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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Writer's Life 12/27 - Heroes

I'd read through the entire 388 pages of Hero Tales From History before checking on the author, listed on the cover only as Burham. I laughed out loud when I went to the title page and found "Smith Burnham, A. M., Head of the Department of History, Western State Teachers College, Kalamazoo, Michigan." That school eventually evolved to Western Michigan U., my alma mater. There is a dorm in his name on campus. It was female back in my day and probably co-ed today. To my chagrin, I didn't find any information on him in web searches. Published in 1930 in a blue hardcover, a 1938 edition of Hero Tales... in red came into my possession amongst a large books donation. As the title suggests, it delivers portraits of men and women who had a large impact on civilization, beginning with Moses and ending with Woodrow Wilson, in five to ten pages minus illustrations, of which there are many. The copy I have has a stamp reading: "Property of the Board of Education, May 12 1942, City of New York." Geared toward children, the prose is often weak and faulty although eminently readable. I learned a lot, or perhaps relearned aspects I'd had forgotten over time. For instance, Robert E. Lee's father was a Colonel during the Revolutionary war. He was known as "Light-Horse Harry," and was a confidant of George Washington. Lee delivered a memorable eulogy of the Father of Our Country, describing him in these famous words: "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." I'm sure the book would be deemed politically incorrect nowadays, as it unapologetically, almost exclusively details the accomplishments of white males. It is available at Amazon, the hardcover going for $3.22, paperback for $6.99. Someone has even fashioned a Kindle of it for a buck. I will include it among the young adult section of the floating book shop at the bargain basement price of a dollar.

NFL: It was an unfortunate weekend for the league as young QB's Derek Carr of the Raiders and Marcus Mariota of the Titans each suffered a broken leg on what weren't even hard hits. If the Patriots don't advance to the Super Bowl, it would be a monumental upset. I do believe the Cowboys have a shot at beating them in the big game, as the running of Ezekiel Elliot behind that great offensive line may eat up the clock and keep New England's offense off the field for long stretches. Then again, games often evolve much differently than predicted. As for the Matt Barkley watch - the QB struggled mightily, throwing five interceptions, which offset his two TD's and more than 300 yards passing, very Joe-Namath-like. The most interesting aspect of the week was an apparent mutiny by the Vikings secondary, which decided on its own to play a straight up zone rather than to have a constant shadow on the Packers' all-pro wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who torched them in the first half. In the second half he was covered one-on-one and was almost completely shut down. Those guys should have listened to their coach. The organization is now in damage control about the issue, downplaying it.

It was more like early October than late December today, and the floating book shop did well. My thanks to the woman who bought seven hardcover novels, four Catherine Coulter thrillers, a Debbie Macomber Christmas story, a Belva Plain romance, and another that has slipped my mind. Thanks also to Herbie, who donated a Michael Palmer medical thriller in paperback, to my Tuesday benefactress for another diverse array of goodies, and to local building porter Justin, who gave me two beautiful pictorials. The highlight of the session came late. Vitaly returned from the bank and asked to buy one of my books. I suggested Killing, which I believe is my best. He finds English much easier to read than to speak. Spasibo, sir. All the aforementioned are heroes in my book.
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