One day during a family vacation we stopped in an antique store
where my husband pointed to a print, hanging on the wall, of a caricature black child playing a banjo, in front of her was
a basket of cotton (see below). The print's was called, "Pastime in Dixie". My first thought, why cotton.
Next, I noticed her torn straw hat, and she seem too young to be playing a banjo. The young girl's face looked worn
for her age. Being a history buff, I wondered who would make such a print and why? After talking about the print with
my husband, and the owners of the antique store (who didn't know the history of the print) my husband purchased the print
After purchasing "Pastime in Dixie", I wanted to explore more antique shops. After visiting a couple
more antique shops in the same town, we did not see anything, so we traveled to another small city close by. That is where
we came across a row of antique shops. One of the first shops we entered, had a Black Americana collectible book by, P. J.
Gibbs, for sale. Not only was my questioned answered, the book became my 'Wish Book'. The same day, I became a Black Americana
collector! Nineteen years later, I am still collecting and I have collected more Black Americana wish books.
my early collecting stages (there are different levels of collecting) I spent a lot of time in antique shops. Then I discovered
Internet antiquing. The Internet became the primary way I added artifacts to my collection. The Internet was convenient, and
gave me opportunities to collect artifacts from around the country and the world. I collect to preserve America’s history
and hopefully open up dialogs America despartely needs, not as an investment.
Until America openly
discusses a complete, honest and factual history, the wounds from slavery, Jim Crow, and other 'unsavory' historical events
will remain full of pus and will not completely heal. Like a wound filled with pus, America's wounds must be properly lanced,
and allow for a truthful flowing dialog. By sharing images of history's good, bad, and ugly, there is a chance of them
assisting in America's healing.
I shared my collection with several high schools, in my area.
Some high schools I traveled to are, Bellermine College Preparatory, Mitty High School, Oakgrove High School, Aragon High
School, Branham High School, Mission High School, and Menlo Atherton High School. I spoke at colleges in my
area, Bethany University, San Jose City College, San Jose State University, and Menlo College. I also spoke at several
organizations some examples are, Mountain View Public Library, County of Santa Clara Juvenile Probation Department, City of
Richmond, Santa Clara County, and Lockheed Martin Corporation. The schools and organizations mentioned each gave me letters
of their appreciation.
Another way, I shared what I collected and learned was by writing. I wrote
articles for the defunct, ‘Black Memorabilia, An African Americana Newsletter’. My column was titled, ‘Did
You Know?". Each article, had a picture(s) of the artifact.
In 2004 a local newspaper wrote
an article about the collection. After the article ran I received correspondence from the paper's readers. Some readers wanted
to donate artifacts to the collection; others asked if I was interested in purchasing Black Americana they had for sale, and
others wanted to give me pieces they own.
I received three gifts that gave me Goosebumps! Two
of the them were paperweights with a Ku Klux Klan member inside fully dressed (in hateful attire) with a schoolhouse,
an American flag, and the words, “KKK; One Country; One School; One Flag. The storeowner told me he never displayed
the paperweights because they made him uncomfortable. I asked his selling price. He said, he was unable to display the Ku
Klux Klan paperweights in his store and he does not want to make money on them. He mailed both paperweights to me. The last
gift was a black doll given to me by a woman named Linda Michels. Linda hand delivered her doll. Later she sent me an
email explaining, who gave her the doll, and why the doll was given to her. Linda's email explained, her mother gave her the
doll, with the hope she would grow up to love all people, regardless of their skin color. The email, went on to say, her mother
told her if she learned to love the black doll as a child, she might learn compassion for others as an adult. It is an honor,
having Linda's childhood doll in my collection.
Reader's from the newspaper sent notes thanking
me for sharing my collection. I received a special thank you note from then, Vice Mayor Patricia Dando. More importantly,
I received requests asking me to bring artifacts and speak about America’s history. I spoke and traveled with my
collection until mid-2000.
Shortly after retiring from Lockheed Martin (as a Computer Technician)
I stopped speaking and displaying my collection at museums, schools and libraries. My knowledge continues to grow along with
my collection. I have only scratched the surface, there is so much more to learn (and I believe discover), although not as
much to collect.
My ultimate goal is to open a museum where I can display my collection. I would
like to open the museum in my home state of Iowa or California, where I currently reside. Opening a museum would give me an
opportunity to display some of the thousands of pieces I collected and share what I have learn from the artifacts When the
museum opens for business, hopefully it will jump start dialogs, America needs to heal.
Owner and Curator of Black Legacy Images