Excerpt from Chapter Fifteen – “You were my teacher!”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Fifteen – “You were my teacher!”:

Clio and Winston Dash emerged from the stillness of the Madison
Building into the effervescent brightness of the mid-Wednesday
afternoon sunlight. All of Washington seemed alive before them. Streets
teamed with traffic. Tourists mixed with locals as they pounded the sidewalks
and packed into and emerged out of the South Capitol Metro stop. It was
their sixth day together, and both were in need of a major distraction. Once
outside, they determined to take in as much of the Smithsonian Institution
and Mall as time would allow. They scanned the scene before them.

Of the sixteen museums and galleries that made up the Smithsonian
complex, nine buildings spread out before them in the Mall area between the
Washington Monument and the Capitol. Seven lined the south side of the
Mall along Jefferson Drive; two on the north side along Madison Drive.
Begun by an act of Congress in 1846 and signed by President James K. Polk
at the height of American expansion toward the Pacific, the museum’s initial
collection came to be housed in a single building known as the “Castle.” Over
the next one hundred years, the Smithsonian added only three more buildings.
But in the last third of the twentieth century, it virtually exploded with
ten new museums on or near the Mall, mirroring its country’s equally expanding
population and cultural interests. The number of museum buildings
along the Mall surprised Clio, prompting a comment about the growing problem
of the nation’s “junk.” Winston responded with something about the
need for a massive national garage sale.

Excerpt from Chapter Fourteen – “As long as it is with you”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Fourteen – “As long as it is with you”:

For thirty minutes, Winston raced through microfilmed documents to
or emanating from Theodore Roosevelt, written sometime during the
month of March, 1903. Many involved the ongoing negotiations over a proposed
isthmian canal. President Roosevelt had determined that one would be
built, in Mexico, Nicaragua, or in Panama. He cared not about the location,
only that it be built and that it be built by the United States. The project, for
Roosevelt, would become a cornerstone in making the 20th century “the
American Century.” Although his March 14 letter to John Burroughs didn’t
say it directly, Winston knew the reference to an “unforeseen disaster in the
Senate,” probably had to do with the canal negotiations.

He also knew, from his perfect 20-20 historical hindsight, that disaster
was not far off. It was a negotiation that would first place the proposed American-
built canal in Nicaragua, then in the Colombian state of Panama. But
negotiations with Colombia would eventually break down over Colombia’s
desire for more U.S. dollars. It would produce the tirade from Roosevelt,
calling the Colombian Senators “a bunch of bandits” and the classic Roosevelt
line: “Trying to get the Colombian government to come to an agreement is
like trying to nail currant jelly to a wall.” Roosevelt’s anger, coupled with
Colombia’s recalcitrance resulted in an August, 1903, revolution in Panama,
followed by immediate American recognition of the new Republic of Panama
and a treaty allowing the United States to built Roosevelt’s canal. And
Theodore Roosevelt’s role in all of this? Winston remembered the simple line
from Roosevelt’s autobiography: “I took Panama!” And so he had.

Excerpt from Chapter Thirteen – “Sugar in the Capitol Cafe”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Thirteen – “Sugar in the Capitol Cafe”:

Beneath the ground between the Jefferson and Madison Buildings, an
area that Winston estimated put them somewhere under South Capitol
Street, he and Clio entered the Capitol Cafe, the cafeteria that served the
Library of Congress. Cheery, brightly lit, spotlessly clean, it was a place the
two would visit every day; a combination reflection-meditation-decompression
chamber for the Dashes. Adding to its charms was the fact that it served
some of the cheapest food in town, at least in their part of town. The Capitol
Cafe was exactly what Winston needed.

Breezing through the service line with food trays in hand, Clio located a
corner table while Winston paid the tab. She dumped her tray onto the table,
pulled a plastic bag from her back pocket and sat down. Into a ceramic coffee
cup she tore up a long, green leaf, followed by steamy hot water. The water
instantly turned a pale green color. Clio then placed a saucer on top of the
cup, allowing its contents to steep.

Excerpt from Chapter Twelve – “Among Jefferson’s Books”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Twelve – “Among Jefferson’s Books”:

Music blasting from overhead speakers filled the bedrooms where
Winston and Clio slept. Sitting up with a start, Winston checked
his watch. It was 7:00 a.m. His initial reaction to the music was something on
the order of “what the heck . . . ?” After another more lucid moment, he
smiled and laid his head back down on the pillow, tucking both hands under
the back of his neck. Within another ten seconds, Clio burst into his room.

“WHAT THE HELL?” she blurted out, arms flailing.

“Come lay down next to me, kid. I’ll fill you in.” Clio plopped herself
down on top of the covers without a word. Winston then asked, “Do you recognize
this music?”

“You know I don’t know this stuff like you do, Papa. What is it?”

“It’s Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser Overture. Hampy is playing a game
with us . . . or with me. Did I ever tell you how I got into classical music?”

“Nope,” she said simply, grabbing a share of Winston’s pillow.

Excerpt from Chapter Eleven – “L’Enfant’s City”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Eleven – “L’Enfant’s City”:

The final descent through Maryland to Washington, D.C. was quick
but not entirely without initial distractions. It began with a long-distance
phone call from Samuel’s Cafe to Dr. Hampton Bugh. Hampy, an old
and neglected friend, lived in D.C. and taught ancient Greek and Roman history
at Catholic National University. Winston’s call caught Hampton taking
his lunch at home. It was the first time the two had spoken in more than ten
years, one of four or five times since graduating together from the University
of Iowa’s doctoral program. His motive was not so much an attempt to renew
an old friendship as to make a helpful Washington contact, a person to help
take the edge off the big city. Hampy would be that, at least, Winston
thought. The call yielded that and more. Not only did he insist on showing
the two around town, but he gleefully volunteered his home near campus as
their Washington home base for as long as they needed it.

Excerpt from Chapter Ten – “Mennonites, Moravians and Mullein”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Ten – “Mennonites, Moravians and Mullein”:

Sunday evening’s dinner for Winston and Clio was simple enough.
Quick and easy. It entailed walking the length of the town again to its
only fast food restaurant and the only one still open. Both ordered a cheeseburger,
fries, a thick chocolate malt, and both, subsequently, spent a considerable
amount of time in the rest rooms cleaning up. Finally, with their
dinner eaten, teeth brushed after an encore visit to the restrooms and an
uneventful walk back to van, they agreed to call it an early evening.

Their serendipitous Sunday in Intercourse turned out to be one of the
most genteel days of their entire trip. It had a quality of light-hearted, lazy,
coziness to it. Both Winston and Clio remained relaxed, comfortable and
clearly getting used to each other. And, as if to seal their bond for that day,
they resolved to retire early but not before a game of cribbage—a family
favorite and a game Clio had mastered since her ninth birthday.

Excerpt from Chapter Nine – “Making Perfect Sense”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Nine – “Making Perfect Sense”:

Aside from the few cars moving up and down the main drag of Intercourse,
Pennsylvania, stillness and cold seemed the dominant characteristics
that both helped and hindered the exchange between Winston and
Clio that evening. The stillness had allowed them to focus, concentrate on
each other’s words. The cold forced them to turn back. At conversation’s end,
they found themselves at the other end of town, cold, and without having seen
any of it. When they realized how far they had walked and how little they had
seen, father and daughter thought it pretty darn funny and began to laugh.
They laughed harder when they both recognized that they had “experienced
Intercourse” together but not realized it. They decided it might have been
easier had the town’s founders simply named it Trade or Commerce rather than
Intercourse. Clio volunteered that the name pretty much took her breath away
and left a perpetual smirk. That, in turn, led to a round of potty humor, more
guffaws and a scene more reminiscent of the raucousness of Bourbon Street
than the solemnity of the Old Pennsylvania Pike.

Excerpt from Chapter Eight – “Stuck in Intercourse”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Eight – “Stuck in Intercourse”:

Winston and Clio traveled “the scenic route” on much of their journey
east since its inception. It took them through the heartland of
the old mid-western farm country, a northern sliver of the Appalachian
Mountain chain called the Alleghenies and back into the farmland of south
central Pennsylvania. From Gettysburg, their map directed them eastward to
the town of York and then south along Interstate 83 into Maryland and, eventually,
to Washington, D.C. The southern descent into Maryland would have
taken them through more rolling hills with tall, fifty-year-old trees lining the
interstate. Unfortunately, they missed their turnoff at York. So caught up in
conversation and music, they continued for another 27 miles on old Highway
30 before Winston realized his mistake.

The “mistake” put them just past Lancaster, Pennsylvania, into the heart
of Amish country. With a quick jog to the left past Lancaster, Highway 30
joined Pennsylvania Route 340, the “Old Pennsylvania Pike,” a scenic road
connecting some of the most beautiful farmland in America with quaint towns
like Bird-in-Hand, White Horse, and Intercourse. While these towns clearly
had their attractions—good food, Amish and Mennonite handicrafts, historical
museums—it was always the farms that commanded Winston’s attention
and curiosity.

Excerpt from Chapter Seven – “At Gettysburg: Vision Place of the Soul”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Seven – “At Gettysburg: Vision Place of the Soul”:

The road opening onto the Gettysburg National Battlefield began almost
at the center of the old town. It was lined with souvenir shops, a wax
museum, motels and restaurants. But once on hallowed ground, it seemed as
though all the distractive signs of American free enterprise abruptly ended and the
focus of the morning’s journey became clear. Lying before them was a portion of
a twenty-five square mile battlefield, the site that marked the turning point in the
costliest, deadliest war in American history. Winston thought about the details.
From purely a human perspective, over 7,000 men were killed at Gettysburg,
33,000 were wounded and nearly 11,000 went missing. But hundreds of dead
horses, cows and oxen also dotted the battlefield after its three days of fighting,
adding to the stench of death. And as a quirk of fate, the casualty lists also
included a Miss Jennie Wade, a twenty-year-old woman who was kneading bread
in the kitchen of her mother’s home when a bullet passed through the door and
into her back. The young woman died instantly.

Excerpt from Chapter Six – “Lunch with Maude and Muir”

Roosevelt, Muir, Clio and Me: A Novel of Loss and Discovery by David Matthew Wilcox

Excerpt from Chapter Six – “Lunch with Maude and Muir”:

It took a road sign, reading “Gettysburg—30 miles” for Winston to begin
re-focusing his thoughts on the road. Lost in his own personal world of
the past for over an hour, he said nothing. And Clio let him get by with it. It
was “quiet time,” like the kind Winston and Elizabeth insisted upon during all
their family road trips after their two girls had played and talked nonstop for
hours in the back of the car. Usually the combined parental hope was that
both girls would fall asleep quickly, leaving them to hold hands, softly caress
each other’s forearms, and touch in the simplest of ways; making love in
miniature, with finger tips and open, waiting palms.

But this “quiet time” needed to be a time to re-focus, not a time for
depressing self-indulgence. Winston discovered shortly after Elizabeth’s
death how easily self-indulging pity came. It was comfortable, secure, irresponsible,
easy, but, above all, sad. When it gripped him he could be excused
from anything: a faculty meeting, parental responsibilities, cleaning the
house, washing the dishes, showering, changing clothes, eating. He was a
mess. Had he ever a mind to murder someone, his mental state was so gripping
in times like these that no jury in the world would find him anything but
not guilty by reason of depression. Fortunately, murder was seldom on his
mind. Even more fortunate, Winston eventually discovered that time gave
him a sense of perspective on his life; that when he found himself slipping into
that great vortex of indulgent self-pity, he could use his knowledge of human
history to re-scramble his mind. In a practical exercise on the notion that
“misery loves company,” he would travel through time and become a witness
to the Great Plague of the fourteenth century, or a Native American along the
“Trail of Tears,” a survivor of the Bataan Death March, a Holocaust survivor
or a POW returning from Vietnam. Somehow the idea that life, or God, or
the fates had betrayed just him, alone, seemed idiotic in the face of such hardship.
All he needed to do was flip that switch. The sign to Gettysburg and the
history it conjured in Winston’s mind was just such a switch.