Welcome to My Full-Time RV Living LifeStyle Blog!

I suppose I should mention that this is an RV blog. The picture of me standing beside a motorhome in the banner probably tipped you off to that fact already, but you know how it is with blogs, any body can put anything in the header.

Anyways, I was born, raised, and live in Maine, I have 12 cats, and some people would call me homeless. Nope, I have a home, I just don't have what people call a standard house. My house has wheels and her name is Rosebud. My backyard stretches on for thousands and thousands of miles all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Once upon a time I had a "regular home" but a flood came and took it away. Me and my cats spent the next 3 years living under a 8x6 tarp and survived through 3 blizzards and Maine's coldest winter on record when the temps hit -48F. After that me and the cats moved in a Volvo. As hard as it is to live in a tent with 12 cats, it's even harder to live in a Volvo with 12 cats, and a motorhome named No Hurry was the answer. No Hurry: my home, my office, my RV.

I plan to use this blog to share my thoughts, ideas, adventures, and advice on being self-employed, living and working a full-time RV LifeStyle with an army of cats, while boondocking in the wonderful (and sometimes sub-zero) state of Maine.

I hope to write a post a day featuring random thoughts as they pop into my head, and hopefully 2 or 3 posts per week will focus on something helpful to those seeking to live in an RV full time. If you've any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on what sort of posts you'd like to see me write, please comment and let me know.

I hope you all have as much fun reading this blog as I know I'll have writing it.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hiding in the Shadows - SMCC ENGL100 - Exploration #3

Wendy C. Allen                                                                                            English Composition
February 29, 2012                                                                                        Dan Clarke

Exploration #3: Reporting on an Issue
Hiding in the Shadows
In the time when freedom is claimed to be available to all, and racial persecution a thing of the past, one race in America still lives in mortal fear, terrified to set foot out their front doors, terrified to shop in supermarkets, terrified to send their children to school, terrified to settled down and stay in one place for more than a week at a time: The Scottish Gypsies and The Irish Travellers. They live each day dodging rocks and repairing the damages of last night’s vandalisms. Their children flee school yards with faces bloody and bones broken. They pray they still have a home to run to, but often find they were burned out - again.  Those that can pass themselves off as ”white Americans” slip through the crowds unnoticed. They are a race still suffering from the abuses of a Salem Witch-trail Mentality and forced to live in the shadows just to stay alive.

Travellers in the UK have got it somewhat better. They have human rights activist groups petitioning for their rights. The Traveller Education Service (TES) was set up in the UK to help Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English Gypsy (collectively known as Traveller) races, gain access to education services. The Travellers are to Europe what the Native First Peoples are to America, they are the nomadic pre-Celtic indigenous clans native to the British Isles. Many Traveller clans still live by “the old ways”, speaking native languages, wearing native dress, obeying clan laws instead of government laws, and living off the land. They keep to themselves and few have contact with the rest of society, resulting in most having no education. The job of the TES is to seek out members of this illusive, secluded, and highly secretive race and attempt to build a bridge between their self contained isolated world and the rest of society. Agents of the TES commonly seek out and interview with Traveller parents in attempt to understand why they refuse to allow their children to attend schools.

During their interviews, TES agents discovered an overall fear of non-gypsy races. To understand this fear, one must understand the lifestyle of the Gypsy culture. Travellers live by strict moral codes.(1) For example sex outside of marriage is strictly forbidden; children are considered adults at age 12 and will go out on their own, get jobs, and marry at this young age; many extended generations live together resulting in huge families (as many as 700 people in a single group) all living together in one camp, each living in their own tent, wagon, motorhome, or trailer; each family group is lead by a tribal chief or clan leader, often referred to as a King or Patriarch; men are “breadwinners” and earn all the income, while women are “homemakers” rarely allowed to set foot in public, and careers strictly forbidden to them; because the women raise the children and the men work with their hands at craft trades or farming, they often see no need for such things as learning to read, write, or do math-things which they never use in their daily live. The few children who do attend school are rarely allowed to take courses in mathematics and science, both seen as taboo and anti-religious. The Travelers are highly religious, part Christian, part Pagan, they take portable shrines to Jesus and The Little People with them and devoutly seek the services of their clan’s Holy Woman, a Hoodoo Witch Doctor.

The Gypsy Holy Woman is one of the most glamorized, yet least understood traditions, of the Scottish Traveller Clans (Gypsy Fortune Teller, being the derogatory slang term commonly used by outsiders). Each clan has a Holy Woman, who is able to communicate with the "Little People" (Faeries, Goblins, Leprechauns, etc). She is the clan member seen most often by outsiders, often she is the only clan-member non-Gypsies will ever encounter, due to her setting up a shop in town to read cards, tell fortunes, heal the sick, cast out demons, and make amulets to protect homes from evil spirits. This was a sacred tradition passed down from grandmother to granddaughter and the secrets of the craft closely guarded, with no one else in the clan knowing how she does what she does. The clan’s Holy Woman is considered to be the messenger between the gods and the mortals; she would be picked for training at an early age (3 or 4) based on her natural ability to see the Little People. As an ordained minister, counsellor, advisor, exorcist, spellcaster, card reader, and officiant of weddings and funerals, she would be one of the few  clan members knowing how to read and write, a result of a strict education in a Bible Seminaries, but not in a schools. Emphasis of the Holy Woman’s education lay in Bible Studies and Christian Theology, again as with the rest of the clan’s children, her education is also often devoid of mathematics and sciences. The Scottish Gypsies are more secretive and traditional than the Irish Travellers. Like the Amish, Scottish Gypsies live in communities far separated from society, holding on the oldest customs and rarely seen by the rest of the world. When non-Gypsies encounter a Scottish Gypsy in public, the Holy Woman is often the only one whom they encounter.

Gypsy traditions, customs, and way of dress are considered outlandish, outdated, and extreme to most of non-Gypsy society, resulting in myths, rumors, and bigotry rising up against the Traveller race, which in turn results in their fears of and isolation from society in general and schools in particular. Many Irish Travellers give up the old ways and customs and attempt to blend into “white” society, as a means of survival. The theory being, if they don’t know you are a Gypsy, they won’t treat you like shit.

The Traveller parents, interviewed by TES agents in 2010 (2), told of hate crimes, being bullied, and an over all fear for the safety of their children, after the schoolyard murder of one 14 year old boy was tossed out courts by a judge saying no trail was needed because “he was only a gypo”. Those whom had sent their children to school, quickly removed them after violent incidents. Many Traveller parents having no education themselves, felt that the only education needed was to learn to read and write, and sent their children to school only during elementary grades, removing them well before they had any chance for high school learning. These parents also feared their children being negatively influenced by the promiscuity of the non-gypsy races, expressing great fears of sex education, white-teen drug use, media corruption of white races (Travellers rarely have televisions or radios for this reason), and crimes in school. They also felt contempt for what they called “the immoral” attitudes taught in school which promoted women not staying home to raise children, as well as the lack of being taught topics of any useful value, such as shoeing horses or wood carving. )

Many Travellers put an emphasis on the need to read and write, and said they would willingly send their children for English classes, but refused to allow the learning of other topics if those topics  not proven relevant to their family trade. For example they refused to allow their children to attend a general math or science class, but would welcome a farm biology class which would help them in their work with horses, dogs, and sheep. They also expressed desire for a business management class to help with running a traveling carnival business.  Other classes mentioned were those advancing trade skills in sewing, woodworking, etc. Most concerns expressed by parents to the TES agents, focused on the  lack of relevance of the curriculum,  cultural erosion, and the general safety of their children. The TES’ conclusion was a need to curtail racial bullying against Gypsy children, to make it safer for Travellers to attend school, and to create a curriculum relevant to a nomadic race which lives off the land and works closely with nature, crafts, traveling shows, fairgrounds, and animals. The TES set out to create such a curriculum.(3) (4)

It is in the UK where the Traveller communities are much more in the public eye. In the USA their race is largely uncounted by USA census, many families having no income, are also uncounted by the IRS, and others having no SSN gets them uncounted by the government on any level at all. There are several large Traveller Gypsy communities across the USA, one of the largest (with more than 3,000 members) residing in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, but they slip through the cracks ignored and unnoticed, publicly seen only at amusement parks, fairgrounds, and festivals setting up the rides and selling their wares, than as quickly as they coame, they a gone, not to be thought of again until next year’s festival comes around. Out of sight, out of mind, no one asks where they came from or where they are going, no one asks where they live, no one welcomes them as friends or equals, no one asks if they have access to health care or education, they exist like ghosts drifting in the sidelines, a minority race largely ignored.

There is very little accurate information about Traveller Gypsies available. In the USA  most  who know of “the gypsies” know nothing but false myths, rumors, and hugely inaccurate urban legends. When  mentioned in conversation or in the media, people speak of “the gypsies” as though we are mythological creatures of fantasy. On the USA Census, they are not even listed as a race, they are not Caucasian, not Asian, not Native American, not African American, not Hispanic, not Latino. Their race is not listed on polls or surveys or IRS forms or college admissions papers. Their race walks, unseen, unheard, unthought of, stereotyped, ignored, invisible, like they don’t even exist. UK case law has now recognized ‘Gypsy’, ‘Romany/Romani’, ‘Irish Travellers’ and ‘Scottish Travellers’ as ethnic minority groups protected against racism and discrimination under the Race Relations Act 1976. America has no such law. In America, Gypsy parents often send their children to school, only to be told by school officials “their kind” is not welcomed, an explanation they also receive from hospitals and doctors whom routinely refuse to give medical treatment to Scottish Gypsies and Irish Travellers. Often denied the right to have immunization shots, American Gypsies often find their children barred from school on those grounds. American discrimination and violent hate crime against Gypsies is the same today as the violent hate crimes were for Black Americans in the 1950s. There can not exist access to better education, until there is the awareness that there exists in America, an entire race of people who have little to no access to not only the education system, but also health care and basic civil rights.

Works Cited:

1.) Lane, Pauline.  Spencer, Siobhan.  McCready, Muzelley.  “Perspectives on Ageing in Gypsy Families” Joseph Rowntree Foundation (January 2012) Print. Web: http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/ageing-in-gypsy-families-summary.pdf

2.) Myers, Martin.  McGhee, Derek.  Bhopal, Kalwant.   “At The Crossroads: Gypsy and Traveller Parents’ Perceptions of Education, Protection and Social Change” Race Ethnicity and Education 13:4  (2010) 533-548. Print. Web: : http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13613324.2010.492138

3.) Bennett, Lizz.  Simpson, Marie. Green, Sue.  Ranson, Fiona. “Out of Sight” Give Racism the Red Card  Print. Web:   http://www.article12.org/pdf/Out_of_Site.pdf

4.) The National Association of Teachers of Travellers + Other Professionals Web: http://www.natt.org.uk/


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This post was written by Wendy C Allen aka EelKat, is copyrighted by The Twighlight Manor Press and was posted on Houseless Living @ http://houselessliving.blogspot.com and reposted at EK's Star Log @ http://eelkat.wordpress.com and parts of it may also be seen on http://www.squidoo.com/EelKat and http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com  If you are reading this from a different location than those listed above, please contact me Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat @ http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=viewprofile and let me know where it is you found this post. Plagiarism is illegal and I DO actively pursue offenders. Unless copying a Blog Meme, you do not have permission to copy anything appearing on this blog, including words, art, or photos. This will be your only warning. Thank you and have a glorious day! ~ EelKat


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