This morning we'll take a look at some regional magazines that have just sent new issues to the MagSampler.com newsstand. They're from diverse points of the eastern United States: Vermont Life, Georgia Backroads and Delaware Beach Life. These are all treasured regional publications that are more interested in what makes their home areas unique than in what can make your kitchen or bathroom yet more ornate and luxurious.
It's nice on a frigid February morning to get our first magazine dated Spring 2007. This issue of Vermont Life focuses on music in the Green Mountain State: the surprisingly many places to hear it played live, famous and up-and-coming musicians who live there, and a list of the "14 essential Vermont CDs," including the 50th Anniversary Album of the Marlboro Music Festival and Phish's A Picture of Nectar.
There's a glorious photo spread showing spring coming to the Vermont countryside, as well as an interesting study of Vermont's biggest trees and the team of volunteers that finds and catalogues them. I was sad to read that Vermont Life editor-in-chief Tom Slayton is leaving his post after 22 years, but I think we can assume his successor will continue the magazine's fine record.
I concur with a letter to the editor in the Winter issue of Georgia Backroads that begins, "Wow, what a great magazine! For the first time in my life, I was disappointed that my wait at the local veterinarian's was short." The magazine shows an intense interest in the state's fascinating history, especially that of its rural areas.
Daniel Roper has fashioned a a dramatic story in the issue about unrequited love. Back in the 1830s, George Tecumseh Sherman was a West Point cadet from Ohio. His roommate, Marcellus Stovall, was from Georgia. One day Stovall's younger sister Louisa came visiting the military academy, and Sherman was smitten by the Southern belle to the point of proposing marriage. Louisa declined, explaining, "Your eyes are so cold and cruel. I pity the man who would ever become your antagonist. Ah, how you would crush an enemy!"
The obviously dashing Cadet Sherman replied, "Even though you were my enemy, my dear, I would love and protect you."
Fast forward three decades, and we find Marcellus is a general in the Confederate Army, his old roommate the leader of the North's pitiless March Through Georgia.
The story goes that as his troops planned to burn the abandoned Shelman House, a mansion near Cartersville, Georgia, General Sherman learned from slaves that Louisa Stovall Shelman was mistress of the house. Sherman ordered his plundering soldiers to return everything they had taken, and left a card which read, "You once said that I would crush an enemy, and you pitied my foe. Do you recall my reply? Although many years have passed, my answer is the same now as then, 'I would ever shield and protect you.' That I have done. Forgive me all else. I am only a soldier."
We now scoot back up north to check out a recent issue of Delaware Beach Life, a bimonthly that always serves up an entertaining blend of fine photography, good writing and interesting themes.
The Delaware coast is one of those pleasant places to live that struggles to maintain its small-town ways in the face of surging real estate prices and an influx of moneyed full- and part-time residents from the big cities of the East. The magazine sees part of its mission as educating its readership with entertaining studies of the coast's history.
An example is the article in this issue about the old Rehoboth Ice House, which used to supply Rehoboth Beach with ice year-round until the 1950s, when everybody finally got their own refrigerator. The big brick building is now being transformed into a museum for the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society.
The artistry of such a story is in the details. Author Lynn Parks writes of how home delivery of ice was made: "Customers would place a small black-and-white placard in their windows to indicate how many pounds of ice they wanted on a given day. Ice delivery was a thrill for neighborhood children, who would collect the chips and shavings that fell off as the iceman cut the correct size from the large chunk in the truck."
Forgive me for this, but I watched the Warren Beatty movie Reds the other night, with Jack Nicholson playing Eugene O'Neill, and I can hear the children of Rehoboth Beach joyfully screaming, "The Iceman Cometh!"
An elderly resident remembers that for a small charge families could store their watermelons in the cool of the icehouse. The melons would be carved with the family's initials, and a couple of the kids would be dispatched in the heat of a summer's afternoon to collect one.