Monday, August 18, 2014

Feudal Society Vol. 1: The Growth of the Ties of Dependence

Dictionaries define feudal as pertaining to the feudal system of holding land in a fief. To some degree it is a circular definition, but it does imply a certain attachment to the land, though usually through an economic relationship with the owner.  For our purposes we will suppose that this relationship is also an emotional one, pertaining both to the individual plot and to the pays in which it is located. This examination is based on records for one small holding and, before we continue, let us acknowledge that this history is a privileged one, based on limited primary sources, and cannot necessarily be expanded to include any other inhabited areas.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Great Grandpa on the Great Plains, continued

While we're all waiting for something original to be posted, here is another installment from the reminiscences of my great grandfather.  In this excerpt he writes about when he was 15 and working on a farm in Ticonic, Iowa (the year was 1889.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Great-Grandpa on the Great Plains

This is a continuation of my Great-Grandfather's recollections of his early years out west.  

Mother, my sister Alta, four years old, and I started. Uncle Whitney borrowed a team and democrat wagon and drove us to Waterloo where we took the train. It was freezing day in the latter part of November 1881. We left Auntie Whitney crying and wringing her hands, saying we that we'd freeze to death, be murdered by the Indians, and a lot more that the noise of the wagon drowned out.

The road had become very muddy and froze. The deep ruts threw the wagon around till we were seasick. It was so rough that a heavy trunk was thrown repeatedly up on the edge of the eight inch wagon box.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa

I don't have any photos or paintings of my great grandfather but I do have some excerpts from his memoirs, starting with this account of his early childhood in Wisconsin. He married Carlyle Goodrich's daughter in 1902 and her reminiscences of life on the Great Plains also survive, in addition to quite a few of her paintings, including one of her father which hangs in my house.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Homeless-Industrial Complex, Part II

This is one of my favorite jackets. It's just a fleece, it crackles with static electricity when I take it off, it's hard to keep clean and fluffy, and it says Parliament of Canada / Parliament du Canada on it. I got it in 2001 when I was working in homeless services. I also have a black winter jacket with a broken zipper that says “DHS Night Patrol” in shiny black letters across the back, but it isn't very useful because of the broken zipper. I do get a lot of comment about the “DHS Night Patrol” bit though – no one has ever heard of the Department of Homeless Services so they always think it is from Homeland Security.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Homeless-Industrial Complex, Part I

written ca. 1999
edited 6/20/2012

I wrote this in the winter of 1999, just after I had started working for the city. It is an account of one of my first times going out with an outreach team.  Parts of it make me cringe a little and I can clearly tell in certain sentences that I am just repeating what someone has told me  Still, it is an historical document of sorts.  I have changed names where I think that is a good idea.

I get off work around five o'clock and leave our building on the west side to walk over towards City Hall to catch the 6 uptown. I have no idea what it would be like after dark to walk down the deserted streets of the South Bronx, but my own neighborhood was similar and, by now, felt very safe to me. I cross under the Bruckner Expressway, foolishly looking the wrong way at one point, and came to the avenue I'm looking for. In any case, the streets are not deserted at all. A lot of people live here.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Carlyle Goodrich 1847 - 1910
painted by his daughter Mattie

As to Carlyle Goodrich, he achieved his ambition of moving back to a Vermont farm. His farm diaries begin again, chronicling the old daily round, but now my father begins to appear in them, known at first as "the baby", and soon thereafter, as he reached the important age of four, as "Carlyle".

"Tell Carlyle when he comes up to Vermont, or Barre, grandpa will harness up old Kitt and we will drive to Aunt Sarah and Cousin Ella and Blanche and Carlyle may drive old Kitt and won't the wheels go round and won't the dirt fly."

 - from an unpublished manuscript by Charles Hoyt