Thursday, May 28, 2015

John Paul Jones, Fighting Sailor

My first glimpse of this book was on the library's shelf of children's history books.  Shortly after, a friend gave a short book report on it at our homeschool group.  I checked it out for myself and was enthralled by Armstrong Sperry's vivid prose and delightful illustrations.  

Then we moved away from that library and our new library did not possess a copy.  But with the help of the inter-library loan system, I could still check it out.  

Several years passed and I learned that Sterling Publishing was reissuing the Landmark series, and one of their titles was Armstrong Sperry's John Paul Jones.  I quickly bought a copy, only to discover that while the story was the same, the illustrations were not included.  Now I could read it, but I could not see John's uncle telling him of Culloden, or Jones's interview with the Countess of Selkirk.  I placed Sperry's original book on my list of books to acquire "someday".

Several more years passed and I attended the 2015 INCH convention as a vendor.  While there, I walked through the vendor hall and came to one of my favorite kinds of vendor: one who sells used books.  Looking through their overflowing bookshelves, I came across a Landmark book.  This immediately triggered memories of John Paul Jones, Fighting Sailor.  I asked one volunteer, and she pointed me to the booth's owner.   No, they did not have it on their shelves, she told me, but they did have other books in storage.  She quickly dispatched someone to look around in quest of the book, and I waited.  Several minutes later, he returned with an excellently-preserved copy of Armstrong Sperry's original John Paul Jones, Fighting Sailor.  Now it is proudly displayed on my bookshelf alongside my other American Revolution books.  I would highly recommend that you read it.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Vacation at Michilimackinac, or An Incident which Spark'd my Interest in the French & Indian War

In the summer of 2003, our family took a vacation to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We stopped at a restaurant near Fort Michilimackinac. While waiting for our order, three men entered and sat in a nearby table. They wore blue waistcoats, white shirts and breeches, and one man even wore a gorget (a metal half-moon on his chest). I was captivated, and watched them while waiting for, and later eating, my meal. Even while eating, I kept studying them--especially the one man's gorget. I never said a word to them, but they remain deeply fixed in my memory. They fanned my love for the 1700s and were one of the earliest things that piqued my interest in the French & Indian War. Now I want to repeat that cycle and fuel some one else's interest in history. And I now own a gorget as well ;).