Friday, February 6, 2009

Time travel, of a sort.

My father-in-law (hereinafter, The Historian) and I have a wonderful rapport. As you might surmise, there's a shared interest in history of many kinds, as well as several other shared interests (cars, cooking, etc.) We also get along very well. He loves to tease me, as do most people, and at least with him I can give as good as I take.
The Historian followed his father's example in keeping a diary for many years. His father, whom I'll call The Naturalist, was not a man I had the privilege of knowing. The Naturalist died in early 2006 and had Alzheimer's disease for several years before. While I met him once, it was only once and he was, I was told, only a shadow of his former self.
The Naturalist's diaries are in posession of The Historian, and I have been allowed the privilege of reading some of them. (I'm sure I'll be permitted to read all of them, but have only just begun.) It is a thorough privilege indeed. The Naturalist taught in a rural school in upstate New York, among many other things. I've been reading his diary for 1940 right now. His writing style is wonderful- I can picture just what he's describing, and laugh at the sight that it brings to mind some of the time. (He had work painting a garage, which he described as "sloppy work" for which he was wearing "an old raincoat and boots." I'm picturing this man in one of those wonderful bright yellow Mackintoshes of the 1920s, painting this garage. It's even funnier when you know that he had hair the color of a copper penny.)
This is unusual reading, but very well worth it.

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