In Their Shoes
In Their Shoes
Publication Year: 2013
Born on the windswept plains of West Texas, Halsell was encouraged from the age of five by her pioneer father, who had led cattle drives on the Chisolm Trail, "to travel, to get the benefit" of knowing other peoples. She began her travels at the age of twenty, going first to Mexico and then touring the British Isles by bicycle. Halsell studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and lived in London, Tokyo, Berlin, and Seoul.
In Hong Kong, where she lived on a fishing junk with a Chineses family of nineteen, she wrote a column for the Tiger Standard; in Tokyo, where she slept on tatami mats, ate raw fish and took scalding ofuro baths, she was a columnist for the Japan Times. Moving to South America, she traveled on a tug for 2,000 miles down the Amazon and crossed the Andes by jeep. In Lima, she became a columnist for the Spanish-langauge daily, La Prensa.
Halsell has seen the Big Buddha, the Taj Mahal, the pyramids and the Machu Micchu, has interviewed presidents, movie stars, kinds, and prime ministers. Her newspaper dispatches for the New York Herald Tribune, the New York Post, and the Christian Science Monitor have datelined war zones in Korea, Vietnam, and Bosnia, as well as Russia, China, Macedonia, and Albania.
Published by: TCU Press
Series: Chisholm Trail Series
Title Page, Copyright
A man typically sails off, into the unknown. Yet, in the 1940s, when I embarked on my journey I carried the burden of the known: it was known that woman has always been man's dependent. It was known a woman will find it easier to submit to convenience than work...
PART ONE: GROWING UP—FEMALE
1: The Beauty of Space
Some people travel to the area the early Spanish explorers called the llano estacado or high staked plains of West Texas and say they see nothing out there, yet I always found mystery and beauty in space. Being born in a place where there was little except space had advantages....
2: “A Horse Knows When You Are Afraid”
My father, Harry H. Halsell, who was sixty-three when I was born, bequeathed me three legacies: the idea of willpower and courage, a motivation to travel and become a full human being who incidentally was female and, perhaps most important, the gift of time. In a sense,...
3: My Mother—Unafraid of Men
My father held me in the palm of his hand, but he never closed that hand. My mother, as is perhaps typical of any mother, loved me with a kind of possessive love. Yet, she and I grew in understanding, one for the other. In every important decision I made, she became supportive...
4: Growing Up as “The Baby”
Through the years I have written often about the influence of my unusual parents but never analyzed the influence of my brothers and sisters. Regardless of my failure to recognize their roles in my life until recent years, my sisters, especially, exerted an enormous influence on me....
PART TWO: THE WORKPLACE
5: Accepted at Face Value
In West Texas, unlike England, France or even the state of Virginia, we did not have families who belonged to a social register. We all needed one another, and thus we were all important. Having lived through the Depression, being poor was not all that unusual. In a sense we were all...
PART THREE: LOVE AND MARRIAGE
6: Unlikely Love: The Heart Has Its Reasons
There must be this thing called "love," as millions testify to its ecstasy, other millions to its pain, silliness, transitory nature. When we experience love, it seems more real than the ground under our feet, but after many years we are often left with a question: what was that all about? "I...
PART FOUR: TRAVEL
7: New York—Meeting Women Role Models
In my two Texas newspaper jobs, in Lubbock from 1941 to 1943 and in Fort Worth from 1945 to 1952, I saw no woman in a position of authority. In between those two newspaper jobs, however, from 1943 to 1945, I lived in New York. And there for the first time I began to meet...
8: Europe: Free-Lancing and Looking for Texans
I was twenty-nine when I left my Fort Worth home, husband, a salaried job, all security. I had no credit cards, no bank account. Even Don Quixote had Sancho Panza, but I set out alone on my quest. I had a dream: to prove to myself I could start from scratch, travel the world and...
9: Japan and Hong Kong: Had I Ever Wished to Be Born a Man?
For me, the Orient was always under a veil, in a remote, misty distance. Since it appeared mysterious and inaccessible, it loomed more desirable. I wondered how I might get there. How might I identifY with people who do not look like me and perhaps do not have the same...
10: Peru and Mexico: Latinos Speaking Up for Joy
In 1959, I was in New York and spotted an ad. The S.S. Argentina sailed in three days for Buenos Aires. I called and booked passage. Checking out of the Plaza Hotel, with one suitcase in hand, I hailed a taxi. I gave the number of a pier to the Irish driver, a Mr. McGrory. "And...
PART FIVE: PLAYING IN THE BIG LEAGUES
11: Working for “Big Texans” in Oil—And in the White House
My stints with the Texans did not come in consecutive order. I worked for one in the fifties and the second in the sixties. I link the two bosses because I find it useful to compare them. They were alike in that each had a dynamic personality, appearing to be "bigger than life." But each...
PART SIX: EMBRACING THE OTHER
12: Living as a Black in Harlem and Mississippi
In 1968 I again walked out on security for insecurity. I left my White House job, as well as its insurance, retirement and hospitalization benefits, and I began to learn how to turn myself "black." It was easy to get my hair dyed a dark black. And I got myself fitted with black contact...
13: Living as an Indian on the Navajo Reservation
Since I grew up hearing stories about Indians from my father, I always wondered what it would be like to live as an Indian. Would it be easier or more difficult to live as an Indian than as a black? To pass as a black, I had only to change myself, cosmetically. But are not Indians different...
14: Passing as “Bessie Yellowhair”
Bessie Yellowhair told me how her family was near starvation. She was fifteen. Her mother found an advertisement for a "live-in" maid, and the family sent Bessie to work in California. Bessie told me how difficult this had been, how she missed birds, plants, animals. City noises,...
15 : Living as a Wetback—Swimming the Rio Grande
I did not tell Luckey, but I too wanted to be one of those million, to attempt to cross without documents, as did the wetbacks. And why was this seed planted within me as what I wanted most in life to do? A desire rising no doubt from questions. Once the land I was traversing with...
16: Crossing with Nannies
From McAllen, Texas, I traveled nearly a thousand miles westward. On an earlier trip to El Paso, I had become acquainted with some Catholic nuns, and I went to their convent, where I stayed in a private room. In my talks with the nuns, I told them my plan: to cross with...
17: Smuggled to the Promised Land
Before crossing the border with illegals, I spent a year talking to Mexicans who had documents and those who did not. I spent time in Tijuana, Mexico, across the border from San Diego, with migrant Mexican farm workers such as Lola Barragan and Pascual Jimez Martinez, both in their...
PART SEVEN: VVAR ZONES
19: Korea, Vietnam and Bosnia
Living in Japan in the mid-fifties, I found it an easy hop over to Korea. And for me, it cost nothing. A U. S. Air Force officer issued me "orders" to travel. This was a standard military form with my name and under "rank" he wrote "correspondent." With this form in hand, I boarded...
PART EIGHT: RELIGION AND POLITICS
20: Journey to Jerusalem
When I was growing up in Lubbock, I went to church and I heard the message that God had a Chosen People and a Chosen Land. I envisioned a mystical, allegorical, spiritual setting, not a place on any map. It was some decades later that I went to Jerusalem and met...
PART NINE: RELATIONSHIPS
21: What Causes One to Forget a Thousand—And Remember One?
A writer is concerned with time and memory, wondering what encounter with another was gossamer, what remains. Who was the person who became important and why so? Was the relationship one of friendship? Love? Sex? The writer Gore Vidal said he experienced one thousand...
22: The “Great Relation”
One day, looking not like any Lothario I had ever seen but reluctant and quite miserable, Roscoe put a proposition before me: in brief he was saying how about sex between you and me. If he had thought about it previously, he had never so indicated. He did not begin his suit...
PART TEN: COMING OF AGE
23: Ecuador—Living with los Viejos
When we define aging as growing old, what does it mean? When does one get "old"? John Howard Griffin, author of Black Like Me) once told me, "Growing oldthat's for your parents, other people. It never happens to you." Exceptional age does not automatically invite feebleness...
For many years, traveling the world, I was looking for ways to develop my vocal cords, to speak, to say who I was, what I was about. Then, coming to realize that I had a voice, I wanted to use it for a purpose, to speak for others as well as myself...
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