Classic′ – a book which people praise and don’t read. (Mark Twain)

I guess Mark Twain didn’t follow book blogs.

What I’m Reading: 

This week I finished a fascinating book called Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery.

This is a fascinating tale of the first woman to ever walk the Appalachian trail in the 1950s from Georgia to Maine. The blurb is as follows:

“Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than twhundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. By September 1955 she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, sang “America, the Beautiful,” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

Driven by a painful marriage, Grandma Gatewood not only hiked the trail alone, but she was also the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times. At age seventy-one, she hiked the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity and appeared on TV with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter. The public attention she brought to the trail was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.”

Author Ben Montgomery interviewed surviving family members and hikers Gatewood met along the trail, unearthed historic newspaper and magazine articles, and was given full access to Gatewood’s own diaries, trail journals, and correspondence. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk shines a fresh light on one of America’s most celebrated hikers. 

I found this book fascinating and would recommend it to anyone who might enjoy a different kind of travel narrative and nature. The themes are memoir, travel/walking, history, domestic violence. She also raised 11 children. Bookish Event of the Week:  

The most exciting event was seeing Geraldine Brooks launch her recent book Horse, at the Theatre Royal interviewed by Heather Rose in conjunction with Fullers Bookshop. The recently built studio theatre was a great venue. The event was sold out and she was generous to sign books in the theatre foyer after the event. I gifted her a small cloisonne black cockatoo pin in a little felt like bag for her to put somewhere in her horse stable when she gets home. She seemed to love the small Tasmanian gift.  I always think authors must get so tired of book signings and repeating themselves over and over during their tours. I did not take my book to be signed just to give her hand a rest. 

She told us about this obscure piece of American history in this book which in the end I loved. I wasn’t sure at the beginning I was going to enjoy this book but as I went along, I just kept reading and reading.  I will never forget this tale. Horse racing was built in America on the backs of slaves in the 1800s before the civil war. The book combines that history of the 1800s. It also has two other periods of time the story includes. The 1980s of the New York art worlds and the current times of the science of preserving skeletons at the Smithsonian.

The author talked at length how this book was successfully finished after the sudden death of her husband three years ago. It got her back on track as her grief was deep.

The research into the art and slavery issues were well researched. She talked about how as a Caucasian she talked to many African Americans about writing this book about their culture and history. She was encouraged to do it on all fronts, and she consulted with the African American community regularly. 

I admire the research skills she displays in the writing. She is an experienced former foreign correspondent and journalist and her writing displays that. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in these topics.  It finishes with a current race event of the 21st century of America and the impact is greatly felt.

She also made mention of a little-known law in Australia that I think would surprise people. She would like to come back to Australia at some time. As she has lived in American, married to an American man since the 1980s or so, she mentioned her biological son can get dual citizenship with Australia however her legally adopted Ethiopian son cannot. She and her husband adopted him at the age of five and raised him as their own. He is an American citizen now through the family adoption. Australia really does need to get their act into gear. (My letter was the lead opinion piece in the Saturday paper.

Many are surprised by this little-known law. So, one day I wrote a letter about how discriminatory it is and sent it to the Opinion page of the Hobart Mercury, and Tasmanian Senators Jacqui Lambie and Andrew Wilkie as well as the federal minister for Immigration.  I felt better but no idea if anybody will respond or open their eyes a bit. Other families must be affected by this I’d think.

Off the Shelf: 

When I get back from my upcoming trip to New South Wales I have some new books to share with you that I am enjoying very much.

Penguin of the week:

I have also rolled the random di and have a 70th anniversary Penguin picked out of the boxed set collection. That too will be shared later.

Life Happens: 

Life is starting to pick up. Thursday I am flying to Sydney to begin an eight day road trip of photography down the coast with a good friend. We will travel south of Sydney for some seascape days and then inland for some photos of areas I’ve not been to before.

Then I will have a ‘rest’ when another friend arrives, and we will spend 4 nights in Sydney visiting all the places we love. We are going to the Opera House one evening to see A Comedy of Errors.  This week I researched the play as this is a play by Shakespeare, I am not familiar with.  It looks like it will be fun and quite comical. We won’t forget the bookshops either.

Photo(s) of the week: 

Last Sunday our photography club went south of Hobart to the Wooden Boat centre at Franklin. We spent time photographing whatever we wanted for a couple of hours. I’ll share a couple of the photos at the end of this post.

It was a beautiful day and not as cold as it’s been. We really enjoyed the day and followed it with hot coffee in a local café afterwards.  It felt like life was normal again. 

I’ll be back here after 20 August sometime. Need to get over the two hour jet lag I’ll experience. I have not been off this island since 2019. 

What the Penguin did this week:

Outside of hasseling politicians I am packing.  I will see that our Penguin is on the road again with me as well. Long term followers will have seen him visiting other countries previously.  He is looking forward to this trip as much as I am.

Stay well everyone.

17 thoughts on “Classic′ – a book which people praise and don’t read. (Mark Twain)

  1. Keep hassling those politicians and newspapers. I try to write my representatives a couple of times a year at least. Sometimes I just drop them a note to thank them when they do something I like.

    I’m basically a firm believer in CRT, so I’d say just about everything in America was built on the backs of enslaved labor. Dig deep enough into the history of anything and you’ll find something.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a grandma! Wonderful. But it is as we say in Sweden “kvinnor kan” that is, “women can”. Sounds like wonderful, vivid talks. What a variety and options you have around you. The photo trip must have been wonderful, as well as the Sydney trip. Enjoy summer, oops, I was almost going to say… Enjoy winter time. Winter down under seems to have a lot of wonderful possibilities as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gatewood’s achievement is extraordinary when you think of the difference between the equipment she would have had then and what people today take with them when they attempt that walk.

    Enjoy that holiday, it sounds wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great letter Pam – bravo!
    If you make it across to Balmain on the ferry, make sure you pop into my bookshop…you may even run into our local resident author (when in Australia) GB!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Pam. I heard her on the Drum and she mentioned that law. Unbelievable. Mr Gums and I were gobsmacked. Good for you for writing that letter. I also hadn’t heard about her husband’s death until then. I felt so sad. What a shock for her.

    I don’t like horse-racing but the topics of this book really interest me.

    Are you and your friend passing through Canberra? We are in Melbourne now but will be back in 10-12 days. Enjoyed your photos as always.


    1. Thank you Sue. I saw her on the Drum too and was very surprised, then she mentioned it again at the launch here. Just incredible. No we won’t be going through Canberra. Mainly seascape photos south of Sydney and then a bit inland. My friend planned out the trip as she is familiar with good photography spots.

      Liked by 1 person

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