Oh My!

On the night of May 6, 1965, four F4 tornadoes cut through the northwest Twin Cities metro area. Known collectively as the Fridley tornados, these twisters were the worst cyclonic disaster to hit the Twin Cities to date.

Recently, a client reached out to Mary asking her to modify an existing painting.  Mary was touched and wanted to share the story: 

I (Mia) was in a twister – the 1965 tornados that hit Fridley when I was 9 years old.  My house was blown completely away, as well as most of my neighborhood.   This is a picture of me and my Mom as they were cleaning up the neighborhood.  All that was left standing was this closet and one wall on the other end of the house.  This photo was in a Minneapolis Star Tribune story on the 50th anniversary.  One of the things I remember so well about that night was that my next-door neighbor, Jody my babysitter, was setting up for Prom at the high school the following weekend.  Clearly, the Prom never happened and newspaper stories mentioned all the prom dresses found in the debris for a dance that never happened.  You can read Mia’s memoir to her sons here.

The Wizard of OZ has always been an inspiration to me.  Not only did I identify with Dorothy being in my own Twister, but when I was 15, my first piece in an art exhibit at my high school was a sculpture of the Wicked Witch made entirely of ice cream with a paper witch’s hat on her head.  As the sculpture melted it left a puddle with a black hat floating on top.  
I inherited my Mom’s pink Prom dress when I was in my 20’s and it was my go-to Halloween costume – Glinda the Good Witch.  The dress had a hoop skirt and many layers of netting over the top of the skirt. 
Throughout my fitness career, I named exercises after characters in the movie:  The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lollipop Guild were all exercises my clients knew well.  I’ve gone to see the movie at the Heights Theater in 35mm whenever they show it.   

So, that is why this painting is meaningful to me. 

Pictured below is Mia and her mother after 2 tornados ripped through Fridley, Minnesota in May of 1965.

Freedom Rider

Joan Trumpauer Mullholland

Stokely Carmichael, Gwendolyn Green, and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. Source: “Breach of Peace” by Eric Etheridge.

In 1961 she had been one of a group of Freedom Riders arrested in Jackson, Mississippi and confined for two months in the Maximum Security Unit of the Mississippi State Penitentiary -“Parchman Farm”.

Fred Blackwell’s photograph of the sit-in at the Woolworth’s in Jackson, Mississippi. The woman with the back of her head facing the camera is Joan Mulholland which took place on May 28th, 1963.

In the summer of 1961, the historic Freedom Riders, a group of black and white activists, challenged the legally segregated buses and bus stations of the south by refusing to travel separately. Thirteen riders left on two Greyhound buses en route to New Orleans from Washington, DC.

Anniston, Alabama was the most dangerous of all towns where the riders stopped. On Mother’s Day, the two buses arrived in Anniston and were set on fire. Churchgoers and their children were reportedly watching as the riders attempted to escape the flames of the bus, only to be beaten by the townspeople until the police stopped the chaos. 

Mulholland, along with Stokely Carmichael (the activist and later SNCC chairman), Hank Thomas, and many others, took a different freedom ride. The group took a plane to New Orleans, then rode on the Illinois Central train to Jackson, Mississippi, with members of the Congress of Racial Equality.


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