Category Archives: Ulysses S. Grant

Hot Air

A Recommendation & A Remembrance

Hey, while I’m still off ghosting the great Midwest memoir, you might fill the void left by my hiatus from these precincts by clicking on over to Doug Storm’s Common Errant blog.

He’s not as deranged as I have been about this whole blogging dealio, inasmuch as he slaps a post up every week or so as opposed to nearly every day. That’s cool; what Comm Err lacks in quantity, it certainly makes up for in quality.

Anyway, I’m still still plugging along with Charlotte Zietlow on what’ll surely be the greatest hey-Ma-look-at-me tome since The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. That groundbreaking book came up yesterday at Paul Zietlow’s memorial service, attended by half the population of Indiana as well as dozens of visiting academics and bonhomies from around the nation. One of Paul’s eulogists told the tale of the late IU English prof’s deep infatuation with the Grant bio, a book he’d discovered after he’d retired and thus was free to read for pure pleasure. The old bird — I think it was David James — said for the next six months the former Civil War general and 18th President of the United States was a constant companion whenever the two chums would get together for lunch or a meeting.


Lunch Companion

That’s a good story, one of a man completely in love with reading. There’s no finer or more respectable paramour than a book. And here’s another anecdote, one that gets to the very heart of the beloved prof who occasionally wept when he read poetry to his classes, earned kudos and awards for writing when he was a Yalie, and was a tireless advocate for social justice and local good-works orgs. It’s told by Paul’s daughter Rebecca.

One day, Paul had his little granddaughter — either Zoe or Alice, I forget which — in his lap. The kid wanted her shoes off so Paul helped her slip them off. Next thing you know, she wanted them back on. Paul helped her slip them back on and tied their laces for her. Being a kid, she wanted them off again so Paul helped her get them off again. And, of course, she wanted them back on again and…, you know. This went on for times innumerable, Rebecca remembered through her tears. Maybe it was a half dozen times — maybe a dozen. In any case, Paul patiently and lovingly helped his little granddaughter on and off with her shoes, never once complaining or attempting to give little Zoe or Alice the brush.

Of all the things Paul Zietlow accomplished in his life, that might have been the most defining.

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