No, I am not related to Nathaniel Hawthorne*

*At least not in a very meaningful way. When I was a child I and my sister and my cousins were told that we were related to Nathaniel Hawthorne, the eminent 19th-century American novelist. This must be true, we were told, because our grandmother, Cora Belle Hawthorne, was, well, a Hawthorne. The story may have … Continue reading No, I am not related to Nathaniel Hawthorne*

My 9/11 Story

On March 6, 2002, I contributed this story to the September 11 Digital Archive, http://911digitalarchive.org/ . It's as "real-time" as my recollection of that day's events could possibly get, but feels as if I wrote it on 9/12/01. ---------------------------------- I started the day at Dulles Airport, from where American Airlines Flight 77 departed and crashed into the Pentagon. … Continue reading My 9/11 Story

Memorial Day tribute to Richard W. Dews, a paratrooper

Shoulder patch, 503rd PIR On February 19, 1945, a paratrooper named Richard Dews died in combat on the Philippine island of Corregidor. He was a few weeks shy of his 28th birthday. He was unmarried, had no children. His mother, siblings, and nieces and nephews survived him. As we observe Memorial Day in the U.S., … Continue reading Memorial Day tribute to Richard W. Dews, a paratrooper

Blackface minstrelsy at Georgetown University and environs

Pretty songs, well sung, blackface eccentricities, dancing and the comedy of minstrelsy made up the program of the Georgetown University Minstrels and Comedy Club, which gave a performance at the Belasco Theater last evening for the benefit of the Poughkeepsie crew fund.– Washington Post, May 8, 1910 The Saturday evening show, reported on by the … Continue reading Blackface minstrelsy at Georgetown University and environs

“They wanted me to be another Washington”

When writers contemplate the character of George Washington, they often quote Napoleon Bonaparte, who is supposed to have uttered the line “They wanted me to be another Washington.” The general who became a dictator and lost his empire reflects ruefully on the general who could have assumed a kingship, but did not. Thus is Washington’s greatness increased. … Continue reading “They wanted me to be another Washington”

Replacing Justice Scalia: It’s not (technically) unprecedented for a president to replace a Supreme Court justice in the last year of his presidency

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died today at the age of 79. It’s a presidential election year. Barack Obama is in his last year of office. The Senate is controlled by a Republican majority that has deliberately frustrated the president’s agenda at every turn. With the Supreme Court divided so closely on so many issues, … Continue reading Replacing Justice Scalia: It’s not (technically) unprecedented for a president to replace a Supreme Court justice in the last year of his presidency

My grandfather, inventor of obscure and necessary things

Allmon F. Segrest My maternal grandfather Allmon Franklin Segrest, Jr. was born in 1909 in Kirbyville, Texas to a sawmill operator and a housewife. Frank—or “Papaw” as those few of his grandchildren who knew him called him—grew up hard. His father and namesake was murdered when junior was just four months old. His mother, Avie … Continue reading My grandfather, inventor of obscure and necessary things