These Are the Kids Responsible for Preserving Literary History

The New York Times ran a profile today on two 27-year-olds who are working as the live-in caretakers for the Ralph Waldo Emerson House in Concord, MA. So, cool, neat job. Though one series of paragraphs chills to the bone.

They knew little about the writer. Mr. Bemis grew up near the Emerson House but had never stepped inside. To connect with their long-gone host and his philosophy of individualism, freedom and self-reliance, the couple tried to read his essays and to listen to his work on audiotape, but it was only after watching a DVD about Emerson that they began to understand him.


"I feel like he was the first person, or one of the first people, to start thinking outside the box with his whole Transcendentalism and, like, God and nature and all that," Ms. Lieberg said. "So we were like, O.K., he's cool, nonconformist. And we like that."

They got the caretaking position, and took up residence in April. Mr. Bemis had grown up around historic buildings, and so was at ease in the Emerson House, but Ms. Lieberg had never lived amid the quirk and slope of severe vintage. "I'm from the West," she explained. "This was the oldest-looking apartment I'd ever seen."

Gruh. These kids are my age, and yet I'm feeling some sense of generational horror right now. I know, I know, who cares, it's just a house, and they're doing a fine job. But the "only after watching a DVD" did they truly understand the Transcendentalist thing is just... well, gruh.

At least there's this:

The Castle Crawford cast-iron stove no longer works, but it makes a homey sight, along with the original brick oven, where she and Mr. Bemis store wine. They often invite friends over to eat outside, beneath the particularly fragrant grapevine draping their porch, or to drink at the bar Mr. Bemis built of farm-stand wood.

"We're pretty sure this is the first bar that's ever been in the Emerson House," Ms. Lieberg said. "We call it Ralph's Place."