Weiss, Andrew — Ellis Island: Ellis Island:  Those Who Arrived There, Why, and What Was it Like?

Our story this week is about Ellis Island and the people who arrived there when they first came to America. Between 1892 and 1956 about 12 million immigrants came to the United States and entered the country through Ellis Island, in the harbor of New York City. Who were these people? Where were they from?  What was their experience of getting to Ellis Island and what was it like for them once they arrived there?

In this archive edition of Radio Curious, we visit with Andrew Weiss, who I met in 1992 when he was the guide of a tour I took at Ellis Island.  At that time he also was a doctoral student at Columbia University and a teacher at Barnard College in New York City.  When Andrew Weiss and I visited in November of 1992 by phone from his home in New York City we began our conversation with a bit of the history of Ellis Island.

When this program was recorded in November 1992, the guests were not asked for a recommendation of a book.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Mbaabu, Brenda — A Contemporary Woman’s History

The experience of immigrating, at age 13, to America from Nairobi, Kenya, and bringing the traditional roots of her ancestors’ lives from the remote village of the Meru people of northeast Kenya, are the stories told in this edition of Radio Curious by our guest Brenda Mbaabu. She shares her tribal legends, family background, and her experiences in the United States.  A woman in her mid-twenties, now working as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Ukiah, California, Brenda Mbaabu and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious on February 28, 2015.  We began with her description of the Meru, her family and their importance to her.

The books Brenda Mbaabu recommends are “The Bible” and “Little Bee” by Chris Cleve.    

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Massey, Orell — Racism in a Rural California Sheriff’s Department Part One

Our guest on this edition of Radio Curious is Deputy Sheriff Orell Massey—a black man, native of South Carolina and a 20 year veteran of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. He is also a 21 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps where he was assigned to the Embassy detail.  When I asked Sheriff Massey to be a guest on this program and share his experience as a black Deputy Sheriff, he asked:  “Are the people of Mendocino County ready to hear what I have to say?”   

In part one of our conversation, recorded on February 1, 2015, Deputy Orell Massey shares his experiences.  You may decide if you are ready to hear what he has to say.

In part two, Deputy Massey gives his personal response when asked, “what is it like to be the only black Deputy Sheriff ever in the history of Mendocino County?” Later he shares stories about his off duty life, his goals and aspirations.

Click here to listen to part one or on the media player below.

Wilkerson, Isabel — America’s Great Migration: 1915-1970 Part Two

In the years between 1915 and 1970 almost six million black American citizens from the south migrated to northern and western cities seeking freedom and a better life. Our guest is Pulitzer Prize winner, Isabel Wilkerson author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” Her book tells the untold experiences of the African-Americans who fled the south over three generations.

Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,000 people for her book. She is the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and is a recipient of the George Polk Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. Her parents were part of the great migration, journeying from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington D.C.

In part one she discussed what she called the “biggest untold story of the 20th century.”  In part two of our conversation, recorded from her home near Atlanta, Georgia, on September 28, 2012, Isabel Wilkerson describes the inspiration behind her narrative non-fiction story of the six million African-Americans who migrated from the south between 1915 and 1970.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Pereda, Marcos — The New Cuba: Reflections, Stories and Song

Marcos Pereda, a native of Havana, Cuba, and a singer-songwriter who lives in Ukiah, California, is our guest in this edition of Radio Curious. The background music in this weeks program is a song titled “Center” that he wrote and then performed on his guitar in our studios.  Pereda returned from a two month visit in Havana on December 20, 2014; he traveled there to attend his mother’s funeral. 

In our visit, recorded on December 22, 2014, Pereda shares his music and songs, his thoughts and experiences about life in Cuba and in the United States, and his hopes for the new relationship between the the two nations.  We began our conversation when I asked him to tell us about his mother. 

Marcos Pereda’s email is: marcosinsonte@hotmail.com.

The book he recommends is “The Little Prince,” by Antoine St. Exupery.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Levene, Bruce — James Dean in Mendocino

John Steinbeck’s novel, “East of Eden” was published September 1952 and the movie-made soon thereafter-is the subject of this edition of Radio Curious. Our guest is Bruce Levene, author of “James Dean in Mendocino: The Filming of East of Eden.” The Mendocino Film Festival will screen “East of Eden” on Friday, November 21 and Sunday, November 23, 2014.

Soon after “East of Eden” was published, plans began immediately for a motion picture. Warner Brothers bought the rights and director Elia Kazan hired playwright screenwriter, Paul Osborn to write the film script. After several attempts to encompass the sprawling 560-page novel, they decided to use only the last 90 pages—the story of Adam Trask, his sons Aron and Cal, their mother Kate, and the girl Abra.

It’s a story about the search for love, the desperate search for his father’s love, by the son Cal, the fanciful search for his mother’s love by Aron, and the futile quest by Adam for the love of all humanity. John Steinbeck wrote of his book, “The subject is the only one that man has used of his theme. The existence, the balance, the battle and the victory and permanent war between wisdom and ignorance, light and darkness, good and evil.”

By 1954, when Kazan began searching for locale to use for the filming of “East of Eden,” neither Monterey nor Salinas, where the stories took place, looked much like California in 1917. Warner Brothers had made “Johnny Belinda” in Mendocino in 1947, which might have influenced the director.

Or perhaps as one wire service reported:  “Like many other voyagers, he just wandered up the Mendocino Coast and found what he was looking for.”

In late April, preparations for filming began and the fist day of shooting took place on May 27. In that amazingly brief time the Mendocino scenes were completed and by June 3, the Warner Brothers production team was gone, leaving local residents with fond remembrances.

Bruce Levene writes, “I first saw “East of Eden” on the fan tail of a US Navy destroyer in the Caribbean in 1956. I’d read the book but never traveled west of Des Moines. California was unseen, Mendocino was unheard of. I thought “East Eden” had been filmed in Monterey and Salinas, wherever they were.”

“East of Eden” became Levene’s favorite motion picture. Not particularly because of James Dean, although he was certainly unforgettable.

“Whatever the man was in real life, saint or sinner,” Bruce Levene writes, “we will never really know.  It’s undeniable however, that in front of an audience or camera he was remarkable. And that, for an actor, is the best thing that can be said. Dean was just something else.”

For Bruce Levene, it was how he felt about the whole movie—the shoreline, the town, it’s people, the actors: Julie Harris, Joe Van Fleet, Raymond Massey and Burl Ives (Massey and Ives didn’t go to Mendocino), and Leonard Rosenman’s wonderful music. A totality in feeling, rare in motion pictures, was only enhanced to Bruce Levene when he moved to Mendocino in 1969.

When Bruce Levene and I visited from his home in Mendocino, California, on November 11, 2014, I asked him what prompted him to write his book “James Dean in Mendocino.”

The book Bruce Levene recommends is “The Immense Journey” by Loren Eiseley.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Brandt, Roger — The Oregon Caves

The Oregon Caves, located about 70 miles northeast of Crescent City, California in the Oregon Caves National Monument, are a place full of interest, mystery, and history. 

The caves were located in 1874 when Elijah Davidson chased his dog into the caves.

The Oregon Caves are very unique—possibly due to the fact that it is one of the few cave systems located on tectonically active ground, known as a subduction zone.   Their uniqueness may also be due to the fact an old growth Douglas fir forest grows directly above the caves, or the fact that they were created from what used to be a tropical reef that was pushed about 12 miles below the surface of the earth and then brought back up to its current location, and is still rising. I visited the Oregon Caves in 2006 and knew at once it would be a first-time, unique experience.

I spoke with Roger Brandt, the manager of visitor services and education of the Oregon Caves in June, 2006.  We began when I asked him about the Oregon Caves and what they represent.  

The book Roger Brandt recommends is “Golden Days and Pioneer Ways” by Ruth Phefferle.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Owen, Doug & Ted Stout — A Visit to the Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located in southern Idaho in the middle of the Snake River Plane halfway between Yellowstone National Park and Boise, Idaho.  It encompasses about 11,000 sq. miles, an area about the size of the State of Rhode Island.  In this special and unique part of the earth, lava has flowed regularly from 50 mile long deep, open, rift cracks approximately every 2000 years beginning 15,000 years ago.  With the last flow occurring about 2,100 years ago, another eruption is considered by many knowledgeable people to be due.

The area is so much like the surface of the moon that the astronauts who prepared for the second lunar landing in 1970 went to Craters of the Moon to train. 

I visited the Craters of the Moon on September 18 and 19, 2014, meeting first with Ted Stout, Chief of Interpretation and Education and then with Doug Owen, a geologist and National Park Ranger.

When Ted Stout and I met at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve headquarters I asked him to begin with a description of the land within the Preserve.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Hong Fincher, Leta Ph.D. — Gender Inequality in China: Part Two Workplace Disparity

Welcome to part two of our conversations about the erosion of gender equality in China with our guest Leta Hong Fincher, the author of “Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China”. Her book is based in part on her research for the Ph.D. in sociology she received in 2014 from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

In this 2nd conversation we discuss the extent of what if anything is done about domestic violence in China, the difference in the retirement ages for women and men and the requirement that women submit to a gynecological examination before obtaining a civil service job.

When Leta Hong Fincher and I visited by phone on August 9, 2014 we began with a discussion of domestic violence in China.

The book Leta Hong Fincher recommends is “The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory,” by Lydia H. Liu, Rebecca E. Karl and Dorothy Ko.

Click here to listen to part two of the program or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.

Brown, Don — Make Dreams a Reality

Imagine being about 36 years old having completed only the 6th grade, worked for years as a laborer, and one day waking up in a hospital from knee surgery to a dream induced by morphine for your severe pain.   In the unrelentingly dream you to college, Harvard Law School and then walk across the United States from Boston, Massachusetts, to Big Sur, California.

Those sixty-three words summarize the story of Donald L. Brown, now 67 years old who had that dream and lived it.  He’s the author of “The Morphine Dream:  Delusions of Grandeur or Relentless Ambition?  Sometimes it’s Hard to Tell the Difference.” He has 6 other forthcoming books some of which will be published in 2014.

Donald L. Brown visited the studio of Radio Curious on November 9, 2013 to share his story.   We began our visit with his description of this morphine dream an actual event in his life and how he lived it.

The book Donald L. Brown recommends is “The Glass Castle,” by Jeannette Walls.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.