Pilgrimage

“In response to a telegram from the American Civil Liberties Union, I reached Dayton in time for my evening meal on July 13.”

That’s Dr. Winterton Curtis, recalling a pilgrimage of sorts and his non-participation as one of the disallowed expert scientific witnesses in the 1925 Scopes Trial in Tennessee. He was a distinguished zoologist from the University of Missouri. His autobiographical account of “Fundamentalism vs Evolution at Dayton, Tennessee” was published serially in the summer of 1956.

In 1957, a young veterinary student, his wife, and their newborn son rented Dr. Curtis’s second floor ($45/month). It would be their home until that young student graduated and moved away to set up practice in the St. Louis area. Dr. Curtis would visit them periodically until his death at age 91, in 1966, charming the little boy, miraculously extracting dollar bills from his ears.

I’m still charmed by Dr. Curtis’s accounts of Dayton, Columbia, and the perennial tug of war between science and faith. We’ll talk about that in class today.

I bet we’ll talk as well about the President’s remarkable oration in Dallas yesterday.

And, because part of me occupies the alternate universe in which our Study Abroad course might have drawn two more participants, maybe we’ll also talk a bit about Freud and Keats. We were to visit their homes today. Highgate Cemetery, too, final London home of Karl Marx.

The home I’d really like to revisit, though, is the one on Westmount I left at age 3. That would be some pilgrimage.

5:43/5:42, 73/95, 8:03

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