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Articles Categorized History

An 18th Century Woman Gets Dressed

I write historical fiction based on the lives of actual women. This involves a great deal of research on the person being profiled and the world in which she lived, as well as information on events that occurred. Saxon Heroines, for example, focused on the lives of four royal women in 7th century Northumbria. Information

“Would You Like to Ride in my Beautiful Balloon?”

In 1967 The 5th Dimension [remember them?] invited listeners to join them in “my beautiful balloon.” At the time, it seemed an unrealistic invitation. Did they mean the balloons we used for decorations? Obviously not. However, there was a new mode of transportation in the air, one that Ed Yost made possible in 1960. That

May Day Celebrations

The Celts believed that the time we define as May Day was midway between the Winter and Summer Solstice when darkness turned to light. They celebrated the return of fertility to the world with a festival called Beltane. Rituals protected sprouting crops and livestock returning to summer pastures. As customs changed, May celebrations turned into

Walking: A Beneficial Activity

In Jane Austin’s Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet decides to visit her sister who fell ill while calling on the Bingleys. When Elizabeth’s father reluctantly offers her the use of a horse, Elizabeth declines.“I do not wish to avoid the walk,” she says. “The distance is nothing when one has a motive: only three miles.

Christmas Star 2020

Solstice, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, happens on December 21. In addition to being the longest night, December 21, 2020 is also the date of the Great Conjunction when Jupiter and Saturn will be so closely aligned that, providing the night is clear, you can go outside and see a

Christmas Cards: From Convenient Greeting to Annual Burden

I grew up in a different America, one that had one black plastic rotary phone per household and one black & white family television powered by tubes. Yes, it was that long ago. Christmas trees were “live” with scraggly branches and decorated with strands of tinsel that had to be correctly placed, usually by a

The First Thanksgiving Feast

Over the years, historians have shared stories about the multi-cultural harvest event that took place in Plymouth in 1621. The usual version is that when the Pilgrims arrived on Cape Cod, the Wampanoag People showed them how to plant corn, and that when the harvest came in, everyone celebrated. If you don’t look too closely,

West v. West:The Salem Scandal of 1806, Part I

In 1761 Elias Hasket Derby, age 22,  married Elizabeth Crowninshield, age 26. When they married, Elias’ father built them a brick house on Salem’s waterfront. Elizabeth’s father provided household items, including furniture, linen, brass kettles, and looking glasses. Elias acquired a new beaver hat to mark the occasion.  The couple were well-suited. The Derby family

Hunting Unicorns

Unicorns are elusive creatures, though I’m not sure they can be called shy.  In the Middle Ages, about the time unicorns became officially magical, people thought the creatures symbolized purity. This is probably why the standard color for unicorns is white. On the other hand, unicorns were said to be vain creatures who happily spent

Unicorn Tales

Sometimes fanciful thoughts relax our minds by reminding us of whimsical, carefree times. And what could be more whimsical than riding a unicorn? If the unicorn is white, with a multi-colored tale, it is clearly a fantasy. But unicorns of other descriptions were once thought to be real. The unicorn, a mythical, magical beast sporting