Sunday, July 03, 2005


To the Memory of My Patriot Ancestors

This 4th of July, I would like to commemorate the following of
my ancestors:

Captain Charles Polk of North Carolina, who fought at Eutaw
Springs (South Carolina) and other places;

William Bryson and his sons, who fought at the Battle of King's

John Hood, who was a peripatetic enlisted man from Lancaster
county, South Carolina, at least at the time of enlistment, and
who really got around (SC-->TN-->MO-->NC) after 1783;

Elizabeth Countryman (or Gunterman), who was one of the
first female Patriots to be listed by the NSDAR;

Sarah Heape of South Carolina;

John Whitaker, an early settler of what is now Raleigh, NC, and
an early member of the NC legislature as well as one of
Raleigh's early cabinet makers;

as well as others, including a Dillard and a Love, both from

Elizabeth Whitaker

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Media Monitor - Citizen Journalism Growing - June 28, 2005

Media Monitor - Citizen Journalism Growing - June 28, 2005

It's always great to be appreciated!

Having something worthwhile to say has never required a particular type of degree -- or any degree.

The problem has been access. Either you had continuing access or you could be granted one-time
access for your 300-word letter to the editor -- or you would have to content yourself with
writing for friends, family and/or yourself, one letter or diary item at a time, usually to one person
at a time.

Access to the world is now available to almost everyone, sometimes for free.

Elizabeth Whitaker
June 28, 2005

Sunday, June 12, 2005


It's been 53 weeks and a day....

The first time I remember seeing Ronald Reagan on television, I was four or five years old, and my family was watching a program called Death Valley Days. This was an early, single-sponsor, syndicated half-hour program at least supposedly about Western history. (We'd gotten our first television set during the Cuban Missile Crisis and, somewhere along the way, I'd become a fan of Gunsmoke.)

I don't recall ever staying put for an entire episode in the two or three years that we were able to catch the program, but I tried to make sure I was back in front of the television when the nice man on the white horse started talking. (He introduced the program, introduced the commercials, and provided a few parting words for each episode.)

In July 1964, we left North Carolina for Massachusetts so my dad could do a fellowship at Harvard Medical. We moved into our house the next month.

I don't remember watching Death Valley Days while we lived in that Boston suburb, but I do remember, sometime in early 1966, when we'd moved back down South, running to tell my mother that "The Death Valley Days man is running for Governor of California." We all had wondered what had happened to him.

I'd started reading the daily paper in January 1966, shortly after we arrived in South Carolina, where we spent weeks eating breakfast in a coffee shop: back then, a coffee shop was an inexpensive business people's restaurant, not an exotic coffee and pastry venue. It was either read the paper or sit there, bored to tears, while my parents read the paper and my two younger sisters fussed. I learned a lot over the years, this way, between the papers and The U.S. News and World Report (which I still dearly love), even though my reading material caused some interesting daily personal schedule complications.

Living as I did in a highly politicized household -- my mother was an early conservative political activist for a few years and my dad's youngest brother, who was an aspiring academic at the time, was an early conservative activist who has remained a political activist -- the 1966 campaign was the first one that I both understood and in which I took an interest. (I had taken an interest in the 1964 Presidential campaign, but didn't really understand it.) Election night was positively thrilling, and I was positively glued to the TV screen some weeks later when the Georgia legislature was polled, live on television, one by one, to give their vote in the deadlocked gubernatorial race. (I lost a few friends at my private school because I backed the Democrat. Almost all the parents wanted the (liberal) Republican to win!)

Ronald Reagan became Governor of California while I was in fourth grade and left office, after two terms, midway through my first year of college. (I skipped two grades. There were no classes for the gifted in the schools, both public and private, which my sisters and I attended.) I heard more about him from Bob Hope's monologues and from mentions in the U.S. News and World Report than I did in the daily newspapers, during this entire time period.

I listened to his radio program -- a brief commentary on the news -- when I remembered, and tried my best to keep up with his doings. After I compiled and sent William Rusher a list of reasons why Governor Reagan should run for President -- I have been repeatedly chided for not keeping a copy -- I was gratified when Reagan announced, and I followed his campaign with bated breath, from the beginning to the final, grim end at the hands of the old-line Republican establishment. (I wanted to work for him when he was running in the Primary, but I didn't have a car and his campaign headquarters there in Knoxville was deep in an area of town completely unknown to me and well off the busline.)

Four years later, after having suffered from nearly four years of Ford's successor, and having spent a lot of time agonizing over the ever-growing string of foreign and domestic policy failures and fumbles, I was overjoyed when Reagan announced. I was in Washington, trying to get a permanent job. (I'd graduated from college with mediocre grades, during an illness that turned out to be a thyroid tumor, with no job experience, and having been afflicted by a profusion of advice that would have been useful for someone graduating from college about 1965.) I found the campaign headquarters in downtown DC, soaked up some atmosphere, and asked for a job. The only thing they had open was something they called a bookkeeping position -- I'd had absolutely no business training other than a compulsory typing course in high school -- and I wanted more money ($8800 a year) than they were prepared to pay. They told me they were getting ready to move to the Virginia suburbs (somewhere near Landmark shopping center, which was personal terra incognita), and, since I told them I had no idea how I could possibly get out there, they gave me a handful of Reagan campaign buttons.

I was thrilled by the Convention, and positively overjoyed when he won.

I would have stayed in D.C., and pretty definitely should have, given how badly the next few years went for me, but I had tired of office work and thought I had a good scheme for returning to school and getting another degree, one that would get me a professional-type job. (I hadn't reckoned with how strongly some states guard their residency classifications!)

I was back in Washington a little over four years later, and, this time, spent just over two years in the Federal civil service as a secretary, trying to get the recognition and recommendations to get a job as a professional with the Government. (There was no professional examination system in the Civil Service at this time.) I was very lonely when I wasn't at work -- PCs, modems, and online services were still prohibitively expensive to those such as myself -- and seriously missed having opportunities to discuss current events and politics with like-minded individuals. Instead, I was forced to exchange comments with relatives by letter and by phone.

President Reagan could have done some things better, but, then, none of us is perfect. And he had little effective assistance in Congress in his own party, which was in the minority there from four years before I was born until I was in my mid-30s. I think that his single worst domestic policy decision was agreeing to the 1986 tax change laws and that he could have given our forces permission to shoot back in Lebanon. On the other hand, he did restore a broken and bleeding country to confidence and assertiveness, and he had the help of two faithful allies, Pope John Paul II and the Iron Lady (Baroness Thatcher).

I remember what the Seventies were really like....In the Seventies, drugs were endemic, children were additional pieces of furniture to be divvied up by divorcing adulterers, and the very idea of not doing casual sex was positively anti-social!

I miss the Eighties, that redirection to national sanity and that wonderful national self confidence!

Elizabeth Whitaker


This is a photo of me from Nov. 2002 Posted by Hello

Friday, June 10, 2005


Leaving Behind a Part of My Life

I survived Spring semester, having spent most of it busier than the proverbial one-handed wall-paper hanger. I took twelve semester hours, and managed to end it with an A, two Bs, and a P. (The P was for my three semester hours of thesis research, which is a Pass/Fail course.) For Fall, I'm signed up for two courses of three semester hours each, as well as six semester hours of thesis research.

I'm not in school during the Summer. (I've tried it in the past, and it just never worked!) However, I am continuing my thesis research, partly because I don't have a lot else to do with my brain at this time, and partly because I am genuinely interested in my topic: I'm writing on the Lebanese Christian immigrants to South Carolina and their descendants. So far, I have over 150 in my database, and have at least a hundred more in my notes to add into the database. In the Fall, I plan to interview a selected few, primarily older members of the community in Greenville, which has been sizeable for several decades.

I am a Catholic. I was received into the Church shortly after my 23rd birthday,
after years of study and prayer.

In the meantime, I have come to a painful decision, which I have made with a great deal of thought: I plan to give up politics. I caught the politics bug very early in life -- conservative politics permeated my family's life in the 1960s -- and I worked in my first campaign at 14. (Campaign work can be fun. Really.) However, I have been active in the Republican Party here in South Carolina since 1995 and have had enough with the Fundamentalist bigotry, the sheer incompetence (best exemplified by the state party's Dole-botism in the 1996 campaign), and the state party's lack of interest in motivating county parties to support female candidates. Hey, y'all, politics stopped officially being a boy's club in 1919!!!

Here's what I wrote the Republican National Committee a few minutes ago: [I have made some changes in brackets and have removed some personal information by inserting ellipses.]

Help! I don't know where to turn! I have been a GOP activist here in SC since 1995 and need help fighting the anti-Catholicism and rampant religious intolerance in the Pickens Co. party. I am second vice-chair, but only because no one else wanted the job: I have been repeatedly treated disrespectfully by Party leadership at county and state levels, as well as by fellow Republicans who don't want to deal with non-Fundamentalists. Only Fundamentalist clergy are invited to Party gatherings....My county chair thinks the problem [in not attracting more attendees to Party meetings] is the meeting time (breakfast on 2nd Saturdays) but ... he doesn't understand that an increasing number of the county's population are NOT members of Fundamentalist churches. State leadership sits on its hands on this issue when they aren't ladling ...ah..nonsense.
I'll be starting my final year of grad school -- I'm in my forties, so I don't have time to waste -- in August and plan to call it quits with politics. I just don't have the time to deal with bigots, incompetents, and idiots who don't understand that we volunteers are IMPORTANT. [I'd love to be able to contribute to all the worthy causes that send me solicitation letters, but I'm a broke grad student!!!] I've been a volunteer for the Party since I was 14, back in 1972, and I've been deeply into politics since I was a small child.
Giving up on my Party will be hard, but I feel that my Party has long since given up on me. I can't help it that I'm broke. (Going through cancer twice in less than five years, in the '90s, certainly didn't help me financially!)Miss Elizabeth Whitaker, who can be reached at ...
Just in case I haven't mentioned it before, I am a Catholic. I have never made a secret of that, and never have kept my faith a secret from my fellow Republicans.
I am proud to be a Catholic.
Elizabeth Whitaker
Proud to be a Roman Catholic and a Southerner!

Saturday, April 02, 2005


The Pope Is Dead

He was, in all senses of the word, my spiritual father.

I had had no spiritual training since childhood, and
my family did not attend any church on a regular basis.
Having had some crises in my young life and neither
spiritual training nor much in the way of moral
guidance from either parent, I had been thinking,
more and more strongly, about being Catholic for the
preceding few years, and had even made one or two
false starts in the campus Catholic center's
instruction program.

That beautiful October day in 1978, I was sitting at
the window of my dorm room, reading while I listened
to shortwave radio.

Then there was a bulletin: a cardinal Vo-tee-wuh, whom
I'd never heard of, had been elected Pope. I grabbed my
copy of The 1978 Catholic Almanac, opened it to the section
that listed all the cardinals and started looking for some
information on this guy.

"Let's see," I thought,once I'd gone through the
V's,"a W can sound like a V." I went to the Ws,
then to the WOs, then to WOT. I knew Y often can
be pronounced as an English long E. That meant
WOTY-- Here he was: Wotyla. A non-Italian and
a cardinal from the Eastern Bloc. This could
be interesting. (I'd heard for years about
Cardinals Mindsenty and Wyczinski.)

Little did I know that the new Pope would change
my life, as well as the lives of millions.

I was twenty years old, and about midway through
my undergraduate years. About two and one-half
years later, following some more crises, including
my first cancer scare, I would stand before the
Bishop of Raleigh at Easter Vigil Mass, and be
received into the Catholic Church.

I'm not crying for him. I'm crying for me, and
for my fellow Catholics.

I'm scared, and I'm sad. My spiritual daddy is dead.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Waiting for the Other Shoe

[Originally published January 8, 2005]

The weather here in the Carolinas has been nice lately -- way too nice.

I say that because I'm a gardener. I've got a 1/4 acre backyard with an eclectic array of plants, many of which are fruit or berry producers.

Their buds are getting really big. Some of them are starting to leaf out.

That means trouble.

The weather is not going to stay like this until May. When the weather goes back to normal -- and normal here in early January is around freezing in early morning to 50 F as a daily high -- there's going to be damage. If and when the weather gets colder, there's going to be a lot of dead stuff.

January 24, 2005

And it has dropped!!!

Temperatures went back to "normal" a few days after I wrote this, and they've
plunged remarkably just in the past three days.

Here in extreme western South Carolina (a.k.a. "Upstate" South Carolina), we have
been pounded with extremely bone-chilling temperatures and cold, knifing winds --
and no, absolutely no, precipitation, though it snowed just over the mountains in
North Carolina, and it did something or other in northern Georgia.....

If it had snowed, it would have been warmer!

Not only is it extremely bare, it's extremely dry.

My poor plants!

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