Fight Like a Girl

My local paper carried a story today about an elderly lady who still hauls a mean load of firewood, thanks to a childhood on the farm and a career as a pro-wrestler. I have seen a few stories about former roller derby queens but this one was a first. Ann Lake is enshrined in the pro wrestling hall of fame for her feats, along with her sister and former tag team partner. Eventually, her sister retired to raise a family but Ann stayed with the sport until a broken ankle sidelined her.

In one passage, she describes squaring off with her sworn enemy, Slave Girl Moolah:

“She thought wrestling was about beating the daylights out of you,” Lake says. “One night I said to her, ‘I’ve had enough of this. You hit me one more time the way you hit me last time and you better make sure the first (punch) counts, because otherwise you won’t get up.’ She never hit me again.”

An historian writing about Ms. Lake reminds us towards the end of the article what a lot of moxie it took to be a “lady wrestler” 60 years ago in the US:

“They stood outside of the boundaries of the image of what a woman should be (back then),” Burke says. “They had to have a lot of gumption.”

Diseased Minds

It almost does not bear saying, but the various reactions of Americans to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa verged on the hysterical and even delusional. There was a case here in Maine of a parent group becoming enraged when they learned a school employee traveled to Texas where there had been one (1) case of Ebola miles away from the location where this person stayed. The parents demanded the staff member be kept away from the school. There were other bits of silliness in our state but the national press honed in on the one involving our governor, who locked horns with a determined nurse who refused an unnecessary quarantine. The Huffingtion Post not only takes my home state’s governor to task in this retrospective about the Ebola scare but also takes a swipe at my alma mater and various other otherwise sensible folks who lost their heads for a time. Huff Po notes that Ebola unfortunately arrived at the peak of the political cycle, causing it to become a tool for those who probably did know better but preferred to pretend otherwise. This episode makes for a good real life study of mob panic that, thankfully, had no justification, at least in this country.

A Recipe for Heroics

Central Maine newspapers ran a story today about a man who risked life and limb to hide and help smuggle out Americans on the run from hostage takers in Iran in 1979. The hero, a Thai cook who eventually settled in Western Maine and opened a restaurant, responded to a request from an American diplomat who had given him a job: would he find a place for five embassy employees who ran out a back door when the rebels jumped the fence? The cook, Smojai Sriweawnetr, willingly stowed the five away in the house of another former employer. Eventually, he realized that observant neighbors were growing suspicious of the amounts of food coming into the house and the drawn curtains so he devised another hideout. The new location, however, proved to be too exposed. The group was finally rescued by Canadians, while their Thai guardian struggled to safely extricate himself from a now deadly situation. After a year on the run, a penniless and desperate Smojai finally acquired a ticket to his home country with help from the Swiss embassy. American friends, grateful for his heroism, brought him to the US. If it all sounds like a movie, it is one: Argo. However, that version of the story omitted the entirety of this remarkable story line. Time for someone else to set the record straight.