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Updated: May 9

At the beginning of my first year at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC, my father had used a yellow marker to underline my bus journey planner in case I'd get lost. 'Stay on the route', he said. His instructions were not always followed and I ventured out by myself into the city..unknown, alone and very naïve. Needless to say, I ran into trouble. On 9th and F Street NW a large homeless man asked me for change. As I was reaching into my pocket he grabbed my arm, took my bagged lunch and proceeded to eat my sandwich. There was no-one else around, and I was scared. The grip on my arm was tightening when, out of nowhere, a second, older man appeared. He wore a cast on  his arm which he raised   yelling ' You take your hands off that girl unless  you wanna be answering to me!! It worked - the homeless man, still clutching my sandwich, ran away.



I then received the lecture of my life on the dangers of not using my head, talking to strangers, and wandering unaccompanied on the wrong side of town. My rescuer walked me to the bus stop and waited with me until I was safely aboard. 'I will be waiting everyday outside your school and walk you to the bus until you wise up' he told me as I got on. The name is Elzie James Dowdy but 'You can call me Pops'. This was my introduction to a long time friend from Chicago.His lectures helped me stay safe when I later went to school in Mexico where we continued to correspond in letters. When I took this picture he was 76 years old and it was America’s Bicentennial. He and I thought this would be somehow appropriate. He was a very spiritual,hard working, proud American. I love and miss Pops more then I can say....

 



  • META

Updated: May 9


Mary Diskin Bly was my Great Grandmother that came over on a boat from Ireland. This is her house on 14 Sullivan St. Wilks-Barre Pennsylvania. She is Buried in St. Mary's Cemetary.

I went here last year with my cousins to see our Grandma's house.

Whenever our parents traveled overseas they dropped my sister and I off in Pennsylvania with our grandparents. I was sent to stay with my mother’s parents Frank and Marie Engler in Mill City and my sister stayed with dad’s mother Edith Myers in Tunkhannock. I never tired of the stories about my Grandmother Marie’s mother, Mary Diskin who emigrated from Ireland and settled in Pennsylvania. Mary Diskin Bly marryed a coal miner named Theron Bly in 1895 and they had three children: James, Marie and John. My mother often described my great grandmother Mary as a woman with a will of iron, whose kitchen was often filled with bottles of homemade wine and the very pungent odor of dandelion blossoms fermenting in pots. On Sunday afternoons Mary would serve wine to the accompaniment of her beloved Irish songs and ballads at her house on 14 Sullivan St., Wilkes Barre, PA. My grandmother Marie would admonish her mother as she passed a shot glass full of wine to each of her children. But Mary would exclaim in her thick Irish brogue “ Oh Marie, it’s good for the blood!"

My mother has revisited Ireland many times to connect with her cousins who are scattered all over the country and always encouraged me to do the same. I began making friends in Ireland through a social network and met the singer songwriter Siobhán O’Brien from Limerick which led to an invitation to join her on the road in 2007 as she performed around Ireland.


In 2008 I created a CD booklet with some of my photographs for an album Siobhán O’Brien recorded called ‘Songs I grew up to’ which featured Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains) Brendan Bowyer (Royal Show Band). Siobhán performed one of the songs on the album with the Chieftains as a guest vocalist at Boston Symphony Hall. Paddy Moloney graciously extended the invitation for me to join them and take photographs. When I stepped off the train in downtown Boston there was my childhood friend Donna, who I had recently reconnected with, waiting to take me to the Chieftain’s gig. And by the way, we did make it back for a visit to our old Stone Road.


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