My father jokingly told me regularly while growing up, “You’re a Wadsworth and you’re a longfellow,” because of my long, skinny, eventual six-feet, six-inch frame.
He also told me that I am related to the famous 19th century American poet by some marriage. I’ve taken this to heart more as I’ve grown older and progressively become a better writer (a craft I feel I’ll never completely master).
I chose his name as the moniker for this blog/website not only because his middle name is my last name and his last name describes me physically, but because of who he was as a person, someone whom I aspire to be. The Maine Historical Society Page on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describes him as a writer deeply rooted in American history and life. American historical events inspired his poetry, such as Paul Revere’s Ride and The Song of Hiawatha. American history and life has inspired me ever since elementary school.
The following are my roles in life:
HISTORIAN: I’ll never forget a concerned librarian making sure the history books I was checking out weren’t over my head in second grade. As a fifth grader, I was fascinated by early explorers such as Magellan and Ponce De Leon, drawing a galleon, a sailing ship used between the 15th and 17th centuries, as one of my school projects. In 8th grade, I read every book about Butch Cassidy I could get my hands on after watching the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In college, I debated as to whether to make history my major, but decided against it because I knew one could not do much with a bachelor’s degree in history. However, I couldn’t get history out of my brain and after dawdling in a few peon jobs after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, my goal became becoming a college history professor, so I returned to college to get my Master’s degree in American history.
TEACHER: While I’ve never achieved my doctoral degree, I have been an adjunct history instructor at Dixie State University since 2010, which I thoroughly enjoy. It doesn’t even feel like a job. My day job is a middle school English teacher, which I also enjoy. Teaching at both levels has been rewarding. Knowing what I know about college students, I do my best to prepare my middle school students so they don’t make some of the same mistakes my college students are making.
WRITER: History and teaching aside, I’m also an endeavoring writer, another trait I share with the renowned poet. I started as a sportswriter in college and wrote grant applications as my first real job. Writing web copy provided for my family for four years until I decided to return to school to get my credential to become a teacher. I’m still an active journalist, covering city government for a local online newspaper, and I’m a dabbling freelancer, querying local and national publications off and on to see if they’ll publish my writing.
HUSBAND AND FATHER: Even though I identify myself as a teacher and a writer, my two most important roles are that of husband to my wife and father to my three daughters. They are my world and bring me tremendous joy. Lately some of our favorite things to do to spend time with each other are reading books, watching America’s Funniest Videos and late 80s and early 90s sitcoms (Saved by the Bell is the current favorite), going on little hikes and short family bike rides (8-year-olds and 5-year-olds can only endure so much), making cookies or other treats, and learning about other countries. As a husband, I do my best to show my love instead merely saying, “I love you,” all the time. I try to do the little things – notes, compliments, presents for no reason – and also pull my weight when it comes to household chores like laundry and dishes. Once in awhile, I might even turn on the vacuum! As a father, I strive to be a positive example and show by my actions that I care what is going on in my daughters’ lives. Some of the best moments with them, I’ve found, are lying down with them in their beds just before they go to sleep to talk to them about how their days went. That, it seems, is when they really open up and say more than in dinnertime conversation or other communications throughout the day.
OUTDOORS AFICIONADO: Another major interest that will be a theme of this blog is the outdoors. My love for the outdoors, national parks especially, stems from a father who is a zoologist and served as a park ranger and a best friend in high school whose favorite thing to do was go on trips to national parks. I was a very willing companion on those trips to places like Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion – Utah’s five spectacular national parks. We didn’t strictly focus on national parks, though. We explored state parks, such as Snow Canyon and Kodachrome Basin (Utah) and Valley of Fire (Nevada) as well as the mountains – many of the canyons in the Wasatch Range and the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah. National Park history was a major topic of research during my graduate studies. In fact, I wrote my Master’s thesis on the history of the Zion Transportation System, which includes the shuttle that takes visitors up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to lessen traffic in the canyon, as well as noise pollution and degradation to the vegetation.
The topics this blog will cover will be the same as those enjoyed by its namesake – American history and American life, but also fatherhood, teaching and the outdoors.
Thanks for reading. Please come and stay awhile and invite your friends on the journey of Wadsworth Longfellow.