Armchair literary tours?

I just discovered the Street View feature of Google Maps. What a kick! I took a tour of a Hungarian city that I last visited 20 years ago. It brought back so much of the flavor of the place for me, and I thought, ‘What a great tool for traveling from your desk!’

Now, I am thinking about applications to literary interests. When I really get into a book that takes places somewhere far off, now I could, conceivably, not only look at pics of the place and look at online author comments and snapshots of their geographic inspiration, I can take a little “walking” tour of the place. A new way to “Let your fingers do the walking,” to use an old Yellow Pages (remember using those – in hard copy?) slogan. As long as Google trucks have photographed the place, I guess it’s an option until I win the lottery, which, face it, is hard to do when you don’t play.

Any A Discovery of Witches fans out there? Here’s Google Maps Street View of Oxford, England.

Keepers of Our Story, Better hope they care…

If a picture can speak 1,000 words, imagine how much an old house can speak. This is a blog about words and story, so the loss of a historic house seems appropriate here.

Something happened yesterday that is astonishing in the combination of its significance and its protagonists disregard of said significance. A house, the oldest in Dover (at least, until yesterday) was demolished. It was half decade older than our country. Built in 1724, the Draper House had a history of being home for generations to a single family, a family that helped fight the America Revolution.

Our Revolution from our shared American history.

A couple of people liked the land the house was on, but not the house, itself. So, they bought the property, house and all. But there are little things that can get in the way of the enjoyment of a dignified, historic home. For example, it seems that one of the owners is tall, and the pesky 6 foot ceilings of the old house were inconvenient. Well, what would you do with an inconvenient piece of our country’s history?

Tear it down, of course.

Never mind that such old houses are rare and that this is Massachusetts, arguably the home to the birth of the United States. Never mind that the history contained within the walls of the house belonged to everyone in Dover, in Massachusetts, in the United States. Never mind that a descendant of the original owners – you know, the ones who fought our war for independence – penned a heartfelt letter (readable on the ‘Save Dover’s Oldest House’ Facebook page) to the new owners asking them to please let preserve this piece of her family’s and our history. Never mind that preservationists offered the new owners $50,000 to move the house to another location and then clean the site up in preparation for whatever modern home the owners wanted. None of that mattered, it seems. Yesterday, a wrecking ball crashed through and destroyed deliberately what no winter storm since 1724 ever did.

And there goes history. Or, at least, there goes the illustration, the physical telling of unique and important period in our shared history. Because the ceilings were too low. Because the house was too old for the taste of its final purchasers.

What is frustrating here is….well, lots. Reading newspaper articles won’t tell you a whole lot, but it will tell you something. According to a June 17, 2014 Dover-Sherborn Press article on Wickedlocal, the owners accepted the offer of $50K for the house’s removal. However, after holding on to the check for months, they reneged on their offer and gave the money back. Why the refusal of free money? One can only wonder…and wonder and wonder. Free money is generally a nice thing, especially when you are basically being paid for being socially responsible.

A Boston Globe article from February 3, 2008 is the only place that I could find offering any kind of glimpse into why the owners didn’t let anyone save the house: timing. 

(Here’s the passage from the article by Anna Fiorentino in The Boston Globe.)

When Oliva applied for a permit to raze the Draper House last May, the Historical Commission voted to use the town’s demolition review bylaw to buy some time – up to a year – for efforts to raise enough money to relocate it.

After the decision to invoke the bylaw, neither the Historical Commission nor the society heard from Oliva, officials said, until the commission received a letter in the fall stating he was no longer interested in donating the house.

“At that point the offer was off the table,” said Oliva. “We had already waited a year and a half before they even requested the demolition delay. We needed to move on.”

I guess things were taking too long, and they wanted their new modern home, already!

The thing is that these people obviously had the money to buy a nice house on a nice piece of land; what they didn’t have was the understanding and sense of responsibility that they were buying stewardship of history, of story, of physical storytelling. Because, after all, a house tells a story. And, a house that was built in 1724 in rural Massachusetts? That tells quite a story.

But not anymore.

And, I can’t imagine the owners have won a fond place in their new neighbors hearts. Not only have they destroyed, willingly, a community treasure, they have also snubbed their noses at community life. When the story of the Draper House is written one day, it will be story of longevity and continuity that ends with a big who cares from its final stewards. It will be like an elegant, eloquent speech that ends with a big F. U. to its audience.








This entry was posted on July 15, 2014. 2 Comments

A fun little Disney Princess rebellion…but are they right?

Here’s a link to a cute video from AVbyte that’s fun to watch. I found it via Facebook and Upworthy, where there’s an interesting discussion going on about the video’s message.

Some people agree, some don’t, the usual stuff. But, to me, it seems a bit retro, doesn’t it?

Setting up a juxtaposition between the extreme of the image of Disney Princesses and the extreme of the idea that a significant other will cramp your personality…I don’t know. Perhaps we need in 2014 to move beyond this. Perhaps the aim and message now should be that partners should let each other be who they are and still be teammates. We don’t need a man, do we? And yet every human needs a companion…which kind of does mean women need men. And men need women. It’s often HIGHLY unfortunate, but part of a balanced life. (And, of course, a better way to say this is: Depending on your sexual orientation, you need another person. But, I am sticking here with the age-old theme that the video refers to.)

Still, maybe I’m just in a good mood today. I can see times I would not sing – I would YELL – this song from the rooftops. And, for the teammates-who-need-and-want-each-other idea, both parties need to be in on the agreement. Sadly, men have often failed terribly  through the ages, including today, at being equal, understanding partners.

I think someone could probably write a dissertation on this video, actually. That would be very interesting reading.



Bookstore Discoveries.

I love to discover new places to buy books, particularly used books. I’m finding there’s a charm in used bookstores that regular stores just don’t have. And, I love that organizations can benefit from used book sales. It’s a win-win for reader and seller alike. Actually, it’s more than win-win because the reader gets so much more out of it than just a book. They also get a better community in which each person helps the other out. All that and stories, too. Who couldn’t like that?

Here’s a place I haven’t checked out, but want to soon. Sounds like a wonderful way for young people to learn so much about books, business, and more. It’s called More Than Words. Such an apt name! :-)




Boston is creating a Literary Cultural District: here are a couple of the places where Louisa May Alcott lived


I’m reblogging this from the Louisa May Alcott Is My Passion website. Isn’t this super-exciting!!!!!!!!!

Thank you to the author of that blog, Susan Bailey, for sharing it with the internet!

Originally posted on Louisa May Alcott is My Passion:

I am very excited about this since I live an hour out of Boston. There are already many sites in Boston that are related to the Alcotts but having a literary cultural district is very cool. Here is more information about that effort:

In a quote from the article, the idea grew from a fortuitous conversation:

“The idea for a literary district grew out of a conversation between GrubStreet executive director Eve Bridburg and MCC head Anita Walker when the former bemoaned the fact that even though there is a lot happening culturally in Boston, you don’t often hear about the writers. The goal is to provide a series of walks through Boston’s literary history, while supporting writers and publishers working today. It’s also about including all the literary efforts in the city under one umbrella. “We’re thinking about branding the work that everybody is doing so that there’s…

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