As a child, I learned to honor and respect people in positions of leadership and authority whether I agreed with them or not. Those people included my parents, my teachers, coaches, clergy, police officers, mail carriers, elected officials, team captains, referees, young camp counselors … even the lady who served me at the soda fountain in J.J. Newberry’s department store on North Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
The President of the United States
The elected official we most revered was the President of the United States. Four Presidents stood out more than the others to me as a young boy: the 1st, the 16th, the 34th and the 35th – Washington, Lincoln, Eisenhower and Kennedy. Each captured my imagination in a special way. While I have tried and will continue to respect the President of the United States, only one since John Kennedy approached the ethereal realm in which I place the four, and that President was Ronald Reagan, our 40th President.
Addressing Hate Groups in Tobit
I have great interest in the American Civil War. In my mind, the men and women engaged in that conflict were ‘the greatest generation’ because through the severe challenges they faced, they managed to preserve this nation, a nation that remains the land of the free and home of the brave. In 2011, I wrote Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South. As I researched that book, I learned much about the conflict and the people involved in the War Between the States. I am no expert, but I know for certain, as sure as there were good people on both sides, there were not so good as well. I addressed hate groups in Tobit, and I think I handled it well for a man writing with 150 years of hindsight.
Months prior to all the non-productive jaw flapping and media misinterpretation of ‘confederate’ statues, etc. I was staring at Matthew Brady’s timeless portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Familiar with William H. Herndon’s 1889 biography of our 16th President, I recalled an incident where his boyhood friend Austin Gollaher saved him from drowning. That incident inspired this story.