in front of herself and with her head bowed she said “who would believe that anyone would want this body”? It broke my heart.

speak out boston sept 27 2018 blasey ford

Silence. The biggest thing I came away with was that the silence was what has allowed this perverted behavior to continue for centuries. Silence and victim blaming. Did the five-year old girl have it coming? Did the woman who was made by her husband to sleep with her father-in-law again and again bring that upon herself? Did Dr. Ford want to be jumped and nearly suffocated by two drunken frat boys on the way to the bathroom?

The earnestness and bravery of Dr. Ford was historic. I think she will make a difference in the long run. But she did not make a difference that week: her alleged perp was quickly installed in the highest office in the land, even after his own bizarre show of instability and belligerence. The vote was rushed and the old white guys in suits won. My prophecy is this: just like when you end up with a shoddy contractor who does a rush-job on your house and hides it from you, the truth will out eventually. And it will cost heavily.

But in the meantime, the whole sordid week left me depleted and traumatized. The world went all dark and dreary for weeks. At some later point, I realized that it felt like someone had died and I was grieving. Often, I had wondered what it must have felt like to try to live a normal life during the Vietnam War era. This dark month had given me a tiny glimpse of that. Just laboring on in your work-a-day life, full of sorrow and rage. I was not fit to be out in public. Eventually I had to hide from the news and sit with my grief and just heal. My poor husband, what a saint.

So here we are, five days from the mid-term elections. I am petrified. Please tell me that the majority feel that these inglorious past two years have been a huge mistake. Exploding excesses of testosterone. I can’t even look at the polls. I feel a little sick, and a lot snarky. My poor husband, what a saint.

I have been biding my time and persisting the best I can, but my heart is so heavy. Sigh. Please dear goddess, clear the dark and dreary clouds and show us your lovely face. Bring back Love.

speak out blasey ford sept 27 2018 boston

Hot Flash at Night

Ballad of the Hot Flash at Night

(to the tune of Beverly Hillbillies)

 

Come and listen to a story ‘bout a woman in her bed

For one full year all a-sweatin’ and a-red

Then one day she had had it up to here

Sat at her laptop and did a questionnaire

(“bout getting old & dry that is, not she!)

 

Well the first thing you know our girl’s getting’ prepared

Kin folk said “now girl don’t be scared”

Said the vitamin aisle is the place you oughta be

So she loaded up the car with jars of B, D, and E

(From Rite Aid that is, sleepy time, melatonin)

 

Well now it’s time to say goodbye to the flash and its dry kin,

It’s great to be a crone, don’t want the fake estrogen

The thing that really gave that flash the kybosh

Was a jar of the herb called Black Cohosh

(Juicy Goddess, that’s what he calls her now

….Y’all got Kundalini power, it’s here!)

 

Explosive hot flashes? Goddesses use a natural remedy to ease the way….Black Cohosh: every few days