A snapshot biography of actress Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman

In a time of glamorous stars, Ingrid Bergman was simple. Described as naturally shy, sweet, considerate, conscientious, a hard worker, she would become the biggest female box office star of her time.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1915, Ingrid experienced much sorrow in her youth. Her mother passed away when Ingrid was two and a half years old. Her father passed away when she was fourteen. Sent to live with an aunt, the aunt passed away six months later. Ingrid went to live with another aunt and her five children.

The many challenges she experienced didn’t change her dream of becoming an actress. From a young age, Ingrid knew she wanted to act. Acting for the first time in a film came in 1932, her first speaking role in 1934, by her early 20s, Ingrid was a star in Sweden and would soon become a star in the U.S.

Ingrid went on to have a long and global acting career. She spoke Swedish, German, English, Italian and French, and acted in all five languages. And she won numerous awards for her films, including three Academy Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, four Golden Globe Awards, and a BAFTA Award.

“A snapshot biography of actress Ingrid Bergman ” sources: Press release publicity photo of Ingrid Bergman for film Gaslight, 1944 / Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ingrid_Bergman,_Gaslight_1944.jpg)

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A snapshot biography of abolitionist Thomas Garrett

Thomas Garrett

“Judge thou has left me not a dollar, but I wish to say to thee and to all in this courtroom that if anyone knows a fugitive who wants a shelter and a friend, send him to Thomas Garrett and he will befriend him.”

Thomas Garrett said these words as part of his closing argument in response to a judge, who said, “Thomas, I hope you will never be caught at this business again.”

The business being referred to was helping enslaved people escape to the north. The trial, which took place in 1846, was a lawsuit by two slaveowners for help Thomas provided a family that escaped. Thomas received a guilty verdict and a fine, leaving him in financial ruin. 

But he continued helping enslaved people escape. From his home in Wilmington, Delaware, the dividing line between North and South in the U.S., Thomas, an ardent abolitionist, was instrumental to the Underground Railroad. Working with Harriet Tubman and others, Thomas was able to help about 2,500 people make their way to freedom. 

He actively worked on behalf of minority groups into his early 80s, retiring shortly after the passing of the 15th Amendment in 1870. 

“A snapshot biography of abolitionist Thomas Garrett” sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Garrett / Kathleen Lonsdale, Is Peace Possible?, Penguin Books, 1957, p. 124 (referring to Speak Truth to Power by the AFSC) / Portrait taken circa 1850, Boston Public Library / Wikimedia Commons / Quote: History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2 (1874) by Henry Wilson, p. 85; also in Station Master on the Underground Railroad: The Life and Letters of Thomas Garrett (2005) by James A. McGowan, p. 65

Katharine Hepburn quote: “Kindness is one of the…

“Kindness is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon another. If someone is in need, lend them a helping hand. Do not wait for a thank you. True kindness lies within the act of giving without the expectation of something in return.”

– Katharine Hepburn

Photo source: Portrait of Katharine Hepburn is a publicity photograph taken in 1941 / Metro Goldwyn Mayer / Wikimedia Commons

“Welcome to America”: a historical fiction snapshot

Pop keeps smiling, keeps saying, “Welcome to America. Look at this beautiful land. It’s perfect.”

I’ve never seen pop this joyful. He sang a song out loud as we walked down Mulberry street yesterday. Then said, “What a world this America is. We should have come sooner.”

A week in America and the old country is now a memory, though one that will never be long gone. For each in our family, leaving was felt uniquely. Pop was most mixed. Mama most excited. I most indifferent. My sister most bitter. At seventeen, with a boyfriend and many friends, leaving broke her heart. She went weeks without talking to mama and pop. Now at least, she acknowledges them with curt sentences and pleasantries. The pain, though, has not left her eyes. And we can all hear her tears at night.

Back in the old country, we lived in a quiet countryside near a town of many years past. In the maze of social hierarchy, our place in society was at the bottom, ostracized, scapegoats to whatever calamity needed someone for blame. Life was peaceful most of the time. But the times of turmoil, the pogroms, kept us from living with peace of mind.

Now we are Americans, even if not officially; we certainly feel like members of the land of the free and the brave. People keep saying to us, “Welcome to America, the better life.” Nothing ruins this dream for us either, not the rotten stench from trash everywhere, or the pick-potters, not the fights that occasionally break out between gangs.

After weeks of living with an uncle and his family, we move into our apartment in the tenement. Pop has the biggest smile I’d ever seen on him when he says, “People keep saying to us, welcome to America. Now I say welcome home,” in front of our new front door.

Notes:

  1. “Welcome to America” is a work of historical fiction. The story, characters, and incidents are fictitious.
  2. Note: If you enjoyed “Welcome to America”, please consider supporting Historical Snapshots with a contribution. To contribute, please visit our Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/historicalsnapshots. Your support is much appreciated.

A snapshot biography of Nat Love

Nat Love

People said Nat Love was one who never got discouraged. Regardless of what was happening, he kept a positive attitude.

Born enslaved in 1854 in Tennessee, Nat was a leader, hard worker and desired to help others from a young age. After his father and brother-in-law passed away while Nat was in his teens, he took on the responsibility of taking care of both households.

But with time, he longed to explore the world. When his uncle came to stay with the family, Nat felt the time was right to go. He went west, becoming a cowboy first in Texas and then in Arizona.

After living the cowboy life for eighteen years, Nat decided to settle down towards the late 19th century. He married and became a Pullman porter overseeing sleeping cars in Denver.

In the early 20th century, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a courier and guard for a security company. And where he published his autobiography, “Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick,’ by Himself.”

“A snapshot biography of Nat Love” sources: “Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick,’ by Himself.” (https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/natlove/natlove.html)

Albert Einstein quote: “A hundred times every day…

Albert Einstein

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life is based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”

– Albert Einstein

Photo source: Turner, Orren Jack, photographer. Albert Einstein, -1955. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2004671908/>.

From Paris to the Civil Rights movement

She told her parents that life was long and youth was short and that she wasn’t ready for marriage. “I want to sit in cafes and drink cappuccinos and read books and feel the romantic aura of Paris,” she said, the scene dancing in her eyes.

“Who wouldn’t?” her father, Max, shouted, his arms flailing, trying to decide whether to support her adventurous spirit or attempt to guide his first-born child down a more traditional, in his mind, suitable path. “You must be responsible,” he went with.

“Despondent old people say be responsible,” she fired back.

Liza was fiery like her mother, Rita. Rita, a petite redhead with light freckles and prominent dimples, never raised her voice, but there was a certainty and finality, a conviction when she spoke. If she said she did, no one was going to change her opinion. Her daughter was the same way.

With her mind made, the day after graduating high school, Liza packed a small suitcase of clothes and a large one of books and flew to Paris. Mother and father drove her to the airport. Liza paid the bill.

In Paris, life was what she dreamed. Under the warm splendor of summer, she read books in cafes, wrote poetry and short fiction. She found a writers community, who at night argued politics and after danced until the sun rose, which they watched from the top of the city at Montmartre. Then they ate crepes and went to bed, to do it all over again in the evening.

There were many ex-pats from the U.S., but one, in particular, caught her eye. They flirted with their eyes first, each gazing over. She’d smile, he’d sheepishly look away. He was shy, not reserved, with deep, thoughtful eyes and a kind smile. He didn’t speak often, but when he did, all listened.

Liza didn’t wait for him to come to speak with her. One night she walked up to him as he was getting a drink and said, “I like some of your points on Socialism, but you do know Marx was wrong.” This was the flirtatious banter that spoke to both of their hearts.

That night she learned his name was Fred and he was a romantic, in love with art and literature. A recent college graduate, he moved to Paris to write a novel and enjoy greater freedom than U.S. life offered. Dark-skinned in look, mixed in ancestry, he had been born in Mississippi and raised in Boston. After high school, he studied at Boston University because Martin Luther King Jr. earned his doctorate there. And Martin was his hero. He watched Martin’s speeches, read his works, mimicked his presentation style, spread his gospel, and lived with the same vigor to change the world.

Liza and Fred were inseparable after that night, spending their evenings drinking wine on the banks of the Seine, picnicking in the parks, wandering the streets, and exploring bookstores. Liza, who grew up ballroom dancing, taught Fred to dance; Fred taught Liza about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. She wasn’t naive, but her suburban community in Massachusetts didn’t reflect much of the country. In learning about civil rights, she thought about her family and their stories, shared struggles of anti-Semitism with Fred. She was born in a dense forest in Poland, where Rita and Max and their families were part of a Jewish partisan troop, hiding for nearly five years. Her parents didn’t talk much about that time, but some stories she knew.

For both, Paris was an aura of love, a spirit of light, a wondrous place like nothing they had ever experienced. But as months passed, desires to stay changed. Although the aura was still there, the feelings were different. The cafes and cappuccinos felt bland now. Enjoying freedom while watching civil rights protestors in the states attacked, beaten, and imprisoned, was becoming unpalatable. Instilled in their minds now were the images of protestors in Birmingham.

It was time. Fred and Liza packed their bags and headed back home to join the civil rights movement.


Note: “From Paris to the Civil Rights movement” is a work of historical fiction. The story, characters, and incidents are fictitious.

Note: If you enjoyed “From Paris to the Civil Rights movement”, please consider supporting Historical Snapshots with a contribution. To contribute, please visit our Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/historicalsnapshots. Your support is much appreciated.

Fyodor Dostoevsky quote: “They sang…

Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky for quote

“They sang the praises of nature, of the sea, of the woods. They liked making songs about one another, and praised each other like children; they were the simplest songs, but they sprang from their hearts and went to one’s heart. And not only in their songs but in all their lives they seemed to do nothing but admire one another. It was like being in love with each other, but an all-embracing, universal feeling.

– Fyodor Dostoevsky


“Fyodor Dostoevsky quote” sources: The Dream of a Ridiculous Man by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1877) / Fyodor Dostoevsky Wikiquote / Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky taken in 1861 by Mikhail Borisovich Tulinov / Wikimedia Commons