The Colgate Scene
July 2000
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Reviews

  Victory Faust: The Rube Who Saved McGraw's Giants
By Gabriel Schechter '73, Charles April Publications, Los Gatos, CA, 2000. 274 pp.

Meet Charles "Victory" Faust, the Kansas farmer who turned the baseball world upside down. Spurred by a fortune teller, Faust became John McGraw's invincible good luck charm, helping the New York Giants win pennants while pursuing his own pitching dreams.

     "I have been obsessed by the story of Victory Faust for more than 20 years. In 1977 I reread Lawrence S. Ritter's book in preparation for teaching a course in baseball literature at the University of Montana. Faust's improbable feat grabbed me, and within six months I wrote a novel based on Faust. I modernized it, called him Invincible King instead of Victory Faust, and gave him to the Cubs, who then as always seemed in dire need of some supernatural force to bring them a pennant. The novel had its moments, but it went unpublished . . .

     Before long, it was that the true adventures of Victory Faust were much more fascinating than the ones I was trying to invent for Invincible King. Exit King.

     By luck, I soon met John Holway, one of the two people who had done significant research on Faust. He acquainted me with the other, Thomas Busch. Like members of an obscure cult, we compared our separate findings and agreed that they raised more questions than they answered. Encouraged to explore further, I found many of the answers. Not all of them, but enough to use inference, extrapolation, and educated guesswork to piece the available parts of the puzzle into a portrait of Faust that makes sense."

-- From Gabriel Schechter's introduction


Twelve Men Down
By Robert H. Farson '46, Cape Cod Historical Publications, Yarmouth Port, MA, 2000. 246 pp.

In Colonial days Massachusetts turned to the sea for its livelihood and its means of travel. With the growth of coastal and deepwater fleets, many trips ended in disaster along her shores. The loss of lives and property was so heavy that a group was formed in Boston, the Massachusetts Humane Society. Its work up to World War II is an important part of this story and was the model for the U.S. Life-Saving Service. This is a book about rescues near the coast by men who rowed small boats into mountainous waves, often in the bitterly cold weather, because there were people in danger. Their motto was: "You have to go out: You don't have to come back." Many of them did not come back -- at Peaked Hill Bars, Shovelful Shoal, Plum Island, Cutty-hunk and Manomet Point. Here are their stories of dedication and selfless devotion to a human cause. From Martha's Vineyard and Cutty-hunk Island to Salisbury Beach -- the entire coast of Massachusetts -- there were small stations with surfboats and breeches buoys and fearless men of the sea to bring to safety those in shipwrecks. This is the only book on that story.

-- From the dust jacket


Robert Farson, a former journalist and college professor, has written three books.


The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity
By Georgia Frank, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 2000. 217 pp.

Pilgrims in the deserts of Egypt and the holy land during the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. often reported visiting holy people as part of their tours of holy places. This is the first comprehensive study of pilgrimage to famous ascetics of Christian late antiquity. Through an original analysis of pilgrim writings of this period, Georgia Frank discovers a literary imagination at work, one that both recorded and shaped the experience of pilgrimage to living saints. Taking an important new approach to these texts, Frank finds in them a record of the writers' and readers' spiritual expectations and uses fresh insights to add substantially to our understanding of the purposes and practices of pilgrimage.

-- From the dust jacket


Georgia Frank is assistant professor of philosophy and religion.


Seeing the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Museum with Julian Padowicz
BFI AudioBooks, 1397 Hope St., Stamford, CT, 2000. A project that began as an aid for the disabled has grown into a biography of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, told from an unusual perspective by author Julian Padowicz '54 and directed to the general public.

     When he found that arthritic knees prevented his 82-year-old father-in-law from completing their tour of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y, Padowicz says, he realized that there must be many other people who, for one reason or another, were not able to see such historic sites with their own eyes. A retired documentary filmmaker who has recently turned to the writing and recording of books on audiotape, Padowicz decided to become the eyes for these people, many of them visually impaired, by describing the exhibits in audio. But, as he explains, the project soon took on a life of its own.

     The result is a six-hour audio-book that is a biography of these two historic figures and an account and explanation of such events as the Great Depression, the New Deal and World War II. Padowicz readily admits that this book probably contains no new historical insights for scholars. But, as with much of his other work, he believes that it makes a serious subject accessible and interesting to the average reader or, in this case, listener. "I think that it will be of particular value to high school and college students who want a better understanding of that period in time which, to them, must seem like ancient history," he says. "But there are also many adults who would like a better understanding of the Roosevelt years, particularly in light of FDR's high placement on many recent `Man-of-the-Century' lists."

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