I care, that’s who.
My name is Larry F. Sommers. My people are from Knoxville, a small town in Illinois. Two of my uncles died flying bombers to defeat the Axis Powers in the 1940s.
When Grandma’s house was torn down in 1963, the workers found under the siding boards a square-hewn timber cabin built by storekeeper John G. Sanburn in 1832. This cabin was was restored to its frontier appearance and can be seen today on the Public Square in Knoxville.
I lived in Streator, Illinois, birthplace of astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the planet Pluto, and of author Clarence Mulford, who created the fictional cowboy Hopalong Cassidy. As a boy I frequented the Streator Public Library—a lovely classical building donated by Andrew Carnegie—and read science fiction by Lester Del Rey, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. On the day in 1957 when Sputnik was launched, I wailed because the Russians had done what Americans were supposed to do.
I attended high school in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Our history teacher, Leo Gebhardt, was on a first-name basis with the Founding Fathers: “. . . and just then, when our new country needed its credit stabilized, who should come along? Your friend and mine . . . Alexander Hamilton.”
I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Vietnam War.
In middle age, I became a Christian—heir to a 2,000-year tradition of saints, sinners, scholars, artists, musicians, and freedom fighters.
Our lives are part of history, and history is a part of our lives. That’s why I write.
T. S. Eliot wrote,
We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.
I want to go where we’ve been before but see it with fresh eyes. Why not come along on my journey?
Price of Passage
Norwegian Farmers and Fugitive Slaves in Pre-Civil War Illinois
(History is not what you thought!)