The Regional Review

Volume V - No. 1

July, 1940

The Regional Review

Vol. V July, 1940 Number 1


"This land, this red land, is us," said John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath, "and the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are us."

"The plain truth," wrote Hugh H. Bennett in Soil Conservation, "is that Americans, as a people, have never learned to love the land and to regard it as an enduring resource."

The Regional Review has observed many such east-and-west statements and has vacillated between these diametric polar attractions of the sphere of conservation. French peasants, anchored for generations to modest plots of earth, divide and subdivide their inheritances from sire to son until the tiny remainders sometimes defy mathematical fractionation. American pioneers, with unexplored thousands of square miles before then, enjoyed the rare advantages of "finders keepers". They took for granted the virginal resources of the cheap lands that they had chosen, staked, and utilized.

Now the land of the earth, viewed in the awesome perspective of geologic time, may be virginally beflowered yesterday, despoiled, sterile, and barren today, yet miraculously revirginized tomorrow. Nevertheless, when considered in terms of human days, it bears for long the stigma of despoliation. That explains in reverse, perhaps, why the tide of American exploration, land conquest, and exploitation, has turned back upon itself in the last 60 years. In short, many thousands of Americans, some conscience-hurt, some proud of rarely provident ancestors, now experience an embracing affection for certain parcels of soil. That soil may be the humble home of a Pansy Yokum of Dogpatch or the broad acres of an opulent estate, but the sentiments of the owners are basically the same.

Living on the land endears it to humankind. It also engenders a worshipful respect for superlative native lands upon which there may live no one at all. Americans, a bit more matured now and no longer in 1940 the unvaccinated threats to human drawing room progress that the European lecturer of the 19th century so consistently imagined them to be, have grown to love their kindly soil. They wish, as never before, to safeguard it against invasion, natural, economic, or military. They wish, at last, to defend it and preserve it for its own sake.

The National Park System has made a significant psychological contribution to this national sentiment. Its historic shrines have nurtured a reverent respect for America's past; its wilderness parks have brought a sincere admiration for the natural splendors which escaped the impetuous onrush of an adolescent nation; its monuments have safeguarded scientific marvels against the destructive results of heartless greed and thoughtless neglect. Finally, all these areas have afforded primary materials for a national devotion to the principle of saving, guarding, and perpetuating the soil which gave us birth and now sustains us in a time when other nations of the world suffer the cruel stresses of ruthless conflict. Our parks, monuments, and historic sites are cross sections of our love for country.


A task fraught with peril but underlined with adventure is that of editing the gratuitous materials supplied by The Review's friendly contributors. The effort to achieve at least a fair uniformity in orthography often leads into such puzzling blind alleys in the serried pages of the dictionary that the editor is left in open-mouthed wonder.

Mr. Kemper's excellent article of this issue (pp. 3-14) inspired an investigation of woodchopper, whether it be one word, two words, or a hyphenated compromise. Woodcutter, it developed, earned a normal position in the dictionary text, but its kinsman woodchopper was relegated to the fine print. Further search revealed wood hewer, in the more genteel type, as two words, but it was defined simply as a two-word wood chopper. A similar exploration showed upcountry to be one word, low country two. And there are smallbore rifles and smooth-bore rifles. Enforcement, by the way, sits in any gilded salon, but inforcement does not exist. Still, reinforcement is your only choice in the repetitive. Altogether, it looks like a warm season. ---H. R. A.

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Date: 04-Jul-2002