Thoughts from Allie & Hoss
Out of the mouth of babes March 21 2015, 0 Comments
It was 1965 and I was seven. The same year of the protest marches in Selma, Alabama fighting for voting rights. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and hundreds of others risking their lives for suffrage and Jimmy Lee Jackson; a protester shot and killed by an Alabama state trooper.
My family was living in Springfield, Massachusetts where my father was stationed in the Army. We were living off of the military base in a racially mixed neighborhood. I was in first grade and walking home from school with my best friend Yvonne who was also a little brown girl.
We were hopping and skipping along the sidewalk. “Don’t step on a crack or you break your mother’s back”, we sang. Across the street we saw some boys from our class. They were white. All of a sudden I heard the word “Nigger!” yelled out. I completely froze. Even at that age I knew that was a word meant to cause harm.
My friend Yvonne looked over at them, threw her arms in the air and yelled back “Cracker!” Then the boys called back nigger laughing and she laughed and yelled back cracker. And so I joined in and we’re running now and yelling and laughing and so are they. Blacky! Whitey! Nigger! Cracker! Our limited knowledge of racial slurs exhausted in four words. Seven years old and spitting out such hatred. Children absorb the energy in their environment. I recall not feeling good and not really understanding why.
I don’t remember how it ended. I think they turned a corner and we kept on walking home.
I don’t even remember if we said anything to them the next day. Yvonne and I never talked about it. I never told my mom or my dad or my sister. I never told anyone this story until now.
Oprah Part III November 29 2014, 0 Comments
Last leg of the Oprah The Life You Want Tour!
It’s the next morning. I slept hard. Hair all mushed up; my pillow moist from mouth drippings. I check the time; I am running late as the 2nd day of Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour has already started. I get dressed, fly out of the hotel and jump into a cab. “Errr!” the cab stops short. I jump out and head into the Verizon Center. My right heel is developing a blister but I’m moving as fast as I can in my cute shoes. Click click ouch! Click click ouch!
Pastor Rob Bell is speaking when I finally get to my seat. I can tell from the empty seats around me that many of my pals from last night are sleeping in. The person I’m really excited to see today is Iyanla Vanzant. If you are not familiar with her get familiar because she is some kind of force of nature. Before Iyanla hits the stage the next speaker is Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love”. She is a dynamic person sharing her story of how she took the courage to change her life to what she wanted it to be. She knew she would disappoint people except the most important person of all; herself.
Elizabeth leaves the stage and now there’re getting us revved up for Iyanla. We’ve got the light show going again; RED, BLUE, GREEN, and…..here comes Iyanla! She walks out and says, ”If no one has told you today they love you; I love you.” I burst into tears. The next hour flies by as she talks to us:
“Beloveds, you are perfect just as you are. Surrender, release, and heal all negative, toxic, unloving thoughts about your body and accept yourself as God's beautiful creation.”
“The practice of forgiveness will bring you strength you never knew you had — and it just may give you the boost you need to make it to your next level of greatness.”
Yes! I am getting spiritual on ya’ll!
Now all of the speakers gather on the stage. I yell out, "Iyanla I love you!" She turns her head smiling trying to figure out where that came from.
Thus ends my life changing experience with Oprah. I will keep you posted on my quest, to get on the "O List of Favorite Things", and to seek out more life changing experiences to share with you. Namaste.
Oprah - Part II November 09 2014, 0 Comments
The Show is starting!
The main lights go out in the Verizon Center and out of the darkness thousands of little red lights are glowing. Where are the lights coming from? I keep looking around and finally down to my wrist where there is a little bright red light pulsing on the wrist band each one of us received. Duh! And then the color changes to green. And changes to blue. We are a roaring crowd of joy! And then Oprah comes out in a beautiful red dress and the crown goes wild!
I’m pretty much a cynic but the energy in that space was incredible. Oprah talked about her childhood and her dreams. She talked about her abuse and being vulnerable. She talked about finding her passion and how we can find our own passion.
Getting my photo taken with Oprah!
So this was the end of the first night and it’s about 8:00 PM. There are a selected group of us getting round up for our photo op with Oprah. We’re on the floor of the Verizon Center and signs are being held up to follow the Oprah Team to our rendezvous. We climb up the steps, approximately 5,000 (give or take a thousand). Then we’re steered to a VIP area that is already packed with people. There are tables filled with desserts and waiters walking around with mini cheese burgers and crab cakes. As soon as the waiters enter the space two people deep, their trays immediately empty and they have to go right back into the kitchen for more goodies. Other waiters carry glasses of wine and bottles of water. There’s a line of people moving very slowly toward the end goal of photo! I decided to chill out to talk to some folks I met and pull my shoes off ‘cause my toes are hurting.
Oprah comes out to speak to us! Unfortunately the microphone is not working properly so her voice goes in and out. She kept her cool and thanked us for being there and for waiting to get our photos taken.
It’s four hours later and I’m finally getting ready for my photo. Now I’m rather tired and feeling a little ragged. As I go through the line they take our belongings (so as not to try to give Oprah a greeting card!) and “mark” our lanyards to confirm we didn’t pop out of some hidden corner. I’m next and I see Gayle sitting in the room and Oprah still in her red dress taking photos with the couple before me. I say ,”Hi Gayle”, to Gayle who says, “Hi”, back. Whew; she didn’t remember me from our earlier encounter. Oprah’s wearing these gorgeous sparkling sandals and I’m absolutely start struck. Someone says “go ahead” and I move toward Oprah who smiles and I smile and she puts her arm around me and I lean in and smile and then it’s over! I didn’t say a word to her! Ugh! I go out around the corner and they already have my picture in a paper frame. Then they take my wrist band and hold it above a piece of technology that electronically sends my photo to my email address.
I am happy and tired and hobble outside the Verizon Center, grab a cab and head to my hotel and crash. And; scene!
PART III coming up!
I met Gayle King first! - Part I - Oprah The Life You Want Tour October 19 2014, 0 Comments
ME AT THE SHOW!
I'm in the Verizon Center in Washington DC! I walked from my hotel which was about five blocks away. I kinda got lost trying to find the correct entrance to the center so add an additional five blocks. I'm wearing cute shoes but my feet aren't bothering me yet.
Now; before I arrived in DC I, like everyone else heading to The Life You Want Tour, was receiving updates about what we should and what we could not bring into the Center. Meanwhile; I'm working on a special package of cards to present to Ms. Winfrey. MSLK Design created a cool belly bad and a "special" Oprah card that we thought would be great for a special fund raiser.
Any who; I check the "Tour Info" updates and what do I spy but an added comment, "Cannot" bring in letters, notes, cards etc., to give to anyone." Dag nab it! Best frinkin' laid plans! So, I think, what's the worst that could happen if I make an attempt to bring in a stash of greeting cards? They taser me? I mean they wouldn't do that would they?
So I find the entrance and present my ticket and purse for them to peruse. My purse is kind of flat and wide. No problems and I get on through; with my greeting cards inside my purse! Psyche!
So I'm walking around "O'Town" in the Verizon Center looking at the different booths and food and t-shirts to purchase and fans taking photos with "flat" Oprah. I get something to drink and find a chair to plop in. The starting of the show is at least 90 minutes away so I'm just taking everything in. I sit next to a young lady named Adaylah. She has, like I do, the boring day job but her night job is stand up comedy! Very cool! I ask her to take pictures of me and I did the same for her. Then we decide to do a little video.
I know. We could actually win an academy award!
I decide to get to my seat which is on the floor! Woot woot! I climb down the stairs; my ticket is being checked on the way down. I'm pretty darn close to the stage! Find my seat, say hello to my neighbors. They've got the music pumping and I'm jamming in my sit. They're playing some very old school Jackson Five "ABC" and Jill Scott's "Golden". I get my neighbors up out of their chairs and we shake it a little. Like it's hot.
Then coming toward me I see Gayle King with a couple of security guys! She's actually going to her sit so I grab my ipad and quickly move toward her. A lot of other people are doing the same thing. She greets people she knows and hugs a couple of them. I'm right there and kind of pushing through saying, "Gayle can I get a photo with you?" I think she says yes to me there are so many people there. I didn't get my ipad to work right so I only got a picture of Gayle. Then I discreetly pull my cards out of my purse and say,
"Gayle I have some greeting cards,".
"No, no; I can't", she says. "Ma'ame, you can't", security says. I say "OK! Sorry!" I quickly walk back to my sit just in case tasers are in route. And; Scene!
Part II coming up later this week!
What's Going On? October 01 2014, 2 Comments
Lynne M. Jackson
President And Founder Of The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation
In August of 2014 a young black man, Michael Brown, was shot and killed in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri by a white Ferguson, Missouri police officer. Mr. Brown was unarmed. Ferguson is about fifteen (15) miles from where I live. There are ongoing peaceful protests and candlelight vigils to honor Mr. Brown and to represent the anger and, what is believed, unjust treatment of Mr. Brown. Racial tensions have been bubbling below the surface in St. Louis City and St. Louis County for years. People who cared nothing about Mr. Brown, his family or the community took advantage by looting businesses. A sometimes over zealous police force turned Ferguson into a military state. These actions by looters and certain police tactics caused increased tension that surfaced and exploded into multiple arrests and injured police officers.
In April of 1846 a middled aged black man and slave, Dred Scott and his wife Harriet, sued for their freedom in 1846, at the St.Louis Old Courthouse, about fifteen (15)miles from where I live. Dred and Harriet lost the first trial. They were granted a second trial in the same courtroom in 1850 and twelve (12) white men determined the Scotts should be free. Their owner at the time, Mrs. Emerson did not want to lose valuable property and appealed her case to the Missouri State Supreme Court which reversed the ruling in 1852. After appealing their case to the U.S. Supreme Court the Scotts lost.
Earlier this year I spoke with, Lynne M. Jackson, President and Founder of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. Lynne is the great great-granddaughter of Harriet and Dred Scott. That’s only three generations away from slavery. Lynne says she was very aware of the family history even as a young girl. Whether at church, family gatherings, or hanging out in her neighborhood folks knew them as “that Dred Scott family”. Pride runs deep in the family, especially the older generation and why not? A slave risking his life to become a free man? A person not considered a person but an expensive piece of property using the judicial system to seek his freedom? What would you do to be able to speak and think freely? To be able to walk along the sidewalk without having to move out of the way of a white person into the street (Though free blacks had to to that too). The very things we take so much for granted. While we know the historic details we don’t know why Mr. Scott chose to sue for his freedom when he did. Maybe he was just tired.
Lynne's father, Dr. John Alexander Madison and the great-grandson of Dred Scott, had been the keeper of knowledge and family historian. That task, by Providence, was passed on to Lynne in 2006 when she created the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. Lynne is a whirlwind of energy and inspiration that draws people to her. Traveling the country speaking to historical and educational organizations; Lynne spreads the message of the foundation’s mandates; commemoration, education, and reconciliation. Reconciliation is a tough nut to crack but Lynne has worked with various organizations in the St. Louis area including the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and the Abraham Lincoln Library. She co-hosts the annual Dred Scott Reconciliation Forum that takes place in Marshfield, MO with prominent historical families including President Harris S. Truman and Thomas Jefferson.
Right now Lynne is working on the Dred Scott Footprints Bus Tour which will take place in early November of this year.
This is what I know is true; by bringing people together who choose to listen to each other, we create knowledge and trust and lose fear and hatred of one another.
On the Front Page of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation are the words;
“Pray for the Michael Brown Family, our Law Enforcement, our Legal Community, Ferguson,
and the St.Louis Region.”
"Peace, Truth, and Justice."
"If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem."
Visit the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation website at
Part III - National Stationery Show (NSS) Javits Center, Manhattan, NY June 29 2013, 1 Comment
Part II - Fun in the Big Apple at the National Stationery Show! June 16 2013, 4 Comments
....I grabbed the wrong bag. “F—k! F—k!” I let out one sob and shed one tear because I sweated out all the water in my body. I dig in my purse, find the shuttle ticket with the phone number, and call.
"Airport Shuttle”, says a man’s voice. Me, "Hi; I picked up the wrong luggage when I got off the shuttle at Grand Central Station and somebody must have my bag.""Uh huh; hold on please”, the voice says. (Shuffling sounds)"What's your name? P-U-R-I-T? Oh; P-R-U-I-TT. Is it on your luggage? What does it look like? Size? Color? Obviously we haven’t heard anything Ms. Purit but we’ll let you know if someone calls.” “Tanks a lot”, I say.
I have plans for drinks and dinner with the design team (MSLK Graphic Design) I have been working with over the past year. I Call Sheri, one of the owners and explain what happened. She at first appears sympathetic; "April I am so sorry". Then in a “Ball Up” voice says, "There's nothing you can do about the luggage so meet us for dinner and when your bag arrives you can head back to your hotel." “Um; Ok”, I said. “I’ll check back with you in a couple of hours.” Hmm, I think. Sheri is always efficient and practical. She’s one of those people that can jog, breastfeed and blue tooth, all at the same time. And I’m still in moist clothing from bopping around the city. I have no makeup or change of clothing, and, I do not want to haul my butt to wherever dinner is, wondering when if I’ll ever see my luggage again. I take the spread off the bed and lie down. I have a vague thought of bed bugs and fall asleep.
RING! I jump up and feel spittle on my chin. My cell phone is ringing. I answer and hurray! It’s the shuttle company! They have my bag and I can pick it up where the shuttle dropped me off. For a brief moment I want to ask why can’t they bring it to me but I am guilty of taking a bag that is not my own so I won’t complain. I get myself together combing my hair and see a pillow mark on my face. I drag the bag behind me out of my hotel room.
I go out the lobby door and hail a cab. The traffic is crazy. I walk further away from the hotel and closer to the corner to increase my odds. Someone is in front of me by 50 feet trying to get a cab. A cab passes her and me and goes to the front of the hotel. I head back toward the hotel and I notice there are people in the cab paying and getting ready to come out. The cabbie waves me away. So I step back to wait. Then some guy runs up to the cabbie. The cabbie points to me, and the guy turns to look at me. I say, “Excuse me!” and the guy says, “I didn’t see you”. Jeez!
I won’t go on anymore about this just to say I got my bag back! That night I met with Sheri and Marc (the other owner) at Battery Park for a lovely dinner, al fresco. Once I had a couple of drinks and we were laughing I realized something. It wasn’t the running around all day that got me rattled, or, that Sheri was too perky for my tastes. I was scared to death about how the show was going to go.
Part III…..The Show!...next week!
Part I - Fun in the Big Apple at the National Stationery Show! June 03 2013, 8 Comments
I love New York! I love the cab drivers! I love hot dogs sold on the street corner! Now; which one of these is the correct answer? You guessed it......I love New York! Here is part I of my trip.
I decide I don't need to take no stinkin' expensive cab from the airport! Why; I'm a sophisticated traveler so I'll take the $13.00 shuttle to Manhattan and save at least twenty bucks. I pile onto the shuttle that has 4 seats left so I take one, next to a slim hispanic woman, in an attempt for extra room and comfort. My butt was still hanging off the edge of the seat a little bit but that's okay; it's cool. The rest of the seats fill up and off we go. The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round and up and down just like a roller coaster ride. The woman next to me looked at me and we started laughing. I swear we could hear the roller coaster chain pulling us up and up and then dooowwwwnnnnn for that big drop. Repeat this action 20 more times. Hey; no prob. We'll be in Manhattan soon enough.
We arrive at Grand Central Station alive and well. I get off the bus and go around to the back to get my bag. I wait my turn and I point,"that's it", to the driver. He looks exhausted and hot, just pitiful. I give him a five dollar tip and ask, "Where do I get the free shuttle to my hotel?". He can barely lift his arm and points to the empty space on the street behind the bus. Everyone's jostling me to get to their bags so I yank mine down(God it's heavy), lift up the handle and roll it back onto the sidewalk. I check my phone and how much cash I have left. I look up and absolutely everyone is gone including the driver and the bus. I wait a few minutes for the shuttle and nothing comes. I'll take a cab from here, I decide, but no one stops. I will get on the bus then. I see a stop just a block down and ask if this is headed toward 48th and 7th to someone waiting. He was very friendly and said yep but I'd probably need to transfer. The bus comes, I drag the bag on, and ask how much. The bus driver says, "blah blah pass card". I said, "Huh?". He said, "If you don't have a pass I need $2.50 in change." I start pulling out quarters from my purse and I begin to shove them in one of the slots. "Stop; not that slot this slot!" I said sorry and pulled more change out. While I was doing this I was standing and holding on with one hand with the bag balanced between my legs. Some purse crumbs came out with the change I was pushing in the right slot. The driver gave me a pass to catch the next bus. I'm sweating quite a bit but this is a New York adventure! I cross the street and walk over two blocks as instructed by the driver. I'm waiting with my pass and a guy asks me if this is the blah blah bus. I actually know that it's the MD50! He is pleased and we wait. Ten minutes later the bus arrives. It drops me off just three blocks from my hotel. I check in at the front desk. They ask with a concerned look only a young person can give you, "Are you okay?". "Yes", I say. "I tend to sweat a lot." I get my key and zip, (ok drag my ass) up to my room. It has that hotel smell of I'm not sure what. I am starving as I only had a bag of chips for breakfast and it is now 2. I remember I bought a chocolate bar and I start to unzip my big old bag and I don't see my name tag. The bag has grey on one side when it should be black. My candy bar is not there. I grabbed the wrong bag. I grabbed the wrong bag.
Part II........coming soon.
Hanging with Elmo and Minnie Mouse (Elmo's voice is much deeper in person..with a slight Brooklyn accent)
Family Interview with: Cousin Blair/Political Partying May 05 2013, 6 Comments
I had the privilege of interviewing my cousin Brenda's son Blair. His fabulous photo is on one of my birthday cards and I wanted everyone to get to know the young man behind the sunglasses.
April -Hi Blair!
Blair-Hi cousin April
April-So whose idea was it to take those photos of you similar to the ones of President Obama in Ebony Magazine from a few years ago?
Blair- My mom
Blair- She wanted to show her support for the President and his family by sending him copies of my pictures.
April-How old were you when she took the photos?
Blair- (checks with mom) I was ten.
April-How old are you now? Thirty?
Blair- I’m eleven
April- And what grade?
April- What’s your favorite subject and why?
Blair- I like writing. It’s a different mindset and you can use your imagination. I like fiction and superheroes.
April-That’s cool. Do you have a favorite superhero?
Blair-Batman’s first Robin.
April-Oh! I didn’t know that- So what do you like to do for fun?
Blair-play video games. I just bought a new one called “Injustice-Gods Among us.”
April-Is Nightwing in that one?
Blair-Yeah he is. I paid for most of it. Mom game me $9.00. It cost $68.00.
April-That’s a lot of money Blair. Where did you get all that cash?
Blair-I got straight A’s and I got money from papa (grandfather). And I had a gift card.
April- I know you play football. Are you playing now?
Blair-No that’s in the fall. I’m in a writing program and I’ll be in an architecture program at Washington University.
April- Wow Blair. You have a lot of interests. You’re very bright.
Blair- I am very bright.
April- (laughing hard!)
April- Do you think you would want to be President one day?
Blair-Maybe. It’s hard work. And so much stuff like military and so many things in the world.
April-That sounds stressful.
April-Blair, next time we get together we’ll play some games. Thanks so much sweetheart. I love you.
Blair-I love you too cousin April
Interview with Amy Smyth of Ecka & Pecka! April 29 2013, 0 Comments
I first found Ecka and Pecka Greeting Cards when I was perusing the National Stationery Show (NSS) website to check out the competition this year and their cards grabbed my attention. Hmmmm, I thought, rather witty. Then a few weeks later I received an email that they were following me on Twitter. My following had increased by 50% so I noticed! Long and the short is they've got great stuff and I had an opportunity to interview one of the owners, Amy Smyth.
April -How long has Ecka and Pecka the business existed?
Amy - Ecka & Pecka launched at the Stationery Show in May of 2011.
April-Your niece is adorable! How old is she now and what does she think about your cards?
Amy - I agree. (She is also a great kid.) She is 5. She is so familiar with them she can spot them in a store on her own.
I also have a nephew who is equally cute and great. The name of the next line will be something he comes up with...
April- How did this whole greeting card "thing" all begin and who is behind the cards?
Amy- The whole story is here: http://amysmythmadeit.com/about/
April - Is this a full time gig or when did it become full time?
Amy - Full time gig since November of 2006. Best job ever. I love being self-employed.
April - Are you showing this year under a different name? I was looking for you on the NSS site and a different name popped up!
Amy - We are in booth 3125 & 3127 as Ecka & Pecka. Ecka & Pecka is our line for independent retailers and Amy Smyth Made It is under license with American Greetings and can be found in the mass market.
April - What sparks your creativity? What other creative outlets do you have?
Amy - Sparking creativity is sometimes difficult for me. Reading online, family, everyday experiences, sometimes out of the blue, many times after naps...I try to look for ideas everywhere. Being an entrepreneur is all consuming - so in the down time it's nice not to be creative.
April - To borrow from your questions, what’s one of your favorite cards and what famous person would you give it to?
Amy - That's one of Meream's, our Ecka & Pecka blogger's, great questions. For the life of me I can't think of a famous person I'd send a card to...I feel like you really have to know someone to send them a card or really have a reason - the connection is needed. I also have a hard time having a favorite - it's like saying, "I like myself." Because they are me as cards. Just read that response back to myself - weird response - but accurate.
Hoss vs. Mom-Round goes to Hoss! April 20 2013, 0 Comments
HOSS- Mom you're my boo; but really? I am not a baby!
Ecka & Pecka Interviewed me (April) for their Blog! April 15 2013, 0 Comments
Check out the article greeting card artists and writers of Ecka & Pecka Greeting Cards wrote on their blog about PruCheek. To return the favor I'll be interviewing them on my blog. Read about PruCheek, and, the inspiration behind Ecka & Pecka.
- Page 1 of 2