Here we are, near the middle of May. Students are graduating and/or anticipating the end of the academic year in the United States. Parents are planning activities or childcare for the summer.
Are you the sort of person who makes a special plan for summer?
When I was a child, summer had some scheduled activities: one or two weeks of swimming lessons, 4-H projects to get ready for the county fair, and summer band during high school.
But I guess I’ve always been a goal type person. I’d set reading goals — reading Gone with the Wind filled a good portion of one summer. Several other novels we had in the house filled hours in other years.
Last year, with travel still rather limited, for the first time in several years I set a reading goal.
Many hours from May through August were spend with one of these volumes on my lap. I enjoyed the organization and learned a few new things along the way. Am I ready to give these to the next reader?
Not yet. One of these days, I’ll actually compare the information I have on the units the great, great uncles served in and try to locate when and where they put their lives in danger from battle. (This was the army in 1861-65, lives were always in danger from disease and accident.)
Did you have ancestors involved in this war? One or both sides?
Impossible? No, easy. Long before the pandemic of 2020-21 kept me close to home, I traveled through time and space in books.
Does real travel enrich your life? Absolutely. While visiting 1815 Vienna, the references to St. Stephens, a wine garden, and the plague pillar were more vivid for having seen them in person. The sights and sounds of the London I visited several years ago may be different — cars and buses have replaced carriages and wagons. Certain landmarks remain. Does the heroine dash past St. Paul’s? Cross the river at the Tower Bridge?
Do you prefer non-fiction? Try a biography and put yourself in Thomas Jefferson or George Marshall’s shoes.
Want to escape this world and all the current problems? May I suggest the science fiction section of your local bookstore or library?
Also visited in 2022: 1855 Wisconsin, 1740 Scotland, plus previously mentioned Tang Dynasty China.
Today, I’d like you to take a moment and think about occupations which have spanned centuries. The first that came to my mind was teacher. But farmer, musician, weaver, and metal worker have existed alongside each other since the beginning of recorded time. (I think you could add brewer and merchant.)
The occupation I want to highlight today, is a little more recent than some of the others. But it certainly pre-dates my lifetime, the history of Europeans in the Americas, and several other events.
This sign in a historical printer and newspaper publisher’s shop hints at the importance of the written word. “Bringing Ink and Paper Together” enables the transmission of an idea from one person to another without them being in the same time and place. Present day people can read of events in the past, find out what happened to that family member glossed over in conversation, or share thoughts with a generation to come.
So let’s give a cheer — or lift your coffee cup — or wine glass — to the printers through the centuries who have enriched all of our lives.
Do you have a favorite type of printed material?
If your answer above is books — check out a sweet, contemporary romance — Comfort Zone.
Washington, that is. Born on February 22, 1732 (on the Gregorian [current] calendar) to Augustine and Mary Ball Washington, he belonged to the fourth generation of Washingtons to live in the colony of Virginia.
His formal education would be considered sparse by current standards. He made only one trip outside of the continental British Colonies/United States — to Barbados at age 19 with his older half-brother, Lawrence. But his diary shows an observant eye and sharp mind.
American school children learn a bundle of “facts” about Mr. Washington. Some are true. Some unproven. Others far-fetched. However, he did important things and earned a place in history.
So…if you want to celebrate George on his birthday, may I suggest a cherry flavored treat. Following one of the far-fetched stories in schoolbooks, cherries, hatchets, and a small boy telling his father he is unable to lie — “Yes, Father, I chopped down the cherry tree.”– have become standard fare for his celebration.
Once upon a time… when I lived in a town and state named in his honor… the city officials would re-enact his famous river crossing — following a widely published, inaccurate painting, and host a cherry pie eating contest in way of celebration.
Here’s to you George…two centuries and a smidge past your death and you’re remembered with fondness.
The United States, recovering from the War of 1812, was in years of rapid growth. Maine and Missouri achieved statehood. Steamboats enabled goods to move up the rivers much faster and more dependable than previously. Daniel Boone died. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson lived in retirement.
And in upstate New York, a girl was born.
Thanks to education, a lot of hard work, and association with like-minded women, this girl grew into a woman many people recognize today. For a brief time, she was honored on a coin.
The lady on the right – Susan B. Anthony was born on this date in 1820 and honored on a one-dollar coin.
The proud woman on the left – Sacagawea lived earlier and gained fame guiding the Lewis & Clark Expedition over the Rocky Mountains. Her coin, also valued at one dollar, was designed later.
According to my reading record on a popular website, I completed 80 books in 2021.
Wow! A surprise even to me. I guess that habit of always having a book in progress adds up. Since the year is new — I’ll try to say a few words about favorites from 2021 reading.
In the non-fiction category — I’ll select Shelby Foote’s three volume set of The Civil War.
Even though I’ve read other books about the United States’ civil war, fiction and non-fiction, I learned a lot in these three volumes. Starting with profiles of Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln until Davis’ death, in December 1889, the events of these tumultuous are put into context. I gained a new appreciation and understanding of the multiple fronts, army movements, and political battles often taking place at the same time in different regions.
Definitely a reference resource I’ll keep within reach. Certainly the most memorable non-fiction read in 2021.
Quick — name the first three United States presidents.
Did you get it? If you paid attention during history in grade school you should have gotten Washington, Adams, and Jefferson without missing a beat.
Can you list more?
Thanks to a lifelong interest in history — and a thick pamphlet study guide in 8th grade — I feel confident naming most of them in order. Yes, I’ll get a little confused here and there. And don’t ask me the accomplishments of some of them.
During the last several years, I’ve tried to expand my knowledge. I’m glad to live within a good library system to supplement the ones on my own shelf. And it’s rather humbling to find biographies of presidents I remember from the TV news filed under “history”. Yikes! Does that mean I’m old? (Please — don’t answer.)
Want to learn about prominent figures from the past as people, not only doers of heroic deeds? Find a book and settle in with the expectation of learning something.
A trio of uncommon “common” men guided the early United States on the path to growth and expansion. Were they privileged? Yes, they came from families wealthy enough to give the sons the best education available and a place of status within the community. Yet, they learned the value of work and faced the hardships of daily life and travel in their time. They left a rich record for future generations.
Actually, the definition depends on your age. For young adults — even some in typical middle age — the events and artifacts at this museum are history. For the generation older — well, we remember when they were in use.
Do you remember the 1960’s? Or are they stories from older family members and final chapters of history books?
While many of the items at this museum were designed, built, and in-use before my birth — a large share continued in use into my young adulthood.
I spent a delightful day at this location. I started on land. However, I spent the largest portion of the time on the floating portion of the displays. It took time for me to tour to all the parts of the aircraft carrier which I wanted to see. I tried to imagine myself as a crew member. Did I work on this deck? Sleep in this section? Eat here? Ladders, not stairs. Deck, not floor. How many of the planes on the flight deck did I recognize? What a view from the captain’s chair!
When visiting Charleston, SC, I suggest you allow several hours to enjoy some recent history — or 20th Century history — at Patriot’s Point. A visit to the ships and displays makes a nice contrast to the 17th and 18th Century sites in the historic portions of the city.