The Wilson Family
Lauren and Howard Wilson have been married for nearly 20 years. Howard proposed on their second date on a New Year's Eve while slow dancing in front of the fireplace. Two years later, they said "I do" in a courthouse in Greensboro, NC, then drove 7 hours to Maryland to have a wedding celebration with Lauren's family. Lauren and Howard moved to Maryland a year later with two cats and a dog so that Lauren could spend time with her 80+ mother in her last years. Over the years, they have faced the normal marital challenges, with a single-minded belief in the sanctity of marriage. After 20 years, they still find joy in each other’s company. For date night, they stream every good comic they can find, or head to the movies at Bengie's Drive In. Their favorite vacation spot is Cove Haven Poconos Resort in Pennsylvania, competing in air hockey and ping-pong, feeding the deer, playing bar games and enjoying nights out. When the weather is nice, they walk their pitbull, Petey, in the park. With any luck, they hope to see another 20 years.
When Lauren was 18 years old, she began to practice Nichiren Buddhism, and has practiced off and on for the last 40 years. The first Buddhist group she practiced with organized huge gatherings which Lauren participated in as either a fife player in Philadelphia and New York City, a drill dancer in Boston, or a chorus member in Worcester. In Boston, Lauren got together with some chorus members to sing songs as a group. In Greensboro, NC, Lauren joined a trio to sing at meetings and organized a small group for the children, aged 4-7. In Baltimore, she organized a group for high school students in 9th-12th grade. Most recently, Lauren has been practicing by Zoom with a Nichiren Shu group in San Francisco.
College at RPI
Lauren went to college at RPI in Troy, NY back when women and minorities weren't going into engineering. RPI with a freshman class of 1200 had 100 women, 50 African-Americans, and 8 African-American women. Over the years, nearly every one of them dropped out or took time off for one reason or another - only one black woman graduated on time, Lauren graduated in 1985, 1-1/2 years behind her classmates. To increase enrollment of women and minorities, RPI had a Preface program, a pre-engineering program for 30 women and minority high school juniors, which lasted for two weeks. Lauren went in 1979 when she was 16, and made several special friends - this was the first time she had ever met other kids who were interested in engineering, and it was a wonderful experience. This was also her first plane trip. The few Preface kids who attended RPI became her best friends in college, and she is in touch with them to this day.
Lauren has had dollhouses since she was 11 years old, making furniture from kits, and covering the floors with pieces of felt. Since then, she has had one yellow 3-story dollhouse with black trim, four townhouses - she loves decorating bathrooms, and most recently, a 5-story apartment building, with a grand foyer which she plans to fill with African-American art, an office and laundry room on the first floor, 7 apartments, including a penthouse on the upper floors, and a rooftop which she plans to make into a garden. She gets to decorate NINE bathrooms! Three are done so far. She has amassed enough furniture over the past 40+ years to decorate many of the rooms and plans to make the living room furniture from scratch with patterned quilt fabrics. She has also managed to collect enough African-American poseable dolls for the entire complex, including a grandpa, two boys and one baby. She anticipates a 10 year project, doing a bit here and there.
The King Thing
Lauren started holding a King Thing over 30 years ago in Marlborough, Massachusetts, when the company she worked for did not have a Dr. King Day off. It was always held on the Sunday before the holiday, and Lauren always cooked - Mexican lasagna and spinach quiche. The first King Things were racially diverse. Lauren felt that it was important for her white friends to be able to celebrate the holiday. She would play Dr. King's speeches and have a talk about racism in America. For many years, Lauren did not have a King Thing, but restarted them in 2009 when President Obama was elected, when she was living in Brooklyn, MD. She had collected friends while campaigning for President Obama, and invited friends, co-workers, sorors and family. Keeping it an integrated gathering was difficult, but important. She managed to do a King Thing every year, still serving Mexican lasagna and spinach quiche, including a virtual King Thing on Zoom in 2021, In 2022, when she got a new job which involved travel, she could not host a King Thing, so she created a slide show of Dr. King and shared it with her friends.
Black History Month
Lauren has celebrated Black History Month for as long as she can remember. Her earliest memory is of a pageant where children did a quick biography of famous people, and then announced their names. One girl called out Jesse James instead of Jesse Jackson. Sometime in her 20's, she created a presentation on the history of Africans and African-American Inventors and Scientists, sharing it at sorority functions and work events. She ended up deciding to research a topic on African-American history every year during February and share it with friends, family and co-workers. Over the years, she has done: Millionaires, Poets, Politicians, Military Greats, Organizations, Civil Rights History, African Nations, Scientists and Inventors, HBCUs, and several other topics. She did her best to put out a snippet of history every weekday, but the research was so extensive that she could not always manage more than 3 per week. In 2022, knowing that she could not do the research, she created four Jeopardy Boards with various topics of African-American history. Please enjoy! To play alone, select “No Teams”. Otherwise, play with up to 10 individuals or teams.