Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dr F. Jack Hurley reports on family trip to England and Scotland, and on Emmy nomination

We are just back from a nearly three-week trip through England and Scotland. It was one of those things that just grew like topsy. Suzanne wanted to go to the Cameron Clan gathering, a once-per-decade affair (her maiden name was Cameron) up above Ft. William in the Scottish Highlands, and I wanted to go to the CLA Game Fair, a massive celebration of everything about the English countryside (including um, English shotguns), so we compromised and did both. The Game Fair was held at Belvoir Castle in the northern English countryside on the last full week-end in July; with the Cameron Gathering coming the next week-end.

We told our friends and relations about our plan and that is when things started gathering momentum. Suzanne's son, Jim Linder, decided that he wanted to see the Game Fair and attend the Clan Gathering as well, so he and his wife signed on.

Then our son-in-law, Robin Johnson, told his teenaged daughters, Erin (16) and Lachlan (14) that if they won at the state level in their respective catagories in High School History Day, he would send them to England and Scotland with us. Both girls really buckled down on their History Day projects. They had gotten interested in my books about documentary photography and both wound up doing Marion Post Wolcott. They interviewed me a couple of times and then went off and did their projects. I still have never seen Erin's, which was a monologue. I did see Lachlan's ten-minute film, and suggested one change, a word which was mispronounced, but that was all. Both girls won first place at the local level and also at the North Carolina History Day competition in Raleigh. Lachlan's film won the national gold medal for the best project relating to agriculture! How about that! Needless to say, we were delighted to have both girls with us for the trip.

Because the girls had not been to Great Britain before, we added a few days in London at the beginning and end of the journey. Erin loves the theatre, so we got tickets to see "Billy Elliot" (great fun, but the film is better). We also worked in short visits with my nieces and their families, as well as my sister and brother-in-law.

The three days between Game Fair and the Cameron Gathering were spent knocking around the Yorkshire Dales, so the girls got a good taste of the British countryside. We used the train system to do the long runs and rented cars when necessary to get out and about. It really worked nicely. Although there were challenges in getting six people moved around and housed and fed, I think this may well have been the best trip to the UK that I have had in many years. The girls were totally "gob smacked" (stunned) by London, the English countryside, and especially Scotland. It was really lovely seeing everything new again through their eyes.

It is good to be home now. I went to my blacksmith shop and worked yesterday and will be there again this afternoon. Good, hot, sweaty work. One other bit of news. "Documenting the Face of America," the PBS film I worked on, has been nominated for an Emmy. Pretty neat, eh?

I think that pretty well brings things up to date. You are welcome to share any or all of this massive missive with departmental folks.

Best regards to you and all,
Jack H.

Webmaster's note: The film that Dr Hurley refers to is "Documenting the Face of America: Roy Stryker and the FSA/OWI Photographers," which appeared on PBS stations in August 2008. Dr Hurley is the author of three books on FSA photographers: Portrait of a Decade, Roy Stryker and the FSA/OWI Photographers; Russell Lee: Photographer; and Marion Post Wolcott: A Photographic Journey. (For a fuller story about the film, visit the article on the Department of History Web site.)

Since his retirement in 2004 after 38 years of teaching, during which he twice served as chair of the department, Dr Hurley has lived in Davidson, North Carolina. His wife, Dr Suzanne Linder Hurley, is also a historian.


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