Personal Recollections Of The War By A Private Soldier

By one of those happy accidents that nourish historians and magazines of history, an antiques dealer, sorting through the contents of the attic of a house in Mahopac, New York, in 1962, came across two notebooks that had apparently belonged to a Union soldier in the Civil War. She promptly bought them. One of the volumes contained copies of letters; the other, in a different hand, had a title page written in elaborate calligraphy, as shown at the left.Read more »

Rattlesnakes And Tumbleweed: A Memoir Of South Dakota

A few years ago, when she was about seventy, Mildred Renaud took a creative-writing class in the adult-education program at the high school in Briarcliff Manor, New York, where she now lives. For class assignments she started writing an account of her childhood in Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas at the beginning of this century. Her teacher, impressed with the vividness of her memory and the charm and authenticity of her presentation, suggested that she submit these memoirs to AMERICAN HERITAGE.Read more »

The Great African Safari Bust


Africa was part of my childhood. The attic in our Detroit home smelled like a zoo. There were lion, leopard, zebra, antelope, and colobus monkey skins that my sister and I and our friends used to take out of their trunks and forget to put back. There was also an elephant’s foot made into a wastebasket, ten or twelve elephant tusks and several small curved tusks of wart hogs, drums made out of antelope hide, and musical instruments with strings like the vines on which Tarzan swung from tree to tree. Read more »

Grandpas Village

All that is left now of Grandpa’s village is a handful of well-worn homes on the peninsula side of Shoalwater Bay (now officially Willapa Harbor—but the water remains shoal), a small estuary of the Pacific Ocean in the sparsely populated southwestern corner of the state of Washington. Read more »

July, 1944: St. Lô

A soldier remembers a great battle

Three decades ago a battle was fought for St. Lô , Normandy, France, in the second of the great world wars of this century. To have been young at St. Lô and now to be old is a matter of personal amazement, for the time lapse seems instantaneous. In rank, the battle is in that heavily populated tier of major bloodlettings that have determined the course of campaigns, as opposed to the few decisive Gettysburgs and Waterloos on which history itself has turned. In keeping with this stature, St.Read more »

Aunt Julia’s Movie Code

Back in the twenties, before, chances are, Jack Valenti and Linda Lovelace were even born, my Aunt Julia developed her own movie-rating system. This was based not on the movies themselves but on the stars who appeared in them. No G’S or R’S or X’S for Aunt Julia.Read more »

Crowder Tales

Although readers won’t be able to find the town of Crowder on the map, Nixon Smiley assures us that there is such a place. “Youflatter me with the suggestion that I could have imagined Crowder,” he says. It is a small, dirt-poor farming community on the Florida-Georgia border; and when the author was orphaned as a small boy in 1918, he was sent there to live with his paternal grandparents.Read more »

The Strange Mission of the Lanikai

“My God! What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be dead!” the Admiral told Lanikai's skipper when she finally sailed into port

On March 18, 1941, eighty-two days out of Manila, all sails set, rigging taut, a small, green, weathered schooner entered the port of Fremantle, Western Australia. Atop her afterdeck house a small-caliber, slim-barrelled cannon sat on a brass pedestal. Faded, tattered Philippine and United States flags whipped from her spanker gaff. Above them, at the main peak, floated a wisp of bunting that the intrigued onlookers aboard the Allied warships present thought might be a man-o-warsman’s commission pennant. Read more »

Adlai Stevenson

The first time I saw Adlai Stevenson was in July, 1953. After the splendid but massive failure of his 1952 campaign he had spent five months travelling, mostly in Asia. He had received world acclaim to set against his national defeat. London was the last stage of his journey. I heard him speak briefly to an all-party House of Commons tea meeting. The chairman introduced him with a somewhat self-conscious impartiality: America was indeed fortunate to have been able to choose between two candidates of the distinction of General Eisenhower and Governor Stevenson. Read more »