Mike's Sunday Post

September 4, 2022

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·      My daughter Mindy is in a Tennessee Williams play, Suddenly Last Summer.  She plays the part of Catherine, a woman who has offended her elderly aunt, to the point of being involuntarily committed to a mental institution.  The aunt is arranging a huge bequest to a young doctor who has just started doing lobotomies, provided he do one on Catherine.  The play fills in the story:  What caused the aunt to be so angry at her niece? Who in the play is really mentally ill? Will the doctor perform the inhumane lobotomy?  The play is at the Heartland Theater in Normal, Illinois.  Performances are over the next two weekends:  Thursday—Saturday, (Sept 8-10)  at 7:30; Sunday Sept 11 at 2 p.m. (with a panel discussion following), Thursday—Friday (Sept 15-16) at 7:30, and two shows on Saturday September 17:  2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  Click here for reservations and information about the plays at Heartland.  

·      Granddaughter Isobel will be 4 this Wednesday.  I plan a quick visit to St. Louis to  celebrate with her the day before.  Thursday would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday.  (He passed away two years ago.)

·      It’s hard to figure out how to take a “vacation” when you are retired.  But I’ve been writing daily, intensely for months now, on several projects, and the fatigue is catching up with me.  I’m even getting behind on my reading.  So, September will be my Sabbatical.  The regular Sunday Posts will begin again in October. 

·      This month is a good time for a road trip.  I’ll leave this Thursday for the northeast, then meet Jie on September 12, when she’ll fly into Boston.  The two of us will drive through the maritime provinces of Canada, after which I’ll return her to the airport on September 21, before meandering my way back to Illinois. 

·      Marital bliss is different for every couple.  In our case, it rests partly on not dragging my spouse along to presidential sites and minor league ball games.  The minor leagues are already over in September, but my road trip through New York and Massachusetts is a presidential delight.  I’ve lined up a private tour of the Millard Fillmore home, a visit to the house where Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated (right after William McKinley’s assassination,) a tour of Grant’s cabin—where he wrote his memoirs right before he died, a tour of Kinderhook—the home of Martin Van Buren, and return visits to FDR’s Hyde Park Museum and the Adams’ homes in Boston. I also plan to spend time in Concord and Lexington.  On the way home, there are major league ballgames planned in Pittsburg and Cincinnati.  


·      As with last year’s road trip, I’ll post a daily diary on my Facebook page, then make it available on my personal website after I return.

·      Books on my trip's reading list include: 

·      Charles M. Snyder’s The Lady and the President, a collection of letters (lost for decades) between Millard Fillmore and Dorothea Dix.  Dix was a 19th century humanitarian reformer.

·      Ted Widmer’s Martin Van Buren, from the American Presidents series.  

·      The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant.

·      Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein’s The Problem of Democracy:  The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality.  (audio book)

·      Rick Atkinson’s The British Are Coming; Volume I of the Revolution Trilogy:  Lexington to Princeton.  (audio book)

·      As many books in the Anne of Green Gables series as I can read.  I’m on the third one now.

·      Jerry B. Jenkins’s Dead Sea Rising, a novel about an archaeologist who thinks she has discovered evidence for the patriarch Abraham, but someone dangerous is trying to stop her from following through.  (audio book)

I’ve never been to the maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick), but am looking forward to learning their stories, seeing their landscapes, and hanging around the north Atlantic. 

I’ll write again when I get back.


J. Michael Smith, 1508 E Marc Trail, Urbana, IL 61801
www: jmichaelsmith.net