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July 4th - 20 years ago

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

July 4th - 20 years ago

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
July 5, 2009

July 4th will always have special meaning to me - for many different reasons. But one July 4th - in 1989 - will always be special. That was the day I declared my independence from the Great State of New Mexico and fled west to Phoenix! When I arrived, it was 117 degrees in the shade (and no shade!) and I wondered what I had really done!

I had headed west out of Albuquerque on I-40 and, once I was in Arizona, I left the super slab and cut cross-country on "Blue Highways" - those blue-lined roads that take you through all the little towns (except on many maps now they are really red lines). I took the "scenic" route, not the quickest, and I went through places like Snowflake and Payson (those were the bigger towns), and I recall being delayed for the 4th of July parade in one town.

I mention Blue Highways and recommend the book, of which I had not yet heard at that time, to all readers who savor lengthy descriptions of small details. William Least Heat-Moon (1939 -) wrote Blue Highways while he was on a long van trip through the Southeast from Columbia, Missouri. He is a writer who can drive 50 miles and write ten chapters about the people he has met and the experiences he has had.

Right now I'm reading River Horse, which is about Heat-Moon's river trip in a 28' dory from New York to the West Coast in one season! Up the Hudson River, down the Ohio River, up the Mississippi River, up the Missouri River. (This is as far as I have read.) His books are not to be considered "quick reads"; every page is to be savored. \

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