Guns in the Field

I'm gazing out the window at cries of children running down the street.

       I see the children but it's really their cries I'm gazing at: children, running their lungs out down Ambler. The only window it could be is in my mother's bedroom. (My father's, too; but ... my mother's.) Except, outside that window stands or stood a huge cedar tree, blocking the view; and the specific vantage point could only be the pitch of Giardinos' roof next door, or even Ericksons' next door to Giardinos'; and the scene -- as present to me as Lyz in my arms -- is not a specific memory.

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HOME MOVIES (1): Aladdin and His Magic Lamp

No need to account for remote origins, but at some point in the late 5th grade I wanted to write a play out of one of the stories I’d written earlier that school year.  I wanted to turn a drawing of a space ship into a story about one, but it kept turning into 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, so I recruited Danny to help me.  We talked, and twiddled pencils, and drew sketches, and kept my comic books in their drawer.…

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Legends of the Victory Garden

I live in a County of transient memory.

     One reason for this absence of historic memory is that nothing either great or terrible has marked the County's history. It is not haunted by a legacy of devastation or defeat or epic loss like Faulkner's South. Quite the opposite. Since at least the 1850's, in fact, it has prospered from wars that took place elsewhere. Except for Jubal Early's abortive three-day raid in '64, and the four years of tension before and after, even the Civil War passed it by. But the farms of Montgomery County fed both sides, as they had earlier fed the combatants in the faraway Crimea. It was Twentieth Century war -- especially victory in Twentieth Century war -- that made Montgomery County, Maryland, during the last half of the Twentieth Century one of the very wealthiest Counties in America per median family income -- the most telling measure.

         Uninterrupted growth in wealth does not a haunted history make.

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Politics in a Victory Garden

"Jack," says Uncle Pat.  "When nobody endorsed you, you refused to be endorsed."

"I attacked Organization endorsements."  Dad jabs the air with an heroic finger, laughing the laugh he laughed when he was caught.

"But now that you have matured with experience."  Uncle Pat's forehead furrows wisely.  "You have come to appreciate that getting endorsed is not such a bad thing."

"And I didn't ask for it!"  Hands out, head shaking, again bug‑eyed.  "They asked me!  It's a free country.   If they believe I am eminently well qualified to be a Judge of the Orphans' Court -- if they feel moved to endorse my ability, and my integrity, how can I repudiate anyone who endorses my integrity?"

They all laugh; I give up trying to understand.

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Did 13th Century St. Thomas Aquinas Make Straight the Path to 20th Century Atheism?

The generation of Catholic school children growing up in America in the 1950's were taught the Baltimore Catechism No. 2 from 1st Grade through at least 5th. …What we did not know is that ever since the Baltimore Catechism was first issued in 1885 it had come in for strong and steady criticism, especially for its emphasis on rote memorization, from catechists required to teach it, mainly nuns and priests, but even some bishops.

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John FoleyComment
An Inpost of Empire: My Father's Miscellaneous Income

For a while during the early 1970's I worked for my father, part-time, while I researched and worked up a dissertation for a graduate degree. He occupied a suite of two offices, with shared anteroom and file closet, in the Washington Building downtown, at the corner of 15th Street and New York Avenue, NW, across from the Treasury Department.

     I answered the phone while he was out in the Court of Claims law library or auditing the pension and health and welfare contributions of truck companies. The second time, over a few weeks, I got a call for something called the International Academic Research Organization (or Council, or whatever), I mentioned to him that we had gotten the same wrong number call twice. I was surprised when he said "that outfit used to be here" but it had gone out of business long ago. I knew he represented several small businesses that had come and gone over the years, so thought no more about it until, some months later, the third call came. Again from a student inquiring diffidently about summer job openings.

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John FoleyComment