Friday, November 29, 2013

Charis T. Hutchinson

My sister, Charis is named after my father's aunt Charis (pronounced Kare-iss). Great-aunt Charis.

She was born in the last year of the 19th century and died in 1983, spending almost her entire life on Long Island, NY. She attended Smith College but didn't find any men at Yale or Harvard or Brown to marry. She undoubtedly met a few but she remained single, spending her whole life living with her father until he died in 1946. At that point she and her stepmother moved to Port Washington in Nassau County. (Aunt Charis' biological mother died when she was a teenager)

She had two brothers, one of whom was my grandfather. Her other brother, Harold was exposed to poisonous gas during World War I and along with a lifelong smoking habit, died at around age 50. Neither he nor Charis ever had any children. But they all got together at holidays and aunt Charis doted on her niece, nephew and eventually the grand-nieces and grand nephews.

Out of curiosity I once asked my aunt Ruth if there was ever a man in Charis' life and she said she thought she had heard something about some guy once when she was young. I asked if she'd heard it from her father (Charis' brother) and she said, "Oh, no. He never talked about things like that."

Charis worked for the State of New York in Manhattan and commuted by the Long Island Railroad everyday. When he was a young man, my father would visit them and he and aunt Charis had a system whereby each Friday she would walk on the train station platform to the last car where my teenaged father sometimes met and rode with her.

If I had to say something about Charis Tuthill Hutchinson it is that she was an interesting lady, probably due to the fact that she was college educated (a rarity for a woman in 1915-1920) and that the absence of children undoubtedly freed her to pursue a lot of extra-curriculars that most parents are unable to find time for.

The old saying, "The only interesting people are interested people," certainly applied to my great aunt Charis.

Close Captioning's Beginnings

The deaf have benefited greatly from the close captioning of television. I wrote previously about the use of television in a deaf household prior to the 1980s and the limited amount of programming they found worth watching.

For many years the deaf have been able to rent films and although they were American productions and the actors spoke English, they were sub-titled like foreign films so the hearing impaired could enjoy them. Several nonprofit organizations including public libraries rented not only films but projectors and screens for the enjoyment of schools, clubs and deaf individuals.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Animal Eradication and Ecology

We humans have gone to war with certain animals since prehistoric times. Over the millenia, the targets have changed, but for each generation there has been a widespread belief that things would be better if we could wipe out one or another animal species that is bothering us, interfering with our well-being or otherwise preventing us from doing what we please. Simply controlling the population of the bothersome creature was probably a less desirable outcome than complete elimination so as to put the problem to rest. Also changing over time was the type and proximity of the animal we have sought to rid ourselves of.