Jul. 19, 2012

Tornado Warning

by Joyce Sutphen

That is not the country for poetry.
It has no mountains, its flowers
are plain and never poisonous,
its gardens are packed into blue mason jars.
There are no hedges bordering the roads, the sky
flies up from the ditches, loose in every
          Yet I knew it to be passionate,
even in its low rolling hills, where a red
tractor pushed through the oat field, cutting
down gold straw and beating a stream
of grain into the wagon trailing behind
in the stubble,
          I knew it to be melodious
in its birch woods, leaves shadowing
a stone-strewn river, the path along the bank
softened with pine needles, sunlight
woven in and out of branches, the many
colors of green, solid as a pipe organ's
opening chord,
          I knew it would haunt
the memory with its single elm,
where a herd of cows found shade
in the July heat, their bony tails
swinging the tufted bristle left and right
over the high ledge of a hip bone,
while at the horizon, a black fist
of storm came on, something not
to be averted, something singular
in its fury,
          as any blind heart knows.

"Tornado Warning" by Joyce Sutphen, from Straight Out of View. © Beacon Press, 1995. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

The Seneca Falls Convention — the first convention for women's rights — began on this date in 1848. The seed had been planted eight years earlier, and grew out of the abolitionist movement. Lucretia Mott and her husband were traveling to London to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention. Aboard the ship, they met a pair of newlyweds — Henry and Elizabeth Cady Stanton — who were also on their way to the conference for their honeymoon. Once in London, the six female delegates, including Mott and Stanton, found that they would not be seated and could only attend the conference behind a drapery partition, because women were "constitutionally unfit for public and business meetings." Mott and Stanton were outraged, and together they agreed that they really should organize their own convention.

Eight years later, on July 11, they ran an unsigned announcement in the Seneca County Courier that read: "A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, N.Y. [...] During the first day the meeting will be exclusively for women, who are earnestly invited to attend." Just a few days before, Stanton took the Declaration of Independence as her model and drafted what she called a Declaration of Sentiments, calling for religious, economical, and political equality.

Reaction to the convention in the press and the pulpit was mostly negative. The Oneida Whig wrote: "This bolt is the most shocking and unnatural incident ever recorded in the history of womanity. If our ladies will insist on voting and legislating, where, gentlemen, will be our dinners and our elbows? Where our domestic firesides and the holes in our stockings?"

Philadelphia's Public Ledger and Daily Transcript declared: "A woman is nobody. A wife is everything. The ladies of Philadelphia [...] are resolved to maintain their rights as Wives, Belles, Virgins and Mothers."

And the Albany Mechanic's Advocate claimed that equal rights would "demoralize and degrade [women] from their high sphere and noble destiny, [...] and prove a monstrous injury to all mankind."

In response, Frederick Douglass wrote in The North Star: "A discussion of the rights of animals would be regarded with far more complacency by many of what are called the wise and the good of our land, than would be a discussion of the rights of woman."

It would be 72 years before women would be granted the right to vote. Only one of the signers of the original Declaration of Sentiments was still living in 1920. Charlotte Woodward, who had been 19 and working in a glove factory in 1848, was too ill to cast her ballot.

It's the birthday of Charles Horace Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic. He was born in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1865. His father was a country doctor, and Charles and his older brother, William, would accompany him on his calls, and even assisted him in surgery on occasion. They both became doctors themselves, and joined their father's practice in the 1880s. After a tornado struck the town in 1883, forcing the town doctors and some local nuns to care for the victims in a dance hall, the Mayos and the Sisters of St. Francis decided to start St. Mary's Hospital. It opened in 1889, with the Mayos — father and sons — in charge of patient care. Charles and William performed all the surgeries there until 1905.

All three Mayos shared a passion for medicine and a commitment to keep up with the newest medical research. As their practice grew, they invited other doctors and scientists to join them in the country's first integrated group practice, which was now known as the Mayo Clinic. In 1915, they gave $1.5 million to the University of Minnesota to establish the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, and in 1919, they formed the Mayo Properties Association, a not-for-profit entity. The Mayo brothers transferred all their private holdings into the association, and began drawing salaries instead of a share of the profits.

Today there are nearly 4,000 staff physicians and scientists, and more than 54,000 medical students and staff employed at Mayo Clinics in the Midwest, Arizona, and Florida. Its success is due to the skill of its physicians and the core values of collaboration and information-sharing established by Charles Mayo and his brother.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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