Over the holidays, I visited Corning, NY – – famous for its glass museum, the largest collection of historical and art glass in the world.

 

Landscape – George Inness – 1870 – Rockwell Museum

 

But the town also has another excellent art museum, the Rockwell.

It’s not on the scale of the glass museum (where the gift shop alone is literally seven times bigger than my house)  but it’s well worth visiting.

 

“Clouds in the Canyon” – Thomas Moran – 1915 – Rockwell Museum

 

A lot of the art relates to the American West.

 

“Yakima Indian with Shadow” – Fritz Scholder – 1976 – Rockwell Museum

 

 

I thought this would be entitled “Put Your Best Side Forward,” but in fact it’s “The Winter Campaign” – Frederic Remington – 1909 – Rockwell Museum

 

Frederic Remington, one of the most famous artists of the American West, was a New Yorker.   He grew up in the “North Country” near the St. Lawrence river, so he knew a thing or two about cold weather, and that came to mind looking at these cavalrymen huddled around a fire in the snow.

His scenes and sculptures of the West were created in his studio in New Rochelle, about ten miles from Irvington, where Albert Bierstadt had his studio.

They have a big (I guess the only way he did things) landscape by Bierstadt, nearly 6′ x 10′, in place of pride on the top floor.

I suppose these formal landscapes in the “Hudson River School” style have been out-of-fashion for a long time, but personally I love them.

 

 

“Mount Whitney” – Albert Bierstadt – 1877 – Rockwell Museum

 

 

museum from the back

 

The collection is housed in a former city hall, a big brick-and-stone pile, done in a stalwart Richardson Romanesque style, almost medieval-looking.

It was built in 1893 so a contemporary of some of the paintings it contains.

 

“Green River” – Thomas Moran – 1877 – Rockwell Museum

 

There’s a rooftop terrace, which is where I took this cellphone picture of the slate roof.

 

I was thinking about the saying “clean slate,” to start off the new year.

I know the expression refers to chalk & blackboards, students’ handheld slates (and 19th c. bar tabs!) but these roof shingles are made of the same stuff after all.

 

 

Some of the other expressions that are almost-synonyms, like “square one,” seem like they’re usually used in a more negative sense, like “here we go again, having to start all over.”  “Breaking new ground,” speaking as someone who’s dug up sod and a few stumps, is just plain backbreaking.

“When one door closes, another opens” can be very true.  I grew up in a drafty old house built in the 1860’s, and that kinda stuff happened, until we got storm doors and better weatherstripping installed.

 

Wax tablet & stylus – Wikipedia – photo by Peter van der Sluijs

I remember some teachers were fond of using tabula rasa, but they always seemed to say “blank slate” when they were looking straight at me.  With the emphasis on blank, as I looked back at them blankly.  So I never much liked that.  And it seems a bit fancy and pretentious.

When I looked it up, the dictionary has rāsa as “scraped, erased,” and of course the Romans were using wax tablets, not slate.  (I guess in a pinch, they could toss incriminating evidence onto the nearest brazier or flaming martyr.)

And speaking of Roman gladiatorial-related stuff, Webster’s tells us “start from scratch” meant “show up for a confrontation,” like “step up to the plate” and they also see an origin in sports – – a line in the sand – –  for a race, cricket, boxing, etc.  So that all sounds horribly athletic and combative, so let’s skip it.

“Reboot,” which the Help Desk people probably say in their sleep, is kinda nice – – at least you have the mental image of applying the sole of your boot to the soulless stubborn computer.

But I like best “clean slate,” “fresh start” and “new leaf,” they’re positive sounding, aren’t they.

And “Start afresh” just has a nice sound to it.

 

 

So that’s all, no profound thoughts, just Cheers, here’s to a fresh new year.

 

N. C. Wyeth – Rockwell Museum

 

I thought this was in keeping with the theme of this post – a bison at Yellowstone – a symbol of the Wild West, and as they say in the wildlife biz, while it’s not gnu, it’s just as good as gnu.

 

19th century, 20th century, Art, NY, Upstate New York

Clean slate for the new year

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19th century, Alternate History, Arrant Nonsense, hiking, statue

Learning All About History by Looking at Statues ~ ~ Chapter IX ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Captain J. S. Bevel-Gearing ~ Friend of Lost Hikers.

Statue IX:  J. S. Bevel-Gearing, a man with a lot of time on his hands

Most of us can all recall a time or two, when we’ve been, if not lost, at least a bit disoriented during a hike in the woods.

Sometimes, I think that’s A-OK.

Like so many situations, you can fret about it, and let it upset you, or just consider it “unstructured playtime” and no worries.  I follow the same strategy in writing these meandering posts.

 

North Point Tower, a Milwaukee landmark since the 1870’s.

 

My workdays are organized to a nicety, and scheduled to a fare-thee-well, so every so often, it feels nice to be wayfaring without much of a plan.

Go roaming, off the clock, off the grid.  If your mind is already wandering, let your feet join in, too.

 

Bevel-Gearing’s granddad, who started the clock business, made stuff like this. They were mostly given as wedding and anniversary presents, or as door prizes for good deportment, but the astronomical timepieces didn’t sell as well in the 19th century, and in Milwaukee, most people didn’t have enough room in their dens, so the company changed gears and made alarm clocks.

 

When that mood strikes, I’ve got no use for  guidebooks, pedometers, compasses, watches, maps, GPS, etc.

More fun to just strike out and follow a deer path or old logging road, or go bushwhacking cross-country.

In the Finger Lakes region, not to worry, you can’t get too lost.  If you just keep on keeping on, you’re sure to hit a lake, they’re really hard to miss.  Just ask one of the guys fishing, which lake it is, and bingo, you’re no longer lost.

 

This was made for the U.S. Capitol, where it now graces the Crypt. Some of the congressmen complained that the figures leaning on it didn’t look too industrious, and just seemed to be slouching around. So, Bevel-Gearing took it back to the shop, added weapons for both figures, stuck an angry bird on top, and everybody went home happy.

 

If you somehow manage to miss the lakes, and are still lost, you’re sure to stumble across a winery or microbrewery.  The kids they hire to pour out Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Imperial IPA’s usually don’t really know jack about wine or beer, or who won the last presidential election, or which way is North.  And mostly cannot give you coherent directions to the parking lot, much less to town, but they’re always friendly, and if you just mention you like their Phish tee-shirt, they’ll lend you a cellphone so you can call somebody for a lift.

Just keep your chin up and keep walking, there’s always locational clues.  Worst case, if you really keep wandering, eventually someone will say politely “Eh, pardon me, are you lost, do you require assistance, eh?” Or “Yo, let’s g’down ta tha WaWa and getta pork roll”  And then you’ll know where you are – southern Canada or northeast Pennsylvania, respectively.  So again, you’re no longer lost.

Anyway, it’s probably time to launch a new series, “Confused Wanderings Around Milwaukee & Wisconsin.  And Possibly eastern Minnesota?”

 

Bevel-Gearing’s “Wayfarer’s Lighthouse”  I went back to that forest with a camera, to take better pictures, but never found it again.

 

So, traipsing through the Wisconsin woods  one day, perhaps slightly unsure of my location, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter the guiding beacon in the photo, a kind of land-locked lighthouse, and find it was a Victorian innovation for lost foot walkers.  I read up a bit about the inventor and philanthropist who built it, although I’m unable to pin down exactly where this tower is located.  Somewhere north of Milwaukee, but shy of Green Bay, most likely.

 

The North Point Tower is great for navigating my way through town toward the lake.

 

Finally home that night after my hike, I looked up this lighthouse off in the woods, a hundred miles from Lake Michigan, and learned a bit about a local hero, “Captain” John Stryker Bevel-Gearing II.  (Called “The Second” by his clock-obsessed family.)  That’s his statue in my first photo, and he’s become kind of a patron saint for lost hikers.

(Travelers, sailors and mountaineers usually look to Saint Christopher, but there’s a technicality – he’s assigned to help people trying to reach a specific destination, not just gallivanting aimlessly.)  (Although I don’t know how the Vatican delegates this stuff, but I’ve always thought Chris seems like the kind of guy who’d help out anyway, even if you’re a wandering heathen.)

Bevel-Gearing was an innovative clockmaker, entrepreneur, and philanthropist – a product of an earlier, more optimistic time.  A 19th century immigrant, originally a liveryman of London’s Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, he’d traveled six time zones west to pursue his passion for bird call clocks and time-regulated poultry feeders.

 

Sometime during 1870 – 1900, when Milwaukee’s population was quadrupling, the Captain opened a small manufactory of clocks and mechanical regulators, in an isolated clearing, deep in a forest, close by the Wisconsin Dells.

This Dells region is nothing like the pleasant dells and dales of England, and really, as I understand it, should’ve been called a dingle – – a forested gorge along the Wisconsin River.  It’s already a confusing area, topographically, and this sort of definitional sloppiness doesn’t help matters.

Bevel-Gearing had selected this unlikely spot for his business, because he valued his privacy, and sought seclusion to perfect his timepieces and mechanized poultry-feeders, far from competitor’s eyes.

Unbeknownst to him, the beautiful Dells region was becoming increasingly popular with Victorian-era artists, naturalists, and excursionists.  Their volumes of Wordsworth or Whitman in hand, the visitors anticipated uplifting walks in beauty, communing with Nature.

But the forests and glacier-carved hills, ravines, and gullies proved disorienting for many, and their outings turned into a devil of a time.

 

At his clockworks, day after day, hungry and distressed walkers emerged from the woods to ask for directions, drawn to his little factory by the smoke from his chimney, and the bells, chimes, and mechanical rooster- and crow-calls being tested for his clocks.   (He loathed cuckoos, as a silly-sounding, frivolous breed with deplorable parenting skills.)

Oftentimes the clothing of these hillwalkers was a disgrace – disheveled, filthy, stockings and bloomers torn by thorns – and they’d beg a meal, having emptied their haversacks of bully beef, prunes, and hard tack.

The visitors would have to be rested, fed, watered, brushed off and made as presentable as might be.  Those who had lost their shoes in the fens and bogs, had to be loaned a pair of clogs or carpet slippers.  The whole heedless mob was then set on the right path toward civilization, or at least, Milwaukee.

Only to have some of them return in a couple days, having gotten lost again.

 

 

The Captain was a patient and not unkindly man, but very conscious of his time, and eventually he tired of the constant interruptions.  As well as the loss of every single pair of his carpet slippers.  Even the goatskin Moroccan ones, with a matching fez.

The confusion and randomness of the visits were disturbing the precise, even-tempered organization of his days, and this also bothered him.  A mainspring was far more to him than springtime.  He spent his life designing regulators, and all this hullabaloo was highly irregular, and time-consuming.

One day, visiting various toolmakers in Milwaukee, he was taking his mid-day constitutional along the shore of Lake Michigan, timing the waves as they lapped the shore like a metronome.

He came upon a wreck –  an iron-hulled ship, driven onto the rocks by a storm.

 

Like the beam from a lighthouse, piercing the fog, an inspired thought lighted the innermost recesses of his brain.  Hitherto unused gears began turning like clockwork.

 

The vessel’s owner was at hand, surveying the damage and cursing the unlucky vessel in exaggerated terms of opprobrium.

Bevel-Gearing had never commanded a ship (the “Captain” was merely an honorific bestowed by the Independent Protective Order of Agricultural Mechanics & Breeders), but he immediately struck a bargain, and purchased the salvage rights on the spot.  The ship’s iron hull and frame were disassembled, and hauled off to his clock factory.  There, the iron was cut, bent, and then reassembled on a nearby hillock, into the metal signal tower you see in the photos.

 

Any lost tourists, watercolorists, butterfly-collectors, and rock-climbers in the area soon learned to head for the tower, which was stocked with soap, towels, ship’s biscuit and mineral water.  A teetotaler himself, he’d initially installed a cabinet with a case of medicinal brandy, but this was exhausted the first weekend of operation, when a photographer happened by, and the Captain never repeated that mistake.

A well-blazed trail led from the tower to a stagecoach landing.

With this forest beacon in place, Bevel-Gearing was able to happily return to his experiments in blessed solitude.  His crow-call clocks were never commercially successful, although a functioning example is worth a good deal to today’s collectors.  But his clockwork poultry feeder was a huge success, enabling him to retire and set out on a ’round the world peregrination.

 

B-G’s poultry-feeders, with an elaborate system of chimes to call the chickens to dinner, pre-dated Pavlov’s experiments by several years. But he was not interested in conditioning, or salivation, and just wanted fatter, less frenetic chickens, leading a more orderly life.

 

Sadly, during the first stop of his Grand Tour, he came to an untimely demise.  While inspecting, and perhaps attempting to adjust, the double three-legged gravity escapement, on the clock associated with  “Big Ben” at Westminster, his cravat became loosened and then entangled, pulling the Captain to a grisly fate amongst the clock’s gearwork.

But perhaps some particle of the Captain still travels through the clock’s mechanism, greasing the grooves, high in the landmark tower.  Which he might regard as a not unpleasing fate.

 

Well, Bevel-Gearing is just imaginary, of course, but I love lighthouses, and wouldn’t it be great to have them in the forests?

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19th century, 20th century, Early American History, Finger Lakes, FLX, NY, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. Yates County. A one-room schoolhouse

 

 

It’s not uncommon to see colonial-era churches, and those from the early days of the republic, surrounded by burial grounds.  In those days, churchyards = graveyards, and no doubt it was a successful business strategy, helping to keep folks on the straight and narrow.   The “rural” or “garden” cemetery movement didn’t begin until the 1830’s.

 

But it always struck me as odd, driving by this schoolhouse, to see it with its own cemetery, like a perpetual after-school detention for wayward and recalcitrant pupils.

The epitaphs probably have misspellings and tell of fatal miscalculations and deadly grammatical errors, “died of a dangling participle,” etc.

 

John Smith ~ We’re Just Spitballing Here

“Billy Schmeider ~ Never Added Up to Much ~ And Has Now Been Subtracted” 

“Here Lies Nathaniel Johnson / Under This Slate /  Lies the Late Nate / Always Late / To Class”

Jane Jones ~ Death is a Debt to Nature Due / Which I Have Paid and So Must You / Altho Death / Could Not Thwart / I Still Owe a Book Report

 

 

 

Never send to know for whom the school bell tolls…kind of rang a bell with me, so I never stopped, just thumbed my nose and sped by.

But finally, one autumn day, I pulled over to take a few photos, and found the explanation for the strange combo – – the 1869 building was moved to this site, along Route 14A, in 1991.

 

 

After the move and restoration, the county historian wrote “The Baldwin Cemetery directly behind the school…has recently become active again,”  which sounds mildly alarming, if you believe in ghosts, but I suppose it just means, they’d resumed burying people there again.

 

 

The new setting seems appropriate, because when I drove out to the original site – – there was another burial ground there, too, the abandoned “West Woods Cronk Cemetery.”

So now I can’t pass by with mentioning  the Cronks, a name I’ve run across before, on farms and roads all around Upstate, and while reading about the early Dutch days of this state, when it was New Netherlands.

When I visited Pixley Falls (north of Rome, NY), there was a historical marker not too far away, for an old-time countryman named Hiram Cronk.

Even though he was a small-scale farmer, in an area that seems like the hind end of beyond, when he died in 1905, Hiram rated a funeral procession through Manhattan, and reportedly 50,000 people paid their respects as he lay in state in New York’s City Hall.

It was not just his extraordinary age.  When he passed away, at the age of 105, Hiram was the last veteran of the war of 1812.  He’d joined the army on August 4, 1814, as a drummer boy.

Another branch of the family kept a longer version of the original Dutch name, something like Krankheyt, and eventually produced a famous newscaster of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, Walter Cronkite.

And that’s the way it is.

 

About 20% of people in Yates County are Amish, and many others are Mennonites. Two buggies going up the road in front of the schoolhouse.

 

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1800's, 19th century, Early American History, Finger Lakes, FLX, History, NY, Upstate New York, Waterloo

Napoleon is not Dynamite in Waterloo

 

Martin Van Buren Old Kinderhook LOC

Martin Van Buren, “Old Kinderhook” Library of Congress.

My Hometown, Part I

As the story goes, Martin Van Buren was pretty pissed-off when they renamed my hometown “Waterloo.”

Since he was from the old days, and was a President, I should not be so vulgar, so let’s say he was “piqued”,  “exasperated,” or “apoplectic.”

 

Or perhaps we should say, verbolgen en kwaad, since he probably thought in Dutch, his first language.

He seems to have been a pretty happy guy, and, for a lifelong politician, a pretty decent one.  But when they created “Waterloo, New York,” he was irate.

I’ve always been puzzled about the re-branding of my town.

 

Who names their town after their enemy’s greatest victory?

 

V0024799 Astronomy: various apocalyptic scenes, including a grieving Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Astronomy: various apocalyptic scenes, including a grieving widow, war, and the Duke of Wellington rejecting Harriet Winter [?]. Coloured lithograph, n.d. [c.1839?]. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Wellcome Library

I grew up in a small village in upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes region.

There was a Cayuga Indian village here, destroyed during the Revolution, called “Skoi-Yase.”  When the whites moved in, they called their settlement  “Skoys,” “Scauyes,” “Scayau,” etc. and later, “New Hudson.”

At that time, this area was “The Military Tract” – over a million acres sold by, or taken from, the Cayuga Nation, one of the Iroquois tribes that fought on the losing side during the Revolution.  The tract was parceled out as compensation to war veterans who’d fought on the winning side.

So there was a concentration of people in this area, who’d fought against the British Army.

 

Continental dollar

“Not worth a Continental” was an old American expression.

The Continental Congress, short of cash, and not much trusted (some things never change) had promised to reward its soldiers with land.  A private got 100 acres, a lieutenant got 200, a colonel 500, etc.

New York, which was also short of cash, sweetened the pot, and gave each private an additional 500 acres, and so on, up to a major general, who got over eight square miles.  This is during a time when 100 acres amounted to a good-sized farm.

Some of the veterans chose to sell their “bounty” land.  So just after the War of 1812, Elisha Williams bought a square mile of this Military Tract.  He was a Yankee lawyer who moved to Hudson, NY, and became a land speculator… and a political enemy of Martin Van Buren, who lived in the same town.  Williams sold off building lots for a new village, at first called “New Hudson.”

 

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47d9-84e7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

Dutch dragoon. NY Public Library.

In 1816, the residents, apparently prompted by Williams, voted to rename the village “Waterloo.”

So in a place specifically set aside for veterans who’d fought the British, and just after fighting the British again in the War of 1812, the village was renamed “Waterloo,”  after the British triumph.

Doesn’t that strike you as just a bit weird?

 

V0048407 Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington. He rose to prominence in the Napoleonic Wars, eventually reaching the rank of field marshal. 1814 By: Thomas Phillipsafter: William SayPublished: Nov. 8 1814. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The Duke of Wellington. Little known fact: all the evergreens in Britain were used up by 1814, used to construct warships during the Napoleonic wars, so England had a chronic shortage of Christmas trees — they were forced to decorate public figures instead.   Wellcome Library

 

New York saw a lot of bloodshed during the Revolution.  This is where George Washington got kicked off Long Island and lost New York City.   An entire British army marched into NY’s North Country, met their Waterloo at Saratoga and marched out again as prisoners.  Mad Anthony Wayne shot and captured hundreds of British soldiers at Stony Point, New York settlers suffered the Cherry Valley Massacre and countless other frontier fights with the Iroquois and their British and Tory allies.  Neighbor fought neighbor and Iroquois fought Iroquois at Oriskany.  Benedict Arnold slapped together some gunboats and delayed an invasion fleet at Valcour Island, and later, having turned traitor and trying to hand over West Point, his handler, Major Andre, was hanged at Tappan.

 

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47da-2fe7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.r

Benedict Arnold. Like Elisha Williams, a Connecticut Yankee, not a New Yorker

 

More Americans died of starvation and disease in the British prison ships in New  York Harbor, than in all the battles of the war.

As a little reminder of British consideration for American prisoners, their bones washed up on the shores of Brooklyn for decades.

And during the War of 1812, New Yorkers fought the British again, all along the Canadian frontier, and in Ontario and Quebec. Villages on both sides of the Niagara frontier and the Great Lakes were raided and burned, and ships were captured and sunk in naval battles.  The Americans crossed from Buffalo to capture Fort Erie and Fort George, and the British crossed over to storm Fort Niagara.

 

Plattsburg LOC

The War of 1812. The last British invasion of the northern U.S. – the Battle of Plattsburgh, NY aka Battle of Lake Champlain. Library of Congress. (sea of green and lots of smoke, hmmm.)

 

Everyone remembers the Battle of Baltimore, because of the bombardment of Fort McHenry, the “rockets’ red glare, “Star-spangled Banner, etc.  The day before, though, a bloodier battle was fought on the border between New York and Quebec. Veterans of Wellington’s battles in Spain participated in the last British invasion of the northern U.S. — which was defeated at Plattsburgh, NY, and on Lake Champlain.

Wellington’s army included the King’s German Legion, drawn mostly from Hanover and Brunswick, sources of many of the much-hated “Hessians” during the Revolution.  Other regiments of Redcoats and Highlanders fighting at Waterloo, had fought in New York during the Revolution, in the battles for Long Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.  British units which helped defeat Napoleon, had also participated in the Battle of New Orleans (where Wellington’s brother-in-law was killed), attacks in Maryland, and in the burning of Washington, D.C.

From my kitchen window, I can see the old “Elisha Williams” cemetery, where little flags are always flying on the graves of veterans of all this fighting.   General Maltby, the American commander at Boston during the War of 1812, is buried there, as is a Revolutionary War vet who’d survived the infamous British prison hulks.

 

Waterloo battlefield 1890 LOC

Waterloo battlefield, circa 1890. Library of Congress

None of these people could have felt very friendly to the Union Jack – – so how did they accept having their village renamed in honor of a British victory?  Wouldn’t you give Wellington the boot?

 

Elisha Williams was a Yankee and a Federalist – – and both groups bitterly opposed the War of 1812.  He may well have suggested “Waterloo” as a thumb-in-the-eye to the Democratic-Republicans, like his bitter opponent, Martin Van Buren.

Napoleon House of Representatives LOC

Napoleon. U.S. House of Representatives. Library of Congress

When Van Buren heard of the new “Waterloo” in his state, he immediately insisted on renaming another village “Austerlitz”, in honor of Napoleon’s biggest victory.

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photo credit: Sarah Teel. Thanks, sis.

“In historical events, great men –so called– are but the labels that serve to give a name to an event, and like labels, they have the last possible connection with the event itself.”  Tolstoy

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Maybe part of the answer, then and now, is that “New Yorkers” by definition, care more about the present day, than about history or the past.

So the mystery of why my town is called Waterloo is put to rest.

The answer is, that it just doesn’t matter.

Then or now, most New Yorkers don’t care if their town is called Waterloo, Austerlitz, or Calcutta — we have them all.  

We have a hamlet called Marengo — one of Napoleon’s early victories, and a delicious chicken recipe.  And if any of you actually waded through Tolstoy’s War and Peace, we have a Borodino, too, a Napoleonic bloodbath on the way to Moscow.

NY is famous for classical references (Syracuse, Utica, Greece).  My county has little cowpie hamlets grandly named Ovid, Romulus, Junius, and Tyre, complete with a crumbling Roman-style courthouse and decaying “Greek Revival” farmhouses.

This state also has Cadiz, Copenhagen, Dresden, Medina, Stockholm, Zurich, Berlin, New Berlin, Poland, Cuba, Salamanca, and a Stone Arabia (no idea on that last one).  And just a few miles down the road from me is Montezuma.

And today, I unconditionally guarantee, my fellow villagers do not know, or care, about ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Aztec Empire, or who fought at Waterloo, or which side won.

If you explained Napoleon’s final defeat to them, they would probably just express relief at not having to learn French in school.

OK, end of rant.  Our state motto is “Excelsior“, so onward and upward, moving on, ditching history as we go.

But I still think, before you graduate from school in a town called Waterloo, they should at least make it mandatory to know a bit about Wellington’s Victory.  Maybe just watch the 1970 movie, with Rod Steiger as Napoleon, and Christopher Plummer as Wellington.  And Orson Welles, too, I don’t remember in what role, perhaps as the Chateau d’Hougoumont?

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In Part II, I searched newspapers across the country, to see how all the Waterloo’s around the USA (a clear majority of states have one) commemorated the 200th anniversary of the battle.  (Here’s a spoiler — it’s a pretty short list!)

Maybe it was just “Battle Anniversary Overload”?  Here’s a few more for 2015, and the movies to watch if you don’t want to read a history book:

600th anniversary of Agincourt – I think they’re supposed to be working on a movie right now.  But in the meantime, look up on YouTube, Kenneth Branagh doing the pre-battle speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V.  Seriously, if you don’t feel moved, go to the hospital, have them check you for a pulse.

100th anniversary of Gallipoli – the only time I’ve liked Mel Gibson, in a Peter Weir movie of the same name.   And Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner

75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain – the movie version is almost fifty years old, but lots of real airplanes, not computer simulations, with Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, again, and pretty much every other British actor alive in 1969

 

 

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