Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Imagine She Smelled The Same The Day After As The Day Before



1901. The year Victoria died. The year my house was built. It's a Victorian, natch. I think it's fascinating that you can watch a video of her funeral.

You know, there really isn't all that much history, if you're talking only of civilization. Twelve thousand years ago, there was a wall of ice thick enough to cover the highest mountain in Maine sitting where I am now.  There's still a wall of ice outside my door, but it's on the porch roof and we don't trouble one another.

My father was a WW II veteran, and his father was a WW I veteran, and the last veterans of the Civil War were wandering around, albeit rather slowly, less than a decade before I was born. Four years after Victoria shuffled off, you could have gone to Hiram Cronk's funeral in New York. He was a veteran of the War of 1812.



George Washington had barely reached room temperature when Hiram was born in 1800. About a hundred years before ol' borrowed-teeth George, Galileo was annoying everyone with his heliocentrism and halitosis. It's easy, and interesting, to hopscotch backwards through the calendars like that until you find yourself up against the wall of ice.

Get busy being interesting -- just plain old might do -- and maybe someone will have claimed to have known you and Kevin Bacon in a blogpost in a century or so.

16 comments:

Casey Klahn said...

A fair number of bears gave their hides for those hats! And, I'll wager they were from Maine, and Nova Scotia, and places like that. That's a touch point, eh?

Also in my stream-of-consciousness way, I think about the shortness of time looking backward. Must be an age thing.

Sixty Grit said...

Interesting. My older brothers met my great-grandmother, who was the widow of our great-grandfather, who was born in 1843 and fought in the Civil War.

Then there was the case of the fellow whose father and grandfather had each had children late in their lives - at about age 75 or so. Turns out that in 3 generations they went back to the Revolutionary war (the fellow being interviewed was probably in his 80s) That would give one pause, I imagine, to think that your family had, in a mere 3 generations, spanned the entire history of the US. Either that, or I am easily impressed.

T.K. Tortch said...

Along Sixty Grit's line, my Great-Grandmother died just shy of 100 years in late 1987; I wasn't out of my teens. She grew up in South Georgia, and all her parent's generation either fought in the Civil War or were alive during it. I heard many second hand stories of those times told to her by their first-hand witnesses.

It's all ancient history, and not so ancient.

Jewel said...

It is interesting, going backwards. In my lineage, my great-great grandfather was born shortly before the Civil War and missed out in the carnage. His son lived a life free from war, marrying in the late 19th century. My grandmother was born in 03. Her sons were born in 33, 34, 36 and 40, and none of them saw combat in any war, each having served their country in the Navy and the Air Force. During the Vietnam War, my oldest uncle never saw war, but was a base commander in the states.
My husband's father never saw war, being born the same year as my father. My husband was never called to war, and neither were my brothers, both of whom served in the Army and Navy with honor. More than a century and a half of being lucky in war and peace.

Leslie said...

I turned 49 today...and all 4 of my grandparents were born in the 1800's.

Sixty Grit said...

Happy Birthday!

Gagdad Bob said...

There's still a thick wall of ice outside our doors. It's why I don't watch TV and send my kid to a private school.

mushroom said...

I am a little older than Leslie, but my grandfather was born 10 days after the Battle of Gettysburg. I am the youngest son of a youngest son. When my father was a child he traveled with his parents from their farm on the Ozark Plateau down to raise cotton in Oklahoma for a couple of seasons around 1918. I think it took them a couple of weeks in their horse-drawn wagons. I watched men walking around on the Moon.

My grandfather could not read or write, but he was a pretty good blacksmith and liked to raise mules and horses. I have written computer code for a living most of my working life.

Leslie said...

Thank you, Mr. Grit. Very cool, Mushroom, I have memories of "riding" the pedal of my grandmother's treadle sewing machine as she sewed.

arcs said...

Get busy being interesting? I imagine most people who might remember me from this day past would be doing so from infamy. It's taken me more than 5 and a half decades to learn how to not be so interesting and I think I'll not undo that now.

Stretch said...

My Grandmother Smith was born 5 years before the Wright brothers flew. She saw Armstrong walk on the moon. Not that she believed it.
In the 1980s I met Adm. Beverly M. Coleman, grandson of Col. John S. Mosby, CSA. After his lecture he was kind enough to talk to me and shake my hand. Following the Bacon Separation Theory: me-Adm. Coleman-Col. Mosby-Gen. Lee.
Hey, for a Virginian that's important!

Sixty Grit said...

Well done, Stretch.

I met Paul E. Garber, who either met or watched the Wright brothers back in 1908. That was kind of cool.

I am coming up on the centenary of my father's birth and his youngest daughter just had a baby. Hey, young child, when was your grandfather born? One hundred years ago! YAY!

ELC said...

"John Tyler became the 10th president of the United States in 1841 — and today - incredibly - he still has two living grandchildren. Tyler, who lived from 1790-1862, had 15 children during his lifetime, making him the most prolific president. One of his children, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, born in 1853, fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. in 1924 and Harrison Ruffin Tyler in 1928, according to Sherwood Forest Plantation Foundation, the home of President Tyler. Both men — Tyler’s grandchildren —are still alive."

President John Tyler's grandchildren still alive (Politico, 1/26/12)

H. Gillham said...

My mother's grandfather fought in the Civil War and lost an arm. He died before I was born ---

He cut quite a figure -- he came back to live in his home county and became superintendent of the county schools -- a formidable foe again ---

We have few pictures of him, but my mother said he always seem sad to her.

JKB said...

It should be noted in the video, those horse were not some affectation as they are today in state funerals. That was class A, top of the line luxury transport of the rich and famous.

I highly recommend "The Big Change: America Transforms Itself, 1900-1950" by Frederick Allen Lewis for an excellent survey of life in the first half of the 20th century. Such as this description of horses circa 1900:

But horses were everywhere, pulling surreys, democrats, buggies, cabs, delivery wagons of every sort on Main Street, and pulling harvesters on the tractorless farms out in the countryside.

The sights and sounds and sensations of horse-and-carriage Iife were part of the universal American experience: he c!op-clop of horses' hoofs; the stiff jolting of an iron-tired carriage on a stony road; the grinding noise of he brake being applied to ease the horse on the downhill stretch; the necessity of holding one's breath when the horse sneezed; the sight of sand, carried up on the tires and wooden spokes of  carriage wheel, spilling off in little cascades as the wheel revolved; the look of a country road overgrown by grass, with three tracks in it instead of two, the middle one made by horses' hoofs; the special maIe ordeal of getting out of the carritge and walking up the steeper hills to lighten the load; and the more severe ordeal, for the unpracticed, of harnessing  horse which could recognize inexperience at one scornfui g!ance. During the Northern winter the jingle of sleigh bells was everywhere. On surmner evenings, along the tree-lined srees of innumerable American towns, families sitting on their front porches would watch the fine carriages of the town as they drove pst for a proud evening's jaunt and the cognoscenti would wait eagerly for the glimpse of the banker's trotting pair or the sporting lawyer's 2:40 pacer. And one of the magnificent sights of urban life was that of the fire engine, pulled by three galloping horses, careening down a city street with its bell clanging.

BJM said...

It's a bit unsettling to realize that we Boomers are the last living link to people who lived in the 19th and early 20th century.

We, at least, know of the evil lurking in mens souls from first hand accounts and our own observations. My maternal great-grandfather fought at Gettysberg, paternal grandfather survived the Somme, and my father was in the battalion that liberated Dachau and he made sure his children heard the unvarnished truth of what he witnessed.

Even the more recent horrors of SE Asia, Latin America, Soviet & Chinese Communism have become dim memories clad in hipster poster art and slogans (nevermind the imprisoned and disappeared, mounds of skulls and mass graves).

As they gleefully destroy the social fabric that binds a functional, productive society, the eco-pixie dust and unicorn power Millennials are woefully unprepared for their taking up of the levers of power.

This was especially brought home today as I read a bit of the hatred spewed by the left. It almost makes one smile that they believe Andrew Brietbart is the worst humankind has to offer.