Where did the term “Black Friday” come from?

Black Friday 2012

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The most commonly repeated story behind the post-Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. As the story goes, after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it’s true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is an inaccurate story behind the tradition.

The true story behind Black Friday is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only would Philly cops not be able to take the day off, but they would have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.

By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on in Philadelphia, to the extent that the city’s merchants and boosters tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. The term didn’t spread to the rest of the country until much later, however, and as recently as 1985 it wasn’t in common use nationwide. Sometime in the late 1980s, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the “red to black” concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit. In fact, stores traditionally see bigger sales on the Saturday before Christmas.

The Black Friday story stuck, and pretty soon the term’s darker roots in Philadelphia were largely forgotten. Since then, the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event, and spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal. According to a pre-holiday survey this year by the National Retail Federation, an estimated 135.8 million Americans definitely plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend (58.7 percent of those surveyed), though even more (183.8 million, or 79.6 percent) said they would or might take advantage of the online deals offered on Cyber Monday.

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Walsenburg and La Veta, a tale of division between two great Colorado towns

Walsenburg city limits signEver since we decided to move down here to southern Colorado in late 2013, I have been studying these two towns. Although only 16 miles or twenty minutes apart, they do differ greatly in style and substance. When we moved here to rent, while building our solar home in Navajo Ranch, I preferred to live in La Veta, but it cost so much more than Walsenburg, that we were happy to find a very hard-to-locate rental near downtown Walsenburg.

Yes, I did have a hard time adjusting to life in Walsenburg. The best way to describe my feeling was culture shock. Coming from a thriving and popular city like Fort Collins, I felt initially let down. And yet what I eventually discovered is that what I found most different here, like few traffic lights or traffic, felt both strange and better. I mean who wants to spend the rest of their life standing in line in traffic? I did struggle at first with the lack of places to buy anything besides groceries. My other difficulty was making real connections with town people. I found most friendly, but also quite hesitant to welcome strangers into their life.

View of La Veta valley from highway

One day when I felt lonely in our first summer in Walsenburg, I drove over to La Veta to shop and hopefully meet new people. There I found most folks I met more friendly and open to talking to a stranger. I felt like I fit in a bit better. Eventually I started attending exercise classes in La Veta and made a few friends that way. As I spent more time with “La Veta people” I learned that they rarely went to Walsenburg for anything except groceries. Most knew very little about the small town 16 miles east of them. I also learned that La Veta people are much more likely to go elsewhere in the winter, usually to warmer climes.

Because we live halfway between Walsenburg and La Veta we must choose which way to go whenever we need something. Now that my La Veta friends have left for the winter, I feel more motivated to get to know more Walsenburg people and a recent “Lunch & Learn” put on by the Spanish Peaks Business Alliance seems to be pushing me in that direction.

Here is my dilemma: Why do most of the people in Walsenburg not hang out with La Veta people? There seems to be some sort of great divide between these two towns, which I don’t understand or appreciate. I believe the folks in these two towns could really help each other out if they would start working together to improve the economies of both towns. Those of us who are relatively new here notice this ‘great divide’ more than the locals. I would love to do something about it.

There must be some way to get a grassroots movement going to introduce Walsenburg people to La Veta people so we can all work together for the common good!

memoir of retirement 2016Please feel free to check out my memoir about choosing to leave a lively, popular Colorado city behind (Fort Collins) to move to rural southern Colorado. We built a passive solar home for our retirement and love it! So many feelings when you make a major life change like this! This book is available in paper or e-book through Amazon or direct from me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Cranberry Nut Bread

Now for something completely different…

I have always enjoyed fixing meals. What’s new is my love of baking. I find that I can change old recipes into semi-healthy alternatives so I can enjoy them instead of store-bought varieties whose main ingredient is almost always sugar.

I’ve been making this recipe since 1976, when I got it from a boyfriend’s Mom. She said I might want to learn how to make it for him. Him I got rid of decades ago, but his Mom’s recipe lives on!

Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread from Kent’s Mom

2 cups white flour & 2 cups whole wheat flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup sugar OR 4 packets of stevia plus 1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups cranberries OR use one whole bag

1/2 cup chopped nuts

2 eggs beaten well

1 and 1/2 cups orange juice

5 Tbsp. melted butter

Sift all dry ingredients together. Add cranberries and nuts. Mix well. Add eggs and OJ mixture and mix until all ingredients are moist. Bake in 2 greased loaf pans at 350 degrees for one hour. Check with toothpick after 55 minutes.

The Colorado Spring Fire: Deja Vu

Galena Fire March 2013As the death toll continues to rise in both northern and southern California, I cannot help but remember this past summer, when we were evacuated from our home for the Spring Fire. For one week we watched and waited to see if our area would survive bone dry conditions and high winds. Luckily we received a good rain just in time to quell our fires and save most of the area, except for homes west of here in the mountains. They were burned down before the nation’s firefighters arrived to save this valley and the town of La Veta.

Words cannot describe my anger at our ridiculous president for criticizing anyone whose home is burning down before their eyes. Or worse, who died simply because the fires came through so quickly that there was no way to escape. Who is this IDIOT, criticizing those who risk their lives everyday to save the lives of others?

Those who are suffering now in California will suffer for the rest of their lives from this kind of trauma. It is impossible for those who have not experienced something like this to truly understand the feeling of loss and hopelessness when everything you know goes up in smoke before your eyes. Think about these poor souls as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner or gather around the tree at Christmas…

P.S. I feel no sympathy for those stuck in traffic on the East Coast right now. Try burning to death sometime!

My Salute to Local Entrepreneurs!

NICE view of sunflowers in garden and Spanish Peaks summer 2017

The Spanish Peaks of Southern Colorado

I had the very good fortune yesterday to attend a WONDERFUL lunch and learn presentation by the Spanish Peaks Business Alliance. What an enthusiastic and friendly group! To put this into context for those of you who live in large metropolitan areas, we live in a 1,600 square mile rural southern Colorado with only 6,700 souls total in the whole county. Consequently, starting and keeping businesses going here can be no small feat.

The first person I met was Michelle Tschetter of Zoomadesign.com, a passionate, professional young woman who “enjoys creating branding and websites for her clients with no sales pressure and unnecessary add-ons.” She’s very new to town and comes from Loveland, the last city I lived in before moving here. Loved connecting with someone from my previous town and talking about developing a broader social media presence for my writing and books.

Michelle then introduced me to Sarah Jardis, who helped put together yesterday’s great event. She has been here only about two years, but couldn’t keep from signing up for a number of volunteer positions here. She’s already a member of the Spanish Peaks Tourism Board, attending numerous business conferences all over our state to learn more about putting this gorgeous area on the Colorado map.  I love her energy and intelligence when it comes to improving life for all of us down here!

One of the first presenters was Carlton Croft, an account executive with KSPK Radio, our own local station. I hadn’t ever considered local radio advertising for my tiny business until I had a short talk with Carlton at the end of the meeting. He’s another new transplant to this area. We had a good talk about the culture shock one can experience when moving here from the big cities up north.

I must also mention the excellent lunch provided by the Ryus Avenue Bakery. Their pizza is whole wheat and fantastic, as well as their soups and cookies!

I left this meeting all fired up about working cooperatively with most of the business people I met. Just what I was looking for down here!

A Wonderful Week for American Women!

us flagOur population is more than 50% women, and yet only 20% of our Congress is made up of female members. After Tuesday’s elections, a record number of women will serve in Congress come January 2019.                            UPDATE: With votes still trickling in, 99 women have been elected to the U.S. House, 12 women to the U.S. Senate and 9 women will serve as governor. The number of women in power has grown steadily, but this year’s election, with more than 270 women running for Congress and governor, shattered records. Source: 11/6/18 LA Times

A little history on this topic from my old Midlife Crisis Queen blog:

Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity”

votes for womenThis is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote…Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women didn’t vote this year because why? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s new movie ‘Iron Jawed Angels.’ It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that we could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have our say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was–with herself.

‘One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,’ she said. ‘What would those women think of the way I use–or don’t use–my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.’ The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her ‘all over again.’

HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn’t our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: ‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.’

How Personal Crisis Can Help Us Focus On Our Purpose Going Forward

JackieSpeierI just heard Jackie Speier, a Congresswoman from California, talk about surviving the horror of the Jonestown fact finding mission in November 1978, and how that formative moment changed her. She was an attorney on the staff of Congressman Leo Ryan at that time, investigating human rights abuses by Jim Jones, the leader of the Peoples Temple cult in Guyana, when she was shot five times by Jones’ followers. While she survived, over 900 members of the cult did not, victims of a mass murder-suicide. This caused me to explore further how my own crisis, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in May of 2008, helped me to crystallize what I needed to do with my own life going forward.

The first few months after my TBI I could barely think or write anything. Important connections had been broken in my brain. Only time would help repair them. I also had a severe rib injury which made it impossible for me to drive for months. Without any doubt this was a life-changing experience for me.

Midlife Magic coverIn 2006 I began a new career as a freelance writer, but my heart wasn’t in it. After my TBI I wrote up a story for the Seal Press, about my recent divorce, for their upcoming book: Ask Me About My Divorce. They said they would pay me for the piece, but it struck me for the first time, that all I really have are my own stories. Why sell them to someone else? I turned that story into a book full of humorous essays called: Midlife Magic: Becoming The Person You Are Inside! published in late 2008. Then I began doing some serious research into midlife change and the psychological history of this concept. I found that intensive research and writing helped to heal my brain.

Find Your Reason Cover smallThat first book was the beginning of ten years of research to fully understand the importance of seizing onto midlife as a unique opportunity to catch up to who you are now. The result of this research was my 2011 book: Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife (2011). One interesting and unexpected outcome of my brain injury was that as my brain healed, it created a new decisiveness within me. I no longer doubted my strong feelings about what I believed in and who I would spend time with in my future. One result was the erasing of my ex-husband from my life. Ever since our divorce in 2001, I had allowed my ex-husband to continue to put me down verbally, because we shared custody of our dogs. In August of 2008 I told him to go away, permanently. I would take no more abuse from him ever again.

I also decided that I really wanted a new puppy to share my life with and got one for Christmas that year. All of these decisions came from a place of knowing that I would not be here forever, so I had better take matters into my own hands and get what I want NOW!

NICE view of sunflowers in garden and Spanish Peaks summer 2017

And then there is our most recent dramatic decision to change lifestyles by moving to a rural part of Colorado. This one really did throw me for a loop in every way possible. I had NO certainty at the beginning of this move in 2014, and it was an all-in decision, since we could not afford to run back to the suburbs if things didn’t work out. Luckily, after our passive solar home was finished in 2015, we loved it. Who knew I was such a nature lover? Who knew living in nature would change me so much?

My books 2018

Now the only thing I feel strongly about as far as my writings go, is that all might benefit from what I have learned about the midlife change process. I would say to my older friends, please share with your children the wisdom I have gathered by suffering through so much midlife discovery and change. We don’t all need to re-invent the wheel over and over again. The wisdom is there. Why not read about it first, and then find your own wisdom within that process?

I would be happy to offer any of my books for $10 plus postage through Paypal, to you or to give as a gift to your midlife children.

To purchase copies please e-mail me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

E-book and some paperback versions are available through Amazon