In a few hours 2013 will be history (or it may already be, depending on where you live when this article goes up). I’m taking the opportunity of the last day of the year to count down my top 10 favorite articles that I’ve run on this site this year. This is the final installment, my top three. Here are numbers 10, 8 and 9 and here are 7, 6, 5 and 4. Now without further ado here are the top three of twenty-thirteen! To go to the article itself, click the thumbnail picture or the heading.
This is not the most popular missing persons post I’ve done, but it’s my favorite. On the 40th anniversary of the event I profiled the strange disappearance of Brooklyn teenagers Mitchel Weiser, age 16, and Bonita Bickwit, age 15, who took off to a rock concert in upstate New York on July 27, 1973 and were never seen again. In addition to this article, in the week leading up to the July 27 anniversary I also profiled the school Mitch and Bonnie went to, the summer camp they departed from, and the rock concert, called Watkins Glen, at which they evidently never arrived.
What is so striking about the Weiser/Bickwit case is how much love still surrounds these missing young people. Their families have been unyielding in their determination to find out what happened to them. A memorial tree was planted for them at their Brooklyn school. Childhood friends of the couple still remember them fondly and miss them terribly. When a person goes missing they leave an awfully large hole in the world, and the Weiser/Bickwit case illustrates that.
Of all the missing persons profiles I’ve done on this site, this is the one I’m the most proud of.
In July I conducted an exclusive interview with retiring University of Oregon history professor Daniel Pope. This was a three-part interview, and Part II is linked above; here are the links to Part I and Part III. This is one of the finest things I think I’ve ever done on my blog. Dr. Pope not only taught history for many years, but he witnessed it, having participated in the tumultuous student upheavals at Columbia University in 1968, which is the main focus of that installment.
I do a lot of history on this blog, but it’s a rare treat to be able to chat with someone who was actually there. I believe 1968 was one of the most pivotal years in the history of the world. The best sources for knowing what happened are the people who lived through it. This engaging and fascinating interview really puts you right there in the middle of it. I’m so glad I got the chance to do it.
It was difficult choosing the top 10 blog posts of the year, but as to my all-time favorite I never had a moment of doubt. The opportunity I had in August to interview Edward Packard, creator of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series, was a chance of a lifetime. To understand this you have to know how pivotal the Choose Your Own Adventure books were in my childhood (and beyond). I doubt I would ever have become a writer without them. The relationship between the CYOA books and the works of Jorge Luis Borges, my favorite author, is explored in the interview, as well as Mr. Packard’s reminiscences on how the series got started, how he wrote them and what he was trying to accomplish.
This is a two-part interview. The second part is here.
If this website were to vanish into a black hole and only one post could survive to testify to the world of its existence, I would want it to be this one. I was so thrilled to do the interview and so gratified at its results that I have no hesitation in choosing it as the most fun thing I’ve ever done on this site.
Have a wonderful 2014. Thanks for reading!