How many arms does an octopus have? How many keys are in an octave? What does the word October mean? Octo is Latin for "eight." Mensis October was the eighth of ten months on that oldest Roman calendar. In ancient Rome, October "marked the close of the season for military campaigning and farming" (Wikipedia). The mosiac panel on the left has a 8-pointed star (appropriately) above the heads of the two men, who are facing each other. Their arms and empty hands suggest they are making peace, or perhaps congratulating each other after winning a battle or completing the hard task of harvesting.
n the well-known German fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, published in 1812 in the Grimm brothers' collection of folk stories, the siblings Hansel and Gretel meet an elderly woman who lives in a forest in a house made from gingerbread and other edible sweets. After being warmly received and well fed, they discover she is a cannibalistic witch who plans to eat them. The children outwit her, push her into the fiery oven intended for them, and escape. Picture above by English book illustrator Arthur Rackham's 1909 depiction of Hansel and Gretel meeting the witch.
Witches Eating Children
Sometimes, while affectionately talking to and touching or holding a beloved infant, a mother or other friend or relative says to that baby, "I could just eat you up!" The adult doesn't mean that literally, of course, but why do we humans even say it? A strange compulsion to express love by biting the flesh of the beloved seems built into us, doesn't it? Fortunately, though, rarely do any of us eat our children, or someone else's.
Cannibalism among humans is a historical fact, however--still happening, though rarely. In earlier centuries, in some European countries, especially reflected in folklore, it was believed that witches were cannibals who ate infants and young children--sometimes as sacrifices to Satan, but sometimes as a means of renewing themselves physically. By devouring the young and healthy, such witches believed they could overcame disease, aging, and even death.
Evil Witches and Good Witches
The two Halloween cards made in America in the early 1900s feature strikingly different witches: one ugly and old, the other beautiful and young —reflecting the ancient belief in both good and bad witches. The old witch,, obviously the evil one, is looking longingly at the children inside--no doubt wishing to capture one for dinner. She is accompanied by dark nocturnal creatures, a black cat and a hovering bat, traditional symbols of evil. The belief that black cats are evil began in Europe in the Middle Ages, then came to early colonial America. Many people believed witches could avoid being caught by turning themselves into black cats. Similarly, it was believed that vampires could escape detection by turning themselves into blood-sucking bats, as depicted in Bram Stoker's 1897 Dracula novel.
The good witch, on the other card, is accompanied by an owl, which can represent, depending on the context, either good or evil. Primarily, however, the owl, the favorite bird of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, has for eons symbolized wisdom. It is also a reminder that witches were originally prophets — seers like the blind man Tiresias and the woman Cassandra in Greek mythology; astrologers like the wizard Merlin, in Arthurian legends, who studied the heavens and could foresee the future. They could cast spells for good or ill, and were both revered and feared. The large smiling moon and shooting star, a traditional good luck sign, add to the positive tone of the Good Witch card.
Witches and Water
In the evil witch card, the children bobbing for apples are protected from the witch outside by the tub of water. One very old belief about witches and other evil beings is that water can literally kill them. Remember how the Wicked Witch of the West died in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz? She melted away when Dorothy threw some water on her. (I played that witch role in high school and well remember the scene in which I "melted.") Unfortunately, the 1939 movie popularized the historically false idea that wicked witches were green and dressed totally in black. The movie also had a Good Witch, however, Glenda, who helped Dorothy return home.
Another belief about witches and water, common from Medieval times into the 18th century, was that throwing or ducking someone accused of witchcraft into a body of water was a definite way of determining guilt or innocence, because water, used for baptism and spiritual purification, rejects evil beings. If guilty, the person floated, was rescued, jailed and/or killed; if innocent, the person sank (and usually drowned). It was a Lose-Lose situation.
Such an actual test by water occurred in 1706 in part of what was later Virginia Beach. Grace White Sherwood (born ca. 1660), a widow of about 47, was bound hands to feet and thrown ("ducked") from a boat into the Lynnhaven River. Fortunately, she was able to stay afloat and pulled back into the boat. She was jailed for eight years for witchcraft. It was the only time in Virginia that a trial by ducking occurred. The full account is in my article What's in a Name?Witchduck Road and the "Witch of Pungo," located on this website in the tab Archives, subtab This-N-That. The marker shown below and a statue are now on the "Witch Duck" site.
Witches and "Devil Marks"
One way to know a woman was probably a witch was to examine her naked body for "Devil Marks"-- unusual moles, birthmarks and so forth. Before and again after the ducking of Grace Sherwood, a Jury of "Ansient and Knowing women" undressed and searched Grace "For all teats spotts and marks...not usuall on Others" and swore they found "two things like titts on her private parts of Black Coller." These were seen as "The Devil's marks," evidence of her being a witch.
Witches and Brooms
Why do witches fly on brooms? Because they don't have reindeer. Seriously, this aerial broom belief is another bit of nonsense that predates even the middle ages. Housekeeping with brooms was always a female task. Almost all people accused of witchcraft have been women who were "guilty" of such "sins" as not adhering strictly to their womanly "duties" of being second class citizens--submissive wives, devoted mothers, pious Christians. Grace White Sherwood was a perfect victim--a widow who owned extensive property, she was too well off, too intelligent, a gifted healer with herbs, an admirer of wild animals ... She was disliked (envied) by most of her female neighbors and (horrors!) wore men's clothing while working in her fields with her sons.
SOURCES:Personal knowledge, general knowledge, and scholarly research I did for various published articles including my doctoral dissertation (Coleridge's “Christabel” in Context) for my Ph.D. degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and articles I wrote for this website, including "Ancient Beliefs and Traditions Reflected in Old Halloween Cards" and "What's in a Name? Witchduck Road and the "Witch of Pungo." These two articles are on this website in WEBSITE ARCHIVES, sub tab THIS-N-THAT.
1. NOVEMBER 4 (SATURDAY)--ANNUAL FALL LUNCHEON at CNU: SAVE THE DATE! INVITATIONS will be emailed soon!To register officially, follow CNU's INVITATION directions. PLEASE REPLY BY DEADLINE. A PLANNING TO ATTEND LIST will be posted on this website in OCTOBER.
2. HONORING "CECY" CUNNINGHAM: We honored our first CNC president, "Scotty" Cunningham, by dedicating our Memories book to him, plus putting over $10,000 into the scholarship fund in his name, and later, encouraging CNU to name its Student Center after him. From 2007 onward, his widow regularly traveled from Maryland to our campus to attend every First Decaders event she could, including 50th reunions, as long as she could, even into her nineties, and in 2014, along with her daughter and son-in-law, she came with many boxes of "Scotty's" memorabilia to donate to CNU. On August 31, "Cecy" died, at age 98. The family requests donations to the Cunningham Scholarship. Do we want to do more to honor her dedication to our university? Send your suggestions to First Decaders chair firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. MAY 12TH (FRIDAY) 50th Reunion, CLASS OF 1973: SAVE THE DATE! INVITATIONS will be emailed by CNU. To register officially, follow CNU's INVITATION directions. PLEASE REPLY BY DEADLINE. A PLANNING TO ATTEND LIST will be posted on this website in APRIL.
A. J. Jelonek ('15) and A. J. Chambers Surprised by Awards at CNU's 2023 Ceremony
by A. Jane Chambers
The photo above shows the CNU Alumni Society's 2023 winners of awards posing with their awards on the porch of Klich Alumni House on August 11. Andrew (A. J) Jelonek ('15) is 4th from the left, next to CNU's new president, retired Rear Admiral Kelly, in the light blue jacket. Unless otherwise atated, all photos in this article were made by Alumni Relations staff.
A. J. Jelonek's Surprises
A. J. Jelonek's first surprise was that he got the Chambers award for volunteer service. Recently he wrote to me that his best CNU friend, classmate Zenith Haas ('15), had told him she nominated him for one of the other awards, so he was not surprised to get the invitation, believing all nominees were invited. His note concluded: "With the awards that Friday, and President Kelly’s inauguration that Monday, ... it was an opportune moment to make it a Hampton Roads weekend and visit some friends in the area I hadn’t seen in a while. And what a way for the awards to kick off that weekend! Wow. That was truly a surprise and an honor." Notice the slightly self-conscious look on his face in this photo as he began his walk to the podium to accept his award. His second surprise was learning the award included $1000, from me. I recently endowed the award.
The day after receiving his award, A. J. posted the above photo of it (L) on Facebook and wrote: "Still processing last night. Finally met the amazing Jane Chambers in person (we've been messaging each other for almost a decade now!) and then [found] out I won the CNU Alumni Society award named after her, AND was nominated by her! What a whirlwind, what an incredible honor, what a night" . The other picture (R) shows Alumni Society Board of Directors member Kelsey Fleshman (14) admiring A.J.'s award.
I met A. J. Jelonek viaFacebook his senior year at CNU, 2015, when I learned he was creating a mural inside a part of the Ferguson High School building still being used by Ferguson Center. He let me feature his work in an article which I published July 31, 2015 on our CNC website. Having completed his B.A. in theater in May, A.J. had returned to northern Virginia and was pursuing a career in theater, but still writing about Ferguson school's history and CNU's history and traveling to CNU to take pictures for articles published on our CNC website and/or on his history blog--including the Walker House site (now Alumni House site), the new Fine Arts Center construction, and the Ferguson Center's Colonnade Extension.
This past September A. J. completed a 3-year project titled TheArchitectural Ages of Christopher Newport University. In five parts (plus introduction and conclusion), it is filled with photographs and detailed information and is posted on his History Scout blog. His first full-time position in theater was as Venue Coordinator at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Currently he is the Executive Office Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer at Wolf Trap Foundation, a National Park specifically devoted to the Performing Arts. "My role there is very much a 9-to-5 desk job," he wrote, " but I’ve found in it a work-life balance I haven’t had in a long while."
A. J. Chambers's Surprise
After all the awards were given, CNU's President Kelly went to the podium and began talking about something called "Challenge Coins" (photos above, by Jackie Lyle). I must confess I was not listening very closely because I was getting a bit tired and hungry by that time . I have since consulted Wikipedia, which gives a full history of these coins, which possibly date back to ancient Roman military awards for exceptional valor in war. They now are given in numerous groups ranging from police and fire departments to sports teams and organizations of all sorts.
Wikipedia states these coins now "are also used as rewards or awards for outstanding service or performance of duty. As such, they are used as a tool to build morale. Coins given as awards for accomplishments are normally given to the recipient during a handshake, passing from the right hand of the giver to the right hand of the awardee. It is also normal for the giver to offer a brief explanation of the reason for awarding the coin." The above photo shows President Kelly giving me the coin in this manner. I was so stunned that I just sat there, mouth agape, not even hearing what he was saying. I had assumed he had been talking about someone like Baxter Vendrick, CNU's Senior Director of Alumni Engagement, not me. When the clapping stopped, I was still silent, at which point Baxter said, "I've known Dr. Chambers for nine years, and this is the first time I've seen her speechless."
If you took or taught classes at CNC between 1964 and 1968, you probably remember the ordeal of being in Newport Hall or Gosnold Hall on hot, sticky days when neither classroom building was air conditioned. Both were designed for air conditioning, but not funded for it for several years. How did we faculty and students survive the often overwhelming and humid heat on the Shoe Lane campus in those years, especially in summer classes?
Glued inside each 1965 CNC yearbook, the Trident, was a copy of this color photo of Christopher Newport Hall--the only picture thus far located showing all of the exterior of that first building on the Shoe Lane campus. Notice that the two separate one-story units on the front had some tall, very narrow louvered windows which opened outward. When cranked straight out, these provided some small relief from the heat, especially on breezy days, for those using the first campus library (left) and/or the lecture hall (right).
Less fortunate were the people using the offices and classrooms in the two-story unit of Newport Hall. The only windows that opened there were the small rectangular transoms below the fixed windows visible in the above Trident photo. Located in all the offices and classrooms, these transoms were essentially useless, because they opened only a few inches. Even worse, there were no shades, blinds, or curtains on most windows to block the sun's heat.
The one area on Newport's first floor that was air conditioned from the beginning was the Computer Center, because, unlike humans, the computers could not tolerate any humidity at all. On extremely hot days, especially during summer sessions, Professor Graham Pillow had more visitors than usual in that Computer Center because some faculty and staff, including me, would create excuses for stopping by there to cool off for a bit. The photo on the right, from the 1969Trident, shows Graham using the center's now obsolete hole punching machine.
Hotter than the first floor was, of course, the second floor, which housed faculty offices and classrooms. During one summer class meeting, English Professor Barry Wood placed a thermometer on a patch of shade on his classroom floor, and it quickly read over 100 degrees!
The above picture of Barry Wood (left) is from the 1969 Trident; that of Steve Sanderlin (right) is from the 1972 Trident.In his Memories book essay "Remembering the English Department's First Decade," Professor Steve Sanderlinwrote: "Teaching under such conditions was a real challenge! Dress rules suddenly changed: in summer sessions, students (but not faculty) could wear Bermuda shorts. Cold beverages, previously forbidden, were allowed in the classrooms. Huge, heavy roll-around fans were brought in, but these only blew the hot air around and made so much noise that one had to scream loudly to be heard. For the first time in my career, I taught without a coat and tie. Some of us longed to be back in the old Daniel building!" (p. 42). Built in 1914, the Daniel building, although not air conditioned, had excellent ventilation because of its very high ceilings and tall windows that opened wide.
Like Newport Hall, Gosnold Hall (1966 Trident photo above), completed in September of 1965, also had no air conditioning--plus the same style windows as Newport. In his Memories book essay "Marine Biologist Finds CNC His Perfect Port," Professor Ron Mollick (1971 Trident photo left), a San Diego native who joined CNC's Biology Department in the fall of 1968, wrote that initially he thought that his office in Gosnold was "uncomfortably hot" because of "malfunctioning air conditioning equipment," but , he added: "I soon learned that most buildings on campus were not air-conditioned! I immediately purchased a great big box fan that I placed at my door. It blew a gale and required that I weigh down every paper on my desk" (p. 57).
Ratcliffe Gymnasium and the combined Captain John Smith .Library and Smith Hall Administration Building opened in the fall of 1967. Both had central air conditioning by the second semester. The above Daily Press photo shows President Cunningham and Registrar Jane Pillow at the reception and mailboxes area in 1967.The hotter the weather, the more time students and faculty spent in those buildings, of course. And faculty also often lingered longer than necessary in Smith Hall, reading their mail posted in the reception area and socializing with colleagues in various offices.
Finally, in 1968, funding was allocated for the much-needed air conditioning of both Newport Hall and Gosnold Hall. Dr. Sanderlin recalled in his Memoriesbook essay that the installing of the central air conditioning system in Newport was "not without some mishaps .... One day as I was walking down the hall on the second floor, I heard a loud noise and anguished cries. The maintenance man installing equipment in the attic had fallen through the ceiling and landed on a student sitting in a classroom! Fortunately, no one was badly hurt. But this incident and others were not uncommon for a while" (p. 43). Accidents aside, what a relief it was for all when we were able to retire our electric fans.
Revised and republished September of 2023. ______________________________________________________________________
Pledge of Allegiance: Part 2
Seldom Known Facts about
Our Pledge of Allegiance:
by A. Jane Chambers
Revised September 2023
American artist Edward Percy Moran's 1917 painting of Betsy Ross presenting her 1776 flag to General George Washington.
There was no pledge of allegiance to our flag until well over a century after Betsy Ross made that first flag. Then, as the 19th century neared its end, two pledges of allegiance for school children to recite were written within five years. In 1887, Civil War Army veteran Captain George T. Balch, then auditor of the New York City Board of Education, wrote the first one:
"We give our heads and hearts to God and our country;
one country, one language, one flag!"
In 1892, in Boston, Baptist minister and Christian Socialist Francis J. Bellamy, writing for a popular children's magazine, penned the second one, meant primarily to be used in a nation-wide Columbus Day celebration:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The Pledges' Role in Restoring and Assuring Unity
The Great Seal (photo above), the official coat of arms of the United States, has been used since 1782 to authenticate documents of our federal government. Its theme is the Latin motto E PLURIBUS UNUM ("from many, one," or "out of many, one"). Its13 stripes, 13 stars, 13 arrows (symbolizing war) , and 13 olive branch leaves (representing peace) are reminders of the Revolutionary War, our first flag, and the 13 colonies ("the many") that united to form "the one" nation: appropriately named the United States of America.
The Civil War had shattered that unity. In the latter part of the 19th century, it was being restored--but slowly. Balch's pledge called America "one country"; Bellamy's called it "one nation, indivisible"--stressing more fully the unity of it. Though it had been divided, as predicted in Lincoln's "House divided" speech, Bellamy implied that it was again and must continue to be a united nation.
A major shift in the immigrant pool in the latter 19th century increased the importance of the pledge of allegiance. When Balch wrote his pledge, 1887, there were 38 states in our nation; five years later, when Bellamy wrote his, there were 44 states. The "many" making the "one" was rapidly growing and changing--not only the number of states, but the makeup of the nation's citizenry, adding an additional meaning to the motto E Pluribus Unum. In Colonial times, immigrants to "the New World" were primarily English-speaking Protestants from the United Kingdom. In the latter 19th century, immigrants were largely from a variety of European nations and were predominantly Roman Catholic. America was quickly becoming "the Melting Pot."
The photo above, taken in New York City in 1890, shows a classroom of Italian children reciting the Balch pledge. Because Balch worked for the city's Board of Education, his 1887 pledge was immediately required in all public schools in the city. The motivation behind requiring all American children--especially immigrant children--to recite the pledge daily was to assure their loyalty to our nation, whether or not it was their native land.
History of the Bellamy Pledge from 1923 to 1943
In the opening years of the 20th the Balch pledge steadily lost ground to the more popular Bellamy pledge, which quickly became the official pledge, although not yet officially adopted by Congress. The chart to the right summarizes changes to the pledge, only one of which was made by Bellamy, who died in 1931. He added only one word ("to"), for balanced syntax. In June of 1923, the first National Flag Conference was held in Washington, D.C. to draw up rules for civilian flag use. During that year, and the following one, the words "the Flag of the United States" and then "of America" were added, primarily to assure the loyalty of immigrants.
Chart from Wikipedia.
Two decades later, during World War 2, four major events occurred in the pledge's history, all in the early 1940s. First, on June 22, 1942 Bellamy's pledge was formally adopted by Congress as our flag pledge; next, on December 22, 1942, the Bellamy salute (see Part 1 of this article), which had become in Germany the Nazi Party salute, was removed from the pledge and replaced by the hand over heart gesture. Third, In 1945 the official name The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted by Congress.
And fourth, In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects students from being forced to salute the American flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. Some states--Hawaii, Iowa, Vermont and Wyoming--have never required that the pledge be recited in schools. Also, as of 2007, there are no pledge laws or statutes listed for Oregon, Nebraska, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico.
1954: The Addition of "Under God"
Baptist minister Francis Bellamy, a strong supporter of our Founders' belief in Separation of Church and State, did not include God in his patriotic pledge. The first person to propose changing that was Louis A. Bowman, chaplain of the Illinois Society of Sons of the American Revolution, who argued in 1948 that because President Lincoln used "under God" in his Gettysburg Address, it should be added to the Pledge. The DAR gave him an award. In 1952, the Catholic fraternal service organization the Knights of Columbus officially added "under God" after "one nation" to its recitation of the Pledge and urged Congress to make this change official. Initial Congressional attempts to do so failed however (Wikipedia).
Minister George MacPherson Docherty (L) and President Eisenhower (bowing) on Feb. 7, 1954, at the New York Ave. Presbyterian Church.
On February 7, 1954, President Eisenhower, recently baptized a Presbyterian, honored President Abraham Lincoln's birthday by attending Lincoln's church, the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Sitting in Lincoln's pew, Eisenhower was deeply moved by the sermon delivered by pastor George MacPherson Docherty, which was based on the Gettysburg Address. Docherty argued that "under God" should be included in the Pledge because that was what defined our nation and set us apart. The two men (photo left) had a conversation after the service, and the next day Representative Charles Oakman (R-Mich.) introduced such a Pledge bill in Congress and it passed (Wikipedia).
On Flag Day, June 14, 1954, Eisenhower signed the bill and the controversial phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The Cold War provided the impetus for addition of this phrase. At that time in our nation's history, many of our citizens wanted to emphasize the difference between a "godly" nation (the U.S.A.) and an "ungodly" one (the USSR--i.e., Russia). Even before the addition of "under God," federal government requirement or promotion of the Pledge of Allegiance resulted in criticism and legal challenges on various grounds, only one of which has been mentioned here (Separation of Church and State). Thus the history of our Pledge of Allegiance might not yet be finished.
Personal knowledge, general knowledge, internet photographs, and Wikipedia.
Donations to our Treasury are gratefully accepted. Make out checks to CNC First Decaders. Mail them to Sonny Short, FD Treasurer, 12738 Daybreak Circle, Newport News, VA 23602.
Your DECADER committee ALWAYS enjoys feedback on items that appear on this website. The feedback can be positive or negative...doesn't matter. It is just super for us to know that you are actually visiting YOUR website and have something to share.
Please don't hesitate to send us an email with a comment...we LOVE to hear from you!