March

March

Before it goes out like a lamb, it’s time to talk about the month of March.  Looking back in history we’ll remember this month, in 2020, as the time when the Coronavirus grew exponentially in the U.S.A.  Not that we weren’t forewarned, by the explosion taking place in Europe, preceded by China, and Iran, etc., etc.. in previous weeks. Covid-19’s here to stay for a long time; forty five days until we see a peak, eighteen months before life goes back to normal, if it ever does.  In the long haul a positive outcome to this situation can be found within ourselves; find ways to beat it psychologically, remain optimistic, and use it to be more creative and productive in our personal lives.  Take up painting, the piano, reading novels, writing as much as we can.  How can we reach out, and help others, and bring them into our lives?  What special talents do we have that we can share?  There are certainly people living in a more precarious habitat, in which I’m living.  Selfishly I hope I don’t catch the virus, or be a carrier and less selfishly, pass it on to someone else.  So, where do we go from here? The answer seems to be nowhere, nothing versus something, and now being never.  What is true is we are all vulnerable.  No-one is exempt.

Back to March.  What do we know about this third month of the calendar year, which during Roman Times was the first, and not the third of the year?  A month named after the god of war, called Mars. Special days in particular yearn to be celebrated.  Such as St. Patrick’s day, on the 17th, especially by the Irish, but even if you haven’t an ounce of Irish in your blood, you’re always welcome to partake in Irish generosity.

On the 15th of March, back in Roman Times, an old woman warned Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March.”  Against his wife’s best wishes Caesar ignored the oracle and ventured out into the Roman forum only to be assassinated, and find moments before he fell to his death that his best friend had betrayed him; thus the famous quote “Et tu Brutus?”  The circumstance is a reminder to follow the wisdom of Shakespeare spoken in one of his plays “Love all, trust a few, and do wrong to no-one.”  And, in the wake of the Corona19, to listen to the oracle; Stay home, protect yourselves, and others.

Since I am a curious person, who seeks novelty in all things possible to brush away the the sins of idleness, and boredom, I have a trivia fact for March.  Does anyone know what September, October, November and December stand for?  I found this out the other day through a post by the Farmer’s Almanac.  The meaning of the prefixes of these months in latin follow suit with March being the first month of the year, for Sept means seven, Octo, eight, Nove, nine, and Dece, ten.  So whatever happened to January and February?  There is an answer, but at this moment, I can only say; “I do not know it.”  Just like there are answers surrounding the mysteries of the Coronavirus, but for now uncertainty reigns, and only time will tell.

Talca, Chile

Talca, Chile

Been going to Chile, for a long time.  Believe it or not, I hold a sort of love hate relationship with this country.  A place I hold near and dear, for many reasons, but truthfully I remain affected by the injustices I’ve seen, the stratification of society, and the patience of the ‘have nots.’  Having the advantage of growing up in a wealthy country  vastly opens my eyes to the inconveniences one encounters.  It may consist of the simple matter of the quality of the tooth paste or the dish soap, which just doesn’t seem to lather up.  It may be the broken down condition of appliances, and just plain lower quality and inefficiency, the absence of, for which we take for granted in the U.S.  But to make up for these annoying and frustrating details, there is something in the everyday, working class people, and the value they have for life that makes all the rest unimportant.  I hope these few pictures here will convey the layers of dissent, sadness, solitude, love, and giving that I encountered by simply walking down the streets of a town like Talca.

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Young people walking side by side, hand in hand. Affection is openly expressed in public. Young lovers, kissing and embracing is not uncommon, or mother’s, daughters and friends walking and holding hands may be seen. Personally, I don’t enjoy seeing lovers expressing their physical relationship in public, and I know some Chileans feel the same way, but there is more tolerance for such open behavior, for sure.

 

Sweeper
Intrigued by the print on the street sweeper’s shirt, which read ‘Free Mind’ I asked this woman for a picture. She kindly obliged. But, I first asked her “Sabe Ud. qué significa ‘free mind?” and she shook her head “No.”  When I told her ‘Mente libre’ she liked it, and smiled. I was so impressed with the dignity with which she performed her work, for the good of the community.  I’m sure she doesn’t get paid much.
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Mente Libre
Interior of a building shelled by the earthquake of 2010. Nine years later many buildings like this can be found around the city, though many have been dismantled, and replaced with newer real estate. There is a certain beauty of these places, usually of adobe, that remains. I hate to see them go.
“Reparadora de Calzado” means “Shoemaker.” Original handwriting often adorns the front of businesses.
Fuerza
“Fuerza” meaning ‘strength’ is a large reminder to the people of Chile who are now engaged in polemics and demonstrations against the present government of Presidente Piñera. A plebiscite is in the making for April to revise the constitution. People are crying for more social justice and reforms in education and health, among other things. Most people I’ve spoken to are not hopeful the government will successfully effect changes for the average citizen.
This facade of a former home, shows its elegance with arches and spiraling pilasters.
Orange and yellow houses on 7 Oriente A.
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Casa Azul
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“Cuidado” You will notice the broken sidewalk. One must be careful when walking along. A side street in Talca leading into a small plaza. Houses are quaint.
Cómo comunicarse mejor? How to communicate better.  The telephone company.
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“Oficio” “Occupation” You see many older people, especially men keeping themselves busy with unheard of occupations. He may be happy with what he’s doing. We often judge based on our own standards. I hope his children or grandchildren have more opportunities. Chile in the last quarter of a century has been lauded as a forerunner in advancements and economic progress, in comparison to their Latin American neighbors.  Obviously you can’t compare Chile to a country like Nicaragua, the second or third poorest in the Western Hemisphere.  However, we must ask; what portion of the Chilean population has economic progress benefitted? How many people are still left behind? Poor health and education are residues of an oppressive dictatorship, and the society of the establishment, who want to keep themselves in power, and hang on to the land and wealth they have. It’s easy for a person coming from a highly developed country to criticize, when we really have so many handouts, and benefits.  But even the U.S. with all its wealth should improve health and education standards, for pockets of our country.  The recent upsurge of white nationalism in the U.S. and a sense of entitlement is taking place. But then, who cares about a “thinking society” if one is comfortable, scraping by in existence?  It is proven by political scientists that a “non-caring, or non-thinking” society ends up in a dictatorship.  Add systematic racism and elitism to the mix, and you have volatile situation.
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“Juggler” Young people will show their talents on the sidewalks, or at an intersection of a street. When traffic stops they perform, and seconds before the light is to turn green, go to the windows of the cars to collect change. Drivers are pretty generous. It always means having change available and being ready to react.
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View of the Alameda de Bernardo O’Higgins, the George Washington of Chile. A creole with a hispanic mother and Irish father, some view him as a tyrant who obliterated the indigenous population of Mapuches. The Mapuches were extremely fierce and hard to conquer. Resentment still exists today.
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Trabajador. Worker at his iPhone.  Incentive?
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“I am Sauce”. “Soy”, in Spanish means “I am.” When I took this picture my mind was in Spanish mode, thus the translation for the title. Basically, it’s a repurposed container for Soy Sauce collecting water.
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Window remnants of an adobe structure.
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Remains of an adobe house from 2010 earthquake.
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View of how a window was put together on an adobe house. The earthquake virtually obliterated all adobe structures in the city. So sad to see these artistic works of architecture come down.
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“Limpiando” Cleaning the boulevard.
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“Árboles”
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“La Salle” Elite private school in Talca.  Virtually every building in Talca was plastered with graffiti by protesters, except this one.  Puzzling.
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“Un negocio? Quién sabe” A business? Who knows?
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Afternoon sun casting light on Avenida Oriente 1.
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“El corazón de la ciudad” La Plaza de Armas. Heart of the city.
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Cyclist on Plaza de Armas.
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La Plaza de Armas
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The recent graffiti is telling. “No God, no Boss, no Man.” A huge statement in protest of a traditionally patriarchal society.
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“Vale morir de pie que vivir arrodillada.” “It’s better to die on your feet than to live, kneeling down.” Huge statement about pride and revolution. Standing up for what you believe in.

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“Ley Salud Mental Ahora” It’s hard to tell what will come from the demonstrations which started in October. A vote on the Constitution is coming up in April, but people fear it will mean nothing. Some want things to stay as they are, and don’t care.  The question is how far will the protesters carry this. The everyday Chilean basically wants peace. This is what happened when the military junta took over in 1973, ruling for 13 years.  In 1989 when a new Constitution was written and governing was handed over to civilians. But during the dictatorship there was a big price to pay. Many people exiled, and mass murders of dissenters. Many felt it easier to just have a dictatorship than to take matters in their own hands.  To dissent was to risk your life. (See the movie “Missing” with Jack Lemmon) Back to the sign in the photo – health is a huge issue. A friend of mine in Chile explained that mental illness is not recognized as a legitimate sickness, unless you have money and are able to get services in a private clinic. She spoke from personal experience.  She had an emotional breakdown and had to go to a clinic.  She was made to feel grateful for this service, only available to her because her husband’s family was able to provide it for her.   The lower classes are not so fortunate and are left without services, often made to feel guilty for their condition. This overflows into Education. Few public schools are adequate, but many people can’t afford to go to a private school.
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“Quiénes son los terroristas?” “Who are the terrorists?”
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The circle with the four corners is a native Mapuche symbol.
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“Left hanging.”
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Interior murals
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Memoria del terremoto de 2010. Memory of the 2010 earthquake.

Memory Bank

April will now be remembered for the tragic burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.  The vivid image of the spire in flames falling to the ground, and this 12th century structure, engulfed in flames will forever be a sad part of the past.  Maybe saddest of all is it happened during Holy Week.  All over the world Christians are reliving Bible history and the story of Jesus Christ, and then the place that supposedly holds a part of the crown of thorns goes up in flames.  But, miraculously the crown had been taken from its original location.  Not sure if this really happened, where it actually is, and whether or not it’s wishful thinking.  Whatever the case, it is a lost treasure, but hark, the French will take 5 years to bring it all back to life.  To our good fortune the facade, with all the gargoyles, and the two towers are still intact.  Something to build upon.

The burning of Notre Dame set my memory in motion to when I was a small Catholic girl who faithfully went to church, every Sunday and every day during the school year in Catholic school.  There was no other way.  Though I am not practicing now my feeling about my early religiosity comes back to me.  I was fearful of the church, and the nuns and priests who darted around in their dark garb, with their rosaries and keys clanging and dangling down the side of their dress.  They were a symbol of the necessity to never break the 10 commandments, to go to confession, and to always be a good girl, for if I wasn’t I would burn in hell, and the spend time with all the fallen angels.  A lost soul, condemned in the eyes of God, was the last thing I wanted to be.  But, oh temptation was so near at hand.  It seemed like breathing in air was a mortal sin.  There were so many sins I wasn’t sure what was ok, and what wasn’t, and come time for confession, I was at a loss at how to form my words.  Fortunately, I only got ten Our Father’s and ten Hail Mary’s to say, so I must have been doing ok.  Good thing, because they were the only prayers I had committed to memory, except for “Now I lay me down to sleep.” My mom never pressured me into going to confession.  She was a converted Catholic, and she knew better.  I was fortunate to be brought up with her sanity, for she married into a staunch French Canadian catholic family.  If she didn’t convert she wouldn’t have been able to be a part of the family.  Even as a convert she was viewed as a renegade.

There was a good side to my Catholic upbringing, because I got to read all the stories of the saints, and bible stories like Noah’s Ark, and last but not least, I was intrigued by the mystery of Christ, how he was betrayed by Judas and lied to by Saint Peter, and how he had to spend the whole night in that garden that is a long word and starts with the letter G.  Then there was Holy Thursday, the last supper, and finally, Good Friday.  Our town respected this day.  All the stores closed down before noon, and everyone went to church until 3 o’clock and contemplated the agony Christ went through as he hung on the cross, and died.  There was a movie too, called “The Robe”. This made it ever so vivid.  Christ in his last minutes uttered; “Forgive them lord they know not what they are doing.”  My dad owned the theatre and he played this movie every Easter week, year after year.

But even today, with the burning of Notre Dame I think back to the good feelings of my church upbringing.  Getting a new hat, gloves and a new dress.  New patten leather shoes and spending Easter Sunday with a very large family.  Annabelle, and Ray, Father John, and Grandma, and all the cousins.  Back in the day, I’m sure my ancestors visited the Notre Dame in France in the 1600’s, and if not Notre Dame, the cathedral of Rouen or the one in Caen, where William the Conquerer is buried.  They are all from the same time.  We had to keep up the religion of our family from centuries past.

It was around 1984 that I entered the Notre Dame, the one and only time.  I remember the experience vividly.  It was filled with people, but it was pitch black.  This was before they started to spiff it up, for the tourists, with inside lights illuminating the sacred artifacts, and all the architectural details we see in pictures today.  No, it was dark, and people kept talking loudly, and over the loudspeaker every couple minutes you would hear “Shhhhhhh!  Silence!” in French. “You are in a house of worship.”  Nobody obeyed, but I did, because I knew how to show respect for something beyond myself, far-reaching, learned from my sacred and holy upbringing.   It was not the sins, or the threats or the fear of going to hell that stayed with me, but the mystery of the unknown, the inexplicable that I may never have pondered if it weren’t for my religious childhood.    Even Willa Cather, and Hart Crane, non-Catholic writers knew that Catholicism imbued something greater than life. This is why when the Cathedral of Notre Dame went up in flames, so did the hopes of so many believers, as they stood by and cried out in disbelief.

Historical Queens, in February

Queen Anne was born February 6th, in 1665.

If anyone has ever seen the new movie called “The Favourite” it will make you wonder about the life Queen Anne led. That is if I have the same Queen Anne. The movie is a bit wild. Queen Anne’s relationships with her two ladies in waiting, and the jealousy that ensues between them, is what truly attracts the viewer to the theatre. One of the maidens is banished, chased into exile, and left for dead, when she falls from her horse, and is dragged, and trampled along the trail. Anne had a long relationship with this first maiden. They corresponded in writing frequently, within the castle walls. It was kind of like texting. She was her confidant, for many years. Then, the second one arrived to the castle, as a cleaning woman.  Sympathy is stirred for her in the scene, where she burns her hands with lye soap, with which she cleans the chamber floors.  Of royal blood she manipulates her way into the queen’s favor, and in the mind of Anne, becomes her favorite. Although cruel, and sinister at heart, the second maiden covers her evilness with good deeds, when it means she will get her way. Anne is a lonely queen. She lost all of her children and couldn’t bare the emotional pain. Her second lady in waiting jumps to the queen’s command. To maintain her center of power maiden #2 puts up with the queen’s fits of despair. Anne realizes her second maiden is less genuinely concerned for her well-being, but depends on her to perform explicit sexual manipulation. For Anne, the pleasure principal is the only thing that frees her from the anguish she has at losing all her children, and from her own miserable existence. Apparently Hollywood took liberty to extrapolate the lesbian theme, for there is nothing concretely written to say that Anne had an amorous relationship with her maidens.  After seeing the movie I came across this silly verse about when she was born, and the gossip surrounding her death.

Queen Ann is – Pho!

That’s easy said!

Who doesn’t know

Queen Anne is dead?

Nay, gossip, nay,

Abate your scorn!

Learn that to-day 

Queen Anne is born.

Another queen died on the 8th of February, 80 years later. She was the elegant, and legendary, Mary Queen of Scots!

 

 

 

The Magical Light of Padua, Italy, and Giotto’s Frescoes @ the Scrovegni Chapel.

 

 

During a recent stay, in Padua, Italy, I marveled at a seemingly enchanting light hovering over this very old city, going back before Roman times, a place where many layers of culture and history are available to feast the mind.  In particular are the lives of two famous artists, who made their stay in Padua. Giotto lived there in the 14th century, and Donatello, in the 15th.  Another artist named Mantegna must not be forgotten, when speaking of Padua.  He was a prominent painter, who lived in this city dedicated to St. Anthony, the hermit.

So surprised at the amazing light of Padua and the similarity I found in the tones and colors in the frescoes of Giotto, I made mention of this to acquaintances along the way.  I’m not sure if they understood what I was trying to say.  While there may be a scientific explanation for this phenomena, real or imagined, I sought out information on Google and was pleasantly surprised that a French writer in his book Wanderings in Italy also spoke of the quality of light in Padua.  Although he was there in the fall and I in the early summer, more than 100 years apart, it was quite a revelation that we both were struck by the relationship of the light and the effect this had on its artists, particularly its painters.  Gabriel Fauré, nonetheless had a differing perception of the nature of Paduan light. He said, “Forms stand out in strong relief. The lines of the Euganean Hills, so soft and blurred as seen from Venice, are so precise and definite here that they almost hurt the eyes.”  He then mentioned the art of Giotto and Mantegna as being influenced by this surrounding atmosphere.  Contrarily, I found the light to be soft and pastel like and conjured more closely the images of Giotto’s palette.  Mantegna is quite different in style and true enough his palette is more saturated and his forms have a more outlined and definite quality than those of Giotto.  Perhaps Giotto painted in the early summer, and Mantegna in the fall.  Whatever may be the case, I’m not certain scientific explanation can prove either case, but it could try.  It may also depend on the season, in which one resides.  What is true is that human perception of nature’s affect on artistic renditions, open to interpretation, cannot be denied.

In the beginning of the article, I have included photos I took of the frescoes by Giotto from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.  Below, is also the script of Faure taken from his travel journal in Italy.  It is worth a reading to understand what his experience was like and its parallel with my own experience.  Click on Scrovegni Chapel for an excellent tour of the inside of the chapel, and explanation by the Khan Academy.

The environs of Padua are delightful. ‘If we did not know,’ said the Emperor Constantine Palæologus, ‘that the earthly Paradise was in Asia, I should have believed that it must have been in the territory of Padua.’ I am struck more especially by the change in the aspect of everything only a few leagues from Venice. Climate, landscape, sky and inhabitants are all quite different. The light, above all, is of another quality. It is not full of colour and vapour as on the lagoon, but vivid and piercing. Forms stand out in strong relief. The lines of the Euganean Hills, so soft and blurred as seen from Venice, are so precise and definite here that they almost hurt the eyes. And merely walking along this road enables me to realize why the vision of the Paduan painters differs so essentially from that of the Venetians with whom they were long classed. The School of Padua is far more akin to that of Florence, whence, indeed, came the two great masters of the 14th and 15th centuries whose influence was to be so decisive here. Giotto and Donatello did not feel themselves strangers on the banks of the Bacchiglione, and they were at once understood and imitated. Nothing could be more alien to the art of Titian than the somewhat hard dry manner of Squarcione and Mantegna.[1]

[1] “Wanderings in Italy” by Gabriel Faure. Houghton Mifflin, 1919.

Stillwater ~ July 2017

A recent visit to Stillwater revealed new and exciting discoveries.  Even though I came here many times before it was easy to skip over details of the city, as I was busy going back and forth across the river, to be with my aging mother.  Now she is gone, but not forgotten, for she taught me to see from the heart.  She would like my pictures.

Stillwater is a place I love to explore, with my camera, especially in the morning and early evening.  Please see the photos individually, and read the captions I wrote.

 

A few years ago, I featured a page on Stillwater that barely scraped the surface. Have a look at what I found; https://tiffanycreek7.com/stillwater-minnesota/.

Before moving on…

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Log Cabin, Rice County Historical Center

… to the woods and the prairie of Winnesheik (Chapter VII), Hamlin recollects, his school days in Wisconsin.  Instead of attending the village school, he and his siblings joined a few others at the home of John Roche.  He recalls John’s daughter, Indiana, (a very cool name) whom they called Ingie.

The selection of books at Hamlin’s home struck me.  There were none, except the Bible, Mother Goose and a few newspapers laying around.  This reminded me of a story of my own great, great, great Grandpa, Adam Bryan, also a pioneer of Wisconsin in the 1840’s or ’50’s. Adam, brought his family first to Illinois, from Pennsylvania, and shortly after decided to settle at Jug Creek, or Bad Axe, (a bastardization of an American Indian word), which most unfortunately was changed to Vernon County, after the home of the immortal hero, George Washington.  Too bad, for Bad Axe! Well, I am proud to say Gramps was the first pioneer of this area carving out the land with ox and cart, to build a cabin for his family, soon to arrive. Like Hamlin, it is said that Gramps learned to read from the only book he had, which was the Bible.

The Garlands faired a little better than my Grandpa’s family and acquired two books especially good for the imagination. These were Beauty and Beast, and Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp. Nothing like a fairy tale to stimulate creativity.

In continuation, the Garlands move on. Hamlin recalls the reluctant spirit of his mom, Belle, as she packs all their things and gets ready for a three day treck across the February tundra land of Wisconsin.  First they cross the bridge at Lacrosse, go through La Crescent, stay in Hokah, pass through Caledonia, and arrive to their farm about 2 miles from the town of Hesper.  There is a kind Quaker man there, waiting for them to take over the property. As they settle in they find that their little shack doesn’t quite meet up to the standards of their cabin, back in Wisconsin. They make due, but not without hardship.

First their house girl (I found this addition to the family interesting) contracts smallpox from the limited English speaking Norwegians that Hamlin’s dad hires for construction help. She survives, but Hamlin’s father also gets smallpox. It lasts quite awhile, but he also lives. This invasion in the household is worrisome to Belle because none of the children are vaccinated.  They eventually get this done, and the Garlands are spared of the wicked illness spreading in the family.

It must be around the 1870’s when another small creature is added to the brood consisting of Hamlin, his brother Frank, and sister Hannah.  Mother Belle has a baby!

Hamlin gets accustomed to his new home, and school, which is highly populated by Norwegians, or Norskies, who fight with the so called Yankees, like Hamlin.  Hamlin has nothing against his new classmates, but is obliged to do what is necessary to protect himself, using the path of least resistance.

The author grows to love;

‘The colorful and sweet woodland farm, the warm sun on radiant slopes of grass; the meadow phlox and tall tiger lilies, blackberry thickets, odorous grapevines, cherry trees, and delicious nuts that grew in the forest in the north.  

The wilderness of the forest was an endless and solemn playground.  They thought they would spend all their years in their beautiful home and see many more seasons, where the wood and the prairie of their song did actually meet and mingle;’

But, alas, little did they know, father had something else in mind.  They would have to move again!’

Faribault, Minnesota

Faribault, Minnesota is a lovely, well preserved town, about one hour and a half straight south of Minneapolis/St. Paul. One of the earliest European settlements in Minnesota, it is filled with beautiful architecture, and prominent institutions.

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Map of Faribault

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Faribault Public Library

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Log Cabin, Rice County Historical Museum

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Alexander Faribault House

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Alexander Faribault Home

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Alexander Faribault Home

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Academy For the Deaf Entry

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Academy for the Deaf

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Academy for the Deaf

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Academy for the Deaf

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State Academy For the Blind
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Shattuck-St. Mary’s Private School

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St. Mary’s

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St. Mary’s

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Shumway Hall

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Store Front Main Street

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St. Mary’s

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Main Street Facade

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Historical District

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Log Cabin, Rice County Historical Center

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Main Street Facade in Historical District

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Episcopal Cathedral Tomb of Reverend Whipple, first Bishop of Faribault

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Entry to St. Mary’s

With Love, Lizzie

As the train sped away to Minnesota,
Her message was loud and clear:

‘Crete,

I left, too sick to say goodbye.

With Love,

Lizzie’

The 20th day of July,
in 1870 she died,
at 37 years.

Lost letters, and diaries, her story they tell,
They say, ‘Lizzie’s body, lies here’.

By TiffanyCreek

Baptist, another view DSC_4436

Photo by Dave Dreimiller

Lizzie Atwood was best friends with Lucretia Rudolph Garfield. (“Her worries, Crete took away, Lizzie loved her, until she died”). Lizzie married Arthur Pratt, and had two daughters named Mabel and Cornelia. Her mother and father were Elizabeth Yeatman Garrett, and Edwin Atwood, of Garrettsville, Ohio.

4th of July, 1826

Nelson, Ohio ~ 1826

Elizabeth Garrett, a pioneer woman, and daughter of John and Eleanor Garrett, the founders of Garrettsville, Ohio, begins a diary dated July 4th 1826. She says, “I shall have transcribe a memorandum which I have kept for a year past Elizabeth Y. Garrett”. Even though the transcription is dated July 4th 1826, the wording suggests that she is writing a memoir looking back at the recent past.

One must admire the sense of immediacy to Elizabeth’s expression and her facility for journalistic prose in the following excerpt. She is not writing a day-by-day account of trivial events, but rather in her mind, chronicling something of great social importance.  In this case, it is the jubilee of American Independence being celebrated in Nelson, Ohio for the very first time. Elizabeth’s journalistic character takes on substance as she shares her knowledge and perception of community in a historical context.[1]  This isn’t the first time she shows appreciation for public opinion and affairs. Elizabeth comes across as a solidly concerned and responsible constituent of her town, despite the fact that women would not vote until almost 100 years later.  She attests to the innovativeness and patriotism of the citizens of Nelson in their enthusiasm to celebrate the American Independence Day. At the time of writing Elizabeth is only 26 years old.

July 4th 1826  attended the celebration of Independence at the centre of Nelson.  It was the first time that any thing of the kind had been attempted in this town as it was the fiftieth year – the jubilee of American Independence they thought proper to celebrate it here, as well as in other places.  The day was fine; and a large number of citizens attended.  A procession was formed and we walked to the meeting house, where a discourse suited to the … was delivered by the Rev’d Mr. Booth the declaration of Independence was read by David Garrett, and an ovation, pronounced by Mr. Washington.  The procession was again formed and they marched to Mr. Bancroft’s tavern and dined, we returned home before night, well pleas’d with the performances of the day.

Curiously, Elizabeth highlights David Garrett’s role as a statesman, reading the Declaration of Independence, without even mentioning that he is her brother. This third person perspective reinforces her intention to maintain objectivity.[2] Elizabeth was obviously pleased by the congregation of citizens in her town and the festivities that ensued on this historic 4th of July.   She shows pride and eagerness to be a part, evidenced by her choice of the pronoun ‘we’. Her words project hopefulness for the future.

One must recognize that Elizabeth Garrett, in the act of writing, is not only making a contribution to her town’s history, but is also beginning a literary tradition found in the next generations of her offspring. Her own daughter, Lizzie Atwood, at 13 years of age, also becomes a fastidious reporter of local goings on. This journalistic aptitude is passed to the next female descendent, Cornelia Atwood Pratt Comer, who becomes a prominent writer in literary circles at the turn of the 20th century.  Like her mother and grandmother, Cornelia writes diligently, leading to a career as a prolific author of short stories and literary criticism.  Although Cornelia publicly denied the influence of her roots,[3] her success may undoubtedly be attributed to the acute intellectual prowess of her mother Lizzie, and grandmother, Elizabeth Yeatman Garrett, who both, faithfully and valiantly, kept pen and paper at their side.

A special thanks to Dave Dreimiller, for reading and editing the script.


[1] In accordance with what Lynn Z. Bloom says in her article ““I Write for Myself and Strangers”: Private Diaries as Public Documents”, Elizabeth’s writing shows that she ‘conceives of an audience external to,” herself.  The July 4th transcription is a perfect example of a diary, which William G. Gass says, ‘originates as “emotionally naked’ writings that metamorphose into public documents.  This happens he says when the ‘writer already has an eye on history’ which is the case here for what Elizabeth writes.

[2] Elizabeth’s objectivity toward her brother David is quite different in tone from the endearing words she uses later in her diary to describe her brother John, who is ill and comes home to visit.

[3] “The Critic”, October 10, 1896, Miss Cornelia Atwood Pratt, p. 205.