50th Edition, Denebola

A note from “The Fan”

By George Abbott White
Published: February 2011

Writing about how she came to write her award-winning account of a spunky little race horse and America during the Great Depression, Laura Hillenbrand said of Seabiscuit, that she became intrigued “how history hides in curious places.”
The story wasn’t lost, Hillenbrand said, “it was scattered…tucked in back pockets and bottom drawers.”
Over the past five weeks, I have been surprised—and pleased to be surprised—by how the Editors and Staff of Denebola put aside the hours every past volume has looked forward to as a respite in January. Instead of not making a paper and instead of resting, they rose to the challenge of making something no Volume had ever made before…a 50th Edition.
At first tentatively turning the pages of those 50 blue bound volumes, Editors, then Staff, started showing up after school, then later in the day, then evenings.
Lists and notes began to appear around the Section cubbies of 9202. Little stuff initially, then long lists, then underlined and colored ones. Post-It notes began to bristle around blue edges and the loose yellowed pages.
Like the ancient carrels at Widener Library, small stacks of blue volumes, little piles began to dot the room where young scholars were…reading. They were reading about their school and their community – and, in effect, about themselves.
By finding their history—no tests, no grades—pretty much on their own, I was reminded of a kind of learning I thought the pressure of SATs and college Applications had all but crushed to powder and scattered to the four winds.
Now, despite this wonderful flowering in chilly New England, all is not perfection. Having discovered or recovered some history of where they have lived and learned, the realization dawns that history is not static but dynamic; they – we – have recovered but a part. And recovered this history for the time­—more (not the rest) a task for the future.
Time and tide (and 64 pages) being what they are, much could not be included. The oldest news story is that of death. Denebola published a dozen or more Obits, thousands of pictures, and, once a month a book review—some 400 Web Exclusives, as we now say.

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