Ball Of Confusion


, , , , , , ,

When you think of American history, what pops into your mind? Pilgrims? Cherry trees? Patriots? Indians? Wars? Boring classes? Yep for me, on the last one.

Today I’m sharing some history that popped into my mind recently. Back in the 70’s my family rode around in a Chevy Nova. It was a TANK! Well, it was on the outside. At some point the radio stopped working and it was a while before it got replaced. In the mean time, my father, a Viet Nam War era Veteran, decided it would be a good idea for him to just sing ‘a cappella’ as we were riding to wherever. I’m appreciating that now more than I did at the time. Just sayin’. One of the songs he used to sing was Ball Of Confusion, as performed by the Temptations, and one of the reasons I’m familiar with the lyrics is because of HOW MANY TIMES dad sang that song in the car.

As I have mentioned before, I’m not a professional (or particularly learned) historian, but since I decided to develop Don’t Duck History I find myself curious about history everywhere. In the light of recent global events (terrorism, refugees, racism, wars, the list goes on…), I thought this song would be an interesting subject. While the song was considered a protest/psychedelic/message song for it’s time, it still remains relevant today and we’re still finding ourselves struggling with some of the same issues mentioned in it.

Take a few moments and read the lyrics, then watch the video that I found on youtube. Bottom line, this planet that we live on is all we have right now, and we cannot afford to continue the confusion. I’m struggling to be a part of the solution in my moments of clarity. I hope you decide to join me.

Ball Of Confusion

People moving out, people moving in
Why? Because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run but you sure can’t hide
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Vote for me and I’ll set you free
Rap on, brother, rap on

Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher
Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration
Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to my nation

Ball of confusion
Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today
Woo, hey, hey

The sale of pills are at an all time high
Young folks walking round with their heads in the sky
The cities a flame in the summer time
And oh, the beat goes on

Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul
Shooting rockets to the moon, kids growing up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will solve everything
And the band played on

So, round and around and around we go
Where the world’s headed, said nobody knows
Oh, great Googamooga
Can’t you hear me talking to you?

Just a ball of confusion
Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today
Woo, hey, hey

Fear in the air, tension everywhere
Unemployment rising fast, the Beatles new record’s a gas
And the only safe place to live is on an Indian reservation
And the band played on

Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectors
Mod clothes in demand, population out of hand, suicide, too many bills
Hippies moving to the hills, people all over the world are shouting
‘End the war’ and the band played on

Great Googamooga
Can’t you hear me talking to you?

It’s a ball of confusion
That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya

Sayin’ ball of confusion
That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
Let me hear ya, let me hear ya
Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya
Sayin’ ball of confusion


Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Read more: Temptations – Ball Of Confusion Lyrics | MetroLyrics

See what I mean? We still have work to do. Now that I have your attention, if you’re really curious, take a look at this article. It’s got interesting information on the Temptations and Motown, and includes mentions of many other songs and artists of that time. Read it here. That’s the thing when you don’t duck history. One thing leads to another. Like ducks swimming, even.


Continue reading

Memorial Day 2015-Today Was a Good Day!


, , , , , , , ,

Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and this was one of those days. I started breakfast, glanced at facebook, and noticed on a post that there was a Memorial Day celebration and picnic at a cemetary a short distance from my home-that would start in about 30 minutes. One of the speakers mentioned was a person that I’d been wanting to meet for a while. Being both curious about the celebration and seeing the opportunity to meet this person, I ditched breakfast, got dressed, and headed out the door.

2015 Memorial Day, Calvary Cemetery, Norfolk VA

2015 Memorial Day, Calvary Cemetery, Norfolk VA

Calvary Cemetery, Norfolk VA

Main entrance, Norfolk VA

I arrived just a few minutes after the start time, and was able to hear the majority of the presentation that was given by Robert C. Watson, Assistant Professor of History & Assistant to the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Hampton University, which is located in Hampton VA. It’s also where I attended college. As you may know, one of the goals of Don’t Duck History is to give a voice to people in American history (and stories in general) who are often overlooked in traditional history textbooks, though it’s open to anyone who understands that sharing history is important. I was so pleased to hear that included in the speakers presentation was “The Importance of Remembering the Forgotten”. Specifically, the story was shared about what some believe to be the beginning of Memorial Day celebrations, a day called “Decoration Day”.

According to historian David Blight*:

During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters’ horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some 28 black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Then, black Charlestonians in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged an unforgettable parade of 10,000 people on the slaveholders’ race course. The symbolic power of the low-country planter aristocracy’s horse track (where they had displayed their wealth, leisure, and influence) was not lost on the freed people. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

At 9 a.m. on May 1, the procession stepped off led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing “John Brown’s Body.” The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses.

Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathered in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens’ choir sang “We’ll Rally around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture. (“The First Decoration Day,” Newark Star Ledger)

I was very pleased to see that several Boy Scout Troops from the area participated in the celebration by placing flags at the markers of each veteran as the veterans names were read; a Boy Scout tradition that was carried out across our country on this Memorial Day weekend. Even more pleasing was that the scouts (who I believe outnumbered other attendees) were introduced to a part of American history that they may likely not see in a school textbook. My guess would be some adults attending may have learned something new as well.

Salute at the placing of the flags.

Salute at the placing of the flags.

Flags placed on markers.

Flags placed on markers.

No, my day didn’t go as planned. Breakfast was late, and as it turned out the speaker that I had intended to try to meet wasn’t actually there. Lucky for me, I was able to share a bit about the Don’t Duck History project with Assistant Professor Watson after his presentation, and he expressed an interest in speaking about it further. How cool is that?

Robert C. Watson, Assistant Professor of History & Assistant to the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Hampton Univerisity:; Tracy Clark-The Real Rubber Duck

Robert C. Watson, Assistant Professor of History & Assistant to the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Hampton University:; Tracy Clark, The Real Rubber Duck

And finally, the icing on the cake. Yes, today was a good day!

Homemade, too! It was delicious, by the way. I was even able to take a slice home for "Mr. Duck" to make up  for the ditched breakfast!

Homemade, too! It was delicious, by the way. I was even able to take a slice home for “Mr. Duck” to make up for the ditched breakfast!

*The quote from David Blight was found in an article that can be read here:

The Rosa Parks Statue-Making History in the United States Capitol


, , , , , , ,

Today is Rosa Parks’ birthday.

Born on February 4, 1913, she is most known in American history as the lady who refused to give up her bus seat one day in Montgomery, Alabama, but there’s so much more! On a trip to Washington, D.C., we (me, the hubby, and grandkids) took a tour of Capitol Hill. Part of that tour included time spent viewing the National Statuary Hall Collection, which is a collection of statues of historical figures presented by individual states. With a twist.

As it turns out, there is a statue of Rosa Parks amongst the statues in the collection, though technically the statue is not part of the collection. Her statue is there due to a special act of Congress, and was not commissioned by any particular state. That’s the twist. Her statue is also the first one that featured an African-American in full length (vs. the busts of MLK, Jr. and Sojourner Truth, for example). That is history!

Rosa Parks statue in the U.S. Capitol. Photo credit: Tracy Clark

Rosa Parks statue in the U.S. Capitol. Photo credit: Tracy Clark

Squeaks and quacks:

Check out more about the lady that you probably didn’t read in a history book here:

More about her statue here:

Check out other statues, busts, and other sculptures at the Capitol here:



Some Sat Down. This Lady Stood Up. 


, , , , , , ,

One of the goals of the Don’t Duck History project is to give voice to those who are not often featured in American History documentation, and this is a prime example. When we read about civil rights and particularly the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins, what is normally presented are the brave African-American college students who boldly, yet peacefully, participated in a movement where equal treatment was the ultimate goal. Certainly, they deserve to be featured for their courage and contribution to positive change.  They were later referred to as the “Greensboro Four”, and their names are Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr. and David Richmond.

And then there’s Ann Dearsley-Vernon. Her story appeared on my Facebook page recently, and apparently she’s been hiding in plain view right here in the city of Norfolk VA. Yes, I admit to having a history of living under the occasional rock. So who is she? Well, you should watch the video in the link below, but the quick and dirty is that she and some of her college classmates went to a certain Woolworth’s lunch counter, and upon noticing that African-American (college) students were attempting to be served, she and her classmates stood so that their seats would be available to the other history makers there that day.

Take just a few minutes and watch the video (and read about her story) here.

A relatively recent trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History landed me in front of part of the actual counter where that history was made. It had been donated to the museum after the Woolworth’s store closed in 1993. I don’t recall reading about Ann at the museum, so I did a quick Google search about the sit-ins and again, nothing. Now I’m not saying there is nothing out there, but my point is that you will probably have to dig to find it, or actually even know to look for it. Lo and behold, when I googled her name, I came to this blog that tells more about her part of the story. I’ll bet there are many other similar stories that have never been told or not widely known, and my goal is to have a place where those stories can be archived digitally (via a website) as well as some of them ultimately ending up in a book. Thinking ahead, let’s say a series of books.  (I also found this article about her and her attachment to a different museum, as an artist.  Check it out.)

Section of the Greensboro, NC Woolworth's lunch counter, as displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 1/2015

Section of the Greensboro, NC Woolworth’s lunch counter, as displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 1/2015

Back to the African-American students, well, one in particular; Franklin McCain. He was interviewed by NPR in the link here, and one of the things he mentioned was that there was additional support for their courage that came from outside of the black community on their first day of sitting.  In actuality, many people took the steps that they were comfortable taking, toward positive change.  Many were women, and their stories need to be told, too.  Upon recalling a “little old white lady” looking in his direction, McCain wrongly thought her stare was one of disdain, but he learned he was wrong when she approached them, and said “Boys, I am so proud of you. I only regret that you didn’t do this 10 years ago”. She has a name, too. I wonder what it is so that I can google it.

My journey continues.  Peace, squeaks, and quacks!



New Year, New Blog!


, , , , , , ,

IMG_20140705_212838_911 tc

As a child, history was never my favorite subject in school.  I made good grades, but again, not my favorite-by a long shot.  Fast forward to a college level American history class that I took, well into adulthood, and boy had things changed.  Well, I had changed.  For extra-credit, my husband and I took a day off work, visited a few local Virginia plantations, and I turned in a paper about the experience for the credit.  I got an “A” in the class, but still didn’t continue to pursue learning more after the class, even though I enjoyed it.  He and I would also take an occasional trip to visit the Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C., not related to the class, but more for the short getaway than the learning experience.  Imagine my surprise when on one of those trips to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, my eyes landed on the name and photo of a relative whose name I recognized, but had never met.  That’s a story for another time, but he is one of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of African-American military airmen who, because of their efforts during WWII, are recognized for their significant military accomplishments in the face of adversity.  Basically, they fought a war on several fronts, including the one at home (Jim Crow).  It then made sense to me why I have additional family members who have been licensed pilots, and the one who still is has carried on the name of our family WWII-Air Force-trailblazer-veteran’s name by naming his son after him.  How cool is that?

Fast forward to today.  It is very clear to me that I’m not the only person who had not been paying close enough attention to events and people around me that not only affect me daily, but shape my life and surroundings on a daily basis.  How might I have acted differently, made different decisions, chosen different paths, had I come this enlightenment sooner?  The truth is that I believe everything happens, when it happens, for a reason, but certainly my path would have been walked with my head held higher.  I am not alone in this regard.  While everyone may not be able to point to a relative featured in a museum, or had a movie written based on their actions (Red Tails, released in 2012), history, in this case American history, surrounds us all on a constant basis, and we are all contributors.  There is a story behind every object you can sense, place you visit, and person that you run across.  Someone told me recently that “History is our teacher, not our past”, and I believe that to be true.

And so, now is the beginning of a fork in my path.  I have “ducked” history for long enough.  My final inspiration to act, and the play on the word “duck” came from my reaction to a certain “royal” duck related reality television show member who basically said during an interview that Blacks he saw (before the civil rights era, and in rural Louisiana) were all “singing and happy”.  Though it was HIS observation (ok, we sometimes see the same things differently, but here we go back to Jim Crow), it was a statement that, at best, thoroughly ignored the experiences Blacks faced at that time, and at worst, was insulting to the very people who experienced it.  Also, while I enjoy singing and am generally a happy person, I do understand that sometimes you sing to make yourself happy, not because you already are. Just sayin’.

Moving right along… My hope is to encourage others to walk their paths alongside mine, knowing that there will be forks that will take us in different directions at times.  I also believe that the more we walk together, the more chances that our paths will cross, with the ultimate destination being a comfortable place for everyone to just be able to “be”.  Everyone deserves that opportunity.

I’ll be blogging about my journey along the way, and I hope you make the time to share yours as well.  I encourage you to share your American history related posts on the facebook page.  Short stories you may elect to write may also be shared via this form , for possible inclusion in a future book, posting on the Don’t Duck History website (yet to be released), and/or used with other media that will serve the ultimate goals of the project.  Then, just be patient; this is a marathon, not a sprint!  Take a few minutes and watch this interview of one of the Tuskegee Airmen, from the website.

Last but not least, expenses are ongoing and your help in that department would be appreciated as well.  Here is the page where you can lend your support.  For a $30 dollar donation (and multiples of $30), you will receive a t-shirt as a thank you gift! You also have the option of supporting with as little as $10, and ongoing monthly support is available as well.  The timeline for a project like this is usually several years or more, but to minimize the time from idea to the first published book, funding will be used to hire as much help as possible, in addition to being used for current and upcoming expenses.  Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and thank you in advance.  Peace, squeaks, and quacks!  Because that’s what rubber ducks do.