My talented cousin, Ellen Katcher, did this painting of me from a photo — I was walking with the staff of The Commons in Brattleboro’s wonderful Strolling of the Heifers Parade this June.
The parade, for me, is an exercise in pure joy — thousands of happy people line the streets, many dressed — believe it or not — in cow costumes! The kids are holding black-and-white Holstein-inspired balloons, and they all cheer and wave as we march by.
Ellen certainly captured that joy, didn’t she?
I think almost every writer collects quotes from other writers — words that ring some kind of a bell of truth or thought. A number of writers eventually publish their collections, probably at an advanced age and in despair over what will happen to their precious collected babies if they don’t find them a permanent home. (Writers being such impermanent beings ourselves.)
Then along came Facebook and this Web site.
I find that I have 85 computer pages of quotes, so why not post one or two a week and share them?
I’m starting with one I collected this week when artist Lauren Poster spoke at the Mitchell-Giddings Gallery in downtown Brattleboro. It’s a quote that Brattleboro Museum and Art Center Director Danny Lichtenfeld used in an essay he wrote about her work. It’s by sculptor Alberto Giacometti: “The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
Yesterday, Brattleboro’s American Legion Post #5 put on a brilliant Civil War Memorial Day event — afternoon lectures by knowledgeable scholars in three downtown venues covering the many aspects of Vermont’s enormous contribution to the Union cause. I wish I could have been in three places at once.
For me, the most thrilling moment came when Vermont historian Howard Coffin was describing the way Capt. Charles Gould of Windham went over an earthwork wall and became the first Northerner to breach Gen. Robert E. Lee’s fortifications outside of Richmond — the battle that was the beginning of the end of that terrible, shameful war.
As he was telling the thrilling tale, Coffin reached into his bag and pulled out — wait for it! — Gould’s very own pistol, with his name engraved in script upon it. Coffin had tracked down to a southern antiques shop, bought it and brought it home.
This is me holding the gun that may have won the Civil War. Wow!
The most moving part of the day, however, came later at a banquet at the Legion hall. Tears filled my eyes as Coffin recited, with deep feeling, the whole of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and gave me a visceral understanding of the pain and suffering that our countrymen and countrywomen must have felt so many years and wars ago.
You know, I can’t watch the Boston Marathon without tears running down my face — there’s so much bravery, strength, dedication, pain and heart on display – international runners, wheelchair runners. people pushing their kids and running. I love this race. I always wanted to run in it.
But let’s be honest. I watched it in an easy chair while eating chips.
Then I did something I never do — I went downstairs to my office and dug out the old, crumbling, yellowed file that holds the remnants of my own racing career. You have to touch the certificates gently because they fall apart so easily.
But once upon a time, as they say, I ran a marathon in Panama. It was on May 21, 1983, and my time — wait for it — was 5:56:16. Yes, that’s a long, long time to run, and if I remember correctly the other finishers, their friends and their families had been hitting the beer for quite a while by the time I pulled in.
Undeterred, on December 10,1983 I ran a second one in 5:04:48. Not so bad, I think.
The file also has certificates for triathlons, 24-hour races and a variety of short distance races. I don’t think — no, I’m certain — I never won a race. But I love the people of the Panamanian Corredores Del Istmo (Isthmus Road Runners), and if it’s not too late, I’d like to thank them all for letting me have such a wonderful experience.