I slacked off on my usual end-of-the-week blog roundup on Friday, but I’ve been meaning to write about how much this column meant to me. One of my grandfathers served in an Allied (not American) navy during the second world war; the other grandfather tried to enlist in the American armed forces more than once, but had such poor eyesight that he was not able to serve.
Albert Southwick’s column on the boredom of war, and the flukes that saved his life, reminded me of the stories my grandfather (who served) used to tell. He had a friend who relieved him so that he could have a short smoking break; during that break, his friend was killed. The boredom of war was also related to me by a former coworker who served in World War II. So the column was a nice reminder of two gentlemen I knew and admired.
…overly nostalgic looks by Southwick of a city that really never existed. A city that wasn’t racist, classist – or even dirty.
Let’s look at some of what Albert Southwick has written in the past two months:
- a column about his service in WWII, in which he is relieved that he didn’t have to bomb people to kingdom come on August 14, 1945.
- a column about slavery and indentured servitude, including his own family’s history of owning slaves.
- a column about Abigail Adams which points out that she had to trust that her husband would carry out the wishes in her will, because women didn’t have the right to own property (or have a legally binding will).
- a column about extreme pacifists who were beaten by a mob in 1785.
- a couple of columns about puritanism circa 1850 and blue laws.
This is, of course, contrary to someone’s idea that Southwick is discussing an ideal society that never existed. (In fairness, though, one might argue that his column on Jeffery Amherst could have been more sympathetic to the Indians who contracted smallpox via infected blankets, and that Southwick’s dismissal on the “war is hell” grounds is not convincing. But, on the whole, Southwick is more sympathetic to non-Wasp males than the Canal District Chick would have her readership believe.)
Southwick has written and continues to write about the unvarnished history of our city in an interesting way. His columns are usually as relevant to the issues facing the city as anything the two local columnists write. And he can spell.
My love for Albert Southwick is a bit excessive, but it may not be as irrational as once I thought. Southwick is a continual reminder that there is at least one person in the greater Worcester area who is literate, intelligent, well-read, and well-spoken. Should there be younger writers on the Opinion page? Without a doubt. But let’s take advantage of hearing from a local gem as long as we have the opportunity.