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Little Lives



It’s obvious now that some of my reading habits during the last fifteen or twenty years have had a great influence on the character of this project—very likely on my own character, as well. A book that I acquired in the mid-80s is among them, Little Lives (which I continually recall as Minor Lives) by the pseudonymous author John Howland Spyker, who was really Richard Elman. In the tradition of classics such as Spoon River Anthology and Winesburg, Ohio, but sadly neglected today, I return to Spyker again and again. And on those all-too-frequent occasions when I’m unable to lay my hands on it, the sub-ether has made all too easy the ability to find a quick replacement copy; there may be four of them lying around the house right now. I blogged years ago about the virtues of Spyker’s local-history-as-biographical-anthology style and today I find myself back at the trough, wondering about the three generations of family in this wonderful postcard image.


Not in the “dime a dozen” category, still these unidentified family cards don’t sell well, unless there’s something special about them: obvious ethnicity or race; occupation or activity. Clowns are big right now, just not with me.

As someone from a very, very small family—technically, I’m IT right now—one wonders how such evocative images get away from the homes of other family members. I’d be disinclined to let my own ancestors slip from my grasp. Somehow, I feel a story coming on.

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