Painting the Memories with Written Word –Linda Knight Seccaspina
None of my generation has probably forgotten the year 1963. I already had suffered a loss on September 27th of that year when my mother Bernice Crittenden Knight died from lymphoma at the age of 34. The months that followed were not happy ones for me, but no one could have prepared us for what was to happen on November 22nd of 1963.
I will always remember the somber words of our principal Mr. Bowen over the intercom that Friday. He announced to the students of Cowansville High School that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, had been assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. I remember we sat there quietly in our classrooms and then went home to our families.
From what should have been a well-remembered incident, it somehow turned into confusion for me today. Every member of every generation recalls a historic event which in some way affected the world and perhaps their lives: taking them back to that day, that hour and where they were. A lot of hope dissolved that day Kennedy was shot in Texas for a lot of us.
Any time I remember the assination of JFK my two good friends John and Judy Manchester come to mind. Had it really happened? John had mentioned that his father had written some sort of book about President Kennedy early on in our friendship. I had no clue who his father was, and frankly, I never asked.
Later on I found out that John’s father was William Manchester who had written “The Death of a President”. The book was published in 1967 by Harper and Row and became one the great American Classics. Seeing that my likes consisted of celebrities, Madonna, and Sweet Valley High in those days I brushed it all off. All I knew was that these two friends that I called “Muse and his Musette” were great people and we could discuss the world of writing and the hamburger chain IN N’ Out Burger like Olympic champions.
John wrote a blog about his father and how his dad spent 95% of his time locked away writing ”The Death of a President”. For 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, he conducted over 1000 interviews to write about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I read the blog three times, rolled my chair back, and began to think about my daily writings.
Even with 6 published books and 6300 blogs– I will never become even close to becoming a great writer like William Manchester– but I do know one thing. I have figured out that I can tell stories with my words just like the folks that sat around the pickle barrel a long time ago. Actually, I am quite content with that. John told me I got right to the point with my writing – that point being to express emotion. He also reminded me I minced no words in nailing those who deserve to be nailed and praising where praise is deserved. But, behind all of those feelings, I always anchor my feelings with love.
John Manchester was a real writer and his words later made a difference to me and everyone else about the life of Kennedy—and that my friends is what it’s all about in the very end. To be able to write well enough to make a difference in someone’s life. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
That long nightmare weekend in High School after Kennedy died etched my brain forever and still gives me chills when I think of it. It wasn’t possible, it couldn’t have happened — but it did. Memories in our lives and of the continuation of printed words continue the remembrances in life. It just keeps yesterday alive. The written word continues to endure.
John’s words to me when we wrote on Open Salon
Lunch with Linda – Love on Haight Street
FEBRUARY 24, 2011 2:07PM
As promised, Mrs. Muse and I shared lunch with Linda Seccaspina at Magnolia Pub on Haight Street. She has already offered her lovely account. Due to my nature, mine is more prosaic. Ah well.
The food was great. The company was better.
I have been privileged from time to time to meet people whose work I admire. They fall into two camps. In the first are artists who are a letdown to meet. Whatever spark in their work has opened my eyes, ears or heart is nowhere in sight once I meet them. They seem cold, closed, uptight. Maybe they are just shy in public. But I wonder if it isn’t something else – that it’s only through their art that they can allow a part of themselves to flower.
In the second camp are artists whose work is a natural extension of their lives. Meeting these people I watch what was just notes, colors or words blossom into a life. It feels good.
Linda falls firmly in the second camp. We recognized her across Haight Street (her hair is very red!) standing in front of the Magnolia Pub. She smiled and we ran across the street and Linda who loves to “rate with hugs” gave us big non-virtual hugs.
Linda gets right to the point with her writing – that point being to express emotion. Not to vent, or to whine, but to make us feel what she clearly feels so strongly – joy, anger, sadness. She minces no words in nailing those who deserve to be nailed and praising where praise is deserved. And she’s funny as hell.
Behind all of those feelings she expresses her anchor feeling. LOVE.
She sat before us and I watched all those words I’d read transform into the person who radiated that love.
We had much in common – two sons, nasty exes followed by the miracle of current keepers. Less than perfect parents. Linda has been dealt a lot of junk from the bottom of the deck, dealt with her share of jokers. But she’s made a fine hand of it.
Linda told us of someone she knows who’s very religious who likes to tell Linda she’s not going to make it to heaven. Linda refers to this artfully as “going to the beach.” As far as I can tell she’s already there, as much as any of us get.
She surprised me with gifts, saying she liked the bottles. I like them too, which is why I post them here: I’m sure they will be even more enjoyable once we uncork them.
I first came to Haight Street the summer of 1970. Mrs. Muse got there earlier, though she can’t remember the year (!) We both had the same experience – of looking on every corner for something that wasn’t there, that had gone, or never been there in the first place.
What were we seeking? Little things. Joy. Peace. Enlightenment. Above all, LOVE.
We finally found it in each other. And we found it yesterday, finally, on Haight Street.
Linda wore a great big heart on her jacket: Not as big as the one inside.