Monday, September 22, 2008

The Churchill Series - Sept. 22, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Readers Note: Portions of this post first appeared in a Nov. 2006 post.

FDR, Ike, Harry Hopkins, George Marshall, and Bernard Baruch were just some of the Americans Churchill sought to learn more about and wanted to meet.

Two others who belong on that list are William Cody and Ulysses S. Grant.

In the summer of 1887, “Buffalo Bill” Cody brought his “Wild West Show” to London. The twelve year old Winnie Churchill, considered by some of his teachers and relatives “wild” himself, was eager to see the show.

Biographer Martin Gilbert in Churchill and America tells us about what happened:

[Cody’s] advertisement in The Times trumpeted its attractions in capital letters.” GRANDSTAND FOR 20,000 PEOPLE. BANDS OF SIOUX, ARAPAHOES, SHOSHONES, CHEYENNES, AND OTHER INDIANS, COWBOYS, SCOUTS AND MEXICAN VACQUEROS.”

There would be riding, shooting, lassoing and hunting, attacks on a stagecoach and on a settler’s cabin. […]

Churchill, then at boarding school in Brighton, wrote several times to his mother, urging her to write to the two sisters who ran the school to let him go up to London.
At first Jennie said no, but Churchill, a persistent campaigner even at age 12, kept at it until he got a “Yes.”

Needless to say, he enjoyed the show hugely and talked about it into old age.

Ulysses S. Grant?

That same year with Christmas, coming, Churchill, having just turned 13, told his mother one of the gifts he most wanted was Grant’s recently released two-volume memoirs.

What an extraordinary request from any 13 year old, and particularly one seen by some of his schoolmasters as not very bright and a problem student.

Churchill got the memories and devoured them.

Concerning young students with school problems it's been my experiences that if they’re independent readers of serious material, there’s a very good chance they'll turn out OK in the end.
Material drawn from Gilbert's Churchill and America is found on pgs. 8 & 9.