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Monday, January 30, 2017

George Washington

http://amzn.to/1YQziX0  A Master Passion   ISBN: 1771456744
The story of Alexander Hamilton & of his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler

I happened into the world on George Washington’s birthday. For many years I took some pride from sharing the day with the great man. After all, back in the ‘50’s it was still celebrated on the day on which it fell, which meant that I always had my birthday off from school. Pretty sweet—even if February in upstate NY meant we were buried in snow. 

Washington and Blue Skin

It was fun to have a party on a school holiday. Friends came to sledding parties and for snow-fort-buildings, but, by the time I was eight or nine, costume parties were my favorite.   To have a costume party in the dead of winter was a little outre—remember, this is the ‘50’s in farm country—but everyone got into the spirit, even if it just meant digging out last autumn’s Halloween costume again.
Father of Our Country. Think about what it means. It’s pretty heavy stuff to lay on anybody who used to put his pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. Still, when you take a look at his track record here’s what you find:

Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army upon whose victory the thirteen colonies depended to secure their separate and equal station among the powers of the earth. In the summer of 1787, he presided over America's Constitutional Convention. His presence lent decisive significance to the document drafted there, which continues in force in the twenty-first century as the oldest written constitution in the world. From 1789-1796, he held the highest office in the land as the first president of the United States of America under this constitution.”  
 * The Claremont Institute via PBS website

More than that, Washington was “the man who would not be King.” Unlike every other Revolution since, our military hero didn’t become a dictator imperfectly hidden beneath a variety of pious designations as did so many others:  Augustus Caesar, Hitler, Napoleon, Kim Il-sung, Stalin, Oliver Cromwell and Mao Zedong. After our American Revolutionary War was over, he quietly went home, to tend to his plantation. Later, when his two terms as president were completed, he went home once again. 

George Washington was truly the “Cincinnatus” his contemporaries named him. Like that legendary Roman farmer, he left plowing his fields to assume leadership of his country in a time of war; afterward, he went home again. Like the title of historian James Flexner’s biography, George Washington was The Indispensable Man, a popular figure who did not use his overwhelming personal popularity to grab the reins of the new nation and declare himself Emperor, or whatever.

Moreover, Washington did not use his office to enrich himself. As one who'd sat through a sweltering summer in Philadelphia while the Constitution itself had been hammered out, he not only knew what it said, no doubt line by line, but he respected it, too, and intended that it should continue into the future, to serve the cause of liberty and justice for all mankind.

I'll close with two powerful, pertinent quotes by America's great founding father: 

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."

"If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter." 

~~Juliet Waldron

http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi    Historical Novels by JW at Amazon

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Rat and I

Mom and her rescue dogs, Barbados, 1962

Another memory, this one from the West Indies, back in the early sixties. Mom and I lived in an apartment in Bridgetown, Barbados, one that was near the race track. Who knows what it’s like now? In those days, this was a quiet pleasant residential area. We shared the house with the owners, a pair of elderly British ladies who lived beneath us on the first floor. All sorts of stories could be told about events that took place in this house, but one of the third-world variety recently came back to me.

Our kitchen was down a flight of stairs, an add-on affair at the back of the house. Outside the door, as was common, was a step over a gutter. Gutters ran along the sides of the streets everywhere and were to be avoided. When someone drained gray water, from a sink or whatever, it went down the gutter, right out in the open. You saw whether someone had washed their dishes, or their hair, or whatever and bits and pieces traveled along the gutter as well—bits of food etc. It was a common sight—and smell--here, but of a kind that I, as a middle class American kid, was not accustomed to.   There were chickens—they belonged to someone who lived along the street—wandering wherever they wished, looking for bugs and odds and ends, like the bits of garbage that ended in the dish water.
Island Inn, Barbados, 1959
Other critters found food there as well. Rats were common, especially outside at night, but I didn’t expect to see them inside the kitchen, which was where I met this one. I’m going to assign a sex and call it he, though I don’t know. He was quite tall and large, and seemed especially so because he was standing on his hind-legs, getting ready to leap up onto the table just as I came down the stairs.

The rat spun around and stared at me. I stood on the last step and stared back.  It was one of those frozen moments, a perfect picture left behind. He was rather pretty, actually, athletic, sinewy, and glossy brown. His beady eyes were bright, and not particularly anxious.  He’d apparently come in through a broken screen on the kitchen door; his home was probably beneath the gutter step just outside. We were neighbors, it seemed, although uneasy ones. Who knew how many times he'd come in that way? Fortunately, we kept all our dry goods and things like bread shut away in a cupboard.
I could almost hear him thinking about what to do next; I certainly was. When I reached around the corner to grab a broom—the only weapon within reach—he shot away through the ragged screen and vanished beneath the step.

~~Juliet Waldron 
All my historical novels at
http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi    Books by JW at Amazon
http://amzn.to/1YQziX0  A Master Passion   ISBN: 1771456744
The story of Alexander & Elizabeth Hamilton
http://amzn.to/1Vy47lm  Mozart’s Wife  ISBN:  1461109612
Constanze tells all.
http://amzn.to/231vzHe  Roan Rose   ISBN:  149224158X
She served Anne Neville and loved her husband, Richard.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Moon and I

It’s hard to recreate a time when there were no words, only feelings.


These are the first things I remember. Crib slats casting black shadows on a summer smooth sheet. White face through spreading branches. Next, a perfect silver disc lending its sheen to arching branches. The sugar maple that grew behind Grandparents house was enormous. 
Perhaps, long ago, it had been brought west to Ohio by a homesick Yankee.

Of course, I knew nothing of that. All I knew was that the spreading maple was good to see, the harmony of black and white, the leafy patterns, a vision which sounded in my head like a clear note. I was here, entirely secure. Outside the broad leaves with their sharpened edges were barely moving against a velvet sky. Moon face gazed down serene; a cloud edged in rainbow and silver passes.

No wonder I am who I am.

Ghosts of Abbott Road, Ellington, CT

In the next room, women’s voices. They were the ones who cared for me, two young, one old, getting ready for bed next door in the spacious bathroom, big enough to accommodate one woman at the dressing table mirror, a bather in the claw foot tub, one at the sink running water--or perhaps even seated --the “watercloset” was one of the first improvements my Grandfather had made after purchasing this house. He had called his home “a girl’s dorm” for years, and now here I came, the newest addition, another little female--the one now wondering in the room full of moonlight.

Two Juliets, 1945

Sleep was impossible bathed in silver, danced over by mutable leaf shadow. There was nothing frustrating or lonely about it. I didn’t need to cry and call them to me, even though I knew they would come. After all, the women were happy. I was fed and dry and comfortable.

Besides, outside my window was the venerable breathing tree and a full moon.  


Juliet Waldron

http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi    Historical Novels by JW at Amazon

http://amzn.to/1YQziX0  A Master Passion   ISBN: 1771456744

Happy Birthday, Alexander Hamilton!