A new kind of neighborhood watch

IMG_0151So  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.

19 thoughts on “A new kind of neighborhood watch

  1. I’ve been to visit those dungeons in Salem — which makes you realize that history is not just a fairy tale, but it all really happened. It also makes you realize that, however ignorant and backward we sometimes seem, we’ve come a long way since the days of witches and slavery. (P, S. Good luck to Kathy!)


  2. All my closets have in them is junk! You have treasure troves. Your timeline on revolution to civil war made me think … Not always good with dates. That really was a relatively short time.

    David will be well taken care of in your absence. You are fortunate to have such good neighbors. (As they are to have you.)


    • Yes, we should stop beating ourselves up for slavery. It took a few years, but we did become an enlightened people after a relatively short time. The founders knew it was an issue when they developed the Constitution, but they needed to “hang together” as Franklin said, and that meant not alienating any more Southern colonies (there were 23 British colonies…not all joined the original 13).

      The French discovered this problem when they wrote their declaration on the rights of man. Haiti rebelled soon afterward.


  3. How does anyone know whether or not someone is a witch — and then have the gall to put her to death? Just horrible! I hate the thought of it.

    Boy, you sure do store things away for a long time. I am just the opposite. I keep discarding stuff after it’s been sitting around for 6 months or so. Lol.


  4. What a wonderful neighborhood you have.

    My kid’s Dad and I found an old camera after a move and developed the film that was in it. We found pictures of his mother who a had died not long after we were married. She was camera shy and here were several pictures of her actually smiling, quite a treat after such a long time.


  5. I always enjoy learning of the books you read. I am always finding books around here that I want to read again. You must be looking forward to your trip. It sounds like David will be well looked after. Wishing Kathy the best.


    • Oh yes, my neighborhood is full of elderly single women, and David is a big flirt. They all love him. The book by Hall is particularly good if you are interested in early American history. I pray Kathy will be okay. Sunday, Brother D is bringing holy water from Lourdes to sprinkle on her. That should help.


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