From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me by Storyteller Lyn Ford

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Storyteller Lyn Ford remembers growing up in Sharon, Pennsylvania at her …

Storyteller Lyn Ford remembers growing up in Sharon, Pennsylvania at her
grandmother’s house where there was no TV for entertainment. Instead, her
grandmother leaned over the fence to gossip with her neighbor, Mrs. Rosenberg.
Mrs. Rosenberg spoke in a beautiful language that sounded like music to Ford. It was
so beautiful she used to imitate it to her friends even though she didn’t know what
she was saying. Her fascinating neighbor baked the most wonderful cookies and
called them moon cookies. Ford noticed that Mrs. Rosenberg usually kept her long
sleeves down completely covering her arms. But when Mrs. Rosenberg did pull up
her sleeves, the young Ford saw numbers marked on her arm and she thought they
must be the older woman’s phone number. Most of all, Ford remembered Mrs.
Rosenberg’s beautiful song about peace that she sung in Hebrew.
Years passed and Lyn Ford was a junior in high school when Martin Luther King, Jr.
was assassinated. She and her friends thought that school should close down for the
day but they discovered they were expected to attend classes. Nothing felt right about this, so many of the
students decided to walk out and march through the streets to the church to mourn the loss of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. and join together as a community.
During their peaceful walk through the streets the crowd sang “We Shall Overcome” and in that multitude of
voices, Lyn Ford heard another voice singing the Hebrew song she remembered from Mrs. Rosenberg so many
years ago, reminding all of us to “walk together in unity and peace.”
Visit www.racebridgesforschools.com to download the
corresponding audio (MP3) and video (MP4) files.

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  • 1. FROM MOON COOKIES TO MARTIN AND MEby Storyteller Lyn Ford • www.lynfordstoryteller.com THEME Working for peace and justice across faith and racial backgrounds STORY SUMMARYStoryteller Lyn Ford remembers growing up in Sharon, Pennsylvania at hergrandmother’s house where there was no TV for entertainment. Instead, hergrandmother leaned over the fence to gossip with her neighbor, Mrs. Rosenberg.Mrs. Rosenberg spoke in a beautiful language that sounded like music to Ford. It wasso beautiful she used to imitate it to her friends even though she didn’t know whatshe was saying. Her fascinating neighbor baked the most wonderful cookies andcalled them moon cookies. Ford noticed that Mrs. Rosenberg usually kept her longsleeves down completely covering her arms. But when Mrs. Rosenberg did pull upher sleeves, the young Ford saw numbers marked on her arm and she thought theymust be the older woman’s phone number. Most of all, Ford remembered Mrs.Rosenberg’s beautiful song about peace that she sung in Hebrew. Lyn FordYears passed and Lyn Ford was a junior in high school when Martin Luther King, Jr.was assassinated. She and her friends thought that school should close down for theday but they discovered they were expected to attend classes. Nothing felt right about this, so many of thestudents decided to walk out and march through the streets to the church to mourn the loss of Dr. Martin LutherKing, Jr. and join together as a community.During their peaceful walk through the streets the crowd sang “We Shall Overcome” and in that multitude ofvoices, Lyn Ford heard another voice singing the Hebrew song she remembered from Mrs. Rosenberg so manyyears ago, reminding all of us to “walk together in unity and peace.” Visit www.racebridgesforschools.com to download the corresponding audio (MP3) and video (MP4) files. Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 8 minutes 54 seconds
  • 2. STORY SHORT: From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me by Lyn Ford Page 2 REFLECTIONS & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS ABOUT From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me 1) Lyn Ford’s story encourages us to consider how the histories of African American and Jewish people are connected by experiences of oppression and a deep longing for peace and justice. An important part of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy was time and energy dedicated to strengthening ties between African American people and Jewish communities in the United States. Underneath the work for social justice there are often strong personal relationships. What draws the various people in this story together? What is the nature of the connection between Ford’s grandmother and Mrs. Rosenberg? How about the connection between the young Lyn Ford and the European American students at her school who wanted to march with her? What about Ford’s African American friends who gave her the courage to walk out of school? Have you witnessed social justice partnerships in your own life? How did they come about? What personal relationships shape your social justice beliefs and actions? 2) As a young girl, Lyn Ford saw the numbers on Mrs. Rosenberg’s arm and thought they must be her phone number. She didn’t understand the history that this number tattoo revealed. The number on her arm was from her years in a concentration camp under the Nazis in Europe in World War II. What do you know of the history of the concentration camps during World War II ? What do you need to research to find out? 3) On the day she tried to call Mrs. Rosenberg, Ford just wanted some moon cookies but she ended up stirring up some very painful memories. She didn’t know any better. How did Mrs. Rosenberg react to this misunderstanding? Why did she react this way? Can you imagine other possible reactions? How do you react when people hurt you by mistake? 4) In her storytelling, Ford mentions the date “April 4th 1968” without saying what happened. She describes the feelings and the actions of that day instead. Each of us has important dates in our lives that mark big changes in our world. What are those dates for you? Make a timeline of the dates that forever changed your world. Some of these dates might be positive as well. How would you describe the feelings and actions of one of those dates?TAKING ACTIONLyn Ford and her friends found the courage to stand up for their beliefs. For them, standing up meant walking outof school and peacefully marching to their church together to sing and pray and talk. What are you being called tostand up for in your life? What will your standing up look like? How will you find the courage to do it?
  • 3. STORY SHORT: From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me by Lyn Ford Page 3 STORY TRANSCRIPT of From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me by Storyteller Lyn FordNote : The transcript below of the video and audio story is not in correct text book English. It is atranscription of the spoken story. There are also a few variations from the spoken word. This text is foryour guidance and reference as you start to study and think about this story.My name is Lyn Ford. And when I was a little girl, we lived with my Grandma Cooper in Sharon, Pennsylvania onMercer Avenue. In those days Grandma Cooper didn’t watch TV because there wasn’t one. And she didn’talways listen to the radio. But she spent a lot of time on either side of her yard, gossiping at the fence with herneighbors. One of the neighbors was a little woman, no taller than my Grandma Cooper, who always had akerchief wrapped around her head, sometimes tied under her chin, and she wore long dark sleeves, which wouldkind of showed when she leaned on the fence. My grandma Cooper leaned on the fence beside her, she keptthose sleeves pulled down. But sometimes in the warm weather she would slide them up. And her name wasMrs. Rosenberg.Mrs. Rosenberg would use words that Grandma never used and they sounded like music to me. She would addexclamations to what she was saying, Oy, gevalt! or Oy, ve is mir! ! She would say things about someone elsewho is a bit narish, bit narish, and it sounded like music to me. So I would say things to my cousins “Stop being sonarish. Oy, gevalt!.” Sounded kind of funny, I am sure coming from a little African American child and I didn’teven know what it meant. But it seemed to work and I was impressed with that language. Mrs. Rosenberg alsomade these wonderful crescent shaped cookies that were filled with nuts and sometimes with golden raisinsinstead of brown ones and sweetness … and I loved those. Every now and then she would call me to the fence“Darling, come here. I have something for you.” She would hold out her hand and I would get that moon cookie. Iloved those moon cookies.And I know that I got into trouble for something when I was that age, because I always did, and I had to stay inthe house and I pouted and I wanted something to make me feel better. And I thought about those moon cookies.So, I thought I would call Mrs. Rosenberg and I picked up that big black receiver on that big black phone andstarted to dial on that circular dial. And all I got was an operator, a real person compared to what you get thesedays. He told me that I needed to try again or to hang up the receiver.Well I know I was permitted to escape from the house the next day and I did something I hadn’t done. I went toMrs. Rosenberg’s door and I knocked on it and she came to the door and I can’t remember exactly what she saidbut I told her that I had tried to call her. I wanted more of the moon cookies. I wanted to see if she would giveme a moon cookie, but the number didn’t work.And Mrs. Rosenberg said something like, “You know my number? You called my number? What number did youcall?” Then I said, “Well, I dialed the numbers on your arm, but it didn’t work.” I thought the numbers on Mrs.Rosenberg’s arm, the arm that I seldom saw, except when she pushed up the sleeves on her long dark shirts, washer phone number. I thought she’d written it there, maybe she couldn’t remember it. Written it there the waysome of the older girls in my family and in the neighborhood would write things on their hands, like boyfriend’sphone numbers, the answers of the questions for a test.
  • 4. STORY SHORT: From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me by Lyn Ford Page 4Mrs. Rosenberg became very solemn. She didn’t fuss, she didn’t yell. She just quietly said, “Those are not mynumber, that’s not my number.”I honestly don’t remember if she gave me a moon cookie I just remember going home. And after that she didn’tcome to the fence and grandma didn’t talk to her and I didn’t see her in her garden. A garden where I heard hersing many, many times, a song that she would explain to me – [she sings a Hebrew Song].I didn’t hear her singing and I didn’t see her; and the only way I knew what had happened was that I overheardGrandma Cooper telling someone over the phone, that some of Mrs. Rosenberg’s family had found her. And thenI felt bad because I had never known that Mrs. Rosenberg was lost.Well, time passed and I grew and Mrs. Rosenberg was practically forgotten. And April 4th, 1968 came along. Iwas a junior in high school and that Thursday was devastating and we thought that we wouldn’t have school thenext day. We thought that schools would be closed and flags would fly at half mast, the way they had for John. F.Kennedy.But we heard on the news the next morning that we had to go to school. Some of the other schools in othercommunities were closed, but we had to go to school there in Sharon, Pennsylvania. And our parents sent us offand when we got to school, some of us decided that we were walking out at lunch time. We couldn’t stay.Everything felt wrong and so we got up our courage and gathered together and started to walk toward the doorswhere the Principal stood in front of the doors, and he looked at our faces and then he stood near the doors andhe said that we, “should be ashamed of ourselves for being so disruptive” and I remember he said specifically tome, “Your mother and father would never do anything like this. I know your family.” And I said “I’m not mymother or my father,” and the doors were opened by my friends and outdoors we went and a couple of peopleput the flag at half mast, which I am sure made the maintenance men very angry, and if I had not been on thestrong arms of two of my bigger friends, I might not have made it down the stairs because I was shaking so badly.As we made our way down the street called State Street, heading toward the church that most of us attended,some of us glared at the few African American students who were too afraid to leave. And we ignored thoseEuropean American students who were jeering and taunting and calling us names and we ignored some of ourEuropean American friends who wanted to walk with us to the church and we told them no.We sang “We Shall Overcome” as we made our way down that street.Some cars passed with students from another school and they jeered and taunted us and then we heard thesounds of our friends running down the hill behind us, crying red-faced, those European American friends linkingarms with us and singing “We Shall Overcome”.And we marched down that hill, black children, white children, and as we sang, to my left somewhere on a lowhill, I heard a song [she sings that same Hebrew Song] and I tried to turn, but I was propelled, held by my friendsand moving forward with that song and all of our energies and emotions.
  • 5. STORY SHORT: From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me by Lyn Ford Page 5And I knew that Mrs. Rosenberg had been an old woman when I was very small, but there was that song of hersand I couldn’t see who was singing it. When we got to the church… we had not vandalized, we had not fought,we had not cursed, we had not jeered or taunted…and we walked in to the church together black children andwhite children and sat and cried and prayed and talked and that song kept going through my head blending withthe song “We Shall Overcome”.And I remembered Mrs. Rosenberg’s explanation of her song’s meaning …“Oh! How wonderful it is, when we can walk together … come together in unity and peace.” ©2011 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools. It is a project that seeks to provide free tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This guide may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. The video and audio excerpts and transcript included in this unit is copyrighted by Lyn Ford. Used with permission: www.lynfordstoryteller.com Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com