Don’t Step on the Crack!

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Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t step on the crack, you’ll break your mothers back. Don’t step on the crack, you’ll break your mothers back, don’t step……” Remember repeating that over and over again as you paced all up and down the  sidewalks?  For our family, it was a novelty to walk on city sidewalks because we lived in a wooded suburb. When we went to the city being able to sketch on pavement with chalk or to draw out a hopscotch course, we thought was pretty “nifty.”

When we visited our grandparents in Baltimore City, we got to do all kinds of things that we couldn’t do at our house. At home, our playground was the forest and stream. At least an acre or more of land separated the neighbors. At our grandparents, we thought it was pretty neat that we could sit in rocking chairs on a  porch and politely greet passers by.

The ragman  I can still remember the voice and the words of the Ragman’s banter as he navigated the horse and cart down the city streets of Baltimore. “Rags! Rags for sale! Come get your rags.”  Hearing the clip-clop of the horses feet coming down the street, was so exciting. The rag man called out, “New rags for old. Give me yours, and I’ll give you another.” Recycling, I assure you is not a new concept.

All in good jest, my parents used to threaten to sell or trade us to the Ragman if my sister, my brothers and I didn’t behave ourselves. That was enough to make us sit up and pay attention!

If you are a baby boomer, you might have recollections of having the Ragman arrive in your neighborhood and seeing people run out in the street to greet him and check out his wares.

Do you know the origins of the Ragman story? Here’s a link, you can read it for yourself. I found it quite interesting because as a child, the only thing I was interested in was seeing the big horse (usually an old gray mare) pulling the cart down the street. Little did I know there was an inspirational story behind The Ragman.  Check  it out!

In 2010, Walter Wagernan’s short story The Ragman was produced into a movie. Click on the link if for more information and ordering the DVD Ragman.

This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author and narrator of the memoir Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. Now available in audio book.  Click here to listen to the audio book sample, narrated by the author



Through the Independent Film Lens

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“Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste”. ~Benjamin Franklin

Mark your calendars! Next week, on Tuesday, April 19th at 10pm Waste Land, can be viewed right from the surrounds of your own home. This film about Brazilian artist Vik Muniz will be aired on the PBS show, Independent Lens. 

On the outskirts of Rio de Janiero sits the world’s largest garbage dump, the Jardim Gramacho. Renowned artist, Vik Muniz sets out to create from the photographs he took of the catadores (garbage pickers), human portraits using recyclables from the dump. 

Despite the garbage picker’s lack of traditional employment and non-existant monetary stability, Muniz witnessed camaraderie and good spirit between this eclectic group of people. Muniz engages the catadores in collaborative work to gather recyclables to create his art, and gives the proceeds from the sales of the finished pieces back to the trash pickers. He raises their living conditions, repairs trucks essential to their work, and even builds a library to help them become more educated. All in all, he creates an environment whereby the trash pickers can have more fulfilling lives. 

This independent film demonstrates how trash from an overly-consuming, throw-away society can be recycled into a project of transformative art. For more information on viewing this powerful film from your area, please visit

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