“Memories of Government Springs Park”

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Government Springs Park was once the pride of Enid, Oklahoma. During my childhood, government was considered a good thing, so we often used that full name in admiration. Today it’s usually called simply Springs Park. Every school child knew it had been a camp site on the old Chisholm Trail, the best known of the routes used to drive cattle from Texas to the Kansas railroads after the Civil War.

Photo credit: Bill Robinson

It was a perfect campground: hills overlooking the flat land where the cattle grazed and, most important, the drinking water from natural springs that fed the lake. These things also made a perfect park for children: the flat land – then punctuated with unsafe but exciting wooden swings, hand-operated merry-go-rounds, and seesaws – was great for running. We could drink from the springs, at that time corralled by a pipe. I’m sure the water was less than pure, but I never knew anyone to get sick from it. We could climb the gentle hills to the swimming pool, and, on special occasions, my father would spring for a quarter to rent a rowboat to take us on the lake.

It was a child’s paradise except that we could never climb the steeper hills on the south side of the lake. That was reserved for the “colored people,” as the other two-thirds of the park was reserved for whites. I was curious, as children are about anything forbidden, but never dared to go. I understood my parents didn’t agree with the law, but it was the law, and arguing was not permitted.

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Introduction to Literature: Robert Coover’s “A Sudden Story”

By Sibylle Machat

Introduction to Literature. Fiction. The session on narrative perspectives – something that teachers often love, but first year literature students just as often dread (close to the horrors of metrical feet in poetry). Nevertheless, the syllabus calls for a discussion of either Franz Stanzel’s narrative situations, Gerard Genette’s narration and focalization, or both.

What can we do to make all of this at least a little exciting?

Sibylle Machat’s personal copy of Robert Coover’s “A Sudden Story.” In: Robert Shepard, Ed. Sudden Fiction. American Short-Short Stories. Gibb M. Smith: Layton, 1986.

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American Studies Blog Contest

“pen_mesh_bw” by Sean Biddulph is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As we approach the 5th anniversary of the American Studies Blog (http://blog.asjournal.org/), we decided to celebrate by asking you – our readers – to participate in the joyful occasion of our first blog competition.

Although blogging has changed over the years, it’s still a great platform to voice your ideas and share content with people around the world. Now choose a topic that fits into at least one of three zeitgeisty categories and try your talents:

  • Access America (Popular Culture, History, and Current Events)
  • Best Books & Fabulous Films (Reviews and More)
  • Teaching Tools (Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade)

And remember: The sky’s the limit.

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The Berlin Blockade

By Andreas Hübner

Berliners watch a Douglas C-54 Skymaster land at Tempelhof Airport, 1948

Seventy years ago, on May 12, 1949, the Berlin Blockade came to an end. Nowadays considered a cornerstone of the Cold War Era, the blockade had been initiated eleven months earlier by the Soviet military administration in response to the introduction of a new currency, the Deutsche Mark, in the American, British, and French occupation zones of Germany and the allied sectors of Berlin. The Soviets understood the D-Mark as a prelude to the establishment of a single economic unit and a new government in West Germany. Thus, to prevent the distribution of the currency and to force the Western coalition to abandon the city, the Soviet military administration began blocking West Berlin, halting all rail, road and barge traffic as well as cutting off gas and electricity supplies.
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Brevity is the Soul of Wit: Whipping up a Flash Fiction Collection

By Maryann Henck

Flash fiction is not only a fun and quick read, but also a fun and not-always-so-quick write. The key is to create a succinct story – ranging from 250 to 1000 words – that preferably focuses on one specific character and ends with a twist or epiphany for the character in question. In my creative writing seminar, “A Way with Words – Away with Words,” Rebecca rose to the flash-fiction challenge and composed a three-piece collection entitled The French Connection – an homage to the artsy and quirky characters that populate the Parisian landscape. The first instalment, “Belle Époque,” recounts the musings of a somebody from a small town who always dreamed of making it big.

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