Sunday, April 23, 2023

Washington Chasing Mr. Brown at Brandywine


I recently came across an account of Washington at Brandywine which matches up very well with my description in The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, and even has an illustration!

Arthur Becher, illustrator

Meanwhile Washington, hearing the firing far away on his right and fearing some disaster, dashed toward the sound, followed by his Aides and guided by a frightened and unwilling old man, named Joseph Brown, who had been hoisted on a horse and told to away on his right and fearing some disaster, dashed toward the sound, followed by his Aides and guided by a frightened and unwilling old man, named Joseph Brown, who had been hoisted on a horse and told to lead the way at top speed. Away they dashed across the fields, flying over fences and ditches, Washington continually urging his guide to set a faster pace and exclaiming " Push along, old man! Push along! " whenever he showed signs of weakening. But despite this wild steeple-chase, before the Commander-in-Chief could reach the scene of action, the defeated columns came rolling back in dire confusion.On the trail of Washington; a narrative history of Washington's boyhood and manhood, based on his own writings, authentic documents and other authoritative information, by Hill, Frederick Trevor, 1866-1930. 

By this time the gunfire was quickening, making Buttercup as skittish as an unbroken filly. I was still trying to get up on her when General Washington himself emerged from the house, calling for a guide to lead him to Birmingham Road. I half hoped and half feared that I would be that guide, but instead his aides brought up an elderly man from the neighborhood, Mr. Joseph Brown. Old Mr. Brown made every possible excuse not to go, but in the end was convinced at swordpoint where his duty lay. When he protested his lack of a horse, one of Washington’s aides dismounted from his own fine charger. As Brown reluctantly climbed into the saddle, Washington sat impatiently on his own beautiful white horse. The instant the frightened farmer was in place, Washington snapped a whip at the rump of the reluctant guide’s horse, which leaped into a gallop. The general followed, spurring his own mount until its nose pushed into the leader’s flank like a colt suckling its mother. Even this didn’t satisfy Washington, who cracked his whip and shouted, “Push along, old man, push along!” Spellbound, I watched the two race up the hill across the golden fields, jumping the fences as they came to them. I had never seen such horsemanship—superb on the part of the general, dreadful on the part of Mr. Brown. Behind them ran a ragged line of soldiers, rucksacks bobbing as they sped over the uneven ground.        —The Riddle of Penncroft Farm 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

My First Published Work!

During the 1956 presidential campaign, we went to see General Eisenhower in Peoria, Illinois. I wrote about our experience and my account was published in our elementary school "newspaper," called "Heard the Latest." (My last name was Johnson then, before I became Dorothea Jensen.) I was in the 7th grade.

Here's what I wrote:


By Dorothea Johnson

President Eisenhower is coming to Peoria. At this news, we were all pretty excited, but it wasn’t till the day he came that we decided to go. So, at about 7:00 P.M. we started out. My father, uncle, brother, and I. We took some of Mom’s friends with us too, but Mom decided to stay home.

Well, my brother and I both were dressed up, and my father and uncle were wearing suits. First of all, we went to the Bradley University Field House to see him talk, but the place was crowded so they wouldn’t let us in so we went to the airport, after buying some official-looking “I Like Ike” badges.

At the airport, it was mobbed so we lost Mom’s friends in the shuffle. Boy we were lucky that happened, you will know why later as they were dressed in Bermuda shorts and weren’t official-looking at all.

Next, as we were looking for a place see the President taking off, we found a gap in between a fence and a wall. We squeezed through and found ourselves in the midst of Secret Service and FBI Men. One was calling Washington DC on a phone hooked to a special truck nearby, describing the scene. They must have thought Daddy was a senator or something because they didn’t pay any attention to us. Before the President came, however, we noticed a foursome next to us. They were Senator and Mrs. Dirksen and Governor and Mrs. Stratton of Illinois. Pretty soon Governor Stratton came over, shook hands with all of us, and talked to us like he would a senator or something! I was giggling because my uncle’s glasses only had one shaft and he looked pretty silly.

Later, when the President was about to take off in the plane, he was standing in the door of the plane and was nodding at the main group of people, which was way over on the other side from us, and my uncle fairly screamed at the top of his lungs, “Good luck, Mister President!” The President turned, startled, then smiled and waved his hat at my uncle. Of course, he had a reason to be startled, for we were standing among the Secret Service and FBI Men.

Then we went up to the cars the President had arrived in. They were black and had chrome-plated handles for the S.S. and FBI Men to hold onto when they stood on the running board. On the back of the Lincoln convertible there was a big bulletproof transparent bubble. We stuck our heads inside the car and knocked a few times on the bubble. Of course, we received a few glassy stares for this.

When we had looked our fill, we went back to the car and found Mom’s two friends waiting. We had bet ourselves that we could keep quiet about our adventure ‘till we got home. We told them that we couldn’t see the President from where we were. They told us we should have stayed with them because they had a good view from the stands. (Of course, this filled me with uncontrollable giggles.) Halfway home I burst with the giggles and told them the whole story.

I will never forget, as long as I live, our little episode with the President.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Always nice to come across data online that backs up history bits I've used in my books!

 ". . .Lafayette’s division played a key role in breaking British defenses in Yorktown, which forced them to surrender on October 19, 1781."

When Washington appeared, with men, materiel, and horses,

He put “The Boy” in charge of nearly one-third of our forces.

Thus on the Yorktown battlefield, our fa-vor-ite marquis

Performed a starring role to win this final vic-to-ry.

                —Liberty-Loving Lafayette © 2020 by Dorothea Jensen