Archive for the ‘Life As She Is’ Category

‘I Would Be In Love (Anyway)’

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Here’s what the top ten looked like on the Billboard Easy Listening chart fifty years ago this week, the first week of April in 1970, one of my best-remembered years for music:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Easy Come Easy Go” by Bobby Sherman
“Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley
“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“Temma Harbour” by Mary Hopkin
“I Would Be In Love (Anyway)” by Frank Sinatra
“Rainy Night In Georgia” by Brook Benton
“Long Lonesome Highway” by Michael Parks
“All I Have To Do Is Dream” by Bobbie Gentry & Glenn Campbell
“Brighton Hill” by Jackie DeShannon

Well, six of those I know well, and I clearly remember five of them – the top four and the Brook Benton single – coming out of my old RCA radio during spring evenings in my room. The Gentry/Campbell duet is not as memorable, though I know I heard it.

“Temma Harbour” is one I don’t recall from fifty years ago; I don’t believe I heard it until about ten years ago when I was tipped to it in a comment here by reader David Lenander. I have vague memories of the Michael Parks record, but those memories don’t say “1970” in any way, which tells me I rarely heard it then. And the DeShannon record rings no bells at all, even though I can tell from the visual in the YouTube video that for years, the LP from which it came was in the vinyl stacks.

And then there’s the Sinatra record:

If I lived the past over, saw today from yesterday
I would be in love anyway
If I knew that you’d leave me, if I knew you wouldn’t stay
I would be in love anyway

Sometimes I think, think about before
Sometime I think, if I knew then what I know now
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

Though you’ll never be with me, and there are no words to say
I’ll still be in love anyway

If I knew then what I know now,
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

If I knew then what I know now
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

The single came from Sinatra’s Watertown album, a work I mentioned thirteen years ago:

Watertown [is] a song cycle that’s one of the more idiosyncratic recordings of Sinatra’s long career. The songs on Watertown came from Bob Gaudio – writer of many of the Four Seasons’ hits – and Jake Holmes, the singer-songwriter/folk-rocker who was also the composer of “Dazed & Confused,” which Led Zeppelin appropriated as its own work. The album is, as All-Music Guide notes, Sinatra’s “most explicit attempt at rock-oriented pop.” It’s also a rather depressing piece of work, as the mood throughout is one of unrelieved (and unrelievable) sadness.

And as I listened to “I Would Be In Love (Anyway)” this morning, I recognized the tale Sinatra was telling. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I spent some time in that same bleak emotional place. Eventually (and thankfully), I moved on.

I remember frequently seeing the LP in cutout bins in the early 1970s and in the “Sinatra” bins at used record stores in the 1990s. Even though my buying in the 1990s was pretty indiscriminate, for some reason I never brought Watertown home with me. Somewhere along the line, I acquired a digital copy of the album from which I made the above judgment that its mood “is one of unrelieved (and unrelievable) sadness.” I may take time to again listen closely to the album one of these days, but I’m not sure I need the downer.

As to “I Would Be In Love (Anyway),” it peaked on the Easy Listening chart at No. 4 but got only to No. 88 on the Hot 100. Watertown went to No. 101 on the magazine’s album chart.

Saturday Single No. 682

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

The blank space on the computer screen has been mocking me for about an hour. At least five times, I’ve typed something, looked at it, and then deleted it. For some reason – perhaps because of the madness beyond our walls, perhaps because of a weariness that seems to have found its home in me overnight – I have nothing to say this morning.

Here’s Fotheringay’s take on Bob Dylan’s “Too Much Of Nothing.” It’s from the group’s self-titled 1970 album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Stuff On My Mind

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

Epidemics, pandemics and plagues are on my mind, for some reason.

My dad had scarlet fever when he was a young boy. I’m not exactly sure of the timing, and there’s no one to ask anymore, but I’m thinking he was ten or younger, as it stunted his growth. Both of his brothers – one younger, one older – topped out taller than six feet with broad shoulders and solid, if not exactly burly, builds. Dad was five-seven, maybe five-eight, and was maybe 150 pounds when he went into the Army at the age of twenty.

He remembered their home being quarantined. No one in or out. The house still stands across the street from the Lutheran Church in Cambridge, Minnesota, somewhat neglected but still occupied from what we could tell during a stop at the adjacent cemetery last summer. It’s not large at all, and I imagine it was crowded and probably tense during the weeks of quarantine.

Let’s say Dad was ten when he was ill, making it sometime after the autumn of 1929. That means that the eldest of his seven siblings was nineteen and the youngest was six. Now, my Aunt Emeline, the eldest, may have already left home to be a teacher, but still, that leaves seven children and my grandparents and Uncle Charlie – my grandmother’s uncle (whose rocking chair sits in our bedroom) – all cooped in a smallish house. I don’t know what time of year it was, but it had to be uncomfortable as well as frightening.

I don’t really know how prevalent scarlet fever was, so I dug a bit and found a chart at the website of the Minnesota Department of Health that noted there were 4,030 cases in Minnesota in 1930, with thirty-eight deaths. (Two decades earlier, in 1910, Minnesota saw 4,117 cases with 284 deaths, which tells me the incidence of the disease was probably higher than in 1930, assuming a smaller population in 1910, and treatment was much less successful.)

Over the years, I’ve thought about plagues and epidemics on a historical level, reading about the Black Death’s periodic visits to Europe in the Middle Ages and other outbreaks. I recall one fine book, Justinian’s Flea, which examined the source of the plague that devastated the eastern Roman Empire in the sixth and seventh centuries CE. And now I read about a pandemic in my state and nation.

I’m too young to actually remember the polio epidemics of the late 1940s and early 1950s. My mom once told me that the fear was palpable, especially among parents of young children, and towns and cities were eerily quiet. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The previously referenced chart says that there were 258 cases of polio in the state in 1940, and then lays out the total for each year in the first five years after World War II:

1946: 2,881
1947: 201
1948: 1,387
1949: 1,715
1950: 502

I was born in 1953, and it was not uncommon during my childhood to see people – usually children but sometimes adults – using crutches and wearing bulky braces on withered legs. To a kid who was maybe eight, that was scary. By then, there were vaccines, of course, first the Salk and then the Sabin, but even if we were safe from polio, what else might there be out there that could kill us or – likely worse to the eight-year-old mind – cripple us?

And now, there’s novel corona. I’m sixty-six, and I long ago had a lung ailment that’s seemed not to have left any lingering damage, but still, that’s there. So I have some anxiety, even as we do the things we should here. And I’m reasonably certain that if everyone does the things they’re supposed to do, we’ll get through.

And here I take a deep breath and offer Holly Wilson’s bossa nova take on Pink Floyd’s “Breathe.” It’s from her 2006 album Pink Floyd En Bossa Nova. Enjoy (and ignore the line about racing towards an early grave).

Kenny Rogers Lost Me Long Ago

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

So, Kenny Rogers died overnight.

He was, without doubt, one of the most popular and successful pop and country performers of the last third of the last century. Here are the raw numbers:

A total of fifty-seven records in the Billboard Country Top 40 between 1969 and 2003. (My country book goes to 2006, so there may have been a few more hits; I don’t know.) Of those fifty-seven records, twenty-one went to No. 1, starting with “Lucille” in 1977 and ending with “Buy Me A Rose” with Alison Krauss and Billy Dean in 2000.

He was, of course, a presence on the pop chart before he went country: Before “Lucille” hit in 1977, he had fifteen records reach the Hot 100, credited first to the First Edition, later to Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, and then simply to himself. The best-performing of those singles were “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” which went to No. 5 in 1968, and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,” which peaked at No. 6 in 1969.

And as I went through my life, I heard him all around me, from the pop stuff before I really cared about pop music, to the country stuff that crossed over before I cared much about country music. Kenny Rogers, during the last third of the 1900s, was inescapable.

But after enjoying some of the early pop stuff and recognizing that 1978’s “The Gambler” was a great story record, I quit listening, switching the station or turning the radio off entirely whenever I heard his voice coming from the speakers.

Why?

Because of “The Coward Of The County,” Rogers’ 1979 hit that uses gang rape and vengeance as plot points. The first time the Other Half and I heard it, we were disgusted. And it felt like nobody else noticed the repugnance of those plot elements, as the record went to No. 1 on the country chart, No. 3 on the Hot 100, and No. 5 on the adult contemporary chart.

Were we being selective in our reactions? Don’t many other pop and country songs use similarly unseemly topics? Yeah, they do. But something about “The Coward Of The County” felt so unnecessarily blatant.

So the Other Half and I quit listening to Kenny Rogers. Forty years later, I have nothing from his days as a country star on any of my shelves. I do have seven of his earlier works in digital form and four of his early hits in the iPod, and I’m often uneasy about even those.

I’m sorry he’s gone. I’m sorry for his family and friends. But just as his voice has for more than forty years, the news of his death reminds me of the shock and horror I saw on the Other Half’s face and the sick feeling I felt in my stomach at the same moment when we first heard “The Coward Of The County” coming into our living room.

‘Voices Half Remembered . . .’

Friday, March 20th, 2020

I often write about, or at least refer to, my sweet spot (a term I got from my pal Dan), the span of years from my youth when my taste in music was pretty well set. I generally identify it as the years between 1969 and 1975, but it tends to stretch a little on each end. A lot of stuff from 1967 and 1968 matters to me, being not just familiar but formative, and the same holds true to a lesser extent for 1976 and 1977.

As I’ve noted before, a rough gauge of the impact of those years can be gained by looking at the numbers of posts here featuring music from those years, numbers that – were they entered on a chart – would produce a slightly predictable but still interesting bell graph:

1967: 92
1968: 123
1969: 180
1970: 201
1971: 167
1972: 154
1973: 116
1974: 91
1975: 91
1976: 53
1977: 50

Those numbers come from a little more than 1,500 posts in just more than ten years at this site and do not include the three years of blogging at the two shorter-lived sites. And the years cover my life from the last months of eighth grade to the first month of my years at the Monticello Times. If there’s anything surprising in the numbers from those eleven years, it’s the clear drop off from 1975 to 1976 and 1977.

But those last two were years when my view shifted from college life to what would come after. There was an internship, graduation, moving away from Kilian Boulevard, an abortive attempt or two at permanent employment, additional college work, and finally, a job in reporting. Those years were a lot less carefree than the ones that came before. Maybe that makes a difference in what the music of those years says to me. And maybe the music wasn’t – to me, anyway – all that great. I dunno.

But we’ll end this relatively pointless post by letting iTunes do some work. We’re going to click randomly through the 3,900-or so tracks there and focus on the third track from either 1976 or 1977 and see what life serves us.

Well, it took twenty-eight clicks, and the tracks we hit ranged from 1955 (“Bring It To Jerome” by Bo Diddley) to 1991 (“Mysterious Ways” by U2), but we finally fell onto a track that met our requirements. It comes from a 1976 album that I do like a great deal: Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise, produced by Robbie Robertson. The album went to No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and “Signs” is a pretty decent album track.

Hunkering Down

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Well, we’re pretty much self-isolating, as we should. I was out yesterday for a brief time, picked up two prescriptions at the pharmacy drive-through, then got a pick-up order at the grocery store. The order wasn’t quite right, so I had to go into the store to straighten it out and then go into another store to get the soap powder for the dishwasher that the first store was out of.

Both stores had relatively little traffic, and the shelves were beginning to look bare in some spots: Canned soup, instant potatoes and potato box mixes, cereals, and, of course, paper products. In the store where I did my actual shopping, eggs were plentiful but customers were limited to two dozen. As well as getting the soap powder, I filled some minor gaps in our supplies and headed home.

And today, I’ll head out to the podiatrist for my regular six-week visit, being very careful about surfaces and aware of the people around me. The receptionist said they’ve expanded the seating area of the lobby to provide more distance between people. I’m still a bit nervous about it, but I thought I should go while I can. And then home again for the rest of the day.

There is nothing in the digital stacks with “COVID” in the title, of course. There are, on the other hand, several tracks with “nineteen” in their titles: “The Two Nineteen” by Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Day, “John Nineteen Forty-One” (the closing track to the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar), “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” by Paul McCartney & Wings, “Nineteen Something” by Mark Willis, and five versions of the blues tune “She’s Nineteen Years Old.” Not much joy there.

So I thought I’d look at the Billboard charts from the years I call my sweet spot, 1969-75, and, playing some Games With Numbers, see what was at No. 19 during the third week of March in those years. With any luck, we’ll find something decent to listen to this morning. Here we go.

1969: “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose” by James Brown
1970: “Call Me/Son Of A Preacher Man” by Aretha Franklin
1971: “(Theme From) ‘Love Story’” by Henry Mancini, His Orchestra and Chorus
1972: “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember” by Beverly Bremers
1973: “Do You Want To Dance” by Bette Midler
1974: “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” by Aretha Franklin
1975: “I Am Love (Parts 1 & 2)” by the Jackson 5

Well, that’s an interesting mix. I respect James Brown more than I listen to him, and Aretha’s double-sided single doesn’t grab me this morning. I know we’ve offered the Mancini, Bremers and Midler singles before (maybe some time ago, but still). And I’m going to ignore the Jackson 5 record because a quick search tells me that not only have I never posted “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do),” I’ve never – in more than thirteen years of blogging – even mentioned the record.

There’s a reason for that neglect. Given that it was on the radio in early 1974, the record falls into the list of those that I did not hear at the time, being in Denmark and beyond the reach of Top 40. I learned about it through my digging into Aretha during the late 1980s and via whatever play it got on oldies stations, and I like it a lot.

In mid-March 1974, the record was on its way down the chart, having peaked in the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 3 at the end of February. It spent a week at No. 1 on the magazine’s R&B chart and went to No. 33 on the Easy Listening chart.

And finally, it shows up here.

Stocking Up & Staying Home

Friday, March 13th, 2020

As more and more institutions have closed and events have been canceled over the past couple days because of the coronavirus, we’ve taken some precautions here. We spent a couple hours at one of the bigger box stores yesterday getting some things that we honestly should have had before – an electric lantern to light at least one room in the case of power failure, along with several flashlights and a good supply of batteries – and stocking up on canned goods, pasta and dried beans (as well as some meat for the freezer and a few other things).

As has been reported in many other places, toilet paper was gone from the shelves, but our need for that – and for other paper products – was filled a little earlier in the week. And the store was crowded but at base sane. There were, however, some grocery items that were obviously in short supply. There were no corn tortillas (unless I was looking in the wrong place), and the supply of some types of dried beans was limited, just to note two.

There were a few things at the big store that we could not find, so on our way home, we stopped at our neighborhood market and picked those up. And then headed home.

So far (as of last evening), there are nine cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, one here in Stearns County. I’m betting, though, that there are far more people infected with the virus, so we’re going to be prudent and pretty much self-quarantine from now on. There are a few things that need to be done, like dropping by the nearby hardware store for a new supply of furnace filters. And I need to refill a few prescriptions.

In addition, I am committed to playing piano at our fellowship Sunday. We’re a small congregation, averaging thirty-five or so people each week, but the greater majority of us are past sixty, and I’m not sure how wise it is for us to keep gathering each week. The fellowship leadership is, I know, weighing factors, but the Texas Gal and I are thinking that after this Sunday, we may withdraw ourselves from activities for the last six weeks of the fellowship year.

Beyond that, we have tickets for a musical performance the first week of April, in a small theater. We don’t know what we’ll do. Perhaps by then, most gatherings will be discouraged, if not actually barred by officials. We’ll see.

As readers can no doubt tell, I’m concerned, perhaps even shaken by how fast things are happening. And the Texas Gal and I are both older than sixty, which we have to take into account. So, with very few exceptions, we’re going to stay home. The Texas Gal added to her stock of yarn yesterday so she can continue to crochet as we watch television, and I stopped by the public library and added seven books to my reading pile. And I’ll no doubt find plenty of time to sit at the other keyboard and dig into my pile of music books old and new.

And here’s a fitting tune: “(Staying Home and Singing) Homemade Songs” by Tracy Nelson and Mother Earth. It’s from the 1972 album Tracy Nelson/Mother Earth.

Saturday Single No. 679

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

There’s only one thing to do here today.

I’ve known jb, the proprietor of the fine blog The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, since sometime in 2007, first as a presence in the music blogging community and then, starting in 2009, as a presence in the real word. He and his Mrs. have, over those years, shared several weekends with the Texas Gal and me, some here in St. Cloud, one in the Twin Cities, and several in Wisconsin, where they live near Madison. And he’s visited us here when his work – which involves travel – brings him nearby.

So the four of us have noted each other’s birthdays as years pass. But I don’t know if I’ve ever marked jb’s birthday here in this space. But then, I’ve only had three previous chances to do so. He is, you see, one of those rarities, a child born on February 29. And as far as I know, he’s the only person I’ve ever met who was a Leap Day baby.

(I’m sure there were others who came through my life who were. Simple math tells me that one out of every 1,461 people walking through the mall or attending a concert at the Paramount Theatre downtown would have a February 29 birthday. But I’ve never known who they were.)

Anyway, in literal terms, my good friend jb turns fifteen today. In practical terms, well, you can do the math. And to mark the day, what else can I do but share an appropriate record by a band from his home state of Wisconsin? (Well, I can also wish him good beer, but he’ll take care of that by himself.)

Here’s “Birthday,” a cover of the Beatles’ tune by the Underground Sunshine. It was the only hit for the group from Montello, Wisconsin, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1969. (A release later that year, “Don’t Shut Me Out,” bubbled under at No. 102.) And in jb’s honor, the Underground Sunshine’s cover of “Birthday” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 678

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Here’s a piece I ran in this space ten years ago today. It’s been edited slightly.

One of the classic small-town fund-raisers is the fish fry. During the years I lived in Monticello, the Other Half and I would occasionally make our way to the American Legion club at the west edge of town and join our friends and neighbors at long tables. The menu was always deep-fried fish – probably haddock, maybe cod – with french fries and cole slaw.

We’d nibble on our dinners, sip coffee and chat with whoever ended up sitting nearby. Occasionally, I’d field questions or complaints about something the newspaper had published that week. Otherwise, we’d maybe talk about the city’s plans to redevelop downtown, the upcoming school board election or the prospects for the high school’s teams – still called, amazingly enough, the Redmen – in the coming winter tournaments.

But as we sat at the tables for the Rotary Club’s annual fish fry forty years ago this evening, we talked about none of that. All anybody wanted to talk about was a bunch of college kids, kids with names like Broten, Johnson and Eruzione; Callahan, Craig and Pavelich; Morrow, Verchota and Suter and eleven more. And we talked about Herb Brooks, the hockey coach who’d molded those twenty American college kids into a hockey team that had defeated the legendary team from the Soviet Union 4 to 3 in an Olympic medal-round game late that afternoon.

I’ve never asked anyone, but I’ve always wondered how sparse the crowd was for the first hour or so of the fish fry that evening. The hockey game began at four o’clock Central Time – officials for the ABC network, which was broadcasting the Olympics from Lake Placid, N.Y., tried to have the game switched to seven o’clock, but Soviet officials refused – and was likely over a little after six o’clock. That’s when we made our way to the Legion club for dinner, as I’d been listening to the game on a distant radio station, struggling to make sense of the play-by-play through a forest of static.

I imagine that many others had done the same, as it seems in memory that we were among a large group of diners who showed up about the same time. Those already dining were already talking about hockey or related topics, like why ABC – which planned to air a tape of the game that evening – didn’t show the game live at four o’clock. And there were grumbles at the Soviet officials who refused to allow the game to be moved from late afternoon to the evening. (Wikipedia notes that such a shift would have meant a four a.m. start for the game in Moscow.)

But most of the time, it seems – in the soft light of a memory now forty years old – we were shaking our heads and marveling at what those twenty American kids and their coaches had done that afternoon. After all, the Soviet team had won five of the six gold medals in hockey since 1956 (with the U.S. winning in 1960 in Squaw Valley, Calif.). Since those 1960 games, the Soviets had gone 32-1-1 over the next four Olympic tournaments and the preliminary round at Lake Placid. Games between the Soviet teams and the professionals of the National Hockey League had started in 1972, and during the two most recent series, the Soviets were 7-4-1 against the NHL’s best. In addition, in the last exhibition game for the U.S. Olympic team before the competition at Lake Placid, the Soviets had defeated the U.S. team in New York City by a 10-3 score.

So I don’t recall talking to anyone during the preceding days who thought that the U.S. boys – who’d won four and tied one of their preliminary round games – could beat the Soviets. Watching the five earlier games had cued us – hockey fans and those who were only vaguely familiar with the sport alike – that the U.S. team might be something special. And it was, advancing to the medal round with what seemed like a good chance for silver or at least bronze.

But those American kids surprised everyone: the experts in the sporting world who’d conceded the gold medal to the Soviet team from the start; the delirious crowd in the Lake Placid arena that afternoon; and those of us all across the country who would sit in their living rooms and watch the taped game that evening. The kids probably even surprised their own coach, Herb Brooks. And there’s no doubt that they surprised the supremely talented members of the Soviet Union’s Olympic hockey team.

There were overtones to the hockey game, of course: The general sense of unease in the U.S. at the time and the international rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union – heightened by the Soviets’ 1979 invasion of Afghanistan – all made the U.S team’s victory a template for something more than a hockey game. But even as only a hockey game, it was enough. And that’s what we chewed on that evening at the Rotary fish fry, forty years ago tonight.

And here’s a video of the last minute of the game and the celebration that followed.

A Long-Ago Life

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Sometimes, in digging into my family tree at Ancestry.com, I find something so mind-boggling that I can’t imagine anyone living the life I am researching.

Over the weekend, I was looking into the life of one Magdalena (possibly Magnolda) Wachtler (1818-1885), who was born in an independent Hungary and died a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She was born in a village called St. Johann, a German-speaking village. Adjacent to St. Johann was the German-speaking village of St. Peter.

The villages were located in far northwest Hungary, about sixty miles from Vienna, Austria, in an area that was ethnically German until after World War II, when they were renamed as Szentjános and Szentpéter (later combined into one city named Jánossomorja) and were populated, one assumes, with ethnic Hungarians.

The history of the area fascinates me, as does the history of any of the areas of Germanic and Nordic Europe where my ancestors lived. But as I noted above, I was looking specifically into the life of Magdalena Wachtler, who was the sister of my great-great-grandfather, Paul Wachtler, and thus my great-great-great-aunt. The bare bones of Magdalena’s story sadden me.

In November of 1838, when she was twenty, Magdalena married Martinus Natz from the nearby city of Lébény, where she lived the rest of her life. Over the years, they had twelve childen:

Katherina No. 1, 1839-1850
Anna, 1842-1921
Stefan, 1844-1920
Janos, 1846-1847
Mathias, 1847-1854
Theresa, 1849-1854
Katherina No. 2. 1850-1852
Josephus, 1851-?
Marton, 1854-1854
Martinus (twin), 1855-?
Elizabeth (twin), 1855-1855
Johann, 1858-1905

I can find no death dates (so far) for Josephus or Martinus, although I know that Martinus survived into adulthood, as I’ve found records for his marriage and the names of his children. I’ve found no such records for Josephus, and I almost have to assume that he died in childhood.

So Magdalena and Martinus had twelve children, and likely only four who lived to adulthood. I know that childhood was full of many more perils in the middle of the Nineteenth Century, perhaps especially in rural Central Europe, but still . . .

And what happened in 1854? Was there an accident of some sort that took three of the children? A fire? An epidemic? I dug a little more, and the death dates for the three children who died that year are different, so I lean toward the latter (and that might also account for Elizabeth’s death in 1855). I’ve found a list of epidemics in Eastern Europe online, and there was a major cholera outbreak in portions of what is now Poland in 1854. It’s not unreasonable to think that the outbreak extended into Central Europe, including Hungary. That calls for more research.

Anyway, maybe all of that was seen as normal, but looking back from more than 150 years later, Magdalena Wachtler Natz’s life seems to have been one of nearly unmitigated sorrow. I hope I’m wrong.