I love animals. Always have. I do eat them, though. That’s one reason I love them. First pet I recall having were a few snails. My Grandfather came strolling down the street with a burlap bag full of snails flung over his back … for eating purposes, actually. He gave me a handful and I kept them as pets. That would put me at about 3 years old. I also, years later, had praying mantises. Brought a cocoon in the house that I had found in the backyard, put it in a jar with some twigs & leaves, and punched holes in the lid. They hatched. Then there were tiny little praying mantises all over the house. My parents loved me, for some reason. Anyway, I have been thinking of all the animals I have had in my life — snails, praying mantises [is that the correct plural?], lady bugs, ant farms and fire flies. Various aquariums & terrariums full of tropical fish, goldfish, frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, lizards, snakes, turtles. I had parakeets and, I think, a canary. Ducks & chickens. Many dogs & cats. Mice and hamsters. Pigs, rabbits, goats, cows, and a pony. I hope I didn’t leave any out. I always wanted a monkey when I was a kid; never got one. All those animals, and still, it gives me a thrill every time I see a wild animal in the forest. God’s creatures. But, I do eat them. 🙂
It measures 12 feet long … the shelf, that is. Every book on that shelf – and they are stacked at the ends, so maybe 14 feet of books – are about American Indian history. And, that’s not counting my books about the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which constitute another 4′ alone. I have tons of books on all sorts of phases of American history, from the pre-exploration days through about 1890 [Wounded Knee] … books on the colonies, westward expansion, books on the Civil War, the Alamo, books on the Founding Fathers. And, of course, books on the American Revolution. I should say “used to have”. I still have many, but quite a few … maybe more than half are now MIA due to my somewhat nomadic life the past 11 years … anyway … boy, I’m long-winded. All of that to say, I was really looking forward to The History Channel’s 3-part mini-series, Sons of Liberty!
Well, so Sam Adams was a bit of a pretty boy, Joseph Warren more like “Davy” Crockett … and events happened in ways they really didn’t … and so what if the Sons of Liberty often communicated with a light, almost comedic, wink and a nod glance … this show was produced, most definitely, with the young pop-culture audience in mind. There is so much that is historically inaccurate in this mini-series – and I’m not one to fret over a misplaced uniform button – that even the History Channel asks the viewer to check their web-site to learn what really happened. It was, in some ways, a fantasy. Historical fiction for sure.
All is not lost … visually it was pleasing, Hans Zimmer did his usual outstanding job on the musical score, John Hancock, Ben Franklin, relatively acceptable impersonations. But in the end, it was the essence … the essence of the series was true to what Sam Adams was in real life … a partisan … a much needed partisan to incite a conflicted & apathetic public. Damn the facts!
I recall, as a youth, having my imagination stirred, my passions aroused, by some of the most ahistorical “historical” films ever made … stuff like Errol Flynn in “They Died With Their Boots On” and John Wayne in “The Alamo.” So, there is hope that sitting out there watching this show were some innocent, eager young kids – and maybe some adults, as well – just waiting for their history to be served up in a palpable manner. It was, after all, fun to watch … if not frustrating for me at times … VERY frustrating at others!! 🙂
And that is how I learned to love the history of my Country. Some long ago events occurred and were recreated on film. I watched. Wanted more & read & read & read. I went to visit as many of the actual sites where real life events took place as I could. Then, I read some more. That is how I came to have a 14 foot long row of books on just one aspect of that history. And they are just a fraction of the books I have owned & read.
So, view and enjoy. Learn to love your Country by the great moments in her History. You’ll be a better American for it.
For a better understanding of the depicted events, be sure to visit:
Boston National Historical Park – http://www.nps.gov/bost/index.htm
Minute Man National Historical Park – http://www.nps.gov/mima/index.htm
Independence National Historical Park – http://www.nps.gov/inde/index.htm
I was reminded of this in an unrelated conversation with someone the other day. 1972 — Erminio [Butch] and I hitch-hiked cross country [Canada, actually] and then down the west coast. We had our blue, aluminum-framed backpacks and a couple of hundred dollars and off we went. It was another time. Took the bus from Merrick Rd to Jamaica; subway to the City; Greyhound to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Then, it was all thumbs. Lots of adventures and stories to tell, but, we are talking about Gastown.
Never had heard of it, but we pulled into Vancouver, BC after several weeks of traveling, and everyone we met – actually, even before we got to Vancouver – told us we had to go to Gastown. So, we did. Gastown was a section of the city that was, more or less, comparable to the Village in NYC, or San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. Gastown/Hippietown — same thing.. We meandered around until there we were – right smack dab in the middle of Gastown! So, we plopped down, leaning against a brick building, and were looking over a map to see where the heck we were and why, and how we were going to sleep that night. I happened to look up, and noticed a young woman in a ticket booth for a wax museum motioning at me to come over. I looked around to see if she was actually beckoning someone else, but she wasn’t. She was waving Butch & I over. Dumbfounded, we jumped up and moseyed over to the ticket booth. Dang! She was good looking! We struck up a conversation and she handed us two free tickets to the museum. “Thanks!” And, in we went, backpacks and all. About a half-hour later, there in the museum darkness, the young lady had tracked us down. “You guys need a place to stay? My girlfriends [one of whom also worked there and was standing with her in the display-lighted hallway] and I just rented a place and you could stay there. Only problem is we don’t have much furniture yet.” [More like “none”!] “Uh, let us mull this over” – two guys with no where to stay; three girls offering us a place to stay. “We’ll get back to you!” No, I don’t think we said that. After the drool, I’m pretty sure there was an emphatic, “Far Out!” Well, she was getting off from work at midnight. Just so happened, there was a bar across the street, so after making arrangements, Butch & I went over to the bar and had a few beers. Suddenly, and I still don’t know what caused this, a knock down, drag out brawl erupted — I mean it was serious – chairs flying; glasses breaking; fists flying – we hightailed it on out of there … unscathed … somehow … Back across the street we went and waited until the clock struck 12. We kept busy watching the cop cars arriving. Then, 2 pretty women came out, a car pulled up with another pretty woman driving, and off we went. Before long, we were in a practically bare apartment … just little ole Doof [that’s what we called Butch who was really Erminio] and me. Oh, and three young women. It was a weird stay – and they invited us to stay as long as we wished. I will not go into all the gory details … just will mention that after I rolled out my sleeping bag, I later found a package of birth control pills laying on it. Hint? I don’t know. I was too dumb in those days.
We spent 5 days laying out on the beach – while the girls were working – and what a beach it was. Vancouver is a beautiful city … and unique. Laying on a pristine beach, you look up and are pretty much surrounded by mountains. Bliss. Then, the nights were spent in an apartment. Did I mention the 2 guys and three girls? You might think it was even MORE bliss … Close, but no cigar. And, after 5 days, we just HAD to get the heck out of there. Bliss has its perks, but the numbers were just not in our favor and we vamoosed and hit the road one morning after they left for work. On the road again! Now THAT’S bliss.
1972 — Hitchhiking from California with my then girlfriend, Carla, trying to get back to NY. We were at a gas station in the Western part of Illinois – sitting at a picnic table heating up some canned soup on a little Sterno stove. A car pulled in to get gas – a caddy I think – and it had New York Plates on it. I approached the older gentleman and asked him if we could hitch a ride with him. His name was Boris and he was a Russian national. Through our conversations over the next couple of days, he became interested in my widowed Mom and would eventually date her one night that summer — another story, for sure. He said he was going as far as Chicago where he had a hotel room reserved and would let us off there. By the time we arrived, we had all hit it off pretty well and he offered us a ride the rest of the way if we’d meet him back there in the morning. For the night, at least, we were on our own. So, we headed over to a paper stand and found an underground paper, scanning the ads for crash pads. Found one – called and they said “sure” and gave us directions. The place was on the other side of town and we had to take a train to get there. It was an older building in the City. It was dimly lit inside and the sparse furniture were older, wooden pieces. It seems there were several people living there. A Hippie Pad. So, I’m sitting at a table, drinking and smoking, and I noticed an interesting piece on the table … a multi-colored ball, about the size of a grapefruit. I picked it up and looked it over. “Wax”? “Oh no … it’s a ….”! Yep! What the title says. And, it really was! Delightful.
First of all, let me fill you in on a shocker. I was a marijuana user back in the 70s. I gave it up in 1977 – and was pretty much a good boy, in that regard, ever since.. Ok … got that out of the way. Now for a brief tale — One of my best buds at the time, Butch, & I found ourselves in Berkeley, California. The name of the hotel we booked escapes me now, but it was in the middle of downtown. We got stoned out of our minds one afternoon, got the munchies, and decided to walk to the IHOP about a mile or 2 away. We walked all the way there, but were refused entry because, well, because we were barefoot. So, we walked the mile or 2 all the way back to the hotel and put on some footwear. Then, we walked the mile or 2 all the way back to IHOP where we promptly pigged out on pancakes. We had worked up quite an appetite. Still hungry. Went to a nearby Chinese Restaurant and ordered dinner. Practically licked the plates bare. Still hungry. So, we moseyed on down the street and discovered a little burger joint-type place. Ate there. Full meal. That’s – if you are counting – THREE full meals in about an hour or two. Moral: always wear your shoes.
Driving along the Skyline Drive on the crest of the Blue Ridge in Virginia, a weird sound emanates from somewhere up under the front end of the 1964 Ford Falcon. No one in the vehicle was too concerned, and the 3 young lads spent the night in that car, parked at an overlook, with the wind [more than] gently rocking them to sleep. As the sun rose, the vehicle was back on the road, but the noise began anew. Then … no brakes. Uh-oh. The Falcon glided around curves, down hills, desperately seeking an escape. Finally, it came … Route 211. Veering off the Parkway, the vehicle came under control as the slopes lessened and the curves became more gentle. It finally came to a stop as it was led into the grassy shoulder. The driver side front end had fallen into a ditch. Oh, wait. No, the front wheel had fallen off! Towed to Warrenton, VA. It looked like a couple of days were in store waiting for a part. What to do? Well, the 3 friends grabbed their gear from the back and out came the thumbs. Hitched a ride into DC. Don’t remember much of what we did in our Nation’s Capitol that day, except for a visit to a Scientology place where we wandered around a bit, and a man with a gun outside that had us scampering out of there pretty quickly. We hitched a ride out of the City – to the outskirts – and found a wooded area on the Potomac River, across from the Pentagon. One of the more unique places I ever remember putting out my sleeping bag. Anyway … middle of the night … I awake to relieve myself. Butch had a huge fire raging and was frantically feeding it. Bean was up in a tree. I could see a dark mass not far off – a bear. I went and peed, as originally intended … and, honestly? I don’t remember another thing. I’m pretty sure we weren’t eaten alive. True story, though … every word!