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Day 246 — Katie Went to Haiti

Kaiti Went to HaitiI’m as shocked as you are at the incredible force with which that earthquake destroyed most of Haiti. I’ve never been there, but I’ve visited its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. It is paradise.

Death and destruction on such a massive scale is without humor. Still, it made me think of a very old song from my parent’s era about Haiti that is still somewhat shocking some 70 years later.

Cole Porter, who wrote it, was not just a brilliant songwriter, he was also pretty bold with his lyrics. He tells the story of a woman named Katie who goes to Haiti as a tourist and inadvertently spends her entire life there. It is the chorus that makes a listener stop:

So Katie lived in Haiti, her life there it was great.
Cause Katie had her Haiti, and practically all Haiti had Katie.

And then, later on:

When Katie died at 80 they buried her in state.
For Katie made her Haiti and practically all Haiti made Katie.

Okay, no doubt Cole Porter just liked words that rhymed, but I have always enjoyed the story behind this song.

Ladies, who among us has not gone on a vacation in the islands and not thought at least briefly about chucking it all and staying?

And if we didn’t have one man to sustain and care for us why not rely upon all of them at once? I don’t have the nerve. I always get back on the plane.

I still appreciate the idea of going native with the natives. And I had no idea that you could get up and sing a song in America in 1939 about a happy woman having sex with all the men in a modestly sized Caribbean nation.

So today I think of the mythical Katie and the idyllic life she led in song. The place she cherished is suffering mightily right now. She’d want the women who admired her to help. Go to CNN’s Impact Your World list of reputable organizations accepting donations for Haiti, if you have anything at all to give. I gave $20 to Food for the Poor, which provides direct relief assistance to the poor in Haiti and other countries.

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