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[TSS] I love the 60’s…the 1860’s

March 7, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

I’m not a terribly religious person. Ok, I’m not a religious person at all. I was, though, brought up about ten miles from Walden pond and the center of Concord, Massachusetts. For those who don’t know, that beautiful little hiking pad was also the birthplace and growth place for the closest thing to a religion I’ll subscribe to: transcendentalism.

I’ll try not to go too deep on a Sunday morning but just in case you’ve left your copy of Walden at home, today, I’ll give you the quick and painless version. Transcendentalists were 100 years ahead of the more popular hippies of the 1960’s. This being true, there are many similarities. Transcendentalism is the idea that religion, God, love and spirituality are not to be encapsulated with in a being, a pulpit or any hard and fast social or structural state.

Beyond religion, there was a great movement against the political, what some might refer to as “suffocation” occurring at the time. Emerson, Thoreau, Peabody, the Alcotts, you know the like, were the Abbie Hoffmans, the Arlo Guthries, the bob Dylans and the Allen Ginsbergs of their day. They formed communes, wrote inflammatory (and sometimes helpfully progressive) letter to their government and did a great deal of soul searching still ringing around the country, today.

What’s the point and what does this have to do with books? Ah, I shall tell you.




I am extremely excited about this series of kids’ books about a bear named, what else but Henry. Henry and his friends, Alcott and Emerson and the like, travel through the New England countryside, discussing work, play, nature and their surroundings. The pictures are bright and choppy in a simple, albeit realistic way.

My son loves them and I’m sure that they are loved by many more children but I think that they’re also a relatively easy way for adults to learn about the mindset of the counterculture of the sixties, the 1860’s, that is. Check them out and let me know what you think. They may not be quite as appealing to people who didn’t grow up in the same trees as Henry and Ralph but I think they might be inspiring just the same.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2010 9:47 pm

    How interesting! I’ll have to look into these to read with my son, who is 5. My husband and I both turned out back on our childhood religions (Catholicism) but now that I have a child, I want to provide him with some kind of spiritual path to follow so this might be a good introduction to something that might work for both of us.

  2. SaraKate permalink
    March 10, 2010 5:16 pm

    I LOVE THOSE BOOKS. I haven’t seen Henry Works yet, but I’d love to read it since I love all the others and share a love for Thoreau, obviously. 🙂

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