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September 2007
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Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 2

I think it is strange as I look back seventy years and renew my acquaintance with things long past, and practically forgotton only to be brought vividly present by going over the ground in my mind.

One Sunday when at 5 years of age my aunt led me to the Quaker Meeting House it was a perfectly still day about the middle of June, we took our seats in the front, back at the pulpit desk sat Uncle Samuel Meeker and by his side Aunt Miriam his wife, (all called those aged Quakers uncle and aunt) then were seated next to Uncle Samuel a brother in the church – next to Aunt Miriam a sister, and so on were the sexes seated. It was so still the stillness could be felt; just the eternal roaring of the falls and the buzzing of the profane flies, probably I was never before so quiet in my life, not a whisper, it seemed to me in my agony that hours and hours were passing. Finally Uncle Samuel majestically rose up and at the same time Aunt Miriam his wife, they quietly shook hands, the other brethren and sisters the same, all quietly left the house, when we came home my aunt looked at the clock and said to my mother “The meeting was just an hour.” I thought there was some mistake and I pledged myself silently that the next time I went, I would know by the clock the length of time, and even now I wonder if my aunt did not make a mistake of an hour at least. On my mothers inquiring farther about the service? – her sister replied “That the Spirit did not move.”

As I was quite forward in children’s studies, that fall there was a select school started in this meeting house by a Quakeres named Rebecca Weeks, among the scholars I was numbered. I had at home a Websters spelling book my parents were teaching me from; and the pronunciation was different from the Marshalls used by the Quakers. I was reading along and pronounced the word different from the Marshalls authority, the teacher has about the blackest of eyes – she gave me a look that was piercing telling me the correct way. I said, “I won’t! For mother says it is so.” Miss Weeks had a fine twig of birch just cut, she brought it down on my neck and shoulders – and it hurt. My heart was broken, and how long I was in the wilderness of grief I have no recollection. As soon as I was free I went across the street where my grandmother lived, I must have carried my sobbing with me, for my grandmother found out about the punishment. She found the horrid mark across the neck and shoulders as I only wore for a vest some cotton fabric. My grandmother doctored the long welt and took me over to Miss Rebecca to show her mark of her punishment. Then Miss Rebecca was to explain the cause. My grandmother was the most capable woman with her tongue that I am sure I ever heard. I am sure she said to her language that was entirely appropriate to the occasion – at least she was so eloquent in her manner that Miss Weeks was in tears – for we left her crying while my grandmother took me home. When my mother saw the mark and told the reason for it, I can see how white she turned. My mother had a very delicate complexion white and red – when she came to get her voice and speak it was “I will not send Hiram another day!” This did not hinder me from advancing in my studies.

My father was a teacher of vocal music. In the long winter evening he had a sing school and I use to attend and it seems to me that I did not have to hear a tune more than twice, when I would be familiar with the air or leading part. I remember attending church and standing on the seat beside my father and accompany him in the words and music looking over with him in the words and tune book.

The winter after I was six years old was a season of theatrical exibitions. They were called dialogies in which the actors would be resplendant in uniforms, swords and various trappings to designate the character acted. I was told to learn two pieces for one occasion. One was: “Sarag went to Boston and saw a negro.” The other was, “You scarce expect one of my age, To speak in public on the stage, Don’t view me with a critics eye, But pass my imperfections by.” At the close of each piece the house was in a roar of cheering, to which I was in great wonder, But finally, concluded not to be frightened, as I walked back timidly to my station I had chosen beside the cheif violinist whose art had captivated my whole soul.

(The full diary will be located here when complete.)

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Two Ends with No Middle

Today on Curmudgeon’s Corner we once again had some technical difficulties, so you miss out on 10 minutes where we talked about Osama and his imitators as well as the original versions of our discussions on the lengths of podcasts and the debates. Oh well. In any case, what you DO get this week is Ivan and me talking about:

  • The Economy and Mortgages
  • Length of Podcasts
  • So Many Debates

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MTurk Looking for Another Missing Person

In the future, is this going to happen every time anybody goes missing? Once again there is a Mechanical Turk project to help search and rescue find a missing person:

Help Find Steve Fossett
(kdawson, Slashdot)

An anonymous reader invites us to join in the hunt for the missing Steve Fossett using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. DigitalGlobe, one of Google’s imaging partners, has acquired new high-resolution satellite imagery of the area where Fossett disappeared on Monday. The public can now go through this imagery and quickly flag any images that might contain Fossett’s plane. Flagged images will receive further review by search and rescue experts.

I did some for a few minutes. I don’t think I found him.