Monday Meanderings….

A fellow David and I knew years ago died recently.  As he had lived in our area for 30 years before moving to Florida, the Washington Post published an obituary this past Sunday.  Sandy Beach, a retired Marine pilot whose children attended school with my children, had almost 50 years in AA.  As a younger man, Sandy was mad, bad and dangerous to know, not unlike most of the Marines I have ever known (I was married to one for 16 years).

But Sandy found Amazing Grace, or Grace found him.

When Sandy died of a massive heart attack he was attending an AA meeting and giving a ‘talk’ on the First Step” (Admitted we were powerless over Alcohol), advocated by Bill Wison many years ago.

The reporter wrote that Sandy pitched forward and fell face first into the “Big Book on the 10 steps of AA recovery” used by alcoholics across the world.  I can’t think of a better way to die, especially for someone who so profoundly affected so many lives including several members of my family. Rest in Peace Sandy.


Years ago, when David and I were younger and into stories about violent crime, we saw all the films Bruce Willis made, including Pulp Fiction.  Although it had its humorous moments, the murder and mayhem left me feeling badly, so I gave up these sources of entertainment.  Later I realized the name of the motorcycle Bruce drove in his final scene where he and his girlfriend ride out of town, was named ‘Grace.’  Bruce’s character is literally saved by Grace.


I’ve been thinking about Grace lately, because I have been rereading a book on religion in Colonial America, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgement: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England, by Bruce Hall.

I am exceedingly curious about this period in our history because in exploring my Great-Grandfather Herbert’s family tree, I have discovered hundreds of his ancestors were affiliated with one Christian religious order or another, and a number of them were Deacons.  (One of these Deacons was also a famous “Indian Fighter.”)

Furthermore, one of Herbert’s ancestors was a judge who oversaw a witch trial (the defendant accused of hexing a cow, was exonerated) and another put on trial for witchcraft, but later released. Hall’s book sheds light on these incidents, because he makes clear that although these people were nominally Christian, they also believed in magic.  In my mind (probably put there by the anthropologists), religion and magic are closely related.  (See also, Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, by Emile Durkheim.)

Mostly, what seems to have survived from this period in our family is the so-called Protestant Ethic, which involved, among other things: godliness, personal responsibility and accountability, thriftiness and cleanliness.  If I escaped this inculcation to some degree, it surely has been owing to Grace as evidenced through the kindness of others.


The Coffin House in Massachusetts.  Where some of my ancestors lived.

The Coffin House in Massachusetts, where some of my ancestors lived long ago.

13 thoughts on “Monday Meanderings….

    • I found the photo on Placed there by a distant relative who says this house belonged to “her” ancestors. Actually about 100 people jumped on the photo after I reposted. Some folks don’t understand that these early New Englanders have many offspring, and thus they get a bit possessive…like sibs arguing, “my mommy,” “no my mommy,” the squabble over who “owns” an ancestor.

      As for wealth, alas it did not flow this way. Most of my ancestors were peasants and/or indentured. The small farmers Jefferson loved. And I mean small. One ancestor had “five neat cattle” when he died, according to his will.

      Undoubtedly someone “out married” from the “family, and I think I found her. She had three husbands, serially of course, one of them an indentured Scotsman named John Smith (and not THE John Smith….please). I triple checked her records because she came from an illustrious family (Peabody).

      According to what I read the house is one the oldest houses in New England.


  1. You definitely take your geneological research a step further than usual. Most I know just want their family tree connections, names and dates. You take time to research the history of the era. I love this! Much more interesting and valuable to you, your family, and those of us lucky enough to read your posts!!


  2. So sorry to hear about your friend, he sounds like he led a very interesting life and found himself later on. As you say, a good way to go. Me? I hope I will be walking in the woods when my time comes.

    About your comment on my blog. I’m not sure which recipe I used with lime juice but it was probably those Thai ones. We usually use a fresh lime but we also like to squirt lime juice into a glass of water, not only for the refreshing taste but also for the extra Vitamin C. If you click on the link below my recipes (click on ‘recipes’ or ‘main course’ it should take you to the one you need and I don’t think you would have to go too far back. In the meantime I will take a look and let you know what I find, if I can remember. My memory is not what it used to be!


  3. He sounds like someone I would have liked to have known. 🙂

    Last night’s speaker here must have been like him. Now he’s human, and instead of sponsees brought his wife. She’d had a stroke, and she was trying to say things without giving away either the stroke or the fact that he ran the valley central office. I was able to make her laugh by telling her that I lost everything from the neck up, and she made me laugh by indicating she only lost half from the neck up and the other half from the neck down. He was a great speaker too.


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