I’m having a series of epiphanies as I read my way through the Capital Hill History Project, an oral history of the neighborhood I grew up in for 19 years before coming to Germany. The memories of many of our old neighbors are there, going back to the the 60s, and it’s simply amazing for […]

Ruby’s shoes, ruby shoes

“The Problem We All Live With”  by Norman Rockwell is currently on display at the White House, just outside the president’s office. It shows Ruby Bridges, the most famous of the children who in 1960, at the age of 6, walked into an all-white school and helped desegregate the schools of New Orleans. Daddy’s brave […]

Marlene Dietrich: Falling in Love again – Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss

Marlene in English and German and then again in English, great German accent; followed by Caroline Nin singing franco-anglo-tinged German. ICH BIN VON KOPF BIS FUSS AUF LIEBE EINGESTELLT (Friedrich Holländer) Marlene Dietrich Ein rätselhafter Schimmer, Ein “je ne sais-pas-quoi” Liegt in den Augen immer Bei einer schönen Frau. Doch wenn sich meine Augen Bei […]

America 100 years ago on film

The Library of Congress a few days ago uploaded a playlist to its YouTube channel entitled America at Work, America at Leisure, containing 150 motion pictures from 1894 to 1915. “Highlights include films of the United States Postal Service from 1903, cattle breeding, fire fighters, ice manufacturing, logging, calisthenic and gymnastic exercises in schools, amusement […]

Tiny Tim: Tiptoe through the tulips

My niece left us again today, sadly, and she left us a lovely bouquet of orange tulips. We’d talked about how valuable tulips were in the 16th and 17th century, when the bulbs that we consider commonplace were very rare and were traded for enormous sums of money. The tulip mania led to especially frenzied […]

R is for the 3 Rs

The three Rs? They are “reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic”. Sir William Curtis (1752-1829) called the foundations of a basic education, reading, writing and arithmetic, the 3 Rs around 1825, when he was well over 70. Was he aware of the irony of his words? Was he funny or illiterate? Sir Billy Biscuit’s origins were modest. […]

And the wall come a’tumblin down

I’ll never forget the day the Wall came down. I was living in a big group house, actually a collection of six or seven group flats in a sprawling house on the edge of a small town on the German border. Our major arguments were about: The new organic hens in the garden that meant […]