I started out to write my column this week on breaking the molds in our lives. Out of the blue drop by a friend's house, throw him or her in the car and take ?em bowling, park the car and walk those three blocks to the grocery store, savoring the pace of life. Look at me. I was a month short of 56 last December when I finally went to Europe for the first time. Read something entirely different. Eat something different. If you've never flown buy a roundtrip ticket somewhere, anywhere, and just go.
My friends think it is very funny that I, who never balances my checkbook, whose life often spins in every direction with no real plan, am sitting here in the tower pontificating on life and giving advice.
Anyway, as part of my column I decided to hold up Grandma Moses as perfect example of someone who at a ripe old age began painting.
Then something struck me. Everything I know about the venerable old grandma I could put on a bumper sticker. I don't even know what grandma's first name is. I couldn't tell you what she painted. I am pretty sure she didn't paint those Red Man chewing tobacco signs on the side of bright red barns or the "Uneeda Biscuit" sign on a building in New Orleans. I don't think she even painted the poker-playing animals and I am pretty sure she didn't do any Robert Maplethorpe type nudes.
And the more I thought about this, leaving my "break your mold" concept in the rearview mirror of my mind, the more I realized that much of my knowledge is bumper sticker knowledge.
I know that Johnny Appleseed walked around out West and threw out apple seeds. I don't know where he got them or what motivated him to do it. I don't know what kept the birds from eating the seeds. I used to only know that Benedict Arnold was the ultimate traitor and that was it. But then I got curious and read a lot on him and so he's not on my bumper sticker list. I know that Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the British Parliament but I don't know why or what happened to him or why people celebrate this dastardly attack. I know Cinco de Mayo means the Fifth of May and marks the Battle of Puebla in Mexico but I don't know what that battle was fought over. I know the leaning tower of Pisa leans but I don't know why. I know the Eiffel Tower is real tall but I don't know why it was built, was it a radio tower?
Yikes, the more I think over my compendium of information the more I know I couldn't hold a conversation on any of those subjects. OK, in the sue-the-world, whose-fault-is-it atmosphere, I ask sincerely, whose fault is it that I have this mushbrain of one sentence information about lots of things.
I guess with the Internet at my fingertips and with the libraries being welcoming comfortable places and with bookstores not minding if you sit and read their books, I have to take the blame.
OK, here we go. Grandma Moses' real name was Anna Mary Robertson. She was born in 1860 and lived to be 101. Much of her painting was inspired by the scenes observed from her upstate New York farm, lots of folk art of seasons and rural scenes.
According to Applejuice.org, "Johnny Appleseed spent 49 years of his life in the American wilderness planting apple seeds. Johnny Appleseed's real name was John Chapman. He was born September 26, 1774 in Massachusetts. He created apple orchards in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio. After 200 years, some of those trees still bear apples." He died in 1845.
He was apparently a simple man who couldn't stand to think of people being hungry and wanted to do something about it.
Guy Fawkes was born on 1570 at a time of conflict between Catholics and Protestants in England. After Elizabeth I, a protestant, died, her sister, a Catholic took over. But after her death, James I, a protestant, took over. Fawkes and his supporters believed in November 1605 if they blew up Parliament, killing the king that Catholics would rise up and take over the country. But he and other conspirators were caught, tried and executed. Now on Nov. 4 each year, a celebration is held to celebrate the fact that the king was not killed and the country not returned to Catholicism.
So still wondering why the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans? Go to the Web yourself. Then break your personal mold and go bowling.
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.