Saturday, August 22, 2009

Interesting Passages II

"The migration of the Lincoln family from Kentucky defies all
contemporary expectation, not to say common sense.
Whether you approach it from Chicago, to the northeast,
or from St. Louis, to the Southwest, Central Illinois is
almost unimaginably flat, as through the whole country
had been smoothed out by a rolling pin. Along this meridian
the deciduous forests of the eastern United States thin out
and the grasslands of the west begin...The land in Lincoln's
time sprouted a sea of prairie grass, each shaft of which was
stiff as cardboard and sharp as a handsaw...Back then, in
other words, a prairie was even less attractive and more
forbidding than it is now. If a man could tolerate life here,
he could tolerate anything.

"Yet old Tom Lincoln not only tolerated it, he sought it out.
So did the numberless families who migrated in the same
direction. As my family and I retraced the Lincolns' steps
in reverse, from Illinois prairie to the river valley of Indiana
to the hummocks and dells of Kentucky, the land grew
lovelier. Tom hauled his family the other way, with the
landscape getting more and more unsightly, calculating that
the less inviting the land was, aesthetically, the more potential it held, financially. He must have scanned each new neighborhood and thought: verdant bluffs, meandering creeks dancing with sunligh, hidden hollows and twisting pathways swept by cool breezes---too pretty! We'll never make a buck here! Pack it up! And so on, till he finally found a place ugly enough to earn a living (Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America, by Andrew Ferguson; Atlantic Monthly Press: New York, 2007, pp. 208-209)."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to the books...

Yesterday I had my first class meeting for Intro to Public
History at University of West Georgia. Books to read, papers
to write, a project, a practice grant, a practice resume...

And that's not even counting the work I'll have to do for my
other class (History of Georgia) which starts next week!

School daze, indeed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Interesting Passages

As an avid reader, I enjoy clever turns-of-phrase and interesting,
well-written passages in books, articles and essays. From time to
time I'll share some of my favorites here. These include works of
fiction and non-fiction.

The Torrid Twenties were at hand, and many, many Americans, either ignoring Prohibition or actually taking up drink in defiant resentment of the Volstead Act's intrustion into their private lives, had beaten their swords into cocktail shakers and were dancing deeper and deeper into the ostrich hole of isolation (Delivered from Evil, by Robert Leckie; Harper Perennial Press, 1987).

Friday, August 7, 2009

"August is the cruellest month...mixing memory and desire..."

I remember stumbling across this article several years ago,
and loving it. Unfortunately, I never followed up on my mental
note to bookmark it for future reference. Thankfully, Slate decided
to re-run it, for which I am most grateful. Enjoy...and pray for
the coming of September! ; )

(Personally, I think February and August are tied for the title
of most useless month of the year. But anyway...)

* Nicole - No offense intended, by the way. But think of the
alternatives mentioned: your birthday could be in the wonderful
month of July instead! Isn't that something to celebrate?