This is strange – The Intercollegiate Studies Institute of Wilmington, Delaware, a conservative “think tank”, has named Coming of Age in Samoa, Margaret Mead’s 1928 treatise, as the “worst nonfiction book of the past 100 years”. Beatrice and Sidney Webb’s Soviet Communism: A New Civilization? (1935) and Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and 47 other books make their ‘list’. I hear the sound of axes being ground in the name of ideology. The CNN story is here. Think Tank my ass! You have a political agenda, you’re not a think tank. Not to be confused with Dave’s computer program ThinkTank.
If my maternal grandfather (Lovell Martin Boyle) was still alive, he would have turned 100 today. Imagine having a lunar eclipse to mark your 100th birthday. 🙂
He was born in Oklahoma and raised in northeast Kansas. He farmed for much of his life and watched a lot of changes I take for granted like indoor plumbing, electricity, cars, radio, and television happen. Together, we watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon on July 21, 1969.
He started farming with a team of Belgian draft horses, followed by steam engines, kerosene tractors, and gasoline tractors. He and Grandma raised their kids through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
Once, I remember him squinting at my mother after she had complained about not having much while she was growing up and then very firmly and quietly saying, “You had two dresses, they were always clean, and you never went to bed hungry.” I can still see in my mind’s eye how ashen her face got when he said that.
She told me later that he had once put cardboard inside his work boots to cover up the holes in the soles through the fall and winter, so she could have a brand new dress to start the fifth grade. She said it was the first new, not a hand me down, dress she remembers having.
I’ve never been that poor. I have to say, I hope I never have to go through times like that. I wish no one ever has to.
One wish: If I could sit one more time with he and grandma in the motel chairs under the Elm trees in their back yard late in the summer, and drink iced tea from a Mason jar while I listen to them talk and watch the fireflies dance in the south pasture.
It was cloudy here last night, I didn’t get to see his lunar eclipse. Rats!
[archivist’s note 8/13/2006: my son bears this man’s name]