Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mostly I've been pruning, digging, pruning, planting, transplanting, and digging; but I've also started reading books about western Pennsylvania again, which must be a sign that my head cold is beginning to recede. Presently I'm meandering through the opening pages of The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania, a 1939 history of the region by Solon J. Buck, director of the Historical Survey of Western Pennsylvania and eventually second Archivist of the United States, and his wife Elizabeth Hawthorn Buck, "a historical researcher and writer, and the author of several historical novels." Given the tenor of the prose in this book, I'm guessing that Dr. Buck provided the big-name stature and Mrs. Buck did the writing. For instance:

To those who learned in school the definition of a plateau as "an elevated table-land" and who consequently visualize a plateau with a top like an immensely enlarged dining-table top and with steep sides up which one would have to climb to the smooth unbroken expanse of damask, it might be difficult to think of western Pennsylvania as a part of what geographers call "the Appalachian Plateau."

For some reason, I find it difficult to believe that the dignified Dr. Buck would admit to imagining a geographical region as a dining-room table covered with a damask tablecloth. But thankfully, a historical novelist/housewife can get away with anything.


Lucy Barber said...

Hmm, I'll have to learn something about Solon Buck and his writing wife for you. I still have percolating your other question about the Manhattan project, but not all questions are meant to be answered right away, I hope you understand.

Dawn Potter said...

I do understand, completely. My western Pa. reading jag has taken very unexpected directions. I thought you might be interested in the Bucks, however.