Discussion Question: Immigration and Changing Names

It is not unusual when immigrating to a new country for a person to change their name.

Did you or a close relative change your name? Do you have a story in your family about your ancestors changing their name?


India and Pakistan Gain Independence from British Rule

In August 1947, the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act, making India and Pakistan separate and sovereign nations.


National Archives (UK): Cabinet Papers, India Gains Independence

History.com: India and Pakistan Win Independence

I think of the formation of nations as being something that happened long, long ago. Nations are supposed to be permanent entities. Yet I can remember the Berlin wall coming down, I’m aware that what used to be Czechoslovakia is now The Czech Republic and Slovakia, and when I sing Yakko’s World (I can do the whole thing, just not as fast as Rob Paulson) I’m well aware that there are many inaccuracies due to change over time. (He updated it in 2017.)

My awareness of Indian Independence (I learned while creating this post that Pakistan happened at the same time) initially came from watching a movie about Gandhi, and from various mentions in Bollywood films. An interesting point I learned while studying history was that other nations followed their example.

I’m really hoping to get as many different nationalities in the comments of this post as possible. Hopefully friends in India and Pakistan will chime in!


What are your memories of this event? How did people around you react to the event and the aftermath?

Development: Cursive Writing

Cursive writing has been taught in public schools for well over a century. With digital technology, it is being used less and is no longer taught in some schools.

Wikipedia: Cursive

Washington Post: Is Cursive Writing Making a Comeback

My fondest memory of cursive writing starts with shopping for a Big Chief writing tablet.  The paper inside was gray and smooth, with green lines beckoning to be marked upon. I took my tablet to kindergarten, and I would sit apart from the other kids learning to make swoopy letters instead of block ones. I had pages of my name in cursive: Amy. Amy in big swooping letters, Amy in crayon, in pencil, in marker.  I felt very special being allowed to write cursive when my peers were not.  It was a mark of achievement writing well and in cursive, and I remember vividly having a piece of my handwriting displayed on the cork-board in school with a star sticker on it.   

 I kept a hand-written journal from ages 15 to 26. Stumbling onto it a few months ago, one of the first things I noticed was the shifting styles of cursive I played with over those years.  Playful curlicues, sophisticated sloping, rebellious uprights, so many different personalities on display just through the writing.  It made me realize how much of me is missing when I choose to type rather than write.  I must admit that my cursive writing has taken on a rather perfunctory style as of late.  When I do write in cursive, there is no playfulness, it seems all business.  I do miss writing in cursive as a mark of personal style. 

 Shock of all shocks when my sons began elementary school to learn they weren’t going to be taught cursive.  The rationale the teachers gave for not teaching cursive wasn’t very persuasive: something to the effect of cursive being irrelevant or not a skill in high demand.  I remember being concerned my kids wouldn’t be able to read cursive writing, and that has turned out to be somewhat the case.  But a more egregious problem comes from their inability to form a unique signature for signing important documents.  My nineteen-year-old uses a printed form of his name in that regard, and I must admit, a small part of me cringes each time he needs to sign anything.   

 It isn’t that I don’t want the world to move on, but cursive writing allows an intimate connection to the written word that texting, typing, and printing don’t. The advent of email, instant messaging, text, Twitter, Instagram, and others, have certainly curtailed the written word. There is far less writing happening in general.  But, I am excited to see an upswing in journaling recently that emphasizes beautiful cursive hand-writing, so my hopes are buoyed. I myself am inspired to practice my own handwriting after these reminiscences! 

Amy Haines

Did you learn to write in cursive? Should we still teach cursive in elementary schools?

Columbine High School Shooting

On April 20, 1999 Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17 entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. They shot and killed 13 people and wounded more than 20 others before killing themselves.


Historycom: Columbine High School Shooting

Wikipedia: Columbine_High_School_Massacre

In 1999 I was living in Vermont, but having grown up in Colorado I still had many friends in and around Denver. The term “horrific” comes to mind. The news was almost unbelievable…how could someone do this?

At that time, the incident seemed like a random, horrible act of two disturbed or deranged individuals.

I had no idea that the massacre would set the stage for so many more to follow.


What memories do you have of this event? How close were you to the people involved? How did it affect you and the people in your life?

Doctor Who

Doctor Who originally ran from 1963 to 1989, gaining a significant cult following. The show was relaunched in 2005 and is still being produced in 2018, with a new actor playing the lead role every few years.


Wikipedia: Doctor_Who

BBC: Doctor Who

I grew up with Doctor Who, watching it as a child with my dad, who had been watching it since the 80’s. I kind of fell away from it for a while, but as a teenager I once again started watching the show. I started again partly because of the pop culture surrounding it in my school. Everyone watched it, talked about it, “fangirled” over it, and it drew me back in. I also love learning about some of the history behind the fan base; how cons got started, how my father made his old cosplays, how some of the older doctors came back in various adventures later. It made me, and still makes me, feel like I belong to something bigger and more adventuresome than I could ever hope to achieve in the “real world”, and I think that is why I am so drawn to it.

Jessica Johnson

What does Doctor Who mean to you? Are you a fan of the new, the old, or both?

The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister who played a key role in the American civil rights movement. He was assassinated in Memphis, TN on April 4, 1968.


NobelPrize.org: King bio

History.com: Martin Luther King Jr.

It is April 4, 1968, and I am not quite 12 years old. I am attending some kind of function requiring carpooling, and two church ladies pick us up. My friends and I pack ourselves into the back seat and barely listen as the adults are talking, but one lady says, “Well, what did they expect? You can’t keep saying things like he was saying and not expect to get killed.” Since they are my Sunday School teachers, I think they are talking about Jesus, and go back to chattering about whatever it is that sixth-grade girls in 1968 were chattering about.

Later on that day I hear more about the assassination of Martin Luther King. I have heard that name, of course, but I am not sure who he is or what he did wrong. That evening we are watching the news, and Robert Kennedy is on top of a truck talking to black people in a big city, trying to persuade them to be non-violent. He spontaneously quotes a Greek poet I’ve never heard of, but I am impressed. He sounds like courage and compassion ought to sound. And I want to know more about this man who wasn’t Jesus but who also stirred things up, and who was killed for it, right in my own country. Somehow in the next few days I find a copy of King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” I have a memory of reading it in an old copy of the Readers Digest Magazine, but surely that cannot be right? Anyway, I have been raised in a family that is at church every time the church doors are open, but I have never read such powerful and prophetic religious words. I read it again and again, and I memorize some passages. It will take me a long time to find out that I will never again be satisfied with a Christianity that doesn’t include a strong measure of social justice.

Lois Huneycutt

What memories do you have of this event? How did the people in your life react to the news?

SpaceX Delivers Supplies to the ISS

In 2010 SpaceX became the first private company to return a spacecraft safely to Earth from low-Earth orbit. In May 2012 its Dragon spacecraft began to periodically deliver supplies to the International Space Station.


SpaceX.com: Dragon

Wikipedia: SpaceX_Dragon

Just recently, we all watched in awe–Elon Musk included–as SpaceX launches the Falcon Heavy and then landed two of its boosters side by side, simultaneously. It was an event that blew the collective minds of all in attendance and people all around the world.

However, this would not have been possible without the many successes and failures of SpaceX since its creation. SpaceX has has boldly gone where no private space enterprise has gone before.

In 2010, SpaceX made history by beginning its path in reusability by successfully returning a Dragon capsule to Earth after it had launched. A feet never before accomplished by a private space entity. Then, in May 2012, SpaceX started making direct deliveries to the International Space Station.

These historic moments changed the future of spaceflight forever. The belief in Elon and SpaceX grew exponentially overnight. Now, with over a dozen successful launches and landings with their rockets, the sky isn’t the limit, but simply the froth on the waves of the cosmic ocean SpaceX is destined to sail.

Occupy Mars, indeed.

Ron Sparkman

What memories do you have of these events? How did the people in your life react to them?


Skylab, America’s First Space Station

In 1973 Skylab became the United States’ first space station. It continued in operation until 1979.


NASA.com. Skylab: America’s First Space Station.

History.com. The Day Skylab Crashed to Earth

I was born in early 1978, so I don’t have too many “non-fuzzy” memories of Skylab while it was still orbiting the Earth. I vaguely remember (very vaguely) when there was some media hoopla that it would come down over populated areas in mid-1979. A certain contingent of people really believed it would impact land, even though most of the Earth consists of water. Some enterprising entrepreneurs were actually selling “Skylab reentry hats” as a novelty item. At the time, there was also a very funny Saturday Night Live sketch starring the late actor/comedian John Belushi, where he supposes the space station will land on his apartment. But Skylab landed mostly over the Indian Ocean, with some pieces coming down over Western Australia – the space station was too “strong” to come down completely over the water.

My next Skylab-related recollection came around 1983, when I was a space-obsessed Kindergartner. I remember reading a kids’ space book, and seeing a picture of Skylab – even though it had launched 10 years previously, it still had a retro-futuristic appeal with its windmill-like solar panels. I remember having a picture of it on my wall as a kid, and many copies of the October 1974 National Geographic magazine, which had a great Skylab retrospective, including a panoramic photo of all three crews. I just thought this was the coolest thing!

 So from then on, I was a bit of a Skylab obsessive, and I loved reading about America’s first space station. While I didn’t experience much of it while it was still “flying,” I do have warm memories of reading about it and gazing at pictures of it as a young child. I still have a copy of the National Geographic, and it is now autographed by two Skylab astronauts: Dr. Joseph Kerwin, and the late Capt. Paul Weitz, USN (both Skylab 2).

Emily Carney 

What memories do you have of Skylab? How did you and the people in your life react to it?