'What I did on my summer vacation'


Saturday, August 19, 2006

It's the classic first-day-of-school assignment.

The teacher tells you to get out a fresh piece of paper and a sharpened pencil and write an essay on the topic of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation."

This year, The Register-Mail turned things around.

We gave area teachers a back-to-school homework assignment: Tell us what you did on your summer vacation.

Their responses show that teachers work hard even when they are not in front of a classroom but manage to sneak in some relaxation, travel and time with friends and family over the summer as well.


Lee L. Morgan Professor of History and International Studies at Monmouth College

This was an odd summer. Because my parents have not been in good health, I chose not to teach in Europe, but to tend my garden and write. As it turned out, my parents are doing well. Not as well as my roses, but they live too far away to get daily personal attention. Only the evening phone call.

As for the writing, that's been good, too. First of all the weekly essay for the Daily Review Atlas, usually a book review. Summarizing contents is an excellent way to make sure that they have been mastered. Then there was the revised edition of the "Samogitian Crusade." Only an author fully understands how much work remains when a book is "finished." In this case, the Lithuanian translation had come out last fall. My London publisher sends me daily messages about "Medieval Mercenaries: The Business of War." I also sent in "Bayonets for Hire: The Business of War, 1550-1763." We are already discussing illustrations.

For fun I work on a murder mystery, "The Dean Is Dead," and its sequels. Alas, it's easier to write than to find readers. Publication is unlikely - everyone envisions himself a novelist, and it's too low-key for readers like my wife, who likes the bloodiest stuff imaginable. We have young grandchildren in town now who enjoy our two big dogs and the large yard and their parents need an occasional hand and a relaxing meal. Did I mention that we occasionally have people over? The deck is comfortable, the pond is lovely and the company great.