The Front Door
What did it mean to be considered middle class in the 1950’s?
My father owned a shipyard in Larose, Louisiana. He built wooden boats used by oystermen and shrimpers tailored to their specific needs and steel-hulled boats to carry supplies and crews to offshore drilling wells. He built the house we lived in for 10 years a short distance from the shipyard on Ledet Lane in 1956. It had a formal living room decorated in fine wood paneling, a dark green, plush sofa, rough wood ceiling tiles painted a deep burgundy, and a large mahogany coffee table. It was kept in perfect order at all times. Every home I visited in that time seemed to have one of these unused rooms, some even had the furniture covered in plastic, presumably to keep its pristine condition. I imagine my father showing his blueprints to potential customers and signing contracts there. Our front door led into this room through a small foyer with a coat closet at the far end. The doorbell, when rung, was a chime that was so unfamiliar a sound that when it rang we all knew a stranger was at the door. My mother would take a moment to preen and ask us to be good. My brother and I waited behind the interior door listening with excitement and anticipation.
It was at this door that my mother greeted a World Book Encyclopedia salesman who sat with her in that special room and at the end of that week a whole new world would open up to all of us. Mom also agreed to buy (and I think this was the deal clincher for the salesman) a set of Children’s Bible Stories. My parents’ first language was French. My brother and I taught Mom the pronunciation of many English words while she read to us from the Bible stories she was so familiar with. Even at the end of their lives, Mom and dad would not have been considered educated or fluent in English.
Later on, Dad bought a Chrysler New Yorker, that he called a New York Chrysler but soon traded it for a Chevrolet Impala because he could not get used to the push button technology of the Chrysler. We all had plenty of clothes and food and good healthcare and primary education. We went to church on Sunday, (well, all but Dad) not to the Catholic Church in our town but to the First United Methodist Church of Golden Meadow.
My parents were considered wealthy by the abject poor and blue collar by the wealthy. I suppose that made us middle class. I wonder though, if today a family’s description contained everything we had then, would they be considered part of the middle class?
“When does it end?” he said. In all of recorded history there has never been a time when the whole of humanity has been at peace. The seven deadly sins in Dante’s “Inferno,” may very well be at the root of all destructive acts, but long before he wrote his first word the ancients suggested remedies for those sins in their storytelling. The laws of duality and polarity are at play and have been from the beginning. I am not fatalistic in this understanding but rather, realistic. I believe that all the heroic acts of tolerance and compassion are the counterbalance for mankind’s cruelty, just as day follows the night. Is it possible that the only way our stubborn species can evolve is to witness horrors that awaken our hearts to compassion? “When does it end?” —never is the answer.
“ There will be poor always, pathetically struggling. Look at the good things you have.” Jesus in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Adapted from Matthew 26:11
© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette
“Just say, “No!” Adam” Photo collage by Bessie Senette
Photo by Bessie Senette
What if we could see the future before it happens? Would we run from it, try to change it, or prepare ourselves for what’s coming?
“Seeing is believing,” they say, but there is more beyond the veil than our limited vision can ever bring into focus. Imagine if we could see it all!
The canopy between heaven and earth
Splits atoms until it disappears
Beyond the veil is unknowable
Learn to love the mystery
Confusion is not your enemy
Challenging the fog will only increase its density
Instead, empower wonderment
Observe what you can
Learn what matters — if only to you
Leave the rest to God
© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette
The Ultimate Oxymoron
Is there really such a thing as completion? ” Cutting the Clouds, A Bayou Mystic’s Poems, Musings, and Imaginings,” is finally ready to publish after more than 9 years of effort. This project has had its share of starts and stops and many synchronistic movements that led me through door openings of miraculous possibility. But is it finished? Of course not! Now the marketing begins. Those of you who have followed my journey with this book know that it has been a labor of love and I thank you all for your encouragement. Now (as I am found of repeating) it takes a village to raise a Bessie, so I still need you all to help this healing book thrive. Soon I will be offering opportunities to host readings, workshops and retreats. Check out the Engage Me Page and I will keep you posted on available dates.
This face doesn’t disguise easily,
My thoughts, my feelings,
Who could guess that I feel shy sometimes?
Showing confidence could be play-acting
Have I loved enough?
Sometimes I mistake confidence for arrogance,
Or is it the other way around?
I’m not sure I know myself well enough yet to discern which is which.
Yet, when I speak to gatherings
From center stage
No longer doubtful,
Absent childish wounding,
I am whole again.
It’s how God made me.
It’s why I’m here.
So engage me and watch me shine.
© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette