Some children dream of traveling the world.
I dreamt of setting down roots dynamite couldn't disturb.
It hasn't turned out the way I planned, however, and I'm resigned to my karma. Good thing too, as it's broadened my world view.
Back in the 1950s, a little girl could stash a cluster of grapes, some cookies, and a stuffed animal for company into the wicker basket attached to the handlebars of her three-speed bicycle and take off for hours without becoming the subject of an Amber Alert. I was fortunate to have grown up in those times, when even in the inner city, a youngster had freedom. That freedom fostered my independence and curiosity about the world.
I can't remember when I learned to read, but I do remember my love affair with language began early. I loved to tell stories, and often got into trouble for embellishing the facts a bit too much. Still, I persevered (Probably the Irish part of my ancestry). I loved to make things up. Once I learned how to write these fabrications down, my career path was set.
Before urban renewal bulldozed the history of my home town, I visited the neighborhood library in Westville, Connecticut, almost daily - both as a place to do my homework and as a retreat during summer vacations. I'd lean my bicycle against the grape arbor by the side of the old house and spend hours curled up in one of the alcoves reading about faraway lands, ancient times, and occasionally the wonders of science fiction.
Authors are some of my favorite people and they've had a profound influence on my life:
Elizabeth Enright's stories of the Melendy Family gave me brothers and sisters and a home of my own. Shakespeare taught me poetry and plot and hinted at something of the complexities of adult life. Loula Grace Erdman introduced me to the western prairies and, as I grew, I discovered the mysteries of Mary Roberts Rhinehart and Sax Rohmer. What could have been a lonely childhood became instead one of wonder and excitement.
I studied history in college and graduate school. It was the perfect fit - for what is history but the story of the human experience?