“Grant”, May 30th, 2020
I’ve been watching the History Channel’s new TV series “Grant” today. It’s about the life and career of Ulysses S. Grant the famous Civil War general and two term US President. His image is on the American $50 bill.
At 11 PM I watched the TV news about riots around the USA in the big cities, well, it’s just looting really with a few dozen buildings burnt down by who knows who?
Here in Healdsburg, California we have our own Civil War history. I like history. When I moved here 20 years ago I’d read the local history books and pamphlets from the local history museum which is housed in the old Carnegie library a block north of our home.
We have a development about a quarter mile north of our house with streets named “Grant” and “Sherman”, “Lincoln” and “Johnson”. It was built after the Civil War. There is a special area in the Oak Mound Cemetery here in Hburg devoted to Civil War Union veterans.
But before the Civil War broke out, Hburg was a town with southern sympathies. Lindsay Carson, the brother of Kit Carson the famous explorer, had a store that started the town on the Russian River. The house that Lindsay Carson built still stands about a block north of the fire station on Healdsburg Avenue.
Lindsay Carson married one of the young girls who survived the Donner Party’s disaster at Donner Lake. The Donner Party was one day late to get over Donner Pass before a very long and snowy winter set in. Cannibalism took place.
But the Donner girl survived and married Lindsay Carson. When the Civil War started, Lindsay made the long journey east to fight for the Confederacy. He was never heard from again.
But his old house is in good shape. It’s been restored. I think a lawyer lives there now.
The story about Ulysses S. Grant is depressing. Why did all those men die? And they died horribly. In the Battle of Westport in Kansas City, the pile of amputated limbs of the combatants reached the second floor roof of the hospital used by both sides.
And now here today, our little town of Healdsburg is quiet. The tourist hotels are closed. The bars are open for people who wear masks until they get into the open patios, but sitting at the old bar at the Healdsburg Bar & Grill is no more. It’s like Notre Dame burning down to me. My little safe escape shrine to the spiritual is gone.
Grant freed his one slave at great expense to his family, but went on to kill hundreds of thousands. How does one come to terms with that?
Grant Street was the northern city limits of Healdsburg back in the 1890’s. So a brothel did good business just across the street. It was across Healdsburg Avenue from the new fire station. Now the block is made up of townhouses. Some of whom are for subsidized low income housing. When the townhouses were being built a local teen-aged girl was raped there by a young black man. He was never caught.
If you scratch the thin veneer of civilized society, all kinds of creatures and emotions come to the surface.
That thin veneer of civilization has been torn off in this Covid-19 propaganda panic.
God help us.
PS: The photo is of Kit Carson, Lindsay Carson’s famous brother.