Tag Archives: historical

So what? So let’s dance!

Last year, late in the summer, I went to the caddyshack at a local country club – a club I caddied at for eight years and is a place that helped shape and inform certain world views which I still hold – and asked for a loop, caddy jargon for work. At the time I’d been out of work for six months and thought that if I got out on the course for a couple loops at my old stomping grounds, perhaps enough material would emerge such that I could string together a few essays about life, golf, the haves and have lesses, the then and the now…and who knows what else. It wasn’t clear what I’d do with those essays but the play sounded good in the huddle so I went with it. I had high hopes, none of which were fulfilled.

For the first part of the application process to be a caddy, I had to take a test about the finer points of caddying and the history of the club. It was an open book test (true story) and I still managed to get one wrong (also true). Thankfully it was a question about the meaning of the club’s name, a conflation of two Native American words, and wasn’t in the study guide.

Following the written test, I had an interview of sorts with the caddie master. When I started caddying over 30 years ago there was no interview, which was a fortunate circumstance as the collection of misfit toys who were the caddy corps back then – with names like Monster, Running Man, and 555RonLee – wouldn’t make it to the first tee today. This is probably a good thing for all parties.

Anyway, as it turns out, the current caddie master is a guy whom I caddied with back then. He also happened to sell fireworks out of his Camaro. When the interview began – really just an informal conversation outside the shack – I got the sense he didn’t remember me, but I remembered him, because, well, when you’re 14 you remember a guy who sells fireworks out of the trunk of his Camaro in the parking lot of a swish country club.

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The interview did not go well. I’d just run six miles, hadn’t shaved for a few days, and looking back, didn’t give the job the respect it deserved, or at least the respect Camaro-guy expected. Fair enough. Being dressed down by him in the parking lot was a memorable if not humbling experience, and put me on my back foot so much that my caddying rebirth ended right then and there. No collection of essays. Maybe a t-shirt saying “My dad wanted to caddy and all I got was this lousy blog post”, but no collection of essays. So it goes.

I’ve been around that golf course hundreds of times. My friend’s dad used to drop us off on the street at a distant part of the course – with the admonishment “if you’re in jail, don’t call me” – and we’d climb over the fence with our clubs and play as many holes as we could before being chased off. Good times. But if I never step foot on that course again I can still relive the experience by looking over drawings I made of every hole in the backseat of a VW Rabbit while on a family road trip to Yellowstone or some such place. Every tee, every green, every bunker, every yardage.

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Not only that, I’d catalog every golf course we drove by in the middle of the prairie or which I was able to play along the way. Those drawings are an enduring childhood memory and if we take a road trip this summer, instead of, (or at least in addition to), watching a movie or playing a video game, our kids, hopefully, will read or draw or just look out the window. And if my boys ever want to caddy I’ll make sure they’re cleanly shaven.

P.S. Rodney’s bag would’ve been a great loop.

all in the family

The other day while searching for future brown ink stationery needs, I landed on The Beauty of Letterpress website created by Neenah Paper out of Neenah, WI. This is an awesome site which not only supports letterpress throughout the country but praises the value of this work. However, what grabbed my attention right away was their support of the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum located in Two Rivers, WI.Plural trip to HamiltonJust to give you a little background, before I was Wendy Longacre Brown I was Wendy Hamilton Brown. J. Edward Hamilton was my great, great, great Grandfather. I knew only a little history of my family’s connection to the museum but was intrigued instantly. In 1880 Hamilton founded the factory and within 20 years it became the largest manufacturer of wood type in the states.

What many people don’t realize is the role Wood Type played in our nation’s history. Aside from handwriting it was the main source of communication in every way from land sales to packaging to politics.

The Hamilton Museum is one-of-a-kind, the only museum dedicated to preserving, studying, and producing wood type (and they continue to print today). The collection is said to be one of the world’s premier wood collections with over a million pieces of wood type and over a thousand styles and sizes of patterns.

Like many businesses built years ago, the headquarters are extremely expensive to manage and the Hamilton Museum is in the process of moving to a new location. The good news is they have almost finished moving in with 20 of the 22 semi’s packed up. But of course, to keep this space running they need support.

At The Beauty of Letterpress one can purchase beautiful letterpress pieces of art, support the museum directly or become a member. Looking forward to keeping the history alive with a Hamilton letterpress paper printed by authentic Hamilton wood type. Only feels fitting for me to help save printing history, family or not!!


Don’t get me wrong, National History Day is pretty cool. Despite the fact that it’s a little misleading becuase National History Day isn’t a day at all but an ongoing program where students engage in extensive research around some hostorical topic or theme, it certainly seems like an important and worthy endeavor. But that NHD isn’t the NHD on my mind today, because today is National Handwriting Day, and that’s a big deal with us, and where would history be without handwriting anyway? The historians will say “Lascaux” but I say “let’s go” write something down so that today’s writing will be tomorrow’s history and that’s a win win for all NHDers.

Our History in Letters

Last Spring I surprised myself by suggesting to my book club we read First Family, Abigail & John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis. This was unusual for me. I tend to lean more towards fiction or more current nonfiction.  However, after my love of the HBO miniseries about this family, their story intrigued me. Mostly, I was taken by the remarkably preserved portrait of their shared lives in their personal correspondence, an exchange of more than 1,200 letters. Not only have these letters opened a window to their personal lives but it became a written record, revealing insights into America’s early years. I adored the book.

So as we celebrate the 4th of July, I give a big cheers to Abigail and John Adams. Thankfully these prolific writers were thoughtful enough to hold onto the letters which have provided an understanding and appreciation of our country’s past. And as one of the signers of The Declaration of Independence, John Adams’s handwriting left an indelible mark on this day in 1776.

Unless one of my children becomes the President or is the first person on Jupiter, I don’t see our saved family letters becoming part of our country’s history. That said, my hope is to hold tight to those correspondences by parents and grandparents, by Nick and me, and by and to our children. These letters will help us understand the highs and lows in different eras and will ensure the story of our family’s history will endure for years to come.

Here’s to our heritage and what makes us who we are. It all began with 56 signatures.