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All American Anglophile

June 29th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
As any red blooded American should know, July 4th 1776 marks our very first Fourth of July celebration with the signing of the Declaration of Independence – our official break with Great Britain. (Do I hear an audible gasp from all you Anglophiles?) If you’ve ever had the chance to see the film “The Madness of King George” (highly entertaining, at the expense of poor George), you can imagine his utter distress at having lost “the Colonies”. While this is not attributed to what drove him stark raving mad, I surmise it didn’t much help matters. In actuality, he suffered from a blood disease that had gone undetected by the quacks in those days, known as physicians. As a result, history unfairly dubs him “The Mad King” as well as “The King Who Lost America”, as if one dishonorable title were not enough.
There’s an interesting bit of Long Island history known as the  Setauket Spy Ring (sometimes known as the  Culper Spy Ring) which took place during the American Revolution that centered around Nancy’s  “clothesline”, of all things. Talk about American ingenuity. Nancy lived with her husband, Judge Selah Strong, and their eight children on Setaukets Little Bay. Directly across the bay was Abraham Woodhull’s farm. Abe shuttled messages back and forth from his farm to New York City as part of a spy ring for General George Washington to be used against the British. There were many components of this spy ring, but one particular man was chosen for his adeptness in navigating  Long Island’s waters; Caleb Brewster. It was learned that Brewster wasn’t safe landing his boat in the same spot to get his messages to Woodhull for fear of being found out by the British, so they created six different spots for him. But as Woodhull pondered as to how he would know when and where Brewster would arrive, he glimpsed Nancy’s clothesline from across the water. Woodhull and Nancy devised a secret code based on what she hung on her clothesline. If a black petticoat was hanging on the line, it meant  Brewster was in town. The number of handkerchiefs would indicate which location Brewster’s boat could be found. So with guys like Woodhull and his trusty spyglass aimed at Nancy’s clothesline, poor King George didn’t stand a chance.
As “the Colonies” went their merry way (leaving England less so), Congress agreed on an official date to commemorate our new found independence and thus began the festivites. John Adams wrote to his wife: “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations….with pomp and parade, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires….from this time forward, forever more”. So right, Jack. So right. BBQ’s, picnics, parades, fireworks, and for some…..birthdays. Happy Birthday, Michael, born on the Fourth of July. My idea of fun is a bit more subdued…. Oh, to swing in a hammock on a lazy summer afternoon, book in hand. Which brings me to a bit of a dilemma.  What to get Michael for his birthday? I’d really like to get him that hammock – there are two perfectly spaced trees at our woodsy retreat but his phobia of getting mauled by a bear is not wholly unfounded. I could get him that book instead. Let’s see….”How Not To Arouse The Interest Of A Bear”. Number One – Do not allow yourself to laze idly in a hammock in the midst of bear country. Or if you do, forego that turkey and cheese sandwich smothered with tantalizing condiments. Number Two – Allow your wife to buy you that hammock and let HER swing in it if you promise to keep an eye out for old Sasquatch. She’ll never be able to yell at you if you don’t. Ha! Ha! Wait, what am I saying? That’s ME with my foot dangling from a horribly painful toothy vice! No hammock. And no book for you, birthday boy. We’ll go out to eat. Or shall I say, we’ll dine out?
And so, this July 4th, while you’re grilling those burgers, give a nod to our Founding Fathers, and a wink to good old King George. Had things turned out any other way, we’d be associated with Beef Eaters of another kind. As it is, I rather like mine charbroiled, with the accent on “well done”. BBQ or BBC? Why not both?
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One Response to “All American Anglophile”

  1. Lawki parkowe Says:

    I’m an all – american anglophile BTW…NICE WRITE-UP

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