Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On Location: Westbrook Historical Society

My favorite professor at the University of Southern Maine was a history professor who had a tendency to recycle his jokes and one-line zingers. The same jokes I chuckled at as a sophomore in his "U.S. History to 1877" class, for instance, were the same ones I rolled my eyes at as a senior in his "Democratic Theme in American Society." Now that I've put myself on the spot, I'm unable to comb my brain for some sparkling examples. But the one that has stuck with me was his repetitive reference to any local historical society as a hysterical society. Which is ironic considering the Spanish philosopher George Santayana referred to a country without memory as a country of madmen.

The irony, of course, lies in the simple statement that the Westbrook Historical Society remains a stout bulwark against Santayana's city of madmen. It is, in other words, a house of memory that inspires greater amount of sanity than hysterics.

Despite what you may think after spending numerous Saturday mornings joshing with the regulars.

- John C.L. Morgan

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