I learned today with great sadness of the passing of Sally Grossman. The name may be unfamiliar but she stares out, cigarette held aloft, on the cover of one of best albums of Bob Dylan’s career, Bringing It All Back Home. I’m listening to it right now as I type these words. More than just a beautiful woman who could strike a mesmerizing pose, Ms. Grossman was instrumental in helping her husband Albert Grossman manage many of the most important individuals and groups of the folk/blues revival. In his memoir This Wheel’s on Fire Levon Helm of The Band talks about how Sally Grossman championed what was then still Dylan’s backup musicians. She carried on with the work after her husband’s untimely passing in 1986. Here is a brief video of the creation of the album cover. I have always loved that the room still exists today preserved in the condition it was in 1965. Click here for some lovely outtakes and more. Even better, do so while listening to the record.
I spent much of last night and now this morning searching for potential images that I might use in “Incorporating New York,” my manuscript about Civil War Era New York City. The other day prepping for this I drafted a list of persons, events, and institutions that I would most like to see in the book should it get published, which I’m working hard to make happen. I am trying to find things that are a little different and less familiar to readers. So often we see that same images over and over, which is unfortunate given the rich visual history of the American Civil War. Here is an image that I will not use in my book because it’s a little beyond the scope of my narrative, but that I thought I would share here because it is so powerful. It is a woodcut drawn by Frank Vizetelly. I was having a conversation several years ago now with one of the rangers at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace in which we got onto the topic of refugeeism during the War of the Rebellion. I made the point that many Americans don’t or can’t comprehend that during our own civil war we had displaced persons just like any country experiencing internal strife. This image is from July 1862, which means the people we see here are fleeing the fighting out west under the direction of Ulysses S. Grant and others.
They have my article up and running over at Roads to the Great War about husband and wife team John Jacob and Edith Nourse Rogers. This was a fun piece to write.
Today is the 75th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” speech. It was on March 5, 1946 at Fulton, Missouri’s Westminster College that the former prime minister gave what is more commonly know as his “Iron Curtain” address. Yes, former prime minister. It is important to remember that Churchill left Downing Street after being defeated by Labour’s Clement Attlee in 1945. Standing there with Truman seated beside him, Churchill was speaking in his capacity as Leader of the Opposition. Whatever his other failings Churchill always saw the dangers posed by Stalin and the Soviet Union, despite the alliance during the war. The Iron Curtain speech met with mixed reviews, some regarding Churchill’s remarks about a threat from Eastern Europe as prescient and others casting his words as those of a warmonger. I can’t say I know that much about Churchill but I would wager that it was this address that led him to return to working on his eventual four-volume “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples,” which he had begun in the 1930s between the World Wars and put down for obvious reason some time around the Blitz. Again though, that’s just a hunch.
That time immediately after the Second World War is fascinating because it is seemingly so close and yet far removed all at once. It is still living memory for some, fewer and fewer every year however. Here is a five-minute excerpt for a late winter’s day of that event from 75 years ago today.