Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remember When . . . Or Not?

Quick reminder--don't forget to enter the giveaway for Leanna Ellis's Once in a Blue Moon.

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I've come across this a couple times in recent months as I research for my historicals. I find myself reading histories that are . . . well . . . not so accurate. Oh, don't get me wrong, they still work as research, since it's either (a) how it was at the time my story is set in or (b) what was thought at the time. But still. It's fun.

Right now I'm reading a super-fantabulous little book called Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval History. It's just perfect for my research needs, given that I'm writing about Annapolis of 1784. What makes it even better is that it was written in 1925, so it has that lovely, lyrical, understatedly humorous quality to it. (Yes, I know 'understatedly' isn't a word. This is pre-coffee. Bear with me.) I believe I mentioned this book in my post on Bladen's Folly, so you know I must love it to be using it again. ;-)

Yesterday I got a grin from reading one small paragraph about the house of Charles Carroll, the Barrister (who ought not be confused with Charles Carroll, the Declaration Signer, or the scads of other Charles Carrolls in the Maryland/Virginia area of the time). It describes in detail where this house is situated, what it overlooks, etc.

Um . . . no. Sorry, dude. It was at the time, yes--and I was actually wondering where it had once been. But not long after this book was written, someone wanted to put something else there, so what is now just called the Carroll-Barrister House was moved to St. John's College. (New readers, that's where I went to school.) Where it became the Admissions and Advancement Office.

Now, I worked in the Admissions Office for four years, where I did data entry, answered phones, stuffed envelopes, and gave tours. I spent so many hours in that creaky old house that I daresay I know it's features waaaaaaay better than the writer of this Annapolis book. AND I LOVE THAT!! Because I remember walking into it the first time as a 16-year-old visitor getting my first glance of the school. I wrote an essay my senior year of high school on how that building made me supremely aware of how I was walking into history--something I'd never felt so keenly before.

As a history lover, as a historical fiction writer, there is nothing better than the 'hometown shout out' thing. You know, like when a rockband screams how great it is to be in your town. For me, it's exactly the same when a history--or a historical--gives a shout out to what is "mine." There are novels I've read solely because they mention Cumberland, Maryland. There are histories I plow through largely because I can go, "Hey, I know where that is!! COOL!"

I'm not sure why this excites me so much--there's always the option that I'm just weird. ;-) But I think it's mostly because it stops the clock. It makes time stand still, or at least takes me out of it. It makes me realize that History isn't this ephemeral flower that has bloomed and is now gone, it's . . . it's . . . us. Does that make sense?

We still live in the same buildings that were used hundreds of years ago. We still walk the streets that were first paved with bricks. We still sit under the shade of the tree that cast its shadows over the Patriots.

We still live in grace bought by the blood of a man who lived, died, and rose again two thousand years ago.

History is real. And, even when it changes, it matters. It's mine. But don't worry--I'll share. ;-)

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