Frank Babb

Author & Adventurer

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Ireland School: a Good Education for a Farm Boy

 

Our family farm was a mile and a half north of the Ireland School that I attended for eight years. My father and his five sisters and brothers also attended the school for their elementary education when Grandfather and Grandmother moved from Coburg, Iowa, to the farm seven and a half miles from Maryville, the county seat of Nodaway County Missouri at the beginning of the 20th century.

The origin of the school name? It could have been the name of an early settler who perhaps gave the one-acre plot to the community for a school or the… Continue reading

Helena Malikyar, Our Kabul Correspondent

Several years ago I met Helena Malikyar who lives in Kabul and is an Afghan political analyst and historian. Her columns are published regularly in Aljazeera America and report on what the people, not connected with the Afghan or U S governments or the media they sponsor, believe is happening in their nation.

The increasing influence of Muslim extremists throughout Afghanistan, the continuing assassinations of members of the U S military assisting in the training of the Afghan army and police forces, the rampant corruption of the Karzai government, and the resumption of ethnic and sectarian conflicts are gruesome reminders… Continue reading

Is Authoritarianism Our 21st Century “Democracy”?

An essay in the July 10 edition of the New York Review of Books is worth discussion: “Are the Authoritarians Winning?” (Some of you, I know, subscribe to the NYRB and have probably already read the essay.) The author is Michael Ignatieff, a Canadian and former professor at Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, and Toronto and, while living in Great Britain, a radio broadcaster for “The Observer.”

The essay refers to four books or articles: Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America’s House in Order by Richard Haas, Restraint: A New Foundation for U S Grand Strategy by Barry… Continue reading

My Harvard Law School Fifty-fifth Reunion

I was reminded of “how time flies when you’re having fun” by an invitation from Harvard Law School to attend the reunion of my 1959 graduation class. That was fifty-five years ago! We were also invited to share an account of our activities over the years. Here’s what I wrote:

*                        *                        *                        *

In reviewing the past fifty-five years, I realize what a good life I’ve been fortunate to experience. Harvard Law School is an important contributor to that life.

By the time I’d graduated from college, taught high school English for a year, served a… Continue reading

Favorite Children and Other Family Relationships: a Story, Chapter 4

Returning to the winter of 1950 and Grandfather’s death, family conflict began.  Lester, the oldest boy and successful businessman, was named administrator of Grandfather’s estate.  He’d died without a will.  Why he didn’t have one I cannot say.  Was it his low opinion of lawyers, his refusal to accept the reality of his death, or simply that he didn’t care what happened?

After his death, the family had plenty of opportunities to discuss the future of the farm, and the Sunday gatherings of the brothers and sisters continued as before.  Occasionally Father, Mother, Gary and I would slip away on… Continue reading

Favorite Children and Other Family Relationships: a Story, Chapter 3

The year 1939 must have been the happiest in Mother’s life.  At age 42 Leta married the star tenor in the church choir she directed during the school year.  Although she and Lawrence visited us most Sundays, she didn’t take charge of matters as she had before her marriage, her available time being consumed with managing the lives of her husband’s two married daughters and their families. These new charges seemed happy to be “managed.”  The marriage worked, Lawrence remained the star tenor into his seventies and everyone in the family acknowledged off the record that after her marriage Leta’s… Continue reading

Favorite Children and Other Family Relationships: a Story, Chapter 2

In 1928, my father, a handsome 25-year old, had won my bookkeeper mother’s hand and brought her to the farm to live for a “year or two” with his parents and the two summer-time aunts, Leta and Dorothy, until they could accumulate the resources to buy their own farm.  The Great Depression had arrived and the creation of new households units was becoming more difficult.  It was not unusual then for children to continue living with their parents after marriage.  But the hard times continued and four years later in 1932 when I made a pre-Christmas appearance they were still… Continue reading

Favorite Children and Other Family Relationships: a Story, Chapter 1

During the last week of February 1950, I spent most evenings at St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, Missouri, where Edward Babb, my grandfather, in his 86th year lay dying.  His health had been “failing” for several weeks and finally his daughter Dorothy convinced him to go to the hospital.  He had never before been a hospital patient.  His acquiescence signaled that he knew the end was in sight.  What was wrong with him wasn’t diagnosed:  no appetite, slipping in and out of sleep, and the gradual shutting down of his bodily system were the symptoms.  The doctor said his… Continue reading

“Rebound” a novel by Michael Goodell

I just finished reading a new detective story novel Rebound by my former neighbor Michael Goodell who now spends most of his time in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, or at the family vineyard in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I still count him as one of the Tucson authors you should read.

For most of my life I’ve been addicted to this genre of fiction. My mother and my schoolteacher aunts, whose real jobs were entertaining me during the summer, must have had the same disease because about the time of World War II I discovered a shelf in our… Continue reading

A Lonely Airplane Ride for Two Thirteen Year Old Girls

I want to bring to your attention the recent work of another Tucson author, Chi Newman, entitled My China, My World. The following is my Amazon review of this memoir:

“For the first thirteen years of their lives Chi Newman and her twin sister Lu lived sheltered, pampered lives as children of a wealthy, high-ranking official in Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China government. They attended Sacre Coeur School, were taught French and English grammar and language by French nuns, and viewed Shirley Temple and other American movies in their spare time. Their father had studied law in England and… Continue reading

I'm Frank Babb, author, traveler, and adventurer. I look forward to connecting with you!

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© 2013 by Frank Babb