History–Who Cares?


I care, that’s who!

My name is Larry F. Sommers. I am a writer, seeking fresh meanings in our common past.

The “F” stands for Franklin, a name chosen to honor the younger of two uncles who died flying bombers in the Second World War.

I was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1945. Galesburg is the nearest city to Knoxville, our family’s hometown. In the center of Knoxville stands a square-hewn timber cabin, the first permanent structure in Knox County, built by storekeeper John G. Sanburn in 1832. This historic cabin was rediscovered in October 1963 under the board siding of my grandmother’s house, when it was being torn down. Grandma suspended demolition and donated the cabin to the village. It was restored to near-original condition, and it now serves as a mini-museum.

My boyhood was spent in Streator, Illinois, a city of 17,500 at the time. As a ten-year-old, I frequented the Streator Public Library—a lovely classical building donated by Andrew Carnegie—reading science fiction by Lester Del Rey, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke.

Streator Public Library

I sometimes read half a book while sitting on the cool floor between bookshelves, then checked it out and took it home to finish it. My next-door neighbor and I invested boyish enthusiasm in the U.S. space program and looked forward to the American launch of the first artificial Earth satellite. But on October 4, 1957, the Russians beat us to space with Sputnik. Mere words cannot tell my angst and indignation at that event.

We moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where I attended junior high and high school. There was a wonderful teacher, Leo Gebhardt, whose passion for American history infected me and many of my classmates. All the big names of our national past became personal friends. (“. . . and at this crucial point, when our new country needed its credit and its currency stabilized, who should come along? Your friend and mine . . .  Alexander Hamilton!”)

Alexander Hamilton

Mr. Gebhardt died too early, only in his forties, but not before I had been blessed by his teaching.

Later, I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Vietnam War.

In middle age, I became a Christian.

If you’ve read this far, perhaps you know why I think that our very lives are part of history, and that history is a part of our lives. The past is alive to me, and I hope to bring it alive to others—both for the valuable lessons it can teach us, and for the sheer entertainment and fascination it conveys.

12 thoughts on “History–Who Cares?

  1. Hi Larry, I share your passion for history. You are a great writer so I look forward to what this web space holds. I am taking a break from our work at The Morgan Scott Project to see what is new in your life. I like what I see.

  2. Thanks, Mike. Hope it will continue to be of interest.

  3. Excellent site! Love the Millie story!

  4. Thanks, Larry. I’m glad you’re doing this. You forgot to include Jack Finney in that list of science-fiction writers.
    My dad’s name was Franklin. At least that’s what his birth certificate says. All his life he thought it was “Franklyn” with a “y,” and he hated it. If only he had looked at his own birth certificate!

    • Glad to have you aboard, Bob. I mention Jack in my third blog post, “No No Nostalgia.” But when I was a boy in the Streator Public Library, I had not yet discovered his delicious works.

  5. Happy to see you starring on your very own website! Look forward to learning more about you and your books.

  6. Your site looks very polished and professional, Larry! You’re off to a great start.

    • Thanks, Kathleen. I have a lot of tinkering to do with it yet, but right now I’m focused on next Tuesday’s blog post!

  7. Hi Larry. You have what I call a “delicious” command of words. Love your stories.

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