The other day I received a text from my daughter telling me that her and husband were in Port Townsend, Washington. Following is the conversation we had texting.
Daughter: We’re in Port Townsend.
Me: What are you doing there?
Daughter: We got a room for the night. Just wanted to get away.
Me: Famous author Jack London spent a night in jail in Port Townsend in 1898.
Daughter: Never heard of him.
Me: Shock. He wrote Call Of The Wild. Took place during the Klondike gold rush.
Daughter: Weird. LOL. Never heard of that either. Before my time.
My first reaction was it must be my age. I was born in 1951. I was 40 when daughter was born. But when I thought about it, Jack London was born in 1876 and died in 1916. Call Of The Wild was published in 1903. Long before my time. Yet, I knew who Jack London was. I read the Call Of The Wild when I was 14, some 62 years after London wrote it. Along with several other novels he wrote. My favorite was the short story, To Build A Fire. I definitely knew about the Klondike gold rush. Sixty plus years later.
I consider Jack London one of the classical writers of all time. Right up there with Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Mark Twain. As well as several others. So, why didn’t my only daughter know who Jack London was. She is an intelligent young woman of 31. An avid reader like I am.
At first I blamed the public school system that she attended. They weren’t teaching what they should. I considered the classical authors just as important as the history of the founding fathers. Well- maybe that’s going a little far. So, almost as important. The authors of back in the day played an important role in the growth of America. Whether it be by a coal oil lamp or candlelight, reading is what many did for a past time during the evenings before the advent of the radio and later the television.
But then, I had an epiphany. It was my fault. I’ve always thought education of your children starts at home. And ends at home. I’m not only a writer, but also a voracious reader. And I obviously didn’t teach my daughter, and son as well, about the classics. True, the public school system taught me the classical authors back in the 1960s. Often it was a class assignment to read some of these classics.
Still, education starts at home.
This includes music as well. Another art that played a role in the building of America. We as parents should be teaching that as well. Not necessarily to be musicians or writers, but as to the role it played in history. Years ago I worked with a young woman that was 30 years younger than me. Only 18 at the time, young as she was, she had talent. She played guitar along with a couple other instruments. She sang very well, and had a gift for writing songs. She loved country music.
One day we were sitting in a service truck eating lunch. As it often did, the subject turned to music. particularly country music. I commented that I really liked the classic country singer Ernest Tubb. She said, “who’s Ernest Tubb?”
Again my reaction was shock. This was a young woman who proclaimed to love country music. And she didn’t know who Ernest Tubb was? Of course I told her all I knew about him.
Not sure where I’m going with this last example. I probable ought to delete it from this blog. Believe me, I’m not blaming her parents for her not knowing who Ernest Tubb was. She had good nurturing parents. But, I sometimes think us boomers failed to do a very good job at simply relaying those things that are important to never forget in the building of the nation. If not country music, then whatever your brand of music may be. Or if not music, then whatever your thing is.
Especially the classical writers. They played their own role in the building of America. You the reader are probably thinking that’s all fine and well, but this blog is supposed to be about writing. How is this article linked to writing?
The link is, the classics were written by a writer. And all music was written by someone.
I admit, because I’m a writer, and a history buff, this is important to me. We’re forgetting our history and paying dearly for it.
The learning might be something as simple as going on a drive and dad or mom telling a story from history. Or mom is singing softly to herself a song from a different era in history. “What song is that, Mom?”
Some great sage of the past said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I agree.
Then there was the classical writer Mark Twain who said, “It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man’s character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible.”
Maybe Mr. Clemens is on to something. And maybe I have overloaded my zizz wheel.
Have a good day. And for those who haven’t read Call Of The Wild, which I suspect is most of the populace, I urge you to read it. It is a good novel. So much more than a story about a dog named Buck. It is about Jack London himself.