The Year of Ben (2019-2020); and a decade of “Retired But Not Shy” (2010-2020)

[Note:  Americans tend to focus on anniversaries that end in “0.”  For example, married couples usually regard their tenth, twentieth, thirtieth, etc., anniversaries as more important than the others.  And I guess that’s true of the few bloggers who managed to keep their sites running beyond only a year or two.

I know that’s how I feel.  In June 2010, just after I retired from teaching History at a “prep school” in Atlanta for thirty-seven years, AKA “Atlanta’s Finest Prep School” (AFPS), I created this blog.  I had a title I liked, an interesting avatar (John Quincy Adams), and a pretty clear subtitle, “Doing History After Leaving the Classroom.”

What I didn’t have was a clear idea of what I wanted to do with the blog, a question that took a while to work itself out, but eventually I was well-launched into the blogging universe.  The blog gradually grew, until a couple of years ago I was even bragging about the number of hits on my site.

But then came what I later referred to as “The Year of Hubris”:  I changed my url from one nestled under the WordPress system–which was free–and, thanks to an incessant series of ads from WordPress, opted instead to create “georgelamplugh.com” (which I pay for) as the blog’s address.  And the results were disastrous, at least for a while:  the number of “hits” to the blog nosedived, and I’ve spent the past year or so trying to recover.  (The problem, of course, was that WordPress didn’t inform my subscribers of the change in the url, so, the next time they went looking for me they could not find me.)  Since then, the number of visitors to RBNS has revived, but it has not yet been restored to its former, um, “glory”.]

* * * * *

Betts in 1942

One significant development over the past few years has been the return of long-form posts to “Retired But Not Shy.”  The first was a series about my mother, Elsie Elizabeth “Betts” Knighton Lamplugh, which spread over years seven through nine of the blog (2017-2019).  Betts’s story was based on a brief family history she had written and a two-part memoir that took her from her birth in 1923 through 1964, when her marriage to Benjamin Leroy “Ben” Lamplugh imploded and her family shattered beyond repair.

Ben and Trixie (Knighton family dog), 1943

Eventually, I followed the Betts posts with a series about my father Ben, during year ten  (2019 – 2020).  Honoring my father was much more difficult than writing about my mother, both because I was closer to her and because she had provided her own primary source material, while Ben had not.  But, thanks to information borrowed from Betts’s account of her life with Ben; some scattered primary sources; an invaluable collection of photographs; and “oral history” clues provided by my siblings and my children, I was able to do some justice to my father.

* * * * *

The “Betts” and “Ben” series brought lots of comments.  Those portraits resonated with my readers,  and I was relieved–and grateful!

In writing about my parents, the need for closure was paramount, especially for my relationship with my father, which had been strained, to say the least.  But, by the time I finished the Ben series, I felt that I understood him better, which was a gift.

So, if they did nothing else, these long-form accounts of my parents allowed me, years after their deaths, to work through lingering personal issues.  It’s sometimes been a bumpy journey, but I’m glad I made it!

* * * * *

As “Retired But Not Shy” evolved over the past decade, it became more complicated than I’d anticipated.  Based upon my own interests and the responses of readers, I gradually reorganized the home page.  I created a series of “pages,” each of which was devoted to a single theme, where readers might find posts related to those topics.  Currently, there are eight “pages,” links to which can be found near the top of the home page, beneath the picture of me shuffling into retirement: Blues Stories; Dead Georgians; Historical Reflections; Interdisciplinary Work; Prep School; Teaching History; The South/Civil Rights; and The Vietnam Era.

Of course an interested reader is cordially invited to use the “Browse the Archives” section listed at the right side of the home page, or the “Categories” section below that, but I believe that linking to individual “pages” will get you where you wish to go much faster.

* * * * *

And now for my favorite part of these “birthday posts,” the stats, provided by my host, WordPress.  The point of these listings is, for me, not numbers, but ranking order, and what that  suggests about the interests of those who visit “Retired But Not Shy” regularly.  (God bless them everyone!)

* * * * *

Top 10 Posts of All-Time (June 1, 2010-May 31, 2020)

[Excludes “Home Page/Archives” and “About”]

 Teaching Prep School with a PhD: Is It for You? (2012/11/06)

Governor Wilson Lumpkin (2011/08/01)

Teaching History “Backwards” (2013/10/15)

Son House (2013/10/01)                                                                                     

Bobby “Blue” Bland (2014/02/01)

The Chitlin’ Circuit (2014/03/01)

Blues Theology, Part I (2014/04/01)

Mississippi John Hurt (2013/11/01)

Governor George R. Gilmer (2011/09/01)

Georgia’s Notorious Yazoo Land Fraud, Part I (2017/12/01)

This ranking suggests topics with “staying power,” themes visitors have returned to again and again over the past decade.  Notice that these posts represent several “pages”–Prep School; Teaching History; Dead Georgians (i.e., Georgia History); and, for half of them, Blues Stories.

Cast your eyes on post number ten, “Georgia’s Notorious Yazoo Land Fraud, Part I.”  I have long believed that the popularity of my posts on Georgia history is attributable to the number of college and secondary school Georgia history instructors looking for Internet resources that would support the study of Georgia’s past in their classrooms.  Just the other day, for example, I found this belief validated, when I checked my WordPress stats and found, as a search term, “8th grade ga history yazoo land fraud.”         

Top Ten Posts, Year 10 (June 1, 2019-May 31, 2020)

[Excludes “Home Page/Archives” and “About”]

 Teaching Prep School with a PhD: Is it for you? (2012/11/06)

Blues Theology, Part I (2014/04/01)

Skip James (2017/09/01)

Georgia’s Notorious Yazoo Land Fraud, Part I (2017/12/01)

Teaching History “Backwards” (2013/10/15)

Georgia Governor Wilson Lumpkin (2011/08/01)

Bobby “Blue” Bland (2014/02/01)

Ben, An American Dad, Part II (2019/11/01)

“Contingent” Career, Part II (2020/04/01)

Son House (2013/10/01)

The above list includes the ten most popular posts during year ten (June 2019-May 2020), from among all posts put up over the life of the blog (2010-2020), most of which predate year ten.

Top Ten New Posts from Year 10 (June 1, 2019-May 31, 2020)

[Excludes “Home Page/Archives” and “About”]

 Ben, An American Dad, Part II (2019/11/01)

“Contingent” Career, Part II (2020/04/01)

Ben, An American Dad, Part IV (2020/01/01)

“Contingent” Career, Part I (2020/02/01)

Ben, An American Dad, Part VI (2020/03/01)

State Rights, Nullification, and Indian Removal, Part I (2019/07/01)

Ben, An American Dad, Part I (2019/10/01)

Ben, An American Dad, Part V (2020/01/02)

Reflections on MLK, 2020 (2020/01/19)

Georgia 4th of July 2019 (2019/07/02)

RBNS at Nine (2019/06/01)

This final “top ten” list reveals the most popular of the posts that were new during year ten.  Perhaps not surprisingly, most were from the “Ben” series, which, after all, stretched over seven months in that year.  The two posts describing a “‘Contingent’ Career” were about my teaching career, which, I decided after mulling it over during my first decade in retirement, was shaped much more by “the breaks of the game” than any sort of deep-dyed plan on my part.

* * * * *

As we move into the second decade of “Retired But Not Shy” (AKA, RBNS), you might be wondering (I know I am!) how much longer I can persist in this post-retirement enterprise.  I already have several posts completed and ready to put up in the near future, and on my desk lies a bulging folder, perhaps optimistically labeled “Future Blog Posts,” that could, if I put my nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel, carry RBNS into 2021–and beyond.

The problem, of course, is that over the last few months, as the Willowy Bride and I have adjusted to living under the “shelter at home” requirement, I have not been able to rouse energy sufficient to transform the material in that “Future Blog Posts” folder into actual rough drafts, let alone finished products.

Still, I’m in a much better position now than I was in June 2010, when I launched RBNS into the “blogosphere,” on the Internet equivalent of “a wing and a prayer.”  I know there are folks out there who have found their way to this blog over the past decade and will, if I still meet their expectations, continue to visit.  All that’s required is for me to shake off my lethargy and create additional posts.

* * * * *

One final thing:  remember that statement in the head-note that some folks regard anniversaries ending in “0” more fondly than others?  Well, just coincidentally, today’s analysis of “Retired But Not Shy at 10” also happens to be post number 200 in the life of the blog.  Just sayin’. . . .

* * * * * *

For those interested in reading more of my reflections on history, here are links to my books on the subject:

REABP CoverRancorous Enmities and Blind Partialities:  Parties and Factions in Georgia, 1807-1845 (University Press of America, 2015)

Pursuit Cover

In Pursuit of Dead Georgians:  One Historian’s Excursions into the History of His Adopted State (iUniverse, 2015)

Politics on the Periphery:  Factions and Parties in Georgia, 1783-1806 (University of Delaware Press, 1986)

About georgelamplugh

I retired in 2010 after nearly four decades of teaching History at the "prep school" level with a PhD. My new "job" was to finish the book manuscript I'd been working on, in summers only, since 1996. As things turned out, not only did I complete that book, but I also put together a collection of my essays--published and unpublished--on Georgia history. Both volumes were published in the summer of 2015. I continue to work on other writing projects, including a collection of essays on the Blues and, of course, my blog.
This entry was posted in American History, Education, family history, genealogy, Historical Reflection, History, History Teaching, memoir, Popular Culture, Prep School, prep school teaching with a PhD, Research, Retirement, Southern History, Teaching, The Blues, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Year of Ben (2019-2020); and a decade of “Retired But Not Shy” (2010-2020)

  1. gajoe42 says:

    Nice refresher course on your blog and the successes and challenges that are so inevitable. Great work.

  2. Glen Browder says:

    Congratulations on this big 0 year. I know what you mean by having trouble getting up and active during these times.

  3. Yeah, Glen, it really is strange. I’ve always had a lot of self-discipline, but since mid-March, not so much! Still, I’ve had similar, though briefer, spells of ennui in the past and have always come out of them, so. . . .

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