A month of Sundays would, technically, mean a period of 30 to 31 weeks. Used to denote a long period of time or something that will never occur. From times when amusement, commerce and other activities were restricted or banned on the Sabbath, a month of Sundays suggested a long, endlessly dreary period of time.

John Wesley Hardin (1853 to 1895): folk icon

“Born to trouble,” Hardin, the son of a Methodist preacher, was 14 when he killed his first man, claiming it was done in self-defense.

The law finally caught up with him in 1877. At age 23, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison for murder. Harden claimed he had killed 42 men by then; the tally was probably only 27.

During his time in prison, Harden studied law and wrote a highly fictionalized autobiography full of wild exaggerations, and falsehoods.

Out of jail for less than a year, he was killed by John Selman in 1894 in an El Paso saloon.

He is the subject of a Bob Dylan song, “John Wesley Harding,” which brought his name back into conversation. (information from Wikipedia)

 Isadora Duncan (1877 – 1927): trailblazing dancer/teacher

Born in San Francisco, California, she was always a “free spirit.” Her early performances in Chicago and New York met with little success. So, aged 21, she booked passage on a cattle boat (all she could afford), and arrived in Europe. Her, with her brother, Raymond, she studied Greek mythology, seeing ancient rituals of dance, nature and the body as key to her artistic concepts.

Soon, the “scantily clad  . . . [bare foot] woodland nymph,” danced privately in the homes of the rich elites of Europe. In 1902, her public stage performances began to be sold-out successes.

Hers was a life “outside the norms” of society. A feminist, her emphasis on the free-flowing female form was controversial. As she renounced the institution of marriage, her children were considered born “out of wedlock.”

She did, however, marry in 1922. She wed her lover, the Russian poet, Sergey Yesenin, so he could accompany her on an American tour. Unjustly labeled as Bolsheviks (Duncan had been living in Russia), American fear of the “Red Menace,” made her leave, telling reporters, “Good-bye America, I shall never see you again!” She never did.

She experienced losses in her life. In 1913, the car her two children and their nannie were travelling rolled into the Seine River, and all three drowned. Then, her husband, Yesenin, increasingly unstable, turned against her. Estranged from Duncan, he took his own life in 1925.

Even her own death, (Nice, France) was tragic: her long scarf, caught in the wheels and axle of the automobile in which she was travelling, caused her strangulation, at 50.

Duncan’s legacy is profound. She founded schools in which students, “Isadorables,” learned dance integrated with other types of learning. Her emphasis on free form and naturalistic movement and artistic vision makes her “one of the Mothers of Modern Dance.” Her choreographed pieces continue to be performed. (Sources: Britannica and Biography.com )

 

Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1964): photographer/photojournalist; documentary photography

Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, by her late teens, Lange was involved with photography. She and a friend travelled around the world, then, while in her early twenties, opened her own portrait studio in San Francisco. Marrying the painter Maynard Dixon, she travelled with him throughout the Southwest, taking photographs of the Hopi Nation.

During a summer thunderstorm in 1929, Lange had what she felt was her spiritual awakening. She was to chronicle all the people through her photographs, not just the ones who paid her.  When she and her family returned to San Francisco during the Great Depression, she captured the human costs of the economic downturn. These pictures lead to a job with the Farm Security Administration as a documentary photographer.

Her marriage to Dixon, already strained, fell apart during this time. After divorcing in 1935, Lange married economics professor, Paul Taylor, who had earlier recruited her to his project. They continued to collaborate on projects until her death in 1964.

The couple were early to recognize the implications of and to chronicle the massive out-migration to California caused by the “Dust Bowl.” The eco-economic disaster hit the Mid-west during the height of the Depression; famers literally saw their land blow away as a result of drought and damaging agricultural practices. Lange’s photograph, Migrant Mother, became the iconic image of this massive upheaval and dislocation of families.

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She again chronicled dislocation during World War II: the horrendous seizure of property and internment of Japanese-Americans. In the 1950s, as an early environmentalist, she photographed what she called “New California,” depicting the massive pressures and changes brought to bear on the ecosystem.

Despite lingering pain from an illness (1948-1945) she travelled widely, taking pictures of  local people, culture, and conditions as she did. Working for Life  magazine, she published influential photo-essays. She devoted much of her camera lens to woman, especially rural women. Her photographs were included in definite art/photograph installations.

Dying of inoperable esophageal cancer, she began a review of her life’s work for a retrospective exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. Her one-person show was only the sixth photography only installation, and the first dedicated to a woman photographer.

Lange died in October 1965, not long before her MOMA retrospective opened. PBS, American Masters 

(had technical difficulties linking to the video clips; hope you visit the site, and experience Dorothea Lange more fully)

Jay Silverheels (1912 – 1980): first nations actor, teacher, activist

Harold Smith, aka Jay Silverheels was born to the family of a Mohawk chief on the Six Nations of the Grand Reserve, Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada. His athleticism proved useful when he moved into films, first as a stuntman, then as an actor.

After appearing in a movie together, Clayton Moore and Silverheels were then hired to play the roles of the Lone Ranger and his Native friend, Tonto, in the television series, “the Lone Ranger.” (1949 – 1957). He was “perhaps the first legitimate Native American television star.” Red Face 

The Lone Ranger, originally a successful radio show, told the tale of the “masked man” and his faithful friend, Tonto, as they rode through the “lawless” West bringing justice and order to good citizens.

“Silverheels’ character was little more than a cultural stereotype, with Tonto speaking broken English and always subservient to the Lone Ranger. But as the first Native American actor to play a Native American on television, he broke new ground for Native actors, something he would dedicate much time and effort to throughout the rest of his life.” Windspeaker.com

Later, he founded the American Indian Actors Workshop, in Echo Park, California and was a spokesperson for Native American rights. After his death in 1980, his ashes returned to the Reserve to be scattered. Find a Grave

quote: Dorothea Lange

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.

History Bytes

1637 Mystic Massacre: in 1st battle of Pequot War in Connecticut about 500 Pequot Native Americans are killed by Colonial forces

1647 Alse Young becomes the first person executed as a witch in the American colonies, when she is hanged in Hartford, Connecticut

1798 British kill about 500 Irish insurgents at the Battle of Tara

1805 Lewis & Clark first sight the Rocky Mountains

1857 US slave Dred Scott and family freed by owner Henry Taylor Blow, only 3 months after US courts ruled against them in Dred Scott v. Sandford

1896 Last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, crowned

1904 In two days of bitter fighting, the Japanese Army soundly defeats the Russians at Kinchan and captures the forts at Nanshan

1908 At Masjed Soleyman, in southwest Persia, the first major commercial oil strike in the Middle East is made, rights acquired by the United Kingdom

1948 South Africa elects a nationalist government under D. F. Malan with an apartheid policy

Music: Stevie Nicks 1948

Landslide

I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
And the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love ?
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail thought the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older, too

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older, too
Yes, I’m getting older, too

Take my love and take it down
Climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide brought me down

And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well maybe the landslide will bring you down

Songwriter: Stevie Nicks

Crystal

Do you always trust your first initial feeling
Special knowledge holds true, bear believing

I turned around and the water was closing all around like a glove
Like the love that finally found me.
Then I knew in the crystalline knowledge of you
Drove me through the mountains
Through the crystal like and clear water fountain
Drove me like a magnet
To the sea
To the sea

How the faces of love have changed turning the pages
And I have changed, oh, but you, you remain ageless

I turned around and the water was closing all around like a glove
Like the love that finally found me.
Then I knew in the crystalline knowledge of you
Drove me though the mountains
Through the crystal like and clear water fountain
Drove me like a magnet
To the sea
To the sea

images: Murderpedia; PBS; Wikipedia; Isadora Duncan Archives; HuffPost.com; Windspeaker

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