08 December, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Loving Prejudice by Linda Lee Schell

*** Special Feature December 2014 ***


            If a country wants its children to hold a particular world view, it “gets” their children while they’re young.  The Middle East has maintained thirteen centuries of conflict by passing on hate from one generation to the next. Try drumming commonsense into an adult who has held a twisted belief since age four.  The belief may as well be lodged in cement. I should know.  At age four I was indoctrinated.

            Appendicitis mandated that I enter a city hospital in l951. I had never been away from our family farm or my parents and grandparents who lived with us. To the chagrin of my three boy roommates, I was a whining, insignificant baby girl. They continued to belittle me, and I continued to cry.  At night a nurse found me crawling out of my crib. I told her I was thirsty.  She gave me a drink of warm milk and refused to fetch me cold water.

            After my operation I continued to cry for attention. A nurse stopped by my bed to find out why I was crying.  I poured my heart out to the kind woman.  It wasn’t long before I asked her about the color of her skin, and would she let me touch her strange hair.  I wish I could remember how she answered my questions. I do remember wrapping my arms around her saying, “Black lady, I love you.”

            When my mother came to fetch me, I told my mother the black lady was the only person in the whole hospital who was nice to me.  My mother flinched when I used the word, “black.”
            “She’s from the farm; she doesn’t know,” my mother told the nurse. 

            The kind woman smiled, saying she understood.  When my mother lifted me from the nurse’s arms, I protested.  I wanted to stay with the black lady.  My mother hurriedly removed me from the recuperating area.  By the time my mother was part way down the hall she was running because I was screaming, “Black lady, I love you.  I want to be with you.” The lady shook her head from side to side.  I wonder if I left her smiling or sad.

            From that day forward I was prejudiced to the point of absurdity. For years I viewed all black people as wonderful.  I naively believed if people were nice to them, they could be counted on to be nice back.  My isolation on the farm kept my thinking in tact.  It wasn’t until I went away to school that I finally realized a universal truth: people are people.

            Looking back on that time in Youngstown’s North Side hospital I often wonder when I see small children learning from their parents’ hateful views and actions what a different world it would be if we “got” our children early, and indoctrinated them with the prejudice of tolerance and respect through our example.

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Meet Gracie, a ditzy dwarf kangaroo from the Thirty-sixth Universe--a creature who lives in a perfect realm. Because she is bored, Gracie longs for an adventure to St. Petersburg, Russia, a place she imagines is filled with beauty and enchantment. Much to the tiny ‘roo’s surprise, her ability to transport herself to the land of the czars has failed. She ends up at a dairy farm in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, where she saves the life of Gibson, an abandoned Maine coon cat. 
The unlikely pair become fast friends. While Gracie tries to find her way back home, Gibson carves a life for himself on a farm with his newly adopted mistress, the farmer’s young daughter. There’s one hitch: The overworked farmer demands that Gibson earn his keep. Gibson’s task is thwarted somewhat when he experiences strange visions. But are these visions the result of a thrashing he received from the farmer’s two dogs? Or, maybe Gibson sees parallel universes? 
As outsiders the little kangaroo and the cat from the city negotiate the perils of farm life. They meet two malicious rats who hate anyone who is happy. The two devoted friends must contend with stampeding cows and a barnyard of critters that have little use for newcomers. 

Will Gibson keep his sanity and become the little girl’s pet? Will Gracie ever see the splendor of the Russian Versailles? Will the farmer survive the evil machinations of the rats, Bratwold and Eastman? Drift back to the days of Barbie dolls, hula hoops, and Sputnik to find out. 

Here she goes again! Gracie, a dwarf kangaroo from the thirty-sixth universe, is skipping across the cosmos to her dream destination: St. Petersburg, Russia. She's traveling with Gibson, a Maine coon cat whose life she saved when he was unceremoniously dumped in front of a Pennsylvania corn field. Expectations and reality quickly collide. What she expected to find was a city of wintery white nights, a city dotted with a hundred islands linked by dozens of imposing bridges, all book-ended by majestic sculptures cast in bronze. She expected to feast her eyes on historic buildings splashed with pink, yellow and blue pastels. Instead, she finds herself back in the 18th century, in Russia's Imperial Golden Age. This is not the city I expected, she laments as she stands bewildered near the entrance to the city's center of activity, the perpetually busy post office. Then, when Empress Catherine arrives in her royal carriage and points a bejeweled finger at the ever-so-handsome Gibson, and declares: I want that cat...the fun begins.

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2 sets of the Gracie Series through Amazon’s Kindle (Come Along With Me &The Palace Buzz equals one set)

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