December 7, 2016 – Notes

 In attendance: Liz Clarke, Janice Loschiavo, Lois Pagnozzi, Meta Pitrelli, Sharon Rome, Barbara Santillo, Tina Segali, Marilyn Sinisi

Absent: Vivian Krone, Cathy Quinn, Joan Swensen

Emeritus: Donna Sabetta, Jeri Stangl.

Book & Author: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Members were greeted with a warm fire and special 100th book gifts: a baby panettone for each from Lois, and inscribed M&Ms from Tina.

Notes and comments:

  • The book dealt with grief and greed. Because of the success of cotton, more and more people (i.e., slaves) were needed to work the land to make the plantation owners richer.
  • To be a slave meant to never be able to trust anyone, not even other slaves.
  • The runaways could have killed Ridgeway but they didn’t. Cora didn’t want to kill the boy but did.
  • The group agreed, sadly, that we haven’t come far enough in equal treatment of people of color.
  • What made Cora special? She was strong, smart, courageous, curious.
  • Why was the question of sterilization left up to Cora?
  • Best quote: “Freedom is the dearest currency of all.”
  • Slaves were referred to as “it.” They were not human but economic assets.
  • John Valentine was a great help to slaves by encouraging reading. Masters didn’t allow slaves to learn to read, which helped to keep them down.
  • Some were surprised when the whites, fearing the success of the blacks, burned down their town.
  • For Mabel and Cora, having a piece of property you could call your own was so important. They each worked that little patch of earth with passion and diligence.
  • Whites looked on blacks as one kind without realizing they were from different parts of Africa.
  • The people who hid slaves were enormously courageous. How might we have acted?

The book received a 3.5 rating, upon which the inevitable discussion of the validity and relevance of the rating system came up. All agreed to continue to float forward without a definite answer.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 4, beginning at 5:00 p.m., at Liz’s house, 59 Stanley Avenue, Nutley. Barbara will bring fruit, Janice dessert, Lois salad, and Tina will take care of the lottery tickets.

Next Book: selected by Marilyn, is The Nightingale, by Kristen Hannah. Liz selected the book for January, John Grisham’s The Whistler.

Submitted by Tina Segali

December 15, 2016