Andrew Rothovius now has his own site.
One walks through life and observes the courage with which people have taken up its challenge. One sees them jest and be filled with curiosity, and in spite of everything manage to bring something of the heavens down to earth.
I always feel that way around Andrew Rothovius. Andrew was born in the early 1920's and has lived his entire life in the same house on Smith Street in the rural town of Milford, New Hampshire. He is the son of Finnish immigrants who had little money and spoke no English. In fact, he still speaks with a slight Finnish accent, though you would never guess it from his writing. As a small child, Andrew suffered from pulmonary TB and as a result never gained enough manual dexterity to drive a car. He spent his childhood quarantined. Nor did he ever attend public school. Indeed, he never attended any school. But he was taught the basics at home by his older sister, and the remainder he learned entirely on his own. And that remainder is not insignificant. The Christian Science Monitor in a feature article about him calls his writings 'remarkable for their length, their boggling array of subjects and their appearance in a small-town journal that reaches only a few thousand readers'.
In addition to books on topics like the life of Liszt and a history of hypnotism, entitled The World's Greatest Hypnotists, (co-authored with John Hughes and published in 1996 by the University Press of America), he has written in excess of 4000 columns for local papers such as The Milford Cabinet and The Peterborough Transcript. They range over the widest array of topics imaginable, from medieval saints to the Nazi invasion of Norway to the tempestuous affairs of the pre-Raphaelites to the mysteries of Lovecraft to the early Celtic visits to the New World. They are filled with his remarkable, and probably correct theories about the real stories behind the scenes.
But Andrew has not principally made his living from writing. He has been in a variety of employments all his adult life. In the 1980's, he managed the data storage and retrieval department of Sanders Associates, the large Nashua, NH based defense contractor. Today he works from his home via computer and fax for a financial advisory service in Maine.
Relatively recently he converted to Catholicism. He explained that he realized he was Christian, and thus, he might as well belong to the Christian church, in spite of everything that may seem flawed about it. He was never one to carry around a list of grudges against anyone. But the Catholic Church is not the only organization he belongs to. He has membership in literary, antiquities, and historical societies. He has also been for almost half a century the local observer for the government's National Weather Service.
These are some of the many ways in which he reaches out to people. When I asked him what was the most important thing he had learned in life, he responded that nothing matters more than our relationship with one another, and that one must not try to own another human being. What I don't understand is why all of New England isn't banging down his door and making him far too busy to spend time with me. But I can also sympathize with the angels, who prefer to keep the purest of heart a little to themselves and functioning behind the scenes.
He first caught my attention, because every fifth time I needed to check out a book from Milford's public library, it was to be found in the "Rothovius Collection", which contained hundreds of thoughtfully selected books on the most striking array of topics. I finally spent a couple of months just checking out and reading books from his collection. He seemed to have particular interest in obscure and ancient religions, in history of any kind (about equally balanced between East and West), in women who had pushed societally imposed limitations, in astronomical phenomena, in meteorology, in literature.
After a decade of checking out his books, my curiosity finally overpowered my inhibitions and I wrote to him, anticipating - in the unlikely event that he responded at all - to find a typical intellectual, somewhat withdrawn and aloof, a little too good for me. But nothing could have been further from the truth. Nor would I say he was shy. He responded immediately to my letter and has made plenty of time for me in his life ever since. I would describe him, rather, as forthright, open to the point of vulnerability and above all good-hearted. By good-hearted, I mean I have never heard him say an unkind or condescending word about anyone, dead or alive. I mean that I don't discern any judgment in him.
And so without further ado, I would like to introduce you to some of his work. I have asked asked him to select a few of his favorite columns to share with you on this Web Page. If you would like to Write To Him, please do by all means. He enjoys a good chat.
Margaret's Home Page
STOLEN ELECTION OF
1876 - Samuel Tilden and Thomas A. Hendricks
THE BOYNE WATER - Battle of the Boyne
A LIGHT IN DARKNESS - Solzhenitsyn
A CENTENARIAN DEPARTS - Freya Stark
THE VARIED LIFE OF CADFAEL'S CREATOR - Edith Pargeter
THE REAL BRAVEHEART - Sir William Wallace
CECILIA BEAUX, PREMIER PORTRAITIST
THE WISDOM OF BEN SIRA - Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson
THE BURNS-FRANKLIN CONNECTION - Robert Burns and Benjamin Franklin
SHADOW OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN - Montenegro
AN AULD SCOTS HALLOWE'EN TALE - Tam Lin
SHE HIT THE JACKPOT -- SORT OF - Mary Russell Mitford
A PURGATORY IN SICILY - Mount Etna
THE GREATEST NATURE STUDENT - Arbor Day, J. Sterling Morton