Home: few things in America are as hallowed or universal. Now, former North Carolina senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards has dedicated a book to the institution.
"Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives" compiles 60 Americans' thoughts on the place in their lives that that has meant most to them.
Some of the contributors are well-known, like actor Danny Glover and football star Joe Montana. Others may not be household names but are notable for their work, like social worker Robert Carr.
Like no book before it, "Home" offers an intimate portrait of the many different ways a home can be defined and how important the institution is to American culture.
From the Introduction of Home:
Home. The place that helps to define how we see ourselves and how we choose to make our way in the world -- the blueprint of our lives.
Where we learn to dream. Where we become who we are. And where we can always return. The A-frames and split-levels and mansions and ranches and apartments in this book are as different as the people who have lived in them. But this isn't a book about houses; it's a book about homes. About the values they rest on, the dreams they are filled with, and the people they have shaped.
The houses and circumstances are different, but much of what you find inside will be familiar. Much of what you find will be what you already know -- that America at its best is a place of amazing opportunity, deep values, and unlimited optimism. That, given half a chance, we are a people who can accomplish anything. And that no matter where we come from or what we have done, our values are common and our dreams are shared.
These are our homes. This is America. Please come in.
-- JOHN EDWARDS
Most people know me as Robert Carr, but my Indian name is Guwatemo. I was born in July of 1940 on the Pueblo of Laguna Indian reservation in New Mexico, in the same village my parents and my seven brothers and sisters were born. Pueblo society was matrilineal, and one of its customs was that when a couple married, the husband would move in with his wife's family. So one of my first homes was my maternal grandmother's home. It wasn't the only one, though; until I turned twelve, I lived in three different, but very similar, houses. All of the buildings on the reservation were alike, in fact -- one-story structures with floors of mud and straw, kerosene lamps for light, and no indoor plumbing.
One of these houses, my parents' house, was about 1,800 square feet, quite large by local standards. There was a small entry room and the kitchen held the all-important wood-burning stove for heating and cooking. Four other rooms were used for sleeping and storage, and a closet with a cellar underneath kept the staples that my parents purchased using their ration books during World War II. The kitchen stove was our only source of heat, but it really only warmed the kitchen; we lived at a very high elevation, so the rest of the house was freezing cold most of the time. My grandmother's house was about the same size: a small kitchen with a wood burning stove, plus three additional rooms. Behind this house was a large cellar with bins that held grinding stones. The women in the family used these stones to grind corn; I can still see them, dressed in traditional Native American clothing, and singing in unison while they worked.
My father tended sheep, so he wasn't usually found in these houses.