Kathy writes: "I've given a lot of thought to this phenomena--you know, the joy of reconnecting with childhood friends and, indeed, with the past. I wonder whether we are trying to recapture our youth (too late now!) or whether it is the reassurance that our memories truly are as treasured and poignant as we believe them to be. Maybe it's a bit of both, but I think the later prevails. It's reassuring to me to know that you are out there in the world--safe, happy, healthy."
I am thinking about time. And memories. And old friends. Childhood. Searching Time and Memory on google turns up over 2,100,000 references. Memory turns up 7,700,000--most devoted to computer memory! A quote from Tom Waits on blather.com: "Time is just memory mixed up with desire." And this from William James: "memory proper is the knowledge of a former state of mind after it has already once dropped from consciousness; or rather it is the knowledge of an event, or fact, of which meantime we have not been thinking, with the additional consciousness that we have thought or experienced before."
In the Dictionary of Philosophy of Mind: "Memory can be broadly characteized in terms of a repository of experience from which we can retrieve information and to which we can deposit information.
"In the psycholoigal literature the most common distinction between types of memory is that between long term memory and short termmemory. However, it now sems over-simplified to think of memory as divisible into two precisely characterizable mental entities. As well, psychologists have posited an implicit/explicit memory distinction on the basis of evidence that such memories are experimentally separable. Brain imaging studies have suggested that such memories are processed in different areas of the brain. Finally, episodic and semantic memories are often distinguished. Episodic memories are those which give a subject the sense of remembering the actual situation, or event (e.g. Do you remember learning who the first president was? i.e. the event). Semantic memories are those in which the subject retrieves only general knowledge information (e.g Who is the first president?)
"The dominant metaphor for memory retrieval is association. Words, concepts and even feelings are seen as part of a large web, or network, with adjacent areas being more semantically related."
More on memory during next few days.
Do you remember The Wonder Years? I had lunch today with my Winnie, Kathy. Never a "girlfriend." But always a true friend. Willowy. Bright blue eyes. We played all through elementary school, riding bikes up and down Tilden Avenue, over to and through Phelps Park, playing on the swings, sharing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, walking to Cedar Lane to buy ice cream and comic books. Today was the first time I saw her in 30 years and although we've aged and put on a few pounds, we reconnected as if we had seen each other yesterday.
I am thinking of an old friend. I am praying for an old friend. My best friend. We were neighbors. Walking to Lowell School together. Wrestling or football on the front lawn. Kickball on the street. Hide and seek. Shoveling snow off the sidewalks and driveways to make a dollar or two (it couldn't have been much more!) Starting a fire under the pine tree next to the garage (god, where they all so mad with us for that prank). Sneaking into a neighbor's house, tickling the sleeping dad on the nose with a feather and then letting their birds out of the cage. Summers--and girls--in Surf City. The fridge filled with those dark green coke bottlesof coke. Thanksgivngs and New Year's Day spent together eating and watching football all day on TV.Our parents were best friends. I learn he has heart disease. Who could have predicted this?
I am sad now. The first person I want to know about as I page through my junior high school yearbook is a old friend, Joni Srulowitz. And Sharon writes back to say she passed away 10 years ago. Margie tells me she died of a brain tumor in 1989 leaving behind two children. Joni signed my yearbook: "It's hard to begin, but I guess I should start off by saying that I'll never forget this year. Bruce, as you know, it has been a great year and a big part of it for me has been knowing you. I want you to know that I really cherish our friendship and I hope this doesn't sound too corny but I really love you for everything." And then my family moved away. And we lost touch. And we made new friends. Bye, Joanie. I'll always remember you.
My sister, Darlene, told me about classmates.com., a website devoted to reconnecting high school graduates with their old classmates. I have a hard time remembering Darlene in high school. In fact, all I can seem to recall today is her wedding and how I had to miss the Northern New Jersey Science Fair at which I had an exhibit, "The Affects of Air Polution on Plants" (they were killed!). I remember my girlfriend at the time, Kris Krail, "manned" the booth for me. The last time I saw her was one day at Darlington Country Club where I was a lifeguard during the summers when I was in college. She swam out to the raft where I was guarding but I was too shy to say hello.
And now I am plunged into a different body of water, a warm and dark lake of memory, and as I dive down deeper to search to see what is there, much is murky, and colder, yet thrilling. Kathy, Sharon, Rita, Frank, Chris, Margie, Joanne emerge from this past to say hello, yes, we remember you, how are you, are you coming to our 30th reunion.
I wish the woman at SONY would see me. She said to call her whenever I am in New York City. Well, I am in New York City, calling her, sitting in the SONY public lobby, postponing my trip to the MET to see the Jean-Simeon Chardin show (From the Times: He makes brief instants seem to stretch toward infinity, assuming sudden gravity...because it is vivid, mysteriously takes a place in the imagination out of proportion to its significance, like a smell or some notes of music or a breeze that triggers the recollection of a childhood game or trip or a lost relative...call it understatement. Chardin was the best still life painter ever because he made the most of the least...these are pictures of an extraordinary hushed reverence for the dignity of modest things) until after lunch, but I keep getting her voice mail. If she saw me today I'd read her this poem from The New Yorker. Like a scene from a Luis Bunuel movie, I would not talk about my job, printing, I would simply begin:
galloping in the pitch
of the waves, in the pearly
fields of the sea,
they leap toward us,
they rise, sparkling, and vanish, and rise sparkling,
they breathe little clouds of mist, they lift perpetual smiles,
they slap their tails on the waves, grandmothers and grandfathers
enjoying the old jokes,
they circle around us,
they swim with us--
a hundred white-sided dolphins
on a summer day,
each one, as God himself
could not appear more acceptable
a hundred times,
in a body blue and black threading through
the sea foam,
and lifting himself up from the opened
tents of the waves on his fishtail,
with the moon of his eye
into my heart,
and find there
pure, sudden, steep, sharp, painful
I don't know--either
of the pale, bearable hand
on my neck,
from the boat's plain plank seat
into the world's
It is my sixty-third summer on earth
and, for a moment, I have almost vanished
into the body of the dolphin,
into the moon-eye of God,
into the white fan that lies at the bottom of the sea
that ever was, or will be,
supple, wild, rising on flank or fishtail--
singing or whistling or breathing damply through the blowhole
at top of head. Then, in our little boat, the dolphins suddenly gone,
we sailed on through the brisk cheerful day.
I try calling one more time. It is noon. I don't leave a message. I am not a pest. I walk through Niketown and wish one or both of my kids were with me. I call Danielle. I decide not to see the Chardin show today and wait till I can get to it first thing in the morning. Instead I visit the Nohra Haime Gallery on 57th Street to see "Visbile--Invisible, Four Visions," which includes work of Julie Hedrick and Lika Mutal. Julie is a freind of an old friend of mine, Anezka Sebek. It was Anezka who first introduced me to her work; poetic and lush colored canvasses range from pearly gray and white colors to Blake-like sienna, they have a quiet, beautiful, powerful meditative quality. Then lunch at The Four Seasons, on 52nd Street, the bar, still one of the best, and for the most part, undiscovered, lunch bargains in town. Thank You James.
Today, when I arrived in New York City, where it was hot and humid, I was thinking about skiing with my son at Sunday River in Maine. I was thinking about skiing because in order to go away next February again I need to make enough money between now and then to afford the trip. My business has been impacted by becomming part of the largest printing company in the world. When we were small and employee-owned all doors were opened. Now, so many of my prospects have fallen off my list as they were already being serviced by the company that bought us. But I am not discouraged and today I feel invigorated. I have a presentation to make tomorrow morning to 8 people at an ad agency and I have some ideads on how to develop new business in New Enlgand as opposed to concentrating on the publishing industry in New York City.
I am staying at The Empire hotel which is across the street from Lincoln Center. I had hoped to see "Writing to Vermeer" tonight but it is not being performed this evening. The Bolshoi Ballet is sold out. And I don't think I really want to go to the Meredith Monk show. Instead, I saw/heard The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, featuring Peter Serkin, perform Messiaen's "From the Canyons to the stars" (Des Canyons aux etoiles), composed between 1971 and 1974 on a commission from Miss Alice Tully in observance of the American Bicentenial. Like Gustav Mahler a century before, Olivier Messiaen, "one of the towering figures of modern French music," is a visionary composer who created deeply philosophical music that illuminated man's place in the cosmos. Three themes dominate Messiaen's compositional universe: human love, nature, and the divine. For Messiaen "nature has retained a purity, an exuberance, a freshness...You'll never find a mistake in lighting or coloration in nature." This love of the environment manifested itself in his highly original use of birdsong, which the professional ornithologist composer collected in countless treks across the countryside and transcribed for nearly all the instruments in the orchestra. Birdsong is used in virtually every movement of "Canyons to the stars." This 12-movement work, inspired by the bright red rocks of Bryce and the majesties of Utah's Zion park, is perhaps, one of the finest hymns dedicated to nature. What makes Messiaen's vision so unique, colorful, and compelling (I am reminded of William Blake) is that nature, man, and the divine do not inhabit separate spheres in his musical universe, but, rather, blend together in a glorious and kaleidoscopic harmony.
Sonority and structure are indivisible in Messiaen's compositions. Short blocks of music, built in "From the Canyon to the stars"...entirely from the melodies and implicit harmonies of birdsong, are forged from precise, sharply contrasted sounds of stained-glass brilliance, from single strands of melody (the Interstellar Call certainly could be the longest passage for unaccompanied horn ever included in a concert work) to huge, dazzling, monolithic chord streams of gleaming instrumental alloys. These blocks are then assembled--juxtaposed, recalled, intercut, but seldom varied--in a kind of musical mosaic that Messiaen spoke of in terms of "strophe" and "anti-strophe" (an ancient Greek poetic form of alternating long and short verses). With his musical religiosity and his embrace of the world, his meticulous craftmanship and his emotional sincerity, his modernity and his timelessness, Messiaen created, in the words of his student Karheinz Stockhausen, "fantastic music to the stars." This from the Lincoln Center Festival 2000 Stagebill.
I might add as good as this was it's not really all that fun by yourself. I miss Betsy. I remember when Betsy and I first met, some 26 years ago, when she was a recent high school graduate and I was mowing the lawn at the cemetary for a job (and writng poems), we'd drive from Ramsey to Lincoln Center to see the ballet. And here I am all these years later--alone. When I depart Avery Fisher Hall and see all the people milling about outside I feel a bit lonely. So rather than go back to my hotel room I stopped at the Iridium to hear Javon Jackson (Dr Lonnie Smith on hammond organ). It was a great show. But the wierd thing was, and I do mean weird or dream-like, is that there were only 15 people in the audience, and two of those left halfway through the show. Go figure.
Watching the Olympic track and field trials yesterday I was inspired by this story. Marla Runyon, who placed third in the women's 1,500 meters behind favorites Regina Jacobs and Suzy Hamilton, became the first legally blind American athlete ever to qualify for the Winter or Summer games. Runyan has Stargardt's disease, a degeneration of the retina that began to affect her in childhood and has essentially left her with a hole at the center of her vision. She can see the track with her peripheral vision, but her competitors are often no more than smudges of color and fuzzy hair styles. She has 20-300 vision in one, and 20-400 in the otehr. She must use magnifying glasses to read. To watch videotapes of her races, she must be only inches from the television.
In early June, her vision impairment led to an injury while training in Eugene, Oregon. Runyan jumped out of the way to avoid a youngster on a bike on a running trail, injuring her ilio-tibial band of tissue that runs from the hip to the knees. She could not run on a track or trail for five weeks, running in a pool instead, and it was not until last Saturday that she began to train again on dry land. Exhasuted, she began dry-heaving after Friday's preliminary round and limped off the track in a way that seemed to suggest she had no chance of making the Olympic team.
However, she is one of the country's most versatile and resourceful athletes, having competed in the heptathon at the 1996 Olympic trials. After the Atlanta games, she decided to concentrate on running, finishing 10th in the 1,500 meters at the 1999 world championships in Seville, Spain.
"It's awesome," Runyan said of making the Olympic team. "I never really think about my vision as much as the media does. And I don't think my competitors do, either. I think my vision is just a circumstance that happened. I never looked at it as a barrier. I never said I wanted to be the first legally blind Olympian. I just wanted to be on an Olympic team, me, Marla."
The Native Americans who lived in what now are Northern and Eastern parts of the United States kept track of the seasons by distinctive names given to each recurring full moon, these names being applied to the entire month in which it occurred. There were some variations in the names, but in general the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. Traditionally, tonight's full moon would have been called the buck moon since at this time of year the antlers of buck deer are pushing out from their foreheads. It was also called the thunder moon, with thunderstorms being most frequent. Earlier today, the Moon tracked almost directly through the center of the Earth's shadow resulting in the longest total lunar eclipse, 107 minutes, until the year 2123. Hawaii was in a perfect position to see it, and the opening stages were even visible for some Western states. Unfortunately, for Easterners, the Moon had already set before there was a chance to partake in this drama.
I hesitated buying the new Eminem CD for Daryl to give to Kyle at his birthday party on Sunday. His parents said it was okay, though, as long as it was the "edited" version. My daughter said to me, "Dad, have you listened to the lyrics!?" I hadn't--closely. But days later Danielle was signing along to Eminem and said "I know all the words." While I was at Media Play I finally found a CD I have been looking to buy for years; I know, I could have gone to Amazon, but I wanted to feel the excitement of unearthing it at a store. Every time I checked at Virgin in NYC it wasn't there. And there it was. Here in Enfield, CT. One copy. Fairport Convention's "Leige & Leaf." I've been dying to hear once again "Tam Lin" for years. There is, I discovered today when I searched the song on google, an entire website devoted to discussing "Tam Lin." (www.tam-lin.org).
Here are the first few verses as performed by Sandy Denny:
I forbid you maidens all that wear gold in your hair
To travel to Carterhaugh for young Tam Lin is there
None that go to Carterhaugh but they leave him a pledge
Either their mantles of green or else their maidenhood
Janet tied her kirtle a bit above her knee
And she's gone to Carterhaugh as fast as go can she
She'd not pulled a double rose, a rose but only two
When up then came young Tam Lin says "Lady, pull no more"
Tam Lin is an old Scottish ballad, first mentioned in 1549, about a young man who is captive of the faeries, and the young woman who rescues him. The main character, depending on your viewpoint, is either the young woman, who becomes pregnant by her enchanted lover and must rescue him before the faeries can sacrifice him, or the young man who had been living with the faeries and wishes to escape to live with his human love.
A summary of the ballad: The woods of Carterhaugh are guarded by Tam Lin, a man who demands payment of all maidens who pass through, in the form of a belonging or their virginity. A maiden named Janet travels to Carterhaugh and picks a rose, causing Tam Lin to appear. He questions her presence, to which she replies that Carterhaugh is rightfully hers. She then travels to her father's house where she exhibits the early signs of pregnancy, much to the concern of the household. She states that her lover is elven, and then returns to Carterhaugh, once again encountering Tam Lin. He reveals he is not elven, but a mortal captured by the queen of faeries, and that he may be sacrificed to hell as part of the faerie tithe. He then details how she can save him if she will undergo a trial on Halloween night. She must pull him from his horse as the faeries process through the woods, and hold onto to him as he is transformed into various beasts, then plunge him into a well when he turns in to fire. When he ragains his own naked shape she must cover him with her green mantle and he will be free. She does all of this much to the anger of the watching Queen of Faeries.
The ballad is chock-full of symbolism (most of the items mentioned in the ballad would have made sense in a faery telling society) and a full interpretation can be found at tam-lin.org
Betsy and I drove to Ithaca College today to pick up Danielle. She was enrolled in a special program for graduating high school sophomores. When we had dropped her off two weeks ago she was, like the other young women and men, nervous about being away from home; this her first time away from home except for sleepovers! But today she was happy. And sad to be leaving her new-found friends. Her roommate was from Hawaii so she's planning to visit her next February/April vacation. I think this was a good and positive experience for her; to get away from Northampton, from her parents, her friends. I think it was a growing, formative experience.
Daryl turned 12 today. The sun was orange behind a steel gray sky for days and days in July twelve years ago. It was hot and humid and all our neighbors complained about the summer heat. My friend (my only friend now from Ramsey High School), Bob Lewis, and his ex-wife, Shari, and their daughter, Halley, were here from California waiting in our driveway when we came home with Daryl from the hospital. I remember watching Bergman's "The Magic Flute" with them that first night and later out our picture windows a thunder and lightening storm. But one of the birthdays I remember most was Daryl's "Bertha Day." I guess that was three or four, maybe five, years ago. All of us who live at 8 Birch Lane said throughout the day, "it's Daryl's Bertha Day." What with Hurricane Bertha barreling up the east coast and heaving heaves of rain upon us, so much so a crack openned in the basement foundation and through it water started to seap, then gurgle, the gush out and on to the basement floor (thank God this was pre-pool table days); this one hour before 8 boys and 2 girls descended upon the house for Daryl's Bertha Day Party. It was a "backwards" theme and consequently one of our neighbors, Geri, read the invitation wrong thinking it was from 4-6 when actually it was from 2 to 4; Michael, Daryl's best friend, fortunately arrived only 20 minutes late. Daryl was up early that morning, of course, counting down the hours, and later in the day, the minutes (Danielle occasionally counting with him) to his Backwards Bertha Day Party. I had wished I could stop time then; so happy, so innocent, so filled with life, love--a love of life.After the discovery of the new stream in our basement I grabbed a hammer, some nails, a tarp, and ran outside into the wind and pouring rain and tried to construct a tarp lean-to, one side nailed to the house below the living room picture windows (completely destroying our flower garden) and the other side angled down and over the garden. The other memory; cake, lots of cake stepped on and squished into and between the pine flooring in the dining room and kitchen and all about the front screened-in porch.
There are good customers. There are bad customers. And one of the good things about sales is that to a large extent you can pick and choose your customers. The president of my company taught me this. Find people you like to work with and forget about those you don't. His motto for our company is: "Be Fair, Do What's Right, and Have Fun." Today I drove to Boston to have lunch with "good customers." The Circulation Director and one of his assistants from The Christian Science Monitor. He said I looked like I lost weight (maybe a few pounds) and I said I started running a month ago on our treadmill and lifting weights at Smith College--I can now finally fit into those pants I couldn't a few short months ago! Over lunch (broiled trout for me with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans) we talked about dot.com companies, my family, the real estate market, his wife's photo expedition in Maine, Bosnia, and work projects.
A few Sunday afternoons ago I was in the Lilly Library in Florence, Massachuetts with my son (the Forbes Library in Northampton is closed on Sundays which I find unfortunate for a town like ours'-- if you haven't read Tracy Kidder's new book, "Hometown," you should) looking for a book on the Aztecs for him and "Jim, The Boy," for me, which I found and read and throughly enjoyed--for many reasons; one being Daryl, like Jim, turns twelve on Thursday. But another book caught my eye, "The Legacy of Luna," by Julia Butterfly Hill.
Untill I saw her on The Today Show sometime during the winter, I didn't know much about her except that she had lived in a tree; in protest(I think the news media did a fairly poor job previous to her coming down the tree, Luna, reporting on exactly what she was doing--a truly historic civil action). I was impressed, moved, by her intelligence, self-awareness/assureness, loving spirit, and peace of mind.
She, at age 23, I believe, had climbed 180 feet up into a thousand-year-old redwood high on a mountain in Humboldt County, California on December 10, 1997, for what she thought would be a two- to three-week long "tree-sit." On December 18,1999, her feet touched the ground for the first time in two years.
The tree-sit was intended to stop Pacific Lumber, a division of the Maxxam corporation, from clear-cutting the ancient redwood and the trees around it. The area next to Luna had already been stripped and, because, as many believed, nothing was left to hold the soil to the mountain, a huge part of the hill had slid into the town of Stafford, wiping out many homes.
Over the course of the two years high up the thin, sparse redwood on a 6 X 8 platform, she endured El Nino storms (wind, rain, snow), helicopter harassment, a ten-day seige by company security guards, and loneliness. What I didn't "see" in the book, but I did on the PBS special about her, was how utterly barren, unadorned this tree was, unlike the big, full trees we have here in New England; she was living for all intensive purposes at the top of a pole on top of a mountain!
She writes: "One thing I am constantly reminded of is that despite all the plotting and strategizing, things never work out quite the way anybody intended. But what happens in the future, my stay in the tree did answer my prayer that day on the Lost Coast. Luna changed me. Living in the tree, I remembered how to listen, to hear the world and Creation speak to me. I remembered how to feel the connection and conscious oneness that's buried deep inside each of us.
"So I will continue to stand for what I believe in, and I will continue to refuse to back down and go away.....It is our responsibility to stand up for the life we've recklessly squandered, no matter what the consequences. So I'll continue to hold the light strong even in the midst of total darkness. I will continue to believe that love is the answer, love is the power, love is the truth.
"Luna is only one tree. We will save her, but we will lose others. The more we stand up and demand change, though, the more things will improve......I have to take it one struggle at a time. And just as I've done with Luna, when that struggle comes my way, I've got to fight for all I'm worth.
"Yes, one person can make a difference. Each one of us does."
From today's New York Times, Janet Maslin writes: "...Ms. Rolwing, a kindred spirit to both Lewis Carroll and the pre-Jar Jar Binks George Lucas, turns out to be a fantasist who lives inside a thrillingly fertile imagination, mines it ingeniously and plays entirely by her own rules. Talk about supernatural tricks: she has turned this odds-defying new book into everything it promised to be. As the midpoint in a projected seven-book series, "Goblet of Fire" is exactly the big, clever, vibrant, tremendously assured installation that gives shape and direction to the whole undertaking and still somehow preserves the materials's enchanting innocence. This time Ms. Rowling offers her clearest proof yet of what should have been wonderfully obvious: what makes the Potter books so popular is the radically simple fact that they're so good......Twice as hefty as its predecessors, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is an uncommonly good-looking book, with a substanial feel and artful chapter illustrations that anticipate the narrative. Today's readers are bound to appreciate that. Future gnerations, for whom the Harry Potter books will be classics, should like that, too."
Still my favorite salmon recipe:
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tsps. each sesame oil and soy sauce
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
a garlic clove, crushed
3 Tbs. white rice vinegar
1 pound boneless salmon cut in four pieces
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
Combine marmalade, oil, soy sauce, garlic and vinegar. Marinate salmon for as long as you like. Grill about 5 minutes on each side or 10-15 on one side, skin side down. Top with toasted sesame seeds.
Two words: Tattoos. Cigarettes. I had promised Daryl earlier in the week to take him and a friend to Six Flags New England, formerly Riverside Park & Speedway (the Speedway part ditched this past year to make way for the new "Superman Ride of Steel"), in Agawam, Massachusetts, just a short 20 miles from our house in Northampton. Yes, a short drive to another world popluated with people who looked like they ate all their meals at McDonalds, smoking, and with their arms, legs, and backs covered with tattoos I thought that I must have stepped into some as of yet unheard of club's private party. For some reason, maybe it was the concrete wave pool and the smell of greasy french fries, or maybe it was just the noise, but I was reminded of two trips that I took as a child: one with my mom and dad and sisters and brother to a park in Brooklyn--maybe it was Coney Island--and another with my mom to a water park (read; swimming pool) somewhere south of San Francisco. This, Six Flags and the memories, is a far cry from Darkington Country Club in Mahwah, New Jersey which had three lakes and where I lifeguarded during summer break when I was in college. I remember we had to close the park a few times because it simply got too crowded. On those days cars would back up for miles into the center of downtown Ramsey and sometimes right out to Route 17. And on those nights we partied. There were 36 of us--tan, healthly, somewhat crazy, and we'd get together one or two nights a week at someone's house to do all those unhealthy things we did back then in the 70's or we'd first head to Steak & Brew for dinner and, well, beer--this being during the days when they still served all the beer you could drink--and drink we would. How we ever made it home safe and sound only God knows. We arrived at Six Flags at 2:00. We left at 10:30. A full day. I read a new magazine that showed up at work this past week, "Revolution," Business and Marketing in the Digital Economy," and I tried to read Linn Ullmann's book, "Before You Sleep," but I had a hard time concentrating what with the noise and, well, it wasn't so much it was a perfect day for people watching, but where I wondered did all these people come from.
I counted them. 13 pairs. 12 pairs of sneakers and 1 pair of flip flops. Oops; there's the doorbell--another neighborhood child, Julie. I open the front door. She doesn't say anything. Anything. But she smiles. And I say "you want to come in? There's a bunch of kids in the basement." They were all supposed to go bowling. But wouldn't you know it; the only night the bowling alley is closed all summer was tonight--this they found out when they got there. And now, after playing pool and ping pong (and watching MTV) in the basement they are all preparing to go outside as I write; putting on their sneakers and flip flops, getting ready to play flashlight tag.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed The Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary War; annother had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, and nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall,Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, and Middleton.
At the battale of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr, noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than one year he lived in the forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead from exhaustion.
Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Such were the stories and sacrafices of the American Revolution. They pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."