Welcome my guest blogger, Tony Cappasso. He is the author of America’s Highway: A Journal of Discovery Along US Route 1. It is an ebook on Amazon.
HEAD LIKE A BUMP
In the late 1790s, a German physician named Franz Joseph Gall invented a system for estimating human mental abilities. He measured peoples’ skulls, and then felt skull surfaces for bumps. Each bump, so Gall’s theory went, corresponded to a different area of the brain from which originated a specific ability or interest.
If the old boy had ever gotten to feel my skull, he would have found it to be a bodacious big bump of curiosity. He might also have gotten a punch on his nose, emanating from my bump of annoyance at others trying to feel my skull, but that’s another story.
I was a reporter for 30 years. It left me with an insatiable urge to find out. It hardly mattered about what; I just wanted to know. That’s why I started two years ago on a quest, the outcome of which was a four-month-long trip from Maine to Florida on US Route 1.
Naturally, having taken the trip and assuaged my need to know, another bump kicked in — the need to tell someone. I wrote a book about the trip, the road and the people and places along it called, America’s Highway: A Journal of Discovery Along US Route 1.
The idea for the trip and the book sprouted from the need to answer a question: How did Lafayette Road in Portsmouth, NH, get its name? For the benefit of the uninitiated, Lafayette Road is the name given to Route 1 as it passes through Portsmouth and Hampton.
My research revealed that Lafayette Road got its name in 1824, when French Revolutionary War Hero the Marquis de Lafayette made his farewell tour of America. Then in his 80s, the aged warrior, riding north from Boston, was given a cavalry escort north though Hampton and into Portsmouth. The road he traveled on was renamed Lafayette Road in his honor by a grateful citizenry.
My curiosity was off and running.
I searched libraries for maps from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These showed a road that followed the general path of Route 1, but with a different name, The Atlantic Highway. Information from the Federal Highway Administration, dating back to 1927, revealed more of the road’s past.
Gradually, the idea of writing a book about this road began to take on definite form. Then, trolling through the web, I found that a group of intrepid depression-era writers had driven the road and written a book of their own in 1937. It was called, US Route 1 from Maine to Florida.
A Google search turned up a copy. I bought it. When the book arrived, I devoured it from cover to cover.
I was hooked. These guys had done it, why couldn’t I? The rest, as they say, is history.
Later, scientific study revealed that Dr. Gill’s theories about brain functions and skull bumps to be a lot of bunkum. The idea that feeling skulls told anything useful about the skull’s owner gradually faded away. Shame, really. The concept was sort of colorful. I’m not too bothered, though. My bumpless curiosity is still going strong.