Skip to main content


March 2023
1min read

Our childhood years were so protected that we didn’t have but the vaguest notion of what sex was. I would see the rooster worrying the hen, and I didn’t know what was happening. But I’d watch the hens and had it figured out when they were just about to pop out an egg. And I’d shout, “Sadie! Sadie! Come quick, if you want to see this hen lay an egg.” She kept missing it, so one time I picked up the hen and held her upside down until Sadie got there.

You had to decide: Am I going to change the world or am I going to change me? Or maybe change the world a little bit just by changing me?

We lived a clean life, but Lord, we had a good time. Why, every one of us children played an instrument, and you know as a family we formed a band.

We had a small organ, a Mason & Hamlin, which Papa played beautifully. So did Julia, who had a perfect ear, along with our little brother Sam. We had all kinds of instruments, like a flute, a violin, a trombone, and a clarinet. Papa would lead us. We would play marches, all kinds of music that was popular at the time. In the morning people would walk past our house and say, “Y’all had a party last night.” And we’d say, “Wasn’t no party! Was just the bunch of us being musical!”

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "October 1993"

Authored by: Russell Baker

Is the kind of humor popular today another symptom of the general erosion of civil discourse? Maybe, says a man who has spent a good deal of his life being funny; but more likely it’s just a vigorous breeze from the American frontier.

Authored by: The Editors

Chocolate Diet

Authored by: The Editors

October Surprise

Authored by: John Steele Gordon


Authored by: The Editors

The ebb and flow of tooth and claw, fifty miles from Times Square

Authored by: Fredric Smoler

A long-time Republican-party insider and close student of its past discusses how the party has changed over the years—for better and for worse —and where it may be headed.

Authored by: The Editors

Two extraordinary sisters tell their story—a quiet epic that began in slavery days and isn’t over yet

Authored by: Wilfrid Sheed

They headed West from Broadway and Tin Pan Alley in the late 1920s, griped and groused when they reached Hollywood, and spent decades there producing the greatest outpouring of song America has ever known

Authored by: Gene Smith

He told Lincoln he was better than any other officer on the field at Bull Run and got the Army’s top job. He built a beaten force into a proud one and stole a march on Robert E. Lee with it. He was twenty-four hours away from winning the Civil War. Then he fell apart.

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.