Crying Angels

March 1, 2015



ONE WINTER NIGHT, about thirty years ago, I stood in The Pen and Pencil Club in Philadelphia, listening to a man in his thirties tell me stories of his childhood.

A woman we both knew walked by, smiling, and said, “Are you listening to tales of Chester?”

I laughed. “As a matter of fact, I am,” I said.

I can’t recall what episode I was hearing for the first time that night. I think it might have been about Jonesy, who went to the store in fairly good health to buy his funeral suit and died a week later. Or maybe it was the time Buttons was almost arrested for killing a Persian cat while on vacation at the Jersey shore.

I can’t recall which true story it was, but I pretty much decided that night I wanted to marry that man.

Listening to his memories was like standing by a burning hearth. The warmth penetrated me, the room and the world beyond it. I figured anyone who could so love the flawed and idiosyncratic people of Chester could possibly love me too. For a long time. Through thick and very thin.

I married Anthony Wood and, for 27 years, I have lived by the warmth of that fire.

Compared to the human landscape in a depersonalized suburb, the people of this industrial city on the banks of the rat-gray Delaware River, living with us intangibly all this time, are brimming with personality. They are exotica. Eccentricity and its sharp singularity seem to be among the fruits of economic hardship and God’s sanctifying graces.

Though the industrial and social microcosm of my husband’s Chester is long gone, almost completely demolished and replaced with a hulking casino, vacant lots, crime-ridden streets and government offices, his stories evoked something permanent and undying. Chester was alive still.

Enough from me.

Here is Part II of my husband’s own recollections, “Tales of Chester.” For Parts One and Two, you may go here and here.


 Crying Angels

When day broke that morning, Renner was sitting in my father’s easy chair, his legs propped over the arms, smoking a corncob, a bowl of cold oatmeal on the coffee table.

“Terrible thing to lose your home,” he said.

No doubt it was. To me, though, the loss of his home was the best consequence of the fire. Since he had lost his home, he would have to stay with us. I wouldn’t have to visit him; he would be right here. More immediately and excitingly, we had become the central figures in a high drama. A neighborhood legend had lost his house in a fire that everyone would be talking about. We were giving him shelter.

School that day was endless. How could the tedium of learning decimals and fractions and penmanship compete with the excitation of being a star of such a drama? When at long last school ended, when the dismissal line finally approached my house, I burst into the front door to resume my starring role and to comfort the neighborhood legend who had lost his home.

Renner wasn’t there, to my immeasurable disappointment. I went to find him at his brother-in-law’s tobacco shop on Eighth Street.

Read More »


A New Look

February 28, 2015

Computer programmers are geniuses. They have minds with lots of secret passageways. You open up a door and all this code comes tumbling out, like gold coins and jewels stored away in a castle. I don’t get it how they navigate between everyday existence and all that code, but I attribute it to their genius. Thanks to a generous and extremely smart reader who is a web designer, there is a new look at The Thinking Housewife. I am very grateful to the reader who has worked on this site for his time and expertise.

There are still a few tweaks that need to be made. I ask for your patience as we get it going. I think you will find this new theme and the Merriweather font much easier on the eye.



Bonfire of the Humanities

February 28, 2015




Regarding “Books in the Trash,” in the 1990s when I taught and did other things in Michigan, I knew many senior faculty members who, coming to their retirement and considering a move to smaller quarters, wanted to sell off the books that they had acquired over a lifetime of scholarship.  In those days it was still possible to invite one of the second-hand book dealers in East Lansing, Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo to take a library off its owner’s hands for a fair price.  When my wife and I left Michigan to come to Upstate New York in 2001, I was able to sell a cumulus of several hundred “academic titles” to a dealer in East Lansing who fully expected to resell them swiftly to humanities graduate students at Michigan State.

More recently, however, this situation appears to have changed.  In various journals dedicated to teaching in the humanities – and on various websites with the same focus – anecdotes have appeared about how very nearly impossible it is to get rid of books.  The second-hand dealers have become extremely selective even as they have diminished in numbers.  It might have been in Academic Questions that I read the sad story of a retiring English professor who, unable even to donate his library, ended up consigning much of it to a bonfire simply because in smaller quarters there would be no space for the many volumes.  A colleague of mine who is about to retire after thirty years of teaching college English also can find no one to take his books.  Not even the campus library is interested in them. Read More »


Pizza’s Empire

February 28, 2015



ASTUTE analysts in many spheres are coming to a conclusion reached here a long time ago: “Pizza is going to rule the world in the next twenty years.” Actually, I would say it is much less time than that, and my pizza prophecies have generally proved to be true. Pretty soon, it may even be mandatory that each person report to the government on pizza intake and prove consumption of at least 6,000 slices a year, which is just about the national average. The Pizza Complex has, as we all know, already extended its reach into the highest levels of government.

U.S. President Obama delivers pizza to volunteers at his campaign office in Williamsburg


Books in the Trash

February 27, 2015


DAN R. writes:

A California public library has thrown away more than a hundred-thousand books in the past two years.  Some were in a state of disrepair, but most were regarded as “outdated” and were disposed of in order to make way for newer books. While on principle I find the throwing away of books to be reprehensible, I can’t help but reflect on an irony: in homeschooling our children, the bulk of books we bought were older ones from library sales and thrift stores because the great majority of children’s books, beginning with those published in the mid-1970s, reflected the “progressive” values we most definitely did NOT want to impart to our children. Read More »


The Unprincipled Exception of the Bridal Gown

February 26, 2015



A READER writes:

It is almost odd, considering how casual modern life has become, that one of the Western wedding traditions still around is that brides in formal weddings still wear a long white dress.  You would think by now they would be in white slacks (and if it meant more money for fashion and retail she probably would be).


A Healthy Black Nationalism and its Benefits for Blacks

February 26, 2015




David J. raises an interesting point when he talks of the possibility of a black homeland versus separation into what would amount to a separate state in North America. I would like to speak to the benefits  of this arrangement for African-Americans.

Before I examine that, I would like to object to the negative characterization of blacks. Yes, there are fundamental differences  between tropical people and northern people regarding morality, which is the basis of civilization. And surely there is an IQ gap. But is it that distinct from the 95 IQ average in Ireland or Russia, since the African-American IQ average is somewhere between 89-90?

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The negative comments about intelligence were made by the black commenter, David J.]

As a Southern man, I have known and loved black people my entire life.  There are many good men and women among them, but they will never be featured in the news because doing so would not support the leftist  agenda of integrating the Other in order to destroy the majority.

Read More »


“Latin Is Not the Issue”

February 26, 2015


MOST CATHOLICS are ignorant through no fault of their own of the nature of the liturgical revolution of Vatican II. Many think the Traditional Mass, which was essentially the same for some nineteen centuries, is primarily different from the New Mass because it is said in Latin.

Here is a 1997 sermon by the Rev. Gommar DePauw, a Belgian-born citizen of the United States who was an officially recognized expert at Vatican II and later founder of the Catholic Traditionalist Movement. Father DePauw’s talk is burning with indignation over the destruction of Catholic worship. “My people are being destroyed by a lack of knowledge,” he says.


On Papal Photos

February 26, 2015



FROM Traditio:

Dear TRADITIO Fathers:

I have been in some purportedly traditional chapels that have Benedict-Ratzinger’s photo hanging, some have Francis-Bergoglio’s hanging, some have none at all. What do you think is appropriate?

The TRADITIO Fathers Reply.

We would go with the last option: none at all. Making the pope (whoever you think he may be) into some kind of “personality” or “celebrity” is against Catholic teaching and blasphemes God. Until the last fifty years or so, most Catholics didn’t even know the pope’s name. After all, it didn’t make any difference who the pope was. The Catholic Faith was the same, the Mass was the same, the Sacraments were the same, Catholic morality was the same. Fifty years ago Catholics knew that. Now they don’t. Read More »


The World’s Largest Democracy: Nuptial Edition

February 26, 2015


CAN you imagine this happening anywhere but at a Hindu wedding?

A bride becomes enraged when the groom has an epileptic fit and is taken to the hospital. She and her family are so enraged that she promptly marries one of the guests. They are mad because they have been ripped off. They were not told of the groom’s health problem.

Read More »


The Morning After the Wedding

February 26, 2015


Signing the Wedding Register, James Charles

Signing the Wedding Register, James Charles

I CAME across this 2013 comment the other day in my inbox. It’s from a reader writing in response to a discussion of weddings. The basic point is that the Sexual Revolution turns weddings into parties only. The drama is gone.

I have been a long-time reader, and was finally moved to write and comment on this:

The “dynamic tension” of which you spoke was a part of the atmosphere which gave the occasion a special quality that most extreme weddings lack. No amount of money on blinged-out weddings can compare to the shy but passionate smiles of a newlywed couple as they leave the reception to begin all aspects of married life.

The reader continues:

Mrs. M´s remark here is very touching, and brought a smile of fond reminiscence to my face. Of all the current wedding trends that I object to, the one that breaks my heart the most is the tendency of the modern bride and groom to show up at the “morning-after” family reunion looking suitably hung-over, as if there were nothing special about the wedding night other than it being an excuse for a drunken party. Read More »


Hip Witches

February 25, 2015


“WITCHCRAFT – and the embrace of “magical” practices, like reading tarot cards – has recently experienced a resurgence of sorts among young, creative, politically engaged women,” reads The Guardian.

This is largely reflected in niche corners of US pop culture: 2013’s American Horror Story: Coven, in which witchcraft stood in for girl power, was the most popular American Horror Story season ever. A popular Tumblr blog, Charmcore, purports to be run by three witch sisters; it gives sarcastic “magical” advice and praise of the female celebrities it deems to be “obvious witches”. On the more serious side, teen sensation Rookie magazine has published tarot tutorials along with more standard-issue feminist and fashion advice, and Autostraddle, a popular left-leaning blog for young queer women, has an in-house tarot columnist. Read More »


A Small Confrontation for the Sake of Civilization

February 25, 2015


PAUL writes:

I insisted on Sunday on confronting an idiot driving a highly-expensive (my bet is $75,000 at least) huge new pickup tricked out with enormous tires and a horn used by tractor-trailers. He ran a red light as I was waiting at the light a few blocks from my condo. It was red when he passed in front of me, speeding at least 40 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour road.  About fifty feet later he blew that horn as if to say, “Eat your liver.” (See Catch 22.)

I was going his way but not following him. I was returning to my condo.  I noticed he turned into my church’s parking lot.  So in an effort to get a good look at his truck, so that I could confront him another day, I walked toward the church’s parking lot which is directly across the street from my big condo building. As I began walking, I got more and more mad.  I was nearly killed recently by a driver who ran a red light. An idiot totaled my vehicle, but I was unharmed except for some minor pain that night. Read More »


The Importance of Fasting

February 25, 2015



Here’s a good article on the necessity of fasting. The West began dispensing with the ancient fasting tradition prior to the Protestant Revolution. The reformers dispensed with ascetic practices altogether as a form of works to be sacrificed on the altar of Sole Fide. The Catholics fell largely in line (Friday’s as the last redoubt for instance, but even this was a watering down) as an accommodation to the attacks, but I’m sure this is an oversimplification. I need to find some articles with a larger purview than this, but it’s a good start.

Catholics must reclaim their ascetic roots and begin fasting again. The Great Lenten fast was uniform East and West by the fifth century. The fast of the East as it’s now known is the shared inheritance of the Ancient Christian Faith. Men especially need to fast! Being a man I can attest to this!


Black Mobs at Malls

February 24, 2015


COLIN FLAHERTY looks at 25 violent incidents at malls since Christmas:

At Pittsfield Township, near Ann Arbor, more than 100 black people attacked patrons and police and destroyed property, first at a movie theater, then an arcade, then a restaurant. Two were arrested.

At Ocoee, Florida, near Orlando, 800 to 1000 black people tried to rush into a theater without paying, then created violence in the lobby and the parking lot, where they defied police, destroyed property and assaulted others. Read More »