Sunday Letters
Barbara on tree swing
19 March 2000

Dear Friend,

. Greg in front of life's work. . Friday I got to see the work of someone's lifetime. Over the course of several hours, I helped move hundreds of boxes full of back issues of the journal "Image" from the publisher's house to a garage behind our offices. Over the course of ten years, Greg has published twenty-five issues of his journal, plus an autobiography of Malcolm Muggeridge and a book on family life.
. . . I, too, have boxes of books, though not hundreds. I published thirteen issues of "The Book of Days" photographic datebook. Every year I had lots of copies left over, unwanted, out of date. I envied publishers who issued books that didn't immediately go out of date. Friday I lost that envy. Here was Greg with boxes that he would have with him the rest of his life. When something is out of date, you can throw it away. (I'm only saying you CAN, not that I in fact HAVE.) When a book or journal has an indefinite lifetime; you can't ever get rid of it, not while you have hopes of potential readers willing to buy a copy.
.Three sleds in basement . . Greg and I had help moving those boxes. Allen, a pastor to University of Delaware students, joined us. He told a story about John Grisham, whose first book (in pristine condition) now sells for three thousand dollars. At one time, before Mr. Grisham was a household name, he had a thousand of those unsold, then unwanted books sitting in his house. As fast as he could he autographed them and gave them away. He could have held on to them (like Greg and I have held onto ours) but instead he cast them on the waters, so to speak, found readers for them -- and no longer has them laying around the house.
. . . Barbara and I didn't lie around the house this weekend; we drove across northern Maryland and stopped to visit Antietam Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest day of the Civil War. What was the life's work of these thousands who died? Where they debated with rifle and cannon, others have erected monuments in marble and granite. Tourists like me take photos, pay our respects, and hope for better ways to settle disagreements. (Click here to see the photos.)
.Our host Larry . . Then we moved on with our lives, just as those who died would have, had they had the chance. We joined our friend Larry at a 210-year-old farmhouse near Harper's Ferry.
. . . In a few days, Larry will be one of several hosts on a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, demonstrating to VIPs the ship's ability to obtain core samples from the ocean floor. A childhood friend of Larry owns the farmhouse, which is slowly being restored. Harper's Ferry is a small town at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. John Brown and a few other deluded souls tried to spark a widespread slave rebellion by taking over the Federal arsenal there in 1859. No one rebelled; Brown was hung. The Federal arsenal was taken over again a few years later by a guy named Stonewall Jackson and a bunch of battle-hardened Confederate soldiers who tried to make the Southern States an independent country. In the end, Jackson lost his arm, his life, and the war.
. . . We liked Harper's Ferry; could be a great place to make a name in quixotic pursuits.

Photos: Above we see Barbara in front of the old farm house, Greg in front of his life's work, three sleds in the basement of the farm house, and Larry, our weekend host. Below we see the ruins of an Episcopal church on the hill above Harper's Ferry.

Ruined Episcopal Church

Click here to see photos of Antietam Battlefield
Rolling hills and marble monuments and lots of sky.

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