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Thursday, January 15, 2015

I'm a Blog slacker!

HI!  As you can see, I'm not keeping up with this blog. I hope there is enough for you to read until I get motivated again! I have a couple of things brewing to write about soon. One is about how I overcame mental illness (Bi-Polar Disorder), one about how I lost over a hundred pounds ten years ago and the other is about a very difficult revelation that rocked our family last year. Interested?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wow!  The response to the story about us and our boating venture published in the Bellingham Herald today has been amazing.  Almost 200 people have checked in to this blog today, and must be disappointed to find nothing fresh on here.  My pledge:
I will write about our boat activities more fully in the next couple of days, including the night we tried to sleep on the moored Running Bear when winds gusted up 60 miles an hour!  Check back for the ongoing saga of the HARDING BOAT VENTURES.
Bellingham Herald article:
Judy Harding once tried to impress a date with her boating skills when she was a college student, but wound up capsizing the vessel.
A few years later, she met and married the love of her life, but throughout their 50-year marriage they had spent little time on the water.
Until recently, that is, when Glacier residents Judy and Art Harding bought not one boat, but two. The second vessel, a 36-foot 1965 Grenfell, is the dream boat she envisioned in her youth.
“I had these certain dreams when I was growing up in Bellingham,” says Judy, now 73. “I wanted a swimming pool, a convertible car, a treehouse and a boat.
“I told a friend when I turned 72 that I got three out of four, but my friend said ‘It’s not too late to get a boat.’ My response was, ‘Are you kidding me, at our age?’”
It turned out that Judy, a retired teacher, was only kidding herself. She still dreamed about that boat.
“I just happened to be reading The Bellingham Herald’s classifieds and this ad just jumped out at me,” she says.
That’s how she and Art acquired a 34-foot 1965 wooden Fairliner in July.
Says Judy: “Art told me, ‘A lot of couples take a cruise for their 50th anniversary. I’ll get you a cruiser!’”
Long story short, the boat had a lot of issues, but the Hardings were having so much fun with marine life that they decided to upgrade.
“I spotted the Grenfell on Craigslist from a Canadian seller,” says Judy, who took possession in November, not long before the couple’s 50th anniversary the day after Christmas. “We’re planning to enjoy sailing this year with my sister, Mary Borman Otu, after we return from Phoenix (where they spend winters).”
Even though family life – the Hardings have five children and eight grandchildren – and careers prevented them from boating, Judy never forgot the fun she had growing up in a boating family in Bellingham.
“My dad (John Borman) was a wooden-boat builder in the 1950s and 1960s before fiberglass boats came in,” she says. “He was also a flight instructor, among many other jobs, and was very entrepreneurial. He belonged to the Bellingham Yacht Club.
“I remember how I would sail these 12-foot Penguins on Bellingham Bay when I was a member of the Bellingham Junior Yacht Club,” says Judy, who graduated from Bellingham High School in 1959 and earned a bachelor’s in education in 1963 from what is now Western Washington University. “And dad took our family out on the family’s boat on Lake Whatcom.”
Judy, in fact, was confident enough in her boating skills to embark on the water with a Western student from New York.
“Sam had never been on a boat and I was trying to impress him,” she recalls with a grin. “The two of us went out on this tiny boat. Coming in, I lost control of the boat and the mast caught on the trestle and dumped Sammy and me. I was a very strong swimmer and got help before he froze while clinging to the boat. That was our last date, but I soon got right back in and kept boating in college.”
After a year of teaching in Alaska, Judy met Art, a former Army Air Corps member who is now 87, in San Francisco, where he had begun a career that resulted in many years as Greyhound’s national director of security. Judy spent 25 years teaching elementary school and junior high English. They moved to Phoenix in 1975 when Greyhound transferred its headquarters to Arizona.
They still enjoy Arizona as snowbirds, but now plan to spend as much time in Whatcom County as boating conditions permit.
Judy writes a blog, “Treehouse Reflections,” at judybormanharding.blogspot.com. An enthusiastic hiker, she loves the outdoor life offered in Whatcom County.
Judy vividly recalls climbing Mount Baker in 1962 as a college student. Her sister, Claire Borman, is an equestrian who owns Kelly Park Stables and is the only one of the six children in the family who has stayed in Bellingham throughout her life.
Longtime local doll collectors will remember a business about three decades ago in downtown Bellingham called the Gingerbread Doll House, which sold new and antique dolls. Judy was living in Phoenix but set up the business so her mother, Shirley Borman Robertson, could run it.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham writer.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Touching a Star

The time of the Spring Festival had arrived. I was almost as excited about going to the school at night for the first time and being able to wear my new patent leather shoes as I was about the festival itself.
  It had been a long and difficult winter, our first in the small Wyoming town where my father had accepted a job on a sheep ranch, hoping to escape the noisy crowds of New York City, where he had spent most of his first 30 years. He had found ranch life much less to his liking then he imagined and my mother had spent the winter worrying about scorpions, black widow spiders, rattlesnakes and the wolves that howled in the not-too-distant hills. 
But now the snow had melted, the harsh prairie winds were still and new growth stirred. My mother, her cheeks rouged, donned a skirt with many ruffles and my father walked her down the path towards the school as my brother and I trailed after. 
As we rounded a bend and the school came suddenly into view, I gasped. Japanese lanterns hung everywhere, gently swaying in the prairie breeze. Light shone through the jade and gold tissue paper flowers we had earlier hung in each window. The two room school house, so unlike the three-story brick school I had previously attended in New York City, looked like an enchanted cottage to me and the effect was heightened by the strains of music that wafted through the door.
I felt suddenly shy and overwhelmed by the beauty and strangeness of it all and I hung back as the rest of my family entered the school. An inspiration hit me and I wondered what it would be like to swing in the darkened schoolyard, so I sat on one of the swings and began to pump. There I experienced one of the most precious moments of my childhood,  a blissful coming together of all the senses, as I lost myself in the rocking motion of the swing, the sprightly sounds of music, the scents of the awakening desert and the site of the luminous schoolhouse.
As I swayed in the swing of that school house yard, pointing my toes skyward, I touched a star! I was an eight-year-old child, old enough to know that I wasn’t actually touching a star, but the magic of the evening was such that reason deserted me and I touched that star over and over again, storing, as I did, the conviction that I HAD touched a star, that I COULD touch a star.  Storing, in my mind, the belief that all things are possible.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Interracial Marriage, Part 4
What About the Children?

My parents were not the only ones who disappointed me.  A college friend was visiting a nearby town and when I told her about my daughters, she told me not to bring my children to her home, because the “neighbors might see them and complain.”  When I walked down the streets  of San Francisco, people would stare and whisper, and one time a man spit on me and called me a “Nigger lover.”  
But Art and I thrived as a couple.  We added another daughter to our family, bought a home in Berkley, CA., where we were accepted and loved by our community.   We had marital problems, of course, but none were because of our racial differences.  
 I here interject a little poem I wrote, that many can probably relate to: Notice our differences had nothing to do with our race!

He likes inside; I like out,
He speaks in whispers,
I tend to shout.
I write poetry; he writes prose,
I’m full of joy, he’s full of woes.
I am messy; he is neat;
I like cool; he likes heat.
I’m hopeful; he’s pessimistic;
I’m full of fancy; he’s realistic.
I am restless; he is still.
He likes low-key; I like thrill.
He likes plain; I like pretty;
I love the country; he loves the city…

Opposite, they say, attract…
 I can testify to that fact!

So here we were, with a lovely home in a fabulous neighborhood, Art now becoming a rising star in the corporate world and me privileged to be able to stay home and care for our three talented, beautiful, intelligent daughters!  
Then a seeming disaster struck…  Art’s company offices announced they were moving to Phoenix, AZ. and Art was offered an excellent position, which he felt he could not turn down.
I was pretty ignorant about Arizona, but I knew it was hot and conservative, full of cowboys and tumbleweed in my imagination.  The only consolation was that the house Art found for us was “by a mountain” ( turned out to be a massive ROCK, in my opinion) and it had a swimming pool.  I was reluctant to leave our cosmopolitan neighborhood in California but that is what we did, moving into our new home in 1975.  We were quite the curiosity those first few days, as each and every neighbor came by to greet us, bearing home baked goodies, citrus fruit and coupons from the local newspaper.  Later, our closest neighbor confessed how upset he had been when we first moved in, how Art had won him over and single handedly changed his mind about “Negroes.”  He came to admire Art so much, when he died, his family asked Art to be one of the pallbearers.
We were always aware of the undercurrents of racism, of course, but times had changed and overt racism was verboten in most social circles, though it still reared its ugly head now and then, and especially in Arizona politics.  One of the most memorable racial incidences, if fact, came from the then governor’s grandson, who was on the school bus the day our daughters boarded it for the first time. He yelled “What are you Niggers doing on this bus?”  Hearing this story as they returned from school that first day, my heart sank, but the girls said the others had shouted this boy down and stood up for them.. anti bullying at its best! 
I wish I could thank the children on that bus that day, who defended my daughters and set the tone for what was to come.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Interracial Marriage, part 3

June 19, 2014. 

        The last two days I have been writing about my interracial marriage. Yesterday, recalling the early days, when I was estranged from my family, pain pounced upon my heart with such ferocity that I had to stop writing. 
Although my parents had warned me about dating “colored boys,” I had convinced myself that they would get over their objections, accept my husband-to-be and would be excited about the birth of their first grandchild.   It took four years for that to happen, and in the meantime,  the estrangement that ensued left a wake of pain and feelings of abandonment.
The abortive effort to connect with my parents and the way my siblings had to be snuck out of the house to see me, as though I were a criminal, left scars that took years to heal.  My mother, I found out later, had tried to dissuade my father from his harsh viewpoint. Although she too was deeply disturbed about my relationship with a ‘colored’ man, she would have preferred keeping the lines of communication open. As she explained later, after my parents’ marriage ended in divorce (after a quarter of a century), she felt she needed to “obey” her husband. 
When, out of the blue, I got THE CALL… a call from my father, apologizing, and asking for forgiveness,  I cried with joy.  Art, at first, could not understand why I forgave my father so readily, but eventually he and my Dad developed a comfortable relationship, based on mutual respect and a shared history as World War Two vets.  
My mother’s first act, after the divorce, was to come to visit us in San Francisco.  When Art came home from work that day, knowing she was there, he brought her a single rose and presented it to her, saying “Welcome, Mom.”  He never harbored any anger towards her and they had a loving relationship until my mom passed in 2001.  

The truly remarkable thing about this story is this:  While serving in the Peace Corp, my father met and married a Fijian woman, who was darker and more nappy haired than my husband!

Here is the obit of a man who overcame the prejudices of his generation in most unexpected ways: 

John Bernard Borman, 88, passed away December 1, 2010, in Suva,

Fiji, where he lived for the past 30 years. He was born Feb. 14, 1922, in Brooklyn, NY. He was a Bellingham resident for many years, first serving there in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He participated in the Invasion of Normandy in WWII, receiving a Purple Heart for being wounded in battle. He had many interesting occupations: soldier, sheep herder, lumber jack, boat builder, carpenter, Peace Corp volunteer (two stints), Save the Children Foundation, and Consultant to the United Nations. He learned to fly his own airplane, became a flight instructor, and once flew from Washington State to NY to attend his mother's 75th birthday party. In his last years, he created many beautiful wood carvings. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Interracial Marriage, part 2

                                                             Painting by our son, Art Harding, Jr.

I quickly fell for Art. 
He was gentle, kind, intelligent and well groomed. Not to mention that he drove a brand new  Mercedes Benz 190SL convertible! 
 As the winds of social change whirled around us, clamoring for civil rights, women's rights and sexual liberation, I was caught in the storm, enjoying all the liberties of life in San Francisco in the sixties.  I had emphatically put my Christian faith behind me and loved my hedonistic life style… that is until I once more found myself pregnant and unmarried.  This time I was in love (quite madly) with Art, the father and, although we didn’t marry right way, we began to live together as a couple and welcomed our first daughter into our lives.  With great trepidation, I wrote my parents about the situation, and that is when I heard the dreaded words:  “You are no longer part of this family.”
The ultimate rejection!  During the next couple of years, as we built our little family, adding a second daughter in 1966, it killed my heart to know that my parents refused to be grandparents.  I journeyed to my hometown at one point, thinking surely that would want to see their beautiful little granddaughters, if we were so near, but still they refused contact.  My brother managed to spirit my much younger  siblings away from home on a pretense of some sort, and they got to meet their little nieces. I had always been very close to my brother and sisters and loved them very much. My heart was breaking over the situation; I was forbidden even to write to them.
I have to stop now for today.  Tears are unleashed in torrents.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Interracial Marriage, part 1

                    INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE, part 1

“You are no long part of this family.”
The words my father spoke to me in 1964 when I married my husband, an African American, were the most searing I had ever heard.  To be disowned from one’s family, in this case mother, father and five younger siblings, is one of the most painful things imaginable.

I grew up in a town where I never met any Blacks, Asians or Jews. Though we children picked berries alongside Hispanic migrant workers in the summers, they left the area before school started. I remember being attracted to the few Lummi Indian students who were my classmates in high school; they seemed exotic and mysterious to me.  I wondered why they always sat together in the cafeteria and never mingled with us “white” students.  One day I invited one of the Lummi girls who was in my English class to join me during lunch, but she rebuffed me.  Perhaps she was shy or felt loyal to her group, but at the time I was hurt and surprised, especially since her demeanor towards me seemed even more aloof after my overture.
During my college years, I don’t recall meeting anyone of a different race, though there were many who did not share my socio economic status or religious beliefs.  When I went on trips to Seattle, and Vancouver, BC, I was amazed and fascinated by the  people of various languages, races and cultures.  
Because the subject of race had never come up in my home, I had no prejudices and assumed my family also had none.  I was soon to find out how mistaken I was! 
The first black person I met was Joe King, the PE teacher in Wrangell, Alaska, where I had gone to accept my first teaching position in 1963.  I did not realize till later what a huge scandal I had caused by dating Joe, who was the only black person in the town.
I was abysmally innocent regarding race relations; the subject had never come up in my protected environment and  this was just before the civil rights era exploded.  I was blithely writing letters home about this great guy I had met and all was good until I sent a picture of the two of us... then all hell exploded!  My parents communicated loudly and clearly that I was NOT to date a black man.   I was shocked at my parents' intolerance and balked at their attempt to control me.    
I now realize the irony of my thoughts at the time:  “I am free, WHITE and twenty one and I’ll do as I darn well please!”
My interim teaching assignment ended soon after this; my relationship with Joe also ended and no more was said about the matter.  But I was now fascinated by the whole black-white question and began to read about race relations and longed to expand my social horizons to include friends of different races.  I applied for the Peace Corps and was assigned to teach high school English in Afghanistan. Since my assignment would not begin for several months, I went with a friend to San Francisco, intending to work until I would be going to Vermont to the training school.
I looked through the classified ads in the Chronicle and saw an ad for a reporter for a weekly newspaper, The Sun Reporter. I made an appointment for an interview and when I arrived, I was surprised to find that the newspaper was a Black newspaper; imagine that, a whole newspaper devoted to covering the black community!  With my provincial upbringing, I had never imagined such a thing existed and was thrilled to land the job.  
Oh what exciting times followed! I loved interviewing local Community leaders, covering jazz concerts, mingling with black folks.  I loved getting to know the colorful cast of characters who worked at the newspaper, which had a well-integrated staff. I met the first black woman I have ever known there, Katherine Coleman, who became a lifelong friend.
 In addition to writing and editing, I helped out in the advertising department, with layout, design and circulation. During my first couple of weeks I was designated to be the person who would pick up the advertising copy for a supermarket chain that was delivered weekly to the Greyhound depot. Little did I know that the lovely gentleman who waited on me behind the package express counter each Wednesday would soon become my husband!