There’s a spot in the woods up the way from my sister’s old house. From the dirt road it looks like the surrounding forest but walk in about fifteen feet and you start noticing stones in the ground. From underneath the dirt and leaves that cover the ground like a tattered quilt, an old foundation materializes. Who knows how long it has been here. Long enough for the wooden structure to have melted into the forest floor. What remains must be hunted for. My nephew and I have our weapons of choice: shovels. We scrape away the soggy leaves and uncover the damp earth underneath. We slop a pile of leaves off to one side to clear away a larger section. From the surface there is nothing noticeable, some rocks emerging like miniature mountains. My nephew picks a random spot and pulls up some dirt. We eagerly look through it and find nothing. Repeating this process three more times our excitement begins to fade as we continue to find nothing. Sitting on a nearby stump we wonder if my sister’s husband has sent us on some goose chase to keep us out from underfoot. My nephew wants to go back home. I don’t. I stand up and kick some of the dirt in the last hole we dug and notice something. A glimpse of something whiter than the surrounding brownish black. I crouch down and he comes over and we start clearing away the filth. A face appears and a shoulder and an arm. It’s the head and torso of an old china doll. Who knows long how long she has slumbered here. Suffocated by what had buried her. It is like we have resurrected her from the dead. We find a nearby stream and cleanse her like a Baptism. The sun is sinking behind the trees and I decide we must go home. As we look at each other, and share the same expression, we both know we will be back here tomorrow to see what other treasures lurk beneath our feet.
Reading and hearing about US President Donald Trump’s almost daily insults of others got me wondering his schoolyard bullying tactics were something new or if political insults have always leaned more towards the childish. Turns out, in the past, political insults could really be quite poetic and eloquent. Below are a few gems that I mined from the Internet.
“Garfield has shown that he is not possessed of the backbone of an angleworm.”
– Ulysses S. Grant (1822-85), 18th American president, on James A. Garfield (1831-81), 20th American president
“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”
– attorney John Bright on Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81)
“He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.”
– Winston Churchill on Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947)
“He slept more than any other president, whether by day or night. Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored.”
– H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) on Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
“[His ideas of popular sovereignty are] as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.”
– Abraham Lincoln, on his political rival Senator Stephen Douglas.
“Take from him his sophisms, futilities, and incomprehesibilities and what remains? His foggy mind.” -Thomas Jefferson, aiming high at Plato.
“McKinley has a chocolate eclair backbone.”
-Theodore Roosevelt on his predecessor William McKinley.
““That Washington is not a scholar is certain. That he is too illiterate, unlearned, unread for his station is equally beyond dispute.”
– John Adams on George Washington
“His soul is poisoned with ambition.”
– John Adams on Thomas Jefferson
“He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
– Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards on misstatements made by George Bush, Sr.
“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.”
-President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Ahhhh, the good old days. I would love to see this kind of writing in today’s political environment, it would be hilarious.