Trail Talk Blog

Archive for the ‘Early American History’ Category

History Envy

I have history envy.   I doubt that it’s a very widespread malady, though possibly infectious.   Therefore, in the public interest I have compiled a list of symptoms to watch for: I often wonder what it would be like to go to work in a historic building situated on a narrow… read more >

Tidewater

Two hundred years after the first Pilgrims, Dutch East Indian employees and English Cavaliers arrived on these shores (and began the long, agonizing process of wresting it from its original owners)  90% of the non-Indian population still lived within 50 miles of tidewater.   Despite America’s well-known penchant for looking westward,… read more >

The Education of Shebby Lee

I consider my own education to be woefully incomplete and with the days dwindling down – as the song goes – is taking on a sense of urgency. Therefore, I rarely re-read books (see paragraph one) but for some reason last winter I picked up a two-volume book I had… read more >

Democracy

When I was in junior high, my history teacher planted a trick question in a pop quiz that made a lasting impression on me. He asked us to name the oldest democracy in the world. Sadly, not one of us had a clue, and undoubtedly that was the point. He… read more >

Founding Fathers

History teachers and trivia buffs are fond of posing trick questions to their respective audiences. So here goes: I was leafing through a magazine article about the many restored Virginia homes of our founding fathers recently and when I got to James Monroe, our fifth president, I learned that not… read more >

American Heritage

My grandfather was an original subscriber to American Heritage Magazine, the classy hardbound history magazine written and edited by some of America’s most distinguished historians and scholars of the fifties and sixties. Civil War historian Bruce Catton, was the founding editor, and remained at his post for many years. David… read more >

Colonization

Italy did not colonize North America, notwithstanding Christopher Columbus (an Italian who was actually working for Spain when he stumbled upon the western hemisphere), yet Italian Americans made their mark on this continent. Can you imagine popular culture without Frank Sinatra or Joe DiMaggio? PBS produced an entire documentary recently… read more >

The Fascination With Water

It must be a human impulse to seek out water, whether searching for a new home or looking for an appealing vacation destination. Travel veteran Shebby Lee relates this tendency to an upcoming tour which follows the Rio Grande River in New Mexico on El Camino Real.

New Year’s Open House

The custom of paying New Year’s calls originated in New York, or as it was then styled, New Amsterdam, where the Dutch held open house on New Year’s Day and served cherry bounce, olykoeks [doughnuts] steeped in rum, cookies, and honey cakes. (Notice that these treats are all sweet, not… read more >

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