Summertime: Selling Books at the Craft Shows in Ocean City

Every summer, on Fridays and Saturdays from late June to early September, there are free Craft Shows on the Ocean City, New Jersey Music Pier. The setting is ideal, reaching from the boardwalk toward the ocean with a high covered roof and open side and front that catch the cool breezes. My husband. and I have been taking part for nine summers with our published books as our craft. We enjoy meeting hundreds of locals and tourists each summer in an informal setting and introducing them to our books. We call it our “third career”.

Bob and I are the only authors joining a terrific group of women and men who create their original crafts. Some pursue their work year round, traveling to shows up and down the East Coast. There are painters, sewers, wood workers, candle makers, bakers, jewelers, children’s clothing designers, knitters of afghans and sweaters, soap makers and plant growers with colored-glass filled wooden pots. Crafters are often accompanied by their spouses or children who assist in setting up the complex displays on their tables. That task can take at least an hour or more with different stands and racks to hold tiny hand painted objects or hanging garments.

There is a caveat printed on the agreement forms that “All work by the exhibitors must be original.. Not accepted are sports memorabilia/cards, cosmetics, imported mass produced or manufactured T-shirts & sweatshirts , sneakers, food or other items that directly compete with the Boardwalk Merchants” Different groups sponsor the Craft Shows, including Ocean City Class Council, Raiders and Cheerleaders, and Ocean City Exchange Club. There is an entry charge for the first three groups of $50. for each space and table . Electricity $5. We only need one space and table . We always request the last table closest to the ocean to be able to walk in front and talk with prospective buyers about the books.

We are the fastest set-up and breakdown at the end of the Show. It takes us about twenty minutes to set up when we arrive about 8:15 a.m. and five minutes to wrap up at 3:00 p.m. We tape large posters of some book covers down the front of the table on the beige cloth to attract interest. Then we arrange our books. Bob has his six mystery novels and I have my two non-fiction books and three novels. We have our names on “Book Signings” placards and our price list. We usually bring five copies of each book, and ten copies of “Courage in High Heels” which is our best seller. If it’s a good day, we sell a few books before 9 o’clock.

Over the years, there’s camaraderie that develops among the regulars and that is a plus to the experience. As we set up each time, we compare notes and wish each other well. If there’s a problem, we help each other straighten it out. We never have figured out if Friday is a better selling/buying day than Saturday. People who rent a house or an apartment for a week start and end on Saturday. One would expect they would have more $$ for books on the first Saturday, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. There are also other patterns. The early morning strollers usually are walkers or bike riders. They rarely have money with them. No shoulder- bags for women is a sure sign. Tougher to know with men who have $$ in their pockets. It’s still a guessing game. One year, a woman on a bicycle stopped and gave us a check for every book on the table! She collected books signed by the authors. We’ll never forget her.

Bob and I have different selling techniques. He’s the expert since his first book was “Professional Selling” , Prentice Hall, published in four editions since the l970’s. It was written for community colleges and the trade. Still in use at Harvard and The University of Wisconsin. The key chapter, the ABC’s of Selling- “Always Be Closing. I’ve learned to vary approaches with different women and men who stop. Many walkers don’t stop at all, but those who do are potential buyers. I ask women, “Do you prefer true stories or novels?” If they say true, I hand them a copy of “Courage in High Heels” and ask them to read the back cover. They learn that the book contains “ the true life stories of 8 women –not famous women — who have overcome multiple obstacles in life with amazing resilience and spirit.” I show them the Then and Now pictures and highlight certain women. If they are older women, I explain why I wrote the book, “To honor older women in our society who don’t get enough respect.” They always nod in agreement.

If they prefer fiction, I introduce them to my three novels. Two are current stories of family life and “functional families” in contrast to the many dysfunctional families in print today. I start by saying “That’s why I wrote “Flaw in the Tapestry” I was sick of those books! And when I completed it, I wanted to know what happened next. (pause) So I wrote “If Winter Comes.” And I push that book next to the first. We give a price break on two, three or more books. Selling a double or a triple is a thrill. A self described “ reader” may buy one of mine and one of Bob’s. He has a great signing line, “Life is a mystery…” When he sells more than one, he signs, “Life is still a mystery!” We each have return readers who come back each year for other books. Betty, an older woman who owns all our books, sends us a holiday card and note each December. We look forward to seeing her each summer walking down the pier. We exchange warm hugs.

Last week brought a special moment for me. My latest book is “The Critical Eye”, Xlibris 2010. It is a collection of some of my Op Eds and articles that have been published in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and other national and regional newspapers and magazines. They are as relevant today as when they appeared. When a man stops at the table or is the husband of a woman looking at my books, I give him a copy to look at. I point out Section II: Communication, Technology, Science and Section III: Religion, Race, Gender, Prejudice. When an older man stopped last week, I opened the book to Section IV: Very Personal Essays and turned to “From Slonim to America; A Dream Fulfilled” and said, “That is my father’s story. He was a little immigrant boy who came to America and grew up to become a surgeon”. He looked at me from underneath the cap he was wearing and said very slowly and distinctly, “I was a little immigrant boy from Lebanon who came to America and grew up to become a surgeon.” I don’t know why I showed him that essay, but I will never forget the moment. Yes, he bought “The Critical Eye”. Later, Bob walked out on the boardwalk and saw him sitting on a bench …engrossed in reading the book.

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Hate Groups in The United States

On Wednesday evening June l7, 2015, Dylann Roof, a 21 year old white man , opened fire on the black pastor and members of the Emanuel A. M. E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Without any warning, he shot and killed the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney and nine men and women of the congregation during a Bible Study Class. They were all the latest victims of vicious crimes in the United States by members of hate groups that exist in every state of the union.

Federal and local authorities have found that Roof had been in contact with white supremacist groups online. They have also found photographs of him at Confederate heritage sites and slavery museums. Roof’s cell-phone and computer were taken to F.B.I. laboratories at Quantico, VA. where they have been studied by trained agents and analysts. Roof has been charged with the shooting deaths of nine people, but his crimes are still has not officially labeled “hate crimes”. As one who has studied hate groups in the United States for many years, it seems obvious from his statement, “I wanted to start a race war.” that the massacre of the nine black victims were hate crimes.

The single best source for information on hate groups in the United States is the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. This organization has a 35-year record of putting hate groups out of business by winning law suits in the courts. In each case, SPLC pays all litigation costs and all monies recovered go to victims of hate group violence. When Klansmen lynched a black teenager in Mobile, Alabama, Center lawyers argued that the Klan was accountable for the acts of its members. They won the case and the $7 million judgment bankrupted the United Klans of America. In 2008, the SPLC won justice for Jordan Gruver, 16, who was brutally beaten at a county fair in Brandenburg, Kentucky by Klansmen because of his skin color. They attacked him as an “ illegal spic”, although Jordan is a U.S. citizen. He suffered broken bones and permanent physical and mental injuries. The Imperial Klans of America were hit with a $2.5 million judgment.

Four times a year, the SPLC publishes their “Intelligence Report” with articles and factual information about the hate groups in the United States. In the Spring 2009/133 Issue, there was an important summary and analysis of 2008, “The Year in Hate”. First, the numbers of hate groups had increased: “Last year, 926 hate groups were active in the U.S., up more than 4% from 888 in 2007. That’s more than a 50% increase since 2000 when there were 602 groups.” The numbers were represented on a map of the United States with each state and the number of groups. New Jersey was near the top in the Northeast with 40. New York had 24, Pennsylvania had 37 and Massachusetts had 13. The highest numbers were in the South and West with California at 84, Texas at 66, Florida at 56 and South Carolina at 45. No state had 0 number of hate groups in residence.

The Report listed the hate groups by name and identified them on a U.S. map by states as well: Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, Racist Skinhead, Christian Identity, Neo-Confederate, Black Separatist and General Hate. General Hate included sub-categories of Anti-Gay, Anti-Immigrant, Holocaust Deniers, Racist Music labels and a variety of groups endorsing “a hodge-podge of hate doctrines.” The SPLC gathers its information from hate group publications, citizen reports., law enforcement agencies, field sources and news reports. Activities include marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leaflets, publishing material or criminal acts. Cyberspace listings are not included since they often represent individual Web sites rather than group.

The Report did have a section of Hate Websites: 630 hate sites active in 2008 under group headings: Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, Racist Skinheads, Christian Identity, Neo-Confederate, Jewish Treason, Black Separatist, Racist Music and General Hate. Just reading the seven pages of names of the 630 Web sites is a sobering experience. Hatred distilled into the labels: “White Camelia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan”, “Adolf the Great”, “American Nazi Party”, “Nuke Israel”, “White Revolution”, “Diversity is Chaos”, “Jew Watch” “Supreme White Alliance” and “Yahweh’s Truth”.

In The Report’s analysis of why hate groups have increased in number since 2007, the author, David Holthouse, cited three main causes: “As in recent years, hate groups were animated by the national immigration debate, but two new forces also drove them in 2008: the worsening recession, and Barack Obama’s successful campaign to become the nation’s first black president.” It was reported by officials that Obama had received more threats than any other presidential candidate in memory. The Secret Service gave him protection early on the campaign trail. At some of Sarah Palin’s rallies, when she charged that Obama was “paling around with terrorists”, there were cries of “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” Several white supremacists were arrested during the campaign for saying they would assassinate Obama or allegedly plotting to carry that out.

Three groups were singled out as “the most active and dangerous white supremacist hate groups in 2008: Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis and Racist Skinheads.” Klan groups jumped from 155 chapters to l86. The Imperial Klans (IKA) did suffer a serious blow when they lost the Gruver case and were hit with the $2.5 million judgment, including $1 million against the IKA leader, Ron Edwards. In December , the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan sent out a media alert, calling for all Klansmen “worldwide” to wear black arm bands and fly the American flag upside down on January 20, the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration. The Neo-Nazi groups saw a small drop from 207 to l94 chapters during 2008. This was largely due to the conviction of the National Vanguard’s leader, Kevin Strom, in January on child pornography charges. The National Socialist Movement remained the largest Neo-Nazi hate group. In September, the cover of their magazine, “National Socialist” depicted the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama in the crosshairs of a rifle scope, with the headline, “Kill This Nigger?” Racist Skinhead groups rose from 90 to 98 in 2008 with the addition of several new organizations and the revival of some established groups such as Hammerskin Nation and American Front. When the Confederate Hammerskins met in March in Central Florida at a St. Patty’s Day concert, it drew “skins” from across the country. Included were Outlaws Motorcycle club, a notorious biker group and of local note, Atlantic City Skins.

Now, in the ongoing coverage of the ‘Massacre’ in Charleston, the State newspaper in Columbia, reported that the F.B.I. investigation has widened to include others who may have helped Dylann Roof. It also appears that the Justice Department is likely to file hate crime charges against Roof . He already faces nine counts of murder in state court. Senior officials at the Justice Department said that the shooting was such an “extraordinary event” that the department must bring hate crime charges to send a larger message about it. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

For information on The Southern Poverty Law Center, click on http://www.splcenter.org Their mission has three goals: Fighting hate. Teaching tolerance. Seeking Justice.

Clinton/Warren: Democratic Dream Team!”

“Clinton/Warren: 2016 Democratic Dream Team!”

Remember way back when Bill Clinton was nominated for President in 1992? His first big decision was to choose a running mate. When he selected Senator Al Gore, the political gurus pounced, “Big error. Two good-old Southern boys. Arkansas and Tennessee. Too much alike. Limited appeal. ” We all know how wrong they were. CLINTON / GORE won twice.

It is now 2015 and Hillary Clinton , according to all the polls is the overwhelming favorite to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016. So the tantalizing question is who will be standing next to her when the cheers explode and a zillion balloons cascade at the convention. When Hillary makes her crucial decision — could it possibly be Senator Elizabeth Warren? Yes, we know they are both WOMEN! In fact, two brilliant women with deep experience and superb qualifications. Not exactly alike on the political spectrum, but close enough to carry the Democratic party to victory. CLINTON / WARREN! The Dream Team!

Okay, here are some arguments against that choice. Men will rise up in droves, horrified with the very idea of women running the country. The backlash will be a tsunami of votes for Republicans at the ballot box. Comedians will have a field day describing two women in frilly aprons discussing terrorism and taxes. The term ‘grandmother’ will become a derogatory epithet and a joke since both Clinton and Warren fit into that category. Talk radio will be dominated by Rush combining sarcasm and false statistics to prove that two women would be a disaster at the head of the executive branch of our government. He would seek some obscure words in the Constitution to prove that the founders never meant women in Article II. Supreme Court Justice Scalia will speak off the bench, as he often does, and agree with Rush that the founders never considered women as president or vice president.

In support of the CLINTON / WARREN choice, we know that women are a greater number of registered voters in the United States. That includes all women: Democrats. Republicans and Independents. In the 2012 Presidential election, women were the larger number of voters. Of course, that does not mean they will vote for two women. The issues of pro-life and pro-choice will still matter. However, independent women may be the key to a CLINTON/WARREN win. They may agree that the time has come for the United States to join Britain, India, Brazil, Germany and other major countries in choosing a woman for President. Hillary Clinton would remain the reason they vote Democratic, while Elizabeth Warren would add her strengths to the ticket. Together, they would prove that the research and evidence is right — women are better negotiators and compromisers when working with divisive factions. We need a leadership team to bring the fractured Congress and Executive back together.

When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were dueling in the 2008 primary, she won more blue-collar male voters in the crucial North Eastern states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. She understood their needs and spoke to them about real issues in their lives. She would do this again, joined by Elizabeth Warren, who is “on fire” when she talks about economic inequality in the United States. Warren has become the leading advocate in Congress for controlling Wall Street big banks and protecting the middle and working classes from another recession. She translates her knowledge of economics and finance into down-to-earth language and examples.

Hillary Clinton entered the presidential race in mid-May. She polls ahead of the ever- increasing number of Republican opponents, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Donald Trump. Elizabeth Warren has insisted categorically that she is not interested in running for president. Yet, certain couples have ended up on the ticket when it appeared they were an unlikely match. Remember Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in 1960! I think we can agree that politics can be a surprising business at times. Let’s not rule out Hillary Clinton making an audacious decision when choosing her running mate in 2016. It might just be the dream team: CLINTON/WARREN!

Nicholas Winton: Quiet Hero

Nicholas Winton, a 29 year- old clerk in the London Stock Exchange, was getting ready for a ski vacation in Switzerland in December, 1938. His friend, Martin Blake, called him from Prague and said, “Don’t bother to bring your skis.” He was aiding refugees in the western section of Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland , that had just been taken over by Germany. When Winton arrived there, he found huge camps filled with Jews who had fled Germany and Austria after Kristallnacht, “ The Night of Broken Glass”.

On that night, November 9-10, 1938, Jewish homes, shops and synagogues throughout Germany and Austria were invaded and smashed by Nazi paramilitary. They dragged Jewish men and women into the streets where they were beaten, some fatally. One thousand synagogues were burned; seven thousand businesses destroyed. Shards of broken glass littered city streets. Thirty thousand men, woman and children were arrested and shipped to camps, later to grow into the infamous concentration camps during World War II.

In late 1938, Britain had begun a program, Kindertransport, to admit unaccompanied Jewish children up to age l7 if there was a British family who would take them. There was an offer of 50 pounds as a warranty for a return ticket eventually. The Refugee Children’s Movement in Britain sent representatives to Germany and Austria, resulting in 10,000 Jewish children being saved before the war began. However, there was no organized effort to save the children in Czechoslovakia when Nicholas Winton arrived. With the help of several friends, he created one. At first, he met desperate parents in his hotel room in Prague. They had heard he would try to get their children to safety in Britain. As numbers grew, he opened a store front office and long lines attracted Gestapo interest. He used bribery to deflect Nazi interference and eventually registered more than 900 children with the necessary paper work.

In early 1939, he left two friends, Trevor Chadwick and Bill Barazetti to run the Prague office and returned to London to raise money, find foster homes and arrange transportation. With the help of his mother and a few volunteers, he sought aid from the Refugee Children’s Movement. Photos of the children were printed and used to appeal for funds and foster homes in newspaper ads in church and synagogue bulletins. Hundreds of families volunteered to take the children and some money came from donors. Winton added to meet the costs. Next, he appealed to the Home Office for the necessary entry visas. When their response was slow with time running out in Prague, he later wrote, “This was a few months before the war broke out. So we forged the Home Office entry permits.”

Meanwhile, in Prague, Trevor Chadwick had made friends with the chief of the Gestapo and arranged for forged transit papers and bribes to be passed to key Nazi and Czech railway officials who had threatened to halt the trains and seize the children unless money was received. This cloak and dagger maneuver worked when Winton continued to send money for the bribes and to cover expenses for children whose parents had been arrested and shot. Other families sold possessions to pay for their children’s escape. In Britain, the bureaucracy red tape and paperwork went on every day. On March 14, 1939, the first train with twenty children left Prague as their parents sobbed and faced never seeing them again.

Winton and his friends arranged for eight more trains to take the children through Nuremberg and Cologne in Germany to the Hook of Holland. From there, they crossed the North Sea by boat to Harwich, Essex and finally by British rail to Liverpool Station in London. Winton and the host families were waiting. Each refugee child wore a name tag and carried a small bag. Only seven trains made it through the entire journey from Prague to London. The last train with almost 250 children, the largest group, was set to leave on September 1, 1939, the day Hitler invaded Poland. All borders controlled by Germany were closed and Winton’s massive rescue plan was over. In later years, Winton recalled, “Within hours of the announcement, the train disappeared. None of the 250 children aboard were ever seen again.” All were believed to have died in the concentration camps.

Six hundred and sixty nine children were saved by Nicholas Winton and his friends. Almost all were orphans by the end of the war; their parents killed at Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt in The Holocaust. After the war, many stayed in Britain, while others emigrated to Israel, Australia and the United States. Nicholas Winton served in the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) during the war and later worked for refugee organizations and a charity that assisted the elderly. In l983, he received the O.B.E. , the Order of the British Empire for his charity work.

But his work in saving the 669 Jewish children of Czechoslovakia was never known for fifty years! He never said anything to anyone, including his wife Grete, a Dane whom he married in 1948. By accident, in l998, Grete found Winton’s long-hidden scrapbook in their attic, filled with names, pictures, letters from families, travel documents and notes crediting his colleagues. When Grete asked him to explain, he gave her a general answer, but thought the papers had no value and suggested she throw them away. She responded, “You can’t throw those papers away. They are children’s lives.” Winton recalled, “I did not think for one moment that they would be of interest to anyone so long after it happened.”

Grete gave the scrapbook to a Holocaust historian. A newspaper article told the story. Then it was featured on the BBC and spread worldwide. Winton received the Czech Republic’s highest award, honorary citizenship, an American Congressional resolution, letters of appreciation from U.S. President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, President Ezer Weizman of Israel and people all over the world. His scrapbook rests in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Israel, where streets and schools are named for him. Statues went up in Prague and London.

On Nicholas Winton’s 100th birthday, the “Winton Train, Prague.– London” arrived at Liverpool station to honor him. Survivors, who call themselves ‘Winton’s Children’, and some of their six thousand descendants were on the train to celebrate his birthday and his deeds. Pictures show him vigorously welcoming them as he welcomed some of the original children more than fifty years ago. A quiet hero, Nicholas Winton died on July 1, 2015 at the age of 106 years. His name lives in blessed memory around the world. His daughter, Barbara Winton spoke of her father’s wartime heroism, “He believed that if there was something that had to be done, you should do it. Let’s not spend too long agonizing about stuff. Let’s get it done.”