Books by Marcus Bruce
Song of the Black Valiants: Marching Tempo
High Ground: A Collection of Poems /
Negro soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans
I am New
Orleans: A Poem
Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900 /
The Liberty Monument
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again on Life in Chicago
Gives Christian Her View
ARMY SERVICE FORCES
Chicago Signal Depot
1903 West Pershing Road
Chicago 9, Illinois
July 30, 1945
My dear Bruce,
Received your letter yesterday. It came when I most needed it. I was feeling a bit out. I suppose I have been
working too hard lately. 7 days a week. . . I have some vacation days with pay coming coming up but I am thinking of
either being paid cash for it or perhaps taking it about Christmas this year. We also get sick leave with pay. Free use
of the Clinic upstairs.
Sometime ago I received my raise . . . CAF$1620.00 a
year but the government is giving an increase in Civil service work making my salary $1902.00 a year. Equivalent to about $47.00 a
week. Not bad uh? The New increase plus my overtime showed on my check which for three weeks was $156.00. After all tax was
taken out I received but $112.00. I save all of my bonds and I have a desire to open a bank account. I
would have had a bond for each month I have worked but there were some things I just
had to get such as a good winter coat and my radio. I managed to buy during my first few months of working . . . a swell
furlined black Chesterfield sport coat . . . ran into about $66.00.
Though my little radio is second hand and I had to pay $35 for it, it's a very good one
and my best friend. I must admit while listening to the Contented program as I am now
doing, brings back memories of us. I am afraid I didn't know what happiness that was. Even now though, I am not unhappy. I
think the trip away from home has done a lot of good. It has given me a chance to be alone, to think things out. And in
all, I have never done anything to be ashamed of. In fact I have
too many squeamish ideas about sex to ever overstep myself.
Whatever happened between us, I believe, happened for
the best. Otherwise it would have taken many years trying to be what you wanted me to be without my knowing just what you
wanted me to be.. I would still be the same hard-headed narrow minded cuss who didn't know enough to put her cares away and
smile when her husband told her too. I see now what you mean. For instance there are many people I don't like but when they
smile with me . . . I return that smile. And before I know it -- I don't really hate that person after all. The only reason
for my behavior is that I was reared with such funny ideas
that I couldn't quite see any other side of a question but my side.
You said you never missed me but at Christmas time. On Christmas I didn't miss you either. I still held some
bitterness against you. Then too, Xmas was so lovely here in Chicago. I didn't miss anything or anybody much. The first
snow fell on Thanksgiving day. I was on my way to work at 6:30 a.m. that morn when I felt the soft flutter of snow gently falling
on my bare head. I held out my hand to really get the feel of it. I couldn't resist picking some up out of the gutter and
making a nice snowball with it.
When the folks here told me they hadn't had snow on Xmas since 1939 or so I told them we would have a white Xmas
because I was here now. Christmas morn found the streets, the sidewalks, tops of automobiles and window ledges everything
covered with a beautiful white blanket of snow. The kids had built a swell snow man 4 ft. high and all that day they amused
themselves pitching snowballs at it.
At that time I was living with the Pratts family who
were very nice to me. On Christmas Mr. & Mrs. Pratts gave me a genuine Indian bracelet. I like it very much and wear it
often. On my birthday -- Matt and Nesby, that's their names, stood beside my bed and sang Birthday greetings to me. Presented me
with a beautiful slip which I still have. Mr. Pratts was a railroad man therefore -- had money to burn. He could get at
the time, turkeys, meat anything he wanted out in the country parts much cheaper than in the city and
because of this they refused to take more than $8.50 a week for room and board and
any amount of ironing I wanted to do.
They insisted on taking me places. First the Rhumboogie Club, at which I witnessed a wonderful floor show and
difficult acrobatic stunts. Then they asked me if I had ever seen Sissies. I told them I hadn't so they took me over to Joe
Hughes place. It was halloween nite and that nite you are allowed to masquerade on the streets. So it was the sissies
nite. They went caberating after their act was over.
There's one who's name is Valda. Bruce, you couldn't
tell him from a woman the only difference was his voice is somewhat heavy. He and his followers are called 'The Female
Impersonators'. This Valda is supposed to be queen of the Sissies, beautiful figure and legs worth looking at. I also
observed sitting in the audience a couple of white sissies. They all dress lavishly . . . the best furs and gowns money
can buy. Long eyelashes and wigs that look like the real McCoy. Some have good hair which is fairly long. They double it up on
top their heads and wear a hat which is fairly long. Some very prominent people are considered as being linked with such
freaks . . . some day I'll tell you who. "Nite clubs all seem to be the same. You see one you see
them all. The blues singers make their blues sound as loud and sexy as they possibly can. At one niteclub I got fairly sick
just listening to the words of the song.
Sometime ago I went down to the Downtown theater to see and hear Marva Louis in person. I was a bit disappointed. She
is by no means ready for her audience. She needs lots more practice. Incidentally . . . this theater Marva appeared at
was at one time a Burlesque show but they closed down and later reopened as the Downtown Theater. It's former name was the
Rialto. they featured famous Negro Named Bands. Lionel Hampton played there and I went to see him. Our folks, I am sorry to
say behaved so outrageously that the management closed the theater and later reopened it again as the Rialto, a burlesque
show. There was an article in the paper which reprimanded them for their behavior and telling them they had lost a chance to
see some of their greatest Colored Band leaders. Sometimes one can see our Colored bands on stage at the Chicago, but not
As for Churches . . . Negroes here, like anywhere else . . . pick anyplace for a house of God, dirty, filthy, broken
down structures I wouldn't want to put garbage in. Of course there are some very beautiful Churches but I am speaking of
the more ignorant class. Most of the men are rowdy, ugly, and overbearing. They'll knock you down to get
ahead of you on street cars.
Every morning I've got to fight my way on the car or be left behind. One hardly ever
sees a man offer his seat to a woman. It just isn't done. Such a polite animal doesn't exist,
here in Chicago, of course. Coming home on the subway one day
. . . my arms ladened with bundles, feet hurting and having to stand I was suddenly taken by surprise when a white man smiled
and offered me, not his seat, but to hold my bundles. Can you imagine? These men, they'll beat you to a seat then grin into
When I speak of men, I mean of both or all races, if you please. There has actually
been a case when people, crowding and pushing to get on the car have trampled the conductor
almost to death. They're vicious. But don't worry, your sugar has learned to fight her way.
One reason for this bad transportation is the shortage
of manpower. They're asking for trolley pilots, white or Colored, but don't seem to be answering the ads. Then too, the blocks
here are so long. One block here is equivalent to two of New Orleans city blocks. It takes me 45 minutes just to get to
Speaking of our marriage . . . I agree with you when you speak of our marriage being successful if it were not for
outside interference. The whole thing was . . . I loved my folks, and I loved you and which I loved the greater I didn't
know. But, if upon seeing you I feel as I do now, I am sure of which I shall give up.
My sisters have built a swell house in Wills Point and have offered me a home with them but after living up here,
with broadened ideas I am not sure I'll be able to ever really live with them again.
When I first wrote you I was intensely bitter towards you, I wanted to hurt you as you hurt me. At the time I wrote
the letter I meant the two statements to stick to you. I see, it did. Whether the statements are true or not doesn't matter
because you won't believe me one way or the other.
Yes, I can search through my memory . . . and find
things that are fine, loving and again there are things which you
said I can't ever forget. True, you never professed to love me. You did everything in your power to keep from telling me so. It
was mostly guess work with you. You've got to learn a woman needs more than just 'You're all right'. 'I like you all right'. It
just doesn't show anything. Surely, you don't think I've forgotten the third party?
And the remark you made after one of our foolish little quarrels. Mainly . . . "Just to think if I hadn't married
you, when Irene came she would have had a place to stay."
This, and other things, I shall be a life time forgetting.
As for children, I don't think that quite matters now. But anyway I wanted a child
moreso because I thought even though we hadn't built so well together that this would be
something we both built and created together. But, I don't know, some people are happy without children.
If you notice in my letter, I am not blaming you wholly, nor am I blaming myself wholly. And as you say, we both have
When I left you I didn't intend that you should live alone. I know a man must have a woman, you've taught me that.
So, if you've become entangled elsewhere I don't blame you.
I don't remember saying I intended coming back to you though I suppose the letter may have carried that summation.
But if I do, I don't know when, maybe one year, maybe two. At any rate, by reading your letter it seems to me that any
entanglements you may have gotten into you are willing to
break . . . that's what I read between the lines. Maybe I'm wrong.
I am so glad you liked the picture. You have the only pose like it. Do you suppose your sister would care for one?
If you want to know why a girl like me would be
concerned about a guy like you who is all the things he says he is and more . . . I wouldn't differ with you on that score for
anything in the world. You might even add the poor insignificant, rebellious pagan, make it good and strong while
you're at it . . . . I know . . . maybe someday I'll tell you.
I'll always be a good girl, haven't been anything else. You just watch your end and if you do half as well as I am
doing . . . I'll love you more.
Give my regards to Sister, and Dr. Quarles. Is Dr. Daly still with the University? If you should see him remind him of
my folder of typewritten material which I want sent to me. I wrote him about it but have received no answer. I would like
to have the folder as soon as possible.
In your next letter, include the phone number of the Library and tell me what time you're most likely to be at your
desk. I may phone you one day.
I am working hard so that someday I'll be able to buy that Refrigerator, New gas stove, ironing board, etc. that I
want so badly IF we should try again. Stay sweet,
"P.S. About the present I wanted to send to you. While Downtown a few weeks ago I stopped in at The Tropical Trading
Store and saw there a beautiful hand-carved African piece of work. The bust of an African carved out of wood. Very delicate
finish. I planned to get it for you. I went back yesterday and it was gone. however, there is another one not quite as fine a
piece of work but if you'd like to have it I could get it for you. If you're not interested maybe I could send you something
that you'd be able to use. What did you think? They seem to be fair at this store. I asked about several other pieces which
seemed African and they told me they were made in U.S.
Bruce, I am sorry about this badly typed letter. You
see, the only time I can type is on my rest periods or after work and I've really got to rush. I hope the letter doesn't prove
too boring. If it is boring, will you let me know? And I'll limit it to shorter pages.
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Ruth Warm again on Chicago and Gives Christian Her View of
Ruth Unhappy with Christian's Response
Ruth Lonely for
Christian Chicago Wears Thin /
Ruth Enjoys Negro
Life in Chicago /
Ruth, the Bible, & a
Ruth Anxious Aout War's
End Plans to return to Will's Point
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Selected Diary Notes
Memories of Marcus B. Christian
BioBibliographical Record Introduction to I AM NEW
Theory of a Black Aesthetic Magpies,
Goddesses, & Black Male Identity
Activist Works on Next Level of Change
Intro to I Am New
Letter from Dillard University
Labor of Genuine Love
Letter of Gift of
LSU and Skip Gates
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Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900
By Marcus Bruce Christian
Study of the blacksmith tradition and New
Orleans famous lace balconies and fences.
Acclaimed during his life
as the unofficial poet laureate of the New Orleans
African-American community, Marcus Christian recorded a
distinguished career as historian, journalist, and literary
scholar. He was a contributor to Pelican's
Gumbo Ya Ya, and also wrote many articles that appeared
in numerous newspapers, journals, and general-interest
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Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—
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The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance
Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It
By Les Leopold
How could the best and brightest (and most highly paid) in finance crash the global economy and then get us to bail them out as well? What caused this mess in the first place? Housing? Greed? Dumb politicians? What can Main Street do about it? In The Looting of America, Leopold debunks the prevailing media myths that blame low-income home buyers who got in over their heads, people who ran up too much credit-card debt, and government interference with free markets. Instead, readers will discover how Wall Street undermined itself and the rest of the economy by playing and losing at a highly lucrative and dangerous game of fantasy finance. He also asks some tough questions: Why did Americans let the gap between workers' wages and executive compensation grow so large? Why did we fail to realize that the excess money in those executives' pockets was fueling casino-style investment schemes? Why did we buy the notion that too-good-to-be-true financial products that no one could even understand would somehow form the backbone of America's new, postindustrial economy? How do we make sure we never give our wages away to gamblers again? And what can we do to get our money back? In this page-turning narrative (no background in finance required) Leopold tells the story of how we fell victim to Wall Street's exotic financial products. Readers learn how even school districts were taken in by "innovative" products like collateralized debt obligations, better known as CDOs, and how they sucked trillions of dollars from the global economy when they failed. They'll also learn what average Americans can do to ensure that fantasy finance never rules our economy again. The Economy
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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Browse all issues
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 2 March 2012