Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stir Crazy

It’s been six days now since the operation on my foot and I am stir crazy! The doctor said it would be at least two weeks before I was back to a semblance of normal and if she’s right this next week will be LONG.

All in all I feel good….except for my foot. The rest of my body wants to get out and about but the foot protests loudly. I did manage to go to my induction ceremony for the local Elks lodge on Thursday but I paid the price on Friday. After standing and walking around for a couple of hours on Thursday evening, I spent all Friday with my foot elevated and covered with an ice pack.

Yesterday I went out with The Bride on a short shopping expedition….that is a good comment on “stir crazy”. Anytime I accompany The Bride shopping you know something unusual is happening. Anyway, I did a little walking and then sat in the car for the rest of the trip. This morning the foot is not complaining too much so I’m encouraged.

The forced inactivity had allowed me to do a lot of reading. Several years ago I wrote a post about the Lakeside Classics series of books. I continue to collect and read them and in the past few weeks I have added about seven “new” editions to my collection. I’ve read three in the last week alone.

“The Border and the Buffalo” is the 1938 volume of the series and was written by John R. Cook who was a buffalo hunter and participated in the near extermination of this noble animal. It’s a pretty disturbing read for those of us in this modern age that weren’t trying to tame the wilderness of the Southwest in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Cook however, explains that the slaughter of millions of buffalo was a calculated move not only for profit but also to clear the vast lands for settlement…and to ensure the defeat of Native Americans. Reading the book provided quite a different view of the situation of the people that engaged in this profession and gave me a bit of a moral dilemma in judging their actions when looking through the “glass” of their times. In spite of that it was an excellent read.

“The Early Days of Rock Island and Davenport” is the 1942 volume of the series and consists of the memoirs of two early settlers of the area. J.W. Spencer migrated from Vermont to the area of Rockport in 1820 and J.N.D. Burroughs moved from Cincinnati to Davenport in 1839. Illinois was at this time the “west”. It was the edge of civilization in the young nation of the United States. Most of my readings of the series up to now have been related to the West and Southwest as we understand it today. It was interesting to read of the pioneers of an earlier day and their struggles to settle the country of Illinois. They encountered many of the same problems of isolation, lack of reliable transportation, severe winters and Indians that tested the later pioneers of the far west and southwest. The fact that this was a first person historical narrative, like all of the other Lakeside Classics, made it a fascinating read. The two authors reached out over 180 years to tell a story directly to me…..exciting.

“Narratives of the American Revolution”, the 1976 volume of the series has the subtitle of …As told by a young sailor, a home-sick surgeon, a French volunteer and a German general’s wife.” What an interesting look at the birth of our country! Again, first person historical narrative. Four vastly different people telling you their story of what happened to them in the American Revolution. Ebenezer Fox was a young man who ran away from a difficult home life and became a sailor for the Continental Navy. He was captured, imprisoned on a prison ship, agreed to service in the British Army to save his life and then escaped from his military unit in Jamaica and fled to Cuba and then back to the United States. What more needs to be said? A compelling story, but the book also recounts the lives of a volunteer surgeon who wintered at Valley Forge with Washington, a young French officer who served with Lafayette and the wife of a German general who served with the British and became a prisoner of war. If you are tired of the textbook story of the American Revolution, find this book and read it. It’s fascinating.

I now own 39 of the 107 volumes of the collection and consider them to be the most important and entertaining pieces of literature I’ve ever read. If you like American history, find a volume, any volume, as they are all fascinating and read it. You will NOT be disappointed.

Thanks for visiting.

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