So, kindly allow me to point out that it was on this day in 1536 that 35-year-old Anne Boleyn, met her end. Her daughter Elizabeth was not quite three years old when Henry's 2nd wife exited the world's stage through the door marked May 19. Of course, several notable spring babies entered by way of the same passage. Nellie Melba, in 1861, of the battleship-bosom and silvery soprano pipes. Ho Chi Minh (1890), Vietnamese nationalist, just 29 when he showed up in a rented suit at the post-WWI Peace Conference at Versailles, to plead for his countrymen's fair treatment by their French overlords. [Good luck on that.] Witty Nancy Astor (1879), that American-born Parliamentarian, who famously declared to Winston Churchill, her political adversary, that if he were her husband, she'd poison his coffee. "Madam," he replied, "if I were your husband, I'd drink it." Isn't history adorable? That is, when it doesn't make you sick and want to fill your pockets with rocks and head for the nearest river?
If you're reading this, you may well be thinking that when I sat down here at the keyboard, I hadn't actually settled upon a topic and of course you would be correct. Certainly all manner of memories and topics are fluttering about in my belfry. Driving about Hannibal, MO a few days ago, climbing the 274 steps up to the "Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.
It stands atop Cardiff Hill, where red-headed Sammy Clemens used to play with his buddies. Finding my way through the raucous traffic in St. Louis on Saturday, to get to the fancy meeting of the MO Humanities Council. Manuscripts I've been trying to conjure into existence - these are what most occupy my mind these days, but what good do these batty notions do you, Dear Reader, in their half-baked condition? What would you like and/or need to know that I could tell you, that you don't know already? That, story-wise, history is full of buried treasures, remarkable people, rollicking, ill-conceived, harrowing, bloody adventures, and one damned thing after another? That when it comes to historical knowledge and awareness – without which we humans are a bunch of heedless, uninformed dopes, careening for the brink – story is the sugar that helps the medicine go down? That when it comes to historical awareness, most people in this here vale of tears are too witless to know its worth. Shoot, if you're reading this, you know that. So I'll close as ol' Winston Churchill did more than once: "We bumble onward."