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Sunday, February 23, 2014

In Praise of George Washington Carver*

In celebration and observance of Black History Month, I would like to give thanks and pay tribute to all African-Americans who have served, sacrificed and died for our country fighting for our freedom and promoting and preserving peace, along with those who have made remarkable contributions to our world.

As an American of Asian/Filipino ancestry and having lived in the United States for more than 30 years, I feel fortunate to have read or learned something about some noted or outstanding Americans who have helped shape U.S. history. Reading others' life stories can be enlightening and inspiring, and it enriches my knowledge and understanding of other people's lives and their influences.

From my reading and research about African-Americans, I became interested in George Washington Carver, known variously as "King of the Peanut Gallery," "The Plant Doctor," "The Prof," "The Peanut Scientist," and "The Wizard of Tuskegee." I find his life story fascinating and inspiring.

I am nuts for peanuts. Whether they're boiled or roasted or fried, i just love them. And whenever I eat peanuts (or "goobers", I think about this great man.

Among the things that I respect about him are his humility, simplicity, intelligence, perseverance, creativity, and his strong determination to succeed against all odds, along with his unselfish desire to help others.

George Washington Carver was the second African-American honored in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. The first was Booker T. Washington.

Born around 1860 in Missouri, young George was one of two sons of slave parents whom he never knew. He and his brother James, grew up with slave owners Susan and Moses Carver. His "Aunt Susan" taught him to read and write.

Living on the farm, George Washington Carver became fascinated with plants and animals. His neighbors used to see him taking care of sick plants. Later, they called him "The Plant Doctor."

When he was about 10, George left the Carvers and went to school. He lived with and worked for different families, while he studied his way through high school and, eventually, college.

Carver attended Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now Iowa State University) and studied plants and farming. In 1896, he graduated with a master's degree.

Following his graduation, he was offered the chance to teach and be in charge of the greenhouses there. But he chose to teach and continued his research studies and experiments with peanuts at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama, an all black school founded by Booker T. Washington, who encouraged Carver to work there.

Carver taught his students and Southern farmers methods of soil improvement. He encouraged them to plant different crops in rotation, including peanuts.

He wrote books showing the many ways people could grow and use peanuts for human consumption. Out of his pioneering research and experiments on the different uses of peanuts, sweet potatoes and other crops, came such household items as shaving cream, soaps, breakfast cereals, ink and milk flour (all from peanuts), and such products as shoe polish and postage stamps, from sweet potatoes.

With the products he created out of peanuts and sweet potatoes, he could have made himself wealthy by patenting them in his name. But he just wanted to help improve the lives of the people in the South during his time.

In recognition of his accomplishments and contributions, Professor Carver was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 1923 by the NAACP or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (Created in 1914 by then Chairman of the Board of the NAACP, Joel Elias Spingarn, the award consisted of a gold medal and is awarded annually by the NAACP for outstanding achievement by an African American. NAACP, on the other hand, was formed in 1909 "to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination." Its headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland.)

With no wife or children, George Washington Carver died on January 5, 1943, in Tuskegee, Ala. All his savings went to the George Washington Carver Research Foundation in Tuskegee. The foundation allows students today to continue Carver's legacy of creative research to help those in need.

-CHRIS. A. QUILPA, a Suffolk resident, is a retired U.S. Navy veteran. He maintains a blog at onebuddingpoet/ E-mail him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, February 23, 2014. Published Tuesday through Sunday, this award-winning newspaper is Suffolk's news and information source since 1873. For more information, visit

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yesterday's Fun; Today's Cool, Sunny and Bright

Happy Presidents' Day, everyone! Thank God, we're alive and well...

Sunday. Such was a relaxed and enjoyable day yesterday. First off, my daughter Tintin, wife Freny and I attended church worship services, both in our parish, St. Paul's Catholic, and at another Christian church in Norfolk where Tintin is a paid pianist (every other Sunday, unless otherwise indicated). After church, we dined out at Cracker Barrel then watched The Monuments Men in Chesapeake. (See the embedded photos below.) That's pretty much my Sunday. I had a great time, to sum it up. I enjoyed being in the church with others, listened attentively to the Good News and homily and sermon of both our parish's parochial vicar, Rev. Fr. Gino, and Rev. Dan, pastor of Bayview UCC. Likewise, I enjoyed my food at CB and the above-mentioned movie at Cinemark.

Today, Monday. It's Presidents' Day, a federal holiday. No work for majority of military and civilian employees. But not for Freny and her colleagues in her school. Although her school system observes Presidents' Day yearly, it's not gonna be today because it's a make up day for them, for the snowy days we have had weeks ago. If they missed school because of extreme weather condition such as snowstorm, they have to make it up for lost school days. And one of the make up days is today. In the case of my daughter Tintin, it's their holiday in the school where she's assigned as a college adviser. That's why, instead of going back to D-ville yesterday after church and lunch, she decided to go today. (See photos (of me and Tintin below) that I've taken before she left 757 for D-ville.) She did call me hours ago to let me know she has arrived there safe and sound. Thank God.

Well, what did I do this cool, sunny Monday, while the sky is bright blue and clear? I did take a walk in my backyard and a little stretching, too. Then, after "brunch," I prepared something for our dinner. I boiled black-eyed peas with onion and greens, and a with can of salmon sardines. Simply yummy!
But, of course, after cooking, it's chow time for me. Thank God.

This is all for now. Until next time around...Thanks, everyone, for reading/visiting my blog. Take care and have a nice day. May God bless US always!-chris a. quilpa, 02.17.2014

Yesterday's Photos...

 Lunch at Cracker Barrel in Chesapeake, after attending Sunday church worship services.

 After lunch, we watched The Monuments Men at Cinemark in Chesapeake.

 Photos below were taken from our backyard, after church, lunch, and the movie yesterday.

 Today, Monday's photos...taken before Tintin left 757 for D-ville at noontime.

 Photos of me doing a little stretching in our messy kitchen...yay!

Texts and photos (c) 2014 by Chris A. Quilpa

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Visit to Hampton on A Shady, Showery Saturday

Hi, everyone! Thank God, we're alive and well...Hope that you're doing well, too, and having a wonderful weekend. And, hoping that you have had a lovely and memorable Valentine's Day yesterday.

My dear folks and friends, in spite of the cold, shady and showery Saturday weather in Hampton Roads, my wife Freny and I did go to Hampton this morning. Hampton, btw, is one of the cities in the Peninsula, in Hampton Roads. Its neighboring city is Newport News.

Why did we visit Hampton and what did we do there, you ask? Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's been months (or a year, maybe?) since I last visited the city famous for its NASA Langley facility/facilities where astronauts have trained, and continue to train, for space programs. For Freny, going to and from Hampton is almost a daily routine for her because she works there on weekdays. That's five days a week, unless they have a make up day for snow day/s, like this coming Monday, February 17, which is Presidents' Day, a federal holiday. Yes, we had a valid reason why we visited Hampton today. Let me tell you...

After passing through the historic Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bay Bridge-Tunnel to get to Hampton, we continued cruising I-664 'til we reached our destination. First, we stopped by at Carpet Gallery/Carpet One and talked to Woody regarding our flooring replacement project at home. Btw, he came to our house weeks ago and did some measurements inside. (This is in connection with water damage incurred by a busted (frozen) water pipe inside our house, by our formal dining room, on January 7th, causing flooding to our driveway, dining room, foyer, kitchen, family room, etc. That's why our house is such a mess downstairs. Besides, it's way colder on the first level because of those damaged laminated wooden floors and linoleum or vinyl floors that were stripped or removed.)

Anyway, after we've talked to Woody, Freny and I dropped by at Krispy Kreme where we bought a dozen assorted doughnuts. From there we decided to have lunch at Cracker Barrel. Mind you, we had to wait for about 20-25 minutes before we could be seated. Where have all the diners come from, this time? The restaurant-store was busy, full of diners/customers! We've eaten there long time ago...But it was worth the wait, though. I really enjoyed the food I ordered. (See the photos below.) In fact, we had seconds for that tasty vegetable soup, you know. Like home-cooked food, everything tasted so good. I loved that two-pieces baked fish. (Was it trout?) So delicious and fresh. Yummy!

Now, my folks and friends, here's sharing with you my photos, from our visit to Hampton today...

Texts and Photos (c) 2014 by Chris A. Quilpa

Well, this is all for now and until next time around...Thanks, everyone, for reading/visiting my blog. Take care and have a wonderful, peaceful weekend. May God bless US always!-chris a. quilpa, 02.15.2014