Goodbye Explorer, Hello Focus

10 1/2 years ago Ford manufactured an Explorer that I designed just for me and they had to change their line, just for me, because I love driving with a standard transmission.  It’s nothing special, just an Explorer Sport with standard transmission and cruise control (I have a lead foot).  I went to pick it up, and my Dad came with me, because he was always very excited whenever I bought a new vehicle, whether it was used or brand new.  And we went for a long ride.  And every so often over the years, we would go for long rides.

My Explorer never let me down.  Over the last 10 1/2 years I have never broken down with it.  Even last week when it needed a new alternator, it made it home, and to service (they were surprised it did).

DSC09296_nono

Today, I traded in my Explorer using the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, even though I *really* wanted to keep it for a winter-rat, because it does so well in the snow.  But the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program was really irristable, making one of the high priced cars more in line with what I wanted to pay for a vehicle at this time.

DSC09316_nono

But I’m having doubts, because what will I do when winter comes?  And it comes with intense fiery in NY state.  I’m really worried that I’ve made a mistake.  And my Dad wasn’t around to consult.  Even though I know he would tell me to do what I needed to do.   Buying a new vehicle should be no big deal, but somehow this time it’s different because things aren’t the same all around.  No Dad, the economy sucks, I’ve *never* driven a small car.  In fact, I’ve owned all of four vehicles, now working on my fifth:  a 1975 Maverick (used), a 1979 Thunderbird (used), a 1990 Ranger (new), a 1999 Explorer (new), and now this 2009 Focus (new).

DSC09326

But then maybe I’ll love that this new vehicle is fully loaded (not my request, just give me stick and cruise control), including SYNC and SIRUIS.  Listening to the BB King Bluesville station 74 may settle me down.  Maybe.

The Jerry Rescue, October 1, 1851

In honor of Black History Month, I’ve been thinking about the Jerry Rescue which occurred in Syracuse, NY on October 1, 1851. I first learned about the rescue at the Onondaga Historical Association when I watched a first-person video at their museum with my Dad in February of 2006. We also went through their museum exhibition “Freedom Bound: Syracuse & The Underground Railroad.”

I grew up south of Syracuse and I knew nothing about any of this until I went to the OHA museum. The teaching of local history, except for Native American history, was lacking when I went through school. As far as I know, this is being corrected now, I hope.

2007-08-18 OHA DSC01517 crop
Jerry Rescue building, 1954 watercolor by Nicholas Tadisco at OHA Museum

Instead of piecing together an article from various sources, I decided that the following article pretty much said everything I wanted to include. I don’t like the “n” word at all so I left it out in the article.

Abolitionists Stopped Slave’s Arrest

Rescuers Stormed Jail to Save Jerry

By Marilyn Marks

The mob of people at the police station the night of Oct. 1, 1851, was ready for a showdown.

The crowd attacked. Stones flew; iron bars, axes, and wooden clubs broke the building’s windows. At the front door, a gang of men with a battering ram ran forward and heaved.

The door came down. Next, the wall.

19911158-PS-1974-06-12-Jerry Rescue Bldg 1852_

On the other side of that wall was Jerry, held at the police station as a fugitive slave. These men were his rescuers.

“Get out of here, you n–, if you are making all this muss,” yelled the policeman guarding Jerry, thrusting him violently toward his friends.

Jerry was hurt. A flying stone had cut open one side of his head, and a rib was cracked in his struggles with police.

The rescuers carried Jerry outside to a waiting carriage which spirited him to his hiding place of four days, just a few blocks from City Hall. Traveling well-hidden, covered with hay under a wagon seat, Jerry fled to Mexico [NY] and then Oswego.

Ten days after the rescue, Jerry was on a boat quietly crossing Lake Ontario on his way to Kingston, Ontario.

Jerry’s arrival in Canada marked the end of what may be the most historic event in Syracuse’s history. The rescue signaled to the rest of the country that the controversial Fugitive Slave Law could not be enforced.

The events leading to Jerry’s rescue began like a fulfillment of the prophesy made by Daniel Webster here in May, 1850.

“The persons in this city who mean to oppose the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law are traitors,” Webster announced.

“The law ought to be enforced and it will be enforced: yes, in the city of Syracuse it shall be enforced,” Webster said, and then predicted “and that, too in the midst of the next anti-slavery convention.”

That convention came to Syracuse Oct 1, 1851. The morning found Jerry, whose legal name was William Henry, hard at work in his barrel-making shop.

Labor was especially difficult, as the sun shone brightly and visitors to the county fair thronged the streets.

Suddenly the door to the small shop swung open and federal officers entered. They forced Jerry’s arms to his sides and shackled his wrists. The charge, the officers said, was theft.

Almost immediately after the arrest, church bells began to ring – a pre-arranged signal of the city’s abolitionists. The anti-slavery convention adjourned for the day.

The federal officers took Jerry to the office of the U.S. commissioner.

Barely had the proceedings there begun when more than 30 men stormed the small courtroom, breaking windows and smashing furniture. And in the midst of it all, Jerry escaped.

“The n—made his escape into the street, and was followed by a crowd of persons, some desirous to assist in his escape, and other anxious to arrest him,” The Daily Standard reported.

“A carriage was procured, but the poor fellow was taken into custody before he got out of the limits of the city.”

Not to be dissuaded, Jerry’s rescuers tried again at 8:30 that night at the police station. This time they succeeded.

Jerry, three-fourths white, originally had planned to go to Canada when he escaped from a Missouri plantation in the winter of 1849. But upon arrival in Syracuse en route, he decided the city would make a safe enough home.

Relatively well-educated – on the plantation he had minded his master’s accounts – Jerry easily found a job in a cabinet-making shop. He soon opened his own barrel-making shop on North Salina Street, where he was arrested.

Syracusans were exuberant over his rescue. Several women packed Jerry’s shackles and sent them to President Millard Fillmore. The Daily Standard congratulated Syracusans as the “true friends of Freedom.”

And the old police station at Clinton and Water Streets was well known for decades as the Jerry Rescue Building, until it was demolished in 1974.

19911158-PS-1974-06-12_Jerry Rescue Bldg 1974

In keeping with the pride of Syracuse, no one was punished for the rescue.

Of the eight men arrested and 15 others indicted, only one man, Enoch Reed, was found guilty of treason. He died while his case was under appeal.

Then, as if to tell federal officials to keep their hands off Syracuse, the Onondaga Grand Jury handed up kidnapping indictments against an agent and a deputy marshal who arrested Jerry. Both men were tried and acquitted.

Not everyone was thrilled with the rescue, however. Newspapers around the country condemned Syracusans as traitors.

The Washington Union even suggested that Syracuse be placed in a state of siege by the army and be kicked out of the union until it repented for its sins.

Sources: Syracuse Post-Standard, June 12, 1974, pg 17, Jerry Rescue Building to Fall;
Syracuse Post-Standard, Thursday, Sept. 20, 1979, Page B-5

I was glad to hear that Mr. Henry made it to safety, along with many other people I’ve studied. In 1990 the city erected this monument to the Jerry Rescue at Clinton Square across the street from where the jail stood (which is a parking lot now). The monument includes the faces of Henry, Loguen and May.

Syr-041206-Jerry_Rescue-009
Jerry Rescue Monument in Clinton Square, Syracuse, taken on April 12, 2006.

I saw a pair of old shackles like the ones used on Mr. Henry and other African Americans while working on an exhibition at OHA and they made me want to throw up, seriously. Sometimes history does that to me.

What a Waste of Time

So I’ve spent the last hour searching and racking my brain as to the whereabouts of my birth certificate. I have a place for such important papers and it wasn’t there. Which made me mean. As I’m flinging things in my office looking for it for an hour, it hit me that I needed it to get a new SS card before I started working at Kirtas. Which was right before my Dad passed. And I had put all of my papers into a book bag to take to the SS office, and given the events since said papers never got removed from said book bag, and there it was! Yay! So now I can go waste more time at a local PO next week and pay through the nose to get a passport so I can flit about England & Scotland and also Canada in the future. Woo Hoo!

Us-passport

I sure hope I’m not the only one who does stuff like this which drives me crazy.

I also spent four hours at my local service station yesterday to get a NYS inspection wherein they told me I needed new front brakes and what was supposed to be all of a half hour app’t turned into an extremely boring four hour wait. I read three magazines and by that time the waiting room cleared and I switched the TV to PBS and watched ‘This Old House,’ Norm’s show (can’t think of the name of it) and ‘Ciao Italia.’

And then today I spent an hour today at the Verizon Wireless booth at BJ’s because my cell phone contract finally expired – yay! – and was figuring out the whole ‘prepaid, pay as you go’ phone thing because I am sick of the high cell phone bills when I barely use the thing.

So my weekend felt like a complete waste of time doing stupid, boring things. Can we start it over, please?