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 (why the picture was
drawned and prints made stayed with me). 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.
During 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.
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