This website really began many years ago.
Sometime towards the end of third grade, I got sick. I was going to be confined to my bed for days. Dad moved the TV into my bedroom.
Did you ever notice that some things in life never vary? For instance, if you turn on the television set and it’s a really good program, then it’s just ending. — Or if it’s bad, then it’s just starting. I think it’s the law.
Now, if you’re sick, and you have 24 hours to watch, all of the programs will be bad. — Or the good ones will come on when you’re sleeping and end just as you wake up. It’s the law.
To keep me happy, Dad and Mom went to the library and brought me a bunch of children’s books. One of them was a picture book about Daniel Boone.
I read it. I couldn’t stop. This was just as good as the TV show (Disney’s Davy Crockett)! I watched the clock. I couldn’t help it. Inevitably, the big hand came to the half hour. I don’t know what I expected. Maybe the book would vanish in a cloud of dust or something. If the TV is showing something really good, it always ends when the big hand reaches the half hour. It’s the law.
Anyway, the big hand reached the half hour but I decided to cheat. I kept reading. Something would surely happen to make me stop, but until then the story would continue. Nothing happened, a momentous nothing.
I made two discoveries: (1) there are no time limits on reading and (2) history books are interesting. Reading a history book was as interesting as watching any TV show. And it didn’t end just as you started it, especially if you went to the adult section and got a really thick, big book! As a bonus, I didn’t get into trouble for reading!
In that first batch of books was “The World of Captain John Smith” by Genevieve Foster. I asked, “What is this?” My mom answered, “He’s a little like Davy Crockett, isn’t he?”
It’s all these years later and I can’t forget that book. Foster was a famous children’s author in the forties and fifties. She wrote what she called “horizontal history.” She took a person’s life and then wrote stories from around the world during the time that person lived. The person served as an anchor on which she based a general history of the world during that lifetime.
Within a short period of time, I had read every one of her books that I could get my hands on. She’s largely forgotten now. Such a shame!
For all these years I’ve wondered why anybody else didn’t pick up on this approach to writing history. And why was this just for children?
I was a weird kid. When other children were playing, I read history books – wondered why everyone else didn’t do what I was doing. I remember in 8th. Grade dreaming of producing a history magazine. I doodled and played at the idea but this was before the internet and mimeograph machines were expensive. Besides, the practical side of me asked why produce something no one would want to read.
That practical side led me to accounting (which I love by the way) but I still remember back in the day when I thought to producing a magazine.
So, here we are. I love making books by old authors accessable (via the excerpts and by chopping them down to easily read bits for busy readers); I love pointing out today’s latest in history; and I love scouting out quotes and humorous stories.
With today’s technology, I can even add old videos!