Sunday, July 26, 2015
Orland resident Martin Burrows, armed with press credentials and a commission to report for the Sacramento Valley Mirror, landed in Nairobi, Kenya in the summer of 2014. His stories for the paper, along with dozens of full-c0lor images, have been collected in a new book, “The Final Safari: A Photographic Essay” ($14.99 in paperback from CreateSpace, available at Amazon.com).
Burrows is no stranger to Africa. “I arranged in the 1970s,” he writes, “to go to the American University of Cairo in Egypt as an exchange student from California State University at Chico. After graduating, I got a job representing a high-profile Saudi company.” He tried to use his position for financial enrichment, meeting in Mogadishu in 1977 for the purpose of selling arms to Somalis. “The enterprise fell apart in a catastrophic fashion, and I seriously contemplated suicide. Instead, I converted to Catholicism.” It was amazing grace.
Now, Burrows was returning to Africa, to Kenya and Uganda, for cultural enrichment. With the Ebola outbreak, tourism dropped dramatically, “thus enabling me to have access to any hotel and safari vehicle I wanted.” So it was off to Nakuru Lake Park in Kenya in search of lions.
“I hired a private vehicle rather than go with a group so I could stop and get out to get good photos. As this was against park regulations, I asked my driver why this was so. He said, ‘because the lions will eat you.’ I told him, nonsense, I would give him seven dollars if he would let me out. He said, okay. I now knew what my life was worth.”
When no lions turn up on his various safaris, he begins to realize his guides were promising more than they could deliver. Burrows is determined to find the beasts despite all the “lion.” It was a matter of pride.
Uganda is friendly, but there were long bus rides. “If we are young with a cast iron behind, go for it, but at sixty seven and flabby I probably should have known better.”
From pick pockets to charging elephants, Burrows’ straight-talking account and accompanying pictures make for an armchair safari of a love affair with Africa.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Chicoan Dave Schlichting has published a documentary account of his ancestry that is a model of historical preservation. Aided by family members who provided photographs and documents, and by his own research, Schlichting has crafted the detailed story of the family patriarch in “Hinrich: Annals Of An Immigrant Family 1866-1913” ($18.95 in paperback from Memoir Books).
Hinrich “was raised on a farm near the small village of Neuland in northern Germany,” beginning “his military service with the Royal Hanoverian Guards Regiment in 1858.” He served seven years. (There’s a copy of his discharge papers and a helpful translation from the German; other documents are also translated.)
Work was not plentiful in civilian life, and Hinrich resolved to emigrate to the United States. Schlichting sifts census records and the passenger list for the steamship “America” and concludes that likely Hinrich arrived in New York City in 1866. Though post-Civil War America was still reeling from the bloodshed, what attracted many Germans--the “pulling force”--was “the availability of land. The conceptual rationalization that made land available was known as Manifest Destiny.”
The author situates his forbears’ experience within a larger historical framework. “Like other immigrants, they moved in a pattern that offered both opportunity and comfort. They lived in communities populated by German-speaking immigrants as they followed the development of the American frontier from east to west.”
There is much about land ownership in these pages, and Schlichting has provided scholarly endnotes including GPS locations so readers can enter coordinates into Google Maps.
“Hinrich,” he writes, “was the family leader who achieved a financial base first in Cincinnati and then in the farming frontier of Wabasha County, Minnesota. By June of 1870, he was a landowner in America. … His marriage to Caroline Truebenbach was the beginning of a diverse first American-born generation with dispersed families in the West and the Midwest. The American generation included my grandparents, Henry and Emma Schlichting.” (A tidbit: Henry’s two brothers also married women named Emma.)
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Sunday, July 05, 2015
The two friends are also rivals, especially where women are involved, and Barkowski skillfully weaves together their tangled history with what they uncover about Del’s heritage. It’s gritty stuff, with raw emotion (and language) and, in context, a picture perfect ending.