I read quite a funny post on a blog called The Ugly Volvo that is currently making the rounds on social media. There are several points that I must admit, I myself have snickered about when reading one of the most important volumes of the American canon of children's literature. So before my rebuttal, you should read the original blog post in its entirety here: http://theuglyvolvo.com/issues-goodnight-moon-bedroom/
I have read Goodnight Moon to three young boys more times than I could possibly count and feel quite certain that I could have recalled the details of the story on which the grievances were made without the use of the photos included in the article. But I did enjoy having them around, just for the heck of it.
I have the answer to each of the grievances offered. It's quite simple to be honest. There's only one explanation for each and every apparent inconsistency. While author Margaret Wise and illustrator Clement Hurd were both native New Yorkers, they were inspired from above to write one volume in the greatest of all literary genres. That's right ladies and gentlemen, the rabbits in the children's classic Goodnight Moon, are Southerners. Don't believe me? Read along.
1) The size of the bedroom: Yes, I must admit that this room is a little large. But judging by the size of the room and the height of the ceiling that is obviously an old Southern home, with Victorian, or more likely Folk Victorian, construction. I myself slept in a room that rivaled this one in size while I was in high school and my current bathroom isn't much smaller than that. So it's really not that much of a shocker.
2) The little toy house: If you consider this theory as a whole, what sort of toy house would good Southerners buy their child? Yes. A Southern one, with bedrooms like the one one listed above. And of course it has working electricity. Junior probably wired it himself.
3) Transcript: The interior is not a surprise in this scenario because the color scheme of tomato floors with green and gold curtains is traditional in many a great Southern plantation home. Did you see Gone with the Wind? Scarlet, the quintessential Southern belle, made a dress from some old velvet drapes of green and gold. How many women have admired that dress and longed to wear it themselves?
4) The Bookshelf: Yes this could be trouble as well until you consider that Gone with the Wind (the book this time), Shelby Foote's The Civil War, Douglas Freeman's Robert E. Lee, and Aleck Stephens' A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States are just a sample of what is available for the Southern youngster to read. You know, when the time is right.
5) The Mush: The mush ain't Cream of Wheat. That would ruin this whole theory. Ain't no Southerner gonna be caught dead eating Cream of Wheat. We eat grits.
6) The World's Smallest Most Useless Clothesline: Okay, that's not a clothesline. That's a TV tray with the tray top removed. The lady of the house probably picked it up at a yard sale or maybe the Goodwill. It works perfect for air drying small items like gloves and socks. Improvise. This point may also be the most convincing. Because no matter what you may think about their clothes drying, these rabbits still don't care how they do it in New York.
7) Continued...: We covered this topic back in Point 3. But if it makes you New Yorkers feel better, the red is nothing more than the Pantone color of the year for 2015. Besides, this story isn't possibly in New York, you can actually see the stars in the sky outside. Let's move along.
8) The Dangerously Non-Childproofed Fireplace: The Blue Willow china urns are fairly typical in the South. It's a pretty well-known pattern. That mantle clock has been in the family for years. What are you going to do, throw it away? And yes, there should be a screen, but they only use the thing 6 or 8 or maybe a dozen times a year at most. And since all the kids have experience building campfires for roasting marshmallows and such, it's really no hazard. The kid probably built the fire. And heating the room isn't hard. It's the South, it doesn't get that cold. The fire is really more for ambiance than heat.
9) The Totally Ignored Existential Mouse: The answer to this one, which I will elaborate on in the next point, is that the mouse knows that any further movement would be much more lethal than anything else in that room.
10) The Black Office Telephone: This one is simple. The phone is now a toy. The family upgraded and the child acquired this one to use when playing office. I know the child isn't about to phone that lady or use any other means to ask that lady to stop whispering hush. That's because that kid understands that in The South when mama whispers "hush," you hush. You don't sass, you don't cry, mice don't scurry across the floor, cat's don't pounce, nothing. There will be a slight crackle in the fire and the stars will twinkle silently outside. Even the moon, that's right, if the moon so much as murmurs, "Good Night Moon" is gonna become "Lights Out Moon." Hush means hush or you'll find yourself getting up off of the floor. That's why the mouse is standing there.
11) The Picture of Bears in a Couple's Therapy Session: Actually, those two bears on the left were square dancing while the one on the right was playing the fiddle. But the lady whispered "hush," so...yeah.
12) And in closing: I'm glad that more decorating caught this point because if you flip over another page you'll find the book's illustrator, Clement Hurd savoring a cigarette with an expression that can only be translated as "Ahhh, they're right. The South does produce fine tobacco." And, considering the New York City theme that ran through the original critique, I'm afraid Bill de Blasio will jump into the book to try to take that thing away from ol' Clement. I don't think Bill wants to tussle with a man like Mr. Hurd, but that isn't my main concern.
That's right. The lady said hush and if Bill jumps into this book at that point, he's gonna find himself getting up off the floor. Come to think of it...that might be rather entertaining.
This is the third and final post in a three-part series on travel destinations in Georgia.
This wasn't the post I had originally intended to write. This was planned to be a post on some out of the way places that we have enjoyed in Georgia. But fate has intervened. This past weekend found the curator and managing editor on a full-blown traditional Sunday drive. During the outing we found all sorts of interesting things to see and do. At certain points, we even felt far from home but we were never more than 15 miles from our front door. Afterward, I was reminded of a pivotal moment that helped lead to the creation of this very website.
That fateful moment of inspiration came from a common drive. Might have even been a commute of sorts, I don't recall. What I do remember was coming over the crest of a hill I traveled quite often, a sight I had seen hundreds of times.
It looked sort of like this:
And that time it struck me differently than it ever had before. I saw it as a beautiful view. And in that moment I realized that I was finally noticing something that had been under my nose for years. I made up my mind to look for beauty every day. I vowed to look for the historic, the meaningful, the symbolic, and important elements in even the most mundane of days. I realized that as much as I like to travel and explore that I will have wasted a grand opportunity if I do not learn to cherish the grand world around me.
That leads me to this challenge: I want you to write this part. Take in the sunrise. Notice the detail in a old structure. A painting. A beautiful piece of music. An old couple holding hands as they walk down the sidewalk. A historic marker you've never stopped to read. The Etsy shop of a Twitter follower. A locally owned restaurant, bookstore, or hardware store. And yes, by all means, an old Victorian cemetery.
Notice it. Stop what you are doing for just a minute. Take a picture. Take notes. Write a poem or a song. Maybe a voice memo. Shoot a video. Whatever you feel inspired to do. If you want to keep it to yourself, that's fine. If you want to go to my contact page and share it with me, that's fine too. Who knows? It might wind up on one of these pages (with attribution of course). You don't even have to be from Georgia.
So happy hunting. I hope you notice something new in the near future that you've never noticed before.
This is the second post in a three-part series on travel destinations in Georgia.
Previously I shared some of the state parks in Georgia that help tell the state's story. There are many more sites like those that help to tell that story. But there are sites outside the state park system that help to tell the story as well. Georgia is blessed with several sites preserved by the US National Park Service. In continuing the theme of telling Georgia's story in travel, I'd like to use this post to share some of the great sites in Georgia from the federal park system.
1. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is one park that has two sites. The park straddles the Tennessee line and encompasses the Battles for Chattanooga in the War Between the States. It is the oldest and the largest of the National Military Parks in the nation. The portion in Georgia is the Chickamauga Battlefield which is immediately south of Ft. Oglethorpe.
On the grounds of Chickamauga you will find 1400 monuments to the men of both armies that fought on the 19th & 20th of September, 1863, the bloodiest two-day battle in the entire war. Many of the memorials can be found via driving tours, including the 85-feet-tall Wilder Monument. Other monuments can be accessed though a network of hiking trails that will carry you through the forests to the locations of some of the heaviest fighting of the war.
The park offers various living history demonstrations throughout the year. The visitor center has excellent interpretive exhibits and a large collection of historic weapons. A knowledgeable staff is on hand to answer questions or give directions. Maps for the hiking trails and driving tours are also available at the visitor center.
2. Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon preserves the remnants of a Mississippian culture that inhabited Georgia over 1000 years ago. Elaborate earthworks remain including the original floor of the Earth Lodge, the center of tribal political and social life. The visitor center includes hands-on exhibits that offer a unique learning experience to adults and kids alike. Ocmulgee was staffed with one of the most knowledgeable rangers I've encountered.
The mounds can be accessed by walking or driving. A partnership with Mercer University is developing a smartphone app for the site which will hopefully be available in the near future. Ocmulgee National Monument is in the process of upgrading from a national monument to a national park.
3. Ft. Pulaski National Monument is on Cockspur Island, just off Tybee Island. The fort was named for The Polish hero of the American Revolution, Casimir Pulaski. The fort was built in the 1930's. The construction was overseen by a young little-known West Point graduate, 2nd Lt. Robert E. Lee. The fort is built in a sandy coastal area atop cypress pilings drove deep into the ground. In that time the fort has settled less on its foundation than the neighboring visitor center built about 140 years later.
Besides being a major coastal fortification in the War Between the States, Ft. Pulaski holds the designation as being the first masonry fort to be proven obsolete. The weapons of the mid-19th century were able to easily penetrate walls once thought to be unbreachable. The Union siege in 1862 was short lived due to the unexpected effectiveness of the guns. This triggered the end of an era in American warfare. The scars of the last battle are still visible on the forts seaward walls. The fort later served as a prisoner of war detention site. Be sure to check the moat for alligators.
Besides the fort itself, the monument is also home to the Cockspur Lighthouse. The current tower was lit from 1856-1909 and was darkened only during the war. It replaced the 1839 tower that was damaged by a hurricane. In some form, Cockspur Light has marked the opening of the south channel of the Savannah River for 175 years.
The monument is also home to a marker commemorating John Wesley's first arrival in Georgia.
4. Andersonville National Historic Site is in the tiny town of Andersonville. The site is best known for its commemoration of the notorious Camp Sumter that housed thousands of POWs during the War Between the States. Today that camp's history is interpreted by monuments, the surviving earthworks, and reconstructed segments of the walls.
The Andersonville National Cemetery began with Confederates burying the bodies of deceased prisoners and continues today with burials of veterans of American wars. There is an audio driving tour of the cemetery that is available at the information desk in the museum. The tour covers various points of interest and encourages visitors to stop and explore.
The traditional visitor center is housed in the National Prisoner of War Museum. While Camp Sumter is covered in the museum, there is also information on Union forts such as Camp Douglas, Rock Island, and Point Lookout. The Museum also covers the stories of American POW's from all wars. This adds broader perspective to this Civil War site.
5. Jimmy Carter National Historic Site is just a short drive from Andersonville. It is dedicated to the life and service of the 39th President of the United States. The site is near the only official Georgia Welcome Center not located on a state line. Any trip to the site should start there. Free Georgia peanuts are available and the on-duty staff provide maps and information about the site.
The museum is the preserved Plains High School, where Jimmy and Rosalynn attended. The facility is specifically dedicated to the Carters but also paints a portrait of rural Southern life in the 1930's and 40's. The boyhood farm is the home Jimmy Carter lived in during his childhood. The outbuildings are still intact and rangers raise crops and animals just as Earl Carter did some 80 years ago. The train depot houses campaign specific items, as it served as campaign headquarters. Its amazing to see how rural folks won a presidential campaign in an abandoned railroad depot...because it was the only available building with indoor plumbing.
And while the site has certain points of interest, the entire town is included. Plains is a wonderfully preserved agrarian southern Georgia town. It is a delicious piece of the South of our past, preserved for future generations. That fact alone makes a stop worthwhile.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire