Category Archives: LINES FROM LYDIA

LINES FROM LYDIA: My Post-Traumatic Growth

This month, our most eclectic feature writer, Lydia Bogar, walks us through quite a host of recommended books, articles, and even opera focused on civil rights.  But perhaps the most powerful of all, Kander and Ebb’s musical, The Scottsboro Boys, at Speakeasy.

Speakeasy’s production of “The Scottsboro Boys”


By Lydia Bogar

If I hadn’t been so impressed by the book and then the film, The Help, I might not have read The Warmth of Other Suns which I read, ingested, and then donated to my neighborhood library for others to take in as well.  A resurgence of civil rights issues in 2011. That reminds me of a journal article that I wrote about the young black lady who was my uncle’s housekeeper when he retired to Florida in 1956.

Also in the summer of 2011, I watched the incredible performances of Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the ART.  This was my first visit to the ART, and sitting in the fourth row intensified the experience. The minimalist stage setting, the lyrics, and the performers’ facial expressions remain clear and vibrant in my memory.

If I hadn’t been in Emily and Beth’s New Yorker Non-Fiction discussion course this past term, I might have missed the significance of “Justice Delayed” a very intense article with reference to Bryan Stevenson’s book  Just Mercy, which so impressed me that I read the library’s copy and then bought my own.

More intense discussions both, in class and in the Gathering Place, have helped in my post-election survival.  There are so many educated activists that our country can and will grow.  Emotionally, this phase is referred to as post-traumatic growth.

The New Yorker always returns me to the style and substance of Calvin Trillin.  Calvin may be best known for his foodie rants and raves (and tours which I hope to take one day), but most recently, I have read Jackson, 1964, his intense reflection on the Civil Rights movement and the journalists who worked very hard to deliver that message.  Jackson, 1964 reminded me of the long silent walk from Worcester State College to downtown Worcester on Friday, April 5, 1968.  Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated the day before; classes were cancelled; our student body stopped protesting the war in Vietnam and mourned the life of Dr. King.

The road that we are on now, including the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue that will soon host an inaugural parade, has included two powerful lessons that will sustain us going forward: Fences, a powerful August Wilson play about discrimination in Philadelphia in volatile 1950’s, and The Scottsboro Boys which has come alive on the Speakeasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavilion.

If you know the story, you still need to see the play. If you have seen the play, I suggest reading it and seeing it again. The Speakeasy artists and their technical staff have given a great gift to the City of Boston. The venue itself is perfect– sparse and small, ideal for the re-creation of 1930’s vaudeville. To tell the story of nine black boys and ten trials–plus a vase presented to The Supreme Court–is a courageous and inspiring pledge.  Including cameo-like appearances by people like George Wallace and Rosa Parks is artful.

Whether you avail yourself of the BOLLI discount or not, you must see The Scottsboro Boys before it closes on January 22.   It will contribute to your overall knowledge and sustain you on the political road ahead.  The show was extended from its original run scheduled to end in November–perhaps because it is such a valuable part of our post-traumatic growth.


“Lines from Lydia” feature writer Lydia Bogar

Former English teacher, health care professional, and quintessential Renaissance woman of all trades, Lydia Bogar joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program.  “It’s good to be here!” she exclaims.  (And it’s good to have her.) 



Birds of Paradise Sculpture


He held my hand walking through the parking lot.  It’s been awhile since a male over the age of seven has held my hand like that.  Arthur is a gentleman, raised in Europe with very traditional values.  He is the husband of my best friend Doris.

He is peaceful on this sunny day as we follow his wife to a doctor’s appointment.  On this first day of my vacation, I don’t notice much of a change in him since my visit three months ago. That was a very emotional visit, as Doris was having radiation on her nose, and worrying about the impact of her personal health on his care.

Doris and I worked together for over ten years but did not become close friends until they were preparing to leave Massachusetts for a new life in Florida. We bonded over the care of her mother and her transition into an assisted living facility, a mirror of my activities the year before.

Thank you, Jet Blue, for your daily flights from Worcester to Orlando.

The three of us love good food and people watching.  We get both as we sample the small restaurants within the Orlando area code. None of us like large, noisy restaurants.  He loves shrimp and grits and has a quick nap on the couch when we get home.  We eat Cajun, Chinese, pub food at a local brewery, and Cuban sandwiches in the village of Lake Dora.

My days here are peaceful, their lifestyle becomes mine.  I am mindful of and thankful for the pace of this household. There is no television during the day. There are no newspapers. We admire the gardens, especially the ones with Birds of Paradise in bloom, begonias the size of dinner plates, and citrus trees that will provide free fruit during their winter months.

Walking the dog after dinner, Arthur will speak Portuguese; sundowning, for him,  is using his primary language even when his body is in 21st century America.   Arthur followed Doris to America from the Azores when she was 17.  He worked in technology until eight years ago, when alcohol and diabetes disabled him.  The diagnosis of vascular dementia came three years ago.

He sweeps the driveway during the day and remembers the acorns that he would shovel at their former home in Massachusetts. He may speak of their two sons who still live back here, but it is not a spontaneous conversation. On Sunday afternoon when we watch the Patriots game,  Arthur does not mention Billy or Kevin, as that would dull his focus on the mechanics of the game.

If we are traveling late in the day, Arthur has problems with the seat belt in the back seat. Gentleman that he is, he has ushered me into the front seat, next to Doris; perhaps that disconnect results in the frustration with a seat belt that he is not familiar with.

We are running errands in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, the day before my flight home. We have watched the Weather Channel together, and Arthur understands that there is a big storm coming. He segues into Portuguese at lunch time.  Doris and I wonder if that is an unconscious fear of the storm or because the barometer is changing rapidly.  She will research that after the storm has passed.

Doris and I have an intense conversation that night. She is ready for the storm; their safe room is a walk-in closet with bedding, batteries, food, and water.  I ask how she will get him to leave the master bedroom on the other side of the lanai. She says that it will be a simple matter of telling him that she is afraid of the storm.  He will he protect her (and the dog) during the night.

A tranquil look appears on her face, “I’ve got my boyfriend back, ” she says, “and he is a good man.”

And so it is.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Lydia Bogar

Lydia’s writing for our blog has been evolving in nature and style since we hit the internet.  “Lines from Lydia,” as her column is now called, features her thoughts, memories, experiences, and concerns about everyday life–to which we can all, of course, quite easily relate.  Her easy going nature is clearly visible in her work!