I am looking at an old photograph of A.M. Van Valkenburgh. He was my great-grandfather.
Father of fourteen Van Valkenburgh children. That's a lot of kids and responsibility. And he seemed to do well in that responsibility department; all the fourteen seemed to grow up and become really, REALLY fine and upstanding citizens, all over the U.S. of A.
Years ago, my book club posed a question:
With whom would you like to visit, any time, any era?
Well - that is such a far-reaching query. But here I go:
Obviously, I would like to have a chat with Great Grandfather A.M.. I'm not even sure what I would ask him. I would ask how he managed to successfully rear fourteen kids to be independent and happy. (I think they all were ?)
I would love to talk with the first Van Valkenburghs to the New World, ca. 1678 or so. They planted themselves into what is now Manhattan, I think. Even more precise, that which is now 5th Avenue?
Beethoven. I want to know what was in his head. He was a genius. There were things floating around in his head, and he put those things into music.
I would love to talk to all of the surviving US Presidents, if I could chit-chat with complete assuredness that only he and I would be privy to our conversations. I would love to have chats, but I would hate to think that down the line, I might be subpoenaed regarding a recipe or a Middle East provocation.
I would love to visit with Anne Lamott. She's still living. Noam Chomsky. He's still living. Michelle Obama. She's still living. I'm not sure I have the mental wherewithal to keep up with the three aforementioned, and I would probably stutter about, but I would still like to have a chat. I think I would LOVE to visit with each of the First Ladies, come to think of it. All of them.
Who else? I don't know. Maybe some Mother Teresa nuns.
Oh! I know! Mahatma Ghandi! Yes!
And Sir Edmund Hilary. He would be good for a few hours, to be sure.
I can go on and on...