Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Greetings, 1910, Adams County, Iowa

Postmark: St. Paul, MINN, 6 pm Nov. 19, 1910. Dear Florence, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. Did you get my letter? What are you folks going to do this Thanksgiving? We will all be at home. From your loving friend, Edna C.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Index Humor

My work life has, the last few months, involved quite a bit of directory planning and index-making. I hadn't thought of it as an avenue for humor until last week. Miffed that Sarah Palin's new book was published index-less, several people have posted their own indices. It's unlikely that Palin will thank them for their trouble, given that I laughed aloud at the first two listed below. At the risk of joining the ranks of the lonely and shallow people who don't admire poor Sarah, here are the indices I've seen so far.

  • The 'Going Rogue' Index by Seyward Darby (November 17) in The New Republic. Some favorite entries:
    • "Dang" 74, 184, 282, 296, 352, 401
    • "Going rogue" 209, 298, 317, 359, 403
    • Good deeds of Sarah Palin 1-403
    • "Holy geez!" 171
    • Lies told about Sarah Palin 74-75, 77, 79, 95, 102, 148, 202-204, 215, 232, 236-239, 246-247, 272-275, 289, 314, 318-320, 338, 343, 346-348, 350-352, 365-366, 378, 380
    • Lies told by Sarah Palin N/A
  • The Going Rogue Index on compiled by Christopher Beam Tuesday, Nov. 17. My favorite entry: "progress," usage of as transitive verb, 64.
  • "Going Rogue" Index (Unofficial) by Marcus Baram on The Huffington Post also appeared November 17. This one is less amusing than the previous two, but perhaps more functional. As I don't intend to closely examine (or even quickly skim) the text, this is not a selling point for me.
  • It's the Going Rogue Index! just lists the names of living people mentioned in the book, but it provides loud music, and some photos of those not indexed, including, apparently, King Kong and Captain Ahab.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Fall Out With Reverend Price

Have you noticed that every time I mention William T. Price on here, I fall silent for a long time afterwards? No? It's true. Because I've spent so much time with Reverend Price in the last year, I've tried really hard to like him, or empathize with him, or admire him. For example, he was ready with a sermon for any occasion, complete with some appropriate but relatively obscure Bible verses. Always prepared; always professional--that's surely admirable. He faced many hardships--long days in the saddle, riding from church to church to deliver those professional and polished sermons; the hardships of the Civil War; the vague but looming career disappointment in the years following the war--surely I could conjure some sympathy.

But no. I can't turn my attention away from his apparent snobbery, his Jesus-free Calvinistic sermons, and his disdain for careful editing. It always leaves me in a funk. It's passages like this one (from his Civil War diary) that keep me cranky:

Upon resuming my journey...I saw a solitary person approaching at a brisk, headlong trot. He was mounted on a very ordinary looking horse. The saddle and saddlebags were old and much worn, his shoes were of some home tanned leather, coarse and heavy, very need of the attention of a cobbler, while his clothing was of plain homespun jeans. His loosely fitting coat was threadbare and out at the elbows, and his crumpled slouch hat nearly concealed his shaggy eyebrows beneath which blazed a pair of piercing and inquisitive eyes, such as are seldom seen in a life time and never to be forgotten. He rather abruptly stopped me in the road by a stentorian inquiry whether I was from Beverly.

"How is the vote?"

"I think Secession has the majority"

"Do you say the Secession candidate is ahead? I have the honor to be that candidate."

And this was really so: the successful candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates was before me, elected by the counties of Randolph and Tucker. What a comment upon the democratic tendencies of our political institutions when candidates to be popular should dress like the Biblical Gibeonites and behave accordingly. One of the blessings of this civil war, we may hope, will be to inaugurate a happier era by sweeping the depraved and vicious from the political arena, or teach them to prize their political privileges by choosing the best, not the worst looking of men for their rulers.