We're driving my older daughter to Newport, RI to tour Salve Regina University, and about to cross the bridge into Newport when I launch into this monologue:
"This is Narragansett Bay...named for the Narragansett Indians who once inhabited this area."
My wife doesn't react, instead she reaches into her pocketbook and pulls out $4.00 for the bridge toll.
"Further to our east, lived The Wampanoag Tribe, led by their sachem, Massasoit. Massasoit felt threatened by the powerful Narragansetts, because his tribe had been decimated by a small pox outbreak (thanks to encounters with European fisherman off the New England coast), and their numbers had dwindled down to almost nothing."
My wife looks at the Google map directions and tells me to watch for road signs. I look in the rearview mirror and see that my daughter has plugged her Ipod earbuds in, and is missing my rousing history lesson.
"Massasoit needed allies against the Narragansetts, so he befriended a group of English settlers that had just settled in Plymouth. It was these settlers, or Pilgrims, who joined Massasoit and the Wampanoags in the first Thanksgiving feast."
"How do you remember these things?" My wife asks.
"Well...I just read a book on the Mayflower and..."
"Why didn't you major in History in college?"
"What do you do with an History degree? Well, now that I think about it... probably the same thing I did with my English degree...become a railroad conductor."