Columbia Library columns (v.27(1977Nov-1978May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.27,no.1(1977:Nov): Page 3  



Memories Recaptured


Y' If ~S1II- other morning, turning the pages of The NeiD York
Times, my eyes chanced to fall upon a news item which
set in motion vague ancient memories, not from anything
in the article itself but because it was headed; "Canton, O." Al¬
though I had never visited Canton or encountered it over the years
in my role as a lawyer, or otherwise, the name registered powerful,
enjoyable but elusive associations. My attempt to recapture this
wisp of the past proved futile and it was only after relaxing from
the effort that a clue slipped through. It was a forgotten phrase
from a forgotten letter, received over a generation ago: "President
A\'illiam McKinley's home and shrine."

Recognition of the phrase, as I paused in my reading, stirred me
to clothe it with autobiographical vitality and to center my reflec¬
tion around two years as far apart as 1900 from 1940 and upon two
utterly dissimilar and unconnected individuals, our twenty-fifth
president and the writer of the letter. The year 1900 was, in many
ways, a special one for me. Chronologically, it raised a celebrated
controversy over its location in calendar time—wliether it marked
the close of the nineteenth, or the beginning of the twentieth cen¬
tury. President Seth Low of my alma mater, Columbia University,
argued for the former position, which I also favored on personal
rather than scientific grounds. For me the year 1900 registered the
end of one chapter in my life as well as the start of the one to fol-

  v.27,no.1(1977:Nov): Page 3