Category Archives: Non Fiction

Pride and Prejudice characters: Charlotte and Mr. Collins

Charlotte & Collins

For a woman who came from a family of clergymen — her father, two brothers and four cousins wore a collar — Jane Austen certainly enjoys poking fun at them in her novels. And Pride and Prejudice’s  Mr. Collins is her most ridiculous clerical caricature. How on earth does sensible Charlotte wind up with such a buffoon?

A clergyman was a professional, just like a lawyer or doctor. He made his living in the pulpit, not at the bar or in the examining room, but he still needed to be a well educated man. Add to that a vicar needed have a high moral standard, be a good speaker and have compassion for the poor and needy.

David Bamber is Mr. Collins  in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

David Bamber is Mr. Collins in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Instead we get conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly, self important Mr. Collins. He is a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, a social climber with a very good opinion of himself and his patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

He comes to Meryton to visit the Bennets. As closest male relative he is set to inherit the Longbourn estate on Mr. Bennet’s death. That is something, to his credit, that he feels some guilt over. So he decides to marry one of the five Bennet sisters. Jane is all but engaged to Mr. Bingley so he sets his sites on Lizzie.

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collin in the 2005 movie

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collin in the 2005 movie

Poor Lizzie receives two of the worst proposals  of marriage in literature. The first is from Mr. Collins. He wants to get married because:

  1.  as a clergyman it would set a good example to the parish.
  2.  it will add to his happiness.
  3.  it is “the particular advice “ of Lady Catherine.
  4.  he has a violent affection for Elizabeth

Of course he doesn’t expect a rejected. For one thing he’s SUCH a catch, and for another he’s chosen well. The girls are desperate and he has them in a corner.

He literally can not believe that she declines his offer. Neither can her mother. And for a while Longbourn is long born with strife.

Queue Charlotte.

Charlotte Lucas is plain, pragmatic, good-tempered, funny, sensible, intelligent and unromantic.  She is 27 years old and Lizzie’s intimate friend. She’s such a good friend, in fact, that she comes to the rescue when Lizzie refuses Mr. Collins. She keeps him in good humor by listening to him and, one assumes, diverts him, making sure he’s out of ear shot of the shouting Mrs. Bennet and the giggling Lydia and Kitty.

Lucy Scott in the 1995 series

Lucy Scott in the 1995 series

Lizzie thanks her friend,  but “Charlotte’s kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of; — its object was nothing less than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins’s addresses, by engaging them towards herself.” With a little encouragement on her part Mr. Collins transfers his ‘violent affections’ form one lady to the next and…

”In as short a time as Mr. Collins’s long speeches would allow, every thing was settled between them to the satisfaction of both… he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men… and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained.”

Lizzie is surprised that Mr. Collins could so quickly change his mind  and settle on another life partner. But she is astonished that Charlotte could accept his proposal.  Charlotte reminds her however that she is…

”not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.”

In some ways Charlotte winds up in same situation as Mr. Bennet in the marriage department. Neither of them respect or love their partners. And both do what they can in daily life to avoid interacting with their spouses Mr. Bennet shuts the door to his library, while Charlotte sits in her parlor and encourages Mr. Collins to work with his bees or visit Lady Catherine.

Claudie Blakley in the 2005 movie

Claudie Blakley in the 2005 movie

At the end of the novel Mr. Bennet writes to Mr. Collins informing him that — despite warning to the contrary by both Collins and Lady Catherine — Lizzie and Darcy are soon to marry. Mr. Bennet advises Mr. Collins to  “Console Lady Catherine as well as you can. But, if I were you, I would stand by the nephew. He has more to give.” If Mr. Collins heeds this wise advice he’d shift his alliance to Darcy who would never put up with the vicar’s toady behavior. That, combined with Charlotte’s even handed temper–which (hopefully) would rub off on Collins–MIGHT make him a more tolerable fool.


Here’s a clip of the wonderful Julia Cho and Maxwell Glick in a scene from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries…


Williamsburg (part 2)

Textile 3

[This is part two of my What To Do in Williamsburg Blog for part one go HERE.]

Yesterday’s tips included:

  1. Planning your trip in the Fall or Winter to avoid the heat and crowds.
  2. Staying in a Colonial House.
  3. Engaging with the locals.

Today we’ll focus on some [FREE] tours.

4. Visit the Wren Building.

The first State House of Virginia was in Jamestown. But it burned down. Then it burned again. And again. And a fourth time. The governor and the citizens of Jamestown thought they’d better look for a better location for their capital. They chose Williamsburg (then known as the Middle Plantation) because the town already had a market, a church — Burton Parish, and a school — William and Mary. The architectural gem of William and Mary is the Wren Building. It sits at the opposite end of Duke of Gloucester Street from the Capitol and it is definitely worth a visit.

English: The front of the Wren Building at the...

English: The front of the Wren Building at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The building began construction in 1695 and was completed in 1699. It is the oldest restored building in Williamsburg. It has suffered three major fires (in 1705, 1859 and 1862) and been rebuilt each time. Between 1928 and 1931 it was restored to its Colonial appearance. Every student at William and Mary has at least one class in the historic Wren Building during their time at the college. The college counts three US presidents among its alumni; Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler. Their portraits hang in the Great Hall.

Free tours of the building are available M-F 1-5 when school is in session. Hint: As you climb the steps to the front door look for a patch of darker red brick to your left. You’ll see the initials of some of the school’s earliest residents carved in the bricks.

Wren Building from the William and Mary Campus side. (Photo credit: Bill.)

Wren Building from the William and Mary Campus side. (Photo credit: Bill.)

5.) Take the Rubbish, Treasures and Colonial Life Tour.   Rev. W.A.R. Goodwin, the pastor at Bruton Church convinced John D. Rockefeller Jr. to join him in a dream of restoring the sleepy little 1920’s country seat back to  the glorious colonial capital it had once been. That took a lot of money, a lot of research and a lot of digging.  There is no better way to learn about how that transformation took place than on the 90 minute Rubbish, Treasures and Colonial Life tour. Meet members of the staff, learn about how archaeological methods have changed over the years, and see the treasures that await their turn to be cataloged. Tickets are FREE with your Williamsburg Admission Pass, but you must make a reservation prior to the tour.

Glass fragments are sorted by type in drawer in the Archeology labs in Williamsburg.

6.) Another great free tour is the Behind the Scenes tour. This tour takes place at the Bruton Heights School and focuses on preservation techniques (as opposed how the objects are found, put together and cataloged.) You’ll see the studio where educational videos, Emmy Award winning broadcasts and blogs are made…

Film Studio at Williamsburg's  Bruton School facility.

…then go to one of the restoration labs to see work being done on an 18th century item. We visited the Textile Lab where they were restoring some quilts for an upcoming show at the De Witt Wallace Museum.

Over sized quilt being restored at the Textile Lab

Over sized quilt being restored at the Textile Lab
Detail from an over sized quilt being restored at the Textile Lab.

Detail of quilt

6.) Go to the De Witt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. With a substantial permanent exhibit and wonderful traveling exhibits we have never been disappointed by a stop at the twin museums that are accessible through the recreated Public Hospital on Frances Street.

The Frenchman's Map was on display as part of a temporary exhibit on maps and mapmaking. Drawn when the French moved into the city after during the Siege of Yorktown, It is the Rosettastone for Archeologist trying to restore Williamsburg.

The Frenchman’s Map was on display as part of a temporary exhibit on maps and map making. Drawn when the French moved into the city after during the Siege of Yorktown, It is the Rosetta stone for Archeologist trying to restore Williamsburg. The Bodleian Plate, another key to what the Colonial Capital looked like, is also on display.

This is a terrific way to spend a rainy (or cold) afternoon. And if you are traveling with youngsters the Children’s room in the Abby Aldrich Museum is delightful.

Looking up to the past.<br /><br />A young visitor finds both human and equine re-enactors equally fascinating andfriendly on Duke of Gloucester street.

Looking up to the past.
A young visitor finds both human and equine re-enactors equally fascinating and friendly on Duke of Gloucester street.
  • To read my article on Williamsburg: A Winter Escape in 2011’s Mason-Dixon ARRIVE Magazine click HERE and scroll down == it is the third article on the page.

Thought of the Day 11.4.12 Walter Cronkite

“And that’s the way it is.”
–Walter Cronkite, Jr.

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr was born on this day in  Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA in 1916. Today is the 98th anniversary of his birth.

Walter was the oldest of six children. The Cronkites lived in Kansas City, Missouri (where young Walter was a paper boy for the Kansas City Star) until 1926 when the moved to Houston, Texas. At San Jacinto High School he worked for the school newspaper, eventually becoming editor.

Young Cronkite read the World Book Encyclopedia. He built a telegraph system to link the houses of friends. The churchgoing Boy Scout also learned he had an alcoholic father, and about divorce. His single mother taught him tolerance in a Jim Crow state. []

According to Boy Scout lore Cronkite wanted to become a newsman after reading an article reporters in Boys Life Magazine.

He went to the University of Texas at Austin but dropped out in his Junior year  to start working as a reporter. He worked for a number of newspapers (including the Huston Post) and radio stations (under the name “Walter Wilcox”) reporting the news and sports.

... Walter Cronkite

During World War II Cronkite became a War correspondent covering the North African and European campaigns for the United Press. After covering the Nuremberg Trials for that organization  he was recruited to CBS News by Edward R. Murrow.

Cronkite started at the Washington, DC affiliate for CBS.

…He worked on a variety of programs, and covered national political conventions and elections. He helped launch the CBS Evening News in 1962 and served as its news anchor until his retirement in 1981. []

He was “The most trusted man in America” and he covered events from the assignations of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, to Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, to Watergate and Vietnam.

U.S. television journalist Walter Cronkite in ...

He also hosted:  You Are There, a historical reenactment program; The Twentieth Century, a documentary using newsreel footage to explore historical events; and a game show, It’s News to Me.

He retired in 1981. He continued to report as a special correspondent and presenter.

After retiring, Cronkite hosted CBS’s Universe (1982), co-produced Why in the World (1981) for Public Broadcasting System, and hosted Dinosaur (1991) for the Arts and Entertainment cable television. He also did a special short series for CBS and the Discovery Channel in 1996 called Cronkite Remembers. In addition to his television work, Cronkite wrote several books, including A Reporter’s Life (1996) and Around America (2001). [Ibid]

Walter Cronkite passed away on July 17, 2009 in New York City.

RIP 2009-Walter Cronkite

Thought of the Day 9.16.12 Henry V

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall with our English dead.”
― William ShakespeareHenry V

Henry the Fifth of England was born in the tower above Monmouth Castle in Wales on this day in 1386. Today is the 626th anniversary of his birth.

Illustration of Henry V from Cassell’s History of England [Image Courtesy: Wiki Commons]

Henry’s birthday was not officially recorded but it is believed to be either September 16 or August 9, and in either 1386 or 1387. He was born into one of the most important families in England. As such, he had the best education and upbringing available at the time. He learned to ride, fight and hunt. In the class room he learned history, literature, and music (he could play the harp) and he could speak English, French and Latin fluently. Because he was born in Monmouth Castle he was referred to as Henry Monmouth during his early life.

His grandfather, John of Gaunt was the son of Edward III, his parents were Henry Bolingbroke, the Earl of Derby and Mary Bonhun. At the time of Monmouth’s birth Richard II sat on the English throne. John of Gaunt, the King’s uncle, was an ardent support, Bolingbroke had a less steadfast relationship with the King. Although the two had been childhood friends Bolingbroke took part in the Lords Appellant’s rebellion against Richard in 1387. Richard forgave him and even promoted him to Duke of Hereford. But in 1397…

“Henry Bolingbroke reported treasonous comments made by the Duke of Norfolk; a court was convened but, as it was one Duke’s word against another, trial by battle was arranged. It never took place. Instead, Richard II intervened in 1398 by exiling Bolingbroke for ten years…
[Henry V, of England by Robert Wilde, Guide]

At that time Richard “invited” 12-year-old Henry Monmouth to be his “guest” at court. Essentially Monmouth was a hostage. If  the father returned to England to cause any trouble, the son would be forfeit. Things were not so grim in the Royal castle, however, Richard treated Monmouth kindly. The two became friends. The King even knighted Monmouth.

But in 1399 Monmouth’s grandfather, John of Gaunt died. Instead of Bolingbroke automatically inheriting his father’s lands Richard II “kept them for himself and extended Bolingbroke’s exile to life. ”

In 1399, whilst Richard was in Ireland, Henry of Bolingbroke returned to claim his father’s inheritance. … Henry captured and deposed Richard. Bolingbroke was crowned King as Henry IV. [The Official website of The British Monarchy]

Richard was thrown in jail, and, on October 13th 1399 Henry Bolingbroke became Henry the Fourth of England, his son, was named

“heir to the throne, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Earl of Chester. Two months later he was given the further titles Duke of Lancaster and Duke of Aquitaine.” [Henry V, of England by Robert Wilde, Guide]

Detail of miniature of Henry, Prince of Wales, receiving a book from Thomas Hoccleve. [Image Courtesy: Wiki Commons]

So… Henry  Monmouth becomes Prince Hal. He was at his father’s side in battle at the Battle of Shrewsbury. He also fought bravely (and effectively) in Wales, Scotland and France. As his father’s health began to fail the Prince took on more and more responsiblity at court. He became a  major political player. Shakespeare’s portrayal of him laughing it up with Falstaff was more dramatic fiction than historic truth.

Henry as King. [Image Courtesy: Wiki Commons]

He ascended to the throne upon his father’s death on March 21st, 1413 and was crowned Henry V on April 9th. He transferred the remains of Richard II — who died of starvation in Pontefract Castle tower  to Winchester Cathedral and gave him an honorable burial. He prepared the nation for a war with France. He straighten out the royal finances by editing royal budgets. He decreed that all government documents be written in English. He  tackled the lawless no-man’s-lands and reduced the number of roving bandits (mostly by funneling them into the army.) He crushed the religiously “deviant” Lollards. And he united the people — noble and common alike — behind him.

Kenneth Branagh as Henry V [Image Courtesy: Renaissance Films PLC 1989]

“And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother”
― William ShakespeareHenry V

“In August 1415, after dealing with a conspiracy to remove him from the throne, he led an army of 20,000 foot soldiers and 9,000 horsemen to attack Harfleur and, after sending a large part of his army home due to illness, marched to Calais to secure a base for further operations. On the way, unable to avoid a vastly superior French army, he gave battle at Agincourt on Oct. 25, 1415, gaining a great victory and capturing the constable of France and the Duke of Orléans.” [Henry V Biography, Your]

In May 1420 the Treaty of Troyes was signed. Under the treaty  Charles VI remained King of France, Henry married his daughter Katherine, was named heir, and ruled the country in all but name.
Alas, Henry took ill in 1422 while laying siege to one of the last French hold outs.  He lingered for three weeks before dying at Vincennes on August 31st.  He was 35 years old.
“I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot;
Follow your spirit: and upon this charge,
Cry — God for Harry! England and Saint George!”
― William ShakespeareHenry V

Mike & Rita make a Glorious Pecan Pie

This morning I stopped my buddy Mike’s house to do some baking since my oven is on the fritz. I had some rhubarb and Mike had some pecans… you know what that means… pies!

Since Mike has never made a blog I thought this would be a good tutorial for him. So here goes…

Pie Ready to Bake

Mike’s friend Gloria is from the South and KNOWs all about Pecans, so her recipe was perfect for our first venture into Pecan Pies !

Gloria’s Pecan Pie Recipe

  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • mix all together
  • add 1 cup pecan halves or pieces

pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake 350  for 50 mins.  pie shell can be frozen or refrigerator crust your choice.

Step By Step Pictures

First we add the eggs to the sugar so we can cream them together. The graininess of the sugar breaks up the membranes from inside the eggs and the eggs help liquify the sugar. This makes a smooth consistency that makes it easy to add the remaining liquid ingredients.

Cracking the 3 eggs

Adding the 2/3 cup of sugar

… and the sugar

And whisk together with a whisk

Beat It (MJ)

Add a dash of salt.  (Yeah, we didn’t take a picture of that, we guessed y’all know how to do a dash of salt.)

Next comes the Dark Corn Syrup — we use Karo Syrup. That’s K-ROW syrup for y’all from the South who are following along.

Adding the Kara

Add the melted butter

Pouring the Melted Butter into mixture

Adding the Pecans…

“Natural Pecans” into the mix (as though there was another kind??)

Whisk and Mix together (“Whix”)

All the ingredients in one big bowl

Ready to fill ‘er up

Into the mighty pie shell at last !!!

The recipe makes one 9 inch pie and we made the recipe twice… (shhhh, the pics are from either batch)… After all, we’ve got college and high school kids to feed!

To paraphrase Julia Child … don’t keep opening the oven door to check on your baked goods. You just let the heat out and cause the temperature to go up and down. So look though the window in the oven door and time your pie carefully.

And here are the two beauties hot out of the oven …

Ahhhh, wish you could smell over the internet, don’t you?
Our pie was too hot to slice, but we found this awesome pie image on (You should go visit them right now.)

And now Mikey has learned how to make a great pecan pie, AND he’s also learned how to use our pictures and wordpress to make a nice blog about our Journey Together this morning 🙂    [Rita’s note: SWEET!]

Thought of the Day 9.12.12 H.L.Mencken

“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.”

— H. L. Mencken

The Sage of Baltimore. [Image courtesy: The American Mercury]

Henry Louis Mencken was born on this day  in Baltimore, Maryland in 1880. Today is the 132nd anniversary of his birth.

Mencken lived in the same house in the Union Square neighborhood of the city for all but 5 years of his life. At 9 he read Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and knew he wanted to become a writer. His family had other ideas.

His grandfather had prospered in the tobacco business and his father, August, continued the family tradition. Mencken studied at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (1892-96) and then worked at his father’s cigar factory. [Books and Writers]

[Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons]

He worked for 3 years at the family owned business and would have stayed indefinitely, but upon his father’s death in 1899  Mencken was “free to choose his own trade in the world.”

Within a week, Mencken “invaded” the city room of the old Baltimore Morning Herald to face down the city editor and ask for a job…There were no jobs that day, but Mencken, persistent, returned daily for two weeks. “Finally I was sent out on a small assignment — it was a stable robbery at Govans — and a few days later I was on the staff,” [H.L. Mencken, Pioneer Journalist, By Jacques Kelly The Baltimore Sun]

His skill as a writer and his reputation for being able to turn a phrase grew. So 6 years later when the Herald closed its doors Mencken applied for a position at the larger Baltimore Sun.  He started at “The Sun as its Sunday editor, became an editorial writer, and in 1911 started writing his own column, the Free Lance Mencken.”  He worked at The Sun until 1948, bring his unflinching wit and critical eye to everything he saw.

“I believe that a young newspaper reporter in a big city… led a live that has never been matched… for romance and interest.” [Mencken from his only known audio interview. Courtesy of: The American]/

Mencken at work. [Image Courtesy: Enoch Pratt free Library Digital Collections.]

He was a war correspondent in Germany and Russia from 1916 to 1918. During WWI Mencken was pro-German (a very unpopular thing to be in patriotic Baltimore of 1917).

In 1919 he published The American Language, a guide to American expressions and idioms.

From 1914 to 1923 Mencken co-edited with drama critic George Jean Nathan (1882-1958) the Smart Set, which mocked everything from politics to art, universities to the Bible…[Books and Writers]

He preferred realism to modernism and he helped the careers of Sinclair Lewis, Dorothy Parker and Eugene O’Neill.

Cover of the American Mercury [Image Courtesy: Wikipedia]

He started The American Mercury monthly magazine, working on the magazine from 1924 t0 1933.

A stroke in 1948 left him nearly unable to read or write. Speaking took a lot of effort, and he grew easily frustrated. He spent his remaining days organizing his papers and letters (which can now be found in H.L. Mencken Room and Collection at the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Cathedral Street in Baltimore.

[Image courtesy: MPT]

Here are a few more quips from the Sage of Baltimore:

  • “A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”
  • “Nature abhors a moron”
  • “Do not overestimate the decency of the human race”
  • “A man loses his sense of direction after four drinks; a woman loses hers after four kisses”
  • “Love is like war; easy to begin but very hard to stop”
  • “It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.”
  • “Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”
  • “You come into the world with nothing, and the purpose of your life is to make something out of nothing”
  • “Most people are unable to write because they are unable to think, and they are unable to think because they congenitally lack the equipment to do so, just as they congenitally lack the equipment to fly over the moon.”
  • “I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.”

Thought of the Day 9.7.12 Elizabeth R.

“I may not be a lion, but I am a lion’s cub, and I have a lion’s heart.”

–Elizabeth I of England

[In honoring QUEEN ELIZABETH REGINA GLORIANA’s birthday I decided to concentrate on her time before she took the throne. Frankly this blog would be enormous if I chronicled her entire life — the post is pretty long as is — and I opted to retell the earlier, slightly less well-known, period. I hope I’ve given you enough to whet your whistle and have no doubt that you’ll be able to find tons of additional material on her life either on-line and at your local library or book store.]

Seventeenth century painting by an unknown artist depicts the later Queen Elizabeth I of England as a (left to right) five-year-old, six-year-old, and three-year-old. The dress is anachronistic. (Image courtesy of: Wikipedia).

Elizabeth Tudor was born on this day in Greenwich Palace, England in 1533. Today is the 479th anniversary of her birth.

She was the daughter of King Henry the VIII of England and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry had divorced his first wife, Katherine of Aragon — with whom he already had one daughter, Mary — and invented a new religion — the Church of England — in order to marry Boleyn. He had great hopes that she would provide him with a male heir. When their only living offspring was a girl, Henry grew disenchanted with Boleyn. His eye soon wandered to pretty (and more docile) Jane Seymour.  But, fearing what would become of herself and Elizabeth, Boleyn refused to divorce the King. On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn was executed on charges of treason, incest and adultery.  The marriage was nullified and Elizabeth, like Mary, was declared illegitimate.

Henry, ever the charmer, married four more times before he died. Wife number three, Jane Seymour managed to give Henry his male heir, Prince Edward, but she died nine days later. Elizabeth was seven when her father married Anne of Cleves for political reasons. Henry found her German manners ill-suited  for the English Court, and her face ill-suited for his taste.  Wife number 5 was Catherine Howard, a cousin of Anne Boleyn, and like Boleyn she was arrested for treason and adultery and was beheaded. Unlike Elizabeth’s mother, Catherine was guilty as charged.

Princess Elizabeth, c. 1543-1547.
‘The Family of Henry VIII’, detail.
Anon. Hampton Court Palace. © The Royal Collection.    (Image courtesy: the Faces of Elizabeth I)

Elizabeth was a precocious ten-year old when Henry married his last wife, Catherine Parr. Catherine brought all of Henry’s children back to court. She was Elizabeth’s ‘second mother’ and she saw to it that the girl was well-educated in the Greek and Latin. By the time she was queen Elizabeth could speak five languages fluently.

Perhaps Catherine‘s most significant achievement was Henry‘s passing of an act that confirmed both Princess Mary‘s and Elizabeth‘s line in succession for the throne, despite the fact that they had both been made illegitimate by divorce or remarriage. []

At Henry’s death in 1547 the throne went to Edward, with Mary and then Elizabeth next in line. Elizabeth lived with Catherine at Whitehall in Chelsea. Catherine  and Admiral Thomas Seymour (Jane Seymour’s brother) married just four months after Henry’s death. Thomas, Catherine and 14-year-old Elizabeth moved to Sudeley Castle.

Thomas was reported to have paid morning visits to Elizabeth, in her bedchamber…There was romping, laughing and giggling… no one knows how far these romps went… [Elizabethan Era Index]

Although Catherine and the servants were present during such tom foolery and “Elizabeth denied any scandal or bad behaviour” she left  Sudeley. No ill will seemed to fall between her and Catherine and they wrote to each other affectionately after her departure. But Thomas wasn’t through with the princess yet. After Catherine’s death in childbirth he applied to become Elizabeth’s suitor. He was rejected. He continued to plot for power, even attempting to kidnap the King, and was arrested for treason. And, because of their former friendship, the Princess was implicated . Despite serious interrogation the 15-year-old maintained her innocence.

In 1553 Edward died of tuberculosis. Edward named his cousin, Lady Jane Grey as his heir. Unlike his sisters, Jane had the advantage of being legitimate and the support of the manipulative Lord Protector John Dudley. Unfortunately for her it wasn’t enough. Elizabeth was smart enough to steer clear of Dudley’s power play. She feigned sickness,  kept to her bed, and away from the palace, as the drama played out. Mary took her rightful throne and Elizabeth kept her head. After a brief stay in Queen Mary’s court Elizabeth retreated to Hatfield.

When news of Queen Mary’s intended marriage to King Philip II of Spain surfaced in 1553 protestants in England worried that he’d bring the Spanish Inquisition with him. Nobles who had supported Dudley and Jane Grey now hatched the Wyatt Rebellion. Wyatt implicated Elizabeth in the rebellion by sending her a letter about it before hand. The conspirators wished to make her queen once Mary was dethroned. Elizabeth never got the letter — it was intercepted by Mary’s government agents. The rebellion failed, Wyatt was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. Elizabeth was summed to London for questioning. She asked to see her sister, but was denied. She was allowed to write to Mary and sent her a long letter protesting her innocence and loyalty (and wisely drawling lines through the unused parts of the paper so no forged additions could be made.) She was sent to the Tower of London, and made to enter through the Traitor’s Gate where she said:

“Here landeth as true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs. Before Thee, O God, do I speak it, having no other friend but Thee alone. Oh Lord, I never thought to have come in here as a prisoner, and I pray you all bear me witness that I come in as no traitor but as true a woman to the Queen’s Majesty as any as is now living.” [Elizabeth I from Elizabethan Era Index]

She lived in fear the entire time she was locked up, and was in real danger of being killed when a warrant for her execution came to Bell Tower. But the warrant lacked Mary’s signature and Sir John Brydges, the Lieutenant of the Tower refused to carry out the order unless it was complete.

Elizabeth I as Princess, c.1555.
Artist Unknown. Private Collection. (Image Courtesy: The Faces of Elizabeth I)

After two long months Elizabeth was released  on May 19, 1554. Phillip, it seems, was wise enough to know that the English would harbor some ill will over the execution of their beloved Princess, and that that ill will would be turned toward him.

He advised Mary to release Elizabeth from the Tower. And Mary, who was besotted with Phillip, obeyed…. Elizabeth was released… but was … placed under the equivalent of house arrest at the palace at Woodstock. [Elizabeth I from Elizabethan Era Index]

She was under constant surveillance at Woodstock. Her writing materials were restricted, her books censored,  and activities limited. After almost a year in the virtual prison at Woodstock Elizabeth was freed. She traveled, under heavy guard, to Hampton Court where she was allowed to meet with Phillip. He was instrumental in a reconciliation between the sisters (frosty though it may be). He would rather have Elizabeth next in line to the English throne than Mary Queen of Scotts — who supported his enemy France.

The Coronation Portrait, c. 1600.
Copy of 1559 lost original.
Artist Unknown.
Previously attr. to William Stretes. © National Portrait Gallery.
(Image courtesy: The Faces of Elizabeth I)

Elizabeth went home to Hatfield. On November 17th 1558 Mary died and Elizabeth became Queen of England. She was crowned on Sunday January 15th 1559. She died on March 24th 1603 having ruled for 45 years.

Elizabeth in later life. (Image courtesy: Elizabeth I Biography.)

Thought of the Day 9.4.12 Paul Harvey

“In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.”

–Paul Harvey

Broadcaster Paul Harvey (Image courtesy of: Arcane Radio Trivia.)

Paul Harvey Aurandt was born on this day in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1918. Today is the 94th anniversary of his birth.

He was the son of a police officer and was interested in radio early on. He made radio receivers as a child and when he was in high school his smooth voice and distinctive reading style attracted the attention of a teacher who suggested to audition for the local radio station, KVOO.

He was hired at KVOO, but, the road to on air personality began humbly with Harvey starting out by sweeping the floor. Eventually he began to read the news and do commercials. He continued to work as KVOO, both as an announcer and a program director, while he attended the University of Tulsa. He had stints as Salina Kansas’ KFBI, Oklahoma City’s KOMA and St. Louis’ KXOK before he moved to Hawaii. He enlisted in the US Army Air Corps  in December of 1943, but he only served for 14 weeks at which time he was given a medical discharge for a cut on his heel. (Some sources say it was a Section 8 discharge and that Harvey changed his orders to make himself a ranking officer,  stole a plane and inflicted the wound himself during a psychotic dream. Harvey denied all those charges saying:

“It was an honorable medical discharge… There was a little training accident…a minor cut on the obstacle course…I don’t recall seeing anyone I knew who was a psychaitrist…I cannot tell you the exact wording of my discharge.” [The Washington Examiner])

Harvey moved to Chicago and he worked for the ABC affiliate WENR-AM.

Paul Harvey at the broadcasting counsel in Chicago (image courtesy Time Out Chicago)

He had a run-in with national security when he attempted to infiltrate the Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago. The Lab was a favorite target of Harvey’s for it’s “lack of security” and the radio host wanted to prove it.

Shortly past 1 a.m. on February 6, 1951, Argonne guards discovered reporter Paul Harvey near the 10-foot (3.0 m) perimeter fence, his coat tangled in the barbed wire. Searching his car, guards found a previously prepared four-page broadcast detailing the saga of his unauthorized entrance into a classified “hot zone”. He was brought before a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to obtain information on national security and transmit it to the public, but was not indicted. [Argonne National Laboratory; History]

Harvey had friends in high places, most notably Senator Joseph McCarthy and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and the charges against him were dropped. Of the incident Harvey later went on air to say  “Though my methods may be questioned, my accuracy and my loyalty never will be.”

In 1951, while the grand jury was still out in the Argonne case, Harvey debuted a new program on ABC,  Paul Harvey News and Comment. The show came on weekdays at noon and ran  for 58 years — the longest running radio show in history — until Harvey’s death in 2009. It was:

an idiosyncratic mix of headlines, comments, quips and advertisements, all voiced by Harvey — …syndicated at its peak to more than 1200 radio stations around the country each day. Harvey … wrote and recorded his shows six days a week from studios in Chicago. His brisk, quirky delivery and signature greeting “Hello, Americans!” were widely (if fondly) parodied. In 1976 Harvey began a companion radio feature, The Rest of the Story, telling little-known tales from the lives of famous people.  [Who 2 Biographies]

The Rest of the Story, while broadcast by Harvey, were written and produced by his son, Paul Harvey, Jr.. According to the production team the stories were completely true, but, in reality were either poorly researched or simply skewed to represent Harvey’s (Sr. and Jr) point of view.

He is the author of 7 books including: Autumn of Liberty; Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor; Paul Harvey’s For What It’s Worth; and several collections of The Rest of the Story. His biography Good Day! The Paul Harvey Story was published in 2009.

Harvey was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2005 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Other Paul Harvey quotes include:

“Golf is a game in which you yell ‘fore!’ shoot six, and write down five.”

“If there is a 50-50 chance that something can go wrong, then 9 times out of ten it will.”

“Like what you do, if you don’t like it, do something else.”

Radios at the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut (Image courtesy Arcane Radio Trivia)

[This is one of those Thought of the Day birthday nods that I have a sentimental link to. I’m not a big fan of Paul Harvey and his conservative, folksy style, but there is a touchstone here.

I clearly remember listening to his gravely voice and pregnant pauses while in the car with my dad. He’d sign off with ‘good day’ and we’d echo back a ‘good day’ to each other.

The A&E Biography page links Harvey with Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover and Billy Graham as “friends”, not three people I’d hope to see as the top three friends in my bio. And it is pretty clear that Harvey was less than diligent in his research. But I guess when you have to put out 5 days worth of “Story” to 23 MILLION fans facts can take a back seat.

…Still anytime I can spend a few hours remember my dad is worth the effort. And THAT’s the REST of the story. ‘Good day!’]

Ain’t THAT beer cold? Remembering Scunny McCusker

First of all… he was Pat to me.

Pat McCusker and I were cousins — a trio of kids born with-in a few months of each other (my cousin Mike rounded out the triumvirate.)

But to the rest of the world he was Scunny McCusker.

Scunny died last Friday night when he was hit by a bus while riding his bike in Ocean City, Maryland.

The outpouring of sympathy and love from all the people he has touched over the years has been amazing and incredibly touching.  There were thousands of visitors at  funeral parlor both Monday and Tuesday, with lines out the door and around the building. And today at the Cathedral of Mary our Queen the church was standing room only with over 2,000 loving supporters.

The funeral procession was lead by a National Bohemian Beer truck. I guess I need to tell you that Pat owned two bars/ restaurants in the Canton area of Baltimore, and he was a huge Natty Boh fan. A police escort helped the mile long procession of cars navigate the route to the cemetery by closing down sections of I-83 and the Beltway. The crowd around the grave site was the size of the infield at Oriole’s Park.

Why such the fuss? Well, Pat had a big heart. “He never met a charity he didn’t like” according to US Representative Ben Cardin, but he was especially active in the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation.  The charity:

 provides exceptional hospital and respite housing services to critically ill children and their families. We believe in keeping families together during a child’s medical crisis, and that the gentle cadence of normal family life has a powerful influence on the healing process.

and along with fund-raising for the organization Scunny provided thousands of meals for the families in need.

I have to admit that I’ve lost touch with Pat over the years. We only saw each other at the occasional wedding and funeral. He owned a bar… I don’t really drink. We grew up and older and apart. But listening to the stories this week I wish I HAD stay in touch better.

This one’s for you, Pat / Scunny.

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be ever at your back.

May the sun shine sweet upon your face,

the rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of your hand.

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