Abraham Lincoln & James Getty – The 16th President

In 1995, James A. Getty, who appears in public as Abraham Lincoln, visited Ukiah, California and joined us in the studios of Radio Curious. In talking with President Lincoln about his life, the events of his time and about his presidency, the conversation focused upon the economics of the mid-19th century. I asked Mr. Lincoln to give us his opinion about the effect that Eli Whitney’s cotton gin had on the spread of slavery.

Abraham Lincoln and James Getty recommend “Malice Toward None,” by Steven Oats.

Originally Broadcast: March 7, 1996

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Mello, Mark — Reflections on The Underground Railroad—What now? 

Imagine growing up in a tightly bound community of no more than 60 people who worked from dawn to dusk and who were subjected to unimaginable indignities and torture.   Why? Because they were African Americans born into slavery in the United States prior in the first half of the 19th century.  They hoped and dreamed of freedom, freedom to an unknown place; that freedom served as a guide for those who risked their lives to flee the bondage.

Freedom for some was found in the seaport town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where escaped former slaves were welcome.  New Bedford was the richest city in the world in the 1850s, a city run by Quakers and other abolitionists, who created a safe haven for black people from the south.  The 1,000 plus men and women who found refuge in New Bedford were more than enough to hide the newcomers as they arrived.  Often the men found work on the whaling ships that ventured forth around the world from the New Bedford harbor, which is the topic of a two-part Radio Curious program.

In this series about New Bedford as a safe haven on the Underground Railroad, we explore the lives of freedom seeking ex-slaves who safely made the journey to the south east corner of Massachusetts. In part one, we discuss how Quakers made the town an abolitionist safe haven.  In this, the second of a two part program, we continue our visit with National Park Ranger Mark Mello.  Part of Ranger Mello’s work is that of a tour guide interpreting the history and stories of pre-civil war New Bedford.  His interpretations focus on the bravery and dedication of New Bedford residents at that time.

I joined Mark Mello’s walking tour about the Underground Railroad’s connection to New Bedford in the Old Town Section on September 2, 2016.   This edition of Radio Curious begins with Ranger Mello’s story of Nathan and Polly Johnson, a free black couple who lived and worked there–he as a pharmacist and she a confectionary. 

The books Mark Mello recommends are “Fugitive’s Gibraltar: Escaping Slaves and Abolitionism in New Bedford, Massachusetts,” by Kathryn Grover;  “Whale Hunt,” by Nelson Cole Haley; and “Leviathan,” by Philip Hoare.

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Mello, Mark — The Underground Railroad in New Bedford, Massachusetts

New Bedford, Massachusetts, a sea port located in the southeast corner of Massachusetts, at the base of Cape Cod, is the locale of our program.  Early in New Bedford’s history a group of Quakers from Boston moved there and the town became a safe haven for formerly enslaved African-Americans, who escaped bondage. 

The stories of those who safely arrived in New Bedford on the Underground Railroad are presented at the 34 acre New Bedford National Historical Park in the Old Town section of New Bedford. 

This two part series on the New Bedford Underground Railroad with National Park Ranger Mark Mello was recorded on September 2, 2016, with the sound of wind and street traffic in the background.  Part one begins with a historical perspective of the Underground Railroad and the way in which New Bedford, Massachusetts was a safe haven for former slaves.  

The books Mark Mello recommends are “Fugitive’s Gibraltar: Escaping Slaves and Abolitionism in New Bedford, Massachusetts,” by Kathryn Grover;  ”Whale Hunt,” by Nelson Cole Haley; and “Leviathan,” by Philip Hoare. 

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Dyer, Michael — The Life of Whalers in the 19th Century

Whaling in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the home of Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick,” is our topic today.  Our guest is Michael Dyer, the senior historian at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  The Whaling Museum reveals the lives of the largest mammals on earth.  The museum’s social history collection shares the monumental stories of those who spent their human lives whaling at sea between the New England coast and half way around the world, as well as their families who yearned for their return.  It explains how the seamen lived at sea, who they were, as well as the captains and owners of the sailing vessels and all those in between. It also explains the economics of the whale oil that lit and lubricated the industrial revolution.

In part one of our series on whaling I met with Mike Dyer at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on September 2, 2016.  To put matters it into perspective, we began with I asked him to describe the sperm whale.

In this program, part two of our visit with Mike Dyer, we began when he described the lives of the men who went to sea to hunt the whales.

The book Mike Dyer recommends is “Marine Mammals of the Northwestern Coast of North America,” by Charles Melville Scammon.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Dyer, Michael — The New England Whale Hunt  

Whaling in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the home of Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick,” is our topic today.  Our guest is Michael Dyer, the senior historian at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  The Whaling Museum reveals the lives of the largest mammals on earth.  The museum’s social history collection shares the monumental stories of those who spent their human lives whaling at sea between the New England coast and half way around the world, as well as their families who yearned for their return.  It explains how the seamen lived at sea, who they were, as well as the captains and owners of the sailing vessels and all those in between. It also explains the economics of the whale oil that lit and lubricated the industrial revolution.

In part one of our series on whaling I met with Mike Dyer at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on September 2, 2016.  To put matters it into perspective, we began with I asked him to describe the sperm whale.

In part two of our visit with Mike Dyer, he discusses the lives of the men who went to sea to hunt the whales.

The book Mike Dyer recommends is “Marine Mammals of the Northwestern Coast of North America,” by Charles Melville Scammon.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Dickinson, Emily & Norris, Wendy — Emily Dickinson: Hiding in Her Own House

History remembers poets of past eras as windows into the civilization of their time.  A poet’s words reveal life and feelings we would otherwise never know.  New England, in the mid-19century, was the center of a renaissance of American poetry.  Emily Dickinson, better known now than she was then, was known for her phrases which sang out in a multitude of forms, meters and styles.  Her words presented her innermost feelings and thoughts.  A passionate and witty woman, she made a craft and an art of her words and her life.

I met with Emily Dickinson in the person of actress Wendy Norris, in the parlor of the Dickinson family home, magically carried from Amherst, Massachusetts, to the stage of the Willits Community Theater, in Willits, California, where the belle of Amherst told her story.  We began our conversation when I asked Emily Dickinson why she chose not to receive visitors in her home for so many years.

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Farr, Sam — Special Edition: Sit-In at the House of Representatives


Welcome to this special edition of Radio Curious with Congressman Sam Farr.   We spoke with Congressman Farr while he and approximately 150 other Democratic members of Congress were participating in an unprecedented sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives.  The issue is gun control.  These members of Congress are demanding that the Republican leadership of the House allow the a vote on gun control.

Our visited by phone with Congressman Farr occurred at midnight on June 23, 2016, while he participated in the Sit-In on the floor of the House of Representatives.  The Republican leadership of the House had turned off all the microphones as well as the live television feed from C-Span.  The background noise you hear is from the activity and speeches going on while we visited.  I asked Congressman Farr to describe the scene, the issue and what may occur as a result of this novel political action.

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Stiefel, Frank — “Ingelore” Speaking Without Hearing

What would it be like for you if you were deaf? If you could not speak your first word until you were six? If you had three years of education, your first language was German, and you later emigrated to another country where they speak English?  Ingelore is the first name of a woman who was born in Germany in 1924, and came to America in 1940 at the beginning of the Third Reich, right after Kristallnacht. The film “Ingelore” was made by Inglelore’s son Frank Stiefel, and it tells his mother’s story.

In this edition of Radio Curious, we begin with Ingelore in her own words from the documentary “Ingelore.” As you hear her ability to articulate words in English it’s important to remember she cannot hear.

This interview was recorded on May 29th, 2010 with Frank Stiefel from his home in Santa Monica, California.

The books that Frank Stiefel recommends are “Hand Of My Father,” by Myron Uhlberg, and “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy.

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Feeney, Mark — Nixon at the Movies

Richard Nixon and the movies he watched while he was president is the topic of this archived edition of Radio Curious. On his third night in office, January 22, 1969 Nixon saw “The Shoes of the Fisherman” in the White House movie theater. From then until August 1973, when he resigned the presidency, Nixon watched over 500 movies in the White House, at Camp David, and other places he frequented. This is an average of 2½ movies per week during his presidency.

The book, “Nixon at the Movies: A Book About Belief,” by Boston Globe journalist Mark Feeney, examines the role movies played in forming Nixon’s character and career, and the role Nixon played in the development of American film. Ronald Reagan may have been the first movie star president, but Feeney argues that Nixon was the first true cinematic president. In this program, recorded in January 2005, Mark Feeney begins by commenting on the effect the 500 plus movies that Nixon watched had on him and his presidency.

The book Mark Feeney recommends is, “The Whole Equation,” by David Thompson.
This interview was originally broadcast on February 22, 2005.

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Dr. Alondra Nelson – Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome

 

Who we are and where we come from is a crucial question that now we are more able to answer than ever before. The examination and analysis of our individual DNA, in addition to answering a myriad of medical and forensic secrets also reveals the mix of our individual ancestors and the paths they took. This analysis provides significant and untold information about who we are, from where we came and how we may connect with our relatives.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, the Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology and gender studies at Columbia University, in New York City, is our guest in this edition of Radio Curious.

Professor Nelson is the author of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome. She s also the author of Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination, which she and I have previously discussed on Radio Curious.

To discuss The Social Life of DNA, Professor Nelson and I visited by phone from her office n New York City, on February 19, 2016. We began by noting that although all human beings are members of the human race, people are grouped by skin color and/or facial features and characterized as being of a different race.

The book she recommends is “Come Out Swinging,” by Lucia Trimbur.

This program was recorded on February 19, 2016.

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