You don’t say #7–Saturday 22 October 2016–It’s morning. Not at all early. The sun shone on trees across the river before being hidden by clouds. I’ve opened the two greatroom shutters to bring more of the outside in. The bales of straw that Christina and Ricky used last Saturday as seating for their backyard wedding are still piled ready to be hauled off.
It’s 42 degrees out, 67 in. My coffee needs a warmup. Ah, Saturday. Later this morning Perc Blosser will be back with two 16′ deck boards to replace the ones we took up yesterday. Funny, how two old boards rotted right next to each other. These old ones provided smaller pieces of lumber for related deck and pier repairs.
I’ve pulled the flowers, mowed the lawn, planted daffodils, and, oh yes, hold on, I’m going to refill and reheat my coffee–an intense and smoky French Roast . . . I’m back.
I’m using a cup I brought home from Café Du Monde in New Orleans, LA, sometime in the mid1970s. Sadly, no beignets today. One side of my cup reads: “Café Du Monde, the original French Market coffee stand, serving café au lait and hot beignets (French doughnuts) 24 hours a day, year round. This familiar New Orleans landmark has been located in the French Quarter since 1862.”
Just think, 1862 was just after the start of the American Civil War (1861-65). That’s just a bit more than 150 years ago. Other dates we learned in school: In 1866 Dr. David Liviingstone first arrived in East Africa seeking to find the source of the Nile. He died in Zambia in May 1873. In November 1869 the Suez Canal opened to shipping.
I pull those dates from a fascinating book I read this week: The Obamas: The Untold Story of an African Family by Peter Firstbrook (Crown Publishers, 2011). This family history hits the nail on the head in terms of epic scope, human interest, yet, as the flyleaf notes, it is “intimate in feel.”
I quote from Chapter 8 in Firstbrook’s book. His first paragraph is one sentence long: “The world changed in 1953.”
In the next paragraph he writes: “On January 7, President Harry S. Truman ushered in the New Year by announcing that the United States had developed a hydrogen bomb. When Dwight D. Eisenhower took office as president later that month, he kept up the pressure on the Soviet Union by making nuclear weapons central to his foreign policy. In June, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility, having been found guilty of spying for the USSSR. The Cold War was about to get a lot cooler.”
Skipping to paragraph four, I quote: “In the United Kingdom on June 2, Elizabeth walked up the aisle of Westminster Cathedral a princess and walked out a queen. Britain was, at last, emerging from the penury of the Second World War: a British-led climbing team had reached the summit of Everest, the country was experiencing full employment, and for the first time its citizens enjoyed the benefits of the newly created National Health Service. But the country would never regain its prewar global status, and over the next two decades the United Kingdom had to come to terms with its lost empire as its colonies moved one by one toward independence. Kenya was particularly turbulent by mid-1953, as the government there tried to suppress the Mau Mau rebellion, The rift between the white colonial community in Kenya and the Home Office in London continued to widen, and the growing nationalist movement would inexorably lead to Ke3nyan independence within a decade.”
That’s a glimpse of a pivotal year in world affairs, followed by other signal events. In 1959, President Obama’s father, also named Barack Obama, left Nairobi for university studies in Hawaii. In the summer of 1960 he met Ann Dunham whom he married in 1961. On August 4, 1961, their son, Barack, future president of the United States, was born “at 7:24 p.m. local time, at the Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children, Honolulu.”
November 5, 2008, Barack Obama is elected president of the United States of America. January 20, 2009, he is sworn in as the forty-fourth president, the country’s first black president.
I found the book hard to put down. Same goes for the book I mentioned before, Getting Religion, by Kenneth L. Woodward. Woodward covers the time from Eisenhower to Obama. What happened in religion in the US had far-reaching implications. Just think of the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the women’s rights movement, the Liberation Theology movement, and the Evangelical/Pentecostal movement.
Woodward, who was a front-line observer of these things as religion editor for Newsweek magazine, calls this the most volatile religious period in American history, On page 395 he references political scientist John Green in stating that “religion typically turns out to be a more powerful variable than gender, age, income, or class in predicting how a citizen will vote in a presidential election.”
I wish I had time and space to elaborate more on the fine, fine volume that Woodward has written. Find it and read it for yourself. It helps put today into perspective given the past everyone over 30, 60, 70 and up has lived through. It opens the shutters on the day we live in.
Who would forego the warming shutter of a stroll outside? That’s for later this afternoon. Perc will soon be here. The clouds are gone and fall colors are still achangin’. Best! -John