Frequently Asked Questions

Because the author is anxious to speak, she will answer all questions here and those submitted in the future.  

 

Besides being a combined history and memoir, what is a histoir?  

Thank you for a great question.   A utilitarian, rather than write two books—one history, the other a memoir—I wrote one, My Swan Lake Life, and coined it a histoir.  If the powers-that-be in the literary world come to recognize this term, they may accept my definition of a histoir as a non-fiction, book-length literary genre in which the effect of ancestral history on an individual’s life is explored.

 

What is a louise letter?

I send this eponymous letter to relatives and friends at Christmastime to share the musings of my mind about a particular topic, current events, or my adventures and misadventures during the year. 

 

What is the origin of “the dozens?”

This game of exchanging jokes that are meant to embarrass appears to have originated from the practice of selling enslaved Africans who were handicapped or past their prime in groups of twelve—a custom the Africans found humiliating. See chapter 2:  “Dinosaur Days.”

 

When did using a letter for the first and middle names begin? 

 As far as I can determine, this custom evolved during slavery:  Stripped of their African names and native languages, unable to read and write English, forbidden to be taught, and told to place their “mark,” the letter “X,” on documents requiring their signatures, clever African men, who somehow learned the English alphabet, began to choose letters for their male offspring’s names. Selecting their children’s own “mark” was not only assertive, it also masked the rejection of English names, a custom that continues today as evidenced by creative names that on résumés identify ethnicity, which may produce a click on delete instead of an interview. 

 

Was there a real “Uncle Tom?”

It is speculated that this character in Harriett Beecher Stowe’s novel  Uncle Tom is based on a loyal slave named Josiah Henson who fled to Canada when his master reneged and did not allow him to purchase his freedom.  See page 60 of My Swan Lake Life.

 

Is the Blocker Family Fund still active?

With almost five hundred nieces and nephews in 1994, I could not send cards or presents to each one.  Thus, the fund was established to provide scholarships as a symbolic Christmas gift to all descendants of my parents, Claude and Lula J. Blocker.  A cessation of dues payments and scholarship applications have placed the fund in a semi-dormant status.

I invite my only surviving sibling, W C, my nieces, and my nephews who are age eighteen and over to join the 2020 Challenge, a plan to reactivate the fund with dues payments totaling a minimum of $2,000 and an ideal maximum of $20,000 by November 1, 2020. The annual dues are $1 per month or $1 for each year of your life to a maximum of $50.  If 10 percent of my 500+ nieces and nephews paid $50 each, the payments would total $2500. (By my calculation, at least 104 of my nieces and nephews are over fifty years old.) To grow the fund, no more than half the balance will be given in scholarships each year. Please contact me for more details.