Monthly Archives: December 2011
The year 2012, for me, if all goes well, will be something like the year 1771 for Silas Rhodes and his trusty band of freedom fighters. For those of you who know how cranky and dismissive I am about most modern media, I guess I have a surprising admission to make: there’s a lot of really good television drama out there. By “good,” at the outset, I don’t mean I share the world view of the producers of Breaking Bad, or Sons of Anarchy or Walking Dead, but I do think there’s a lot of attention paid at HBO and AMC to the rules of engaging story-telling. Continue Reading »
A Quick Look at “America, the Story of Us”
During that strange break in the Christmas season when you pretty much know that no one is returning phone calls, or email, and everyone has reconciled themselves to picking black olives out of the appetizer trays and coasting their way towards the celebration, we fired up “America, The Story of Us” on our new Roku box, graciously given to us by Jonathan Wilson, executive producer, in anticipation of Courage being made available there in the near future. Continue Reading »
The other night we tooled around Riverside’s Mission Inn for a dose of Christmas lights and Christmas Crowd and Christmas feasting. Fortunately, the new Air Jordan was not on sale anywhere nearby, so we had a relatively safe evening. I say “relatively safe,” because there’s something about shepherding 25-30 people (friends and friends’ children) through a teeming horde of revelers on a bitter cold, windy night that just ties a knot somewhere in my lower gut.
Every few years, someone wins the Super Bowl; there’s a victory parade in the hometown streets, and, sure enough, someone turns over a police car or you watch news coverage of ambulances carrying off the injured. Continue Reading »
The year 1771 broke upon New Hampshire with international rumors of a possible war with Spain and her ally, France, over the Falkland Islands. The British army and navy continued to have trouble with desertion and 40 shilling rewards were being posted for the return of British sailors to their ships. Governor Wentworth began cracking down on violators of the white pine act, a very unpopular measure that kept farmers from clearing their land. The winter began mild, but then turned bitterly cold by March, with the greatest snowstorm in memory washing away many mills and bridges. Continue Reading »
Editor’s Note: perhaps a student of medicine might tell us what was happening in the late New England summer of 1771. We’re thinking the water is getting a bum rap.
Re-printed from the New Hampshire Gazette August 16, 1771
Boston, August 8, 1771: The extreme heat has continued longer this season than has ever been…
Tuesday one Alexander MacDonald, a labourer, having drank too freely of cold water, died instantly.
One or two other persons the same day narrowly escaped death, by drinking freely of water. Continue Reading »
Re-printed from the New Hampshire Gazette, August 2, 1771
The following odd, but true circumstance happened a few weeks ago at Paris..
Two gentlemen going to a masquerade, went to a place where habits are hired, in order to dress themselves; accordingly, one of them took it into his head to be dressed in resemblance of the Devil, the other something else, leaving their own clothes behind them till the next day. When the masquerade was over they called a coach, and the gentleman Devil was set down near his own house, the other went home in the coach. Continue Reading »
Re-printed from the New Hampshire Gazette, August 9, 1771
Those Pesky Frontiersmen
The War against the Regulators (rebels) of North Carolina, and the disputes between Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers and Connecticut Men on the frontier, prompted one Philadelphia writer to observe this about the people of frontier Colonial America:
“..it is our opinion of folks in this country, that if some method is not fallen upon of reducing the frontier rioters to a submission to Law, that one general chain will be formed of them throughout the whole continent, as the views and conduct of them are all similar..”
The Quack Doctor
If to a patient call’d, to him unknown,
When first into the House or Room he’s shown,
The mercenary Quack looks round to see
What signs of want, or of prosperity,
Appear about the chamber, and from thence
Does his advice accordingly dispense. Continue Reading »
Did I Mention the Mail? And the Newspapers? And the Snow? And how little profit I make on the Deal?
You have to love John Stavers, the keeper of the Earl of Halifax tavern in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For many years, if his advertisement (below) is to be believed, he maintained a stage coach between Portsmouth and Boston so that travelers could count on some method of making that journey at least once, and perhaps twice a week. Country roads being what they were, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see a coach sinking to the axles in mud and fearfully stymied by snow in the winter, and, well, John Stavers is going to remind you that it hasn’t been easy. Continue Reading »
Re-printed from the New Hampshire Gazette, July 12, 1771
Duxboro’, July 5, 1771: A very malignant putrid fever has, for some time past, much prevailed in this town; about 150 persons, chiefly children, having had it in the course of a few months; to a considerable proportion of whom it has proved fatal. More especially of late its malignity has very much increased. And in one family in particular, (Mr. Benjamin Wadsworth’s) five children out of six have died of it in the short space of a week; the only one surviving being now dangerously sick. Continue Reading »
Reprinted from the New Hampshire Gazette, July 12, 1771
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, July 12, 1771: We hear from Damariscotta (Maine), that about three weeks ago, three men being in a canoe, fishing, about half a mile from the shore, a large shark came along side, and after going several times round the canoe, came up and took the man standing in the middle, overboard, bit him in two pieces and swallowed both parts; afterwards came up to the canoe again, when the other two, being greatly terrified, hove over all their fish, and laid themselves down on the bottom, on which the shark made towards a boat, lying at a little distance, and luckily one of the people had a gun, and on the shark’s coming up along side, shot him instantly dead. Continue Reading »