Toward a free Flanders.

Not much today, folks. My day hits the ground running at 8:30 and likely won’t come up for air until late afternoon. For something to discuss in my absence, how about the Iraqization of …Belgium? Why can’t we all get along?

I’ll be back when I can. If I can’t, have a great weekend.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events |

41 responses to “Toward a free Flanders.”

  1. Jeff said on September 21, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Most people (in this country, at least, and few enough in Europe) realize that the “nations” we know of as the countries of Europe are in most cases not even as old as the post-Civil War re-alignment of the United States. Starting 1830, 1848, and thru the 1880’s, the multitudinous duchys and earldoms and princedoms of Europe all started to take ethnic identities that had developed since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 — German, French, Italian — and try to create nation-states out of those customs and languages, but they usually couldn’t resist hoovering up neighboring small enclaves or weaker neighbors in the process.

    My point being that when folks talk about the “history and maturity” of the “great nations of Europe,” they’re talking thru their three-cornered hat. Then Woodrow Wilson wandered into Versailles in 1919 and said “self-determination for all peoples,” while Winnie Churchill and Gertrude Bell and the French Foreign Office decided to take a smoke break and draw a set of national boundaries for the Middle East out of the crumbled Ottoman Empire, while both suffering from the hiccups. Now, the Ottoman Empire — that was old (say, 1453 to 1918), but the provinces and satrapies didn’t re-squeeze very well into nation-states. Not that it stopped them from trying . . . and laid the foundation for our current bafflement around the Persian Gulf.

    So the Iraq/Belgium link is closer than you’d like to think.

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  2. brian stouder said on September 21, 2007 at 8:06 am

    A marvelous, entertaining, and thoroughly readable book, which looks at the re-alignment of Europe after the Great War, is Paris 1919 by Margaret McMillan

    really good stuff!

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  3. Jeff said on September 21, 2007 at 9:55 am

    …or Barbara Tuchman’s “The Proud Tower” (find it for a nickle, used) that sets up the scene for Paris 1919, but reads like the lead up to 2001; just insert “Islamofascist” for “Anarchist,” a term that gets stretched across forty-‘leven groups which have little in common but sporadic violent reaction to the effects of the Industrial Revolution, urbanization, and modernism.

    You could call bin Laden an “anarchist” as usefully as Gavrilo Princip, or call Hezbollah “The Black Hand” and end up with the same analysis.

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  4. alex said on September 21, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Which is why I’d take a Rhodes Scholar like Clinton over a smug semiliterate patrician like Bush no matter how many women are blowing him in the Oval Office.

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  5. LA mary said on September 21, 2007 at 10:08 am

    In the Netherlands they tell the same jokes we call Polish jokes about Walloons. The French do too.

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  6. brian stouder said on September 21, 2007 at 10:34 am

    You could call bin Laden an “anarchist” as usefully as Gavrilo Princip, or call Hezbollah “The Black Hand” and end up with the same analysis.

    Agreed – but then we get pushed into George Wilhelm Bush, getting a blank check from congress….anyway, I prefer calling Sammy and Ayman al Zawahiri nihilists; they really seem to believe in nothing other than violent destruction.

    The book The Looming Tower instructively begins with a scholar named Qutb (or something like that) and the concept of takfir (o.s.l.t., again), which amounts to an ideological blank check, for boundless violence against infidels AND co-religionists that get in the way

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  7. Danny said on September 21, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Wow, Columbia University is letting AhmaKilltheJews Ahmadinejad speak. Speaking of those who don’t know history. Looks as if the “enlightened” ivory-tower types at Columbia are about to step into history as reincarnations of Neville Chamberlain.

    Wait a sec. Isn’t that where some of the bestest journos come from?

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  8. LA mary said on September 21, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Allowing him to speak does not mean agreeing with what he says.

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  9. Connie said on September 21, 2007 at 10:43 am

    LA Mary said In the Netherlands they tell the same jokes we call Polish jokes about Walloons. The French do too.

    In Germany and also in the Netherlands they also tell those jokes about “Ost Frieslanders.” – East Frieslanders. Being of Frisian ancestry I try not to take offense.

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  10. Jeff said on September 21, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Qutb is just the Bakunin for a new generation in a different part of the world ( — personally, i think barring the President of Iran from Ground Zero but inviting him to speak at Columbia makes perfect sense. Would it not have helped to hear Hitler or Stalin speak in public in the late 1930’s in America? Mr. Ahmadinejad has a manipulative agenda, i’m sure, as do most politicians. But let him talk, give him plenty of time, and the worst tend to not be able to self-edit all their intentions. And barring him from the country is just silly, and as Alex said, not learning from history.

    Khruschev thought he beat Nixon in the “kitchen debate,” but the real damage we learned long after was that his staff was stunned to wander about during the debate, and realize that life really was better in 1950’s US than in the USSR. Invite the fellow, and let him bring lots and lots of staff. Let ’em check out Times Square, and the midtown Walmart and Borders.

    Then they go home to the mullocracy, and burkhas. And think.

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  11. Danny said on September 21, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Mary, who said that they are agreeing with him? My point is that they are trying to placate him or dazzel him with their tolerance and enlightenment by showing how open minded they can be. By letting him speak, they are tacitly endorsing the validity of his repeatedly expressed desire to kill all of the Jews.

    I think that they are making a really bad mistake in hopes that by letting his hate into the “marketplace of ideas,” he will be satisfied and not actually want to act upon any of it.

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  12. LA mary said on September 21, 2007 at 11:12 am

    “By letting him speak, they are tacitly endorsing the validity of his repeatedly expressed desire to kill all of the Jews.”

    No they aren’t. They are simply allowing him to speak, not to satisfy him, but to let people hear what he says, which will likely be pretty hateful.

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  13. Danny said on September 21, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Hmm. So you are thinking they’re just giving him the rope to hang himself with?

    Maybe. I just don’t trust it.

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  14. brian stouder said on September 21, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Mary – ideally speaking, I agree. But I recall that Jeane Kirkpatrick first came to my attention (and became a hero to me) because campus leftists repeatedly shouted her down and otherwise disrupted her visits and lectures.

    For that matter, lunatics like Anne Coulter are likely to get jeered (and maybe hit by a pie) by those that object to her worldview.

    Leaving all that aside, tonight I’m headed for the Lincoln Museum to listen attentively to Doris Kearns Goodwin, as she discusses her (surprisingly good!) book Team of Rivals.

    After that, there will be a reception (no doubt with pie and other goodies…to eat!) where I might even get to say hello and shake her hand

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  15. Danny said on September 21, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Leaving all that aside, tonight I’m headed for the Lincoln Museum to listen attentively to Doris Kearns Goodwin, as she discusses her (surprisingly good!) book Team of Rivals.

    Man, Brian. A lecture? I’m just planning to drink beer and eat pizza. You’re making me feel like a hayseed midwesterner with a piece of straw between my teeth. LOL!

    Actually, I may be getting fifteen minutes of fame tonight. On Friday’s I sometimes play water polo with a group of adults at the local pool. Most of us are lap swimmers and all of us are over 40. The girl that organizes it calls it OOP, short for “Old People’s Polo.” Well, the San Diego Union Tribune is going to come out tonight and interview us and take pictures for a fitness article.

    I didn’t plan on going tonight, but I just may go to get in the story and then be able to give you all linkage to me in the paper.

    Edit: Then like Mary Catherine Gallagher on SNL, I can say, “Superstah!”

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  16. alex said on September 21, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    There are plenty of American academics whose ideas are patently offensive to some and even all, and the institutions employing them don’t endorse their views. This is what academic freedom is all about. Universities have always provided a neutral forum for the exchange of ideas, and that’s what’s going on here.

    Jeff and I mentioned a certain Baptist preacher named Greg Dixon a few days ago. He spoke at IU when I was a student there. Sure, there were those who thought a hatemonger like him had no business being given a soapbox, me included. But I went and I listened and I realized that this man’s sphere of influence wasn’t likely to grow outside the walls of his own congregation.

    Did you know that birth control, abortion and homosexuality are three prongs of a communist conspiracy to depopulate the free world? I wonder who Pastor Dixon blames for these things now that the Soviets have fallen. There were plenty of other good chestnuts as well. Wish I could remember them.

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  17. Julie Robinson said on September 21, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Hey, Brian, we’re going to Doris Kearns Goodwin too! The hubby’s boss had extra tickets. He usually needs to veg out by the end of the work week, so I promised him ice cream afterwards. That’s this family’s version of beer.

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  18. brian stouder said on September 21, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    mmmmmmmm Ice cream…..Zestos?

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  19. LA mary said on September 21, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Connie, I don’t know if you are a tea drinker, but this stuff is excellent:

    My brother sends me tins of it for Christmas.

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  20. Jolene said on September 21, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Am just starting Team of Rivals, the assignment for my next book club meeting. Kearns Goodwin is an incredibly fluent writer, but it’s, um, more than 700 pages long. Have only read a little, and I’m looking forward to the rest of it. Still, I wonder if the investment is justified given the amount of wine we usually consume. For 700 pages, I feel that I should get college credit.

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  21. brian stouder said on September 21, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Jolene – after the first few hundred pages, it’s all downhill!

    Really, I didn’t expect to like it, and I had decided not to buy it.

    But then the announcement came that she was appearing here, and I went right out and snapped it up….and it pulled me right in

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  22. Jolene said on September 21, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    As long as we’re talking about books (or, at least, as long as I’m talking about books, I want to recommend The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig, which I just finished.

    Here’s a piece of a description that I wrote to my sibs. We’re from North Dakota, so there were lots of reminders of home in it.

    Both the story and the characters (a widowed father, his three sons, a woman who becomes their housekeeper, her brother who becomes the children’s schoolteacher, and various ancillary figures) are all very appealing. You really come to love and care about them, and the writing is very good. The main settings are a dryland farm in Montana and a one-room schoolhouse. The latter made me think of the stories about those schools that Mom and Ruth told and about Agnes [two of my mother’s sisters], who spent quite a lot of years teaching in a one-room school.

    One of the themes in the book is the centrality of schools in small, rural communities. Most of the story occurs when the narrator, the oldest son, is in the seventh grade, but we learn in the first few pages that he has grown up to become, in the 1950s, the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Montana and that he is being pressured to close rural schools. Here’s just one paragraph that captures the importance of schools in small communities and what can be lost when they close.

    “What is being asked, no, demanded of me is not only the forced extinction of the little schools. It will also slowly kill those rural neighborhoods, the ones that have struggled from homestead days on to adapt to dryland Montana in their farming and ranching. (The better to populate Billings and benefit its car dealers, I suppose.) No schoolhouse to send their children to. No schoolhouse for a Saturday-night dance. No schoolhouse for election day; for the Grange meeting; for the 4-H club; for the quilting bee; for the pinochle tournament; for the reading group; for any of the gatherings that are bloodstream of community.”

    My mother, born in 1924, attended one of these one-room schools. She started school in second grade, something she was able to do because, as a pre-schooler (a word that likely hadn’t been invented yet), she sometimes went to school with whichever of her 9 siblings were still at home and in school. Apparently, she went often enough so that she learned to read while she was there. This story cracks me up because it’s so different from anything that anyone could possibly do now. Can those of you who have kids imagine sending your five-year-old to school with, say, your third-grader and your fifth-grader just because she wanted to go to school with the big kids?

    Doig, by the way, has written lots of other books. I’ve had a couple on my bookshelf for a while. Whistling Season was recommended by a friend; now that I’ve read it, I’m eager to turn to them.

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  23. Danny said on September 21, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Hey, just completed my employee opinion survey at my place of work. One thing we learned from last year’s survey is that if your group answers negatively, then you get tasked with doing something to improve the situation. But if your manager is the problem…well you see the point.

    “Beatings will continue until morale improves.”

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  24. Jolene said on September 21, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Shucks! I just posted a brilliant comment in which I presented an artful book recommendation and told a charming family story. Unfortunately, the comment ended up “in moderation”, so you’ll have to check back later–after Nanc has had a chance to authorize it. Given its brilliance and charm, I’m sure you’ll put “check Jolene’s comment on” high on your weekend to-do list.

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  25. Danny said on September 21, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Yep, probably like this:

    1. Wash Hair
    2. Write Shampoo Manufacturer with Positive Product Feedback
    3. Check Jolene’s comment.

    Hehe 😉

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  26. Connie said on September 21, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Unfortunately my weekend plans include heading up to Holland to see my 75 yr old dad who is in bad health, with a strange iron deficiency of unknown origin. LA Mary perhaps I will run over to the import food shop at Dutch Village to see if they carry that tea.
    I am also thinking this is going to be last chance to use our swimming pool before it is closed for the season. Would love to go to the thing in FW with the author too.

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  27. Julie Robinson said on September 21, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Brian, we are strictly a DQ family, despite the whole FW tradition of Zesto’s. 3/4 of us have worked at DQ. I could still do the DQ twirly top in my sleep, and I personally have made at least 100,000 Buster Bars. Which are far superior to the factory made ones, BTW. Always ask which your store carries, and skip them if they didn’t make them right there.

    Although I haven’t read the Lincoln book, I know a lot about Lincoln from growing up in Illinois, where we got Lincoln’s birthday off from school as well as President’s Day. My family was always trekking down to Springfield. Lincoln’s house? Check. Lincoln Village? Check. (Maybe it wasn’t called that) Jumping up to touch the nose on the Lincoln bust? Check. It was supposed to bring you good luck, which is a pretty bizarre concept considering his assasination.

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  28. Jolene said on September 21, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    I hope you all won’t find this too tacky, but here goes: I’m pruning my various collections by selling stuff on eBay–or, if possible, directly.

    So far, my listings include postcards from the 1910s through the 1940s and several pieces of art pottery (Roseville and Weller) from the 1920s and 1930s.

    Most of the postcards are from North Dakota and Western PA (I was a Pittsburgher for eight years.), but there are some from other places too. Of possible interest to sports fans is a card showing a photo of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a Negro League team, and bearing the autographs of two of the players.

    If you are interested in more info re any of these things, you can reach me at jrgalegher at

    Again, I hope you won’t be too annoyed by this comment.

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  29. Jolene said on September 21, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Dairy Queen! One of the pleasures of my rural youth. Occasionally, my parents would take us for a ride (Another thing no one does anymore. Hard to imagine many people would say, “Let’s get in the car and drive around the countryside.”), sometimes on the long summer evenings of the northern latitudes and sometimes on Sunday afternoons.

    Almost always, we’d end up at the Dairy Queen in the not-too-far-away big city, Grand Forks. My father’s favorite was always a strawberry sundae, something that, despite his dementia, still delights him.

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  30. brian stouder said on September 21, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    4 words –





    I hadn’t ever been to Springfield before the Lincoln Colloquium was held there last year, and we loved that place! I had read criticisms of the new Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library there – that it had “rubber Lincolns” and other ‘Disney-fied’ history, but we found it altogether marvelous. It IS kid-friendly, and that is a good thing, I say; lots of ‘hands-on’ displays and so on.

    The most fascinating thing to me: one of his stovepipe hats (behind glass) with a fingermark worn into the brim, where he constantly tipped it when greeting people in the street. Well, that, and a signed Gettysburg Address.

    The Lincoln Home National Historic Site is a 4 block national park (consisting of several restored and preserved old homes), and when we were there they had them all opened up for nightime candlelit open houses. Walking along from one beautiful old home to the next, on the boardwalk sidewalks during a crisp October night, beneath a very starry sky – was just sublime.

    The next day, we went out to Oak Ridge Cemetary, where we ‘touched the nose’ – as we were told one must do! The local historical society had costumed people portraying notable people from the past – stationed at the real person’s grave-site. This left us cold (so to speak) – and thankfully they did not include the president in their cast of dead characters.

    I think the Fort Wayne Lincoln Museum is damned fine, but the Springfield people will tell you that “we have the bones”!!

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  31. MarkH said on September 21, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    When I was growing up in the Pittsburgh area (mid-1960’s), I had the good fortune of my Uncle John owning not one, but TWO Dairy Queens, one in Monroeville, and the other in my (and his) home-home town of East McKeesport.

    I won’t go into making the rest of you jealous telling you all the free stuff my sister and I got! 🙂

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  32. Jeff said on September 21, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Mister Misty brain-freeze . . . aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhooooowwwwwwwwwww.

    Can i have another? Cherry lemon mix, please.

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  33. Julie Robinson said on September 21, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Mister Misty! Peanut Buster Parfait! Oh, man–who needs dinner? The Buster Bar, BTW is the poor man’s version of Peanut Buster Parfait, or for when you only want to consume 400 calories instead of 4000.

    My mother-in-law, who at 85 is in serious dementia, still loves her ice cream. I do believe it’s about the only pleasure left in her life.

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  34. 4dbirds said on September 21, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    I would love to see Lincoln’s stovepipe hat. I’ve seen a few pieces of his skull at the Walter Reed Medical Museum. That was morbid and sad. Yes, the hat would be better.

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  35. Julie Robinson said on September 21, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Jolene, I also loved Whistling Season. My dad, who was born in 1932, also attended a one room schoolhouse through 8th grade, the same one where his mom had taught. It’s still there, though unrecognizable, as a house.

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  36. brian stouder said on September 21, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Well, Ms Goodwin gave a lively talk, with lots 19th century history from Team of Rivals, and lots of 20th century history from her own experience, and from her research on FDR and the Kennedys and the Fitzgeralds….and baseball.

    She presented an enthralling mix of stories about talking and listening (and dancing) with LBJ – who hired her in as a White House Fellow despite a harshly critical anti-Vietnam war article she had written for The New Republic; and touring the White House with President Clinton and Hillary at 2 in the morning (she wanted to discern which room Churchill had occupied, when President Roosevelt walked in just as Churchill emerged from a bath tub…Churchill waved away FDR’s quick apology and assured him that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom had nothing to hide from the President of the United States!)

    and of course lots and lots about the 16th president and his cabinet…and their respective wives and families.

    Doris Kearns Goodwin brings a very fresh perspective to the familiar Lincoln stories; she strives to place these towering figures back into their respective personal/family situations, and in so doing, she adds much warmth and perspective to their traditional portraits.

    And, anyone who refuses to write off Mary Lincoln as insane scores lots of points with me! An unrelated article on that was on msnbc yesterday, and features Jean Baker, another author who I think the world of

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  37. Julie Robinson said on September 22, 2007 at 10:03 am

    We enjoyed her speech very much, too, though we could have done without the 15 minutes of introductions and blah-blah-blah. The intro for the person introducing Goodwin was 6-7 minutes alone. Oh wait, she was a sponsor and had to be sucked up to.

    And we hit the jackpot at Dairy Queen! Their freezer had gone out so they gave me a Peanut Buster Parfait for the price of a Buster Bar. The PBP now lists at $4.19 locally. Whoo-hoo!

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  38. brian stouder said on September 22, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Julie – agreed about the 15 minutes of blah blah blah. It WAS gratifying to see such a good crowd for her, and up ’til last night I hadn’t seen the mayor for several months!

    After the end, I went back to the museum, and had a few slices of cherry turnover, and a few of those little quiche things. But with that big a turnout, I skipped even attempting to say hello to the author, and headed for the car and then Speedway (and a Diet Coke).

    But if I’d have known that DQ’s freezer was out, I’d have skipped even the cherry turnovers, and headed straight there!

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  39. Jolene said on September 23, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Brian, you must have been the favorite student of every teacher you ever had. Seems like you are always curious and that you always take pleasure in learning whatever there is to learn wherever you go. Who else would write a letter to the editor about access to the Logansport Museum? Must be fun to know you!

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  40. brian stouder said on September 23, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Jolene – thanks for the kind thoughts! I think all of us self-selected denizens of NN.c share that ‘go-see’ (and then share) trait, as opposed to the ‘sit-back’ (and yap ignorantly) crowd.

    Regarding the Logansport deal, we went to a family reunion for some of Pam’s relations at Riverside Park in Logansport last week, and that subject came up a time or two. I really feel the need to ‘make it right’ with Thelma over there, and I learned (in last Sunday’s Pharos-Tribune) that her museum has a special event in October, wherein General Benjamin Harrison and an aide will put on a presentation, over dinner.

    So, my plan is to write to her and make a reservation – which will knock down three birds with one stone; making amends with Thelma, seeing that Cass County historical society museum, and learning more about Benjamin Harrison – who has interested me since reading Charles Calhoun’s excellent biography of him, and then visiting his house in Indianapolis…but Pam thinks I’m crazy to do such a thing!

    ‘Course, Pam could well be right!

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