The Sesquicentennial Arrives

I was away most of the day on various errands; that’s why posting has been light — or, rather, non-existent.

My itinerary took me to Appomattox, and, as it happens, this is the big weekend — the 150th anniversary of the surrender of General Robert E. Lee to General Ulysses S. Grant, which took place at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9th, 1865.

The town was crammed with re-enacters and tourists, and police were stationed between the shopping center and the highway, and along Route 24 to the historical park, directing traffic. It had been raining relentlessly for two days, and all the parking fields looked nasty and muddy. The fields around the old courthouse village were full of tents, and men wearing the uniforms of both armies were in the Wal-Mart buying supplies.

Merchandise featuring the faces of Generals Lee and Grant was on sale everywhere. You could get T-shirts, posters, key chains, knick-knacks of any sort, as mementoes of the place “Where Our Nation Reunited”.

Well… Not quite. But who wants to spoil the celebration?

As I drove out of town late in the afternoon, a new line of squalls was just coming through, and it looked like another big column of rain was about to make a direct hit on the historical park. I didn’t envy those poor guys in their blue and gray uniforms camped out in the pup tents.

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The Civil War is the core event of American History, much more so than the Revolution or World War II or any other momentous occurrence. It is the wound that will not heal.

And Virginia is the epicenter of it all — more battles took place on its soil than in any other state. After Richmond and Petersburg fell, when the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered, it meant the war was over.

The last military engagement of that war — there were no more than skirmishes at Appomattox — was the Battle of Sayler’s Creek (often misspelled “Sailor’s Creek”), which took place on the boundary between Amelia and Prince Edward counties on April 6th, 1865. Accounts of the battle indicate that the creek was rain-swollen that day, much as it must be right now.

Many years ago Dymphna and I took the future Baron to a re-enactment of the battle at Sayler’s Creek for the 130th anniversary (it was fine weather that day). Afterwards I ruminated on the events of those times, and wrote the following poem, which I’ve placed below the jump.

Sayler’s Creek

There is too much history here in Virginia;
we are drowning in its muddy flood.
Every April sweeps its pontoons from their moorings
on the North Fork of the Shenandoah
with Federal soldiers watching helplessly from the bank.
Every pitcher toeing the mound
scuffs up a lode of Minié balls.
A metal detector swept over any ravine
uncovers the belt buckles and canteens
urgently shed by fleeing infantry.
A faded daguerreotype of General Lee
stares down from every wall,
a stern reminder of all that vanished glory.

The top drawer of every dusty dresser
in every second-hand shop
opens to reveal a brittle bundle of worthless banknotes.
Everyone’s great-great-uncle Theophrastus
led the charge at the Crater.

And everywhere Stonewall Jackson appears,
a red-bearded grey blur leading his brigade
clattering over wooden bridges, through deep hollows,
crushing the newly-opened green parasols of mayapples,
leaving with their boots little chevron-shaped tarns
of muddy ditchwater, passing and re-passing every location,
named and unnamed, in the entire state.

And the cemeteries: one stands on each ridge,
with maybe a pigeon-stained gaunt granite rifleman
guarding it from a nearby pedestal, every grave
lined with faded dates on a stone and a welter of violets.
We hurry past these, hoping through them
to leave this wilderness and reach that distant cold harbor.

But such are the burdens we must bear.
Neither ghosts nor the living: they are the past,
the encrusted mollusks of occurrences
that barnacle the great pilings
of our sovereign commonwealth.
We shall not be quit of them
short of emigration to the outer planets
or a deep draught of nepenthe.

The April rains of history have left the creek swollen;
the water rises around my knees.
Over the hill I hear the muffled rumble
of distant artillery, and I look up, expecting
to see ragged and bandaged figures at the crest.
But it is only the afternoon thunderstorm
descending from the mountains
while, over my head, the blue and the grey
still grapple their eternal combat
across the turbulent vastness of the sky.

43 thoughts on “The Sesquicentennial Arrives

  1. The only ‘good’ guys in the Civil War had very little say in the matter, and I think you have caught that emotion very nicely. Was it worth the million (mostly) young men who paid in blood?

    Yes, the legacy is still with us; the flames of the same conflict fanned by the ‘progressives’ who need a ’cause’ in order to spice up their own shallow existence.

    Stupidity is a product, not of lack of intelligence, but of a desire for quick and dirty solutions, and the short term self-glory incumbent in them. But progressives never seem to learn, and re-invent themselves (maybe with a different ’cause’) in each subsequent epoch.

  2. A fine poem. I wrote a song last year after reading Joseph Wheelan’s “Bloody Spring,” a history of the meat-grinding “Overland Campaign” of 1864: the battles of The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor (all fought in Virginia). After the latter, in which the Army of the Potomac lost 7,000 men in a futile hour-long assault on Confederate breastworks, a bloodstained diary was recovered as the carnage was cleaned up. Its last entry, made by a bluecoat who evidently didn’t think his chances were too good, read: “June Third. Cold Harbor. I was killed.”

    The Ballad of Cold Harbor
    By Paul Green, © 2014

    Though we whipped ’em hard at Gettysburg
    The Rebs still wouldn’t yield
    So in May of Eighteen Sixty-Four
    Once more we took the field
    I kept a little diary
    And as that book was filled
    Scores of thousands of our bluecoats
    Were mangled, maimed, and killed.

    They pulled me from a garrison
    And turned me to a grunt
    ’Cause the Army needed bodies
    So U.S. Grant could hunt
    We first faced Bobby Lee’s boys
    In an untamed Wilderness
    And for two long days we tangled
    In that tangled awful mess

    You couldn’t hardly see the foe
    For all the brush and smoke
    We struggled ’gainst the thorns and vines
    Cohesion seemed a joke
    The forest fell to burning
    And flames lit by gunfire
    For many of the wounded
    Became a funeral pyre

    At length we came out, battered,
    But still ready for the fight
    Which moved to Spotsylvania
    Where the Rebs had dug in tight
    They formed a pointed salient
    And there we had to tangle
    With their forces behind breastworks
    It became the “Bloody Angle”

    We finally left that dreadful ground
    And thousands of our slain
    And marched on to Cold Harbor
    With victory yet to gain
    We’d mauled the Rebs so horribly
    But still they wouldn’t git
    So Grant sent us at ’em one more time
    To try and make ’em quit

    But we got there a little late
    And found the Rebs all ready
    Their grey ranks had been much reduced
    But, dug in, they held steady
    We dreaded going at them
    And before the battle’s tide
    Had risen, we pinned names to coats
    So folks would know who died

    And die we did, by thousands
    In the space of but an hour
    The generals thought we could prevail
    But their fine plans went sour
    And then, as our brave wounded
    Lay in agony, their pride
    Made them quibble ’bout conditions
    Of a truce, as our boys died

    Was it worth it? Most would say so –
    Grant’s Overland Campaign
    Left Lee in no condition
    To go whip our lads again
    As for me, they found my diary
    Where my fate was fulfilled
    And its last few words reveal it:
    “June Third. Cold Harbor. I was killed.”

  3. I liked your poem, Baron. I don’t really know much about the Civil War (probably because I’m an immigrant who arrived in the early 50’s as a child) but . . . there may still be time to learn more.

    I think I know more about the Revolutionary war, and of course WWII, which changed my life in so many ways.

    • It’s probably important to read the history of a place/time/event first in order to be able to heft a poem up high enough to experience it. For you, though, I’d say reading the poetry which grew in your own home country would be a valuable lesson in understanding yourself and how you’re embedded. The roots that grew here are secondary to that first experience.

      Poetry makes rather different demands of us than does prose. Often its demands are refused, especially if the monkey mind chattering in all of us cannot be stilled momentarily. We refuse because poetry says we have to slow down, which is another thing the monkey mind hates.

      Oftentimes people shrink from the seeming opacity of poetry. They shrug and give up in the face of its requirements. I don’t know how/why I was able to overcome my own limits and finally allow myself to appreciate some of it, at least the kind which is robustly metered and rhymed – those two provide a reliable container. Studying the particular sonnet form Shakespeare used is good practice.

      In the short term, refusal seems so much easier. In the long term such turning away shrivels our capacity to experience existence more fully. Ironically, we won’t ever know that consciously.

      • In “Romeo and Juliet”, when the lovers first meet, Shakespeare switches from blank verse to set their encounter as an Elizabethan sonnet; the stricter form heightens the intensity of the emotion.

    • Yes, I’m familiar with that one. It took a while for the news of the surrender to spread thoroughly.

      It’s like the German invasion of Denmark in 1940 (as a coincidence, on the same date, April 9). The Danish government surrendered immediately, but the news didn’t get to South Jutland for a while. Danish forces there fought the Germans and inflicted serious casualties before word arrived that they were to surrender.

  4. “But how can I raise my sword against Virginia?” Lee’s soul-splitting statement on why he *could not* militarily support the Union side. Our country’s finest pre-modern general.

    • General Lee’s words help us remember what the United States were before 1861.

      Virginia was a sovereign state until 1865. That is, its subordination to the United States was voluntary, limited, and contingent — as is normally the case in a federation.

      The Civil War put an end to all that. After 1865 there was no more argument over whether membership in the federation was voluntary for any of the states — it wasn’t. The states no longer had any choice, and the power of the federal government over them became essentially unlimited.

      Prior to that, however, Virginia was the patria of men like Lee and Jackson. It was the place about which they felt patriotic; it was their homeland, the sacred soil of their fathers, in defense of which they were willing to die.

      Ironically, Stonewall Jackson’s home county was one of those that seceded from Virginia and became part of the Union as West Virginia. Even though he loathed the institution of slavery, Jackson remained loyal to the Commonwealth, and continue to command troops under Lee.

      He was one of the most brilliant military commanders in history. If fate had spared him at Chancellorsville in 1863, and he had been in command at, say, Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia might have avoided some of its worst errors. It’s at least conceivable that the war might have ended in a stalemate, with a negotiated settlement that left the South sovereign.

      The currents of the Civil War are complex and intricate.

      • The war might have had an intermission.

        But it could never have ended on any other terms than the abolition of slavery. History might have indeed been very different, but a protracted war, whatever the eventual benefits, would have cost far more lives, both ended and ruined.

        It is important to remember that much of the Northern determination to fight was the result of the insistence by the Southern States on their “right” to retrieve fugitive slaves, with or without the cooperation of the citizens of Northern States. That practice did not end with the outbreak of war, nor even with the conclusion, nor even fully with the 13th Amendment. It certainly would have remained a standard practice with any “peace” settlement which left the institution of slavery remotely intact.

        Never forget that it was the apologists for slavery who killed States’ Rights along with a substantial part of a generation of American men.

        The new proponents for modern serfdom think that States’ Rights is safely dead, relying on their intellectual forebears to have throughly finished the job. And for the most part they may be correct, certainly the South will not rise again. But the current imposition of an unconstitutional national government through massive vote and financial fraud won’t last to see the end of the states.

        Except maybe California.

        • I’m not an apologist for slavery. And “states’ rights” in this case meant the right of men to own other men as property. There’s no point in trying to pretty that up.

          Slavery was already dying; southerners acknowledged that. But the process would have taken decades, and the abolitionists weren’t willing to wait.

          A stalemate followed by a negotiated peace might have allowed the peculiar institution to decay and die out naturally. As to what the world might have looked like after that — who can say?

          • I didn’t intend to imply that you were an apologist for slavery. I merely intended to point out that the appeal by slave-owners to States’ Rights was a farcical bit of posturing, given that the issue of abolition had gained such traction precisely because the slave interests had for decades completely denied that Free States had any right to refuse to participate in enforcing fugitive slave laws, or even insist that enforcement parties (which frequently took the form of impromptu cavalry raids) follow correct legal procedure and present evidence of their claims.

            States’ Rights was a dead letter before the war even started, because it had for a time presented ways for Free States to prevent slave raiders from just grabbing any black man they happened to catch and hauling him back to be auctioned off as a “captured slave” regardless of actual legal status.

            Yes, I know that contradicts the narrative promoted by those who would forever associate States’ Rights with the attempt to preserve the South’s “peculiar institution”, but that narrative is as false as everything else that the aspirant aristocracy of America has invented to justify their rule.

            The irregular cavalry raids to capture “fugitive slaves” (some of whom really were escaped slaves, many of whom were not) may have been a last gasp to save a dying institution…but they weren’t therefore an irrelevance. They existed before the war, they continued during the war, and it took years of slavery being completely banned before they stopped completely.

            In the event that a “peace” settlement had been reached on terms favorable to the South, those raids would unquestionably have continued. And given how instrumental they had been in rousing abolitionist fervor and a willingness to resort to war to see the practice stopped, such a peace could not have lasted. It would have been a simple impossibility…even in the absence of a formal declaration that the terms of the peace had been abrogated by such raids, local resistance, spontaneous or planned, would have led to renewed hostilities.

            It is also nearly certain that any formal recognition of the Confederacy as a political independent nation would have overcome the reluctance of the British to endorse a rebellion in support of slavery. They did have an economic interest in the cotton production of the Southern States, and as long as formal support for slavery was not implied, had been eager customers. Had the issue been legally characterized as a dispute between two sovereign nations, they most likely would have followed their economic interest in taking action to lift the blockade. This could not have ended the cause for war as long as slavery (and thus the cavalry raids on Free States) continued, but it could have dramatically raised the costs, for both sides and for the entire Atlantic trade, of military resolution.

            I believe the war might well have petered out after a few decades, after establishment of an effective DMZ put a halt to the cavalry raids and eventual British naval actions to sharply curtail Confederate privateer activity forced the institution of slavery into economic decline. Or it might have dragged on until search and destroy tactics by the North finally succeeded in killing a high-enough percentage of the male white population of the South to make further resistance a mere impossibility. Or the entire American nation might have dissolved entirely into an unending bloodbath which continued until the Second Coming. There is no real way of knowing without trying the experiment.

            But what any person with a clear understanding of how abolitionist sentiment had developed to the point of making war between the States of America a real possibility cannot believe is that the war would have permanently ended without a decisive and permanent end to the slave-hunting cavalry raids. It simply is not possible. The refusal of the Slave States to recognize and respect the territorial integrity and political autonomy of the Free States was the original cause of the war. Yes, the Free States objected to slavery, but they didn’t go about the world attacking every other nation which practiced it, because none of those other nations were launching incursions into the Free States to capture slaves.

      • Yorkshire Miner,
        Have to agree with you Baron the high tide of the confederacy was the moment Picket failed. He wouldn,t have held back the first
        Day he would have carried on straight through Getesburg. What has always intriqued me about Jackson was that none of the Federal Generals seemed understand, that every battle he won he won by dilvering a left hook. Perhaps Grant the Wilderness campaine right up to the end was nothing more than left out flanking movements strkes me as rathercurious

        • Actually, Jackson won the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, 1862 by using a right hook. He feinted down the Valley on the west side of Massanutten Mountain, making as if to attack Strasburg. But then the bulk of his force retired to New Market, crossed the mountain at the gap to Luray, and came upon the Union garrison at Front Royal from the rear. Once the Yankees were driven from their position, Jackson had Banks flanked from the east, and the Federals fled down the Valley to Winchester, and eventually all the way across the Potomac into Maryland.

          One of the big “what ifs” of the war was: what would have happened if Lee had consented to let Jackson follow the routed Union force into Maryland, which is what his subordinate wanted to do? A lot of outcomes to be speculated on in that one.

          • There are a lot of “what if”s which could have seen the Confederacy achieve sufficient military success to force a cessation of hostilities, or even formal recognition and a peace treaty.

            None of them would have really ended the war any more than American entry into “the War to End All Wars” ensured a permanent peace in Europe. Far less so, in fact…though it’s interesting to think that if the Civil War had not ended as it did, Wilson might never have been able to get the U.S. involved in WWI, if it had happened at all. Perhaps a half-century of agony in America might have served to forestall some of the idiocies which lead to the general conflagration of Europe.

            Or the resulting advancements in technology and tactical application would have made subsequent wars incomparably worse.

      • And I, born but not raised or living in Virginia, am in exile. I may never see her again. This (I think) is why Lee’s statement (“But how can I raise my sword against Virginia?”) cuts right through me.

        • If he were here, the Baron would sympathize. He could have easily entered Oxford based on his A levels in England, but he missed Virginia too much…I moved here bec of him but have gradually come to understand his love of this place. Mine is New England…no one is happier than the person who is HOME.

    • It depends on where you’re sitting in Augusta. My aunt was a Franciscan sister in Augusta – she was the mother superior of the convent and the principal of the school. It was the only school I know of that integrated backwards – whites came into her school. About 1/3 of the students were white after a couple of years. As a result their parents began coming to the church that sponsored the school and so the church became integrated, too. It was a peaceful integration with no demos, etc. All the kids wore the same uniform.

      Later my aunt “retired”. She began taking illiterate black women who’d worked all their lives as domestics down to the Social Security Office. Somehow or other she registered them and got small pensions…the city eventually had a banquet for her and she got the Key to the City…

      …but Augusta had a tough time with the changes in general. I think it has suffered economically as a result. A few years ago the fems staged demonstrations because they didn’t let women into the Master’s…[choir alert here]…I wonder if those women paid any effective attention to the plight of black domestics in Augusta…methinks not.The larger injustice was golf.

    • The Masters and golf were in perpetuity destroyed for me by the revelation of the true nature of the King of Golf, Tiger Woods.

      Tiger was discovered to be the type of human scum we now see ubiquitous in progressive America. A precursor to the installation of his kindred spirit in the White House – Barry Soetoro.

      That he is still the focus of golf speaks volumes to the values of progressive America. America, I weep for you.

      • Let me assure you: even here, in the heart of Progressive Country–the San Francisco Bay Area–Tiger Woods has not been, is not, and probably never will again be the “focus” of golf or anything else.

        I don’t hear him mentioned on KCBS sports radio except when he enters a tournament and does (not) make the cut. No one interviews him. No one phones him up.

        Nada. Zilch. Zero. And what a refreshing turn of events that is, too! 🙂

  5. I had an unusual dream last night. Some guy in Denmark had been paid by the government to write a book and publish it. After that, they paid him to sit in a small conference room with his book full time to answer any questions that anyone might have about the book, but nobody ever came.

    I found out about this somehow and decided that I’d be the first one to walk in and start asking questions, even though I hadn’t seen the book and had no idea what it was about. (For all I could tell, the copy he had was the only copy that existed.)

    But by the time I got to this room, the author had quit his well-paid full time conference room sitting job and was living as a homeless person in a small pup tent with some other guy. The book was nowhere to be seen and, since he had quit his question answering job, I took that as an indication that he didn’t want to answer questions anymore. So I never talked to him and just left.

    Not sure what this has to do with Denmark, or the American Civil War for that matter (aside from the pup tent).

  6. The coarsening of the United States in the decades following the Civil War almost certainly attest to the sense in The People that the Constitution had been violated. As it had. Preservation of The Union had taken precedence over the fundamental liberty of a state or states to secede from that union. Force had triumphed over Liberty. And henceforth force, power, became the driver of action. It does not matter that the United States before the Civil War had been an imperfect apostle and guardian of liberty. What matters is that liberty had been the common ideal. The Civil War killed that…aspiration.

  7. “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with anoohter, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to wich the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”

    Words written in 1776 had no meaning to the leaders of the Federal Government in 1861. The leviathan had been born, and it was hungry.

    The South simply wanted to leave the Union, but were forced into a war they mostly did not want. Federal troops invaded the South and the war was on. Remember, slavery was not an issue to Lincoln until it became clear that there were those (the Copperheads) that wanted to end the war and let the South go it’s merry way. And he only freed those slaves in the Southern states, not the Northern states that still held slavery laws.

    If you want to mark the end of a nation of free people, it was the day Lincoln ordered troops into the South.

  8. Remember 9/11..never forget America.

    Remember Normandy…. never forget America.

    Remember Auschwitz /Buchenwald/Bergen- Belzen..never forget America.

    Remember Pearl Harbour…. never forget America.

    I pray America remembers to never elect a travesty like Barry Soetoro again. Dig deeply America.

    With respect, an Irishman who loves the American ideal.

    • Fortunately, the “elect a ‘black’ guy to prove you aren’t racist” hand has been played, but unfortunately the “elect a woman to prove you aren’t sexist” hand is just being assembled.

      • Surely that is a one-time scam. Barry was unvented in a time of perfected storm where America was recovering from economic disaster (the cost of Afghanistan/Iraq invasion and Dot.Con collapse) and anti-Bush sentimentality (and Bush truly was a mental midget but had a sound Cabinet).

        The travails and travesty of the T W O T that is hilary clinton are well publicized. I’ve canvased the 3,761 American women I’ve dated and they are united in their antipathy toward hillary ‘dodging bullets’ clinton.

      • Do we have proof Hillary is a woman? I’m tired of these questionable people. Currently on Twitter, in the Right Wing corner of it, there’s a trending hashtag: #WhyIWontVoteforHillary…or somesuch.

        • I can’t imagine a plausible explanation for Chelsea otherwise. That particularly unfortunate combination of features cannot have been anything but the natural result of allowing Bill and Hillary to have a child.

          And I seriously doubt that Bill is the mother.

          • It has long been averred that Webb Hubbell is Chelsea’s father. Google the two names together and you’ll get the various stories.

            Look at Hubbell’s other daughters and you can see some resemblance – chin and lips. But that was before Chelsea’s plastic surgery. I think they did a good job of making her facial features more harmonious; she’s an attractive young woman whose life has probably been hell. OTOH, it’s a hell with a huge pay-off.

            There are credible reports that Bill has a half-caste child, mothered by a (I think) woman who was a manager of a McDonald’s. President Clinton’s compulsive sybaritic acting out – hundreds and hundreds of women, willing or otherwise – was no doubt connected to his mother’s problems in that area. His very existence is due to her own unresolved abuse. We are talking Arkansas, after all.

            People have wondered if his refusal to use any form of birth control was a kind of sexual roulette related to the fact that his own conception occurred that way.

            Are we ready for another four years of this?

          • I think that women must necessarily have entirely different standards of feminine beauty from men.

          • I judge attractiveness mainly by symmetry and proportion. What went before is not as attractive as what came after the “work” of plastic surgery. This version is simply more symmetrical and in proportion.

            Helen of Troy? No.

  9. I grew up on the line between north and south in the Kanawha Valley of WV. Violent rivalries continued through the 1970’s for reasons no one really understood. But I found out later that that river was the reason I was born, and that had Stonewall would lived, WV would have never been carved out of VA.

    • It’s commonly said that the Civil War was actually a sectional war, and when men from, say, Georgia and New York fought each other, that was essentially true. They might as well have been from different countries.

      But in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, brother really did fight brother.

      At the Battle of Front Royal there were two 1st Maryland Regiments, one Union, one confederate. Before the war they had been a single unit, and then divided into two in 1861, just like the rest of the country. The CSA 1st Maryland was in the attacking force that came down on Front Royal, and did battle with itself, the USA 1st Maryland. Most of the Union half was captured, and the men on both sides actually knew each other. If I remember correctly, a Confederate officer in the CSA 1st Maryland captured his brother, a Union officer. Now, that’s a civil war.

      • During the Irish civil war a Nationalist (Michael Collins) patrol searched my maternal Grandfather’s 13-bedroom house looking for rebel (Republican) (Eamon DeValera) survivors of a recent local skirmish.

        My mother and her multitudinous siblings were forced to stand outside for 36 hours while they searched.

        Survivors were present, but they didn’t find them and I think I know why. Fathers fought sons and brothers fought brothers in our internecine unpleasentries but blood runs deeper than water.

        My mother married one of those ‘searchers’ and tensions long rang in our family as a consequence.

        • I ended up an avowed Michael Collins aficionado; although a long term Republican. The mixing of the concept of Irish Nationalism -Republicanism is a thematic conturbation the esteemed ‘Pickled in Japan’ can perhaps lay discerning dissertation to.

          The irony is I ended up classmates with Dev’s (Dev was born in New York) grandson of the same name and remain in distant contact with same. His life in a Franciscan boarding school was not easy.

          Michael Collins (Liam Neeson), the movie is a worthy watch. Collins was a twenty-nine year old high-school dropout who negotiated the Irish Free State in 1921 in negotiation with Brit PM Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. And you doubters think we bog-trotters can’t pitch.

          • My ancestral DNA includes several Lords Mayor of Limerick who were certainly busy back then. I like to look at the pictures. My bellicose grandfather spent a few nights in jail but they had to let him go due to his American citizenship – he was naturalized as a child but returned to help jump-start the Irish film industry. All that quaint picturesque poverty made for great backgrounds in film. Or “fil-um” as my relatives called it.

        • My family was friends with Eamon DeValera…I have some pictures of them on the day the papers were signed. And my great uncle on the other side of my family was the Irish Consul General to NYC for forever. Died in office.

          But all that is gone now. Strand House was pulled down…I won’t say a parking lot took its place but twas the moral equivalent. I forget now.

          The advantage of multitudinous siblings is that you get a good look at how the DNA plays out and who dies of what and at what age is helpful to plan your own demise.

          • re. the multitudinous siblings….

            Yeah: unless you’re the oldest (I’m the oldest of five). No idea yet what “gets” us….

          • Well, in Murray Bowen’s Family Systems Theory (which he lifted from and attributed to a German named Toman), there are siblings laws and some of them are based on spacing and some on gender. As the oldest, if you are followed by a sister within six years of your own birth, then you’re a bossy one 🙂 If a brother followed, “the oldest knows best” is softened to some extent by your care-taking of this poor boy-child who needs you…

            …Girls? You’re one so they hold no mystery. Boys are strange creatures and need your attention. These theories are attenuated to some extent on the family systems of each parent. Sib groups “clump” One group of six boys I know/knew, more or less divided off into groups of two. Though the middle group seemed kind of lost and unable to attach as well.

            In case you can’t tell, I love family theories…Families are the basis for everything else.

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