November 4, 2004

To Congo

It's been an awfully long time since I put up something from Grandpa's memoirs. Since February from the look of it. I've been busy, and I've only just now secured scanner software that works well enough to handle Grandpa's typed and photocopied memoirs.

As readers of the previous instalments know, I am fascinated by travel and by the transitional spaces it opens up. This is Grandpa's second trans-Atlantic crossing, and it is nothing like the first. In 1927, as a seven year old boy, he travelled from Zaporozhe, Ukraine to Winnipeg, Canada in a little under a month. This trip, in 1953, will take him a bit longer - about a month and a half by my count. But the destination is off most people's maps. Africa is a long way away from anywhere, even today. It rarely surfaces in the news, and when it does, it is portrayed as too remote, too troubled, and too strange to fully comprehend.

This trip is a bit more difficult for me to unpack than the first one. Grandpa's brief trip to New York is the first thing in this memoir that I remember my own father describing to me from his memories. He remembered the Automat, the Bronx Zoo and the Empire State building. He even remebered the Vinkt, the ship they took across the ocean. The road from Winnipeg to New York had changed some in the thirty years between Grandpa's trip and when I moved to New Jersey as a teenager. The highway names have changed - there were no Interstates - and the prices are a lot higher. But we used to drive that route twice a year.

This post has a small glimpse of New York at the peak of its powers, when it really could claim the title of the greatest city in the world. Less than a decade after the war, Europe was still rebuilding and Asia was still poor. America, however, represented a larger part of the global economy than ever before or since.

I moved to greater New York in 1983. By then, things were already quite different. Wall Street was no longer a place, it was a metaphor for the global rule of capital. New York under Ed Koch was considered one of the worst places in America to live: full of slums and crime, overrun with grafitti, its traditional industries downsizing. Since then, I understand that it has made something of a come-back, but the glory is gone. Passenger ships no longer form a mainstay in New York, and the less said about JFK airport, the better.

The coming part of Grandpa's memoirs covers life in Africa during that brief moment when the jet age overlapped with the colonial age. The grand colonial empires were not yet wholly gone. France still controlled its colonies through the somewhat looser framework of the French Union, and Britain had not yet relinquished its hold over much of Africa. But time was running out, and only a fool could have missed the signs.

This is also the very end of the days when passengers crossed oceans in boats. Grandpa talks about packing his entire household onto the back of a truck, driving it to New York, loading the whole truck onto the boat, and then driving it off in Africa. That's carry-on luggage.

Grandpa's grand aspiration was to be a missionary. This was his life's work he's was going away to do, and he expected to stay in Africa for the rest of his working life. It didn't turn out that way, but that comes later. First, the trip.

Posted by Scott Martens at 2:04 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

November 5, 2004

Why can't more Republicans be like Alan Keyes?

This man should run the RNC. I only wish he was setting the trend for the party. We need more resentful, sore loser Republican candidates willing to loose elections on moral issues.

From AP:

Keyes Blames Media, GOP for Loss

CHICAGO ? Alan Keyes blamed the media and fellow Republicans on Thursday for his lopsided loss to Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate race in Illinois.

Keyes also said he did not congratulate Obama after the race was called, a tradition among politicians, because doing so would have been a "false gesture" because he believed Obama's views on issues such as abortion were wicked.

"I'm supposed to make a call that represents the congratulations toward the triumph of that which I believe ultimately stands for and will stand for a culture evil enough to destroy the very soul and heart of my country," Keyes said. "I can't do this, and I will not make a false gesture."

The former diplomat and two-time presidential candidate, who lost to Obama by 43 percentage points Tuesday, gave his first post-election interview Thursday to a Christian talk-show host.

Keyes said that despite the loss, he thought he did a good job spreading his message of moral values.

He said he was disappointed in what he called the number of "Republicans in name only" in Illinois. An Associated Press exit poll showed that four in 10 Republicans voted for Obama.

Keyes said a major difficulty in his campaign was overcoming the "stranglehold" the media had on trying to define the issues of importance in political campaigns.

"I refused to accept their authority, and I still do," he said.

Posted by Scott Martens at 10:02 AM | TrackBack

November 9, 2004

The continuing partition of Berlin

I've got a piece on the Berlin Wall up on AFOE. I haven't been consistent in cross-posting, but since I haven't posted here in a few days, I thought I should point to this one.

Posted by Scott Martens at 2:06 PM | TrackBack

November 10, 2004

Post-election headlines

Does the anyone else think the headline Bottom-Dwelling Marine Life Found in Georgia should have the subtitle Announces Republican House campaign?

Posted by Scott Martens at 12:25 PM | TrackBack


I've aranged for a four day vacation over Armistice Day and I'm probably going to be off the 'Net for it. I'll be back Monday.

Posted by Scott Martens at 4:09 PM | TrackBack