“How does the creative impulse die in us? The English teacher who wrote fiercely on the margin of your them in blue pencil: “Trite, rewrite,” helped to kill it . Critics kill it, your family. Families are great murders of the creative impulse., Particularly husbands. Order brothers sneer at younger brothers and kill it. There is that American pass time known as “kidding” – with the result that everyone is ashamed and hangdog about showing the slightest enthusiasm or passion or sincere feeling about anything.” Brenda Ueland
I have been sitting on a mother load of raw material for another book for 4 years, every bit as interesting as the Little House On the Prairie or Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series, and yet I’ve done nothing with it.
Saturday Steve stopped by for coffee. He asked me (again ) “Well, how’s the book coming?”
“I’m stuck,” I said.. “I have writer’s block”…(I thought to myself….in good measure because of you”
(Hi Steve! I know once in a while you stop by the blog..so just in case, I know you mean well )
Tonight I picked up my favorite book on writing by Brenda Ueland “If you Want to Write.”
And it felt like someone was stirring the coals down in the furnace of my soul. . She is the type of friend we all long for…a friend who can speak grace into our timid souls. I love her, even though I never met her and she’s been gone since 1985 @ the ripe old age of 93.
Brenda encouraged me to write ” Bold, Free, and Truthful.”…
and on that note, I thought I would give the book another try….
On The Trail Of Lyman Dillon
“I can still see that man …had a dam rod as thick as my arm over his arm…he was laying there, couldn’t move. Both engines were laying in the ditch. Then the Doctor hollered. “Does anybody got some whiskey??? Come on get some! If you got nothing, get some! We’ve got to have whiskey for this guy.” They poured the whole pint in him. He was suffering…. It took all day and all night… It was 35 to 40 below. You don’t ever forget those things….”
Grandpa recalling the train accident South of his farm in 1929
One afternoon May of 2007 , on a lark I listened to a tape I’d made of my Grandpa from 1999. He retold several stories from his youth.
After the tape finished , I got on line and did a search of Iowa History – The February 21st 1921 edition of The Palimpsest came up.
The article described the journey of Marcus L. Hansen and John E. Briggs retracing the route of Old Military Road September of 1920 as they came into my home town. They imagined who else had traveled the road….Concord stage coaches, circuit riding preachers, dragoon soldiers, immigrant wagons by the hundreds, even Lyman Dillon, who was famous for plowing a furrow to mark the original route in 1839.
As I read Hansen and Brigg’s account 87 years after their walk, it stirred something deep within me-
As far as I knew, no one else had ever retraced the route on foot since Hansen and Briggs, and if so, it wasn’t well-known. I said to my wife, “I think it’s time someone does it again.”
That set in motion a series of events.
The Palimpsest article mentioned Mr Lyman Dillon-
“In 1839, 147 years ago, Lyman Dillon plowed a furrow from Dubuque to Iowa City. Reportedly it is the longest furrow ever plowed- almost 100 miles. Using a prairie breaking plow and five yoke of slow, lumbering, stubborn oxen…”
I tried to imagine Dillon with a breaking plow and 10 oxen cutting a furrow through virgin prairie. Tall grass prairie ten feet high- you could loose a man on a horse in it. black bear, wolves – not to mention Native Americans being crowded off their land.
Hanson and Briggs had retraced Old Military road in 1920. As far as I knew, no one had done it since, so I said to my wife, I think it’s about time someone does it again…..I chose September of 2008 to retrace it myself.
I was curious to know what the landscape would have looked like, if any of the original road still existed, and what significant events might have happened along the route.
I became a student of early Iowa history….
to be continued….