…Poetry in Motion

Double click for a larger version
Double click for a larger version

There was a song from way back in the day sung by Johnny Tillotson (among others) that reached #1 in the UK.  The writers of the song said that it was inspired by a group of young ladies who walked by their place of work every day on their way home from school.  I don’t know about that, but I do remember the song.  Bobby Vee recorded the song here in the States…and that’s the version I’m most familiar with.

I have to say, though, that watching my next-to-youngest grand daughter when she runs is like watching poetry in motion.  She’s only six, but she can certainly run!  I was fortunate enough to watch her run on the beach when she was just four and I fired away with my camera and got some great shots of her.  Her running form, even then, was perfect.  Her arm motion was impeccable as she propelled herself forward.

Today’s picture is even more poetic in my judgment because of the Easter dress she was wearing when she was running around the yard looking for Easter eggs.  See how it flows behind her?  And her hair flying behind her suggests the freedom and joy of the day.  Her left hand looks completely relaxed as if her forward motion is effortless.  In short, she is an image of grace moving…sorta like poetry in motion.

Oh, can you tell?  Her Pop-pop loves her!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1913, thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was found molested and murdered in the basement of the Atlanta, Georgia, pencil factory where she worked. Her murder later led to one of the most disgraceful episodes of bigotry, injustice, and mob violence in American history.

Next to Phagan’s body were two small notes that purported to pin the crime on Newt Lee, the night watchman at the factory. Lee was arrested, but it quickly became evident that the notes were a crude attempt by the barely literate Jim Conley to cover up his own involvement. Conley was the factory’s janitor, a black man, and a well-known drunk.

Conley then decided to shift the blame toward Leo Frank, the Jewish owner of the factory. Despite the absurdity of Conley’s claims, they nevertheless took hold. The case’s prosecutor was Hugh Dorsey, a notorious bigot and friend of Georgia’s populist leader, Tom Watson. Reportedly, Watson told Dorsey, “Hell, we can lynch a n——- anytime in Georgia, but when do we get the chance to hang a Yankee Jew?”

Frank was tried by Judge Leonard Roan, who allowed the blatantly unfair trial to go forward even after he was privately informed by Conley’s attorney that Conley had admitted to Frank’s innocence on more than one occasion. The trial was packed with Watson’s followers and readers of his racist newspaper, Jeffersonian. The jury was terrorized into a conviction despite the complete lack of evidence against Frank.

Georgia governor John Slaton initiated his own investigation and quickly concluded that Frank was completely innocent. Three weeks before his term ended, Slaton commuted Frank’s death sentence in the hope that he would eventually be freed when the publicity died down. However, Watson had other plans: He mobilized his supporters to form the Knights of Mary Phagan. Thousands of Jewish residents in Atlanta were forced to flee the city because police refused to stop the lynch mob.

The Knights of Mary Phagan then made their way to the prison farm where Frank was incarcerated. They handcuffed the warden and the guards and abducted Frank, bringing him to Marietta, Phagan’s hometown. There he was hanged to death from a giant oak tree. Thousands of spectators came to watch and have their picture taken in front of his lifeless body. The police did nothing to stop the spectacle.

Although most of the country was outraged and horrified by the lynching, Watson remained very popular in Georgia. In fact, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1920.

Frank did not receive a posthumous pardon until 1986, on the grounds that his lynching deprived him of his right to appeal his conviction.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The federal form 1040 was introduced in 1913 and was required of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents with a net income of $3,000 or more for the taxable year. It consisted of just three pages.


3 thoughts on “…Poetry in Motion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s