Nonfiction Story- First Draft

“People Used to Have Manners”

Before Interstate 95 was eight lanes of angry, roaring traffic carrying commuters down to Miami, eventually depositing itself into U.S. Highway 1, and Military Trail was showered with dilapidated shopping malls, my grandmother’s family made the decision to move from New York down to Florida. 

I would ask her about her childhood and she would say, “Let me think,” lean back in her blue-and-yellow plaid chair and look up at the popcorn ceiling of her and my grandfather’s brick house in Palm Springs. 

The house was the brick and white concrete one that my mother and my two uncles grew up in.  It had survived every hurricane including Hurricane Andrew in 1992.  I myself had felt the protection of its walls during both Hurricanes Jean and Francis when I was in high school. 

Trees around the house had fallen but the two dogs, three cats, me, and a completely nonplused goldfish named for Atticus Finch barely heard anything but the whistle of the wind through spaces between the plywood shutters and the windows.  We were told the winds would be less down in West Palm Beach. 

My grandparents had been upset when their home was rezoned for Palm Springs instead of West Palm Beach.  They both had lived in West Palm for as long as they could remember.

“Let me think,” Sarah Adelaide England, affectionately called Addie or Adelaide, would say and my grandfather would pitch in to remind her where to start, “You moved here from Buffalo…”

“That’s right,” she would agree. “I must’ve been 18-months old because I can’t remember anything back farther than when we moved to Military Trail.” 

Along with her mother, her father, William Ferdinand McLemore and her brother, John, my grandmother moved into a little white house on Sandspur Ranch off of 441 and Southern Boulevard in 1944.  Sandspur was bought by two rich men trying to avoid the war because, back then, farmers couldn’t be drafted.  My great grandfather served as overseer on that ranch while the rich enjoyed their beachy, peachy Palm Beach lifestyle as farmers elsewhere. 

My great grandmother fried rattlesnakes as quick as her husband could clear them out, my grandmother would say, half-jokingly.

A Home Depot proudly stands where Sandspur Ranch had been and a rattlesnake rarely slithers across the too-hot, black parking lot pavement. 

According to my grandmother, a big hurricane came by and flooded her family’s street in front of the ranch entrance.  Older teenagers floated a boat down the road. 

The McLemore’s then moved to Military Trail when my grandmother was old enough to attend grade school at Military Trail School, same as my grandfather had done four years previously.  The school, now an education center for adults, was located north of Okeechobee Road.  They all took a bus.

“What kind of school bus?” I would ask.

 “Yellow,” my grandmother would reply stoutly.

Segregation was an evil in Palm Beach County like it was throughout the South. Colored bathrooms, colored people sections in the back of the city bus.  They didn’t go to school with my grandparents. 

On most occasions when I asked my grandparents about their lives as pioneers of Palm Beach County, we would dig out the box of old pictures.  Like most big families, our box of photos had no organization to them besides what were placed in half-made albums, fraying at the corners from use.

I held up a picture of my grandmother at two years old, clinging to her mother’s leg, also a Sarah Adelaide.  A little blonde girl with a mean face scowled back at me in black and white.  My grandmother, to this day, won’t smile in pictures despite her constant smiles, wisecracks and songs in everyday life. 

She would sing about crazy old men from China, Patsy Cline and tidbits from old films, reminiscent of her era. 

My grandmother moved onto South Military Trail when she was 5-years-old.  My grandfather lived down the road and their families were close friends.  They would play cards together and attended the same church despite my grandmother’s grandmother being a strict Presbyterian.

“What was your grandma, Jimma, like?” I would ask.

“Mean,” my grandfather would reply before my grandmother had the chance to defend her.

My great, great grandmother, was 5-foot tall and 5-foot wide with the grammar rules of a dictionary and the etiquette of English bourgeoisie much like Harper Lee’s character, Aunt Alexandra in To Kill A Mockingbird as my grandmother described her.  Jimma moved down from Tennessee to live with my grandmother in 1945 when she was no taller than the middle of her mailbox post. 

“All people from Tennessee are afraid of water mostly,” my grandmother would say.  “They have what they call creeks that are totally dry but when a flash flood happens they fill up to drain all the water.” 

This would always serve as an explanation for why Jimma would plan out all the church meals but wouldn’t become a Baptist which required an immersion baptism.  Jimma, until her passing, lived with my grandmother.

When the McLemore’s first moved onto South Military Trail, they lived in two log cabins connected by a wood plank walkway.  Eventually, the smaller of the log cabins was torn down to build a modest, 3-bedroom white concrete house with a Florida porch. 

A Florida porch can be discerned from a regular porch by the screen to keep out the mosquitos, a godsend in the hotter and humid seasons. Hurricanes came with each summer to mid-fall.

“They would shut me in the cabin with grandma and say, ‘See ya in the mornin’,” my grandmother explained.  She remembered the sound of the rain on the cabin’s tin roof. 

“I don’t really remember meeting your grandfather,” my grandmother would say, “but I went to school with all his brothers and sisters.  His brother WA bought a car from my dad, a 4-door Dodge Sudan, originally gray but Clyde had painted it green with a paint brush because people couldn’t afford a paint job.”

My grandmother’s father, William Ferdinand McLemore, known to most of his close friends and family as “Mac,” died at age 60 when my grandmother was 15 but he had known my grandfather since he was a young boy. 

“My father said he was a bully and that he would never have a child behave in that manner, “Adelaide recalled.  “He tried to bum a cigarette off of him when he was 12 or 11-years-old.  He would tease the younger kids and punch his brothers and sisters in the stomach.”

Clyde Wendell England, the oldest boy of 8 children, did have quite a few siblings to punch.  The Englands moved from Tennessee to Pahokee.  When the doctor told my grandfather’s dad he had asthma and the dust in Pahokee was irritating it, Clyde Elijah England moved his family to West Palm Beach County, originally Dade County until 1909 when it was reestablished as its original name. 

My grandfather’s dad bought 40 acres from a man named Kenyon Reynolds but eventually sold all but 10 to pay for various health scares including when his own father feel ill and injuries due to an automobile accident in 1956. 

My grandfather, referred to by my grandmother as “Wendell” and by myself simply as PaPa (pronounced Paw Paw), cleans his glasses with his shirt as he recalls his father moving to Pahokee first to build a two-car garage for his family to live in while he constructed their house to the side of it.

When PaPa was growing up, his house was one of three on Military Trail, a road that is now six lanes wide and home to hundreds of stores and chain restaurants.  It even has its own exit off of I-95.

                Eventually, the two-car garage and the house would be connected by a breeze way with open windows instead of screens.  The youngest of the eight, little Ruthie England, would be born in that breezeway.  None of his siblings or my grandfather was born in a hospital. 

                In the 30s, hospitals cost too much money.

                Before he decided to ask my grandmother out officially, my grandfather had bought a ring for Bonnie Radish.  The year was 1961. 

                At this point in the story, he would look at my grandmother, glasses now on, and say, “But then I saw your grandmother and took the ring back the next day.”

                “No, Wendell!” my grandmother would scold, “You’ve known me since I was a little girl!” 

She would turn to me and explain, “When your grandfather first asked me out, he had a beard.  I told him to shave it off and I would go out with him.”

Their first date would be to the evening service of church and my grandmother wore a dress that had orchid flowers on it with wide cummerbund.  It was a light, sleeveless, taffeta material that caught the summer breeze when it blew.

“Back then,” my grandmother would begin her nostalgic rant, “People helped their neighbors when something was going on, when there was a death people brought food and built their houses.  My first church was on north military trail right next to my house.  It was a non-denominational.  And we had to wear our Sunday clothes with patent leather shoes you could only wear on Sundays.  You spent Saturday night making sure your hair was done. Church was where everyone went to “show their stuff.” Well, I mean, you had to dress up.” 

Jeans were considered trashy when my grandparents were growing up.

“Well what did you wear then?” I would say, surprised.  I always thought Levi Strauss invented them in the 1800s and, from then on, those were the only pants Americans wore.

Skirts with lined kremlins which were made out of knit and made a skirt stick out like a Big Top.  These With that, girls would wear a plain shirt.  Dresses were also acceptable but women did not wear pants, jeans or khaki.  Men wore dress pants and khakis and plaid shirts, ironed. 

My grandfather bought engineering boats when he was old enough to could afford them on his own.  Oxfords were for school each year: white with brown.  Only options for shoes were black or brown because you had to wear them with everything.

“They lasted all year long, you could not wear those suckers out,” my grandmother would tell me on the sadly common occasion I would need new shoes.

People listened to the radio, no TV, but there were movies.  Good movies.

“It wasn’t really our first date,” my grandmother would add.  “He just doesn’t remember.”

A few months previously, Debbie Reynolds and Andy Griffith starred in “A Second Time Around.”  My grandmother would later name my own mother after the film’s star. 

The film came into theaters when my grandmother was in high school.  My grandfather came over one day when my grandmother’s brother was fixing an old Chevrolet he bought that never ran and never would. 

In all my memory, even my PaPa had always had an old car that never ran so it doesn’t surprise me he was over watching Great Uncle John attempt to fix his.

According to my grandmother, my grandfather popped his head up from the hood and said, “Adelaide, will you go to the movies with me and bring a friend for my buddy, Earl?”

The movie theater, now a playhouse called Palm Beach DramaWorks still standing at 201 Clematis, was called the Florida Theater.  My grandfather claims to have seen Elvis at the adjacent theater, Palm Theater, back in 1957.

Earl had just come back in town from the Army.  His time there must have made him bashful or rude because he didn’t even walk my grandmother’s friend to the door, which was what you did back then.  Eventually, she got out of the car and walked herself to her door. 

“Honest to god, earl was ugly, he had buck teeth and all,” she would laugh. “I just thought, Jean is never going to forgive me!”

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Blog Essay Class 12- The Last Class!

Carina Seagrave

cseagrave@ufl.edu

Living in a society where individuals such as myself cannot catch the bus without checking the TransLoc app to make sure I’m on time and then referring to Facebook to see what my friends are up to followed by updating my Twitter feed to make sure I didn’t miss any important news events, it is hard to argue against the mediatization of society.

Media intertwines itself in the fabric of everyday life.  When we go to the grocery store, we purchase products we read about on the internet or heard about on the TODAY show.  According to Hjarvard, the redistribution of power is occurring through the media agenda.  In the chapter, “Future of the news industry,” Picard describes a society in which media space is largely controlled by the consumers through social media.  Consumers can now type whatever interests them into a search bar and results will come up within seconds.  No longer will the nightly news say, “And next, a baby chimpanzee burps his ABCs,” leaving us sitting on the edge of our seats to wait for what is to come.  We can simply take out our smart phones and go to the website.  For the news industry to survive, traditional media must find ways to provide better information than their competitors while also altering the way they obtain revenue.

Being a former student of the arts, I was interested when “The Mediatization of Society,” discussed the way media extends communication capabilities which, in turn, increases the impact media has on expression.  I thought of a few examples including the sharing of music and Instagram.  Before social media allowed for instant sharing of information, the type of music that was popular was whatever type of music the radio played.  My grandparents listened to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline.  When I hear other older people discussing music from “the good old days,” no one feels left out wondering what songs they’re talking about.  I predict that our generation won’t be as united in musical tastes as the generations previously because, if we like a song, we can look it up or turn on XM radio to the particular genre we like.

And then there’s Instagram.  My brother is in middle school and, just as articles are starting to suggest, Facebook is on the decline.  Social media has turned us into such a visual society and a society that relates better to gunfire spurts of information such as comments and photo captions that Instagram is now the social media form on the rise.  It allows us all to become small-scale professional photographers with the ability to choose from different filters to enhance our images.  This rise in popularity of Instagram gives a pseudo-example of the rise of mediatization.  Media is now an independent institution that houses the public sphere.  No longer to PSAs get passed along from the government to the media but people rely on shared experiences to warn them against the good and the bad.  As Hjarvard argues, everyone now has access to the internet and to media through the internet that it is a time of “public enlightenment.”

And when we become enlightened? We have Twitter to tweet about it.

Question

Think about the term “public enlightenment.”  Although employers won’t accept an “internet education” in place of a diploma, do you believe it is possible for individuals to college educate themselves from media alone?  Why or why not?

Analyze This Class 11

Although we can compare today’s virtual public sphere to the public sphere of 18th-century England and France because both allow for members of a society to congregate and share their ideas, I don’t think it’s fair to equate them to each other.  Today, people from all over the world have the ability to connect together in a public sphere, one which doesn’t require them to travel, spend money on gasoline or present a passport.  The possibilities for a massive public sphere are so vast because there need not be language barriers on the web.  Instead of just members of one society or country to get together and share ideas, members of larger communities can communicate instantly.  For example, women’s rights platforms online can spread across national borders and reach more than just a select group here in the United States.

Another reason the public sphere of today is more powerful than that of tomorrow is a safer and more thoughtful place for debate of issues.  When we type a status into Facebook, for instance, people who disagree with the statement have just as much access to it than people that agree.  These people can post their own opinions to the page.  This more permanent visual than just word-of-mouth allows for a bigger possibility of change of opinions.  I think it is important to know both sides of an issue before making a decision about the issue and the internet gives people in the public sphere more opportunity to do so.  Although individuals may stick to their guns and maintain their beliefs, at lease they have a window into someone the point of view of someone else.  In a “coffee shop” public sphere, chances are individuals are meeting with like-minded individuals and; therefore, not opening up their life to opposing opinions.

Blog Essay Class 11

During this transitional time in journalism, the constant question on everybody’s lips is, “How will the internet age affect the way we consume media and news?”  In the review of Media Ethics Beyond Borders, the authors of the collection of essays express a need for a set of globalized media ethics because media is no longer a localized phenomenon.  As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think a globalized system seems impossible because of all the differing voices just within the book.  On one hand, there is feminist theory as applied to global media and on the other, another author discusses Ubuntism and implores for better coverage of African countries.

In the video, “The Internet, Globalization and the Media Future,” Tom Patterson, a professor of government, worries that the internet without collaboration of different global perspectives leads to a degradation of information.  By this he means the quality of journalism is lower because of the massive amount of internet users lacking in credibility.  Information is now easier to access than ever before and is so large in content that it becomes a daunting task, not only for journalists to sort through, but for average recipients.  Before we aim to globalize the ethics of journalism, I think we should try to educate citizens of the internet sphere to intelligently sort through information and determine whether it is worth a read or not.  If anything, students in grade schools should have a class that teaches them to be smarter recipients of media by helping them to identify framing bias that is often not as obvious as other types.

Another interesting point that Patterson brought to my attention was the idea that the media system on the internet is beginning to look like a “group system” in which there are binaries for every issue.  On one platform we have going green while industrialization is on another.  A black and white system is formed because everyone is supposed to pick a side in the new, personalized media system in which the public sphere hosts debates in every area.  Interests can be filtered which allows for media recipients to choose their content while avoiding opposing points-of-view.

Democracy, now interpreted more often as a type of government due to the United States and others efforts to “democratize” societies suffering from oppression, is the central concept on which journalism is founded.  The ideal of democracy suggests a “free speech” media arena in which journalists are obligated to not only be “watchdogs” of the democratic state but to uphold equally the sides of each story but, unfortunately, “stability, religion and social order take precedence over free press” (577).  It is because of social issues like this that the “professional” model of journalism is a subject of debate depending on what country recipients might find themselves in.  The three models introduced in this essay represent current journalism systems that are adopted countries ruled by different systems of government.  Despite the claim that the United States is a liberal model, I felt that it follows a little bit of democratic corporatist mentality in which messages are controlled by commercial groups (just without the neutral take).

In chapter 19, I felt that the author’s description of the change recently occurring in Korea reflected a change happening simultaneously in the United States.  Newspapers are on the decline while internet is on the rise.  Between 1995 and 2005, internet use skyrocketed from 730,000 to 33 million.  The consequence of this rise in internet media influence would be the appearance of ‘discursive publics’ found online.  These publics form because they have three attributes in common: a need to be better represented, demand for fair and balanced coverage, and their own diversities.  The internet, although it can be monitored, represents a public sphere in Korea in which collective subjects can share their own experiences which lead to political polarization as opposed to the failing party system.  For example, author June Woong Rhee identifies a “public self” that media recipients in Korea are experiencing which “contributes to having more conversations with others, more political knowledge, higher discussion efficacy and higher tolerance” (361).

Question

Is it plausible to speculate that this rise in the “public self” could lead to a global society that rejects government agency?

Analyze This Class 10

When it all comes down to it, the issue of whether or not I would obey a propaganda ministry and filter out certain terms in the case that I was the head of Google is one that is morals versus money.  On one hand, as the head of a corporation, I would want to stick to my guns and beliefs and do what I believe is right by choosing to pull out of a country that does not give its citizens the freedom that I believe all human beings deserve.  Not only is this model benefiting my conscience but it would portray to my employees a commitment to a capitalist and moralistic ideal.  Being a leader calls for someone that stands by what they believe is right and those who follow you tend to admire such traits.  That being said, every country has a right to their own government and if that government is one that demands information to be censored then it would not be in my power to prevent them from doing so.  On the other hand, opening up my corporation to the international realm where even more money is to be made requires me to adhere to the laws and customs of other places.  Ultimately, I would decide to remain in the country asking censorship of me.  I agree with Google and what the organization chose to do in China; however, because it is not right to demand censorship without proper guidelines as to what should be censored.  Also, in the case that the information I needed to withhold was crucial to the safety of the citizens of the country I was in, I would pull out.  I would not release the information out of respect for the leadership of the country but it would not be something that I would allow to weight heavily on my shoulders.

Blog Essay Class 10

Carina Seagrave

cseagrave@ufl.edu

“Small government, large society,” is a slogan reminiscent of Mao’s post-reform made political campaign in China.  Although the saying encourage self-empowerment while also supporting Chinese hegemony, it is ironic in that the issue of regulating social media and maintaining a hegemonic state has to do with such a large society now having access to information systems that unite the Chinese people.

In order to contain the uprising of classes in a Marxist form of government, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) must attempt to keep control by allowing certain freedoms such as freedom of expression while, at the same time, suppressing collective action.  The article, “How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression,” describes how Chinese power holders have come to understand that being criticized as individuals does not make them any less powerful if only the discussions indicate collective action such as an organized uprising against the government like in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.  According to Dimitrov (2008), who is referred to in the article, “regimes collapse when its people stop bringing grievances to the state which indicates it is no longer legitimate,” thus indicating that a negative comment is not necessarily a threat but an action is.

With more and more access to social media and internet, the Chinese government struggles to limit its large population’s access to information system, a population that makes up 5 percent of the entire world’s population.  The task of the CCP is to “balance media openness with regime censorship to minimize local corruption while maintaining regime stability.”  I can’t help but wonder when the next societal collapse will happen in China.  As powerful as the ruling hegemony may be, how can a single “small government” manage to censor an entire “large society” quick enough to prevent connections from being made which could, in the future, lead to future rebellion.  Studies show social media in China has allowed for an “associational revolution” in which formal and informal organizations persist in spite of government action.  From farmers unions to reading circles, the collective is started to emerge.

According to Zhao and economist Karl Polanyi, a market left to its citizens will lead to the end of society if we know it, but in my eyes, society doesn’t merely end when its government does.  It’s just a matter of time until China will once again be in need of a revolution whether it is governmental instated or not.  This change that they have made by “promoting social harmony” will not work if China continues to push information systems away by making what should be censored unclear as described in “China’s Internet Crackdown.”  According to “China’s Black PR,” even non-governmental elites pay billions of dollars to have information released about them censored despite it being illegal.  Black operations such as these would not happen in a country that agrees with their governmental policies.  A country living in fear of what it can and cannot say will either become a state of dissatisfaction or will rise above and fight for a more fair way of life even if it requires violence or disobeying their ruling state.

Questions:

In regards to the “China’s Black PR” article, the author frames the issue of the underground internet industry’s post deletion services as a negative issue.  So why is it that people are so upset when leaks happen people are upset that information was revealed?

Will it always be a polarized, two-sided debate? So I guess the real question is: to be censored or to be informed of all?  Does government do us (or in China’s case, does its government do the citizens of the country) a service by withholding certain information?

Analyze This Class 9

In the 18th century, the rights to freedom of speech were more limited than they are today; however, just as it is today, communication systems help to shape the history of events within every time period.  Newspapers, a common form of news communication in the 21st century followed by televised news, were not allowed in the 18th century when governments lacked democracy and oozed political power.  According to Robert Darnton, “information about the inner workings of the power system was not supposed to circulate under the Old Regime in France.” Politics were “le secret du roi” or the “business of the king,” which was considered a secret between only the king and his advisors.  Because of this limitation and the need for a society to understand their own government’s ideas for rule, communication happened in person through word-of-mouth.  In order to disguise news that governments would find unpleasant, news and gossip was turned into poetry or song.  Today, we enjoy the luxury in the United States to post whatever blurb we may have, whether it is offensive to the state or not, onto our social media sites.  Before news was provided by the government or freedom to write of government affairs was allowed, coffee shop gossip was the daily news.  In a way, the poetry and songs which were repeated by laypeople as long as they could memorize them are much like “re-tweeting” or “liking” a person social media post.  The information is regenerated and spread throughout a society or a group either way.