Larry F. Sommers

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Hi! My name is Larry F. Sommers. I am a writer, seeking fresh meaning in our common past.

My “F” stands for Franklin, a name that honors one of my uncles, who died flying a B-26 in the Second World War.

My family is from little Knoxville, Illinois. In the town square stands a square-hewn timber cabin, the first permanent structure in Knox County, built by storekeeper John G. Sanburn in 1832. This Sanburn cabin was donated to the city by my grandmother, who discovered it under the clapboard siding of her house, when she began tear it down in 1963.

I spent my boyhood in Streator, Illinois. I sat in the stacks of the Streator Public Library—a lovely classical building donated by Andrew Carnegie—reading science fiction by Lester Del Rey, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke.My best friend and I invested our boyish enthusiasm in the U.S. space program and were crushed on October 4, 1957, when the Russians beat us to space with Sputnik.

Later, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I learned American history from a wonderful man, Leo Gebhardt, to whom folks like Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and Teddy Roosevelt were like personal friends.

Later still, I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Vietnam War.

Maybe you can see why I believe that our very lives are part of history, and history is a part of our lives. Everything about the past is alive to me, and I hope to bring it alive to others—both for the valuable lessons it can teach us, and for the sheer entertainment and fascination it conveys.

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