The Letter H (A-to-Z Challenge)

Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I bought this paperback edition at the delightful ‘Briar & Tobac’* in Brainerd, Tennessee, a shop which sold pipes and tobacco in the front room and used books in the back room.  Books bought there smelled deliciously of pipe tobacco; if I open my copy just enough to admit my face, press the pages tightly to my ears and bury my nose deep in the binding I can still catch a faint, fragrant whiff.  I’m a tiny bit embarrassed to say that I first picked this book up because I thought it had something to do with unicorns.**  The reason for this is that under the title “Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead” were the words “by the author of ‘Bring Me a Unicorn.’”  I pulled the book out and added it to the stack in my arms, and then noticed that the next book on the shelf was that very Bring Me a Unicorn.  I pulled that one out, and just inside the cover a poem was printed:


Everything today

has been heavy and brown.

Bring me a unicorn

to ride about the town.   – A.M.L.


My, wasn’t that whimsical.  I admired it very much, because back in those formative years I still saw myself becoming someone just that charming and whimsical.  This was before I evolved into the cynical monster I am today, who views all things whimsical in a very negative light. Not long ago I walked down the main street of a self-consciously quaint New England town, one of the smaller, poorer ones way inland that doesn’t have much to attract tourists, and as I was walking along minding my own business I nearly tripped over a pair of green wellington boots someone had left right in the middle of the brick sidewalk.  I tried to kick them to the side and found that they were actually glued to the bricks.  Incredulously I noticed that there were two or three more pairs of boots in other pastel colours glued in a carefully random pattern under a shop window.

“I’ll bet someone thinks they’re being very whimsical!” I raged, and sure enough, when I looked up at the window there was the hated word right there in the name of the shop.

I am happy that I bought the two books, whatever my feelings on whimsy might be today.  They are two volumes of an autobiography told in diary entries and letters.  Although the excerpts are carefully selected and no doubt sanitized in order to present her life in the best possible light, still they tell her story from her own perspective, which is of course what we all would do if given the chance.

This was a girl so sheltered and tradition bound that the most daring act of rebellion she could imagine was defiantly enrolling at Vassar when all the women of her family had gone to Smith….and even then, she didn’t actually follow through.  A shy little rich girl, daughter of an ambassador, who read books and wrote poems and didn’t like talking to strangers but somehow grew up to marry the wildly famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, to learn to navigate and to fly and to accompany her husband all over the world.

It’s a kind of life you wouldn’t necessarily even dream of unless you read an account by someone who lived it.

Just the kind of treasure you can find in the back room of a tobacco shop.

See you tomorrow for Letter I,

*I tried to look it up.  If it still exists, it hasn’t bothered to inform Google.

**I can’t imagine why this would have appealed to me; I just remember thinking it.


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4 Responses to “The Letter H (A-to-Z Challenge)”

  1. Sonia Lal Says:

    That’s a cute story though. The idea of someone gluing boots to the ground is odd.

  2. Martine Frampton Says:

    I so agree with you on the subject of the scent of tobacco (my granddad smoked a pipe and I still have one of his tins as a pin tin in my sewing box), but unfortunately I still have a soft spot for whimsy. Lovely story. Thanks for sharing.
    martine@ silencing the bell (your neighbour on the A to Z list)

    • becomingrosamunde2015 Says:

      And I agree that the world needs both whimsical people and cranky scrooges like myself! Thanks for reading.

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