The Children Of Gettysburg

The storm broke over their small town and changed their lives forever

Beside [our] little front porch … lay two dead Union soldiers. I had never before seen a dead man, yet I do not recall that I was shocked, so quickly does war brutalize.” Charles McCurdy of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was ten years old in July 1863 when he came upon those corpses.Read more »

Dime-store Doughboys

Fifty years ago these rough-and-ready tin soldiers were sold from bins cheap and by the handful. Today collectors are seeking them for their bright, simple vitality.

Commercially made metal toy soldiers date back to the late eighteenth century, when German tinsmiths began casting two-dimensional or “flat” figures of the sort immortalized by Hans Christian Andersen in “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” European firms went on to develop sturdier, solid-cast three-dimensional figures of lead alloy, and in the 189Os an English toy maker named William Britain revolutionized the field with a line of less costly hollow-cast toy troops.Read more »

When Oliver Jensen Was Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, And Reverent

A memoir of Boy Scouting in the youthful days of the movement

The Boy Scouts of America, I am surprised to discover, is seventy-five this year, a wintry age for something so perpetually associated with the springtime of life. I never think of the Scouts without remembering my boyhood heroes of long ago, Theodore Roosevelt and Sir Robert Baden-Powell. One became President and the other a lord, but both remained in many ways boys all their days. And then I remember that I am, in age, close on the heels of the Scouts; they were going on sixteen and I was twelve when I joined in 1926.Read more »

The Youngest Pioneers

For many children who accompanied their parents west across the continent in the 1840s and '50s, the journey was a supreme adventure

The historian Francis Parkman, strolling around Independence, Missouri, in 1846, remarked upon the “multitude of healthy children’s faces … peeping out from under the covers of the wagons.” Two decades later a traveler there wrote of husbands packing up “sunburned women and wild-looking children” along with shovels and flour barrels in preparation for the long journey west. In the goldfields of California in the 1850s, a chronicler met four sisters and sisters-in-law who had just crossed the Plains with thirty-six of their children.Read more »

The Magazine That Taught Faulkner, Fitzgerald, And Millay How To Write

When many of our greatest authors were children, they were first published in the pages of St. Nicholas

At first, it might seem F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, and E. B. White have little in common besides their country of birth and their line of work. But when they were growing up, these writers all were devoted readers of the same publication: St. Nicholas, the monthly magazine for children. Founded in 1873, St. Nicholas delighted and instructed children for almost seventy years. Read more »

“Suddenly, There Were The Americans”

A British schoolboy sees the quiet English countryside come alive with excitement toward the end of 1943 when …

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"The Woods Were Tossing With Jewels”

A Childhood in the Florida Wilderness

In 1899 when I was five years old and living in Palmetto, Florida, my father decided to take his family through the wilds of the Everglades and stake a claim on an offshore island. His purpose was to farm this island but behind this was his wish to give us a taste of the way he grew up. He had been a cowboy in the Myakka area when he was fifteen years old. These ranchlands overlapped the north end of the Everglades at a time when it was unexplored.Read more »

“turn Back The Universe And Give Me Yesterday”

Memories of Fresno

If it is true that any man’s past cannot be restored—“Turn back the universe and give me yesterday,” Ernest R. Ball sang at the turn of the century— it is even more true that nobody’s past can be obliterated, effaced, or wiped out, short of the grave. Read more »

A Jubilation Of Toys

Battered with play, they nonetheless retain all their old Christmas-morning power to charm and entrance

Children’s toys are appealing for much the same reason that children’s drawings are appealing: they are strong, simple distillations of the adult world. Bright, crisp, and spirited, the best of them appeal to the child in every grownup. The examples here are from the superb collection of Bernard Barenholtz.Read more »

Good Reading

The Plains Acrossi The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60

by John D. Unruh, Jr. University of Illinois Press Illustrations, tables, maps 565 pages, $20.00 Read more »