Saturday, June 5, 2010


The ironic thing is that the Gentrys come from this area originally. Sometime in the 1680s, two brothers from Essex, Samuel and Nicholas, settled along the Totopotomoy Creek in New Kent County, near where the college and then capital at Williamsburg Plantation would be built twenty years later. Back then it was part of St. Peter's Parish (where George and Martha got married, incidentally), and the Jacobean church that presumably my ancestors helped build in 1701 is still there today.

This is all ironic because I seriously have no idea how my illustrious forefathers and foremothers survived this miserable, miserable weather. Without air-conditioning, no less. Philly gets pretty grim in the summer too, but nothing like this. How do you southerners do it? How did a bunch of pale Englishmen in the 17th century do it? Whatever fortitude they possessed seems to have leaked out of their genetic material in the last three centuries. Or maybe it's the fault of my mother's side.

Only a few more weeks of summer session left, however, and then back up north permanently. Next year I'm taking a position at the University of Delaware. Not tenure-track, but full-time. I adjuncted there a year ago and greatly enjoyed my time there, so I'm thrilled to be coming back. UD is a hidden gem of education on the east coast. Thanks to its low tuition the school attracts a surprisingly cosmopolitan student body from around the country, with a particularly large and thriving music department. Plus, it is just south of Philadelphia, so Mary and I will be able to live together (!) in the city and commute to our respective jobs. So yay for that.

On the other hand, I've had a lovely year at William & Mary. The music department is extremely warm and welcoming to its visiting faculty, and the students were simply tremendous. I won't miss the heat, or Ken Cuccinelli, but it's been a great year.


rrb said...

I don't know how anyone survived before air-conditioning...and we've got it comparatively easy up here. I'm fairly certain that it was because of the extreme heat/cold that the music of yore was so unadorned. Others say it was because they were Puritans...whatever.

Congratulations on the (re)post at Delaware! It sure was great to see your name pop up on the wiki.

PMG said...

Here's the musical-weather situation I truly don't understand: the first opera houses in Williamsburg, c. 1716. Can you imagine crowding into a crowded, windowless, non-air conditioned theater in southern Virginia in the middle of the summer? It's a miracle anyone survived.

And speaking of that, the 1816 Broadwood that W&M owns is a special "tropical" model the company made for Jamaica and the southern US, basically with extra hardware to keep the wood from warping in the humidity. There's a metaphor for colonialism somewhere in there that I'm totally going to exploit in an article some day, if Glenda doesn't beat me to it.

rrb said...

Does this count as eco-musicology, or have we just stumbled upon a new sub-discipline: meteor-musicology?

PMG said...

good point--finally a way to integrate climate change research into musicology! It's a good thing I'm leaving Virginia, because the Attorney General has started to investigate climate change researchers in Virginia for possible fraud.

cpo said...

Congrats on the job! Sooooo many smart people from my Long Island high school went to UD instead of a SUNY.

PMG said...

Thanks CPO!

Perennial said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Perennial said...

Oh, Gentry. The real Southerners strip down to their birthday suits, take a dip in the James River, and spend the rest of the day slowly drying off, drinking cold sweet tea, and eating blue crab. The more sane, normal, Southerners just crank up the AC and laugh at all the tourists who forgot to put on sunblock.
Thanks for an awesome year, btw!