DAYS THAT WERE by Gerald Warner Brace


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. . . specifically those days of the first twenty-one years of the author's life as the youngest (b. 1901) in a well-to-do family of writers, scientists, and educators. (Brace's great-grandfather, a pioneer in female education, taught an admiring Harriet Beecher Stowe.) This is mainly a tribute to New England scenes, high occasions, and inclinations of the spirit. Brace lovingly details those skating get-togethers, camping trips, messings about on boats, school and (Amherst) college days--and especially the lone walks through the horse-and-buggy culture of rural New England on a ""soul's quest for an Arcadian past."" But his present awareness colors retrospect: ""From our beautiful hilltop we looked down on the village below and were confident that our own habits and tastes were the standards by which all others should be judged."" (He was dumbfounded when he first learned that not everyone had turkey for Thanksgiving, but fish--if they were lucky.) There was a sunny side to this age of innocence: ""the sense of the immanent mystery above and beyond our ordinary affairs turned our lives into a drama of transcendent possibilities."" And such wonders--a first glimpse of the Alps, roller skating ""in a euphoric dream"" down Fifth Avenue the day it was roped off. A pleasant, balanced testament to other times.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1976
Publisher: Norton