". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Coughing Regression Again + Dyckman House + Reconstruction

 I went uptown to Innwood Thursday to attend beloved friend C's presentation at the historic Dyckman Farm House museum on 205th St. on the Dyckman family and the first excavator / archivist of the associated Old Nagle Cemetery,  Reginald Pelham Bolton. Dyckman House is the last surviving Dutch-style and built farm house on Manhattan Island. As the original owners of the farmstead were very respectable, decent persons, there is little to say about them as people, or about their descendants who bought back the property after the previous, Independence era generation had fled New York for England, as they were Loyalists, not Patriots. But Bolton now -- there is a fellow! 

Dyckman Farmhouse 19th century
Dyckman House Currently
  C was both informative and entertaining.  She's spent over a year going through the untouched archive / collection of artifacts Bolton collected, sorting, organizing, tagging and photographing all the items. What a material historian she is -- as well as a terrific artist of fabric and costume.

I'd had a bad night of coughing, but once I got up it went away again, and I felt much better.  I'd been looking forward to this outing so much, the first really, since The Coughing began.  Alas 2/3 of the way through the professional archeologist's part of the program talking about the history of urban archeology and the archeology of this area of Innwood / Manhattan. Coughing began.  I had to flee the backyard veranda where the presentation was taking place.

K (C's husband), concerned, followed. I'd expected the Cough to recede, and it finally did. After the event wound down I went with C and K and a new friend of theirs, who I took to as much as they have, to a nearby three block row of Inwood's hispanic nouvelle restaurants and bars  Some coughing ensued not much though.

But by the time I got back home downtown, The Coughing was fully back. I coughed all night, all the next day, all the next night and now it is three days without sleeping and I'm melting down.  Full reset of it, all right. Nothing much helps. I've seen a doctor. He shrugged, told me rest and take lots of liquids and wait it out. Taking those horrible Ricola drops is about all I can do.  As usual, they make my mouth taste awful, food taste awful, and kill my appetite -- though not hunger, just any impulse to try and eat anything. Between hunger and sleeplessness I'm a mess all right.

A state of mind that reflects the state of mind with which I've learned about the systematic process of rewriting the history of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and everything before and after. The blame for an enormous part of this history revisionism has to be put squarely upon the decision-makers of the North and the Republicans, starting with the new history textbooks created after the war to service the growth of federally mandated national public education.

Since the textbooks were for every region of the U.S. the editors didn't want to antagonize any Southerner, and particularly the southerners on the education committees, so slavery was written out of the basic school room histories at all levels of education.  Already by the late 1870's people who had lived and fought and lost people to the way, northerners, were writing with shock that the generation that was following them was ignorant of the whole business -- that many of the youth in their communities seemed not to even know there had been a war, much less why there had been one.

 Despite the many letters to the editor in newspapers across the land, the op ed pieces, articles in the magazines and journals, nothing was changed.  Sound familiar?

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