The Children’s Blizzard, a book by a man named David Laskin, is “the gripping story of an epic prairie snowstorm that killed hundreds of newly arrived settlers and cast a shadow on the promise of the American frontier.”
My mother’s grandparents had arrived the year before, in 1887, from Germany with two of their children, Emil and Otillie, who was named after an aunt. What happened to these two no one knows. I’ve been looking and looking for years.
Obviously, death must have taken them away, since besides the immigration paperwork, they are never mentioned again. Did they get caught up in the blizzard like so many others? I will keep hunting for details. They deserve to be remembered and their stories told.
Often I find that children’s books, as in books written for children about any particular help simplify and clarify subjects for me. I love ’em.
Such is the case with a book I discovered at the public library in downtown Bellevue, Washington. It is a brief bio on Otto von Bismarck, the man who created modern German state. The author, Kimberley Heuston, boils down the essential facts, mixed with a bit of moralizing, but not enough to be off putting, thank God.
If ever you are confused by a topic, see if there’s a kids’ book on it. And don’t be embarrassed! Learning is learning! Knowledge is knowledge! No matter how you absorb it.
Before the concept of nullification in America, there was Mr. Coke.
“How long soever it hath continued, if it be against reason, it is of no force in law.”
— Edward Coke
“The average net worth of a Senator is more than $14 million, and the average net worth of a member of the House of Representatives is nearly $6 million.”
Though this information is a few years old, the numbers are likely to have gotten worse, such is the corruption and cronyism within our government.
The Power of Compound Words
“The German language
is sufficiently copious
for any idea
that can be expressed at all.”
— Charles Follen in A Practical Grammar of the German Language (1835)
“Henry hates John. John abhors Henry. Andrew can’t stand Henry or John—and neither of them have any use for Andrew.”
Henry is Henry Clay, Speaker of the House for decades. John is John C. Calhoun, a proud southerner who developed the idea of nullification. And Andrew is Andrew Jackson, war hero and eventual president of the United States.
I discovered this incredible summation of affairs in the book Distory: A Treasury of Historical Insults by a man named Schnakenberg.
can the dead
be truly dead
when they still live
in the souls
— Carson McCullers in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
“Art is moral, in that it awakens. But what if it were to do the opposite? If it were to numb us, to put us asleep, counteract all activity and progress? And music can do that as well.”
— Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain, 1924
At Trinity College in Dublin
“Being fascinated by history, I read as much as I can. It just reminds me of the late 20s, the 30s … reading about how these things could have happened at that time. It’s a scary time.”
So is Trump Hitler? Is that what you are claiming, Mr. Scorsese? It’s so unoriginal, that it’s actually boring.
Referring to the rise of global terrorism, Scorsese says that the Iraq invasion “had created thousands and thousands of Travis Bickles.”
This reference to Bickles is much more interesting to me. But. maddeningly, Scorsese does not make it clear what he means.
Bickles, portrayed by Robert De Niro, is the depressed loner who is the focus of his 1976 film Taxi Driver, which I consider vastly overrated. Bickles is drawn to violence in his disgust against the decadence and sleaze around him.
“They say they have nothing to lose.”
Just what is Scorsese getting at?
Google Books is a terrific resource. Today, I learned a few more details about my great-great grandparents, John Conner and Ellen Lint.
I didn’t know that my great-great grandfather lived in Missouri before marrying Ellen and that he came to Iowa in 1873, the year of a
financial panic and the beginning of a depression. And he was still farming at the age of 66.