Daniel VickersPosted: February 1, 2020 Filed under: history, New England 3 Comments
Happened to turn on the TV the other day and Good Will Hunting was on. What a great movie. It’s a superhero movie.
We were right in the scene where Will backs up Ben Affleck and destroys a jerk who’s showing off his education.
One moment in this scene I’ve thought about more than necessary is when Will identifies the jerk (he’s listed as “Clark” on IMDb, played with precision by Scott William Winters) as “a first year grad student.” Given how much Clark knows about history, and his reading list, should we infer that Scott William Winters is a first year grad student in history?
WILL: See the sad thing about a guy like you is in about 50 years you’re gonna start doing some thinking on your own and you’re gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One, don’t do that. And two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin’ education you coulda got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the Public Library.
CLARK: Yeah, but I will have a degree, and you’ll be serving my kids fries at a drive-thru on our way to a skiing trip.
WILL: [smiles] Yeah, maybe. But at least I won’t be unoriginal.
It’s interesting that Clark’s brag is that Will will be “serving my kids fries on their way to a ski trip.” There are no doubt history professors living this way, but I do feel if that were your goal, becoming a grad student in academic history would be a harder way to go than like, business school or something?
Maybe that is part of the point Will is making about what a dope this guy is.
In their exchange, Will cites “Vickers, Work In Essex County.”
Had to look this one up, and boy, did I profit. I learned about Daniel Vickers, who sounds like an amazing man. From a Globe & Mail “I Remember” by Don Lepan:
Dr. Vickers went to Princeton for his PhD. It was there that he began what became his life’s work academically, but he found Princeton itself stiflingly elitist, and escaped as often as he could to Toronto or to New England towns such as Salem or Nantucket, Mass., where he would spend long hours poring over local records.
God that’s beautiful. Can you imagine sitting in Nantucket, poring over the records? (Yes).
This was followed in 2005 by Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail, in which Dr. Vickers challenged the long tradition of treating a young man’s decision to go to sea as an inherently momentous one, and the life of a seafarer as inherently exceptional; again through painstaking archival research, he demonstrated that that most young men who went to sea did so with a sense of inevitability – and that not until the late 19th century did seafaring life begin to seem exceptional. Maritime history was somewhat out of fashion with the general public when the book appeared and it sold less well than its publishers had hoped, but reviews of Dr. Vickers’s work by historians were again extraordinarily enthusiastic; the book was praised as “a masterly work” and “the most original American maritime history ever published.”
As with his first book, Dr. Vickers was aided greatly in his research by his wife, Christine.
Vickers taught at UCSD for awhile, but
the family found the suburban lifestyle and sunny consumerism of San Diego less congenial than the rocky insularity and dour humour of Newfoundland.
If you prefer Newfoundland to San Diego, come sit near me.
Wanted to share that with the Helytimes family. Have a good weekend everyone! I bet the picture of Daniel Vickers here will give you some cheer.
Looks interesting, what you wrote. Gotta run for a meeting/party, but I’ll comment in greater depth later, once I am on vacation. Or something. Best, Bradley N. aka D.C. Winters aka The Yelp Whisperer
Thanks for writing about my dad! He died in February of 2017. I missed today and googled him and found your post!
Wow, I’m so glad you enjoyed it Sarah. Would’ve loved to meet your dad, he sounds like an incredible man and a great historian.