A Beaded Collar as Autobiography**

John Lean, mustered into the military service of the United States on the 30th of August, 1862 (Civil War).

  • Treated for a wound at Fort Worth, Virginia, October 23-27, 1863.
  • Treated at Battery Rogers next Alexandria, Virginia several times during the period January 1864 and October 1864.

John Lean, mustered out of the military service of the United States on the 26th of June, 1865.  

John Lean was Ed’s great grandfather.  He was born on Bradford Farm,1839, in Blisland, Cornwall, on the edge of Bodmin Moor.  We have visited Blisland and the farm a number of times. John came to the United States as a 9-year-old in June 1848 via Quebec on the vessel Clio.

We have in our possession the beaded collar he made during those wartime hospital stays — for his bride-to-be, Hannah Hooper Burton.  John and Hannah were married on November 13, 1866.






A very early example of occupational therapy!   











**Title borrowed from an article in a recent New York Times Magazine, written by Alice Gregory, titled “Objects as Autobiography.”

The Month of March

Today is the first day of March, 2016.  March — the month that ushers in signs of spring, that signals the approaching end of our “winter-weary” days.  Friend, colleague and poet Jim Batt shared one of his poems with me — “March Scripts Its Debut.”  How beautifully the poet captures the essences of everyday phenomena in our lives.

March Scripts Its Debut
By James R. Batt

Old March bestirs itself,
shaking off winter grime of tired snows,
remnant leaves, weeds and brush,
sending the lot of it tossing,
tumbling, blowing
with sharp-edged blasts
across lawns and parking lots alike.
Still pale but promising,
a winter-weary sun lounges yet,
late and low, hovering over
the southern edge of the land.

Somewhere, a kite caresses the sky.
A young boy, tethered to it by
a long line of string and hope,
marvels at the fancy of flight,
at the moving patch of brilliant color
he now sends singing about
the azure blue above.
Down the street, a woman cracks open a door,
steps outside, hugs herself from the
cold, picks up the morning paper
and returns to warm home, hot coffee.

A dog barks.
March continues writing its scenario.


© James R. Batt, 2016.


And to the “Woods,” Again

In my previous posting (I Went to the Woods), I described the woods near my childhood home and its meaning to me as a source of play and pretending.  My good colleague Virginia Dickie sent me a thoughtful comment: she wrote, “…it made me wonder how many kids today get that sort of opportunity for unsupervised play outside the house!”

I have thought about that, too, especially related to our granddaughters as they have been growing up.  Our son John and his family live in a newer neighborhood in a municipality that borders Madison. The house they purchased when moving here from out East is on a 2/3 acre lot; the very back part of the lot is undeveloped and sort of a tangle of trees and grasses and vines.  This small “wild” backyard area has provided the girls with a place for unstructured play, a sort of childhood respite from the otherwise landscaped lawns of the nearby homes.

When Carolyn was 7 or 8 years old, she and a neighborhood friend built a “hide-out” in the back corner of their lot.  When we were over visiting one day, we were allowed to peek into the hiding place.  I remember appreciating the fact that these children had an area of the yard that they could mess around in, where they could create a special place for themselves, and where they could enjoy some imaginative unsupervised play.

That is the kind of play that was so important to me as a child.  Indeed, building on what Virginia said, how many kids today have opportunities for daily outside unsupervised and unscripted play that they structure themselves?

Something to think about.

Thank you to those of you who shared with me memories of your own childhood woods, and the “houses” you made in a carpet of pine needles or fallen leaves.