Wadsworth Longfellow Home

Wadsworth-Longfellow_House,_Portland,_MEAdventures filled my life growing up as a military brat. Some of the most memorable were school field trips. A few of these excursions were life changing, opening a new world of ideas and possibilities. Two of the most impactful were trips that occurred as a student at Portsmouth Junior High School in New Hampshire. The first journey took me to the Wadsworth-Longfellow home in Portland, Maine.

The sojourn included a poetry reading. It was my first exposure to real poetry. Seeing the home and the study desk somehow made the poet real to me. Hearing the words read aloud with passion and pacing tugged at my heart and soul.

Longfellow went to Europe for three years following college graduation in 1825. He returned to his alma mater, Bowdoin College, in 1829 and taught there until he accepted a professorship at Harvard University.

I learned field trips could be more than just a fun trip that kept you out of class for a day. A drive to a historical figure’s home provided experiential learning. Seeing the home and hearing poetry read made learning fresh and adventurous.

In the future, I’ll write about a trip to the Robert Frost farm in New Hampshire. It was the second impactful field trip during my tenure in New Hampshire public schools. Adventures filled the life of this military brat.

The photo  is in the public domain.

A Soldier’s Story by General of the Army Omar Bradley

A Soldier’s Story by General of the Army Omar Bradley is the story of World War II as General Omar Bradley saw it. It is also the primary source book for the movie Patton. Bradley’s unassuming and straightforward style underscores how he is portrayed by contemporary accounts. General Bradley was known as the “G.I. General”. In the book, he comes across as an island of equanimity in a sea of incredible egos like Patton, Montgomery et. al.

Remember, this book is Bradley’s take on events. I am sure that some involved in controversies he covered would defend their actions or inactions. Yet this account has an aura of authenticity due to the author’s lack of need to tout his own accomplishments. This inner peacefulness, along with command ability, probably explains Bradley’s rise to the level of senior American ground commander in Europe. He even comments about working calculus problems for relaxation!

Written in 1951, this book is superb. It gives insider’s account of the American effort and strategic management in the European Theater of Operations. It is well written, clear and largely devoid of the bombast that can weigh down some combat and command accounts. Although a big book, it reads quickly.

One of the highlights of my life was getting to interview Omar Bradley for a boy scout merit badge I was working on in 1964. He was living in a house on the William Beaumont Hospital grounds at Fort Bliss, Texas. My dad was stationed in El Paso at the time. The general was very kind to a kid interviewing him. I remember my dad getting exasperated when I told him I need a ride to do an interview for my God and Country merit badge. I told him I had called and set up an appointment with an old retired soldier though the boy scout council HQ. When he asked who and I said Omar Bradley my dad about passed out. He had served under Bradley in North Africa and Europe. I remember his kindness and patience. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.