Monday, 18 May 2020

Your Atticus Finch Moment ?



We would all like to to think that we grew up in a Town called
Maycomb Alabama

Obviously the backdrop of the Great Depression and of racism are not subjects to be trivialised
Here , but the thought of growing up with a parent with the stature of Atticus Finch is perhaps every child's ( and indeed Adult's dream) when they survey their childhood with rose tinted or tired eyes

My parents were too wrapped up in their own issues to really be bothered with the moral dilemmas in side their kids' heads.
Having said this I do remember one Atticus moment amid a brown 1970s childhood.
I had gone to bed , but had got up to listen to a family discussion from the safety of the top of the stairs. The discussion was centred around someone known to the family who had been caught in a gay clinch so to speak and it is important to remember here that in the 1970s, this sort of thing was deemed rather shocking to say the least.
Amid the head shaking and the " shame" comments one voice proved to be the voice of reason and balance and that was the voice of my mother.
Like Henry Fonda's juror number 8, in Twelve Angry Men , she calmly stuck up for the person involved, patiently giving a human face to the whole situation and pouring oil on a very stormy sea.

Even at twelve , I remember being rather proud of her individual stand against a tide of small mindedness...and even at twelve I knew that she was right and they were wrong.

What was your Atticus Finch moment?

I'd be interested to Know!

93 comments:

  1. I don't know if I could call it an Atticus Finch moment, but it set me on my life's course, and eventually into a National Park Service uniform. I had an uncle I absolutely adored. He was a dairy farmer, and I would follow him all over the farm. He was a very quiet man, we'd spend half the day and he'd not say 10 words but that was fine by me. One spring evening we were riding around. He'd stop by a field, pick up the soil, hold it, squeeze it, then move on. I asked him what he was doing. He said "Checking the soil moisture. See if it's ready for planting." We drove on a bit. Then next field, he checked the soil again, held it, then looked straight at me and said "Take care of the land, it will take care of you." I was about 10, but I felt like I had been hit by lightening. And that's been one of the most important things to me ever since. Take care of the land, it will take care of you.

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    1. This is why I like pushing the blog subject back on the readers
      Lovely remembered piece

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    2. Advanced thinking at the time.

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    3. Wonderful, Amanda, thanx

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    4. Nearly 40 years ago I was reading a book by the wonderful Jaqcues Cousteau,they were approaching a huge iceberg in tropical waters, which was found to be toilet paper collected and matted by ocean currents ...he was astounded and started global pollution warnings
      That was a wakeup for personal consumption and pollution for me.

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  2. Well yours is quite interesting but, I don't know what mine could be, honestly. đŸ€·‍♂️

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    1. I'm sure there is something even if nothing happened

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  3. [Not quite like Atticus Finch as the key line came from myself].
    Also going back to the 1970s when discrimination [for any reason] was still the 'norm' and non-discrimination was considered 'controversial', my mother one day told me that there had been talk about a C of E Church near where we'd lived before being converted into a mosque, saying it in such shocked tones as though she was expecting me to share the 'horror' of it. I said rather pertly "Well, if there's demand for it, why not?" This retort silenced here - and equally surprised me too, though I felt a touch of pride in having said so when, by then I'd not only stopped being a practicing Catholic but was becoming more vocally anti-all-religion.

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    1. Aw shucks! - but I do detect a certain element of tongue-in-cheekness ;-)

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  4. lazy writer8:52 am

    I idolised my parents growing up and married, very young, a man in the same mould. It wasn't until my thirties that I realised how absolutely un- Atticus they all were. I had grown up and they hadn't. The consequences were very difficult and very sad but I am happy now. They are still moaning about foreigners and scroungers and living angry, miserable lives.

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  5. How many of us have had this experience

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  6. I have no idea who Atticus Finch was - probably too old to remember the film or something - but one incident in my childhood does stand out - and I often think of it - of the strengthof my parent's marriage and my father's view of it all. I went to local dances when I was 17 as we all did and I met a chap in his late twenties and we went to the pictures a couple of times ('courting' in those days). He worked somewhere in the samw firm as my father and a couple of weeks later, when I was in the front room playing the piano my father crept in while my mother was washing up the tea things and told me he had checked on him and found out he was married. 'Don't tell your Mother - best to keep it between ourselves' were his words. My Dad had obviously had a word in the chap's ear and I never
    saw him again and my Mum was none the wiser. They had sixty very happy years together.

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    1. Lies or omissions are not always bad.

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    2. Weave , this may help xxx

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atticus_Finch

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  7. I wonder if your mum instinctively knew you were gay and was sticking up for her son's future?

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    1. I don't think she ever knew andi
      It would be a nice dovetail to the story but no, she had no clue

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  8. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” - Atticus Finch
    I am not sure there was a particular "moment" as such but I remember that when I was a very small boy I helped my mother to fill a shoe box with little gifts - chocolate, soap, tinned salmon etc..We were sending that shoebox to a war torn family in East Germany. She sent a similar shoebox every year from 1948 to 1960 with a Christmas card inside. Ordinary people do not make wars. They are made by leaders. The message was we should feel love not bitterness towards the defeated.

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    1. Your parents gave you an equally important gift that day you sent the box

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  9. My parents were not usually role models when it came to race or sexuality issues. However, they were sophisticated and they did grow up and live in NYC, so at times there were glimmers of enlightenment. In 1968, they went to Greenwich Village to see the film "The Queen." I was a kid and had no idea what it was about. I asked the next day and my father told me directly, no unkind comments. He said he couldn't believe how talented they were and how hard it must be for them. He said some of them were just beautiful. I knew nothing about that world (or the world I would finally live in) but I remember for once not being afraid of or ashamed in front of my father. When I came up a long time later, my mother didn't make it easy. And she told my father herself. He asked, "Is he happy?" And when she said I had told her I was, he said, "Well then who the fuck cares?" The first hung and kiss I can remember receiving from my father was the first time I saw him after that. Thanks for making me remember that.

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  10. Argh... autocorrect... I came out (not up) and that was a HUG, not HUNG... now THAT one's embarrassing!

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    1. Those little typos didn't diminish the impact of what you'd said at all, Moving with Michael. We can sometimes squirm over typos that others just read past, inserting the correct word automatically.

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    2. Mitchell, that was quite beautiful xxx

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    3. Thank you, Linda P., and John for the kind responses. And, as always, thanks, John, for sharing your thoughts and experiences and making me more aware of myself and my own experiences.

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  11. I remember sitting on the beach during a family holiday. I couldnt have been more than 12. A very overweight woman took her place on the sand near us and I said some insulting fat thing. I still remember clear as day, mum just said it was good that the woman was out enjoying the sun and the water and that was the end of it. No lecture, no confrontation and no shame.

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  12. Anonymous11:56 am

    Well l always call it my Harper Valley PTA moment.
    The local Parish Council were meeting to discuss various topics, including the 2 new dangerous dogs that had moved in locally, MY DOGS THAT IS !! Back story was one of these Councilors walked onto our property unannouced and my Rottweiler Ella barked at him and scared him, even though the gate was shut and a big bold sign telling folk the dogs might be loose in the garden.
    Anyway, at said meeting in the local hall, l told everybody what had happened and told these 'officials' to clean up the filthy hall we were meeting in, also told the nosey bloke to go home, clean his windows, get some new curtains and visit tbe tip with all his rubbish at his house Instead of busy bodying himself at my house and trying to cause trouble for my lovely dogs!
    I then flouced out leaving them all open mouthed.
    Don't come at me with your petty powers, I'll have ya'.
    Tess xx

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    1. I love this
      Tess...I hope you will enjoy this as a thank u

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZK1Jf25o0c

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    2. Anonymous8:53 pm

      Glad you liked the story, judgemental twats, l won't have it, l say!
      Being a bit dozy with this internet stuff, l shall have to get my grandaughter to talk me through how to get this youtube item, as l just tried clicking on it and it won't work, ha!
      Will report back when l get to see it, thanks John
      T x

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  13. It is a long time since I have read the book and I can't remember now. While my mother knew that I was gay from a young age, I was 30 or so before she said my sister had a physical relationship with another girl. I realised my mother was a woman of the world and not as closed minded as I thought, perhaps thanks to trash magazines. My sister went on to have marry another female and have a child with her. Sister's three brothers sobbed as their sister married her partner. Mother did not and soon complained about the mention of welcome to country, a tip off to our Australia's earlier inhabitants.

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  14. My father was in the Air Force when I was born, as he was with all three kids, and he and my mother chose their closest friends to be our godparents should anything happen to them. They picked the Grahams; a black couple. And I, too, remember a conversation between my mother and a neighbor who asked about choosing a black couple and my mother said, "If anything happens to us I know my children will be brought up right and in a house of love."
    I have carried that with me my entire life, and whenever anyone speaks a racist thought I call them out on it. Saying nothing feeds the hate; standing up shuts it down.

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    1. Modern , younger readers may not realise just how brave and forward thinking your parents were

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. My first such moment was not related to racism. However, standing up once helped me, a child who usually choose conformity over confrontation, to have the courage to later face off against my parents' racism. When I was about eight, my parents had little money and four children. For entertainment, Mom and Dad packed us all into the car and drove downtown in our small town. There, with Mom and Dad in the front and the four of us packed in the back, they watched people walk by and commented on them, offering critiques that made them both laugh. That incensed me, making fun of people for entertainment. I spoke up, which sent them into further giggles and me into helpless seething. But I didn't die and wasn't slapped that time, and I tried it again during the March to Selma in 1965. I campaigned to be allowed to go as a fifteen-year-old and my courage didn't extend to sneaking off. Wasn't going to happen, but my feelings about my parents were forever fractured when, as a result of my demand, my father took me on a drive through a black community in an effort to show me how "they chose" to live. Just a few years later, my parents' racism and xenophobia extended to my husband's Italian-American family and especially to his "pagan" church. I'm no hero. But I do find a backbone when people are ridiculed. My novel-in-progress was prompted by my discovery that my grandfather had taken my father to a lynching when my father was eleven. His year-older brother was there, too.

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    1. A wonderful memory . I am sobwarming to this blog subject again

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  17. Of course, that was a March from Selma to Montgomery, not to Selma.

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  18. my now ex husband (violent tendencies towards women) told my daughters that if they ever brought a black boyfriend home he would go mad, i said better a black boyfriend who treats them well than a white one who hits them, i don't care who my children end up with as long as they're happy as that's all that matters in this life x

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    1. Did they ever bring a black boyfriend home Julie? Xx

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    2. no they never did, plenty of tattoos and piercings though!

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  19. Mine was collecting the letters from the letter box after I got off the school bus. One day I saw one that was addressed to 'Mrs John Drummond'. I stood staring at her 'name'. As a seven y/o girl I realised that my Mum's own name had been erased. Quite a moment. I'll never let my name be taken like that.

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    1. Yes at seven you are juggling life and death and mortality
      Add to that a patriarchal society! Phew... a lot to juggle

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    2. Barbara Anne5:10 pm

      I have several recipe books from the 1960s and earlier and it is dismaying how many recipes were contributed by Mrs. (insert husband's name and last name). I don't imagine these husbands cooked very often if ever.

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    3. When I was growing up, until maybe about 1970 in the southern U.S., probably not so long elsewhere, that was how married women were listed. If you were listed with your own name ("Mrs. Jane Smith," instead of "Mrs. Robert Smith"), that signified that you were divorced. Doesn't fly now, and that's a good thing!

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    4. Someone found the sales records of the development that I grew up in as recorded by the builder. All were listed as Mr. name name and wife. They would not sell to a single woman, nor would they sell to blacks. Through this little history lesson I found out there were protests in front of the builder's office to allow blacks.

      My grandmother was appalled that we had three Jewish neighbors on our little street.

      1963

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  20. My daughter once said to me 'What would you do if I bought girl friend home' To which I said 'I don't care if you set up home with a giraffe, as long as you look after each other'. My girl said that she knew I would react like that, so maybe I got some things right in life.

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  21. My father and I had many conversations about racism when I was young. One story that always stuck with me related to his parents. Dad was born in 1912 and lived in a good size Eastern US city where his father was the chief of police. At the time, there were a lot of people out of work and many families went hungry. Dad was about 8 years old when he became friends with several young black children. One day, he brought them home because he knew they were hungry. He had gotten a lot of grief from other kids about playing with these children, and because of prevailing attitudes about race, he decided to bring them around the back of his house and take them into the basement before getting some food for them from the kitchen. Dad said his mother saw them starting to go around back of the house and came out to ask what was going on. Sheepishly, he told her he was taking his friends around back. Evidently, in no uncertain terms, she told him his friends were welcome to come in the front door and sit at their dining room table for a meal—which she promptly produced. Later that evening, his parents reminded him that all people deserve respect and that no one was ever to be treated like a second-hand citizen in their home because of the colour of their skin. He lived that truth all his life. I was very fortunate to have had a father who had many of Atticus Finch’s traits.

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  22. To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most awesome books ever, and a great movie to watch. Sadly, living here in the South, racial feelings and actions, are often still stuck back in those days! I don't really have an Atticus Finch moment to share, but each time I see/hear the melodious mockingbirds in my garden I certainly think of Harper Lee's
    great American classic.

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    1. Off to YouTube mockingbird's song

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    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNNX3f3_svo

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  23. Reading Michael Holroyd's biography of Lytton Strachey. Would never have chosen it, but it came by chance. Who is this weirdo, I wondered. Started to read and was captivated. Not entirely a likeable person but he stuck to his own course.

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  24. I was about 11 - I lived in an apt. building with families from all around the world (early 60's - mass immigration) and there was one family where mom was white and dad was black - very unusual in those days. They had two boys, Howard & Robert - their names have always stuck with me.... There was another family consisting of one very spoiled and rather horrible boy - down trodden dad and, I now realize, mentally ill mom. This child really was terrible and we avoided him like the plague. I'm not quite sure what had happened but one day the mother came out and started yelling at us - we were all pretty scared at an adult behaving this way but then - she called Howard & Robert the N word! I remember a collective intake of breath - we knew this was a really bad word! Every kid ran home to tell their parents what had happened and as you can imagine, it was the talk of the whole building. While people felt sorry for the husband this was just going too far - you didn't treat children like that - they were totally ostracized and soon moved away.

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    1. Funny what we remember.
      Fortunately for me ( or in some cases unfortunately) I have a very good memory

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    2. JacquieB6:29 pm

      I hope that 'horrible' boy found his Atticus Finch

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  25. Hi hun, My *Atticus moment* isn't one but it is! I don't have a moment but after escaping home at 18 married in 1982( sadly not the right decision but later met an amazing man) I decided that unlike my childhood I would try my damnest to bring my children up in a safe home, one of non condemnation, non racial,non smacking/hitting, home made food and memories of love and laughter.I would/will always try and be there for them even as adults and support them emotionally and financially as much as I can/could.I failed alot (as most parents do!) LOL but my twin girlies (and son-in-laws)are the loveliest daughters I could wish for and my 6 grandbabies ranging from 3 1/2 to 17 are amazing! (As most mumma's and nanster's biasly think of their own families LOL!!).So if you haven't got an *Atticus* moment - you make it happen for someone else! :)Hugs Goldensunflowerx

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  26. My parents weren't racist in any open way, but somehow missed something in my early upbringing. When I was in middle school in the 1960s, I, like the majority of my peers, thought ethnc jokes were the peak of humor. The mother of a friend took me aside one day and kindly explained the damaging effects of judging people and making fun of them, especially over attributes over which they have no control. That discussion changed the direction of my attitude and my life.

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    1. Being gently " told off" especially by someone who you respect can be more powerful than any shouting and screaming

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  27. My story is of hearing a story my mother told and being so shocked that it weakened our relationship:
    She bought a pair of expensive crystal decanters and they were delivered to our house by UPS. As she was washing them she let one slip in the sink and it broke. She picked up the pieces, placed it in the box it came in along with the intact decanter and took them back to the store. Opening the box she said ‘look what happened to my beautiful decanter.’ They apologized and refunded her money.
    I’ve remembered this moment for 60 years and am still shocked and ashamed of what she did.

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    1. I think when you first see your parents as " human" is pivotal in a childs life

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  28. I was a very shy child and hopeless at French at school.We had a bossy French,French teacher who shouted if we made mistakes when speaking out loud.We had to put our hand up and ask in French to be excused to use the toilet and she was very spiteful and made me repeat it until she was happy.I was in tears at home and my mum waited until the next parents evening and then gave her a piece of her mind.She said "you won't get the best out of flis if you talk to her like that"-Mrs Carr was quite pleasant to me after.My mum and dad guarded me like lions-I felt safe while they were alive x

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  29. Barbara Anne5:19 pm

    My story isn't about me, but is something I heard a comedian say on TV. I don't remember who that comedian was, but what was said is "A good joke is never about something the object of your joke couldn't change about himself or herself in 5 minutes." That was illuminating.

    Hugs!

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    1. Good observational comedy is worth its weight in gold

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    2. I often find American comedy spiteful.

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  30. Good for your mom! I'll have to think about my AF moment. My parents were pretty open-minded as a rule!

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  31. countrygal7:02 pm

    Early 70s, I was about 10 years old living with my sister and my parents on a remote farm when a pair of Americans turned up and wished to camp in a field. The weather was so awful - the rain was torrential - that my father invited the couple into our farmhouse for the night. My parents were aged about 58 and 50 at this time - a bit of background information to understand the story - my mother went upstairs with a breakfast tray and thundered down the stairs. 'What is wrong' my father asked, my mother replied, 'she isn't wearing a wedding ring'. Gasp! Horror! My father calmly stood up and said, 'well, they were good company, and that is their business, I'm going shepherding'. The American couple left happily and I learnt a lesson about not judging anyone.

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  32. There have been so many Atticus Finch moments in my life I'd be hard pushed to single out one.

    However, since both your post and quite a few of your other readers have mentioned racism, here is a little anecdote. Not so much to do with racism, just the unfamiliar. One evening my parents had invited a guest for dinner, one of my father's colleagues. I was about eleven/twelve, my sister five/six. My sister and I (we shared a room) had just gone to bed when the door opened and my mother introduced their guest. To say hello. My sister took one look and burst into tears. She had never seen a black man before.

    U

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  33. My mother, like yours, would always speak up for "that" person. Be they gay, an immigrant, a person other than white, she would speak for them if the situation called for it.

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  34. I've kept my father's name. Both of my sons thought this the norm. Mum has one family name, Dad has another.

    My youngest started kindergarten and came home dying to tell me something.

    He blurted out "a boy in my class, his mummy and daddy are related!' I asked how he knew this, and he replied "they have the same last name!"

    I had to explain that some Mummy's take the same last name as their husband. He just asked why? I told him that I was happy with the name that I was born with and some people like change.

    Both my sons are nice men (at least I think so), they clean their homes, cook their meals and have jobs they are good at.

    All a parent can ask for really

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  35. Sadly, I cannot recall any Atticus Finch moments worth mentioning.

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  36. I was a new student in the 7th grade in a small Alabama town on Nov 22 , 1963 when our principal came to our classroom to tell us President Kennedy had been killed. Our class sat in stunned silence when a fellow student turned to me , grinned and clapped saying yes! I never knew I had it in me until that moment but I told him in no uncertain terms he should be ashamed of himself !! ( and then I cried)!

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    1. What people remember the seemingly small and large all wrapped up together

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  37. My oldest son really couldn't be bothered to work at school, despite being fairly intelligent. It might have had something to do with the appalling atmosphere at home (my ex was a violent alcoholic) but who knows. Anyways, he didn't study and barely made it through high school, so I said if you don't want to go into further education you can take a secretarial course as you're totally bilingual and the international organizations (here in Geneva) are recruiting more and more young men in the typing pools, especially bilinguals (English/French). But try as he might he wasn't getting anywhere with his applications because he had no experience. Now in May both the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization hold massive conferences and do a huge, temporary recruitment drive. My son was in Korea visiting his girlfriend so one day I took a call from the ILO, someone asking if he was available for the conference. I told them I'd get in touch with him in Korea and he would call them back. A few hours later I got a call from World Health, same thing. So I said, oh I suppose you're calling looking to recruit for the conference and the lady said no, she wanted to give André a chance, she had the budget and a post and was willing to take him on and train him for a permanent job!!!!! I nearly fell over and said that as his mother I knew he was a good kid but I was a bit surprised that she was willing to stick her neck out for a kid she didn't know. And she replied that her son and my son had been in school together and when they were younger her son was getting beaten up by some other kids and my son stepped in and put a stop to it - and she had never forgotten him. So yep, she took him on, trained him and 12 years later he's still working at WHO! One good turn I suppose.

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    1. What a lovely post......what goes around hopefully comes around

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  38. Sadly, all the Atticus Finch moments in my life were reversed with the child telling the parent how to have empathy for others. I was dating a young man not of my race and my mother told me not to get too serious because if we had children together "no-one would want you". My retort to her when she said this to me was "Why would I want anyone who felt that way?" She now has two gorgeous grandchildren of mixed race that she adores!

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  39. Mine involved gayness and my mother, too. I walked home from school with a fellow who was bullied for being gay. I asked my mother what to do. She said to keep waking home with him, and who were the bullies? She would tell their parents to tell their children to grow up. This was in the fifties.

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  40. I don't think I've ever had a real Atticus Finch moment, but I would liked to have called my daughter 'Scout'.

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  41. Morag6:51 am

    When I saw my twin brother being thrashed when we were small, and making a conscious decision that any children I had would never be thrashed. And they never were.

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  42. I told my brother that it must be truly awful to be trapped in the wrong body after he'd commented, " it's all in their heads " referring to Transgender.

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  43. I was always impressed that despite my father saying she should stay at home and not go to work, my mother persisted in training as a teacher and then holding a teaching job for many years. Given my father's huge rages when he was defied, that took some doing.

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  44. For me it was my first semester at Rollins College, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was at a peak. There was a debate going on that the policy was a part of the culture. One of my professors made the point that certain human rights should be universal, just because a practice is a part of a culture, does not make it right.

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  45. I've experienced several in my life associated with racism, gay issue discrimination. One I derived the most pleasure from was when a little theatre group to which I belonged refused to allow a number of us to produce a play under their auspices because one of our number was black and couldn't be allowed to join the theater club either. We prevailed upon them to allow us to rent the small theatre which they leased from the county anyway. We reimbursed all utility costs, made all our own costumes, had a successful production making a profit. Coincidentally, I left town later and our group broke apart, but we gave our profits to the theatre group. Recent years I've found their site on the Internet which for many years has had professional productions. In their history of a long list of successful plays ours is listed.

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    1. Another view on a fascinating subject

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