Sunday, January 10, 2010

More Hookah and Thoughts on Personal Geneology

A year and a half ago I participated lightly in this protest against the local neighborhood hookah lounge, here and here. I went to the city of Tempe's city council meeting and listened to a series of people who streamed up to make their case for and against the lounge. In the end, the city council ruled against the Hookah for very technical reasons. The Hookah owner's lawyer who was there representing the owner's interest didn't seem very smart to me, making very unconvincing arguments.

Well, one of the arguments made by the Hookah owner was that if he was forced to leave, what would occupy that location in his place? He suggested something even more undesirable like say a payday loan business. Hmm... Well, after the ruling, I noticed that his business continued to operate, but driving by it the other day, I noticed that not only was his business not there, but in its place was a payday loan business. Unbelievable. It got me thinking if this was an improvement.

What do you think? Would you rather have Hookah in your neighborhood or one more PayDay Loan establishment? What would you rather have your high school age child walking by as they make their way to school (it's literally across the street from Tempe High School).

And really, the entire corner is blighted. The Walgreen's that used to be there moved across the street leaving an abandoned shell. There are a few stored in that mini-strip mall, an underrated Mexican restaurant my wife and I enjoyed a few times, but its really, truly an eye sore.


On other topics, today I started no less than four books. Do you think I'll finish all of them, hah, doubtful. I am still reading two others currently. But two of the books are books written by family ancestors, another was written by my neighbor and still another was a book I received for Christmas.

In one of the books, I learned that my Great Great Grandfather (though my father's mother's line) owned slaves. This is probably something I should have known. Anyway, not too long ago I was reading an essay I wrote for a college English class about heritage. It was written by an African American and it was about her rejection of her past. I made this pretty big statement in the essay disparaging my ancestors for being the slave owners. I was being dramatic thinking really this was untrue. Anyway, today I found out I was completely accurate in that college essay of mine.

By the way, here's the quote in my essay (I got a B+ on the essay by the way, and re-reading now I have to say it was pretty good overall, but it ended really badly and this is the worse part of it - let it be said).

"To me, my history consists mainly of stories about unfamiliar people quite different than me. Further, my culture to me is not unlike the rapists who complete abuses another's life just to satisfy his own selfish desires. Instead of thinking about the injustices my ancestors inflicted upon an entire culture, I desperately attempt to form a life completely devoid of prejudice and hatred. Instaed of remembering how my ancestors succeeded, I can only ponder upon the mistakes they unfortunately made."

This entire quote is almost completely untrue. My family moved to the farthest corner of the universe (Yuma, AZ) when I was five years old, and we barely ventured out of that spot most of my life. I never developed relationships with extended family and never really got to know my ancestor's stories in any way beyond the few anecdotes my dad would tell me about growing up in Phoenix. My history consists of stories about unfamiliar people quite different from me not because of any conscious decision on my part, but because I had no emotional connection with my past. I simply had no way of really getting there from here.

I guess I've tried since to make those connections and I'm trying again.

Anyway, here's the quote about my slave owner ancestors (I apologize in advance for the now offensive language in it - but this is how they talked back then):

"Pa was born and raised on a plantation down in the deep south near Macon, Georgia. This was before the Civil War and they had colored slaves, but were always very kind to them, and from what they said almost made them a part of their family. In fact, when Pa was born his mother had no milk for him to nurse, so he had a colored mammy. It was the custom in those days if the mother didn't have nurse for her baby and there was a colored woman on the plantation who had a baby and she had sufficient milk then she would take the white baby and nurse him and was called his or her mammy. So Pa always said his colored mammy saved his life and he grew to love her very dearly. Even as a child growing up and as a man he always called her his mammy. I have often heard him say, 'If I ever get to Heaven and don't find my colored mammy there I will be very unhappy.'"

Let it be said also, that "Pa" in this story joined the Mormon church from missionaries teaching in the deep south when it was very risk to be doing so. He and his family made a pretty major sacrifice to get to Showlow Arizona. And one of "Pa's" daughters later married a man named Ivan who gave birth to my dad. The author of this book, incidentally, is my Grandmother's sister. I just only recently received this book from very kind lady who goes to my local ward congregation.

1 comment:

H said...

We have a Hookah within walking distance of our house if you're ever in the neighborhood :)