June 17, 2018

Gettysburg Battlefield

Dateline: Sturbridge, Massachusetts-

I left the DC suburbs this morning and decided to avoid the constant urban traffic on I-95, so I went the other direction on a loop that would keep me out of most of the major metropolitan areas. After crossing the Maryland panhandle into Pennsylvania, I found myself in Gettysburg, so I had to stop for a bit at the battlefield. I had been there before about twenty years ago but it’s one of those places that you have to stop at if you’re in the area. Looking out over those fields, split rail fences, and 18th century farm houses, it’s almost possible to see and hear the men from 150 plus years ago. But I seem to see them in sepia tones, rather than living color. Curse you Ken Burns…

From there, up through Southwestern Pennsylvania past Harrisburg and Hershey and then down into the Delaware river valley and up over the Poconos and down across the Hudson River and across New York into Connecticut, stopping for the night in Massachusetts because the hotel was thirty dollars cheaper than on the other side of the border. Who knows why. Tomorrow, I end up at my cousin’s house in New Caanan where I will leave the car so I don’t have to deal with it in Manhattan and where I will collect the key to the NYC apartment. Not looking forward to manhandling the luggage onto the commuter train, but that’s ok.

I was actually born and spent my earliest years in this part of the world. My father was on faculty at Yale from 1960-64 in the oceanography program (and would have stayed longer had Kingman Brewster not axed it forcing him to find another job). So I was born in New Haven and did not move to Seattle until I was two. I have only two memories of my early years in Connecticut. I didn’t have the neural wiring yet to lay down any more. The first is of the girl next door. She had had polio in the 1950s and had large bulky leg braces which I remember quite well. The second was of being unable to find my mother in a very dark, strange house, which I am told was a 17th century saltbox cottage that belonged to friends of my parents.

My parents lived in Connecticut during the era of Mad Men and, when I watched the series a few years ago, I could recall a lot of their descriptions of the kind of people they lived among when they talked to each other about those year after we had moved back to the west coast. The details of the TV show struck me as exactly right and I finally understood why they had been so happy to move. They were not cut out for New England life. My mother the Californian and my father the Washingtonian belonged on the West Coast.

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