CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

January 7, 2017

America’s First Untethered Balloon Flight 1/9/1793

Carolyn’s Online Magazine

AMERICA’S FIRST

UNTETHERED BALLOON FLIGHT

1/9/1793

On the morning of January 9, 1793 no trades were made and no business was undertaken in Philadelphia. All the shops were closed.

Starting at sunrise two field artillery pieces inside the Walnut Street Prison courtyard fired every quarter hour, creating an atmosphere of celebration and anticipation.

As the early morning temperature rose into the 40s a 5-foot tall flamboyant Frenchman, Monsieur Jean-Pierre Blanchard, entered the courtyard. Dressed in bright-blue knee breeches, a matching waistcoat and a cocked hat with white feathers, he looked, for all intents and purposes, like a Shakespearean actor ready for his role in a great drama.

However, Blanchard was not an actor. Accompanied by the sounds of a brass band playing soul-stirring martial music he prepared to take America’s first hot air balloon flight. The famous Frenchman busied himself inflating his huge silk balloon with gaz, produced by mixing iron chips in the vitriolic acid, as a throng of spectators watched.

At 10:00, as Blanchard had promised, he was ready to start his 45th ascension, confident it would cause his name inscribed in America’s history books. His Journal of My Forty-Fifth Ascension states he came to the New World because ‘the [Western] Hemisphere had as yet only heard of the brilliant triumph of aerostation [the art or science of ballooning]; and the people who inhabit it appeared to me worthy of enjoying the sublime spectacle that it affords.’

When the United States chief executive, Gen. George Washington, arrived at 9:45 a. m. a hushed quiet descended on the crowd. As he, the French ambassador, and other dignitaries entered the courtyard fifteen cannons roared in salute and Blanchard removed his plumed hat, bowed briefly and exchanged pleasantries with his distinguished guests.

Towering over Blanchard, Gen. Washington presented the balloonist with a passport written by his own hand to be used as proof for the people Blanchard would meet after landing, proving he wasn’t an enemy of the United States, nor was he part of an advance guard of an airborne French invasion.

At the last minute a well-wisher shoved a small black dog into Blanchard’s arms. He rather dubiously accepted the dog, dropping it into the basket already laden with ballast—including meteorological instruments and some refreshments anxious friends had given him.

At 10:09 Blanchard affixed to the aerostat to the basket, thanked the president, confidently leapt into the balloon’s basket. The cannons fired a final salvo Blanchard as threw out some ballast and nodded to his assistants to release the restraining ropes. A gentle wind lifted the balloon skyward.

Thus America’s first untethered manned hot air balloon flight, carrying the first United States airmail letter, began.

 

 

Blanchard acknowledged the oohs, aahs, and cheers of the watching throng by waving his hat in one hand and a flag, ornamented on one side with the armoric bearings of the United States and on the other with the three colors so dear to the French nation.

Prior to the liftoff Blanchard had advertised the following notice in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser: ‘If the day is calm…I will ascend perpendicularly; but if the wind blows, permit me, gentlemen, to advise you not to attempt to keep up with me, especially in a country so intersected with rivers, and so covered with woods.’

The day was calm. Blanchard’s balloon ascended perpendicularly and so easily Blanchard was able to enjoy the different impressions which agitated so many of the sensible and interesting persons observing.

The exuberance from the prison courtyard was quickly followed by yells of pleasure from a massive crowd—half the city’s population—waving their hats, lifting their hands, and shouting words of encouragement:

Bon Voyage!

God Bless you!

Blanchard looked down on the city from a height of 1200 feet, probably astonished that all of Philadelphia watched him drift above the city. He heard the everyday echoes of their life rent the air: cries of an infant, barks of a dog prowling the alleys for food, the shout of a chimney sweep seeking work.

“Accustomed as I long have been to the pompous scenes of numerous assemblies, yet I could not help being surprised and astonished when, elevated at a certain height over the city, I turned my eyes towards the immense number of people who covered the open places, the roofs of the houses, the steeples, the streets and the roads, over which my flight carried me in the free space of the air. What a sight!,” he wwould later write in his journal.

Some spectators galloped down the Point road hoping to overtake Blanchard. They soon returned, declaring that the balloon was out of their sight. Many others regretted not stopping at the Oeller’s Hotel to purchase a ticket, sold by Blanchard—$5.00 for the best spot, $2.00 for back seats— because his expenses exceeded his income. By not doing so, they missed best spot to observe the most interesting scene the human eye ever beheld and to join President Washington, Vice President John Adams, and Secretary of state Thomas Jefferson, in doing so. Perhaps House of Representatives leader James Madison and James Monroe were also present.

The city remained closed until the balloon was lost to sight. However, people gathered for miles around on the surrounding hills and along the Atlantic coast were alerted by the cheers and yells. They watched the sky, hoping the balloon would fly in their direction. New Yorkers prayed for a sufficiently fair wind to direct Blanchard’s flight to their city.

Blanchard soared over Philadelphia like Icarus. From this unique vantage point he could easily see the entire square mile brick and wood city beneath him, beginning at the Delaware River and running west to Eighth Street, where the countryside’s unpaved roads began. He could see where the city ended at Vine Street, three blocks north of Market—the suburb of Northern Liberties was just beyond. Just one mile south the city ended at Cedar Street at the suburb of Southwark. He probably saw west as far as the Schuylkill River.

 

He saw ‘a whitish cloud (that) withheld from my sight for several minutes a part of the city of Philadelphia….A thick fog covered the south; toward the east…a mist arose, which prevented me from reconnoitering the area.’

The wind took his balloon east across northern Philadelphia, floated past Market and Race streets, crossed Fourth, Third, then Second streets. He had a bird’s seagull’s eye view of the working-class section of the city, the most densely populated city neighborhood. He saw houses belonging to blacksmiths, cordwainers, furniture makers, and other artisans and tradesmen, who worked on the first floor and lived above their shops with their families.

How small the people on the crowded sidewalks looked, shoppers on the way to the markets, clerks heading to shops selling goods from all over the world, servants wending their way through the crowd to complete their errands. Their busyness was interrupted as they paused, looked up, pointed to, gasped, and commented to each other about this strange thing floating in the sky above them. Blanchard could hear some of their yells that alerted non-observers to the sight.

As Blanchard’s air transportation floated over Philadelphia between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers he easily spotted and identified three towering buildings that testified to Philadelphia’s status as the nation’s political, cultural and economic capital during the 1790s. The newly constructed Bank of the United States was located in south Philadelphia, the city’s political and financial sector. Two blocks westward the State House and Congress Hall stood tall. He also saw the large public library and the museum that held an almost complete collection of the minerals and animals of North America. These structures marked the city as the single great metropolis in this newly formed country, a metropolis most agreeable to foreigners. The city was a gathering place for people who cultivate literary and scientific inquiry.

The wind shifted as Blanchard floated toward the Delaware River, pushing his aircraft south towards Philadelphia’s port—the center of commercial life where leathery-handed stevedores on the dock looked skyward. He saw warehouses lining the riverside, and wooden wharves, jutting into the Delaware River, that welcomed ships from the Caribbean, Europe, and ports as distant as India and China. They came to trade goods for produce from the Atlantic breadbasket, as the fertile Delaware River valley was known.

The balloon rose, carrying Blanchard south, parallel with the Delaware River. From on high he saw the handsome new mansions along Society Hill, above the recently covered Dock Creek, where the nation’s elite held their elaborate salons and luxurious dinner parties.

A mild northwest breeze carried the balloon steadily upward to about 200 fathoms as it traveled toward the Delaware River. As the balloon finally leveled off in a state of perfect equilibrium at 5,800 feet Blanchard observed sparkling sunbeams on the water below, making the river appear like a ribbon the breadth of about four inches.

A flock of wild pigeons flew by and scattered into two groups, frightened at the sight of a human being invading their special realm. The small dog whimpered restlessly at the sound of the bird’s activity, but was reassured by a pat on the head from Blanchard.

While airborne Blanchard became an aeronautical scientist (the first test pilot in America), performing several experiments. He filled and sealed six bottles ‘with that atmospherical air wherein I was floating.’ He next used his pocket watch to time his pulse, carefully noting that airborne his pulse averaged 92, while earthbound it was no more than 84 in the same given time….’ He also weighed a lodestone that earthbound ‘raised 51Ž2 ounces avoirdupois’ but at his greatest altitude weighed only 4 ounces.’

As Blanchard floated through the sky the winds pushed him where they would. It balloon continued to drift southeasterly across the New Jersey side of the river in an increasing wind. Blanchard relaxed briefly, satisfying his appetite ‘with a morsel of biscuit and a glass of wine.’

Thinking he saw the Atlantic Ocean in the distance Blanchard prepared to descend. He carefully stowed his delicate instruments in boxes to prevent them from breaking on landing. He cleared several decorations from the side of the basket, valved out some hydrogen, and emptied several excess ballast bags overboard.

Then he guided the balloon in a downward course by carefully manipulating the gas valve and judging the weight of remaining ballast, steering it to a safe landing in an open, plowed field near Woodbury, N.J. 46 minutes after his departure from Philadelphia the first aerial voyage in America ended successfully after traveling about 15 miles.

Upon landing his canine passenger immediately debarked and made off for the nearest tree.

Blanchard worked quickly to release the gas from the silken globe then unloaded his instruments, checking them for breakage. Only his barometer was broken.

He next had to solve a common balloonist problem: how to return to Philadelphia. He sighted his compass toward the northwest and saw a farmer staring open-mouthed at him, a strange foreigner who dropped so silently from the skies.

Knowing little English, Blanchard yelled out in French, frightening the farmer, who stepped backward several paces. Blanchard, fearing he’d run away, held up the bottle of wine and gestured to him to share a drink. The husky farmer approached warily and took a sip, but only after the stranger downed a swig first. Blanchard soon had a willing helper, thanks to the medium of ‘the exhilarating juice of the grape.’

Although they couldn’t converse and the farmer couldn’t read the passport letter Blanchard carried, the farmer recognized Washington’s name Washington when Blanchard spoke.

A second farmer arrived, armed with an ancient musket. Frightened by the huge globe lying on its side, he dropped his gun and lifted his hands skyward in prayer. The first farmer explained what he understood of the situation again, the name Washington was understood. More people appeared and saw Washington’s letter, and everyone helped this intriguing stranger. Several men neatly folded his balloon and stowed it in a wagon. Others escorted him to Cooper’s Ferry on the banks of the Delaware River, where Blanchard crossed to the Pennsylvania side.

Before he bid his new-found friends goodbye he quickly drew up a document and asked them to certify ‘that we the subscribers saw the bearer, Mr. Blanchard, settle in his balloon in Deptford Township, County of Gloucester, in the State of New Jersey, about 10 o’clock 56 minutes, a.m….on the ninth day of January, anno Domini, 1793.’

Blanchard, arriving in Philadelphia that evening, was greeted by a cheering crowd of well-wishers who formed lines to shake his hand. At 7 p.m., he fisited President Washington and presented him with the flag he had borne aloft on his epic flight.

The experiment was pronounced a complete success. All manner of uses to which the balloon might be put were suggested in jest and earnest. Money was raised to pay back the four hundred guineas the experiment had cost Blanchard.

The brief flight deeply affected all who witnessed the takeoff. Dr. Benjamin Rush, in a letter to a colleague, wrote: ‘For some time days past the conversation in our city has turned wholly upon Mr. Blanchard’s late Aerial Voyage. It was truly a sublime sight. Every faculty of the mind was seized, expanded and captivated by it, 40,000 people concentrating their eyes and thoughts at the same instant, upon the same object, and all deriving nearly the same degree of pleasure from it.’

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January 1, 2015

To Be Resolved in 2015

CAROLYN’S ONLINE MAGAZINE

WHAT WASN’T RESOLVED IN 2014

WILL BE RESOLVED IN 2015

 NOTE: Considering the trials and delays in beginning my new blog site (read Problems Creating a New WordPress Blog ) I decided I’d continue posting on this site until the issues are resolved. This first post goes back to January 1, 2015.

Thank you all for bearing with me.

free-new-year-clip-art-2-150x150

Dates that come around every year help us measure progress in our lives.

One annual event, New Year’s Day, is a time of reflection and resolution.

Joseph B. Wirthlin

Have you written your New Year’s resolutions yet? After all, it is New Year’s Eve/Day, time for Old man two-oh-fourteen to step aside (willingly or unwillingly) and allow the birth of newbie two-oh-fifteen.

It’s also the time we are expected to welcome Newbie 2015 with a list in hand—a list of resolutions with which we are to write in the first blank page of a 365 page journal, which, through the year, will become a good book.

The December 22, 2014, WordPress prompt asks How did you do on last year’s New Year’s resolutions? Do you anticipate there will be any leftover items to be carried over to next year?

4 New-Years-printable-artI found my 2014 list of eleven 2014 resolutions…from which I’ll pick the top five to evaluate, based on the WordPress questions. One note: (more…)

October 30, 2014

Sears Employees Demonstrate Kindness

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SEARS EMPLOYEES DEMONSTRATE KINDNESS

Making a Difference in a Customer’s Life

Even though the wet spot under the car could be a remnant of the rain that fell the previous night, my suspicions were raised: Was there something wrong with the car? As a sensible human being I don’t trust mechanical contraptions.

I’d driven 40 minutes that morning, from home to the 2014 Health & Education Expo, a senior health expo supported by the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners, the Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging and other county agencies. I met Kim Ward, Pennsylvania State Senator, whom I’d previously contacted on legislation on open adoption records for adult adoptees. I’d taken advantage of several offerings—a hand massage, a back massage, a hearing test, a blood pressure reading, lots of candy samples, a snack.

And I’d enjoyed a presentation by KDKA-TV news anchor and caregiver advocate Jennifer Antkowiak titled Don’t Stress! Coping with Caregiver Stress.

It came time to leave, so I went to my car and saw the suspicious almost-puddle under the hooded part of my car. I pulled out my camera (of course, very low battery) and snapped a couple of shots of the wet spot

141029 DSC03904E

141029 DSC03905Ebefore I drove to the mall across the 4-lane highway and parked behind Sears, where I had to make an exchange. I accomplished my mission and, not having to rush home I wandered around the mall stores for a couple of hours.

Wanting to drive home in daylight I went to the car just before sunset. As I approached the car I noticed an almost-puddle under the front of the car.

141029 DSC03907EOops. My suspicions had confirmation. I again pulled out my camera and snapped a picture.

The car had a problem, and I had about 7 miles of wooded highway to drive through, a drive that would make a lone woman vulnerable if the car was disabled, particularly at dusk or later.

My cell phone had experienced problems and wasn’t working, and I hadn’t picked up my husband’s cell phone. I’d been enjoyable incommunicado all day, but now I was concerned.

I went into Sears and stopped at the service desk closest to (more…)

September 4, 2014

Woolly Worm’s Prediction for Winter 2014-2015 & 11 Facts About the Woolly Worm

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

11 FACTS ABOUT THE WOOLLY WORM a. k. a. WOOLLY BEAR

And

ITS PREDICTION FOR WINTER WEATHER 2014-2015

Follow me on Twitter #CarolynCHolland

Sit and relax?

Sit and relax?

STAY TUNED TO THIS POST for any future updates on the woolly worm’s prediction for winter 2014-2015. The data isn’t out yet. My daughter Sandy reports the first sighting, with black on both ends. If you spot a woolly worm/woolly bear let me know, in the comment box, the color of its stripes and therefore its prediction.

NOTICE: CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS moved to

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (COMe) in January 2015.

I invite you to visit the new site.

My personal first September sighting of the woolly worm was in my daughter’s garden in the late afternoon of September 9. It was hidden in the leaves of a large cabbage she was picking for me: 140809 IMG_0139E

This is the time of year that people actively seek to discover what the coming winter will be like. One resource they search online is the wooly worm a.k.a. woolly bear. In the tradition of past years, I’m posting a feature on the creature, this year in the form of a quiz. Previous posts discuss other aspects of the woolly worm:

Wooly Worm Winter Weather Prediction 2013-2014

The 2012-2013 Weather Prediction from the Woolly Worm & Accuweather

Wooly Worms Predict the 2011 PA. Winter Weather

 Cry foul on the frigid cold---too cold to swim.

Cry foul on the frigid cold—too cold to swim.

QUESTIONS

  1. What’s the difference between the woolly worm and the woolly bear?
  2. The woolly worm is well-known because…
  3. The woolly worm is actually not a worm, or a bear. What is it?
  4. How fast do woolly worms crawl?
  5. How many stripes does a woolly worm have?
  6. Original studies of the woolly worm were done in 1948 by whom?
  7. How many different species of tiger moths are there?
  8. What two towns celebrate the woolly worm at annual October festivals?
  9. What determines the woolly worm’s coloring?
  10. What special traits do Arctic woolly worms have?

BONUS QUESTION

What three ways does the woolly worm pass its winter weather prediction on to us humans?

A bundle

A bundle

Click on MORE to learn the answers.

(more…)

September 2, 2014

6 Lessons From the Aids 2014 Conference

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

6 LESSONS LEARNED

FROM THE 20TH INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE

HELD IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA IN JULY 2014

 No one can be left behind if the AIDS epidemic is to come to an end by 2030. This was one of the main messages of the 20th International AIDS Conference, which closed in Melbourne, Australia, on 25 July (2014).

AIDS 2014 concluded with a general sense that, despite all the progress made to date, the social determinants of the epidemic still need to be addressed. Existing punitive laws and stigma and discrimination were identified as some of the main barriers to bringing the epidemic under control. Catering for the needs of adolescents and key populations at higher risk of infection was identified as important for an effective response to AIDS, as well as focusing programmes in the geographical areas where most new HIV infections occur.*

The conference, organized by the International Aids Society, was attended by more than 16,000 members from more than 177 countries. The society is the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals working at all levels on the global response to AIDS.

world_aids_day_special_poster-rf5f9f38e9e654de38cc1b2da8dc2586c_wjc_8byvr_324

SIX LESSONS FROM THE AIDS 2014 CONFERENCE

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August 17, 2014

The PA Senate Hearing on HB 162: Open Records for Adult Adoptees

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THE PENNSYLVANIA SENATE HEARINGS ON HB 162:

OPEN ADOPTION RECORDS FOR ADULT ADOPTEES 

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NOTICE:

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS moved to

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (COMe) in January 2015.

I invite you to visit the new site and encourage you to Follow it.

New and updated articles on adoption will be posted on COMe

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A DISCUSSION

Through the years I’ve seen how adoption has affected all members of the adoption triad—the adoptee, the birth mother, and the adoptive parent.

Adoptees struggle with belonging issues, with identification issues. They lack a biological tie to their cultural and medical histories. They struggle involves, for some, feeling worthless because “someone didn’t want them, someone threw them away.”

The birth mother struggles with her inability to raise her birth child, for whatever reason. I’ve seen birth mothers sob soul deep at releasing their newborns. Statistics are overwhelmingly high for these women, who wonder what happened to their child, if they made the right decision, and hold a desire to find them.

The adoptive parents struggle with helping their child understand, with not knowing their child’s cultural and medical histories, with others who consider the adoptive child as a second choice.

I was fortunate when my husband Monte and I adopted our daughter. I landed a job doing adoption home studies in a neighboring county. I didn’t know anyone else going through the adoption process, but I could make appointments and interview prospective adoptive parents.

The job ended after nine months, when Catholic Charities placed our daughter with us.

In later years my husband and I became foster parents for women planning on releasing their infants for adoption. We also provided support for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents.

ASSURANCES OF CONFIDENTIALITY

During our adoption process the Catholic Charities caseworker assured us of confidentiality—that is, we would not know the birth mother, nor would she know us. That’s the way it was done in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s—it was something one didn’t question.

While doing home studies, I too assured the potential adoptive parents of confidentiality, as well as the occasional birth mother I had contact with. Again, that’s the way it was done at the time.

MISREPRESENTATION

Neither agency informed me that, at that time, and what would become a period of 60 years, Pennsylvania born adult adoptees could access their original birth certificate (OBC). It wasn’t until 1984 that adult adoptees were blocked from accessing their OBCs.  Thus, confidentiality promises made to the members of the adoption triad during this time were…seemingly…a (more…)

August 12, 2014

Supermoon: August 10, 2014

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SUPERMOON: AUGUST 10, 2014

140810 IMG_9899E

In February 2002, while writing a story about moon rocks, I was privileged to hold some samples, which were embedded in plastic. They were in the care of  Tony Henderson, who then headed the Geibel Aerospace Program and was a member of the US Air Force Auxiliary, CAP.

“I even have to take them to the bathroom with me,” she joked.

On Sunday evening, August 10, 2014, there was a super moon— which occurs when a full moon or new moon coincides with the closest approach the moon makes to Earth, the result is an exceptionally large appearance.* The special cosmological treat is unmatched by the year’s previous three moons, which were unofficially granted the title of supermoon, whose sizes are a mere 10% smaller.

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I attempted to photograph a super moon under adverse conditions. I was without tripod, and thus could only hand hold my camera. Not only that, I’d been neglectful in charging my spare battery, and the one in my camera went kaput after several shots. Talk about a photographer’s nightmare! However, I did the best I could.

I lost my opportunity to take quality photos of the year’s most magnificent supermoon, the biggest and brightest full moon of the year.  But as the cliches directs, when life hands you lemons, you can make lemonade.

While snapping away I noticed I was getting not your every day good moon photos, but surprisingly artistic results. Here is one of my “lemons:”

140810 IMG_9904 - Copy

Being on an artistic roll, I decided to play with some of the simple special effects found in my art workshop. Below are some of my results:

140810 IMG_9904e mir (more…)

July 29, 2014

Krista Blake: Teenage HIV Victim

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

KRISTA BLAKE, TEENAGE HIV VICTIM

No one can be left behind if the AIDS epidemic is to come to an end by 2030. This was one of the main messages of the 20th International AIDS Conference, which closed in Melbourne, Australia, on 25 July (2014).*

The publicity for the conference was increased, unfortunately, by an airline crash that killed 6 participants. Organizers of the conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, determined not to cancel the event because they felt continuing would be what the victims would have wanted.

Reading about the conference brought back memories of a young woman with AIDS. The Family Support Group (FSP) of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, invited her to speak to community members on September 30, 1992. In light of the Melbourne conference I thought it appropriate to retell her story, which is still relevant today.

i_have_aids_please_hug_me_hiv_aids_posters-r7880392d812d4f95bb26fe45ea7bf6bc_wvg_8byvr_324

Krista, who contracted the AIDS virus at age 16, learned she was HIV positive at age 18. In January 1992 Krista spoke at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania. Margaret Young, an FSP board member, and I attended the event, at which a vibrant, capable speaker presided. In April, when speaking at Edinboro State College (PA), she was described as “gutsy, independent, funny…and she’s been given a virtual death sentence.”**

When the Ohio woman arrived in Jamestown September 30th Margaret noted “how downhill Krista had gone.” We saw that her health had deteriorated to the point that, as head of the FSP, I debated whether to even allow her to speak. She had trouble breathing and she had to struggle to get every word out.

It was difficult to stop Krista from speaking, even though her sister was present and knew what she wanted to say. However, I felt that Krista was due the respect of making the decision on what she could handle, even if she was tired and had a headache.

Krista was so unable to sit still during the presentation that she “unnerved” Margaret. She not only struggled with her words, at times she struggled with her thoughts. As she spoke, her sister had to answer many questions for her.

world_aids_day_special_poster-rf5f9f38e9e654de38cc1b2da8dc2586c_wjc_8byvr_324“I do pretty much the same things anyone else does. Maybe slower, maybe different,” she began. “But a couple of things have changed. I can’t

(more…)

May 25, 2014

Op-Ed Articles Part 1: Discussion

Filed under: WRITING TOPICS — carolyncholland @ 3:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

OP-ED ARTICLES Part 1: DISCUSSION

You want to have your say.

Especially when you are outraged over an issue and feel impotent to deal with it, you want to have a way to have your say.

One means of accomplishing this it to write an op-ed letter and submit it to your local newspaper. Your ideas and input can have an astounding effect on the readers of your op-ed.

However, like anything else, there are proper and improper ways to write op-eds. Op-ed Part I provides background information on op-eds. Op-ed Part II will provide information on how to write an op-ed.

The term op-ed means opposite the editorial page, the newspaper site of opinion articles. Op-ed articles, published by newspapers and online, are pieces that express opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper’s editorial board. They discuss diverse opinions on timely news from international to local issues.

NOTE: This is the first in a three-part series on writing op-ed articles. It discusses the ins and outs of this genre. The second article is a How To Write Op-ed, and the third is an actual op-ed on an issue I am particularly interested in.

The first op-ed page was created by Herbert Bayard Swope (The New York Evening World) in 1921 as a catchall for book reviews and obituaries.

The opinionated editorial essay is one of the few newspaper open to anyone with something to say about an issue they are concerned about.

The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed submission guidelines state, “The article should be a strong argument about an issue in the news.” As long as it is strongly opinionated with a valid argument, almost any topic is considered worthy of print.

Op-eds differ from letters to the editor in that

  • they are longer
  • authors can more fully develop their arguments
  • they carry more weight and authority

Op-ed articles are important because they

  • offer people not affiliated with the editorial staff an opportunity to share an authoritative view or perspective on current events or local concerns.
  • are an excellent way to get (an issue’s perspective) into the news.
  • offer alternate positions, generally from an expert in the industry or subject area (or occasionally a more general reader in the case of local news angles).
  • raise awareness by bringing attention to political, social, or other issues of particular importance to both the writer of the op-ed and the public they’re trying to reach** In a general sense, op-eds are offered to educate members of the public about an issue, beyond what the media outlet may have been covering independently
  • can have an astounding influence on readers
  • offer the author exposure by the simple act of his/her name and thoughts shared publicly through the media
  • published op-ed articles allow the author to state he is published
  • offer image-building—by helping to brand the author of the piece as an authority source on the particular issue at hand.

One key to writing op-ed articles is their timeliness in dealing with issues. If they are not timely with the news— current events or popular topics—papers will not print them because what’s hot in the news this week may become dull or over-analyzed by next week.

Thus, a quick submission is essential. Crucial, in fact.

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You might be stirred to write an op-ed on an issue that is close to you. Or you just might want to (more…)

May 11, 2014

The Worth of a Mother

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

NOTE: CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS now located at

Carolyn’s Online Magazine

THE WORTH OF A MOTHER

Drawing by my daughter Sandy when she was 4 1/2

Drawing by my daughter Sandy when she was 4 1/2

I wrote the above article on Friday, February 7, 1986, in response to a 20/20 show aired out of Youngstown, Ohio, on the previous day. At the time I was leading a parenting group and had spent eight years as a family day care home proprietor, which allowed me to be at home with my children and enjoy their growing up years. We (who are not employed out of the home and having children in child day care) are intelligent adults who made a decision to invest in our nation’s most valuable resource.

Trilium growing in our woods

Trilium growing in our woods

Something troubled me about a show, Working Mothers, aired on 20/20. I finally got it—there was a contradiction expressed in statements by two separate persons:

  • The psychological need to be a breadwinner
  • Children are our most important resource

It implies that a person not receiving a paycheck is not contributing his/her share. It is too bad that a mother’s worth is defined only in terms of the paycheck they bring home and not in their overall contribution to the good of society.

Another contradiction:

  • Parents not earning a paycheck are not pulling their weight
  • Parents (or others) caring for non-custodial children have more worth because they earn a paycheck

(more…)

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