One sprout, one tree, one forest…one person, one family, one world

Annotated Bibliography: Delving Deeper

“We all carry inside us people who came before us.” — Liam Callanan

From generation to generation, the Knapp family tree has grown, the branches stretching farther and farther through time. From seventeenth century England to colonial America to the agonies of the Great Depression to the times of World War II, my ancestors have built upon one another all to cohesively come together and to form the future, a new beginning. Through my research, I want to explore deeper into my family’s history and develop a clearer picture of their cultures and ways of life. Specifically, I desire to cultivate a better understanding of my grandmother’s experiences and adventures; my grandmother, Thelma Knapp, was born on May 13, 1925 and was raised primarily in the state of New York. My main focus is to investigate twentieth century America in order to unleash the past and to bind such evolving lifestyles and histories with her own personal story. Diving into the vast oceans of history, I swim through time to discover the bravery of those voyaging on the Winthrop Fleet of 1630, the heavy expectations of womanhood during the 1600s, the stereotypical female roles of the 1900s, the struggles and pop culture of America during the 1930s and 1940s, and the racism during the Civil Rights Movement. From my research, I begin to question how American culture and historical events influenced my grandmother; I wonder how she developed her hard-working drive and caring personality and how she evolved into the inspirational woman she is today.


1. Banks, Charles Edward. The Winthrop Fleet of 1630. Boston: The Riverside Press, 1930.

“[W]ho were these adventurous souls who sailed three thousand miles to [the] shores [of North America] in craft so frail and so absurdly small that no one of their descendants could be induced to risk its perils today?” — Banks
Winthrop Fleet of 1630, the voyage into the unknown

Banks’s nonfiction novel, The Winthrop Fleet of 1630, traces the history behind the largest voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean of its time, behind the beginning of a new nation, behind the thirty-six days away from the comforting dwelling place of man, behind the seven hundred courageous souls who dared to start anew. Within the first third of the seventeenth century, the adventurous and the brave delved into the unknown head first and crossed the raging waters to North America.

During the late 1500s and early 1600s, many individuals disagreed with the practices of the British Church, and these hostile attitudes towards the Established Church were most widely spread in the Norfolk and Suffolk counties. These people of England yearned to escape the great stratification of society, constant government harassment, and high taxes demanded by the church. The Winthrop Fleet provided the opponents of the Established Church with the perfect opportunity to live freely. However, religion was not the only reason the people of England wanted out. The majority of the Winthrop Fleet voyagers were of the yeoman class. Members of this lower ranked class had little to no hope of improving their living conditions or of climbing the social ladder; therefore, for those doomed to social stagnation in England, the idea of a clean, fresh slate served as the shining beam of light at the end of the tunnel. The migration to the unknown was more hopeful than being forever stuck in the mud of the lower hierarchy. By not admitting defeat and by fighting for their personal beliefs, these travelers not only demonstrate phenomenal fortitude but also admirable motivation and drive. In order to transform their unsatisfied lives, they took the initiative and risked to journey into the obscure darkness. They struggled through the unfavorable conditions on board; the great danger of scurvy crawled from person to person. Death hovered over the ships, ready to overcome those who could not handle the hunger and the long lasting storms.

In 1630, my paternal tenth great-grandfather, Nicholas Knapp, immigrated to America on the Winthrop Fleet with his wife Elinor Knapp. After discovering the lifestyles and experiences of the voyagers, I realized how courageous, determined, and enlightening my tenth great-grandparents truly are. The idea of leaving my country — my home — and of jeopardizing my life in order to firmly follow my beliefs is extremely inspirational.


2. D’Monté, Rebecca and Nicole Pohl. Female Communities, 1600–1800: Literary Visions and Cultural Realities. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

“In the early modern period, women were said to have ‘community’ or a ‘common character’: they were perceived as over-sexed creatures who must learn self-control, must be faithful to their husbands, must try to hold their tongues.” — Elaine Hobby

D’Monté’s and Pohl’s novel, Female Communities, 1600–1800: Literary Visions and Cultural Realities, is a collection of eleven essays that together form a timeline stretching two-hundred years across England; over the course of these two centuries, women were perceived as flowers — fragile, decorative, pure, beautiful, and weak. Flowers cannot survive on their own; they need and rely on the sole center of life, the sun — man — to shine down upon them with his amiable gifts of nourishment and protection. Without the sun, the flower wilts and cowers in defeat; without the sun, the flower perishes unable to face the challenges of life independently; without the sun, the flower is simply nothing.

English woman preaching

In the 1600s, female communities began not only to question but to actively challenge their expected roles and duties in English civilization. Women no longer wanted to be the dainty flower; they yearned to create a new character and definition of females, to feel a sense of importance and belonging, to freely speak their minds, and to form a community of radical thinkers. Nevertheless, such strong desires were shattering society’s gender stratification and hierarchy, and the dominating forces of man were not pleased by such change. Female figures who attempted to join congregations individually and to preach their personal religious opinions were severely punished; Hobby quoted Brailsford’s Quaker Women 1650–1690: “[…the man] grew angry, called them Whores, and issued his Warrant to the Constable to whip [the Quaker ladies] at the Market-Cross till the Blood ran down their bodies” (p. 100). In order to further justify such violent actions and to control the rebelling female population, the label “witch” arose and was applied to women who did not follow their proper path — those who ventured on past the straight dirt road of their social sphere and into the deep forest of adventure, unknown, and freedom. Elaine Hobby states, “Women indeed had a community: a common identity as unruly spirits who must be firmly handled if society’s order was to be maintained.” One small step of defiance into the uplifting land of sweeping trees and exotic nature, one sweet taste of individuality and opportunity, one short breath of independence and power may be the last to ever come.

Suffolk, England

In the year of 1609, Elinor Knapp, my tenth great-grandmother, was born in Suffolk, England. She, as a woman, experienced these struggles in 17th century England; she lived through times when females were shut out, were not respected, and were not valued as their own unique selves with their own distinct views. I cannot imagine being completely stripped of my individual rights and trudging through life with such demanding expectations on my shoulders. I truly wonder if Elinor Knapp ever questioned her defined role as a woman and if she ever acted upon such prohibited thoughts.


3. Bauman, John F., and Thomas H. Coode. In the Eye of the Great Depression: New Deal Reporters and the Agony of the American People. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1988.

“We can’t live on that $12 (family of ten) — we’re going to starve and my husband can’t find work — he’s out every day looking — and I get afraid about him: he gets so black….If anyone had told us a year ago we’d come to this I’d have said he was a liar.” — Martha Gellhorn

Bauman and Coode’s study, In the Eye of the Great Depression: New Deal Reporters and the Agony of the American People, digs deeper than simply providing historical facts about the Great Depression; this book allows the reader to dive into the minds of those who lived through the decade of pure agony in America.

Unemployment rate through the roof, reaching up to twenty-five percent in 1933

During the 1930s, family households were generally divided based on gender; males were considered the provider, while the women were the housekeepers. At times, women labored outside of the house in factories such as textile mills, but usually they were expected to remain at home and raise the children. The typical American family in the 1930s consisted of a mother, a father, and two to three children. Unlike in the previous decade, middle-class families hardly ever socialized with others in the community and mainly relied on their own internal domestic unit for emotional support. Therefore, the Great Depression in a way brought many families closer together, as one cohesive entity. However, the impoverishment, the daily struggle to supply food on the table for each meal, the outrageously high rates of unemployment, and the torture of watching children grow thinner and thinner each week questioned the strength of American families and tested their adaptive powers. The heavy loss of income, the substantial reduction of savings, and the ongoing battle of hunting for some source of employment created great tension and conflict between husband and wife. Many wives claimed “that the worst of their troubles was to have their husbands sitting around the kitchen stove. The men have nowhere to go.” The dominating male figure could no longer perform his duty as the breadwinner due to sky high unemployment rates. Therefore, the sense of utter hopelessness lingered over Americans; like a deadly disease, depression infected each individual one by one and soon dictated the land completely. As an unemployed man stated, “I’ve been looking for a job for four years. I’ve had two; five months I’ve worked in all. After a while you just know it ain’t getting you anywhere.” The torment, the tragedy, the misery of constant rejection instilled cracking fear and overwhelming terror of the future.

When I was helping my grandmother clean up after dinner, I would constantly wonder why she would always have the urge to save every little morsel left over from the meal. In my eyes, a quarter of a shriveled up onion did not seem usable and worth storing in the refrigerator; nevertheless, my grandmother would plop that little chunk of onion into a Ziploc bag and find some use for it later. I always found this difference to be quite amusing until I discovered the origin of this frugal personality characteristic. During the 1930s, my grandmother, Thelma Knapp, lived in both Johnson City and Endicott, NY. She was only four years of age when the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929; consequently, the majority of her childhood was lived during the Great Depression. After exploring and swimming in the thoughts of some who endured life in the 1930s, I am now very curious as to my grandmother’s own unique story and personal experiences during this time. Was her father unemployed? Did she sense tension, desperation, and sorrow in her household? Did her family struggle to survive?


4. Harris, Mark Jonathan, Franklin D. Mitchell, and Steven J. Schechter. The Homefront: America during World War II. New York: G.P, Putnam’s Sons, 1984.

“[Women] enjoyed spending and saving the money they had earned and the sense of economic independence that came from receiving a decent wage. They gained self-confidence from the new skills they acquired and the satisfaction from the work accomplished.” –Harris, Mitchell and Schechter

Her eyes flickered down at the bold text of the crinkled newspaper resting in her lap, and her mind tossed and turned, circling without direction. The advertisement read, “HELP WANTED AT LOCKHEED AIRCRAFT! Defense work training offered to both men and women.” With the words “both men and women” engraved in her thoughts, she deciphered her options. She wanted to be more than an obedient maid, more than a subordinate waitress, more than a powerless woman. She was more than the lady in the fluffy skirt with a duster, tray of food, and child in hand. Inside, she was strong; she was intelligent; she was resourceful; she was hardworking; she was courageous; she was Sybil Lewis, indeed a woman.

Sybil Lewis (on the left) working for Lockheed Aircraft in Los Angeles
“Rosie the Riveter”

Sybil Lewis, a female riveter for both the Lockheed and Douglas Aircraft, was one of the many women who was not satisfied with the stereotypical female role of the early 1900s. She took a chance by slipping off her lacy dresses and into a pair of baggy slacks; she lunged into an entirely new lifestyle by confidently stepping outside of the home and into the realm of the American labor force. In The Homefront: America during World War II by Jonathan, Mitchell, and Schechter, many women of the 1940s tell their own personal stories regarding the dynamic transformation of the female character. In the words of Lewis, “The war years had a tremendous impact on women. I know for myself it was the first time I had a chance to get out of the kitchen and work in industry and make a few bucks. This was something I had never dreamed would happen.” Three years after the United States entered World War II, thirty-six percent of the American work force constituted of female employees. Young women who had never worked for a wage before adventured into defense plants and industries that had previously been restricted for men and men only. Due to labor shortages, women filled the shoes of the men at war and were hired as mechanics, crane operators, welders, and riveters. However, with women getting their hands dirty while assembling bombs, jeeps, and ammunition, much of the male population feared that the dainty, classic femininity of World War II women was fading right before their eyes. “[The men] worried that the war was creating a ‘new Amazon,’ who would ‘outdrink, outswear, and outswagger the men,’” Jonathan, Mitchell, and Schechter write. Therefore, women encountered sexism both inside and outside of the workplace; they were publicly insulted and were typically payed less than men for the same labor. Even with this discouragement and unfairness, women still persevered and created a new female generation. According to Frankie Cooper, a female crane operator of the 1940s, “[This new generation] told their daughters, ‘You don’t have to be just a homemaker. You can be anything you want to be.’”

At the peak of female wartime employment in 1944, my grandmother was nineteen years old. I wonder if she decided or even desired to work outside of the home. I wonder if my grandmother had similar experiences to these women who chose to branch out and to break away from the cliché of their own sex. I wonder if she was ever inspired by these women who impacted the future of all female generations to come.


5. Hunt, Felicity. Lessons for Life: The Schooling of Girls and Women, 1850–1950.Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1987.

February 2, 2014. Staring at the gym teacher with curiosity and anxiety, she let out a deep sigh and glanced around the metal bleachers at her fellow peers. Her knee bobbed up and down, impatient for the lecture to begin. Today was not the ordinary day in gym class; today was the day to have “the talk.” As the middle school coach paced across the floor, her voice rang and echoed throughout the room, “We are here today to openly discuss health and sex education. All of you are young ladies who are maturing day by day, and I am here to prepare each and every one of you for womanhood.”


October 19, 1938. With tears streaming down her smooth cheeks, she buried her face in her hands and shook her head slowly. “If I just close my eyes, it will all go away,” she comforted herself. Within a few seconds, her fingers began to uncurl, one by one, and her wet, glistening eyes peeped out into the light; however, nothing was different. She still had no one to turn to; she still nervously questioned how to handle this turning point in her life; she still remained uninformed, ignorant, and frightened; she still feared the next step into the realm of maturity.

1930s Advertisement

In Lessons for Life: The Schooling of Girls and Women, 1850–1950, Hunt accentuates that sexuality, physical development, and overall maturity were viewed as unwomanly. Instead of freely informing and preparing the teenage population of the natural occurrences of the female body, American civilization during the 1930s and 1940s hushed the concepts of menstruation, puberty, human anatomy, and sex. Consequently, many young girls never were given the opportunity to receive any form of health and sex education; therefore, they endured, coped with, and struggled through the huge transition from childhood to adulthood both lost and alone. Women’s own sexuality was snatched away and was defined as inferior and handicapped due to their monthly loss of blood. Even the magazines and romantic stories of the thirties and forties presented the image of women through a contorted lens; the public media painted the female characters as stagnant, without manifesting any signs of physical changes prevalent during adolescence. The heroine’s innocence, sexual dormancy, and passiveness always prevailed as the desired conventions for all women. As Hunt states, “[Females were] often characterized as a fruit, nearly ripe and waiting to be picked and eaten.” With such strict moral codes embedded within American society, young girls were often encouraged to outlive their pure, virgin identity until marriage, for it was considered unnatural and unfeminine for women to embody sexual instincts and longings outside of marriage and motherhood. If women did not direct their romantic passions towards the idea of love, care, family, and children, they were automatically characterized as corrupt, immoral beings.

In only about eight decades, the sphere of femininity has transformed drastically. The thought of being stripped away of my sexuality and my own unique personality is simply unfathomable. During the late 1930s, my grandmother entered the door of her teenage years, a time for growth and development. I want to get to know this young, fourteen year old girl, who encountered these standards as a member of the female sex. I want to identify how she handled society’s high expectations weighted heavily on her shoulders. I want to squeeze inside her thoughts to truly understand her life as a maturing young lady. Through my interview, I cannot wait to meet this younger version of my grandmother — Thelma Knapp.


6. Nash, Gerald D. The Great Depression and World War II: Organizing America, 1933–1945. New York: St. Martin’s Press, Inc., 1979.

“I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” –Scarlett, Gone with the Wind

Why were twenty-five percent of Americans unemployed? How did the average income fall from $2,300 to $1,500 per year? What exactly had gone wrong? How did people deserve to endure this suffering? The Great Depression hit America like a hurricane, destructive and painful. The intense gusts of wind would shake American families, forcing them to delve deeper into themselves; some families were uprooted and blown away into the distance, lost forever, while others survived the battle and found the inner drive to push through the storm. However, the Great Depression was not entirely filled with darkness; in Nash’s The Great Depression and World War II: Organizing America, 1933–1945, the author claims, “The search for an American identity produced a nationalistic mood, a positive reaffirmation of American values even if the Depression revealed serious shortcomings.” Numerous musicians, writers, film makers, and various entertainers brought light and laughter back into the lives of the American people.

Dancing in the 1930s
Gone with the Wind
The Wizard of Oz

With recently developed technology of mass media such as the radio, many musicians thrived in the thirties and were able to reach out to vast audiences across the nation. Contrasting to the bold jazzy style of the preceding decade, music during the Great Depression incorporated a more laid-back, smooth trend. Every once and awhile, Americans yearned to have a fun night out, to forget their troubles, and to merely live happily in the moment. The answer to this desire was simple; they would dance. The sweet, easygoing Swing of the 1930s set the tone perfectly for some slick footwork and energetic jiving on the dance floor. For another getaway from their Depression-dominated lives, many individuals distracted their bleak, racing thoughts by diving into the impelling story of a historical romance novel. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was the most popular book of the entire decade; as Nash states, “The parallel was too much for most Americans to resist, and helps to explain its enormous popularity.” With the ground-breaking rise of sound movies, films provided America with a glorious escape route into the land of bliss. Over sixty million Americans attended the movies each week; over sixty million Americans stepped foot into a breath of fresh air, into a world so very different from their reality. Off the page and into the theater, Gone with the Wind became a record-breaking film and undoubtedly dominated its romantic genre for generations; Judy Garland became forever famous after starring in her magical role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. “According to Hollywood,” Nash writes, “the ‘good guys’ always won, and ‘bad guys’ always lost; individuals who were poor ultimately became rich; virtue triumphed over evil, and the just were inevitably rewarded. How could this fail to appeal to Americans at this time?”

In 1932, Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t’ Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” pulsed the constant, peppy beat throughout the party; my grandma was seven years old. In 1936, Bing Crosby’s “Pennies From Heaven” rang in millions of homes across America; my grandma was eleven years old. In 1939, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” hit the radio; my grandma was fourteen years old. I wonder how the culture during the Great Depression influenced her; what genre of song, book, and movie did her household enjoy the most? Did the music, novels, and films of the 1930s provide an escape outlet for her family?


7. Martin, Waldo E. Brown v. Board of Education: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998.

“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.” –Rosa Parks
Racial segregation

White water fountain, black water fountain. White bus, black bus. White school, black school. Separate but equal, yet anything but equal. Oliver Brown was a proud parent who yearned for his daughter, Linda, to have the opportunity to obtain a respectable education. As a father, he loathed seeing his child travel twenty-one blocks to the nearest all-black elementary school day after day; he despised observing his daughter cower in defeat, in inferiority, at the sound of the white man’s voice; he condemned holding his child’s old, beaten textbook and staring at the cracked walls of Linda’s dull classroom. Anything but equal. Mr. Brown did not ignore the immorality of segregation; he filed against the Brown-Board of Education, appealed to the Supreme Court, and courageously battled against the heavy tide of white supremacy.

The Bee newspaper highlights the court decision of Brown v. Board of Education
All men are created equal

On May 17, 1954, the bells of liberty sang across America; the golden key was handed to children of all races, the key to equal opportunity — to equal education. Martin’s Brown v. Board of Education: A Brief History with Documents highlights various editorial responses to the momentous Brown decision and communicates the divided opinions of local communities throughout the United States. According to Times (New York) “All God’s Chillun,” “The highest court in the land, the guardian of our national conscience, has reaffirmed its faith — and the underlying American faith — in the equality of all men and all children before the law.” No longer was the colored youth deprived of proper academic development. Each student was now given the choice to further advance themselves and grow as independent, rational thinkers. However, not all Americans promoted desegregation and this awakening idea of racial freedom and civil rights. In Daily News (Jackson Miss.) “Bloodstains on White Marble Steps,” “White and Negro children in the same schools will lead to miscegenation. Miscegenation leads to mixed marriages and mixed marriages lead to mongrelization of the human race.” In the eyes of numerous individuals nationwide, the unification of white and black was contradictory to a way of life, to a deeply rooted mindset dating back to 1619. The two contrasting colors, the two distinct racial groups was similar to mixing oil and water; no matter how much whisking, blending, and stirring, the oil would always float to the top of the water creating an evident division — a natural hierarchy. The oil would always peer down at the water and grin with a primitive sense of gratification and dominance. The white race would forever rise above and shine its brilliant rays of authority and pure power.

Living in the era of racial inequality is unimaginable; experiencing such vast social separations among the American people is incomprehensible. How could so many individuals tolerate such unfair treatment for such an extensive time period? On the day the Brown court decision was fashioned, my grandmother was twenty-nine years of age. After exploring both sides of the spectrum, I ponder about Mrs. Knapp’s point of view and personal beliefs regarding this issue. Did her upbringing perhaps influence her frame of mind? Have her opinions evolved over the years?


8. Terkel, Studs. American Dreams: Lost and Found. New York: Pantheon Books, 1980.

Every last spark of light, every last ounce of hope vanished. The kids at school had nice clothes to wear from class to class, but his peers gazed down at him, at the inferior rags on his back, as if he were an insect ready to be squashed abruptly. At night, his father would get drunk to try to forget the pressure and the struggle of daily life; he never laughed. His father worked earnestly all week, but the bills were always larger than his paycheck. At seventeen years of age, his father died. All of the weight was unexpectedly tossed on his shoulders to support his little sister and mother. He was forced to quit school and find work. Day after day, he worked, worked, and worked yet never seemed to break even. He grew hopeless, desperate, and frustrated; he needed someone to blame. In his words, “I began to blame it on black people, because my father before me was a member of the Klan. As far as he was concerned, [the Klan] was the savior of the white people.” His name was C.P. Ellis.

Ku Klux Klan during the Civil Rights Movement
C.P. Ellis with his lifetime friend, Ann Atwater

In the novel American Dreams: Lost and Found, Studs documents a personal interview with C.D. Ellis that allows the reader to lunge into Ellis’s past and to visualize Ellis’s metamorphosis as a character. As a member of the Ku Klux Klan, Ellis finally felt as if he belonged, as if he could become someone more significant than a bread delivery boy. In the Klan, people listened; people cared. From member to chaplain to vice-president to president, Ellis gradually climbed the ladder and became the most well-known individual representing the purity of the white race. As his role gained prominence and influence, his hatred for black Americans intensified, especially those who actively voiced their opinions regarding racial inequality. “I never will forget some black lady I hated with a purple passion. Ann Atwater. Every time I’d go downtown, she’d be leadin’ a boycott […] how I just hated that black nigger,” said Ellis. This intense animosity towards the black race was embedded so deeply within that at times, it simply became second nature to him. But one day, when he saw an old black man in worn clothes trudging down the road, his thoughts wondered; he began to look at him as a human being, as someone worthwhile. He conversed, shook hands, and related to colored individuals from the opposite side of the fence, from another world; he realized that they all are one of the same. At night, he tossed and turned in bed, restless with such conflicting thoughts rattling his brain. He was transforming into a different man, no longer illustrating the characteristics of the proper Ku Klux Klan President; thus, he resigned his position as the leader of the Klan family.

C.P. Ellis

C.P. Ellis ran for business manager of the union against a black man; the workers, seventy-five percent colored, determined who would be elected for the position. Why would the employees vote for an ex-Klansman — someone who at one time despised the black population? He won the election four to one and became the manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers. People of all races were inspired by Ellis, for he overcame his rough childhood, learned from his past, and expanded his horizons. My grandmother also developed into an enlightening and open-minded individual, but what influenced such qualities to arise? Did people in her local community have racist attitudes towards people of color? Like Ellis, did her views regarding racial equality change over time? If so, did her environment shape such views, or did her opinions derive independently?


9. Gladwell, Malcolm. “Complexity and the Ten-Thousand-Hour Rule.” New York Times, August 21, 2013.

Ready to attend the Father Daughter Dance with my dad (Steven Knapp)

My mother hollers from the kitchen to deliver a message, “Dinner is steaming hot and ready to be served.” That is my cue. In my fuzzy socks, I slide down the hallway, and my head slowly peaks out of the front door. There he is, in the garage, kneeled down, with a rag in hand, still waxing and buffing his Honda Accord. My dad has been detailing that car for hours and insists to do so until the surface is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. His eyebrows furrow in concentration as he scrubs back and forth, back and forth; the corners of my lips pinch upwards into a warm grin as I think how inspirational my dad, Steven Jay Knapp, truly is. Ever since he was a little boy, he was always expected to try his best. Both of his parents encouraged all five of their children to strive to reach their fullest potentials, to never back down from a challenge, and to develop the true Knapp work ethic. From practicing his multiplication tables, to solving his first physics problem, to studying for his final calculus exam, he gave it his all and still does. No matter what task is placed before him, he will invest as much time and effort needed to complete it, the right way. As my father learned from his parents and as I have learned from mine, hard work is the answer; in order to become someone worthwhile, the strong drive to achieve is the solution.

Let the door close, or work to push it open?

In his article “Complexity and the Ten-Thousand-Hour Rule,” Malcolm Gladwell states, “In cognitively demanding fields, there are no naturals.” A person who has never studied the brain cannot become a brain surgeon overnight. A person who has never before played an instrument cannot magically transform into a professional clarinetist in one day. Acquiring skill takes practice; it takes years of dedication and persistence in order to reach the master level. After observing seventy-six well-known classical composers, psychologist John Hayes discovered that the vast majority of these artists created their finest work with about ten years of composing under their belts. It is estimated that chess masters have spent at least ten-thousand hours intensely studying the strategies of the game. Therefore, “cognitively complex activities,” Gladwell says, “take many years to master because they require a very long list of situations and possibilities and scenarios to be experienced and processed.” Mastery is dependent on motivation and effort; without the ambition to prevail, without the hunger to flourish, the door leading to victory will remain closed.

Like most other professionals, my father went through many years of schooling and training in order to obtain his goal, to climb the corporate ladder, and to become a radiation physicist. Steven Knapp is the epitome of a dedicated, hard worker. Whether he is mowing the lawn or testing x-ray equipment, my dad is very meticulous and is guaranteed to get the job done to his best ability. Such a determined mindset was established at an early age through his upbringing. I wonder how my grandparents instilled this devoted mentality into their children. How did their methods differ from my parents? Did my grandparents learn to be such motivated individuals on their own, or did their parents also influence such ideologies?


10. C.W. Longenecker. “The Victor.” In The Ultimate Success Formula, 119. New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2014.

“For out in the world we find, success begins with a fellow’s will. It’s all in the state of mind.” –C.W. Longenecker

Closing the door behind me to the back porch, I shut my eyes in frustration and plop down on the swing, swaying back and forth. My A.P. Physics Mechanics exam is tomorrow, and supposedly, past students have claimed that this test is nearly impossible. Even though I have been studying and preparing for months, I never feel ready and never feel confident that I am going to deliver. As I glance at the rocking chair beside me, I see my mother calmly sipping on her glass of wine while watching the red cardinals chirp and peck away at the bird seed. A warm, comforting grin stretches across her face, for she knows that I am well overdue for another one of her uplifting pep talks. “You need to have more faith in yourself. You have studied hard, and now the time has come to simply believe in yourself. You will do just fine, honey; I know it,” my mother says.

Those who believe are those who succeed
The new path for believers

If Taylor Swift trudged onto the stage with pessimistic thoughts of her singing, she would not have sold more than forty million albums. If Roger Federer, a famous professional tennis player, walked onto the court with his head down and his spirits down in the dumps, he would not have seventeen grand slam titles. If Martin Luther King Jr. did not believe that racial equality was conceivable, he would not have delivered his revolutionary “I Have a Dream” speech. Without the belief that one has the potential to thrive and triumph, the world darkens; the choice of defeat has already been made, and the only path open for travel is the road of dissatisfaction and regret. Confidence, determination, and willpower illuminate new directions and more fulfilling paths of life. Trusting in one’s own abilities is the first step to reaching a set goal, the first step towards success. As Longenecker states, “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.”

The enticing aroma of creamy macaroni and cheese, juicy turkey, and sweet apple pie overwhelms me, and my mouth instantly begins to water. Another traditional Knapp Thanksgiving has come, and I happily sit down at the long table, ready to satisfy my growling stomach. As I heap a mound of fluffy mashed potatoes on my plate, my grandmother asks me from across the table the results of my A.P. exams. She proudly nods and smiles as I answer her question: I believed in myself; I worked hard; I performed well. As she congratulates me, I look at my mother and then back at my grandmother. Even though both of these ladies are extremely encouraging and seem to be very confident and content with themselves, I cannot help but wonder if they ever struggled to have faith in their own abilities in their past. If so, how did they overcome such internal encounters to become the inspiring women they are today?


11. Winkler, Sheldon. The Music of World War II: War Songs and Their Stories. Bennington, VT: Merriam Press, 2013.

Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”

Flips. Slides. Twirls. Taps. Leaps. Clicks. With the big band blasting in the background, the couple merrily danced the swing and the jitterbug, constantly moving their feet to the upbeat rhythm. Their bright faces beamed with joy, and together, their shoes patted to the high-energy, jazzy melody of “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman. From the lively strength of the brass to the soothing serenity of the piano, the couple held each other, swaying back and forth to “As Time Goes By.”

Lost Love: Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You”
Light up the mood: The Andrew Sisters’ “Rum and Coca Cola”
Big Band, Big U.S. Flag: Glenn Miller’s “American Patrol”

American music during the 1940s reflected intense patriotism, love, and passion for those at war. In The Music of World War II: War Songs and Their Stories, Sheldon emphasizes that the popular music during the second great war “was successful in bolstering the morale of the troops as well as those on the homefront, easing fears and longing, providing hope, and serving to unite all Americans as a nation.” Among the fury of fighting, numerous war songs reflect the tragic separation of loved ones. Husbands were separated from their wives; men were separated from their families. For many Americans, World War II was a time of waiting for their soldiers to come home and a time of sorrow and mourning. Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You,” Dinah Shore’s “I’ll Walk Alone,” and Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” all express the bitter struggle of having a loved one away at war, the unknown of his return, the agonizing wait of his possible homecoming, or the devastation of his death. Among all of the heartache, music of the 1940s also served as a stress reliever and encouraged the patriotic spirit to circulate throughout the country. Novelty songs such as the Andrew Sisters’ “Rum and Coca Cola” provided a humorous outlet for the American population and lightened the mood. Glenn Miller’s swing version of “American Patrol” not only made people want to get out their chairs, laugh, and happily dance the night away, but it also spread nationalism and support for the soldiers at war.

During the course of World War II, my grandmother ranged from a teenager to a young adult, the prime age to fully engage in the musical culture of the decade or perhaps for a blossoming romance fantasy. I wonder what her favorite genre of music was during the 1940s and if she enjoyed the energetic dancing craze of the period. Does she have any personal accounts of wartime young love to share?


12. Heidi. Directed by Allan Dwan. 1937. Los Angeles, CA: 20th Century Fox Studios, 1937. DVD.

Kasson, John. The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2014.

“At the end of the Great Depression, people were perhaps looking for something to cheer themselves up. They fell in love with…a little girl.” –Shirley Temple
Bundle of cuteness

She was more photographed than President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She sold more sheet music than the best-selling recording artist of the twentieth century, Bing Crosby. Her cute face shined on dinner plates, cereal boxes, and coffee mugs. Dolls, dresses, shoes, hats, coats, and underwear were made and purchased by the millions in her honor. Starring in dozens upon dozens of celebrated films, she was considered the triple threat because she could do it all — act, sing, and dance. She was the most adored little girl in the world. She was the most popular child star of all time. She was the one and only Shirley Temple.

Heidi and her grandfather, best friends for life

In her famous film Heidi, Shirley Temple plays an eight-year old orphan named Heidi who is forced to live with her old, irritable, lonely, and mountain-dwelling grandfather. Through her perky, adorable, and angelic nature, Heidi softens her grandfather’s grumpy, cold disposition and brings love back into his life. From milking the two goats to sledding in the fluffy white snow to reading by the warm fireplace, the little girl and the old man become best friends. However, such bliss ends when evil Aunt Dede steals Heidi away to serve as the companion of a sickly girl, Klara Sesemann. Even though she is prized and cherished by practically everyone she touches in the Sesemann household, Heidi remains hopeful and adamant that she will one day be reunited with her dear grandfather. For just fifteen cents, any American could smile, forget the toils of the Great Depression, and watch Shirley Temple light up the movie screen with her cheery attitude, tapping feet, and bouncy curls. As Kasson accentuates in his novel The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America, “Shirley’s immense popularity reveals much about the way in which Americans and many others around the world coped with the demands of this pivotal decade.” With her catchy tunes and dainty dresses, this young celebrity was the epitome of happiness, something desperately needed across the nation.

Shirley Temple’s famous dance solo in Little Miss Broadway

Shirley Temple served as a motivating role model to millions of young girls worldwide; she was everything a little lady wanted to be — charming, lovable, comical, bright, and jolly. She was born on April 23, 1928, while my grandmother was born on May 13, 1925; these two young ladies were only three years apart in age. Did my grandmother’s family ever take trips to the movie theater to watch this illustrious child star work her magic? Was Shirley Temple ever an inspiration to my grandmother as a child?

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