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The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

10 Aug

 

Secret

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/secret/#like-244527

Would you have kept this secret for two generations? Maybe my Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept secret the fact that my grandfather Hugh Banks killed my Great Grandfather Daniel Finney (Hattie’s Dad) so that she could keep her sanity.  Guilt, embarrassment, shame, humiliation. I’m sure in the beginning after the murder it was all there deep within her soul, mind and spirit. But My Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept the secret so she could raise her three daughters (one of whom Mable was to become my mother) in relative peace, quiet and safety without passing this terrible haunting to future generations.  No judgment from me, only understanding.

 

The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney Banks

Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney was born Feb. 1905 in the poor coal mining hamlet of Davy, West Virginia.  A real looker in her youth blessed with a great sense of fashion and good taste Hattie though living in poverty was able to enhance her beauty through thrift and the ability to create something out of nothing.

With African and Sioux blood running through her veins her beauty soon caught the eye of the young men in the town. One named Hugh Banks seemed to have good prospects. Hugh like her Hattie’s dad Daniel R. Finney worked as a janitor. Not a high living job but one that could support a wife and future children. It also didn’t hurt that he was a strong strapping young man who was easy on the eyes.

They married sometime in the late 1920s when Hattie was in her early 20s looking forward to a bright future. Their first born child Mable Banks, (My Mom) was born May 2, 1930, and then came Helen on September 13, 1931 and finally Gladys on May 2, 1935. However as time progressed and the marriage wore on the initial first joys of wedded bliss gave way to drinking and horrible physical abuse from her husband Hugh. He regularly stayed out late getting drunk, spending the food and rent money on booze. A spirit of anger possessed him and he took out all the days slights on Hattie and their young children. Hattie always put herself between Hugh and the kids when he went on these violent tirades taking the brunt of the physical beatings and verbal abuse.

Finally on April 30, 1939 after a particularly horrible beating Hattie couldn’t take it anymore. In fear of her life she grabbed her three little girls and ran to the shelter of her parents’ house not far away. A very drunk Hugh Banks in hot pursuit of his wife followed her and demanded that Hattie and the girls return home with him. Hattie’s Dad, Daniel James Finney told Hattie to stay indoors while he went out to confront Hugh. Daniel Finney seeing Hugh in a violent drunken rage refused to allow his daughter and granddaughters to go with Hugh. An argument ensued and Hugh took out a pistol shooting Daniel Finney in the chest killing him instantly. Daniel’s brother Charlie Finney saw the murder, called the police and Hugh Banks was arrested.

Hattie and her mother Mary were devastated and in addition for many years Hattie carried the burden of guilt and shame that if she had not ran back to her parents’ house for protection perhaps her Dad, a strong healthy man would have lived even longer than his age of 75 years at the time of the shooting. Her choices haunted her for a long time but at least she found peace knowing that she had protected her three innocent young daughters and pride in the great love her Dad had for his family laying down his life for them.

Newspaper Clipping of the Murder

Daniel Finney Murder Newspaper Clipping

My Grandmother strong in her Baptist Faith eventually forgave her wayward husband supplying the information for my grandfather’s death certificate after his untimely death in prison from tuberculosis at age 30. No one from my grandfather’s family came to claim the body and he is buried  in the Potters Field attached to the prison.

Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Grandfather Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Daniel James Finney

Daniel James Finney Death Certificate

Shortly after the trial my Great Uncle Clarence came for Hattie and her daughters taking them to Dayton, Ohio where my mother grew up and later met and married my Dad Edward G. Palmer a union of 40 years that produced me and my brother Stephen.

Fast forward to the year 2000 when by then both my parents and my grandmother had gone onto glory. I met my common-law husband who like my grandmother’s relationship with her husband started off with great dreams and hope for the future but gradually deteriorated into an abusive relationship from which I too sought escape. For our final year together when the emotional, physical and psychological abuse was at its worst I prayed to God that this man would leave me and he did. He left me for a younger woman. A sigh of relief. A burden lifted from my shoulders. However though his physical presence was gone his psychological presence was rooted in my mind and soul. Though I had forgiven him it took years to dig up the roots and weeds of self-doubt and self-hate he had planted within me. Spirit never fails and after a brush with death from a minor stroke at age 49 and being Blessed to see 50 I began to experience a Change of Life. Not just from menopause which began physical changes within my body but spiritual and emotional changes. During all this upheaval my ancestors were with me, guiding me every step of the way. Each succeeding year as I progress through my 50s has brought me greater enlightenment and spiritual growth. Once I made the decision to answer my calling in this life doors open, thus here I am today to carry forward my Grandmother’s Legacy and be a blessing to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

But unbeknownst to my Grandmother and Great Grandmother a little girl cowering in front of a dusty little used attic window had peered out becoming an eyewitness to her Grandfather’s being shot to death by her Dad. Mable was always the quiet one of the three girls who took in many things but let out little.  As the Bible says  of conversations concerning Mary and Jesus, Mable Finney Banks was a small girl who took in and absorb all the things around her and pondered them in her heart……………….  From now on the events of that day would follow her all through childhood, young womanhood, and as a married woman with children and as she battled her own demons of schizophrenia. I shall take up Mable’s story in the next segment.

Thank you Sisters and be Blessed!

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Solitude ~ The Beauty of Silence

28 Jul

Solitude ~ The Beauty of Silence

Meditation

Deva Premal | Password [2011] – Mangalam 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4jx3sukfLM&feature=share&list=PL6C33307FF49553D1

So many of us are afraid of being alone. We seem to dread our own company seeking instead to dissolve ourselves in a sea of noise from the various technologies in our homes. We’ve lost the appreciation of peace and quiet. The solace found in a good book or quiet contemplative music. Always we seem to be on the run even inside our own homes. Perhaps we are really running from ourselves.

Beethoven ~ Silencio

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39DNaNAMKAU&feature=colike

I often visualize myself beside a mountain stream that runs alongside my cabin hideaway, seated along the rocky shore coast near a lighthouse watching the waves crash into the shoreline, just sitting contemplating nature, God’s beautiful creation. I find even within the busyness of New York I find myself, my peace, my tranquility in the early morning hours right as dawn is breaking beyond the horizon when all is still as Apollo’s chariot rides across the landscape.

As a young girl I grew to appreciate silence and it’s sister quiet from my Mom Mable Palmer. Whenever there was a thunderstorm with it’s accompanying lightening Mommy turned off all the lights, the TV, radio, did not allow us to talk on the phone or get near the windows. More or less my brother Stephen and I were sitting in the dark secretly wishing the rainstorm over so we could turn our television back on! My mother’s explanation for this retreat was “God is working.”  I did not appreciate this homespun wisdom until I was much older then I began to see God’s call for us to stop whatever we were doing and witness His power in Nature.

Claude Debussy – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

http://youtu.be/9_7loz-HWUM

The Organ Rehearsal Henry Lerolle  (French, Paris 1848–1929 Paris)

The Organ Rehearsal
Henry Lerolle (French, Paris 1848–1929 Paris)

A wise friend posted this as part of her blog message: “the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and his idea of busyness: that state of constant distraction that allows people to avoid difficult realities and maintain self-deceptions.” I believe like my colleague that we are distracted, engulfed and barraged by man made technologies. I think technology has become our Master and the sense of peace from Solitude found within Nature, a good book, or just silent meditation in the early morning is becoming ever more lost in our fast paced society. My ideal vacation would be near water, maybe a Lighthouse, the beach curled up with a good old fashioned book.

Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons (Full)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbpAFzyrx5o&feature=colike

Far from the maddening crowd, the raucous noise and loud talk, the vacuous never-ending din coming from radios, TVs, computers, Boom boxes, CDs, DVDs, and other devices that only add to the endless conversations already going on inside our heads.

Solitude is my sanctuary, my peace, my tranquility. A great story transports me to another world sometimes centuries in the past, yet filled with characters so real, expressing all the human foibles that make us know that human nature never changes.

I along with my colleagues believe that we are being absorbed by our self-created technologies. Without sounding too Trekkie we have become assimilated into the Borg collective because there was no resistance to begin with. Or is our future found in the movie classic Metropolis where our saviour is a machine as opposed to flesh and blood women and men ministering to the community. Our society has become very apathetic and indolent drinking the Kool-Aid and believing the hype that we must have every last techie gadget affixed to nearly every orifice on our bodies. We so plugged in and absorbed by our own genius, power and authority that we’ve lost the ability to connect on a person to person level. Perhaps soon like in the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey we will answered to H.A.L. Actually maybe many of us already have…. Bombarded by media talking heads aka retro Max Headroom Coke commercial about who we should be, drink, eat, wear instead of appreciating who we really are.

As for me I search for the still small voice of the Beloved’s embrace. I see the face of God not only in nature but in the magnificence of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the mosaic ceiling located in the Islamic Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hebrew song of praise glorifying God from a Jewish brother as I made my way up the subway escalator. I am as the hart in Psalm 42 who seeks out God’s presence within all peoples and all cultures.

Psalm 42

King James Version (KJV)

42 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Moorish Islamic Ceiling

This small picture does not capture the full glory of the Moorish Islamic Ceiling located in the Islamic Wing of the Met. You really have to see it in person to appreciate the enormous grandeur and intricacies’ of this entrancing artwork.

Donations and Freewill offerings can be made directly to my PayPal account deborah.palmer280@gmail.com

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