What You Didn’t Know About Thanksgiving

cornucopia03It took more than 200 years after the first Thanksgiving before it became an official holiday.

The first Thanksgiving was a three day feast, which included hunting, athletic games, and eating. The Pilgrims dined on venison, NOT turkey. There was also NO pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows or cranberry sauce.

“According to historian George Willison, who devoted his life to the subject, the story about the rock is all malarkey, a public relations stunt pulled off by townsfolk to attract attention. What Willison found out is that the Plymouth Rock legend rests entirely on the dubious testimony of Thomas Faunce, a ninety-five year old man, who told the story more than a century after the Mayflower landed. Unfortunately, not too many people ever heard how we came by the story of Plymouth Rock. Willison’s book came out at the end of World War II and Americans had more on their minds than Pilgrims then. So we’ve all just gone merrily along repeating the same old story as if it’s true when it’s not. And anyway, the Pilgrims didn’t land in Plymouth first. They first made landfall at Provincetown. Of course, the people of Plymouth stick by hoary tradition. Tour guides insist that Plymouth Rock is THE rock.”

Some other places claim the first Thanksgiving. History News Network gives us The Top Ten Myths about Thanksgiving.

“To see what the first Thanksgiving was like you have to go to: Texas. Texans claim the first Thanksgiving in America actually took place in little San Elizario, a community near El Paso, in 1598 — twenty-three years before the Pilgrims’ festival. For several years they have staged a reenactment of the event that culminated in the Thanksgiving celebration: the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan de Onate on the banks of the Rio Grande. De Onate is said to have held a big Thanksgiving festival after leading hundreds of settlers on a grueling 350-mile long trek across the Mexican desert.

“Then again, you may want to go to Virginia.. At the Berkeley Plantation on the James River they claim the first Thanksgiving in America was held there on December 4th, 1619….two years before the Pilgrims’ festival….and every year since 1958 they have reenacted the event. In their view it’s not the Mayflower we should remember, it’s the Margaret, the little ship which brought 38 English settlers to the plantation in 1619. The story is that the settlers had been ordered by the London company that sponsored them to commemorate the ship’s arrival with an annual day of Thanksgiving. Hardly anybody outside Virginia has ever heard of this Thanksgiving, but in 1963 President Kennedy officially recognized the plantation’s claim.”

In 1789, George Washington announced the first NATIONAL Thanksgiving holiday, but Thanksgiving did not become an annual tradition until the 19th Century. The Americans celebrated on Thursday, November 26, 1789.

As the first Thanksgiving (1622) was to celebrate the Pilgrims’ first successful harvest, the celebration was not repeated.

first-thanksgiving

A depiction of the Thanksgiving meal in Plymouth in 1621. JLG Ferris c. 1912. http://www.forbes.com

American writer, Sarah Josepha Hale, was inspired by A Diary of Pilgrim Life. In 1827, Hale began a 30 year campaign to make to make Thanksgiving a national tradition. At her own expense, Hale published recipes for pumpkin pie, stuffing, turkey, etc. (By the way, Hale is the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”)

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.

“So how did we get the idea that you have turkey and cranberry and such on Thanksgiving? It was because the Victorians prepared Thanksgiving that way. And they’re the ones who made Thanksgiving a national holiday, beginning in 1863, when Abe Lincoln issued his presidential Thanksgiving proclamations…two of them: one to celebrate Thanksgiving in August, a second one in November. Before Lincoln Americans outside New England did not usually celebrate the holiday. (The Pilgrims, incidentally, didn’t become part of the holiday until late in the nineteenth century. Until then, Thanksgiving was simply a day of thanks, not a day to remember the Pilgrims.)”

In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday to the 3rd Thursday in November to give retailers an extra week to make money during the holiday buying season. It was the Depression, after all.

Ironically, in 1941, FDR signed a bill to keep Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November.

turkey03In 1989, George H. W. Bush gave the first official turkey pardon.

These facts and lots more about Thanksgiving can be found at History.com and at History News Network

 

This work is released under CC-BY-SA

 

Posted in American History, British history, Church of England, customs and tradiitons, history, holidays, real life tales, religion | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Origins of the “Irish” Ballad, “Danny Boy”

a2303-1-72dpi.jpga2303-4-150dpi.jpgOkay, I admit it. “Danny Boy” is one of my favorite songs, but it is not because I am Irish (which I am, for I have strong Irish roots in my ancestral tree). I simply think that the melody of “Londonderry Air” is one that reaches into a person’s soul. Moreover, I have a half-brother named “Danny,” so it strikes a chord in that manner. 

That being said, a March 2017 article on Irish Central says “Danny Boy” is NOT an Irish tune. “In 2001, the Irish-American actor and writer Malachy McCourt took it upon himself to unravel the mystery of perhaps the most popular Irish song ever in his book ‘Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad.'”

Frederic_Weatherly_from_Lute_(April_1895).jpg First off, “Danny Boy” was written by an English lawyer and lyricist in 1910. Frederic Weatherly is estimated to have written the lyrics to at least 3,000 popular songs, among the best-known of which are the sentimental ballad “Danny Boy” set to the tune “Londonderry Air,” the religious “The Holy City,” and the wartime song “Roses of Picardy.” “The Holy City,” written in 1892 to music by the British composer Stephen Adams. The song includes the refrain “Jerusalem, Jerusalem!.” He wrote the song  while living in Bath in 1910. However, “the words were right but the tune was wrong, which is where Weatherly’s sister-in-law, Margaret Weatherly, comes in. Margaret Weatherly was an Irish immigrant who sailed to America with Fred Weatherly’s brother in search of silver in Colorado.  It was on a trip back to England in 1912 that Margaret Weatherly introduced Fred Weatherly to the ancient Irish melody, ‘The Londonderry Aire.'” (Surprising Origins of 100-year-old “Danny Boy”) The tune matched his lyrics almost perfectly. He published the now-famous song in 1913. His ballad “Roses of Picardy,” written in 1916 and set to music by Haydn Wood, was one of the most famous songs from World War I. 

Of his huge output of songs, Weatherly listed a selection of 61 titles in his Who’s Who entry. In addition to the above, they were: “Nancy Lee”; “The Midshipmite”; “Polly”; “They all love Jack”; “Jack’s Yarn”; “The Old Brigade”; “The Deathless Army”; “To the Front”; “John Bull”; “Darby and Joan”; “When We are Old and Grey”; “Auntie”; “The Chimney Corner”; “The Children’s Home”; “The Old Maids of Lee”; “The Men of Ware”; “The Devoted Apple”; “To-morrow will be Friday”; “Douglas Gordon”; “Sleeping Tide”; “The Star of Bethlehem”; “Beauty’s Eyes”; “In Sweet September”; “Bid me Good-bye”; “The Last Watch”; “London Bridge”; “The King’s Highway”; “Go to Sea”; “Veteran’s Song”; “Up from Somerset”; “Beyond the Dawn”; “Nirvana”; “Mifanwy”; “Sergeant of the Line”; “Stone-cracker John”; “Ailsa Mine”; “Old Black Mare”; “Coolan Dhu”; “Three for Jack”; “Bhoy I Love”; “The Blue Dragoons”; “At Santa Barbara”; “The Grenadier”; “Reuben Ranzo”; “Dinder Courtship”; “Friend o’Mine”; “When You Come Home”; “Little Road Home”; “Greenhills of Somerset”; “Danny Boy”; “As you pass by”; “Ships of my dreams”; “Why shouldn’t I?”; “When Noah Went-a-sailing”; “Time to go”; “Chumleigh Fair”; “Our Little Home”; “The Bristol Pageant, Music Composed by Hubert Hunt in 1924” and “Little Lady of the Moon.” (Frederic Weatherly)

Yet, I have digressed. “In the hands of the Limerick-born author-actor [McCourt], the musical story of “Danny Boy” has its roots way back in the terrible 1690 siege of Derry in Northern Ireland, and its colorful cast of characters includes Charles Dickens’ son and a Jack the Ripper suspect. In his quest to unravel the mystery, McCourt enlisted poet Seamus Heaney, actress Roma Downey, and even his Pulitzer Prize-winning brother Frank, to explain “Danny Boy”‘s enduring appeal. McCourt distorts everything we previously believed of our beloved song revealing that “Danny Boy” is not even a completely original song but a version among the 100s of different lyrics set to the tune of the “Derry Air.” The original air is believed by some to date back to Rory Dall O’Cahan, an Irish harpist who lived in Scotland in the late 17th century. Weatherly gave the song to the English opera singer Elsie Grffin, who introduced the song to a wider audience. The first recording was made in 1915 by the German vocalist Ernestine Schumann-Heink.” (Irish Central)

Check out The Story of the Song Danny Boy on You Tube HERE.

From a CBS News Article in March 2013, we learn…

“Fred Weatherly fused that haunting melody with his heavy-hearted words and something magical happened. “Danny Boy” became a hit. 

“He meant for it to be popular, he meant for it to be universal,” said music journalist Andrew Mueller. “There’s a very careful avoidance of specifics.”

“Mueller told CBS News’ Charlie D’Agata that world events were about to lend the song a terrible resonance. 

“One hesitates to call the first World War a stroke of luck, but I think for any work of art to endure it needs a stroke of luck and his lyrics for “Danny Boy” were published in 1913, a year before millions of people were finding themselves having to say goodbye to people who they hoped against hope that they might one day see again,” he said.  

“The theme of longing also struck a chord with many Irish emigrants who headed to America to escape the famine back home. Through the decades, the song became woven into the cultural fabric of the U.S. and beyond, often as a final farewell. 

“Elvis said he thought “Danny Boy” was written by angels and asked for it to be played at his funeral.  At Princess Diana’s church service, the words were different, but the haunting melody of “The Londonderry Aire,” the same.

“And after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, the strains of “Danny Boy” rose from the memorial services of so many Irish-American police and firefighters who were among the victims.

“It’s not just the notion of loss, but of someday being reunited, that’s one of the reasons “Danny Boy” has never gone away.”

Celtic Women’s Version 

The Irish Tenors Version 

Caitlin Heaney Version

Oh Danny boy the pipes the pipes are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone and all the flowers dying
‘Tis you ’tis you must go and I must bide
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy oh Danny boy I love you so
But when ye come and all the roses falling
And I am dead as dead I well may be
Go out and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an ave there for me
And I will hear tho’ soft you tread above me
And then my grave will warm and sweeter be
For you shall bend and tell me that you love me
And I will sleep in peace until you come to me

 

Posted in ballads, British history, customs and tradiitons, England, history, Ireland, music, tradtions | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jane Austen’s Bread Crumbs, a Guest Post from Nancy Lawrence

This post originally appeared on Austen Authors on August 17, 2019. Enjoy! 

In the world of writing there’s a plot device known as foreshadowing. It’s when an author drops little bread crumbs of information that may not mean anything at the time, but hint at bigger things to come in the story.

Jane Austen was a skilled bread-crumb-dropper, and she used the device to great effect in her novel, Pride and Prejudice. Here’s what I mean:

Bread Crumb #1 – Who is this story about?

In the first few pages of P&P we learn Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have five unmarried daughters, and Mrs. Bennet intends to find husbands for each—preferably rich ones.

But of those five daughters, Austen hints that Elizabeth will be our focus, when Mr. Bennet suggests his wife call on Mr. Bingley:

“I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chooses of the girls; though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy.”

“I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving her the preference.”

“They have none of them much to recommend them,” replied he; “they are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.”

And with those few lines of dialog, Austen lets us know Elizabeth is special; there’s something about Lizzy that sets her apart from the other Bennet daughters. She’s the sister to watch.

Bread Crumb #2 – The Hero Switcheroo

Sneaky Jane Austen. For two full chapters she writes only of Mr. Bingley, making us believe he will be the hero of her story.

Then, in Chapter 3, she takes us to the Meryton assembly where we meet Mr. Darcy, who . . .

. . . soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year.

Just as she did with Elizabeth, Austen hints that we readers need to adjust our focus; someone as gifted and blessed as Mr. Darcy is certain to play a major role in the story.

Bread Crumb #3 – Doing What Comes Unnaturally

Elizabeth and Darcy’s acquaintance gets off to a rocky start, but things change by the time Elizabeth is required to spend a few days at Netherfield. When she’s in the drawing-room one evening with Darcy, Caroline Bingley, and the Hursts, Caroline invites Elizabeth to “take a turn about the room. I assure you it is very refreshing.”

Elizabeth agreed to it immediately.

Mr. Darcy looked up . . . and unconsciously closed his book.

This little bread crumb is one of my favorites, because it shows just how physically attracted Mr. Darcy is to Elizabeth. He’s a man who never acts rashly and is always in control; but with these few words we readers now know that Elizabeth has the power to make Darcy abandon his reserve and behave in a way he never has before.

Bread Crumb #4 – Darcy asks for Lizzy’s Opinion

When dancing together at the Netherfield ball, Darcy and Elizabeth are interrupted by Mr. Sir William Lucas, and when he leaves them, Darcy remarks:

“Sir William’s interruption has made me forget what we were talking of.”

“I do not think we were speaking at all. Sir William could not have interrupted two people in the room who had less to say for themselves. We have tried two or three subjects already without success, and what we are to talk of next I cannot imagine.”

“What think you of books?” said he, smiling.

“Books—oh! no. I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings.”

“I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of subject. We may compare our different opinions.”

Their exchange is brief, but revealing. In his choice of words Mr. Darcy shows that he not only wants to spend time with Elizabeth, he wants to discuss different topics with her. He wants to know what she thinks, proving the attraction he feels for her isn’t just physical.

Bread Crumb #5 – Darcy’s Confession

At Rosings, Darcy approaches Elizabeth while she plays the pianoforte, but he doesn’t speak to her right away, perhaps because his previous attempts at conversation with her have all had less than satisfying outcomes. Finally, he confesses:

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

In response, Elizabeth offers him a bit of (now famous) advice:

“My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do . . . But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I will not take the trouble of practising.”

It’s a small jab, but Darcy not only accepts it, he sees the sense of Elizabeth’s metaphor:

Darcy smiled and said, “You are perfectly right.”

By having Darcy agree so readily with Elizabeth’s advice, Jane Austen hints at . . .

Bread Crumb #6 – Darcy Proves He Listened

By the time Elizabeth and the Gardiners visit Pemberley, Darcy is ready to show that he heard Elizabeth’s advice loud and clear. He greets Elizabeth, and then . . .

He asked her if she would do him the honour of introducing him to her friends. This was a stroke of civility for which she was quite unprepared; and she could hardly suppress a smile at his being now seeking the acquaintance of some of those very people against whom his pride had revolted in his offer to herself. “What will be his surprise,” thought she, “when he knows who they are? He takes them now for people of fashion.”

But it turns out Elizabeth is the one to be surprised. Darcy not only does an excellent job of demonstrating he has learned to talk to people he doesn’t know, he extends invitations to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in a way that leaves no doubt he is open to pursuing an acquaintance with them.

His actions confuse and delight Elizabeth, and cause her to muse, wonderingly:

“Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me—it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me?”

That last question is, of course, one of the very best bread crumbs in the entire novel, because eventually Darcy does, indeed, prove that he still loves her—and he does so in a way she can never imagine.

Jane Austen’s skill in dropping bread crumbs to pique reader interest as she builds her story is really quite masterful. It’s one of the reasons I never get tired of reading Pride and Prejudice or watching the movie adaptations of the novel.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite “bread crumb” in Pride and Prejudice

Posted in Austen Authors, book excerpts, British history, film adaptations, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Guest Post, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, Regency era, Regency romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Did Queen Victoria Marry John Brown?

ali-fazal-759.jpg Mrs_Brown_UK_theatrical_poster.jpg

Have you seen the film Victoria and Abdul? It started me thinking more on the “supposed” relationship between Queen Victoria and her Scottish servant John Brown. (By the way, this relationship has also been explored in film. Again the movie starred Judi Dench as Queen Victoria. Mrs. Brown is a 1997 British drama film starring Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, Geoffrey Palmer, Antony Sher, and Gerard Butler in his film debut. Although I enjoyed Victoria and Abdul, in my opinion, Mrs. Brown is the superior film.)

The news of 1866 carried a piece in the Gazette de Lausanne, a Swiss paper, that read, “On dit…that with Brown and by him she consoles herself for Prince Albert, and they go even further. They add that she is in an interesting condition, and that if she was not present for the Volunteers Review, and at the inauguration of the monument to Prince Albert, it was only in order to hide her pregnancy. I hasten to add that the Queen has been morganatically married to her attendant for a long time, which diminishes the gravity of the thing.” Most assuredly, no British paper carried such a tale, but once the word spread of the Queen’s supposed affair, there was no reining it back in. 

So exactly who was John Brown and how did he come to Queen Victoria’s notice? Brown was from Crathienaird, Crathie parish in Aberdeenshire. He was the second of 11 children of a tenant farmer John Brown and his wife Margaret Leys. He was educated at the local school and at age 13, he began work as a farm laborer and as an ostler’s assistant at Pannanich Wells. Later, he became a stable boy at Sir Robert Gordon’s estate at Balmoral and was on the staff when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Balmoral for the first time in September 1848. 

Queen Victoria’s journal holds a mention of John Brown for the first time in 1849. Brown was promoted to gillie, in Scotland, means a man or boy who attends someone on a hunting or fishing expedition. The royal family had visited Dhu Loch. Brown was close to both the Queen and Prince Albert over the years. By 1858, Brown was Prince Albert’s personal gillie. He served Albert until the prince’s death in December 1861. He was a staple of the royal family’s time at Balmoral. 

In 1864, Princess Alice, the Queen’s third child and Royal Physician Dr William Jenner and the Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Charles Phipps took it upon themselves to bring Brown up to the Isle of Wight from Balmoral to aid the Queen in overcoming her depression after Albert’s death. They thought that Brown would remind Victoria of happier times. In December 1864, Brown arrived at Osborne House as a groom. Unsurprisingly, Brown’s brusque manner did the trick. Soon Victoria was riding daily. When the queen rheumatism bothered her too much to sit a horse, Brown took her out on a pony cart. She relished the manner in which he paid her strict attention.

Mrs-Brown-Riding.png  By 1865, Brown had become a permanent member of the Queen’s staff. He was given the title of “The Queen’s Highland Servant.” Over the years, he was awarded both the “Faithful Servant Medal” and the “Devoted Servant Medal.” His salary rose from £150 per annum to £400 (in 1872).

It was Alexander Robertson’s pamphlet “John Brown: A Correspondence with the Lord Chancellor, Regarding a Charge of Fraud and Embezzlement Preferred Against His Grace the Duke of Atholl K. T. of 1873” that first openly suggested that Queen Victoria and John Brown had married morganatically [relating to, or being a marriage between a member of a royal or noble family and a person of inferior rank in which the rank of the inferior partner remains unchanged and the children of the marriage do not succeed to the titles, fiefs, or entailed property of the parent of higher rank].

Citing one Charles Christie, ‘House Servant to the Dowager Duchess of Athole at Dunkeld House,’ Robertson claimed that John Brown was regularly noted as entering Queen Victoria’s bedroom when the rest of the household was asleep. Robert purported that Victoria married Brown at Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1868, with Duchess Anne standing as witness. The Duchess of Atholl vehemently denied Robertson’s allegations. Robertson also claimed that Victoria had given birth to John Brown’s child, identifying his source for this information as John McGregor, Chief Wood Manager on the Atholl estates. Robertson went so far as to say that the child was conceived at a secret rendezvous place on Loch Ordie. Again, Robertson involved the duchess by saying Duchess Anne served as midwife to the Queen when the child was delivered in Switzerland. Supposedly, the child was given to a “Calvinist pastor’ in the Canton of Vaud. Surprisingly, Robertson was never prosecuted for libel. [It should be noted here that Robertson had a running feud with the 6th Duke of Atholl regarding the payment of a toll to cross the seven-arched bridge across the River Tay at Dunkeld, Perthshire.] (Lamont-Brown, Raymond. How Fat Was Henry VIII and 101 Questions on Royal History. The History Press. 2009. 20-21)

There are other theories regarding the Queen’s relationship with John Brown. Some think that he served as her “keeper,” after all he was brought to Osborne House to “keep” Victoria from her extreme bouts of melancholy. Some went as far as to think her as “mad” as her grandfather, George III. 

Lamont-Brown (21 -23) tells us, “With Brown being a Highlander it was presumed that he had the phenomenon known as taibhseadaireachd the ‘Second Sight’ with all its psychic attributes. As Queen Victoria was obsessed with the morbid memory of Prince Albert, it was easy for gossips to conclude that the ‘psychic’ John Brown was her spiritualistic medium. All of these elements of gossip had deep roots and there were many willing to exploit them.

624.jpg“Although much of the gossip about John Brown and Queen Victoria was seen as ridiculous steps were taken to suppress information. For instance, when Queen Victoria died her daughter Princess Beatrice removed pages from the queen’s journal ‘that might cause pain…. It is clear, despite public gossip… there was nothing immoral in Queen Victoria’s relationship with John Brown. Queen Victoria would never have contemplated sex with a servant. Furthermore, she was never alone to carry out an affair having court ladies always within shouting distance. The significance of Queen Victoria’s attraction to John Brown was that he made a career out of her. He never married, had few holidays and devoted his life to the queen, and he was a walking encyclopedia of her like, dislikes, moods and needs. As a downright selfish person this greatly appealed to the queen…. She liked him because she needed to be fussed, cosseted and spoiled. He told her the truth, spoke boldly to her and importantly too; unlike her family and senior courtiers, he was not afraid of her. Above all, when Prince Albert died Queen Victoria needed a male friend — she never really made close friendships with women — and someone to lean on. John Brown supplied all that.” 

You might also enjoy these opinions: 

Letter from Queen Victoria points to affair with Brown https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2004/dec/16/monarchy.stephenbates

Victoria ‘did become Brown’  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1429127/Victoria-did-become-Mrs-Brown.html

Victoria and Abdul: The Truth About the Queen’s Controversial Relationship  https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/09/queen-victoria-and-abdul-real-story

Original Movie Trailer for “Mrs. Brown” from You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsnOyuU2o6A

 

Posted in British history, castles, film, film adaptations, Great Britain, history, Living in the UK, research, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

On the Character of Clergymen in Jane Austen’s Novels & the Regency, a Guest Post from Alexa Adams

Alexa Adams shared this post with our followers on Austen Authors in June 2016. I thought it a worthy piece to share with you. 

MrC
David Bamber ar Mr. Collins, 1995

“My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world of your excellent judgment in all matters within the scope of your understanding, but permit me to say that there must be a wide difference between the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity, and those which regulate the clergy; for give me leave to observe that I consider the clerical office as equal in point of dignity with the highest rank in the kingdom — provided that a proper humility of behaviour is at the same time maintained. You must therefore allow me to follow the dictates of my conscience on this occasion, which leads me to perform what I look on as a point of duty. Pardon me for neglecting to profit by your advice, which on every other subject shall be my constant guide, though in the case before us I consider myself more fitted by education and habitual study to decide on what is right than a young lady like yourself.”

Ah, Mr. Collins: Austen’s biggest buffoon. Her most famous clergyman does not reflect well on his profession. Based on Pride and Prejudice alone, it would be easy to conclude Austen thought rather poorly of churchmen. After all, the only character who even considers entering the church is Mr. Wickham. Yet in her other novels she provides several examples of excellence in the calling. Nearly half her heroes are clergymen, and Henry Tilney, Edward Ferrars, and Edmund Bertram are all precisely what one would wish for in a spiritual guide: sincere, compassionate, and capable. In them Austen shows us what a good parish rector ought to be. In contrast, Mr. Collins and Mr. Elton are revealed as thoroughly undeserving of their preferment, a situation that was all too common in her time.

senseandsensibilitylrg4.jpgDan Stevens as Edward Ferrars, 2008

A man of genteel birth but not enough income to support himself had three options in the Regency world: he could join the military, study law, or take orders. It also happened to be a time in which the duties of the parish rector were being hotly debated. At issue was the custom of pluralism, or the holding of more than one living at a time. A living was the assignment (usually gifted) of a parish to a rector, which included a house and annual salary. There was a shortage of livings, which were typically held for life or until retirement, and the salaries attached to them were often not enough to live upon. About 1/5th of gentlemen in orders would spend their lives as poorly paid curates, while those that held livings often had more than one and still struggled to support their families.* As the daughter of a clergyman and the sister to two more, it is no wonder that Austen voiced her opinion on the subject in her novels.

From left to right: George Austen (Jane's father), ca 1764, his eldest son James, ca 1795, and his 4th son Henry, ca 1820. All artists unknown.
From left to right: George Austen (Jane’s father), ca 1764, his eldest son James, ca 1795, and his 4th son Henry, ca 1820. All artists unknown.

Jane Austen’s father held two livings, as did her eldest brother upon inheriting them. So do Mr. Morland in Northanger Abbey and Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park. While offering no criticism of pluralism, she also clearly sympathizes with the plight of the curate, as illustrated in the struggles of Charles Hayter in Persuasion and, potentially, Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility. However, it is only in Mansfield Park that she explicitly develops the subject. Here Edmund acts as defender of the clergy, while Mary Crawford makes her case against it.

At length, after a short pause, Miss Crawford began with, “So you are to be a clergyman, Mr. Bertram. This is rather a surprise to me.”

“Why should it surprise you? You must suppose me designed for some profession, and might perceive that I am neither a lawyer, nor a soldier, nor a sailor.”

“Very true; but, in short, it had not occurred to me. And you know there is generally an uncle or a grandfather to leave a fortune to the second son.”

“A very praiseworthy practice,” said Edmund, “but not quite universal. I am one of the exceptions, and beingone, must do something for myself.”

Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram, 2007
Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram, 2007

“But why are you to be a clergyman? I thought that was always the lot of the youngest, where there were many to chuse before him.”

“Do you think the church itself never chosen, then?”

Never is a black word. But yes, in the never of conversation, which means not very often, I do think it. For what is to be done in the church? Men love to distinguish themselves, and in either of the other lines distinction may be gained, but not in the church. A clergyman is nothing.”

“The nothing of conversation has its gradations, I hope, as well as the never. A clergyman cannot be high in state or fashion. He must not head mobs, or set the ton in dress. But I cannot call that situation nothing which has the charge of all that is of the first importance to mankind, individually or collectively considered, temporally and eternally, which has the guardianship of religion and morals, and consequently of the manners which result from their influence. No one here can call the office nothing. If the man who holds it is so, it is by the neglect of his duty, by foregoing its just importance, and stepping out of his place to appear what he ought not to appear.”

You assign greater consequence to the clergyman than one has been used to hear given, or than I can quite comprehend. One does not see much of this influence and importance in society, and how can it be acquired where they are so seldom seen themselves? How can two sermons a week, even supposing them worth hearing, supposing the preacher to have the sense to prefer Blair’s to his own, do all that you speak of? govern the conduct and fashion the manners of a large congregation for the rest of the week? One scarcely sees a clergyman out of his pulpit.”

J.J. Field as Henry Tilney, 2007
J.J. Field as Henry Tilney, 2007

Interestingly, the worldly Mary is only restating the very criticisms that the bishops of the English church had been leveling at their underlings for years. If a rector held a plurality of livings and did not live in a parish, he might only see its members on Sundays, and then only on those when the curate wasn’t performing the honors. How can a clergyman be a shepherd to his flock if he never sees it? Concerns for clerical non-residence led to the Residency Act of 1803, which required clergymen to obtain a license in order to hold the living of a parish in which they did not live. The act was amended in 1809 and 1810 to assist bishops in keeping track of resident and non-resident clergy and further distinguishing between those who performed Sunday services and those who did not. Acceptable explanations for holding a plurality of livings included the parsonage being unlivable, the salary of a parish being inadequate to live upon, or the ill-health of the clergyman.* Sense and Sensibility provides examples of the first two cases: the parsonage at Delaford is uninhabitable until Colonel Brandon institutes repairs upon it, and the salary, at only 200 pounds a year, is not enough to support a family. Thus the Colonel estimates how the living might be improved, and promises further patronage (like using his influence to procure Edward an additional living). It is only Mrs. Ferrars’ gift of 10,000 pounds that provides Edward the means to marry Elinor Dashwood.

In Persuasion we have an example in Dr. Shirley, Rector of Uppercross, of how ill-health might permit non-residency. Hopes for the marriage of Charles Hayter and Henrietta Musgrove depend upon the former’s attainment of a living, and the young couple rest their best hopes on Dr. Shirley being so infirm that he will hire Charles as his curate and pay him unusually well. Henrietta even hopes he will be accommodating enough to retire to Lyme, leaving the parsonage available for their occupation. In the end, a better solution arises. Hayter is given the holding of a living until the young man for whom it is intended reaches an age to take orders. By that time, Dr. Shirley will presumably be conveniently dead and the living at Uppercross available.

Blake Ritson as Mr. Elton, 2009
Blake Ritson as Mr. Elton, 2009

Two of Austen’s heroes, Edmund Bertram of Mansfield Park and Henry Tilney of Northanger Abbey, enter the clergy because their families hold livings for which they are destined. Despite this lack of a calling, both are well-suited to the profession and can be expected to prove model clergymen. Edward Ferrars’ decision to enter the church without any expectation of patronage, on the other hand, is extremely risky, perhaps even foolish. Edward is the only character in Austen who appears truly called to serve, and it is only Colonel Brandon’s generosity that saves him from being one of many hungry curates in need of a living. Other clergymen in Austen get lucky, too. We are not told by what means Emma’s Mr. Elton ascends to the living at Highbury (his lack of connection to the area suggests he was appointed by a bishop), but along with his additional “independent property” he is situated well enough to both marry and provide him with an inflated sense of his own importance. Certainly his callous behavior towards Harriet Smith proves he is ill-suited for the clerical life: his ego so in command that he wounds a parishioner to assuage it. Mr. Collins is even worse and even luckier, for at least Mr. Elton shows a degree of competence that can account for his preferment. Mr. Collins, on the other hand, receives ordination with no prospects on his horizon, yet just so happens to come almost immediately to Lady Catherine’s attention and rise to all the glories belonging to the Rector of Hunsford, all without doing anything to merit such fortune. That patrons like Lady Catherine had the disposal of livings in their power and would choose to bestow them on sycophants like Mr. Collins was a serious problem. It is no coincidence that the same book gives us an example in Mr. Darcy of the conscientious patron: one who will not leave the moral guidance and care of his tenants to wastrel like Wickham. That Wickham even attempts to secure a living – merely a means to an annual income, with no concern whatsoever for the welfare of the parishioners – illustrates the dangers of the system. I think it safe to assert that Austen thought the appointment of undeserving clergymen to parishes a bigger concern than pluralism.

Mr. Collins makes an impromptu speech at the Netherfield Ball, elucidating for both the readers and all the guests of the house the duties and obligations of a rector, as he understands them:

“The rector of a parish has much to do. — In the first place, he must make such an agreement for tithes as may be beneficial to himself and not offensive to his patron. He must write his own sermons; and the time that remains will not be too much for his parish duties, and the care and improvement of his dwelling, which he cannot be excused from making as comfortable as possible.”

Clearly, he does not belong to that category of clergymen receiving that iota of Mary Crawford’s approval for having the sense to not write their own sermons, instead utilizing those widely published by Hugh Blair. The parishioners of Hunsford have my heartfelt sympathy.

Hugh Blair by David Martin, 1775
Hugh Blair by David Martin, 1775. The famous sermon writer is portrayed wearing the same style of clerical collar sported by Henry Austen and Mr. Elton above.

 

*For more on this subject please read Celia Easton’s essay “‘The Probability of Some Negligence’: Avoiding the Horror of the Absent Clergyman,” published in 2010 in Persuasions: No. 32. It largely inspired this blog post.

 

Posted in Austen Authors, Church of England, family, Georgian Era, Guest Post, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, Regency era, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

An Interview with Author Betty Bolté + an Excerpt from “Charmed Against All Odds”

I am thrilled to have Betty Bolté join us today on the blog. Betty writes in several genres, and she is one of the authors I share duties with in the Common Elements Romance Project. You can learn more about the project HERE. Or enter the November Giveaway for your choice of one of the books released this month from the Project. Enter HERE.

For now, let’s learn something of Betty Bolté. 

First, tell us a bit about yourself. From where do you come? Past jobs, awards, the usual bio stuff.

I have been a word lover since I learned the alphabet and started reading at age 5 years. Despite my love of language, my first jobs were as a Sunday morning bus girl at a restaurant, as a waitress at McDonald’s and a donut shop, and after high school I worked for a while at a department store. I worked there while I waited to be hired to work for the federal government as a clerk, and then after I’d worked as a clerk for a couple of years I switched to being a secretary for several “Beltway Bandits” corporations around Washington, D.C. I left the corporate world in 1988 to start my own word processing business from home after I’d married my husband. From then on, I worked at home as much as possible as a writer or technical editor. I’ve written magazine articles, essays, newspaper articles and a column about our experience as part of the Sandwich Generation (having my father living with us, 3 generations in one house). I’ve written several nonfiction books, all while working on learning how to write fiction. One highlight of my career is that for several years, I worked as a technical writer/editor for SAIC supporting the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, editing real rocket science.

I write in a variety of genres: historical romance, historical fiction, paranormal romance, and I’ve started a new series, the Fury Falls Inn series, that combines the historical with paranormal and a touch of romance. I published my first 4 romances in 2014, 2 by a digital press and 2 from a hybrid press. One of my books won an honest-to-goodness gold medal, Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure, from the Children’s Literary Classics organization in 2015. They invited me to an award ceremony in Las Vegas where they placed the medal around my neck, too. That was quite a moment in my career! With the release of Charmed Against All Odds this month, I will have published a total of 20 fiction and nonfiction books.

Tell us about your new release.

Charmed Against All Odds is the fifth book in my Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series. It’s also one of the titles included in the Common Elements Romance Project collection of stories, each including the same five elements but used in any number of ways. Set in the quirky small town of Roseville, Tennessee, the Secrets of Roseville series features five women who are witches and mediums and have some fun adventures as a result. In Charmed Against All Odds, Roxie Golden has to come to terms with her ex-fiance Leo King returning to town unexpectedly and against his will. They’re forced to work together to find a series of 6 enchanted charms in order to first, end their reluctant partnership and second, learn their destiny.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) of your current project to write and why? 

Writing the backstories for the incidents that each of the charms represents in Roxie and Leo’s previous relationship proved both fun and challenging. I really had to think about what their lives had been like as children and teens before the falling out that ended their engagement. At the same time, I wanted to give each charm a specific meaning and reason for being part of this visual reminder for Roxie to wear in their new relationship. I found a company that makes each of the charms I feature in the story. I’m still pondering whether I want to make my own charm bracelet…

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I’ve used a variety of resources to consider possible names for my characters. Depending on whether it’s historical or contemporary, those options change. I’ve used census records of the most popular names from the 1920s when writing a World War Two novel, for example. I’ve gleaned names from the historical research books of Alabama for my Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn is book one, set in 1821 Alabama. I’ve consulted baby name lists for my contemporary stories and the Character-Naming Sourcebook which includes the meanings behind the names by region/country. I’ve also pulled names from my own family tree and people I’ve met.

Share a quirky fact from your research.

Since Roxie is a witch, and in my story I’ve created the Order of Witchery Lore (OWL), I needed to find out more about Wicca and what I could learn as to the jewelry people of that faith would wear. What it means, how it’s important, and then reflect that in my story. From the Wicca Spirituality site (https://www.wicca-spirituality.com/wiccan-jewelry.html), I learned that the third finger is the heart finger (thus why relationship rings are typically worn on that finger) and rings worn there are “especially powerful.” The index finger is also powerful as the creation finger. Judgement and restraint center on the middle finger. Communication—Roxie’s strongest power and the Order’s mission—comes from the pinky finger. So I chose to have the OWL membership ring be worn on the right pinky finger. I actually blogged about this topic in more detail (https://bettybolte.net/?p=3231) if you’re interested in finding out more. I actually typically wear a ring I bought when I received my MA in English on my 3rd finger, and my dearly departed mother-in-law’s wedding band on my pinky, which makes me think it helps with my creativity.

Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming projects?

I have my WWII story, Notes of Love and War, out to beta readers now. It’s a historical women’s fiction story set in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s inspired by reading my parents’ correspondence during and after the war. I’m also getting ready to write the second book in the six-book Fury Falls Inn series, Under Lock and Key, which I hope to release by summer 2020. I am debating how to publish Notes of Love and War and another 18th-century historical women’s fiction story about Martha Washington’s life that I’ve written. So plenty to keep me out of trouble!

 

Charmed Against All Odds

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

Wedding bells are ringing, but not for Roxie Golden. If she can survive another round of wedding plans, then her life can return to normal. She’s perfectly happy running the bookstore and weaving helpful magical spells. Then one stormy day, her ex-fiancé strolls back into her life with a gift neither of them wants.

Leo King wants to flee the small town for the big city. Forget about the shame he brought upon himself when he abused his magical powers. First, to satisfy his warlock father’s final wish, he must deliver the mysterious box to Roxie’s bookstore.

But when Roxie opens the box, revealing an enchanted bracelet and a quest spell, their plans and their lives are changed forever. Trapped in a reluctant partnership with the woman he once loved, he risks everything—including his heart—for a second chance.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Charmed-Against-Odds-Secrets-Roseville-ebook/dp/B07WSJWDLF/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=charmed+against+all+odds&qid=1566480566&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Books2Read universal book link: https://books2read.com/u/3JVjaK

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/charmed-against-all-odds-betty-bolte/1133061479?ean=9781733973618

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/charmed-against-all-odds

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/charmed-against-all-odds/id1477254462

Formatted:

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo      Apple

Excerpt from Charmed Against All Odds:

“What do you think you’re doing?” His deep, gravelly voice grated on Leo’s nerves.

“Nothing. Just looking around.” Leo matched the man’s smile with one of his own. No way would he share their true purpose for returning to the nostalgic old theater.

“Do you have tickets?” The manager raised one brow as he stared at Leo.

“No, sir.” Leo’s smile withered and fell away. “Like I said, we simply wanted to see the lobby again.”

“We haven’t been here in a very long time.” Roxie smiled, a much more sincere and thus believable friendly expression than either of the two men had attempted. “Nothing’s changed.”

“One thing has for certain.” The man’s pale blue eyes glinted in the light shining from the bright chandeliers. “You have to buy a movie ticket before you come into the lobby. This isn’t a sightseeing stop on some tour.”

“We only need a few minutes and we’ll be out of here.” Leo cut a glance at Roxie, who nodded.

“Absolutely.”

“Either buy tickets to watch a movie or leave. Those are your options.” The manager crossed his arms over his narrow, self-righteous chest, his Adam’s apple prominently sliding up and down his scrawny throat. “No exceptions.”

“But—” Leo objected with his entire being. He couldn’t do it. Even if his libido wanted him to.

Sit in a darkened theater with Roxie at his side. Within reach of draping his arm around her, her head resting on his shoulder. Or playing thumb wars while they watched the movie. Sharing buttered popcorn out of a large tub between them, their fingers brushing when they both reached in at the same time. Like all the previous times they’d enjoyed being together.

“No exceptions.” The manager shook his head. “Your choice.”

The charm hid somewhere within the walls of the theater. He sensed they were close, a niggling in his core like he hadn’t felt in a long time. He couldn’t leave without the charm. Leo clenched his jaw as he noticed Roxie’s curt nod indicating they should do as the manager insisted. If she could do it, then he’d have to man up. Be a true gentleman and keep his hands to himself. No matter what. If possible…

Meet Betty Bolté: 

Award-winning author Betty Bolté is known for authentic and accurately researched historical fiction with heart and supernatural romance novels. A lifetime reader and writer, she’s worked as a secretary, freelance word processor, technical writer/editor, and author. She’s been published in essays, newspaper articles/columns, magazine articles, and nonfiction books but now enjoys crafting entertaining and informative fiction, especially stories that bring American history to life. She earned a Master’s Degree in English in 2008, emphasizing the study of literature and storytelling, and has judged numerous writing contests for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northern Alabama with her loving husband of more than 30 years. Her cat, Calliope, serves as her muse and writing partner, and her dog, Zola, makes sure she goes outside frequently. She loves to cook, travel, read, crochet and take long walks. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Alabama Writers Conclave, and Authors Guild. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.

Social Media Links

Website: www.bettybolte.com

Blog: www.bettybolte.net

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Betty’s Novel Ninjas Street Team: http://on.fb.me/15usNUf

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorBettyBolte

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eBook Discovery: http://www.ebookdiscovery.com/bettybolte

 

Posted in book excerpts, book release, contemporary, contemporary romance, eBooks, gothic and paranormal, Guest Post, paranormal, publishing, research, suspense, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Memories of the Marshall University Plane Crash

Memories-of-Marshall-ex-player-says-shock-of-crash-never-ends-2.jpgThis is not a post based on Jane Austen and her writing or on the Regency Period in England as you would customarily find on my blog. Rather it is a a moment in time when I stood witness to the true human spirit, and like so many others, I must speak of it. November 14 is the anniversary of one of the most tragic events I ever experienced, and I hope you will allow me to take you into my life, and by doing so, you will understand more of what makes me the person I am, as well as comprehend why I look to the simplicity of reading and writing romance for my release. When I think back to the moments in my life, which defined me as a person, one I must choose is my senior year in college. I attended Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

Marshall Univ. Crash www.check-six.com

Marshall Univ. Crash
http://www.check-six.com

On November 14, 1970, the Marshall faithful followed the team to East Carolina University for a closely contested game. Returning to Huntington after the 17-14 loss, Flight 932, a chartered twin-engine Southern Airways DC-9, struck a tree on a hill 5,543 feet west of the runway. The plane cut a path 95 feet wide by 279 feet long through the tree line, even clipping an abandoned house. It crashed, nose-first, in a hollow 4,219 feet short of the runway. The plane, essentially, came apart. A fire melted most of the fuselage. All 75 people aboard, including the entire football team (37 players), coaches, team doctors, the university’s athletic director,  25 supporters (many prominent citizens of the town), and a crew of five, died. Even today, the cause remains uncertain: weather (fog and rain) or too low of a descent or improper use of cockpit instrumentation data.

Other than being a MU student and part time waitress, I also spent some time with a volunteer medical unit, one stationed close to the accident. (I later taught at one of the high schools in the area.) At the time, I thought I might become a nurse. I was certified in basic first aid, and I was not of the nature to panic when I encountered danger. Previously, I assisted several people in car wrecks and the like.

Upon my arrival at the scene, those in charge pressed me into combing the hillside for the bodies, one of the most horrendous experiences of my life. With flashlights and flares used for light, those of us determined to be of service began to gather what we could salvage. We each thought to discover someone clinging to life, but no such scene ever occurred. In the movie, We Are Marshall, there is a line that says something to the effect of “There are no survivors.” It always brings me to tears (even as I type this piece).

We were instructed to take our finds to a temporary morgue at the National Guard Armory at the airport. I recall the terrible moment when we realized we didn’t have enough body bags. It was a taste of reality that shook me to my core. If one looked to the hillside hosting the crash scene, he would find small fires that burned for hours. Only the jet’s engine and a wing section were recognizable to the investigators trying to piece together an explanation of a disaster.

Pieces of bodies were scattered throughout the area. White plastic was used to block the view of “interested” onlookers who rushed to the scene. What we could recover, we placed on sheets laid on the armory’s floor. I remember that, ironically, S. S. Logan Packing Company, distributor of the Cavalier meat brands, provided a cooling unit to preserve the bodies until they could be identified.

plane crash | West Virginia travel queen wvtravelqueen.com

plane crash | West Virginia travel queen
wvtravelqueen.com

Over the next week and a half, I attended 13 funerals, three in one day alone. An “instant” snuffed out the lives of the young who still held “potential” before them (the players) and those who greeted life as a partner (mothers, fathers, business leaders, doctors, lawyers, coaches). A 52-minute flight changed a town and changed me. A grief impossible to explain gripped the area. It was not only that we lost a football program. In reality, we were not a powerhouse at the time, but we were one of the first schools to recruit Black athletes, a statement of change following the Civil Rights movement. And like every young person, I held my hopes set on a brighter tomorrow. The crash was a gaping hole waiting to be healed.

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Nate Ruffin and Jack Lengyel via The Herald Dispatch – Anthony Mackie portrayed Nate Ruffin and Matthew McConaughey portrayed Coach Jack Lengyel in “We Are Marshall”

The fictional character of Annie Cantrell in the movie commemorating this event says of the grief: Those were not welcome days. We buried sons, brothers, mothers, fathers, fiancés. Clocks ticked, but time did not pass. The sun rose and the sun set, but the shadows remained. When once there was sound, now there was silence. What once was whole, now was shattered.

ef2837fdbbf46ea9b7a579feab643b5c--marshall-university-herd

1969 Marshall University football team via herald-dispatch.com

Despite our common anguish, things happened to keep the hope alive. The NCAA permitted Marshall to play freshmen, something never allowed previously, and with the insistence of Nate Ruffin, a man who later served on the university’s Alumni Board, as did I, the program became whole again. Walk-on players stepped up, and a team resurfaced.

I would like to tell you that the program miraculously became automatic winners, but that would be a lie. For my birthday weekend, the first game in 1971, I was among those in the stands at Morehead State University watching the “Young” Thundering Herd; and although MU lost, many of us saw it as a victory for the university and the town. The next weekend, I was again among the throng crowded into Fairfield Stadium for the team’s first home game. And miracle of miracles, God answered the combined prayer of a crazed crowd – from those who pleaded for a sign that He had not forsaken them. I am not one to beg God for winning lottery numbers or for an unexpected inheritance, but I admit to adding my silent prayers for a win and was granted a last-minute one over Xavier. For hours afterwards, we remained in the stands, hugging strangers who shared the joy of seeing hope resurrected.

Organizational Change: The Young Thundering Herd | Paul Ress ... www.linkedin.com

Organizational Change: The Young Thundering Herd | Paul Ress …
http://www.linkedin.com

Marshall won only one more game that season, and for over a decade the university and the town suffered through numerous losing seasons; yet, even with those losses, people remembered the Xavier win. Often one heard someone say, “Were you here when the plane crashed?” Meaning, “Do we have a shared identity?” In the mid-80’s, MU won a I-AA National Championship and in the 90s it won more games than any other Division I team. Like every other school, MU has its good seasons and its rebuilding ones, but football is not the lesson here.

What did I learn from this tragedy? First, life is short. Embrace each day as if it is your last. Secondly, hope never dies. Even when faced with complete devastation, some moment, no matter how brief, tells a person that the phoenix will rise from the ashes. That man can step into the light once again. Lastly, true love is the most compelling of tasks. It is what sees us through the darkness.

November 14, 1970, serves as a defining date in my life. Like many who experienced this tragedy first hand, I am forever changed. However, the release of the 2006 movie We Are Marshall filled that gaping hole. I cried the first time I saw the film – the memory still too raw even after 35 years, but with each subsequent viewing, the hurt has lessened. Instead of death, I now view the resiliency of the human spirit. That resiliency and that need for hope and love are the subject of my writing.HOCrE7-AnLc.movieposter

12809.21952

This is the Marshall Plane Crash Memorial Fountain found on Marshall’s college campus. This fountain pays tribute to the 75 people Marshall loss on that sad day. https://www.theclio.com/web/entry?id=26776

The Memorial Student Center Fountain was dedicated to the memory of the plane crash victims on November 12, 1972. Each year on the crash’s anniversary the water is turned off until the next spring. Its creator Harry Bertora said, “I hoped the fountain would ‘commemorate the living – rather than the dead – on the waters of life, rising, receding, surging, so to express upward growth, immortality, and eternality.'”

BookSigning.jpg As a footnote to my tale, I would also like to point you to a book on the tragedy, but one written by a man NOT on that fateful flight. November Ever After comes to us at the hands of Craig T. Greenlee, a man who left the Marshall football program in 1969 for personal reasons, but returned to rebuild the program after the plane crash. You can learn more of Mr. Greenlee’s story HERE

61k6eBeDbEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg November Ever After: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph in the Wake of the 1970 Marshall Football Plane Crash

The legacy of the players who perished in the 1970 Marshall football plane crash transcends wins and losses. Their tragic deaths squashed the likelihood of a bloody race riot on campus. Students at Marshall University had no idea that the horrific events on the night of November 14 would change their lives forever. The team’s plane crashed into the side of a mountain, and there were no survivors among the 75 passengers. Unless you were there, you could never comprehend the full gravity of grief that engulfed a college town in the days following the worst aviation disaster in the history of American sports. I know a lot about it. For two seasons, I was a Marshall football player. But for personal reasons, I decided that 1969 would be my last hurrah. As things turned out, it proved to be a life-saving choice. Had I not walked away from the game, I know it could have been me on that plane. When the school started to pick up the pieces of the football program, it was a no-brainer for me to return and become part of the rebuilding process in the spring of 1971. Media projects devoted to the Marshall football crash generated well-deserved exposure. Even so, there are glaring omissions in those presentations. Through this book, the record is set straight. Former Marshall defensive back Craig T. Greenlee provides insights and recollections that you simply will not find in other media accounts about the tragedy and its aftermath.

Posted in American History, film, real life tales, sports history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments