RSS Feed

Author Archives: Sheila Ingle

October Poem

Helen Hunt Jackson (also known as Helen Fiske Jackson (“H. H.”) was born on October 18, 1831 as Helen Maria Fiske. She was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts. Helen grew up in a literary atmosphere, and she was herself a poet and writer of children’s stories, novels, and essays. She published her work under the pen name of H.H.H. Her poetry was the outflow of deep sympathetic thought on the problem of life’s trials and temptations. Her verses were strong and noble, never giving attention to mere prettiness of verse.

As I am looking out from out sun porch this afternoon, I see the bright blue weather of October that she wrote about.

10 Best Places to Visit in October 2020 - Where to Travel in October

“October’s Bright Blue Weather

O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

32 Excellent Things To Do In London This Month: October 2019 | Londonist
Vancouver October Weather | Vancouver's Best Places

Is it any wonder that Anne of Green Gables pronounced, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

First Day of Fall

When the Frost is on the Punkin

BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

Frost is on the pumpkin | Pumpkin, Fall pumpkins, Fall harvest

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

Wheatfield with Sheaves, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh - Picture Frame Print on Canvas

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

Fall Farm Scene Painting by Cathy Geiger

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Credit: Thinkstock

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! …
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the
shock!

Making Apple Cider - Real Food - MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Published in 1911, the poem is written in the speaker’s rural vernacular. As such, there are words and objects that may not be commonly known to those living any place other than the countryside in the late 19th century.

Though some may be confused, “punkin” is actually a pumpkin. To many who are unfamiliar with life on the countryside or have only experienced modern society, “fodder’s in the shock” can be quite confusing. Fodder is animal feed and shock, in this case, is a group of sheaves of grain. The group, made up of twelve sheaves of grain, are tied and stacked so that they support each other.

It’s harvest time, and the speaker obviously enjoys this time of year. This season is a restful one for him. There is beauty and contentment in taking time to stop and observe it. In the details of nature, there is much wonder, if we stop to look.

As another poet Robert Browning wrote, “God’s in His heaven; all’s right with this world.”

Today is the first day of fall, 2020. A breeze is ruffling the leaves, and the squirrels are throwing the pecans to the ground. As the sun rose this morning, I heard one of our barred owls hooting in its hunt for breakfast.

I believe it is time for a cup of apple cider, because….

Hot Apple Cider • A Sweet Pea Chef

Doctoring Before Doctors

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29

In the early years of our country, there were few doctors. Women took care of their households. No schooling or licenses were required. Some of the remedies were handed down from generation to generation, and others learned from the Indians.

As women cared for their neighbors and kin, and they began to learn the land, exchange occurred—an exchange of culture and knowledge. As these ancestral keepers of herbal wisdom shared seeds and passed along stories about keeping their communities well, a new lineage of herbal trailblazers was born.

18th-century American Women: On Fruits, Vegetables, & Herbs from ...

A knowledge of herbs was the only gift needed. Any woman who had this learning was called a yarb/herb doctor; she knew how to concoct teas and brews.

Sassafras or sassafack, burdock, pennyroyal, catnip, and spicewood made teas. Mullein was a remedy for man or animals. For bruises and rheumatism, horse radish or lye poultices were the treatment.

 

Pennyroyal is a mosquito and flea repellent

 

 

 

And then there was slippery ellum. When it was found, folks would travel for miles to dig the roots in times of sickness. Under the roots of an elm tree was the location.

Lady slipper was for nervousness, and butterfly root would produce heavy sweats in a fever. Dittany tea, balm of Gilead, or pine buds, steeped in whiskey, took care of colds and pulmonary issues. Boneset and wild cherry were for almost any illness.

Tansy water quieted nerves and headaches. Seneca snake root and ground ivy could cure hives. Sulphur and molasses was a yearly tonic for the young and old to thin the blood in the spring.

https://bethtrissel.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/980herbs.jpg

In the Blue Ridge mountains along its many streams are over 800 medicinal pants. Before the Revolutionary War, botanists had found this treasure trove of plants. Specimens were collected and shipped to various parts of Europe.

Perhaps a herb garden would be close to the kitchen. There is nothing more pleasing than the smells in the summer. (I have lavender planted in two pots on my front porch and am delighted to be greeted by this.) Sage, mint, thyme, and lemon balm were handy for adding to soups or freshening the air of a cabin.

 

 

Sage

 

 

 

 

Mint was of benefit to the stomach, and mice and spiders were not fans.

Minze.jpg

18th century herbalist Gerarld wrote about thyme that was considered a cure-all. “It bringeth downe the desired sickness, provoketh urine and applied in bathes it procureth sweat; being boyled in wine it helpeth the ague, stayeth the hicket, breaketh the stones in the bladder; it helpeth lethargie, frensie and madness and stayeth the vomiting of bloud…is good against the wambling and gripings of the bellie, ruptures, convulsions and inflammation of the liver.”

thyme

Lamb’s ear is so very soft to the touch. Though little has been written about it, it was used to dress or bandage wounds–the wooly leaves used in place of lint. The textured leaves could also be used as a washcloth.

The Colonial garden served as the apothecary, perfumery, and spice rack for the average household. In addition to using the herbs fresh, many plants were bound together in bunches and hung upside down to dry from the kitchen rafters. Dried roots were stored for later use. These women planned for having these plants all year; they knew their value.

The adventurer Christopher Columbus even recognized the delicious smells of herbs, saying, Ï believe that there are many herbs and many trees that are worth much in Europe for dyes and for medicines; but I do not know, and this causes me great sorrow. Arriving at this cape, I found the smell of the trees and flowers so delicious that it seemed the pleasantest thing in the world.”

So what about planting some of these herbs at your back or front door? I believe I might need more!

 

 

 

 

 

Patriots in Petticoats

Posted on

At the time of the American Revolution, women’s roles in society were limited. Most devoted themselves to their homes and families. Still many women’s lives changed when this war arrived at their doors.

Charleston Tea Party Protest | Lowcountry Walking Tours

Anna and Charles Elliott lived at 22 Legare Street in Charleston, South Carolina. After the fall of the city to the British on May 12, 1780, Anna nursed the wounded in her home. She gave away her own provisions to help those whose houses had been destroyed or looted and petitioned the conquerors for help for the prisoners.

One afternoon Anna was walking with an officer of the British army in her garden. The man was known for cruelty in his pursuit and treatment of patriots.

Noticing the chamomile bush, the man asked, “What is this, madam?”

“The rebel flower,” she replied.

“And why is it called the rebel flower?” he inquired.

“Because,” she thoughtfully responded, “it always flourishes most when trampled upon.”

Matricaria chamomilla - Wikipedia

From the Lowlands to the Upcountry of the British colony called Carolina, other women also took a stand against the British and determined to fight for the same Patriot cause that their husbands were fighting for.

The mother of eighteen children, Hannah Blair was a North Carolina Quaker who, although sworn against violence by her religion, wanted to support the Patriot cause. She protected soldiers passing through, gave medical help and food, carried secret messages, and mended uniforms.

She was credited with saving the lives of two men when she hid them in a corn crib and continued shucking corn while the Tories searched. On another occasion, she ripped the corner of a feather bed tick and pushed a visiting patriot inside with the feathers. She threw the covers back, so Fanning could see clearly under the bed, sat down, and began mending the torn ticking, saying “Thee may search as thee pleases.”

After a skirmish at Dixon’s Mill in 1779, she learned that several soldiers were hiding in the countryside and took provisions to them. As she was returning, she was taken by Tories who demanded to know where the men were hiding. Insisting that she had only taken food to a sick neighbor ten or so miles away, she was released without revealing the hiding place.

When the Loyalists found her out, they burned her farm down. After the war, Congress granted her a small pension for her services.

Hannah Millikan Blair (1756-1852) - Find A Grave Memorial

 

Jane and John Thomas married in 1740 and moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina in 1749. They first settled on Fishing Creek and then moved to Fairforest Creek in the southern section of Spartanburg County, what is now Camp Croft State Park.

They were a respected couple in the community. John was elected a magistrate and the captain of his militia company. As families chose sides against British rule, he organized a Whig militia called the Spartan Regiment in 1775 and was elected colonel. Most of the men were members of the Fair Forest Presbyterian Congregation. It was only a few months until the Spartan Regiment was called into active service.

As hostilities, skirmishes, and battles escalated across the colonies, Governor Rutledge sent kegs of powder and arms to various Patriot supporters across the colony. Local Tories learned of it and decided to confiscate the ammunition.

The story continues in the words of historian and genealogist, Ilene Cornwell:

“Colonel Thomas and part of the Spartan Regiment were off fighting in Charlestown, while about 25 of the Spartan regulars under command of Captain John Thomas, Jr., were guarding the ammunition and arms in and near the homestead. Tending the home-fires were Jane Thomas, three of her daughters, and her youngest child, William, too young to serve in the Spartan Regiment.

As Tory Colonel Patrick Moore and 150 (one account records 300) men marched toward the home, Captain Thomas and his men gathered as much of the ammunition as they could carry and rode off to hide it from the Loyalists. Remaining in the home to create a diversion were Jane, her daughters and son, and her son-in-law Josiah Culbertson, Martha’s husband.

Jane and her offspring formed a production line and started reloading for Culbertson as fast as their hands could fly. Culbertson, a veteran Indian fighter and noted marksman, moved from rifle slot to rifle slot around the log house, keeping up a steady barrage of fire on the Tories. The gunfire was so fast and furious that the Tories believed the whole patriot guard remained inside.

As the Tories began a final assault upon the home, Jane advanced in front of them, with a sword in her hand, and dared them to come on. They were intimidated and retired.”

This bold woman, considered beautiful with her black hair, black eyes, and fair complexion, stopped the enemy in their tracks with her audacious courage and patriotism. What a sight she must have been with “her hands, mouth, and faceblackened from gunpowder, sweaty, hair awry, and smelling of sulphur.”

Jane Thomas - War Hero

The district around their home was continually robbed and pillaged by the Tories. Horses, cattle, food, and clothing were stolen, but Jane and her neighbors stayed determined in their resistance.

On July 11, 1780, John Thomas and two of his sons were imprisoned in the British jail in Ninety-Six, about sixty miles from their home. Jane chose that day to visit them.

While there, she heard two Tory women in conversation. One said, “Tomorrow night the Loyalists intend to surprise the Rebels at Cedar Spring.”

This camp was only a few miles from the Thomas home, where her son, John, had headquartered about 60 members of the reorganized Spartan Regiment. Knowing lives depended on her news, she rode hard, swimming her horse across the flooded Enoree and Saluda rivers. Delivering her warning, she continued on to her home.

The Spartan Regiment devised a scheme to defeat the larger armed force. The Spartans built up their campfires to burn near empty bedrolls, casting realistic shadows of sleeping men. The soldiers then hid in the surrounding forest. It wasn’t long before 150 British and Tory soldiers cautiously moved into position to attack the sleeping Spartans. The Patriots won in short order after only one volley, because of the faithful courage of Jane Thomas.

Jane Black Thomas died on April 16, 1811, and her steadfast commitment to the United States never wavered. Her obituary in the Carolina Gazette read, “She steadily refused to drink any tea after the Revolutionary War commenced saying, ‘it was the blood of some of the poor men who first fell in the war.”

 Jane <I>Black</I> Thomas

As Abigail Adams wrote, “Great necessities call out great virtues.”

So thankful for these Patriots in Petticoats!

Flag Day – June 14, 2020

President Calvin Coolidge spoke of the US Flag with these words. “We Identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth, peace, security, liberty, our family, our friends, our home…But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights we remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done. ”

What we know fondly as the “Stars and Stripes” was adopted by the Continental Congress as the official American flag on June 14, 1777, in the midst of the Revolutionary War. Colonial troops fought under many different flags with various symbols—rattlesnakes, pine trees, and eagles—and slogans—”Don’t Tread on Me,” “Liberty or Death,” and “Conquer or Die,” to name a few.

Flag Day (United States) - Wikipedia

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress took a break from writing the Articles of Confederation, and a flag was the fifth item on the agenda that day.

Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.

The Continental Congress left no record as to why it chose these colors. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Articles of Confederation chose the colors for the Great Seal of the United States with these meanings:

  • white for purity and innocence
  • red for valor and hardiness
  • blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice

Living flag, 1911

These children, dressed in different shades of clothing, posed to represent the U.S. flag, becoming a “Living flag” in 1911

One of the first celebrations of our flag was in Hartford, Conn. during the summer of 1861. In the late 1800s, schools all over the United States held Flag Day programs to contribute to the Americanization of immigrant children, and the observance caught on with individual communities.

Flag Day 2020: Why we celebrate on June 14

In Waubeka, Wisconsin, nineteen year old Bernard J. Cigrand placed a 10” 38-star flag in an inkwell on his desk at the front of his one room classroom.  He prompted his students to write an essay about what the flag meant to them, referring to that day, June 14, as the flag’s birthday.

A little over three decades later in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared June 14th as National Flag Day.  President Wilson proclaimed, “The Flag has vindicated its right to be honored by all nations of the world and feared by none who do righteousness.”  On August 3, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress recognizing the holiday of Flag Day and encouraging Americans to celebrate it.

On June 14, 2004, 108th U.S. Congress unanimously voted on H.R. 662 declaring Flag Day originated in Waubeka, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.

Stage.gif

Inspired by decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Harry Truman

Star Spangled Banner

Above is the original “Star-Spangled Banner” that inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem. It was moved from Fort McHenry in 1874 and displayed at the Boston Navy Yard until 1907, and has been at the Smithsonian Institution ever since.

Flag Day is a day for all Americans to celebrate and show respect for our flag, its designers and makers. Our flag is representative of our independence and our unity as a nation…..one nation, under God, indivisible. Our flag has a proud and glorious history. It was at the lead of every battle fought by Americans. Many people have died protecting it. It even stands proudly on the surface of the moon.

The American Flag is lovingly referred to by other names, including:

  • Old Glory
  • Stars and Stripes
  • The Red, White and Blue

As Americans, we have every right to be proud of our culture, our nation, and our flag. So raise the flag on June 14 and every day with pride!

Findlay Residents Urged To Celebrate Flag Day - WKXA

I am the flag of the United States of America.

I fly atop the world’s tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America’s halls of justice.
I stand side by side with the Maple Leaf on
the worlds’ longest undefended border.
I fly majestically over institutions of learning.
I stand guard with power in the world.
Look up and see me.

I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.

When I am flown with my fellow banners,
my head is a little higher,
my colors a little truer.

I bow to no one!
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped — I am saluted.
I am loved — I am revered.
I am respected — and I am feared.

I have fought in every battle of every war
for more then 200 years.
I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Appomattox.
I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France,
in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome and the beaches of Normandy.
Guam, Okinawa, Korea and KheSan, Saigon, Vietnam know me,
I was there.

I led my troops, I was dirty, battle worn and tired,
but my soldiers cheered me And I was proud.
I have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets of
countries I have helped set free. It does not hurt,
for I am invincible.

I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled on
the streets of my country. And when it’s by those whom
I’ve served in battle — it hurts.
But I shall overcome — for I am strong.

I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stood watch over
the uncharted frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon.
I have borne silent witness to all of America’s finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.

When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded
comrades on the battlefield, When I am flown at
half-mast to honor my soldier, Or when I lie in the
trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their
fallen son or daughter, I am proud.

MY NAME IS OLD GLORY. LONG MAY I WAVE.

by Howard Schnauber

Lest We Forget: Memorial Day

Posted on

Memorial Day 2020

There are many stories about Memorial Day, but this one grabbed my heart this morning. Nancy Sullivan Geng is the author. It tells of a teenager who learned about Memorial Day.

I leaned against an oak at the side of the road, wishing I were invisible, keeping my distance from my parents on their lawn chairs and my younger siblings scampering about.

I hoped none of my friends saw me there. God forbid they caught me waving one of the small American flags Mom bought at Ben Franklin for a dime. At 16, I was too old and definitely too cool for our small town’s Memorial Day parade.

I ought to be at the lake, I brooded. But, no, the all-day festivities were mandatory in my family.

A high school band marched by, the girl in sequins missing her baton as it tumbled from the sky. Firemen blasted sirens in their polished red trucks. The uniforms on the troop of World War II veterans looked too snug on more than one member.

“Here comes Mema,” my father shouted.

Five black convertibles lumbered down the boulevard. The mayor was in the first, handing out programs. I didn’t need to look at one. I knew my uncle Bud’s name was printed on it, as it had been every year since he was killed in Italy. Our family’s war hero.

And I knew that perched on the backseat of one of the cars, waving and smiling, was Mema, my grandmother. She had a corsage on her lapel and a sign in gold embossed letters on the car door: “Gold Star Mother.”

I hid behind the tree so I wouldn’t have to meet her gaze. It wasn’t because I didn’t love her or appreciate her. She’d taught me how to sew, to call a strike in baseball. She made great cinnamon rolls, which we always ate after the parade.

What embarrassed me was all the attention she got for a son who had died 20 years earlier. With four other children and a dozen grandchildren, why linger over this one long-ago loss?

I peeked out from behind the oak just in time to see Mema wave and blow my family a kiss as the motorcade moved on. The purple ribbon on her hat fluttered in the breeze.

The rest of our Memorial Day ritual was equally scripted. No use trying to get out of it. I followed my family back to Mema’s house, where there was the usual baseball game in the backyard and the same old reminiscing about Uncle Bud in the kitchen.

Helping myself to a cinnamon roll, I retreated to the living room and plopped down on an armchair.

There I found myself staring at the Army photo of Bud on the bookcase. The uncle I’d never known. I must have looked at him a thousand times—so proud in his crested cap and knotted tie. His uniform was decorated with military emblems that I could never decode.

Funny, he was starting to look younger to me as I got older. Who were you, Uncle Bud? I nearly asked aloud.

I picked up the photo and turned it over. Yellowing tape held a prayer card that read: “Lloyd ‘Bud’ Heitzman, 1925-1944. A Great Hero.” Nineteen years old when he died, not much older than I was. But a great hero? How could you be a hero at 19?

The floorboards creaked behind me. I turned to see Mema coming in from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.

I almost hid the photo because I didn’t want to listen to the same stories I’d heard year after year: “Your uncle Bud had this little rat-terrier named Jiggs. Good old Jiggs. How he loved that mutt! He wouldn’t go anywhere without Jiggs. He used to put him in the rumble seat of his Chevy coupe and drive all over town.

“Remember how hard Bud worked after we lost the farm? At haying season he worked all day, sunrise to sunset, baling for other farmers. Then he brought me all his wages. He’d say, ‘Mama, someday I’m going to buy you a brand-new farm. I promise.’ There wasn’t a better boy in the world!”

Sometimes I wondered about that boy dying alone in a muddy ditch in a foreign country he’d only read about. I thought of the scared kid who jumped out of a foxhole in front of an advancing enemy, only to be downed by a sniper. I couldn’t reconcile the image of the boy and his dog with that of the stalwart soldier.

Mema stood beside me for a while, looking at the photo. From outside came the sharp snap of an American flag flapping in the breeze and the voices of my cousins cheering my brother at bat.

“Mema,” I asked, “what’s a hero?” Without a word she turned and walked down the hall to the back bedroom. I followed.

She opened a bureau drawer and took out a small metal box, then sank down onto the bed.

“These are Bud’s things,” she said. “They sent them to us after he died.” She opened the lid and handed me a telegram dated October 13, 1944. “The Secretary of State regrets to inform you that your son, Lloyd Heitzman, was killed in Italy.”

Your son! I imagined Mema reading that sentence for the first time. I didn’t know what I would have done if I’d gotten a telegram like that.

“Here’s Bud’s wallet,” she continued. Even after all those years, it was caked with dried mud. Inside was Bud’s driver’s license with the date of his sixteenth birthday. I compared it with the driver’s license I had just received.

A photo of Bud holding a little spotted dog fell out of the wallet. Jiggs. Bud looked so pleased with his mutt.

There were other photos in the wallet: a laughing Bud standing arm in arm with two buddies, photos of my mom and aunt and uncle, another of Mema waving. This was the home Uncle Bud took with him, I thought.

I could see him in a foxhole, taking out these snapshots to remind himself of how much he was loved and missed.

“Who’s this?” I asked, pointing to a shot of a pretty dark-haired girl.

“Marie. Bud dated her in high school. He wanted to marry her when he came home.” A girlfriend? Marriage? How heartbreaking to have a life, plans and hopes for the future, so brutally snuffed out.

Sitting on the bed, Mema and I sifted through the treasures in the box: a gold watch that had never been wound again. A sympathy letter from President Roosevelt, and one from Bud’s commander. A medal shaped like a heart, trimmed with a purple ribbon. And at the very bottom, the deed to Mema’s house.

“Why’s this here?” I asked.

“Because Bud bought this house for me.” She explained how after his death, the U.S. government gave her 10 thousand dollars, and with it she built the house she was still living in.

“He kept his promise all right,” Mema said in a quiet voice I’d never heard before.

For a long while the two of us sat there on the bed. Then we put the wallet, the medal, the letters, the watch, the photos and the deed back into the metal box. I finally understood why it was so important for Mema—and me—to remember Uncle Bud on this day.

If he’d lived longer he might have built that house for Mema or married his high-school girlfriend. There might have been children and grandchildren to remember him by.

As it was, there was only that box, the name in the program and the reminiscing around the kitchen table.

“I guess he was a hero because he gave everything for what he believed,” I said carefully.

“Yes, child,” Mema replied, wiping a tear with the back of her hand. “Don’t ever forget that.”

I haven’t. Even today with Mema gone, my husband and I take our lawn chairs to the tree-shaded boulevard on Memorial Day and give our three daughters small American flags that I buy for a quarter at Ben Franklin.

I want them to remember that life isn’t just about getting what you want. Sometimes it involves giving up the things you love for what you love even more. That many men and women did the same for their country—that’s what I think when I see the parade pass by now.

And if I close my eyes and imagine, I can still see Mema in her regal purple hat, honoring her son, a true American hero.

As Nathan Hale, during the Revolutionary War said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

I was thinking yesterday about how my dad, Samuel Moore Collins, entered World War II. His Citadel class were all sent to Officers’ Candidate School after their junior year. He was in the Class of “44 called the Class That Never Was.

During the training that would have sent him into the war as a Second Lieutenant, he hurt his leg. The powers-that-be told him he could not serve. But Daddy would not accept that. After his hospital recovery, he enlisted in the Army as a Private and fought in the infantry until the end of the war. He was committed to fight for our country and wasn’t going to let a small injury keep him out of the war.

I agree with President Ronald Reagan’s words, “…And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.”

Lest we forget….

Charleston, South Carolina

Posted on

This year Charleston, SC is celebrating its 350th anniversary. Its first group of immigrants settled at Albemarle Point in 1670,

By 1672, a half-dozen settlers were given land grants near Oyster Point.

Charleston's 1776 defenses

Above is a copy of a 1777 map, “The Harbour of Charles Town in South Carolina from the Surveys of Sr. Jas. Wallace Captn. in his Majesty’s Navy & others with a view of the Town from the South Shore of the Ashley River.” It shows the peninsula fortified by palmetto logs.

Jim Booth painting of Charleston, SC

This scene and battery continues to capture artistic hands. Above is a Jim Booth painting during the Age of Tall Ships.

Charleston Harbor Painting - Charleston Battery Watercolor by Dan Sproul

Joseph Dalton, a member of the town’s governing council, wrote to Lord Ashley Cooper that the peninsula seemed “very healthy being free from any noisome vapors and the Sumer long refreshed with Coole breathing from the sea.”

Charleston Harbor Painting - Audubon Curlew by Granger

I’m rereading parts of Walter Edgar’s South Carolina and suddenly was stopped by a poem written in 1769 by sea captain Captain Martin.

“This is Charles-town, how do you like
it.” 1769.
Poem by the captain of a British warship, 1769.
Black and white all mix’d together,
Inconstant, strange, unhealthful weather
Burning heat and chilling cold
Dangerous both to young and old
Boisterous winds and heavy rains
Fevers and rheumatic pains
Agues plenty without doubt
Sores, boils, the prickling heat and gout
Musquitos on the skin make blotches
Centipedes and large cock-roaches
Frightful creatures in the waters
Porpoises, sharks and alligators
Houses built on barren land
No lamps or lights, but streets of sand
Pleasant walks, if you can find ’em
Scandalous tongues, if any mind ’em
The markets dear and little money
Large potatoes, sweet as honey
Water bad, past all drinking
Men and women without thinking
Every thing at a high price
But rum, hominy and rice
Many a widow not unwilling
Many a beau not worth a shilling
Many a bargain, if you strike it,
This is Charles-town, how do you like it.

My parents married at the Summerall Chapel on the Citadel campus, and so did my brother. I was born in Charleston, and John and I honeymooned there. This city is my go-to place, whether walking on the Battery or on the beaches. I love the historic churches, the handmade baskets, and watching the artists painting on the sidewalks. Reading a book that takes place in Charleston is a piece of heaven to me.

Author Pat Conroy wrote, “There is no city on Earth quite like Charleston. From the time I first came there in 1961, it’s held me in its enchanter’s power, the wordless articulation of its singularity, its withheld and magical beauty. Wandering through its streets can be dreamlike and otherworldly, its alleyways and shortcuts both fragrant and mysterious, yet as haunted as time turned in on itself.”

Happy birthday, Charleston!

 

The KentuckyDerby

Posted on

There is something different about the rolling hills of Kentucky, the Bluegrass state, and part of it is the horse farms.

How Many Horses Call the Bluegrass State Home? Now We Know | WKU ...

Daniel Boone recognized this state and said, “Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune.”

My dad obviously felt the same way about his home state. Each year, as we passed from Tennessee to Kentucky, on the way to my grandmother’s house, he would shout loudly in celebration. He taught us to celebrate it, too, as he drove through Cumberland Gap.

Driving through the Gap and following the footsteps of Daniel Boone made for some fun memories.

My first Derby party memory is of listening to it on a big radio at Mirror Lake Farm. That was at Lulu’s house. Critt and I stood with her around that console and tried to sing “My Old Kentucky Home.” When it was announced “the winner is,” we jumped up and down and shouted. My grandmother led us in celebrating.

This is Barbaro who won in 2006.

Barbaro, ridden by Edgar Prado, racing across the finish line to win the 132nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., May 2006.

I wish I could remember what year this was, but maybe that doesn’t matter. Mother and Daddy were at the Derby in Louisville, and I learned that my family really liked horses and the Derby.

 

2015 Belmont StakesAmerican Pharoah won the Derby and the Triple Crown in 2015.

The Kentucky Derby was started by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of explorer William Clark, of Lewis and Clark Expedition fame. Clark, who was inspired by horse races he’d seen in Europe, raised the money to build Churchill Downs on land donated by his uncles, Henry and John Churchill.

 Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr

In 1872, Clark traveled to Europe, where he visited leading horse-racing sites in England and France. He was inspired by England’s Epsom Downs racecourse, home since 1780 of the Derby Stakes, a 1.5-mile race for three-year-old horses organized by the 12th earl of Derby and his friends.

Famed for throwing extravagant parties, Clark envisioned his racetrack as a place where the city’s stylish residents would gather.

On May 17, 1875, some 10,000 people attended the first Kentucky Derby, which featured a field of 15 three-year-old thoroughbreds racing 1.5 miles. The winning horse, Aristides, finished with a time of 2:37.75 and was ridden by Oliver Lewis, an African-American jockey.

Aristides

In 1902, a new management team took over Churchill Downs that included Martin “Matt” Winn, a Louisville native and larger-than-life promoter who was instrumental in transforming the Derby from a local event into America’s most iconic horse race.

Winn started the publicity-generating practice of inviting celebrities to the Derby, and advocated broadcasting the race on the radio, something other racing executives thought would hurt attendance numbers.

In 1925, the Derby aired on network radio for the first time; and afterward, attendance continued to grow. 1949 marked the first year the Derby was locally televised. Three years later, in 1952, the Kentucky Derby made its debut on national TV. The rest is history, and my family never missed gathering on Derby Day.

In 1973, Secretariat became the fastest Derby winner in history with a time of 1:59.40, a record that still stands. The story of Big Red was told in the movie “Secretariat,” and it is an inspiring movie.

So, tomorrow we won’t host a Kentucky Derby party or watch it on TV. I will miss all the hoopla, as well as the stories about the horses, the owners, riders, and trainers, fascination with all the hats, and standing to sing “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Bob Lewis said, “To win the Kentucky Derby is the goal of every trainer, every hot-walker, every backside person. They may be rubbing on a horse, or hot-walking a horse, but they wonder if they could win the Kentucky Derby.”

Looking forward to next year!

 

America’s First Presidential Inauguration

On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as our first President of the United States.

 

It took Mr. Washington seven entire days to get to New York from his home in Mount Vernon, because his procession was met every step of the way with throngs of patriotic crowds, celebrating him.

Arriving on a barge, he was met at the Wall Street pier by the mayor of New York James Duane and the state’s governor George Clinton. From there, he was taken to his new home on Cherry Street.

https://www.boweryboyshistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/56026155.jpg

The white Colonial home, built in 1770, was surrounded by other sumptuous houses overlooking the East River. In fact, Washington’s neighbor, at 5 Cherry Street, was John Hancock. In 1880, the neighborhood was torn down to make room for the Brooklyn Bridge anchorage.

He wrote in his journal on the day he left his home, “About 10 o’clock I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity, and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York in company with Mr. Thompson, and Colonel Humphries, with the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations.”

 

 

 

I am fascinated by quotes and wonder why they are both thought and then said. It is obvious that our first President was reluctant to leave his private life again to take up public life. His humbleness in taking over the leadership of America is apparent, as is his knowledge that this was a calling on his life.

img002

Aware of the importance of this national ritual, Washington set many precedents during his first inauguration: the swearing-in took place outside; the oath was taken upon a Bible; an inaugural address was given (to the assembled Congress inside the Hall), and the contents of which set the pattern for all subsequent addresses. Celebrations accompanied the inauguration, including a church service, a parade, and fireworks.

President Washington saw his new position as one of service and responsibility.

General Morgan Lewis was Marshal of the day. His aid General Jacob Morton, Master at St. John’s Masonic Lodge, brought the Bible and red cushion from the lodge. The Masonic Bible used for the ceremony is a copy printed in 1767 in London and features a large illustration of King George II.

George Washington Inaugural Bible - Federal Hall National Memorial ...

With his right hand on the Bible, Washington repeated the 35 word oath. Adding, “So help me God”, and bent down to kiss the bible. Robert Livingston, who administered the oath, then shouted “It is done!” and “Long live George Washington, President of the United States!” to the crowd below. The raising of a flag signaled a discharge of artillery from the Battery, cheers and ringing of bells filled the city.

President George Washington delivers his inaugural address in the Senate Chamber of Old Federal Hall in New York on April 30, 1789.  (AP Photo)

Then he went into the Senate Chamber in Federal Hall. Some of the phrases he used in his inaugural address were similar to his other writings. He spoke of his “own deficiencies,” but also of his call to public duty when “summoned by my Country.” He also spoke of the shared responsibility of the president and Congress to preserve “the sacred fire of liberty” and a republican form of government.

In the crowd in front of Federal Hall was the Count de Moustier, the French minister. He noted the solemn trust between Washington and the citizens who stood packed below him with uplifted faces. As he reported to his government, never had a “sovereign reigned more completely in the hearts of his subjects than did Washington in those of his fellow citizens…he has the soul, look and figure of a hero united in him.”

Huzzah!

 

The Pony Express

My dad was a lover of western television programs and movies. Critt and I grew up sitting on the floor in front of his chair watching the shows with him. All three of us intently followed the black-and-white stories brought alive by the small screen in our den. Many included riders of the Pony Express, and we were all excited to see the rider changing ponies at full gallop. Jumping from one pony to another was a scary feat of balance, and we cheered the riders on.

 

The Pony Express was founded by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors. Plans for the Pony Express were spurred by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West. The Pony Express consisted of relays of men riding horses carrying saddlebags of mail across a 2000-mile trail.

The famed Pony Express riders each rode from 75-100 miles before handing the letters off to the next rider. These brave, young men raced against the cruel elements of nature and a rugged terrain to unite a country separated by distance.

A total of 190 way stations were located about 15 miles apart.

The service lasted less than two years, ending when the overland telegraph was completed.

The original 1860 Pony Express stables in St. Joseph,  Missouri now serve as the Pony Express Museum.

History galore

 

 

 

 

 

Pony Express rider

Illustration by Ed Vebell from 1950’s Los Angeles Times Sunday supplement from the Dave Thomson collection

 

 

 

Mark Twain, who encountered the riders while on an 1861 stagecoach trip to Nevada. wrote about them in “Roughing It.”

The pony rider was usually a little bit of a man, brimful of spirit and endurance. No matter what time of day or night his watch came on, and no matter whether it was winter or summer, raining, snowing, hailing or sleeting, or whether his ‘beat’ was a level straight road or a crazy trail over mountain crags and precipices, or whether it led through peaceful regions or regions that swarmed with hostile Indians, he must be always ready to leap into the saddle and be off like the wind! There was no idling time for a pony rider on duty. He rode fifty miles without stopping, by daylight, moonlight, starlight, or through the blackness of darkness — just as it happened. He rode a splendid horse that was born for a racer and fed and lodged like a gentleman: kept him at his utmost speed for 10 miles, and then, as he came crashing up to the station where stood two men holding fast a fresh, impatient steed, the transfer of rider and mailbag was made in the twinkling of an eye, and away flew the eagle pair and were out of sight before the spectator could get hardly the ghost of a look.

 

 

As the veteran rider Buffalo Bill said, “Excitement was plentiful during my two years’ service as a Pony Express rider.” (What irony!)

It was a memory of these times watching those westerns that sent me to check them out this morning and share it with you. During these stay-at-home days, I find that various memories appear more often.

My grandmother used to call this wool-gathering. I think I will continue this indulgence in idle fancies and in daydreaming.