So am poking around the closet in my study looking for a mid-sized travel case and I find another camera, only I don’t remember owning it, let alone using it. And it is a film camera with a couple of rolls of film, and I don’t know if I could even operate a film camera any more. Next I ask myself if I am losing it, then I find a stash of books…all the texts from the courses I took on British Colonial America. On the shelf above the books are hundreds of copies of In Britain magazine to which I subscribed for three decades. Did I say I was an Anglophile?
Well, I was an Anglophile until I discovered I had all these ancestors who kicked over the traces centuries ago and said enough of that British colonial stuff already. Were they Revolutionaries? I don’t know. At the time, the British Crown said they were trouble-makers and rebellious. I like to think about my Dad, who knew his great-grandfather Herbert, whose father Jonas fought in the U.S. Civil War, and whose own great-grandfathers fought in the American Revolution. Come to think of it, they were non-conformists.
A longer period of time has elapsed since the U.S. Civil War and now, than had elapsed between the Revolution and the Civil War (four score and seven years). To me that is important, because it says, it wasn’t all that long after the Declaration of Independence that Americans decided to eliminate slavery.
Another way of thinking about it is that most of the history of slavery in what became the U.S. took place before the Revolution and during the colonial era. Once those land-owing founders let the genii out of the bottle and freed themselves, they had to free others..the Jacksonian or common man (a non-land-owing majority), African-Americans, and finally women.
So, this is what I have been doing I told myself…reading history…which tends to make me forget everything else, including misplaced cameras and wandering suitcases.
In my stash in the closet, I found one of my favorite books, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgement: Popular Religious Belief in Early new England, by David Hall. At the time I first read this book, I was studying Wicca and witchcraft. When their colonies were established in the Americas, Britain was living through the days of a declining belief in magic. Hall argues there were two kinds of religion..what the clerics taught and what the people believed…magic. Historians call it Popular Culture. What the people believe is powerful. Although these British Protestant colonists did not believe in fairies, they did believe in the devil and witchcraft. Hence the Salem witch trials.
Many of my ancestors lived in Salem at one time. A neighbor accused one of my female ancestors of witchcraft. She was put on trial for hexing a cow, but later exonerated. Another ancestor was a judge. One of his court cases involved a case of witchcraft. The accused was exonerated on his watch. Unlike the author Nathaniel Hawthorn, I am not descended from a hanging judge. What these trials show is that the times were changing. The times are always changing.
I spoke with Kathy last night after she returned from the hospital. She says she has a blue booby because the doctor injected her with a dye. The dye was supposed to indicate which lymph nodes were connected to the lump. She says she won’t know for a week to 10 days what the biopsy says. As she is an artist, she hopes that chemo won’t be necessary because she needs her hands to work, and neighbor Cathy has neuropathy from the chemo she received for breast cancer.
Meanwhile Kathy says David must check in with her each day I am gone. She says she has alerted “all the neighbors” they should watch out for him. He is not to walk both dogs at the same time, for one thing. I imagine he won’t go hungry either. David says this is a new kind of “neighborhood watch.” Kathy also knows how to contact me in CA, I tell him.