Today marks the one-week anniversary of my near fatal accident over in Englewood (see "Healthy Ways of Dying," 9.7.13). This entire week I have been working on my mend.
Since it is REALLY tuff trying to sleep with a sword plunged into your ribs, rest has pretty much been out of the question this week. And due to the crushed shoulder blade and spine, walking, crawling, even creeping, has made motion almost verboten. I tried to sneeze the other day and the pain was so sudden and savage that it stopped me right in the middle of the "A-CHOO"—a first. Still, I suppose I am recovering. Michelle brightened my morning when she laid an early birthday gift on me this week, viz., a new blue bike (we’ll see how quickly I can turn this shiny work of art into mangled metal). And, I reckon I will saddle up shortly and take my ‘anniversary’ ride today over the same Road of Doom as last week. Pressing my luck? Ha, I’m not superstitious . . . much. But hmmmm? We hear much about bad luck on Friday the 13th but I am willing to bet some really rotten luck happens on Saturday the 14th when folks have let down their guard. Not me, not today!
The Nitty Gritty of History--When I lived in Greece I had two fetching friends who were Germans. Ingo was an architect; Krystal was his green-eyed squeeze. While Ingo was studying in Berlin, he happened to be on hand the day John F. Kennedy delivered his stirring rebuke of Iron Curtain communism (above).
Everyone has seen--and seen many times--the old clips of our youthful American president as he thundered his immortal encouragement to the besieged Berliners.
"ICH BIN EIN BERLINER!" announced JFK to the immense outdoor throng. The shouts and applause which followed were deafening.
What the old film does not show, said Ingo, is the flippin' fruitcake in shorts, trench coat and tennis shoes running through the crowd, yelling in mock agreement, "Ja, ja". . . Und wir sind alle amerikanischen Präsidenten!" ("Yes, yes . . . and we are all American presidents!")
Point is: We may have a solid understanding of a certain historical event, but it is the chore of the historian to make it come to life. Details are the stuff that good history is made of; details like the above make events real; details help us to see from differing angles; details pump blood back into the dead. In three words, details make the study of history vastly more interesting.
Consider the following from my book, Scalp Dance:
As we got farther into the Indian country, I found that the enthusiasm for the wilds of the West I had gained from Beadle's dime novels gradually left me. The zeal to be at the front to help my comrades subdue the savage Indians . . . also was greatly reduced. My courage had largely oozed out while I listened to the blood-curdling tales the old-timers recited. But I was not alone in this feeling. When we got into the country where Indian attacks were likely to happen any moment, I found that every other person in the outfit, including our seasoned scouts, was exercising all the wit and caution possible to avoid contact with the noble red man. Instead of looking for trouble and a chance to punish the ravaging Indians, the whole command was trying to get through without a fight. ---------Private Alson Ostrander
Clearly, not everyone--if anyone--back then was the hard-charging, hyper-patriotic John Wayne movie stereotype. While many of us know something of the American Frontier, how much more interesting is the study of those times if one knows the hearts and souls of those involved. Details like the above help us to know and understand them better.