Masked Since Antiquity Tuesday, Jun 30 2020 

Mandated or recommended, masks are the talk of the day. Do we have the right to choose wearing them or not? Which ones are best? Why do we dislike them? And do we really need them?

Personally, I see mask wearing like cigarette smoking. I understand the desire and choice to smoke but I hate the smell, and I don’t believe anyone has the right to inflect their second-hand smoke on me and my health. In the same way, I understand the discomfort and inconvenience of mask wearing, but I don’t believe anyone has the right to spread their potentially deadly germs in my face. If they won’t wear a mask, they can remain in their home.

Since the Stone Age, masks have been worn by nearly all cultures. The oldest known mask is from 7000 BC. Traditional ones were used for protection, disguise, hunting, entertainment, punishment, membership in secret societies, celebration, healings, and rituals. They were made from any number of materials including leather, wood, and feathers. I have one from Hawaii made from volcanic ash and covered in carved symbols.


One of the few collections I have is a wall grouping of masks, carvings, and a painting I’ve acquired from my travels. In addition to the one made from ash, the collection includes a ritual mask from Papua, New Guinea purchased in Hawaii and one made by the Incas and purchased in Aruba, festival masks from Venice, Italy, face carvings from Alaska and Jamaica, a totem from Hawaii, a leather work from Portugal, and a painting of a turtle on tapas, a type of fabric carefully and arduously made from softened wood bark. My attraction to these items stemmed from their craftmanship, symbolism, and personal contact with the artist or vendor.

When I purchased the ritual masks, I was assured that they had been cleansed. The spirits of the dead or other beings were no longer attached, so I needn’t be concerned about carrying those spirits home with me. That statement opened up a greater fascination and appreciation of the artifacts. I had no knowledge of the historical or cultural meaning of them or that death masks were created in the likeness of the deceased.

Some ritual masks, such as those in West Africa, are used to communicate with ancestral or animal spirits. They can be quite symbolic. For example, closed eyes may show tranquility while bulging foreheads means wisdom.

Today we are familiar with masks of protection such as those for welders, gas masks, police shields, oxygen masks, and our all so familiar, medical and health masks. I don’t plan on adding any of these to my wall.

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Have you read “Angels to Guard You Wherever You Go” and “Easy Test with Big Answers” on Mary K Doyle Books?

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TP Deal Breaker Thursday, Apr 23 2020 

I’ll share a little personal story with you, one that is often passed around the family. I’m a kindergarten dropout. The deal breaker was the school’s toilet paper. It was too scratchy. Once I tried that paper, I told my mother I’d never go back to school again.

The school I was supposed to go to burned down and was being rebuilt (Our Lady of the Angels, Chicago, IL), which actually was the cause of my anxiety and school. In the meantime, I was sent to a public school, a very long walk away. (It seemed like five miles but probably was one.) My mother felt much the same way I did about sending me to school and dragging my baby sister along for the walk, so she allowed me to stay home.

I’m hearing lots of TP discussions. People can’t get the good stuff, or any at all. Many overbought and are hoarding (bad karma), so now there are shortages. Who would have thought one of our challenges today would be getting toilet paper?

My ex-mother-in-law once told me when she was a child, her mother sent her to the fruit stands to ask for the papers that oranges were wrapped in. They preferred that over the Sears catalog, a common alternative. Imagine using that stiff, inked paper on your behind?

Only the wealthy early Roman citizens had it better. They used rose petals. Most other Romans used public potties and wiped themselves with sticks with a sea sponge on the end, that also was used publicly. Throughout history, and still today, people simply used their hand. Scots are said to have used sheep fur, sailors used the knotted end of a line (Yowie), Native American Indians wiped with moss and leaves, and early Americans used corn cobs.

Now wouldn’t you rather use any kind of toilet paper than those substitutes?

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See my latest post on Mary K Doyle Books, “Shopping in an Apron Mask.” And visit my website.

Inauguration and Presidential Trivia Monday, Jan 21 2013 

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Congratulations to President Barak Obama on his second inauguration to the presidency of the United States. After a lively election process, he was reelected to serve as our nation’s president.

President Obama used two bibles for his 2013 swearing-in ceremony – the one used by President Abraham Lincoln at his inauguration and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “traveling” bible.

As the technology has evolved, so has the publication of each inauguration. President Obama’s inauguration’s was transmitted via multiple forms of media; James Polk’s reported by telegraph in 1845; James Buchannan’s photographed in 1857; William McKinley’s documented via motion picture in 1897; Harry Truman’s coverage was televised to the few households that had televisions in 1949; and Bill Clinton’s streamed live across the Internet in 1997.

Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president to be sworn in after the death of William McKinley. He was 42. John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected president to be formally inaugurated at the age of 43. Ronald Reagan was the oldest at 69 and the oldest to leave office at the age of 77.

Abraham Lincoln was the tallest and James Madison the shortest. Madison weighed only 100 pounds. William Howard Taft was the heaviest weighing in over 300 pounds.

Blood lines ran in several pairs of presidents. John Adams and John Quincy Adams were father and son as well as George H. Bush and George W. Bush. William H. Harrison and Benjamin Harrison were grandfather and grandson. James Madison and Zachary Taylor were second cousins. And Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were fifth cousins.

Many of our recent presidents are/were left-handed including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan (who was ambidextrous), Gerald Ford, and Harry S. Truman.

President Obama is the 44th president of the United States. However, known to few Americans, there were other presidents before George Washington who held office in a limited way. They led the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation as Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled. The Articles of Confederation was an agreement among the thirteen founding states that established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states.

God bless our president and our country.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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