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San Jose Museum of Art Launches New Book Program


book coverThe San Jose Museum of Art is launching a new book club this month.  In their first selection, Color: A Natural History of the Palette, author Victoria Finlay shares the history and stories of colors from around the world.  Library copies are available through Link+.     Finlay's title is a perfect fit for the museum's exhibit "Local Color," which runs through mid-January 2013.  Drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibit explores the primacy of color in a range of works.   Enjoy the book and plan now to join the museum's Color Party and Book Club launch on Oct. 18.  Admission is only $5.00 after pm.  Five special color tours are also scheduled throughout November and December and are free with museum admission.  Speaking of museum admission, did you know that through the library's Discover & Go program your library card now offers you discounts to the San Jose Museum of Art and other museums and points of interest throughout the bay area?  For a complete list of available venues visit tickets.sjpl.org.  Museums and Libraries--a perfect partnership! 



Online Book Club - Swift Justice, Week 4


Swift Justice coverThis week we conclude our discussion of Swift Justice by Harry Farrell which details the 1933 kidnapping of San Jose retail heir Brook Hart and the ultimate lynching of his accused abductors. 

 

Our question this week is: While Farrell acknowledges some lingering doubts, he ultimately makes a strong case for the guilt of Holmes and Thurmond. Others, such as author and filmmaker John Murphy disagree. What do you think? Was justice done?

 

I think that despite the "lingering doubts" Farrell discusses in his final chapter, he does present sufficient evidence that Holmes and Thurmond were both involved in the kidnapping.  But as to the question, "Was justice done?," I don't think so.  In particular, Mrs. Silveria and her daughter's  sighting of five men transferring a captive and meeting with others along with the newspaper reports that a third man met with them on the mostly deserted White Oaks Road trouble me.  Were there other conspirators who went free?  More importantly, I don't think that anyone can assert that justice was done in any case where there is an absence of due process and and trial by jury that our Constitution guarantees.  The actions taken that November night so long ago were certainly swift, but they did not necessarily result in justice being done.

 

See more information about this book and the previous weeks' questions



Online Book Club - Swift Justice, Week 3


Swift Justice coverThis week we continue our discussion of Swift Justice by Harry Farrell which details the 1933 kidnapping of San Jose retail heir Brook Hart and the ultimate lynching of his accused abductors.  I also hope you'll join me this Saturday, September 22, for a walking tour of some of the important sites from the Hart case and other challenging times from San Jose's past.  Grab your smartphone, sturdy walking shoes and a water bottle and meet me at  St. Patrick's Church (389 E. Santa Clara St.) for the Scan Jose tour, Tragedies and Calamities.  At each stop, we'll access historic photos and information related to an event that occurred at that very spot.

 

As we continue our discussion of Swift Justice and the events of 1933, we hope you will participate in the discussion by contributing your comments.

 

Our question this week is: What do you think of the statements and actions of Governor Rolph in support of the lynch mob? How is the public's faith in the justice system affected when even public officials will not give it a chance to work?

 

I found Governor Rolph's comments both before and after the lynching surprising.  When Sheriff Emig called for assistance, the Governor apparently refused to even consider it, even though he was well aware of the possibility, even probability of violence.  He told attorney Vincent Hallinan, "If they lynch those fellows, I'll pardon the lynchers."  Later, he issued a statement that, "I'm not going to call out the Guard to protect the kidnappers who willfully killed that fine boy.  Let the law take its course (p. 193)."  By refusing repeated requests for assistance, Governor Rolph more or less insured that mob violence, rather than "the law" would "take its course."  Elected officials swear an oath to uphold the law and that requires them to see that the rights and safety of all citizens, even those accused of heinous acts be insured.  What did you think of the Governor's remarks?  Should citizen's have faith in our justice system when even elected officials are not willing to give the system a chance to work?

 

See more information about this book and preview next week's questions



Online Book Club - Swift Justice, Week 2


Swift Justice coverThis week we continue our discussion of Swift Justice by Harry Farrell which details the 1933 kidnapping of San Jose retail heir Brook Hart and the ultimate lynching of his accused abductors. Each week, we'll put forth a different question to prompt reflection on the book and its ideas.  We hope you will participate in the discussion by contributing your comments.

 

Our question this week is:  From the time Brooke Hart was snatched off the street until Jack Holmes and Harold Thurmond were lynched, do you think the fates of these three men were sealed? Could different choices have potentially changed their outcomes?

 

I do think that there were decisions made along the way that may have affected the ultimate fates of these three men.  I think that the decision to send home most of the police reinforcements and the lack of communication with officers standing by from other jurisdictions both contributed to the violence of that November night.  I also think that there were opportunities to save young Hart's life, had observations been acted upon, especially the cries for help heard by the Ridleys.  How about you?  What choices or decisions do you think might have changed the outcome of these events?

 

See more information about this book and preview the next weeks' questions



Online Book Club – Swift Justice, Week 1


Swift Justice coverFor September 2012, our Online Book Club selection takes a step back in time, revisiting one of the most infamous events in San Jose’s history.  In his true life police procedural Swift Justice: Murder and Vengeance in a California Town , award-winning author Harry Farrell documents the 1933 kidnapping and subsequent murder of Brooke Hart, heir apparent to a family owned San Jose department store.  After Hart’s lifeless body is finally discovered, a mob gathers at the downtown jail leading to a night of violence and ultimately the lynching of the two suspects in custody.  Although most of the key figures in the case are now gone, today’s readers will still recognize many of the locations central to a case that captivated our city nearly eighty years ago.  For more information on the kidnapping and the violence that followed, visit the library's local history collection in the California Room of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library or visit key sites from the incident by grabbing your smart phone and retracing the steps of some of San Jose's greatest tragedies and calamities.

 

Each week, we'll put forth a different question to prompt reflection on the book and its ideas.  We hope you will participate in the discussion by contributing your comments.

 

For Week 1, we'd like to ask: What factors led to the mob violence of 1933?  Could such events happen in San Jose today?

 

Several factors contributed to the eruption of mob violence in 1933.  I think one of these factors was the size of San Jose itself.  San Jose was a much smaller town in 1933, before the rise of Silicon Valley.  Brooke Harte was recognizable to the residents, many of whom shopped at the downtown store where he worked.  They felt they knew him; many, in fact, did.  I think this familiarity, real or imagined, contributed to the city’s sense of outrage over his kidnapping and murder.  While most of us are saddened and disturbed by the disappearance of Sierra Lamar, for example, the majority of those searching for her, following her story and praying for her safe recovery do not know her personally.  I think that familiarity, often missing in today’s large metropolitan areas, was one of the key factors that incited the city to violence in 1933. How about you?  Do you think such events are still possible in San Jose today?

 

See our Online Book Club page for more information about this book and to preview the next weeks' questions



The Buddha in the Attic


The Buddha in the Attic book coverThe Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka is an eloquent and beautiful novel depicting the lives of "picture brides," young Japanese mail order brides who came to California early in the twentieth century.  The author uses a unique, lyrical first person plural voice throughout most of the book.  "We sometimes lay awake for hours."  "Secretly we hoped to be rescued."  Seldom are personal names used and yet the author skillfully conveys the variety of experiences and emotions that these nameless women encounter.  Some are only children, no more than fourteen, when they arrive.  They find love, but not always with their husbands.  They become mothers, raise and bury children, work hard, and build very different lives from the ones they left behind.  Otsuka follows them as their children grow up and adopt  American customs, forgetting the Japanese ways their mothers cling to.  Finally the author revisits the time and place of her previous novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, as she follows them into the dark days of World War II when their lives were uprooted once again.  It is a moving, haunting portrait of first generation Japanese American women.   This title is also available as an audiobook and a downloadable ebook