Nick’s Blog

Aug 222019

The small southern Alabama town of Andalusia is a friendly place where southern charm and hospitality reign supreme. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows their neighbors, where people say hello when they pass you on the street, and where you can always satisfy your hunger for boiled peanuts, grits, or fried catfish. And don’t forget the sweet tea!

The handsome Covington County Courthouse downtown, which was built from 1914 -1916, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the courthouse itself is a good photo op, a small monument on the courthouse lawn has become a tourist attraction for those with a literary bent. Shaped somewhat like a headstone, the tablet bears the inscription “In memory of PHILIP NOLAN, Lieutenant in the Army of the United States. He loved his country as no other man has loved her; but no man deserved less at her hands.”

Who was Philip Nolan, this Army veteran who loved his country, and what does his strange epitaph mean? They say truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and it’s true in this case because Philip Nolan never lived.

He was the main character in the short story The Man Without a Country by Philip Nolanthat was first published in The Atlantic Monthly magazine in December, 1863, and was required reading in many high school classes for generations.

In Hale’s story, Philip Nolan is a brash young Army officer who finds himself on trial for treason simply because of his friendship with Aaron Burr (who in real life was tried for treason in 1807 and acquitted). In the story, Philip Nolan does not fare as well. At one point the impetuous young man angrily shouts, “I wish I may never hear of the United States again!”

This shocked the entire courtroom, and Nolan was quickly found guilty and convicted. Angered by his treasonous outburst, the judge sentenced him to exactly what he had wished for. Philip Nolan would spend the rest of his life as a prisoner at sea on warships, never allowed to set foot on his homeland again and never allowed to hear the name of his country again, or any news of what was happening in the United States.

At first Nolan doesn’t care, but as the long years go on, he comes to realize how much he really does love and miss his country. He begs for any snippet of news, but the sailors and officers on the ships he is held on are strictly forbidden from saying a word about what was happening at home.

Denied access to his homeland, Nolan created a shrine to the United States in his cabin on the USS Levant. It included a flag draped around a picture of George Washington, and a bald eagle painted over the head of the bed. Shortly before his death, Nolan tells a visitor, “Here, you see, I have a country!”

After more than half a century at sea, Nolan dies aboard the USS Levant and is buried at sea. He wrote his own epitaph, the same words that are inscribed on the memorial at the courthouse in Andalusia, which was placed there on July 4, 1975. It’s one of those little bits of history awaiting travelers who get off the interstate highways and explore America’s two-lane roads. Check it out the next time you’re in the area.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Big Lake Wedding, the fifteenth book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Getting old sucks. Yesterday I threw my back out when the microwave beeped and startled me.

Aug 212019

I said in yesterday’s blog that I had an appointment with a specialist yesterday afternoon. This was to see if we can figure out what is causing the sharp stabbing pain I get in my right temple, and to further investigate what caused my episode of dizziness and blurred vision in my right eye several […]

From Pinkos To Flakes

 Posted by at 12:46 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 202019

In my blog a week ago today titled A Couple Of Pinkos, I shared with you that Terry and I both got sunburns while we were down at our community swimming pool. I am a fair skinned, blue-eyed guy and I have always sunburned very easily, and some of them have been horrendous. This one […]

Aug 192019

RVers love blogging! These electronic newsletters provide us with a way to share our traveling adventures with our friends and families back home, and to keep in touch with other RVers we meet along the way. It’s also a diary of our daily lives  and a way to look back  on our adventures. Blogs allow […]

What Rant?

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 182019

You know that old saying about how you can’t please everybody? Apparently it’s true, no matter how hard you try. Even when you’re giving something away for free. After reading Friday’s blog, in which I asked readers to exercise patience and to not keep entering our weekly free contest over and over if they don’t […]

Aug 172019

Note – One of the most frequent questions I get is about ways to make money on the road. Here is a blog I wrote with some ideas a few years ago that still applies today. Several years ago I wrote a book called Work Your Way Across The USA, which is still available in […]

Aug 162019

No, not for the reasons you think. Well, come to think of it, that’s a pretty good reason to avoid the refrigerator, too. But there’s so much good stuff in there! No, the reason I should avoid refrigerators is because I have spent so much time in MRI machines lately that I’m afraid if I […]

Five Quick Q&As

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 152019

It’s late and my new meds are making me sleepy, so I’m just going to post five recent questions and my answers for today’s blog. Q. I keep hearing that we need to buy a new RV because most campgrounds have a rule not to allow RVs over ten years old. Is this going to […]

There Must Be A Reason

 Posted by at 12:07 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 142019

There is an old saying that everything happens for a reason. I might add that sometimes you need to listen to reason. I once got an e-mail from a gentleman asking my advice about an RV purchase. He wanted to buy a motorhome that he said was an excellent deal, $35,000 less than any comparable […]

A Couple Of Pinkos

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 132019

During my long career publishing small town newspapers in both the Pacific Northwest and Arizona, I used to always laugh at the response my editorials would get from people. To half of my readers I was a gun toting, KKK cross burning right wing extremist. To the other half of the readership I was a […]