Odes To “Doing”

Friday, February 28, 2020

I discovered this book from a “Fresh Air” podcast, with Terry Gross interviewing the author, Bridgett Davis. Her mother, Fannie, was a successful Numbers runner. Fannie ran Numbers in Detroit during the 60s and 70s, prior the legalization of Lottery. The Lottery legitimized and elevated Numbers from its status of illegal racket. Fannie, her family and friends, managed to keep her work secret–work that enabled her to lift her family from near-poverty, to better neighborhoods and bigger houses. She was generous, helping relatives and friends with money and decisions.

Fannie is interesting–intelligent, industrious, and according to her daughter a great mother. Fannie moved her family from the Jim Crow South to Detroit around the time of the Great Depression, and somehow, they managed to survive. There are stories and assumptions about how she got into the Numbers game. The driving force was that her husband couldn’t earn enough to support the family, and Fannie could see opportunities, as well as danger, in running Numbers.

The story is larger by offering insight into black-living in America. Fannie’s ancestors were slaves. Her grandfather managed to achieve freedom, and eventually, he owned properties. This book explains the goods in relationships within and among black families, and the bads in Jim Crow-related activities like Klu Klux Klan. Fannie’s courageous decision to exit the South was as massive as her decision to start running Numbers. She eventually mastered the game, at first by working for a Numbers boss, and finally, by going independent.

Her daughter attributes this quote of Fannie’s, to her life experience: “Dying is easy, living takes guts.”

The book has encouraged me to learn and understand more about black history and sociology. I’ve already ordered books by experts on the subject.

Setting aside Fannie Davis yesterday evening, I went to the fancywork yarn shop for a second lesson in beginning knitting. My capable instructor looked over my in-process muffler project, found imperfections, and showed me how to complete the garment successfully.

Glancing up, I spotted the shop’s newest arrival–my neighbor, Grant! He’s an experienced, dedicated knitter, whom I’ve considered asking for assistance with my project. And boom, there he stood! He invited me to join him and the other fifteen or so knitters, sitting in a circle, focused and busily knitting. He’s a member of that shop’s “knitting group”.

They also knit at other places. What sounds fun to me are their meetings on Sundays at Jackson Corner, a local restaurant. There they sit, eat, and do knitting. I’m going to take Grant up on his invitation to knit with the group.

I’m not sure why I decided to learn to knit, other than needing warmth in winter while outside taking care of horses. It’s rewarding, too, that knitting’s also a social activity, and for sure, a bonus is having a neighbor who’s expert with the ins and outs of working with needles.

Dear Friends: A day of enlightenment and surprise that makes the mundane memorable. Diana

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