Israel – Hamas War. An Opinion.


  1. The following is a current affairs piece. This is a new thread of writing we’re exploring. All feedback is appreciated.
  2. There is no easy way to talk about war. War, even when justified, is devastating. We’ll do our best to present the following viewpoints while acknowledging war’s horrid nature.

Israel – Hamas War. An opinion.

Many people have condemned and continue to condemn the Hamas atrocities from October 7. But some who do so then immediately change the conversation to Israel’s actions in response. Look at the occupation, they say. Or cite the death numbers resulting from the war.

Now, the latter statement is devastating. Most Israelis and Israeli officials themselves would say so. The occupation statement, however, is, at best, a half-truth. Gaza wasn’t occupied on October 7 – Israel removed all of its citizens, some forcibly, from the area in 2005. Since then, governance has been in the hands of the Palestinian people, who elected Hamas in the first and to date only election, even though the Hamas founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jewish people. As a result, what almost immediately followed Hamas coming to power was rockets launched at Israel and other forms of terror attacks from Gaza. One may agree or disagree with the resulting initiatives, but understandably, Israel countered with tactics such as blockades and border walls.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean Palestinian people don’t have grievances. They do. And it doesn’t mean that life in Gaza pre-October 7 didn’t come with many struggles. It did. There are no doubts about the deep frustrations that exist for the Palestinian people who live in Gaza from all the happenings of the post-1948 years. This, too, is part of the story of the conflict. But with the many rejected partition peace deals, it seems from history that leaders of the Palestinian people, Hamas in particular in recent years, seem more intent on trying to destroy Israel than to build a country for their people.

Which begs the question, what is the resistance movement aiming to achieve. If the Palestinian people can have a country without violence, then what does it mean if the leaders choose violence? That question became all too poignant on October 7, when Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel, killing nearly a thousand civilians and taking hundreds more hostage. Then, they vowed to continue launching similar attacks.

As a people, we should always strive for non-violent solutions. Israel presented such an option to Hamas after October 7. Release the hostages and surrender, and there won’t be war. That offer was rejected.

That rejection and the call to commit more attacks like October 7 left Israel in a position without much option but to attack and to do so against an enemy that had already prepared for one to come. Israel would also have to conduct the operation in an environment where Hamas embeds their soldiers and military infrastructure in civilian populations or within myriad elaborate underground tunnels.

About four months in, the result of war thus far has been Israel successfully eliminating most Hamas battalions and many leaders, bringing home 112 hostages, and destroying tunnel infrastructure and other military capabilities. Israel has done this all with most actions under a global microscope and some blatant examples of misreporting that caused heightened anti-Israel sentiment. It has also done this against aggressive ceasefire campaigns, which may have the best intentions in mind but would only leave Israel in a position to be attacked again. These calls for ceasefire would serve the people of Gaza better if they were calls for Hamas to release the hostages and surrender. Given the stance Hamas has taken, it is understandable that Israel cannot accept a ceasefire at this time.

As a concluding thought, one perspective remains quite clear. What Hamas did on October 7 was pure barbarism. It wasn’t resistance; it wasn’t an action to defend the people they govern in Gaza. It was some of the worst terrorism in modern history. As a people, it’s imperative to stand against those actions and the group that perpetrated them in more than condemnation.


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Click here to read a short story about 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Wilbur Wright Quote On Learning Through Experience


“The person who merely watches the flight of a bird gathers the impression that the bird has nothing to think of but the flapping of its wings. As a matter of fact this is a very small part of its mental labor. To even mention all the things the bird must constantly keep in mind in order to fly securely through the air would take a considerable part of the evening. If I take this piece of paper, and after placing it parallel with the ground, quickly let it fall, it will not settle steadily down as a staid, sensible piece of paper ought to do, but it insists on contravening every recognized rule of decorum, turning over and darting hither and thither in the most erratic manner, much after the style of an untrained horse. Yet this is the style of steed that men must learn to manage before flying can become an everyday sport. The bird has learned this art of equilibrium, and learned it so thoroughly that its skill is not apparent to our sight. We only learn to appreciate it when we try to imitate it. Now, there are two ways of learning to ride a fractious horse: One is to get on him and learn by actual practice how each motion and trick may be best met; the other is to sit on a fence and watch the beast a while, and then retire to the house and at leisure figure out the best way of overcoming his jumps and kicks. The latter system is the safest, but the former, on the whole, turns out the larger proportion of good riders. It is very much the same in learning to ride a flying machine; if you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial.”

– Wilbur Wright

Black and white portrait of Wilbur Wright from 1905. He is depicted with a serious expression, looking directly at the camera. Wilbur has a balding head, prominent ears, and deep-set eyes. He is dressed in a dark woolen suit with a three-button jacket, a white shirt, and a dotted necktie.
Wilbur Wright, 1905


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Cassius Marcellus Clay: Courageous Fighter for Liberty

Black and white photograph of Cassius Marcellus Clay, a 19th-century American abolitionist, posing in formal attire with a stern expression.
Cassius Marcellus Clay, circa 1860

Cassius Marcellus Clay stood about 6’3”, tall and handsome, commanding and courageous. By birth, he was a wealthy man from an influential Southern family who enslaved people. But life took Cassius down a different path. As a college student at Yale in the late 1820s and early 1830s, he listened to speeches from abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. They made an impression.

Cassius graduated college and returned home with a newfound mindset, calling enslavement the “greatest evil that ever cursed a nation.”

“I am the avowed and uncompromising enemy of slavery and shall never cease to use all…means necessary to cause its extinction,” he said.

His loud voice for abolition brought him much vitriol in his home state of Kentucky. But more than just words, Cassius also dealt with attacks. In one debate, a man shot at Cassius. Cassius pulled out a knife he carried for self-defense and, though hit, was able to fight off his attacker. Similar incidents and duels happened multiple times. Yet, Cassius continued to be a staunch advocate against enslavement.

As he garnered support for the cause, Cassius also wanted to participate in public policy. He ran for and was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1835, where he would serve three terms. After this political work, he opened a newspaper advocating for abolition. Because of the consistent threats, Cassius had to barricade the doors to the office and add cannons inside. Even with that protection, a large mob stormed the office. Cassius moved the workspace to neighboring Ohio while he continued living in Kentucky.

These experiences of resistance and resilience prepared Cassius for the challenges he would face on the international stage. His unwavering commitment to justice and equality, honed in his abolitionist work, equipped him with the diplomatic finesse and moral fortitude necessary for his next role.

During the U.S. Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Cassius as the United States Minister to Russia, a role in which he served from 1861 to 1862 and again from 1863 to 1869. His diplomatic efforts there were instrumental in securing Russian support for the Union, which was an important factor in dissuading England and France from recognizing the Confederacy. Additionally, Cassius played a role in the negotiations that led to the United States’ purchase of Alaska in 1867.

In his later years, Cassius continued to be involved in various social and political causes, ardently advocating for equality and human rights. His passing away in 1903 at the age of 92 marked the end of a life dedicated to the betterment of society, both at home and abroad.


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  • To cite: “Cassius Marcellus Clay: A Courageous Fighter for Liberty.” Published by Historical Snapshots,


  • CLAY, Cassius Marcellus. Letters of Cassius M. Clay. Slavery: the evil-the remedy. United States, Greeley & McElrath, 1844.
  • Harrison, Lowell H. “THE ANTI-SLAVERY CAREER OF CASSIUS M. CLAY.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, vol. 59, no. 4, 1961, pp. 295–317. JSTOR, Accessed 11 Feb. 2024.
  • SMILEY, DAVID L. “CASSIUS M. CLAY AND SOUTHERN ABOLITIONISM.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, vol. 49, no. 169, 1951, pp. 331–36. JSTOR, Accessed 11 Feb. 2024.

Defying Death, Defining Speed: The Betty Robinson Story

“I had no idea that women even ran.” – Betty Robinson

It happened on an afternoon after school. Betty Robinson was running to catch a train. Her science teacher watched her from his seat on the train. She’s fast, he thought to himself, but not enough so to make it. Shortly after, not only had Betty caught the train, but she was sitting right next to him.

What a remarkable talent, he thought. Along with being a science teacher, he also coached the track and field team. It was a boys-only squad, but he was so impressed with Betty’s running ability that he convinced her to join. Just four months later, 16-year-old Betty earned a place on the 1928 U.S. Olympic team. That was the inaugural year for women’s track and field at the Olympics.

At the Olympic games held in Amsterdam that year, Betty won the 100m gold medal in a world record setting time of 12.2 seconds. Betty said years later about that race,

“I can remember breaking the tape, but I wasn’t sure that I’d won. It was so close. But my friends in the stands jumped over the railing and came down and put their arms around me, and then I knew I’d won. Then, when they raised the flag, I cried.”

To date, she is still the youngest athlete to win this event. She also won a silver medal in the 4x100m relay at those games.

Betty returned home to Riverdale, Illinois, where she finished high school and enrolled at Northwestern University. She continued running, winning medals and setting records, with a focus on the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where she was a favorite to win. But about a year before the Olympics, Betty took a tour flight in a biplane piloted by her cousin. It was supposed to be a pleasant activity away from the rigors of training.

Shortly after taking off, the plane experienced engine problems and crashed. A rescuer found Betty severely injured and unconscious. He took her to the morgue, thinking she was dead. Fortunately, she ended up at the hospital, where doctors treated her for about eleven weeks.

As Betty recovered, doctors told her that she would never compete again. She refused to accept that conclusion. “Of course I am going to try to run again,” she said.

Before the accident, she had set her sights on coaching the 1936 Olympic team. Now, her goal was to run in those games. It took Betty six months to get out of a wheelchair and two years to walk normally again. Soon, she was once again training for competition.

Injuries from the accident prevented Betty from taking the starting crouching position required of sprinters. This meant she couldn’t compete in the 100m dash she was best known for. But she could take part in the 4x100m relay. Focused and working hard as usual, Betty made the team. “It was really a struggle to make the team in 1936. I had to work overtime,” she said.

In the 1936 Olympic Games, Betty Robinson once again became an Olympic champion. Then she retired from the sport.


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Click here to read a snapshot biography of Track and Field Olympic champion Jim Thorpe.

To cite: “Defying Death, Defining Speed: The Betty Robinson Story.” Published by Historical Snapshots.


Frida Kahlo: A Snapshot Biography

1932 black and white photograph of Frida Kahlo with a stern expression, gazing directly into the camera. She has dark hair parted in the middle and slicked back into a bun. Her traditional earrings and multiple necklaces add a decorative touch to her simple yet elegant shawl draped over her shoulders.
Frida Kahlo, 1932

It was a misty afternoon on September 17, 1925, in Mexico City, where Frida Kahlo and her boyfriend ran to catch a bus home after spending the day at a street fair, browsing the sights while talking about life and plans. Frida had shared her desire to become a doctor and move to the U.S. to live in San Francisco. She was excited to continue her education from the prestigious high school she attended as one of the few women in her class.

The couple reached the stop, boarding one of the colorful buses. These buses, a new sight in the area were quickly becoming popular, taking much ridership from the previously popular and still safer trolleys. Young people like Frida had, in particular, gravitated to the new buses, which were driven by young and, at times, aggressive drivers. The drivers and passengers shared a youthful feeling of invincibility.

Not long after their boarding, the bus approached an intersection with the trolley. Such crossings were frequent, and near accidents were all too common. But on this fateful day for Frida, the bus driver acted too aggressively, and a trolley hit the bus.

Life changed drastically for Frida in that moment. We won’t go into the details, but her injuries were gruesome. When she arrived at the hospital, doctors decided not to treat her, instead prioritizing patients who they thought had a chance to survive. But her boyfriend refused to accept the diagnosis. He insisted, and the doctors finally relented to his pleas, beginning to treat Frida.

Frida survived that day. And what a life she would live after. The following is her story.

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The Life and Science of Charles Henry Turner

Portrait of Charles Henry Turner, a distinguished African American scientist, from 1921. He is wearing a formal suit with a tie and pocket square, sporting a mustache, and looking slightly to his left with a serious expression.
Charles Henry Turner, 1921.

Dr. Charles Henry Turner was a passionate zoologist who brought intuition and curiosity for animals to his research. Amongst his many findings, some of the more important breakthroughs were his discoveries that bees have color vision and some concept of time, and insects can hear, learn, and change their behavior given past experiences. Additionally, he studied insect emotions, writing on the topic,

“There is much evidence that the responses of moths to stimuli are expressions of emotion. The fact that an insect does not respond to a sound is no sign that it does not hear it. The response depends upon whether or not the sound has a life significance.”

What made his discoveries even more astounding was that they were made from a simple high school laboratory. Even though Charles had an impressive pedigree of degrees and was brilliant, he couldn’t secure a research position at a university because of his race and wanted to help educate black students. “I feel I am needed here and can do much more for my people,” he would reply when asked about teaching high school.

Charles was born in Cincinnati in 1867 to parents who believed in the importance of education and pushed their son to learn throughout his upbringing. Their motivation came to fruition. He found his purpose and passion in those early years, asking many questions about nature and bugs in particular. One of his teachers said to Charles, “If you want to know all about these things, why don’t you go and find out.” Charles replied, “I will.”

In 1886, Charles graduated as valedictorian of his class. Then, he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He was the first black American to earn a Master’s and one of the first to earn a Ph.D. from the respective universities, and an excellent student in all his studies. Fellow classmates spoke highly of Charles, with one saying “that the consensus of the class would be that Turner was its most able member.”

Unable to secure work at a university upon graduating and too expensive for Tuskegee University, which already employed Dr. George Washington Carver, Charles took a position teaching high school science. He would switch schools but stayed at the high school level for his entire thirty-three-year career, during which he also conducted research, publishing about 70 papers.

In his personal life, Charles raised three children alone for many years after his first wife passed away early in life. He kept the family home full of books, and just as in his work, he instilled a curiosity for nature in his children. His daughter wrote about her father,

“My father to us was just a plain, kind man who instilled in us those qualities that would make for a simple, successful life.

Charles passed away in 1923.


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Dust Storms of Manzanar

Papa came home stunned today. “The Japanese Army attacked Pearl Harbor. News is reporting thousands dead,” he said to Mama, tears streaming down his thin cheeks. I’ve never seen him cry. Not even worry. He’s always so calm.

I could hear Papa pacing throughout our small apartment all night. Now tissues litter tables and fill the garbage bin as we rise this morning. Papa is sitting on the couch, staring forward with an emptiness in his eyes. With her quiet strength, Mama moves about the room, trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy, urging us to eat and prepare for the day. But her worried glances towards Papa betray concern.

Mama tells Kenji, my older brother, to get me ready and walk us the few blocks to school. Kenji does as he’s asked, and soon, we step out into the brisk but not too cold morning of San Francisco.

I’ve never told him, but I deeply admire Kenji. He’s nineteen, handsome, beloved, always smiling and dreaming. He takes after Mama, though one wouldn’t immediately know; like Papa, she also often keeps a stoic demeanor and constantly works around the house or takes care of us kids. But she loves painting and writing, and sometimes I can see her quietly singing to herself as she cleans the house.

“I’m going to join the Army,” Kenji says as we walk.

“Papa won’t be happy with you moving to Japan,” I reply.

“No fool. The U.S. Army!”

I look up at him, knowing the weight of his words. “You know they won’t let you,” I reply, my voice small, a mixture of admiration and realism.

“You’ll see,” he says with a determined look. Deep inside, I know he’ll find a way. Kenji always does.

“What do you think will happen now?” I ask Kenji.

He’s silent for a moment, then speaks, “Rumors are starting that people of Japanese descent will be relocated. Many in America already don’t like us. They say we’re a threat and will commit espionage.” That last word hangs in the cool morning air.

Why do people dislike us so much, I wonder. Yes, many of our traditions are Japanese. And Japanese is the language we speak at home. Yet, we are also deeply American. Papa speaks with great reverence for this country that welcomed him in. He loves America, even if Americans don’t always love him. “We have to work hard, prove our loyalty and friendship to people here,” he has always told us. “Never get discouraged.”

The rumors become real. Two months after the attack comes an order for us to move. Officially, it’s called an evacuation, done for our safety. But we all know better. As one man tells Papa, “They say this is to protect us. But people tell us the guns in camp point to the inside, not the outside.”

As we gather our belongings to leave, I look at Mama. There is fear in her eyes. She’s worried that we’re going to be killed. Papa consoles her as best he can, telling us all that these are our circumstances and we’ll make the best of them. Kenji somehow still has his ever-present smile, as though this is just a regular day. I can’t help but smile, too, when looking at him.

Amongst our friends, we’re lucky. Relatively speaking. We don’t have to move anything from our home. Papa’s dear friend, Saul, a fellow doctor who isn’t Japanese, will take care of everything for us. It’s an odd fate, but I hear Papa talk about how Saul has family members who are likely in concentration camps in Poland. Saul worries for them and doesn’t know how they are. Now, he’ll fear for us, too. Saul bows to Papa as they say goodbye. Papa bows back. Then, they hug each other.

We walk to the bus stop designated to take us to what will become home. Unfortunately, the stop is right next to my school. I see kids from my class – some stare and jeer, calling us names. Some come over and say how sorry they are for what’s happening. I appreciate these caring ones.

The bus takes us to a place called Manzanar. Without the fence and barbed wire, it’s quite pretty here. Snow-capped mountains loom on the horizon, towering over the barrack houses. The air is fresh, and we can gaze at the beauty of the myriad stars at night. Though we’ll soon learn about the cold winters and hot summers and the wretched dust storms.

Home is now a one-room barrack in which we will all stay. Papa and Mama immediately proceed to set strict schedules for us. We have school, homework, and chores. Parents and community leaders do their best for life to feel normal. Community activities quickly form. Baseball leagues become one of the camp favorites. We all join, and sometimes, on warm afternoons, there is a feeling of normalcy with the sounds of the ball hitting a bat, crowds cheering, boys trying to impress the girls, and parents congratulating their kids. But such feelings quickly pass. There is no joy in living in the camp. We are prisoners. Papa’s friend was right. The guns do point to the inside.

Kenji left for the Army today. He promised to write.

The days have been more lonely with Kenji gone. Our home misses his warmth and charm. Time continues to pass in what is now a familiar, steady pattern. We have school, then homework, baseball, hanging out with friends, chores.

Occasionally, the daily habits are interrupted by a letter from Kenji. He’s been accepted into the Army and will join the 442 Regiment. They’re going to Europe to fight in the battles. One day comes another letter from him, from Europe. He writes,

Dear family,

We went to battle on June 26. What horror. I wish people knew how devastating war is. If we’re lucky, this will be the war that could end all wars. Yet, I must say how moving it is to see the bravery of men who surround me. I’ve never seen anything like it. There was one fellow soldier, Sadao—also a California kid. We had never met but knew some of the same people. In a battle recently, he jumped on a grenade to save a group of us. I’m here now because of him. You can’t find words for people like that.

It isn’t easy. And I ask that you please not worry. I’m proud to be here. Like you always say, Papa, America is our country. This war needs good men to help defend the life we have.


War is over. That’s it, done. Families are eager to leave camp. We do, too. But we anxiously await news of Kenji. Is he alive? That matters more than the monotony of camp. Finally, a letter from Kenji arrives. “I’m coming home. Can’t wait to see you all.” That’s the whole letter. It’s perfect.

Papa and Mama begin gathering our belongings. “Pack your stuff, we’re going home soon,” Papa says with a smile.

“Are we going to stay in America?” I ask Papa.

“Of course. This is our country.”


  • “Dust Storms of Manzanar” is a historical fiction short story. While based on real events, the story, characters, and incidents are fictitious.
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Babe Didrikson Zaharias: Story of an Athlete and Trailblazer

Vintage photograph of Babe Didrikson Zaharias mid-swing on a golf course. She is captured in a dynamic pose, with her golf club raised behind her head, eyes focused on the ball, and feet positioned after a swing. She is wearing a light blue blouse, knee-length white skirt, and white golf shoes. The background shows a well-maintained grassy field with a few trees under a clear sky.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias, 1947

It was 1932, the Great Depression times. High unemployment and poverty affected many Americans. Amidst these struggles, people turned to sports. And one of the most spectacular athletes was a twenty-one-year-old woman from Texas, Babe Didrikson.

That year, Los Angeles hosted the Olympic games. Reprenseting the United States in track and filed, Babe had a dazzling performance. She won gold medals in the javelin throw and the 80-meter hurdles, setting world records in both, and a silver medal in the high jump. She became the first and still the only athlete to win an individual medal in a running, throwing, and jumping competition at an Olympic Games.

That was Babe, a fierce competitor in everything. “I don’t see any point in playing the game if you don’t win, do you?” she would say. Such determination made her arguably the most outstanding athlete, male or female, of the time. Besides the diversity of events she won in track and field, Babe also became a champion golfer in her later years and was a star baseball player in her earlier ones. She was even a sewing champion. Babe seemed to come out victorious from any competition she entered. Fans loved her for that, and Babe showed them much warmth with her open-hearted nature.

Babe was born with the name Mildred Ella Didrikson in 1911 in Port Arthur, Texas. She was the sixth child of Norwegian immigrant parents who moved to the U.S. as adults with three children, settling in Texas. They were a poor but happy family. Babe said about her upbringing,

“I had a wonderful childhood. That must prove that it doesn’t take money to be happy, because the Didriksons sure weren’t rich. My father and mother had to work and scrimp and save like anything just to be able to feed and clothe us all.”

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Note: Click here to read a snapshot biography of another champion runner, Wilma Rudolph.

Nellie Tayloe Ross: First Female U.S. Governor

Black and white photograph of Nellie Tayloe Ross in 1922, wearing a lace dress with a floral pattern and a fur stole draped over the chair.
Nellie Tayloe Ross, 1922

Nellie Tayloe Ross became the First Lady of Wyoming when her husband was elected Governor in 1922. Two years later, he passed away while in office. Wyoming held a special election for a new governor as a result, for which the Democratic Party needed to select a candidate.

Nellie had held no elected political positions in her career. She had worked as a teacher, then became a full-time mom and then balanced being a mother with the requirements of being a First Lady. But people knew her. As Nellie would say, the people trusted her. And so, the Democratic party nominated Nellie to run for Governor.

There were good reasons for Nellie to decline. She was distraught from her husband’s passing. She needed to focus on financial stability for her family. Wyoming was a Republican state. And no woman had ever been Governor. But Nellie felt she could do a great job if elected. So, she accepted the nomination even though she chose not to campaign. “My candidacy is in the hands of my friends,” Nellie said.

Nellie won the election, becoming the first female Governor in the U.S. when she began the job on January 5, 1925. She would serve in this role for one term, losing her bid for re-election. A few years after her work as Governor, Nellie became the Director of the U.S. Mint in 1933, another first for women. She worked in this role for about twenty years.

Nellie passed away in 1977 at the age of 101.


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  • Larson, T. A. “Woman Suffrage in Wyoming.” The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, vol. 56, no. 2, 1965, pp. 57–66. JSTOR, Accessed 16 Jan. 2024.

Billie Holiday: The Story Behind a Name

“My name, Eleanora, was too damn long for anyone to say. Besides, I never liked it. Especially not after my Grandma shortened it and used to scream “Nora!” at me from the back porch. My father had started calling me Bill because I was such a tomboy. I didn’t mind that, but I wanted to be pretty, too, and have a pretty name. So I decided Billie was it and I made it stick.”

– Billie Holiday

Vintage promotional photograph of jazz singer Billie Holiday, featuring her looking to the side with a thoughtful expression. She wears a flower in her hair, pearl necklace, and earrings. Her signature is on the top left, expressing affection with the text 'Love always, Billie Holiday'.
Billie Holiday, circa 1940


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  • Holiday, Billie, William Dufty, and Vincent Pelote. Lady Sings the Blues. Ringwood, Vic: Penguin Books, 1992.