Sunday, May 30, 2010

New York City?........Get a rope?

Well, I'm back in my home away from home, New York, not getting a rope but getting some much needed R&R hanging out in the "Big Apple." As usual, its been fun-filled and entertaining. Yesterday, I got all I got all dressed up in one of my most glamorous dresses to attend the Broadway play, Fences starring the infamous, Denzel Washington. I knew it was going to be a special performance before the show even began because I happened to sight the performer going into the Cort Theater about 2 hours before the show was to begin. He is such a class act! He exited the vehicle he arrived in and walked nonchalantly into the side stage door while waving to onlookers and flashing that gorgeous smile of his. His wife, Paulette is one of the luckiest women in the world next to Michelle Obama. Anyway, I got so excited about his casual entrance, that it did not occur to me to flash the camera that I happened to be holding at the time. I was so enchanted, I completely zoned out and was oblivious to all that was going on around me in very busy NY. Denzel's performance was nothing short of amazing! I sat 6 rows from the stage and was just memorized by the actor as well as the rest of the cast. If you are going to be in the NY area anytime soon, this play is a must see. To top off my excitement, during intermission, I headed for the ladies room as just as I was about to enter, I looked back and coming out of the men's facility was Stevie Wonder! Again, I greeted him with much excitement and he also was very friendly and reciprocated. As it turned out he was sitting two rows down from me.

After the show, I perused the City taking in the sights and sounds, then in the evening went to see Sex and the City at a theater on 42nd Street. It was a great film and actually seeing the show in New York where it is centered made it all the better.

This morning, I headed to Harlem for church at Abyssinian Baptist where I have been going every time I visit NY since 1999. The service was excellent and the choir angelic as usual. After church, I viewed some of the new History Displays that graced the Halls. The display cases were lined with photographs and biographies of all the former Pastors since the 1800's. What a heritage! After exiting the church and heading towards Lenox Avenue, I was just amazed by the towering new mural that is being erected on the new wing of the Harlem Hospital. It is so vibrant and features a depiction of Cab Calloway as well as teams of African American doctors and nurses. The artist or artists who created this should really be commended.

Next, I headed to Sylvia's Soul Food where I enjoyed some fried Catfish and Grits with Collard Greens and Candied Yams. Yum, Yum. Scrumptious. I then perused Harlem buying from little shops here and there.

I then headed to Central Park. The weather is just excellent here today. Everyone was out enjoying the weather just basting in and soaking up the Sun! I just enjoy being in Central Park watching the sights and sounds and being one with nature.

I also visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and took in the ancient artifacts of Rome and Egypt. Anyone who knows me well, know I LOVE art and this is certainly a place that any true art lover likes to hang out at. The museum has acquired so many more new and exquisite pieces since my last visit.

Of course being in the area of 5th Avenue, I had to stop by Bloomingdales.

Well, tomorrow, I'm off to Virginia to visit my niece and her family so I have to say farewell to NY but its been a blast! However, I am really looking forward to seeing my family in Virginia.

Well bye for now........LOL

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are?

Last night I watched the final episode of the new genealogy series, "Who Do You Think You Are?" As you may recall that is the new spin-off show of the the British series that documents the ancestry of national celebrities.

Last night's show featured the African American film-maker, Spike Lee. It was an excellent show. Spike with the help of several genealogists was able to uncover and trace his family back to the slavery era. He learned that one of his maternal great-great grandfathers, Mars Woodall Jackson had Georgia roots and that he was formally owned by a Plantation Owner bearing the surname Woodall. He also discovered that after slavery, his grandfather changed his surname from Woodall to Jackson. Additionally, he retrieved land records documenting the ownership of 80 plus acres in Georgia. A very moving moment came when Spike visited and set foot on the actual land that his ancestor owned and farmed. It was a very poignant moment for him as well as myself when he collected red clay dirt to take back home as a reminder of who he came from. This was especially meaningful to me as I too come from the Red Clay Dirt land of Louisiana. Irony presented itself with Spike learning of his ancestor, Mars Woodall Jackson because it was also the name of the main character in his first film. The idea for the name came from his grandmother and benefactor, Lucinda Jackson but he just learned the full history of its origin.

Later in the show, Spike traced another ancestor by the name of Wilson Griswald who was owned by a slaveowner bearing the same name in Griswaldville. It turned out that he was one of the largest slaveowners in the area. Legal documents suggest that Wilson was a skilled slave who highly valued by his slaveowner. Spike learned that Wilson worked in a firearms factory in Griswaldsville where weapons were manufactured, primarily by slaves, for the Confederate Army. The factory was destroyed during the Civil War by none other than General Sherman and his army since it was the largest producer of guns for the Confederate Army. Again, it was a stirring moment when a historian handed Spike Lee an actual gun produced in the factory. Unfortunately, all records of Wilson Griswald after the destruction of the weapons factory disappear. Hence, it is not known whether or not he was killed in the factory or taken captive by Sherman's army since there is record that 5 Negroes were captured and taken with his company.

The show ended with a reunion between Spike and a white descendant of the Griswald slave owner. The pair appeared initially uneasy during their meeting but came to a meeting of the minds that slavery was a terrible atrocity.

Anyway, it was a very enjoyable finale show. I says kudos to "Who Do You Think You Are" and for doing such a great job presenting the ancestry of the celebrities who appeared on the show during the season. Another awesome show was the episode that presented the ancestry of football-great, Emmitt Smith.

If you missed the show or any other episodes, you can go to to watch it.

Family Search Labs-Newly Added/Updated Sites

Great news! A couple of days ago, Family Search Labs Records Search added and/or updated a myriad of records for multiple states. These include death, marriage and birth records for Louisiana, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio, Maine, Nova Scotia, Hawaii, Arizona, Florida, Oregon, New York, Maryland and many other states. Please pass along this information to people who you know are doing research in the states with newly updated or added documents. Happy hunting!