“Words are like pennies in a pocket, kid. Save them up and someday they’ll be worth something”, my Grandpa Cross once advised me. This hardened sentinel of a man sat at our table for Sunday dinners, his hot cigar ashes burning holes in his sweaters. A firm believer in cleaning his plate before any conversations, the stories would flow only after his fork and knife came to rest. Overseer of dairy farms in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Grandpa would speak of his childhood adventures on Delancey Street, going to work with a revolver tucked in his shirt, his father’s loss of his middle finger at Bull Run and the paterfamilias of the Cross family who dug his way out of pauper’s prison with a spoon back in County Cork. Grandpa’ John was the king of storytellers, our family’s sage and my inspiration.
As a child, I’d found myself walking the ever-shifting line between truth and hyperbole, and fact and the fantastical. Most of the time it was to get out of trouble. Later, I came to understand that words did indeed count, could capture emotions and moments, and entertain.
Many of us kids growing up on Long Island in the 50s were latchkey kids long before the term had been coined. Masters of our lives from morning till dusk, we sought out daily adventures in the open expanses of potato fields and the adjoining woods, and in abandoned farmhouses that slithered with vines of poison ivy whose darkened interiors spoke of covens on Halloween, caves on Pacific islands, and foundered pirate ships full of treasure. Our love for adventures was certainly fueled when we’d share our exploits under the shade of oak trees. Unwittingly, we developed our skills as storytellers. And I began to appreciate the power of words.
So, thanks, Grandpa for making the implausible seem credible, and finding a story in the commonplace, and never failing to draw tales in the air. Surely you’d never have thought that I, one of the youngest of his grandchildren, his oldest daughter’s chubby son, was even listening or much less paying attention. I suspect Grandpa never gave much thought to whether he’d be remembered. He was too busy grabbing life by the hand, and drawing tales in the air.
Now, it’s time to cash in all the “pennies” that I’ve saved, and take a turn at drawing my own tales in the air.
Catching Winds North
Touched by the scent of burning corn stalks and pumpkins ripening in the sun, February winds off the Long Island Sound, and midnight ferry runs out of the harbor, Robert Hodum in Catching Winds North celebrates life’s crossroads, bewilderment and delicious moments.
Hodum’s poetry spans nearly fifty years of creative expression that shares lyrical tales inspired by life’s rogue breezes. Drawing tales in the air, the author stands grounded in the fields, beaches, and bluffs of beautiful Long Island.
Selections written during his life in Colombia speak of the mystery and complexities of this Latin American country. Included are poems inspired by mission trips to Nicaragua that celebrate its people and their folklore.
Discover Spain’s most enduring ritual and enigmatic personage in Pilgrims’ Steps. This work examines the life and times of the iconic figure, the biblical St. James the Greater, inspiration for the Way, Spain’s internationally recognized pilgrimage route. Drawn from biblical and historical accounts, archived histories, contemporary analysis, and current reflections, the author offers a deeper understanding of Santiago of Compostela, his pilgrimage, and the ancient cultures of Galicia.
Santiago’s route crosses terrain considered to be sacred by prehistoric man, ancient Bronze Age peoples, early Christians, medieval pilgrims, and today’s faithful. It’s valleys and hills, tree enshrouded paths and streams continue to connect humanity with the celestial divide and return us to ourselves as we find a place in the firmament here on Earth. This mystical threshold, veiled by a mosaic of lore and myth, invites us to more intimate solidarity with our past, and with ourselves. The waters of Galicia’s mountain streams and verdant hillocks dispel the disquiet of our world, whispering to us that we are finally home.
An insightful read, Pilgrims’ Steps draws a clear picture of the life of St. James, the history of pilgrimage to his tomb and the pre-Christian cultures that figured in the formation of Santiago’s legendary history. Delve into the narratives of St. James’ legendary history and decipher the mosaic of lore and myth behind Santiago and his sacred route.
Conversations on La Playa
Explore magical Colombia through the eyes of a university exchange student in the early 1970s, as an author, Robert Hodum, recounts his life in Medellín and treks through Colombia.
With candor and humor, this memoir recreates all the sights, smells, and sounds of his adopted Medellín, a city that churned with an endless stream of faces and spectacles, and never failed to conjure new possibilities and peril. The author recalls his travels through the country was torn by poverty and civil unrest, blessed with courageous people, and magical landscapes.
Hodum shares his memories of late night serenades, student riots, and military curfews, witchcraft and the subterranean world of Medellín’s street people, its mist-enshrouded Cordillera neighborhoods, and the vallenatos and flute music of its coffee-scented urban landscape. The author includes an extensive glossary of important people, places, and things as well as cultural and historical information.
Journey back with the author on mountain bus rides through the clouds to some of Colombia’s most perilous and magical settings in Conversations on La Playa.
About the Author
Robert Hodum attended the University of Bolivariana and traveled extensively through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. He completed his graduate work specializing in Latin American history, culture and civilization. The author’s first work, Reflections on Spain’s St. James and his Way, is a history of the Spanish pilgrimage route and its namesake, Santiago de Compostela.