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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Comments

anthony coleman

Man! This stuff about your Father and Frankie Newton is so moving and beautiful! I've just been listening to the Jasmine set, and it inspired me to Google in the hopes of finding more about Frankie's activist side. Bless the Internet! My Mother, Corrine, died a year and a half ago. She was an activist in many domains - especially Feminism. She was at NYU, class of '49, and her friend Millie Schoenbaum dated Frankie she told me once, in passing (!!!). I asked to ask Millie more about it, but she never did...Any more you can tell me would be greatly appreciated.

Ben G.

Wow, I wish we could have learned about your mom's friend and Frankie! Both my parents are around the age of your mother; my dad would probably be a little older if they were both still alive, and my mother, who is still around, might be a little younger: she graduated from Sarah Lawrence around 1952. Who knows, maybe they traveled is in similar circles; I'll see if my mom recognizes your mother or Millie's names.

Most of what I can tell you about Frankie Newton is posted on the blog. All the Frankie Newton posts (including poems that retell some of my father's stories about him) can be found at this link:

http://minorjive.typepad.com/hungryblues/frankie_newton/index.html

You may find especially interesting my dad's memoir essay (a draft really, never intended for publication):

http://minorjive.typepad.com/hungryblues/2005/02/hungry_blues_iv.html

There are a few episodes of my research about Frankie Newton that I have not yet written up, but they add texture more than additional information. You might want to try to get a hold of a copy of the little booklet on Frankie Newton that was put out by the The Historical Society of Washington County in Virginia, where Frankie Newton was born. It's probably the most complete published work on him to date:

"The Search For Frankie Newton," by Jennifer Wagner, in The Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia Bulletin, Series II, No 39a, 2002.

If you have trouble tracking them down, I can probably dig Jennifer Wagner's info out of my records. There are a few other written accounts of Frankie Newton, all of which are listed in Jennifer Wagner's bibliography, I believe.

There are few details available about Frankie's political activism. I was mortified to learn that his widow, Ethel Klein Newton, was living just a couple of miles away from me until she died a few years ago. I had searched for her but did not know where she was living until I read Wagner's booklet that she died in Arlington, MA. Alas, Ethel could probably have told us a lot about Frankie's political activities. She herself was a leftist, orginally from a wealthy Jewish family but, as I understand it, dropped by them for her politics and for marrying a Black man. They married in the last years of Frankie's short life and lived together on Barrow Street, in a basement apartment across the street from Greenwich House.

I have been doing other journalism and research lately, but I hope to get back to some of my loose ends concerning Frankie Newton soon. Thanks for your interest!

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