Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
Last Wednesday was pretty amazing. I’d checked the Wilsonville Spokesman website daily since talking with reporter Kallen Kentner at the Wilsonville Library Craft and Book Sale on Saturday, December 10. Her article appeared late Tuesday afternoon. An on-line subscription seemed a bit complicated, so I picked up a hard copy of the paper on Wednesday. I love that she mentions how much I appreciate libraries!Library artfully combines crafts, books and music by Kallen Dewey Kentner, Wilsonville Spokesman, Wednesday, December 14, 2011 (http://wilsonvillespokesman.com/news/2011/December/13/Community/library.artfully.combines.crafts.books.and.music/news.aspx): “‘I’ve been here for an hour, I’ve sold one book, and I’m enjoying the concert,’ said Diana Bailey Harris, author of Reflections of a Civil war Locomotive Engineer.’ Her book tells the story of her great-grandfather and his brother, based on letters that she and her father discovered. Without the help of local libraries to aid in her research, Harris said she never could have written the book.”
Back at home, I was delighted to find an email from Adam Burns, with a link to the review he had just posted on his wonderful website: http://www.american-rails.com/reflections-of-a-civil-war-locomotive-engineer.html. I am highly gratified and impressed. Mr. Burns’ review is an 1100-word essay summarizing the story exactly the way I want the book to be interpreted.
“While the book is, indeed, written by Mrs. Harris you will sometimes find yourself forgetting this as it is presented from the first person angle and it truly seems like you are reading John’s own words. In any event, while the book generally reflects upon Mr. Bailey’s life both inside and away from railroading it also provides a fascinating look at what it was like to work within the industry from the late 1850s through the turn of the century when safety was more of an afterthought and there was little government oversight.”
You can tell he’s objective by the caveat to railfans that the book is not about trains per se, but about railroad history: “Overall, some railfans out there or those interested in trains may not find the book very interesting because of its personal nature. However, if you are interested in railroad history, particularly dating prior to the 20th century I believe you will be pleasantly surprised with just how much you will learn.”