Cindy Sue's Snapshots
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Cindy Sue's Snapshots

Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair
    “It was to soothe a mother’s heartbreak that I came in the saddest hours of her life . . . ” Born two weeks after his father’s death, Georg Ebers was his mother’s “comfort child.” It was reported that he actually laughed on the third day of his life and that he embodied a “precocious cheerfulness.”
     From a fatherless child to renowned Egyptologist and historical romance author, Georg tackled life’s challenges with fortitude. The 1848 revolution drove them from the family home in Berlin. Georg’s mother decided it would be best for her son to attend school away from the political upheaval.
     Georg, with his inimitable optimism, looked forward to his new life in Keilhau, Germany, “the pure happiness of the fairest period of boyhood.” A self-described “prankster” at school, Georg’s adventures outside of school were tinged with romance. A cry of help from a factory gutted by flames had Georg dashing into a collapsing building to save a woman’s life. The falling beam that struck him inflicted only superficial damages yet lead to a meeting with a young actress that Georg had admired from afar.
     Boyish enthusiasm aside, it was at school that Georg learned that “every human being has a talent for some calling or vocation, and strength for its development.” Little did George know that it would take a tragic illness to bring forth his talent.
     “I was as full of life, and, when occasion offered, as reckless, as ever, though a strange symptom began to make itself unpleasantly felt.” After severe exertion the soles of Georg’s feet had a “peculiar, tender feeling.” Attributing the pain to worn-out shoes, Georg ignored the symptoms and spent an entire evening dancing at a local party. The exertion and the walk home in the winter cold triggered a severe hemorrhage.
     Georg’s life was altered forever. Doctors forbade any activities but complete bed rest for an extended period. In the midst of the darkest period of his life Georg found his calling. Egyptology, an idle interest in school, became the driving passion in Georg’s life. His name would become synonymous with Egyptology when Georg discovered and translated the “Ebers papyrus,” one of the most important ancient Egyptian medical papyri in the world.
     His mother always told him “that God always held in his special keeping those children whose fathers he had taken before their birth.” This confidence accompanied him throughout his life.
     To read “The Story of My Life from Childhood to Manhood” by Georg Ebers, click on link in column to the right.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2010

Click here to read “The Story of My Life from Childhood to Manhood” by Georg Ebers

Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair
     “At four years old, I began to think in verse, and first dictating verses and stories to my nurse and sister, I was soon writing them for myself. I could also play, by ear, any music I heard that I liked.” Precocious Alice Mangold, born in England in 1844, was fascinated by the world around her.
     Not only was she eager to express herself, she was also interested in the ideas of her playmates. At the age of six, Alice was asking her friends “their ideas of what this life really was and what they meant to do with their future.”
     In 1852, “Wild Spring Flowers,” Alice’s first book of poetry was published under the pseudonym, Alice Georgina. It was reviewed in the “Literary Gazette” and was compared to the poems of William Wordsworth. Her second book, “Wild Rosebuds,” was published the next year and the profits were donated to the Children’s Hospital in Great Ormond Street.
     Alice was trained as a professional concert pianist by the famous composer, Adolf von Henselt. With her family suffering financial difficulties, Alice became the bread winner of the family, at the young age of seventeen, when she performed a series of concerts in Paris and London.
     The toast of the musical set, Alice was in the first throes of adulthood. Passion, love, heartbreak and chaotic family relationships were the norm. Though a child prodigy, Alice’s tale is the story of every woman’s struggle to balance the demands of life.
     As Alice would say, “All we want from our first moment on this planet to our last - courage.”
     To read “The True Story of my Life” by Alice Mangold Diehl click the link in the column to the left.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2010

Click here to read "The True Story of My Life" by Alice Mangold Diehl.

Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair
     “We were both poor, still unknown to the world in general, and glorifying in our freedom.” Winifred Shaughnessey and Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla were in their 20s in 1921 when they met in the playground of the stars, Hollywood.
     After the custom of the time both Winifed and Rodolfo took stage names and in a few short years would be known worldwide as Natacha Rambova, designer and Rudolph Valentino, silent film star. Their marriage would last only a few short years before he died suddenly at age 31 of appendicitis complications.
     Their first Christmas together in their new little home was one of their happiest. The only furniture in the living room was a Christmas tree and one chair. On Christmas morning Natacha heard a bark and ran downstairs.
     “The head of a Pekinese puppy and two little paws were just visible, peeking out over the top of my stocking hanging in front of the fireplace. Rudy stood beside it, waiting in childish expectation to see my surprise. I screamed with delight. I had been longing for another Peke, having lost my last one nearly a year before. This is how Chuckie became a member of the family.”
     Their quiet times together were short-lived as the public fell in love with Valentino, Hollywood’s new leading man. Valentino’s popularity reached dizzying heights and when he died in 1926, more than 100,000 mourners lined the streets of New York to pay their respects.
     “Those were days of laughter, days of dreams, and of ambitious planning for the future. For myself, I know they were the happiest days I shall ever experience in this life.”
     Read a love letter from Rudy to Babykins in the column to the right.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2010


Tuesday 5:30 p.m. 1922

My very own and only Babykins,

     As I came home I found your two letters instead of the telegram I still expect, and it did my heart good to receive that long one of Wednesday night. If you only knew how I devour them and desire to read some more, you would stop apologizing for the length and make them a little longer. Though no matter how long they were they would seem all too short, as the real happy moment is when I read your letters. I feel you are just talking to me, and I assure you, babykins, you have not spoiled anything at all, but I am happy and also proud in a way for being the cause of bringing out the adorable femininity which I knew you possessed. But false pride and a wrong ideas of reserve kept you from giving it free vent. Only through the suffering of separation it came forth, soaring through the skies, from which now you can see how people seem foolish when they try to stifle the genuine sentiments and tendency which are a legacy of our race, simply to adopt a ridiculous modern theory of independence which implies the scorning of any romantic impulses and feminine charm, defining them as weakness.

     The more I read your letters the more I admire in you those lovely qualities of femininity I admired in my poor dear mother. Some people might call me old-fashioned but really I am not. I am very human and proud to possess that traditional feeling of admiration and respect for a womanly woman, a thing which nowadays seems to be a thing of the past upon which the cynics of our generation cast their blase glances with a faint smile of superiority.

     Do not be afraid of my misjudging your sweet spontaneity for second childhood for I simply adore it as I know that in moments of seriousness there is a very strong womanly character in you, which renders you to me doubly loved.

     You embody for me all that there is of lovely and ideal and sacred. You are to me the most precious jewel God ever gifted me with and any suffering, privations and hardships for your sake and our happiness I shall gladly bear them with a smile, for it is through suffering that the best of our nature comes for or is moulded.

     Do not think darling that I want to receive only the happy letters from you and keep the tears to yourself, if you did that I should feel that you had stopped loving me. I want to share your tears as well as your joys.


Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair
     “That I could sing a song that would soften the heart of the world!”  Max Ehrmann’s poems and prose, written in the early 1900s, ranged from laments of the human condition to uplifting, inspiring works.
     Max was a born philosopher yet his view of the world was grounded in reality. After graduating from college he practiced law and was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for one term. He also worked as credit manager for his family’s overall factory in Terre Haute, Indiana.
     At age 40, Max began to write full time. In his 1922 journal he wrote “I would like, if I could, to leave to my country a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods. My life is spent in a time and among a people of commercial interest, with its attending selfishness, cruelty and ostentation. I would reclaim a little of the heart of man, infuse some gentleness into the stern ethic of trade, and make life the supreme art instead of acquisition.”
     Whether he was writing a poem, prose or a play, Max encouraged his readers to open their hearts to love and to lend a hand to others to lighten their burdens.
     In 1903 he wrote in prose, “A Prayer.” The spiritual piece encouraged faith in times of despair and thankfulness for life. It was one of his most successful publications. A framed copy was included in the Indiana Building in the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri and it was printed in the Congressional Record in February 1909. “A Prayer” has been translated and set to music.
     Max’s writing career spanned several decades and espoused his idea that the human race should “Live thou in tenderness and truth, and love mankind instead of things."
     Click on the link in the column to the right to read the poem, “A Prayer,” from the 1910 book, “The Poems of Max Ehrmann” by Max Ehrmann.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2010

Max Ehrmann 1894

Click here to read "The Poems of Max Ehrmann."

Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair
    “I was two years and a few months old when I was in the calamity of a raging fever, which was scarlet, I was very sorely ill for three long weeks.”
     The scarlet fever outbreak of 1832 caused the death of Laura Dewey Bridgman’s two sisters and left Laura severely ill for months. Her family lavished her with constant care until she recovered but she was left unable to speak, hear or see. As time passed, Laura and her mother developed a method of finger signs in order to communicate simple needs.
     In 1837, Dr. Samuel Howe  heard of Laura’s condition and convinced her parents that he would be able to educate her at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, Mass. Using a combination of words printed with raised letters and fingerspelling, Dr. Howe and his assistants taught Laura reading, writing and math. In 1841 Laura began to keep a journal documenting her trials, tribulations and successes in learning to communicate with friends and family.
     Laura loved to “talk” and her ability to grasp concepts quickly led to her teaching other students when she turned eighteen. “I instructed Lizzie a lesson from arithmetic with much pleasure. It seemed very funny and queer that I could teach a pupil so successfully.”
     Her life story inspired Charles Dickens, to document her education in his 1842 book, “American Notes.” More than forty years later the story of Laura in Dickens’ book encouraged Kate Keller to contact the Perkins School for the Blind for advice on educating her young daughter who was blind and deaf. Anne Sullivan, trained at Perkins by Laura, was hired to teach Helen Keller.
     Dr. Howe, in 1850, spoke of the effect Laura’s story had on the world. “Perhaps there are not three living women whose names are more widely known than hers; and there is not one who has excited so much sympathy and interest. The treatment she has received shows something of human progress . . .  Now there are millions of people by whom it is recognized as a duty and esteemed as a privilege to protect and cherish her, or any one in like situation.”
      If you would like to read the 1878 book, “Life and Education of Laura Dewey Bridgman” by her teacher, Mary Swift Lamson (includes entries from Laura’s journals), click the link in the box to the left.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2009

Click here to read "Life and Education of Laura Dewey Bridgeman."

Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair
     “Only those who have mastered the art of happiness can prosper and progress. The happy spirit sees no obstacles, is not blinded by gloom and invokes the strength and ambition that surmounts all difficulties and gains success.”
     Elizabeth Jane Cochran embodied the words she wrote under her pen name, Nellie Bly. With no formal education or financial backing, Nellie’s drive and willingness to accept a challenge made her the most well-known woman journalist in America in the 1880s.
     In 1885, Nellie’s letter to the editor of a Pittsburgh newspaper led to a request for a full-length article. Undaunted by her lack of training, Nellie accepted the job and began a career that would span more than thirty years.
     Impatient with dull, traditional assignments and with only two years of published work under her belt, Nellie set her sights on working at Joseph Pulitzer’s “The World.” The job offer came with a catch, was she willing to feign insanity and get herself committed to the women’s Lunatic Asylum? Nellie went undercover and when her story of the filth and abuse at the Asylum hit the newspaper stands, she became an overnight sensation.
     Another feat that would make her name known round the world was inspired by Jules Verne’s book, “Around the World in Eighty Days.” She left New York in November of 1889 to break the record of Phileas Fogg, Jules Verne’s fictional character.
     Neither weather, red tape nor transportation difficulties kept Nellie from her goal. She arrived back in New York, the cheers of thousands greeting her, in seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds.
     During her thirty years as a journalist, Nellie used her newspaper column not only to entertain but also as a vehicle for social change.
     As Nellie would say, “Don’t be a grouch, and waste life; don’t be disgruntled and dissatisfied; don’t be a growler; don’t be a crank.”
      If you would like watch a video of Nellie Bly memorabilia,  click on the video on the column on the right.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2009

Click Start button to view "Nellie Bly - World Traveler."


Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair

     "Who wins in the race of life? Who is the really successful one? Is it he who accumulates a fortune only? Is it he who gains the world’s honors alone? Is it he even who acquires the most learning? No. Rather, it is he who builds the noblest character, in the circumstances."

     William Makepeace Thayer spoke eloquently on the importance of work and character in his 1894 book, "Ethics of Success." He believed that opportunity existed in difficult situations and that hard work combined with a caring heart would carry each person through hard times.

     After graduating with a theology degree in 1843, William was a clergyman at a church in Ashland, Massachusetts. In 1858 he suffered from a throat problem. William could no longer preach in church. He relinquished his pastorate and returned to his hometown of Franklin, Massachusetts.

    His dream to speak to people of his theory of work and compassion would have appeared to have been cruelly crushed. William knew that his life’s work may have taken on a new direction but he was not one to give up. What his voice could not do, his pen would.

     He was fascinated with people who combined hard work and good character in their lives. A desire to bring the uplifting stories to the public inspired him to write his first biography, "The Bobbin Boy," in 1859. It was the story of Nathaniel Prentice Banks who at the age of 11, went to work in a textile mill. From that humble beginning, Nathaniel Prentice Banks became a congressman, governor and general.

     William’s biographies, written in a conversation tone, became so popular that more than one million copies of his books were sold. William Makepeace Thayer was one of the most widely read authors of the 19th century.

     More than one hundred years later, William’s words still ring true. "There is always good in striving for the best. It is better to aim high and not hit the mark than to aim low and hit it."

     If you would like to read the 1894 "Ethics of Success" by William Makepeace Thayer, click on the link to the left.

     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
Cindy Sue Blair 2009


Click here to read "Ethics of Success" by William Makepeace Thayer.


Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair


     “I always thought I must have been a deer or a horse in some former state, it was such a joy to run. No boy could be my friend til I had beaten him in a race, and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences and be a tomboy,” Louisa May Alcott tells us in an 1889 autobiography.
     The author of  “Little Women” and “Little Men,” Louisa’s energy and enthusiasm for life leaps off the pages of the well-known classics. Louisa’s early writing was in childhood journals. By the age of ten her journal entries were interspersed with poetry and a philosophical view of the world around her.
     As a young woman, Louisa began writing stories for magazines and newspapers, receiving only a few dollars per article. To help with the family’s financial situation, she took a position teaching children. In the years that followed Louisa often held several positions at one time, teaching during the day and sewing at night. The hours were long and tiring but Louisa spent every spare moment writing her stories and poetry.
     Slowly her work attracted an audience. Instead of sending out manuscripts with the hopes of a positive response, publishers began contacting Louisa. She received $5, $6 or $10 apiece for her stories but she still continued to teach and sew.    
     In 1867 Roberts Brothers Publishing asked Louisa to write a girls’ book. Published in October 1868, “Little Women” was a worldwide success and translated into French, German and Dutch. Louisa could now devote herself full time to her beloved writing. She was a prolific published author in the following two decades until her death in 1888.
     “Wonder if I shall ever be famous enough for people to care to read my story and struggles.”
     Yes Louisa, your passionate voice leaps off the pages of your novels and continues to captivate readers, more than one hundred years later.
      If you would like to read the 1889 autobiography, “Louisa May Alcott Her Life, Letters & Journals,” click on the link to the right.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2009

















Louisa May Alcott 1883

Click here to read "Louisa May Alcott Her Life, Letters and Journals."


Cindy Sue’s Snapshots
by Cindy Sue Blair

     "Consideration for others is man’s noblest attitude toward his fellow man. For every seed of human kindness he plants, a flower blooms in the garden of his own heart."

     The quote is from Hollywood icon, Douglas Fairbanks, from his book "Laugh and Live." Though published in 1917, the sentiments expressed in the book are timeless.

     Douglas’ book was published in hardcover as well as in six inspirational pamphlets. The characters he played on film exhibited the same good nature and positive attitude that he practiced in his personal life.

     With a casual air, Douglas explains in "Laugh and Live" that "happiness is for all who strive to be happy." He believed that laughter, energy, happiness and success are available to everyone, all you need is direction and practice. From "Taking Stock of Ourselves" to "Consideration for Others," the book tackles a wide range of topics to help the reader get the most out of life.

     The first chapter suggested an experiment with laughter. I stopped reading and tried laughing out loud. My fake laugh, a deep HO-HO-HO, sounded so funny that I began laughing for real and suddenly the room that had been quiet came to life. Three energetic dogs were trying to jump in my lap. Hope barked while Chance and Joe jockeyed for position. The laughter experiment was a success. The dogs and I were feeling happy and invigorated.

     At the close of the book, Douglas hopes that he has "been instrumental in adding to the world’s store of happiness." Hope, Chance, Joe and I think he has been very successful.

     If you would like to read the book, click the link in the next column.

Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
Cindy Sue Blair 2009

Cover of original book.

Douglas Fairbanks

Click here to read “Laugh and Live” by Douglas Fairbanks.







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