Hartford Electric Light Company and the Marketing of Electric Appliances

Written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History doctoral candidate, who is currently serving as a Graduate Intern in Archives & Special Collections.

A. C. Dunham, president of the Hartford Electric Light Company


A. C. Dunham had a mind that rarely sat idle. Much to his frustration, the electric works he oversaw often did. As president of the Hartford Electric Light Company, Dunham sought to use every ounce of energy his company generated, and water wheels turning in the bright light of day symbolized for him so much wasted energy. But as America became wired in the late nineteenth century, Dunham exhibited an uncanny ability to find new channels for electrical current to flow down.

Shortly after Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb appeared in 1879, a group of New England merchants banded together to invest in the burgeoning electrical industry. On April 12, 1881, the Hartford Electric Light Company (HELCO) received its charter from the Connecticut General Assembly. The first shareholders meeting took place about a year later in February 1882, and the board chose Austin Cornelius Dunham – A.C. as he was known – for president.

The company’s first display of electric light came the following year. On April 7, 1883, HELCO used twenty-one arc lamps to illuminate the Asylum Street train depot in Hartford. The Hartford Courant reported that “hundreds of people gathered at the depot during the evening and the comments were universally favorable.” From then on, HELCO would flourish as a leading producer and distributor of electricity in Hartford and the surrounding area.

Despite intense competition and the rapid pace of change, HELCO stayed at the forefront of the electrical industry. By 1896, the company could already claim several firsts. According to company records, HELCO was the first to use batteries to store excess electricity, the first to run cables through underground ducts, and the first to use forced cooling for transformer oil.

100-ton steam turbine in Pearl Street station, nicknamed “Mary Ann”

Most famously, HELCO was the first company to generate electricity using a steam turbine. In 1900, the company purchased a new 100-ton steam turbine designed in England to replace part of their hydraulic system. The mammoth machine arrived at the company’s Pearl Street power station in January 1901 and was soon nicknamed “Mary Ann” by a HELCO employee. By April, it was pumping out 1,500 kilowatt-hours of energy.

The company’s early success did not slow its restless president. Dunham was convinced that electricity in the home would open a vast new market for the industry. In 1902, he convinced HELCO to hire an outside contractor to begin wiring homes for electric light. The company also began selling electric refrigerators around this time. Still, HELCO faced an uphill battle as few Americans used electricity for anything other than lighting in this period. Dunham set out to change this.

Rose M. Greene in 1953

In a makeshift workshop on the company’s Pearl Street property, Dunham dreamed up one invention after another. He had a particular interest in using electricity for cooking. In 1906, he hired Rose M. Greene, a student at Hartford High School, to serve as test cook. One early success involved using a light bulb in an insulated pail to cook beans.

Original test range from Hartford Electric Light Company, c. 1912-1913

But Dunham’s real interest was in perfecting the electric oven. In 1908, he converted a vacant church into a model apartment equipped with electric lights, an experimental range, and other electric appliances he hoped to popularize. He invited employees and other local businessmen to taste the food Greene cooked on the new appliances. Employees reportedly never missed a chance to dine in the model kitchen.

As with any kind of innovation, the experiments sometimes faced setbacks. In one instance, HELCO employee Ralph D. Cutler came up with the idea to improve insulation by lining a test oven with cork. Since ovens took about four days to heat up at the time, Cutler started the oven before he left work for the day. Four hours later, he got a call notifying him that the oven had caught fire. Despite the accident, his idea had succeeded in speeding up the heating process.

1914 Advertisement for Hartford Electric Light Company

Dunham retired as president of HELCO in 1912 after leading the company for thirty years. His persistence had helped the company continually grow, and his promotion of home appliances would prove prescient as the consumer revolution took off in the 1920s. After leaving the company, he moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he died in 1918.

For more information about the Hartford Electric Light Company Records, please see the finding aid at http://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860131166

Chasing the Erratic Spotlight of Memory: Reexamining the Life and Writing of Edwin Way Teale

by Richard Telford

Author’s Note: Though the product of many hours of research, writing, and revision, this chapter is nevertheless a draft; it will be subject to revision as the larger book in which it will appear takes shape. This chapter follows the book’s prologue, posted last month. It is the fifth to be published on this site. The first three, published this past winter, were later chapters of the book, chronicling the Teales’ loss of their son David during wartime service in 1945. Those chapters can be accessed here. I welcome critical response to this work, either in the comment section below or through direct e-mail. I am grateful to the Archives and Special Collections staff for providing me the opportunity to share this work, and to the Woodstock Academy Board of Trustees for awarding me a sabbatical for the 2016-2017 school year. Contextual information about the project and manuscript can be found here.

 

Chapter 1: Chasing the Erratic Spotlight of Memory

 

Thinking of memory, it occurs to me what an erratic spotlight memory is, playing across the landscape of our past, picking out small areas, illuminating fragments of our experience. Out of a shrouded, shapeless limbo of forgotten things one experience suddenly comes to life.[i]

                                                                               Edwin Way Teale, The Hampton Journal, November 15, 1961

 

What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices? [ii]

                                                                               Robert Hayden, from “Those Winter Sundays”

 

O sons of men,

You add the future to the future

But your sum is spoiled

By the grey cipher of death.

There is a Master

Who breathes upon armies,

Building a narrow and dark house for kings.[iii]

                                                                               From The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night

 

On June 2, 1899, Clara Louise Way Teale gave birth to a son, her only child, Edwin Alfred Teale. The preceding winter had unleashed the Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899. The Mississippi river had frozen solid from St. Louis to New Orleans, and Arthur T. Wayne, writing for the American Ornithological Society, documented the deaths by starvation and exposure to blizzard conditions of tens of thousands of birds: fox sparrows and juncos, woodcock and killdeer, pine warblers and meadowlarks.[iv] Across the globe, Danish schoolteacher Christian Mortensen introduced the first systematic method of bird-banding, offering a new window to life’s beautiful, abundant complexity.[v]  Edwin himself would reflect upon these events seventy-five years later as he commenced reconstructing his earliest days to tell his life’s story.[vi] Endings juxtaposed with beginnings, death juxtaposed with life. Edwin Teale, too, entered a childhood defined by such seeming contradictions: confinement and freedom, loathing and admiration, hatred and love. The delivery, which took place in a modest Iowa Avenue frame house beside Hickory Creek in Joliet, Illinois, was “a hard [one] that almost took” Clara Teale’s life.[vii] Several days later, Clara contracted typhoid fever, from which she would not fully recover until September. While his mother recovered, and his father, Oliver Cromwell Teale, labored long hours as a skilled locomotive mechanic in the Michigan City Railroad roundhouse, Edwin was cared for by Oliver’s sister Annie Brummitt and her husband George. The Brummitts had recently lost their only child at birth. Many years later, Clara Teale reflected, “I don’t think any of us quite realized what it meant to them to give up that baby,” and how these earliest days of Edwin’s life filled that void, if only briefly.[viii]

A studio portrait of Edwin Way Teale with his parents, Clara Louise Way Teale and Oliver Cromwell Teale, circa 1916-1918

Clara Teale recovered from typhoid in September of 1899, and she, Oliver, and four-month-old Edwin moved into a home that had been under construction on June 2. The East Washington Street home, just outside the Joliet city limits, “faced a wide expanse of wasteland,” hundreds of acres of “weed-covered hillocks and hollows” that “remained from the digging of gravel that had been deposited by the glaciers.”[ix] This scarred and desolate landscape later afforded Edwin a site for his earliest peregrinations in nature, and these offered a reprieve from his mother’s relentless dedication to her only child’s “improvement,” a dedication that left him, “much of the time, desperately unhappy.”[x] Amongst the overgrown hollows, he often unearthed “small cylinders of stone…the fossil remains of prehistoric crinoids,” which he at first mistook for “Indian beads.”[xi] Wandering in nature, even in a place that others saw as weed-choked and disfigured, Edwin felt “a sense of coming home” that eluded him elsewhere in Joliet.[xii]Later he would praise with equal feeling the aerial prowess of invasive European starling flocks “turning corners like soldiers on parade” and the “snow-white shimmer” of wheeling seaside flocks of delicate sanderlings.[xiii] Where others saw ugliness in nature, Edwin saw beauty and purpose, undiluted by arbitrary human judgments.

The interior of the East Washington Street home contrasted sharply with the wasteland framed by its windows. Its contents painted a portrait of Clara Teale as a cultured, thoughtful, and deliberate woman. An oil on canvas of Niagara Falls, painted by Clara and mounted in a wide gilt frame, adorned the parlor wall. Below it, against a corner of the room, leaned an alpenstock, the antecedent to the modern ice axe, trailing a ribbon of “narrow horizontal bands of brilliant colors.” Edwin would later recall that the alpenstock, among all other curiosities of the house, “especially fascinated me.”[xiv] Clara Teale’s decor likewise reflected the heightened popularity of nature study at the advent of the twentieth century. A small stand housed an ostrich egg, a peacock feather, and other natural specimens.[xv] Seashells “brought from Newport” adorned the room, including a large conch shell that served as a door stop. Putting the conch to his ear, young Edwin “could hear the sea.”[xvi]

There were also numerous pictures of sunsets scattered amongst the house’s contents, clipped from popular magazines by Oliver Teale. In his few spare moments of leisure, Edwin’s beleaguered father “wrote descriptions” of these scenes, his only foray into art in a draining, workaday life.[xvii] Edwin later attributed his own “passionate love of beautiful scenes” in part to his father’s early influence.[xviii] In 1942, fourteen years after Oliver’s death, Edwin would dedicate his sixth book, Byways to Adventure: A Guide to Nature Hobbies, to his father—a tacit acknowledgment that his father earned but never got the luxury of such pursuits. At the other end of the parlor, an upright piano, “the first thing purchased after the house was built,” occupied a wall of its own. What Edwin later remembered most of this piano was not his mother’s playing but “the successive generations of baby mice its interior harbored,” an apt preview of his future leanings.[xix] Despite its rich décor and the intellectual sensitivities it represented, Edwin’s childhood home was more a prison than a sanctuary, transmuting the barren wasteland of the gravel bank to a refuge, a place of retreat into nature and into himself.

Edwin’s relationship with his mother was deeply complicated, and he struggled for the remainder of his life to reconcile its polar contradictions. In 1974, shortly after his 75th birthday, Edwin wrote a full chapter on the complexities of their relationship for The Long Way Home, the autobiography he would not complete. He titled the chapter “Memories of a Bent Twig,” alluding to Alexander Pope’s 1732 observation that “Tis education forms the common mind,/Just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclin’d.”[xx] The choice of this allusion reflected the profound influence of Clara’s unstinting efforts to render every experience of Edwin’s boyhood “a lesson, a training in character.” In Clara’s view, “Life was a preparation for some other end, not an end in itself.”[xxi] She thought only in the future tense. “When I was young,” Edwin reflected in 1974, “little was done just for the fun of it…it seems to me I was one of the most bent twigs the world has ever known.”[xxii] He struggled for the rest of his life to understand the choices his mother had made, to check his extraordinary bitterness about the “schizophrenic world”[xxiii] she created for him, and to render the experiences of his earliest years in honest, fair prose.

Prior to her marriage, Clara Way had been a school teacher in “various country schools near Furnessville, at Boone Grove and elsewhere in northern Indiana.”[xxiv] It was, for her, a period of great personal fulfillment, defined especially by the memory of a particular end-of-school picnic, “a memory that she cherished as long as she lived.”[xxv]

She and the children rode on a hayrack to the picnic site and the pupils had put a chair, decorated with flowers, in the middle of the wagon. She sat on it with the children grouped around her.…It symbolized her dream: to be surrounded by small children looking up to her for advice and counsel. For her great passion was molding the minds and characters of the young.[xxvi]

 

Here was the culmination of her efforts, and, as importantly to her, the adulation that could accompany such efforts.

By the fall of 1899, the East Washington Street home had become her classroom, Edwin her star and only pupil. “In this, her lifelong goal of bending tender twigs,” Edwin wrote, “she found I was the closest, the one around the most.”[xxvii] But Clara’s was a doomed effort crippled by self-absorption. Any adoration, any veneration that Edwin openly offered his mother, despite its sincerity, only veiled deep resentment that grew with time and came to define his recollections of her. But Clara could not, or would not, see this. She clung to the image of admiring children surrounding her on the hayrack. When Edwin was in high school, Clara arranged to have a studio portrait taken of the family. In it, Clara is seated at center, her right hand holding an open volume that she peruses. Oliver stands to her left, one hand steadying the book, as Edwin, standing directly behind his mother, looks on. Clara looks blissful, her son and husband rapt with admiration. The pastoral image, preserved for the annals of time, belies the turbulent waters that roiled beneath.

Clara Teale’s pedagogical methods haunted Edwin’s childhood. “In her desire to train me as I should be trained,” he wrote later, “my mother wanted to be with me every hour, to know what was going on in my mind and heart all the time. She wanted to be inside me. She wanted to have no secrets…she wanted me to be transparent glass that she could look through.”[xxviii] Once, returning home from grade school, Edwin found that his mother had left “a note on the kitchen table saying she would be away for two or three hours.” Later, however, he discovered her “sitting quietly in another room apparently waiting to see what I would say and do when I thought I was unobserved and alone.”[xxix] Later, when he befriended a girl he had met during a stay at Lone Oak, Clara steamed open the girl’s subsequent letters to Edwin for first inspection.[xxx] Such extremes, she argued, were necessary to make Edwin “the kind of person she wanted me to be,” a result that “meant more to her than anything else in the world.”[xxxi] But such measures served only to fog the transparent glass Clara sought. They rendered Edwin “slightly secretive, throwing up barriers beyond which people [could] not go.” Under his mother’s unrelenting gaze, Edwin found himself “continually retreating within myself to some secret room that should, for everyone[,] be inviolable.”[xxxii]  Formed early, Edwin struggled in adulthood to shed the defenses of a childhood that “was largely an ordeal at a time when it should have been fun.”[xxxiii]

Though Edwin found his mother’s training painfully oppressive, he did not question her motives, at least not publicly. In his 1943 Dune Boy, he wrote of his parents as “sincere, hard-working, religious people,” offering only one muted complaint: “At home I was trained for Heaven rather than for the world as it is.”[xxxiv] In 1974, in the most revised draft of The Long Way Home, he wrote:

As I look back, nobody I have ever known ever tried harder to do what she thought was right than my mother. Nobody ever wanted more to help make the world a finer, better place for all. She was sincere. She was honest—so far as she understood her own motivations—in her striving to be a force for good in the world.[xxxv]

 

His assessment was extraordinarily tempered when viewed in light of his private notes. “Probably nobody ever born…understood less what made her[self] tick,” he noted privately. She was “an interesting case for a psychologist,” he added. “By fooling her mind [she] got so her mind fooled her.”[xxxvi] His understanding of her terribly skewed self-knowledge did little to mitigate his deeply-rooted anger. In undated autobiography notes, he considered titling a section of the book “Lies My Mother Told Me.” Below the notation, he enumerated a full page of these.[xxxvii] Elsewhere he reflected, “Not all people who do good deeds deserve credit for good motives.” This he followed with an assessment of his mother’s increased involvement in church work as Edwin grew older: “Do a good deed and get away from house-work and children by doing it!”[xxxviii] Clara’s chronic absence during Edwin’s adolescence hurt him deeply, especially because she had labored so intently in his early years to create in him an absolute dependence upon her.[xxxix] On New Year’s Day, 1911, six months shy of his twelfth birthday, Edwin enumerated a set of resolutions for the coming year, the first of which is especially heart-rending: “I hope that mama will stay home and I will do all that is in my power to help and please her.”[xl] He had just spent the Christmas holiday at Lone Oak, about which he had noted two days earlier, “This is the greatest vacation I ever had.”[xli] He was sorry to leave Lone Oak, he added below his list of resolutions, but “I am glad to come to mamma if sheel only stay home.”[xlii] But Clara would not stay home, driven less by her desire to escape domesticity and more by “the limelight” church work afforded her, “the sense of being somebody,” the affirmation that accompanied highly public righteous acts.[xliii]

Elsewhere, Edwin lamented the times his mother “cried because I used a more pleasant tone of voice to the telephone operator’” than to her. “Neurotic atmosphere—” he added, “wonder not breakdown or suicide.” Of this latter wonder, he did not specify Clara or himself.[xliv] Of her wedding vow to be faithful unto death,” Edwin questioned, “Faithful to whom?” and answered succinctly: “Herself.”[xlv] Still, he was reticent to share with his reading public the full depth of his bitterness. In a paragraph later struck from the most complete autobiography draft, he wrote:

I am well aware of the awesome power that lies in the hand of anyone writing of his own life, the power to emphasize one aspect, to tip the scales in favor of himself, to color events almost unconsciously. The writer can state his story; the one written about cannot correct the impression. So I hope the reader will give every benefit of the doubt to my mother in reading this chapter of my recollections for my first years.[xlvi]

 

While Edwin later cut this qualification, he nonetheless exercised great restraint in wielding his power to shape the reader’s view of his mother.  In the last revision completed before The Long Way Home was put aside in the fall of 1974, Edwin offered the following view of Clara:

My mother not only read to me, she encouraged me to try to write and she taught me that ever-valuable lesson—to get up and try again when I failed. She appreciated wildflowers and, as I noted in the dedication of my first nature book, Grassroot Jungles, saw beauty in humble things. I loved my mother. There was no one I revered more. I recognized she was completely dedicated to my improvement.[xlvii]

 

It is impossible to know how much the decision to include this praise was born of obligation and how much from authentic feeling. Its substance was certainly true. Still, even in the public venue of autobiography, Edwin could not leave it unqualified. It was his “difficult aim,” he told the reader, “to tell as exactly as I can what life has been like for me.” And so, to the passage above, he added, “And yet—all I know is that as a child I was, much of the time, desperately unhappy.”[xlviii]

*          *          *          *          *          *

If Clara Teale was the righteous and dominant force of the home with whom to reckon, her husband, Oliver Cromwell Teale, was her foil. A soft-spoken, kind-hearted man of integrity, Oliver spent few waking hours in the home he shared with his wife and only child. Employed as a skilled locomotive mechanic in the Michigan Central Railroad roundhouse, he worked twelve-hour shifts, six days per week, to bring home weekly pay of fifteen dollars. In winter, he departed for work in the dark and returned thus. “In my memories of him,” Edwin wrote of his father, “he always seemed tired. There was little play in him. But it must be remembered that I saw him mainly in the evenings at the end of a long day’s work.”[xlix] At fourteen, living in his native Yorkshire, England, Oliver began work in a textile mill, and his life thereafter would be that of the laborer. As a young man, he emigrated to the United States with his younger brother, Haigh, and his older brother, William.[l] Several years later, their parents, Jeptha and Ellen Teale, followed, settling on a modest farm at the edge of the Indiana dunes—a farm adjacent to that of Edwin and Jemimah Way. There, Oliver met Clara Louise Way, his future bride. Ellen Teale died in 1895, four years before Edwin’s birth. Of Jeptha, Edwin had “but the vaguest memory of him, a sturdy upright man with an immaculate white beard which he washed with soap and water every morning.”[li] In 1901, Jeptha, now a widower, sold the 19-acre fruit farm and moved into the home of George and Annie Brummit. He died in January of 1904, six months shy of Edwin’s fifth birthday.[lii]

Oliver had grown up one of ten children, and his early life in Yorkshire had been defined by scarcity. As an adult, he stood at five feet, seven inches tall and weighed 145 pounds, his slight build making him ideally suited to enter the bellies of steam locomotives to hammer-test their iron flues. He was five inches shorter than Edwin by the time the latter graduated high school. “It may well be,” Edwin wrote later, “that he would have been taller if he had had ample food in childhood.”[liii] As a father, Oliver “retained the orderly habits of his boyhood” and remained governed by the schooling of early poverty. “My father mended his own shoes,” Edwin recalled later, “and my mother cut his hair.”[liv] During Edwin’s boyhood, the family was “never in need”—they owned their home and carried no debt—but, he qualified, “We were always on thin ice. There was rarely a surplus. Living close to the edge of the precipice you must walk carefully lest a pebble roll under your feet.”[lv] Oliver labored Monday through Saturday. On Saturday night he polished the family’s shoes for Sunday church. “On Sundays,” Edwin wrote, “he was urged on by that most popular of songs at the Methodist church we attended: ‘Work for the night is coming, when man works no more.’”[lvi] On Monday the cycle began again, and one is reminded of Robert Hayden’s oft-anthologized poem “Those Winter Sundays,” which begins:

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

 

It was the common pattern for the laboring family man of the early twentieth century. A long day’s labor provided sustenance and stability but little more. For the Teales, there were few luxuries.

Decades later, Edwin reflected thoughtfully, and perhaps a little ruefully, on the trajectory of his father’s life:

Looking back over the span of years, I recognize that my father was a man who lived a life without surpluses—without a surplus of energy, without a surplus of money, without a surplus of time. He never got enough—soon enough…He was not the kind for whom scrolls are inscribed and public dinners held…He was quiet and hard-working. He was well-liked and respected. He could be depended upon…The life he led did not embitter him. It did not break his spirit. Life did not overwhelm or conquer or crush him. Life tired him out.[lvii]

 

Despite the genuine praise of the passage above, Oliver did not escape the bitterness of Edwin’s private reflections on the unhappiness of his childhood. “My father was dependable, old reliable—faithful Oliver,” Edwin wrote in undated autobiography notes.[lviii] He elaborated no more, but the duality of his meaning, taken in the context of other notes, is clear. Edwin appreciated deeply his father’s steadfast, uncomplaining fulfillment of his duties—an authentic act of love that robbed him of his health and led him, at fifty-two, to a grave fittingly inscribed, “Faithful Unto Death.”[lix] Still, he was embittered just as deeply by his father’s malleability when confronted with his domineering wife’s will as she “turned the screws of psychology” on the two of them.[lx] Oliver was an “inarticulate father,” Edwin complained elsewhere, “always subordinate,” manipulated by Clara to believe he had won a “great prize” in marriage.[lxi] He was “sensitive—but he could not express his emotions” while “others seemed more” able to do so.[lxii] Exhausted by back-breaking labor and Clara’s relentless pursuit of “her great thrill [of] ‘moulding’ others,” Oliver Teale “left the job of bending the twig” to Clara, and by doing so left Edwin disillusioned and resentful.[lxiii]

Vivid amongst the scattering of Edwin’s early memories of his father were a handful of visits to the Michigan City roundhouse. At these times, Oliver lifted “the veil of that mysterious world into which he disappeared” each day. For a young boy, such visits were magical, and for Edwin, many years later, they “merged into one dreamlike memory.”[lxiv]

I remember when I was five or six or so and climbing with him to the engineer’s seat in the cab of a huge freight engine. Slowly he eased back a lever. With a long hiss of steam, the locomotive moved ponderously forward until we were swallowed up in the cavernous gloom of the roundhouse. There I was greeted with strange smells—the odor of hot oil and metal and steam—unfamiliar sounds—the clang and reverberation of pounded metal—new sights—men moving about among the dim shapes of towering locomotives lighting their way with smoking flares formed of burning oil-soaked waste. I watched my father, carrying his flare, squeeze his way through a firebox door to inspect the boiler of one engine and heard the ring of his hammer as he tested the flues.[lxv]

 

In these ephemeral hours, his father “seemed like some knight on a charger, a romantic figure.”[lxvi] Later, Edwin found the composite memory of these visits “strange [and] haunting.”[lxvii] The ringing of his father’s hammer was the tolling of a bell for a life absent luxury, a life foreshortened by little-noticed sacrifice. It heralded the coming night when the man, the father, would work no more. It was the peal of love’s labors, of the “austere and lonely offices” for which thanks were neither sought nor expected, and rarely gotten.

*          *          *          *          *          *

As an industrial center with “railroads converging from all directions,” Joliet, Illinois was likewise “a tramp center” at a time when thousands of itinerant men rode the rails hunting work or escape, driven from town to town by local sheriffs and railroad bulls.[lxviii] Less than a mile east of the Teales’ home, in an undeveloped tract named Davidson’s Woods, there was “an extensive hobo jungle…” where “wanderers cooked their food over little campfires and heated their coffee in tin cans.”[lxix] Clara Teale, despite her rigidness in the running of her own home, felt great empathy for the cavalcade of road-worn men who passed through Joliet. Such solicitude for the unwanted likely drew the ire of some neighbors. Such acts cast little limelight. Still, when these men appeared “from time to time…at our back door asking for a bite to eat,” Clara fed them without hesitation.[lxx] Edwin wrote of these unremembered acts of kindness in the last revision of his autobiography, perhaps to further soften his already-muted critique of his mother’s twig-bending efforts: “Times were hard, and my mother was kind-hearted and our house no doubt was widely known as an oasis for tramps in their travels.” He even quipped, “We began to notice cabalistic markings in chalk on the cement wall in front of the house…probably notices to other tramps that easy pickings lay within.”[lxxi]

Despite his lighthearted autobiography treatment of the hobos who plied his mother’s kindness, an incident involving one of these nameless men haunted Edwin’s memory. In undated notes, he recalled a tramp lying on a stretcher beside the tracks of the Eligin, Joliet, and Eastern railway, his severed leg beside him. It was one of many tragedies Edwin witnessed firsthand in his early years. Later, as he compiled voluminous notes for his autobiography over a thirty-year period, the erratic spotlight of his memory returned with striking frequency to these tragic events. Year after year, he enumerated these events on redundant lists, sometimes adding a newly-recalled detail or event. The earliest of these, his “first glimpse of the terror that lies just beneath the bright surface of life,”[lxxii] was the death in winter of a cart-horse that slipped on ice directly in front of the Teales’ East Washington Street home:

I saw my father disappear out the front door. I saw my mother following with an armload of blankets. I had no idea what had occurred. Peeking under the drawn curtain at the parlor window, I saw dark figures huddled around the prostrate animal. Lanterns threw shifting shadows over the scene…Then I heard the crack of a rifle…In the morning the horse was gone but a large red pool of blood had frozen on the ice.[lxxiii]

 

The scene remained “alive[,] buried in the far recesses of my mind,” he wrote nearly seventy years later.[lxxiv]

In stacks of undated autobiography notes, Edwin documented event after event that, as he reflected later, illustrated “how often death has swept close to me.”[lxxv] Once, for example, while he stood at the edge of a water-filled quarry, a favored swimming hole, a boy beside him dove in headfirst, struck a submerged rock, and died from a broken back.[lxxvi] Then there was Cube Brooks, a playmate of Lone Oak summers, who was kicked in the head by a horse and died from the blow.[lxxvii] Another time, swimming in Lake Michigan on the Indiana dunes side, Edwin watched as a drowned girl was pulled from the water. Decades later he recalled clearly the strands of hair that hung flaccid down her waxen face.[lxxviii] Later, working a summer job at the Starr Lumberyard while attending Earlham College, he watched in horror as a deaf co-worker, “unable to hear the warning bell of a backing switch engine, was run over and killed hardly more than a hundred feet from where several of us stood helpless.”[lxxix] On two occasions, Edwin rode trains that collided with automobiles at crossings, killing their occupants.[lxxx] These experiences and others made Edwin feel as though “lightning was striking all around” him.[lxxxi] They left him deeply fearful, often “treading softly, seeking the shadows, trying to avoid attracting the attention of some malign fate I could not name.”[lxxxii] He became acutely aware of the tenuous and unforgiving universe we inhabit, and that awareness haunted him for the rest of his life. “I seemed skating over a deep, dark stream,” he wrote later. “The ice held but I could never forget for long the water that flowed below.”[lxxxiii] Life’s triumphs and joys seemed always to unfurl in the shadow of approaching disaster.

While these tragedies haunted Edwin, the “sense of uncertainty” they fostered likewise heightened his “intense delight…in the beauty of the passing minute.”[lxxxiv] It was analogous, he wrote later, to the way in which “some landscapes take on a magical atmosphere when touched briefly by sunshine while black clouds are piling up in the sky behind them.”[lxxxv] In life’s frailty, beauty resided, in its impermanence, meaning that transcended time. To his lists of “black cloud” events, Edwin often added the title “The Gray Cipher.” In doing so, he alluded to a short poem from “The Extraordinary City of Brass,” a story from The Thousand Nights and the One Night, more commonly known in the English-speaking world as The Arabian Nights. In the story, a traveling party enters the ruins of a great city, now “buried in silence as in a tomb.”[lxxxvi] An inscription on a battlement warns the travelers that “the grey cipher of death” is always near, “building a narrow and dark house for kings” and commoners alike, waiting to spoil the sum of our imagined futures.[lxxxvii] Edwin titled the final chapter of his autobiography “The Gray Cipher.” In it, he wrote only one sentence, stating his intent to offer “reflections of various kinds, especially on life and death….,”[lxxxviii] but his sum, too, was spoiled, the pages left unfilled, a reminder of the dark, narrow house that awaited him and awaits us all.

 

Richard Telford has taught literature and composition at The Woodstock Academy since 1997. In 2011, he helped found the Edwin Way Teale Artists in Residence at Trail Wood program, which he now directs. He was a long-time contributing writer for The Ecotone Exchange. He was recently awarded a Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant by the University of Connecticut to support his work on a book about naturalist, writer, and photographer Edwin Way Teale. The Woodstock Academy Board of Trustees likewise granted him a sabbatical for the 2016-2017 academic year to support this work.

 

References:

Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, The, Volume 2, Translated from the French translation of Dr. J.C. Mardrus by Powys Mathers, New York & London: Routledge, 2005, Taylor and Francis e-Library ed.

Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” Collected Poems. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.

Pendley, Trent D. “Jeptha Teale.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6504158. Accessed 31 May 2017.

Pendley, Trent D. “Oliver Cromwell Teale.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi- bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6504214. Accessed 27 June 2017.

Pople, Alexander. The Works of Alexander Pope Esq. Volume III: Containing his Moral Essays. London: J. and P. Knapton in Ludgate Street, 1752.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Days of Hearsay,” draft, 25-27 July, 1974. Most Complete Manuscript, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2187, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Days of Hearsay” chapter notes, drafts, 1974. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2167, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. Days Without Time: Adventures of a Naturalist. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1948.

Teale, Edwin Way. Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist. Lone Oak Edition. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1943, 1957.

Teale, Edwin Way. Edwin Way Teale’s Composition Book [1910]. Box 85, folder 2664, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. EWT’s early letters to parents, 1909-1912. Box 142, folder 2880, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig” chapter notes, drafts, 1974 July 31. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2169, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. Most Complete Manuscript, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2187, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. Most Complete Manuscript, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2187, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home” chapter notes, drafts, 1974 July 31. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2168, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. Notes, Clippings, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2163, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “The Gray Cipher” Chapter Skeleton. 20 Sept., 1974. Most Complete Manuscript, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2187, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. The Hampton Journal, 1959-1961, unpublished journal. Box 120, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Woodland Days” chapter notes, research, drafts of manuscript, correspondence, 1974 August 19. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2170, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Wayne, Arthur T. “Destruction of Birds by the Great Cold Wave of February 13 and 14, 1899.” The Auk, 16: 2 (Apr 1899), 197-8.

Wood, Harold B. “The History of Bird Banding.” The Auk, 62: 2 (Apr 1945), 256-265.

 

Notes:

[i] Teale, Edwin Way. The Hampton Journal, 1959-1961. 15 November, 1961.

[ii] Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” Collected Poems. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 41

[iii] The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Volume 2, 298.

[iv] Wayne, Arthur T. “Destruction of Birds by the Great Cold Wave of February 13 and 14, 1899.” 197-8.

[v] Wood, Harold B. “The History of Bird Banding.” 259

[vi] Teale, Edwin Way. “Days of Hearsay,” draft, 25-27 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 1

[vii] Ibid. 2

[viii] Teale, Clara Louise. Undated notes. “Woodland Days.” Box 63, folder 2170.

[ix] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 1

[x] Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 6

[xi] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187.  1

[xii] Teale, Edwin Way. Notes, 7 August 1974. “Memories of a Bent Twig.” Box 63, folder 2169.

[xiii] Teale, Edwin Way. Days Without Time. 20, 238.

[xiv] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 4

[xv] Ibid. 4

[xvi] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “My Earliest Home.” Box 63, folder 2168.

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 8

[xix] Ibid. 4

[xx] Pople, Alexander. The Works of Alexander Pope Esq. Volume III: Containing his Moral Essays. 192

[xxi] Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 2

[xxii] Ibid. 2, 1

[xxiii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Woodland Days.” Box 63, folder 2170.

[xxiv] Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 1

[xxv] Ibid. 1

[xxvi] Ibid. 2

[xxvii] Ibid. 2

[xxviii] Ibid. 2

[xxix] Ibid. 3

[xxx] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Memories of a Bent Twig.” Box 63, folder 2169.

[xxxi] Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 3

[xxxii] Ibid. 3

[xxxiii] Ibid. 3

[xxxiv] Teale, Edwin Way. Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist. Lone Oak Edition. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1943, 1957. 5.

[xxxv] Ibid. 2

[xxxvi] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Woodland Days.” Box 63, folder 2170.

[xxxvii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Memories of a Bent Twig.” Box 63, folder 2169.

[xxxviii] Ibid.

[xxxix] Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 6

[xl] Teale, Edwin Way. Entry, 1 Jan. 1911. Edwin Way Teale’s Composition Book [1910]. Box 85, folder 2664.

[xli] Teale, Edwin Way. Entry, 30 Dec. 1910. Edwin Way Teale’s Composition Book [1910]. Box 85, folder 2664.

[xlii] Teale, Edwin Way. Entry, 1 Jan. 1911. Edwin Way Teale’s Composition Book [1910]. Box 85, folder 2664.

[xliii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Memories of a Bent Twig.” Box 63, folder 2169.

[xliv] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Woodland Days.” Box 63, folder 2170.

[xlv] Ibid.

[xlvi] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Memories of a Bent Twig.” Box 63, folder 2169.

[xlvii] Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 6

[xlviii] Ibid.

[xlix] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 8

[l] Teale, Edwin Way. “Days of Hearsay,” draft, 25-27 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 3

[li] Ibid. 4

[lii] Pendley, Trent D. “Jeptha Teale.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6504158.

[liii] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 7

[liv] Ibid. 6

[lv] Ibid. 6

[lvi] Ibid. 7

[lvii] Ibid. 9

[lviii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “My Earliest Home.” Box 63, folder 2168.

[lix] Pendley, Trent D. “Oliver Cromwell Teale.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6504214.

[lx] Teale, Edwin. Undated notes. “Woodland Days.” Box 63, folder 2170.

[lxi] Ibid.

[lxii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “My Earliest Home.” Box 63, folder 2168.

[lxiii] Ibid.

[lxiv] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 9

[lxv] Ibid. 9

[lxvi] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “My Earliest Home.” Box 63, folder 2168.

[lxvii] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 9

[lxviii] Ibid. 3

[lxix] Ibid. 3

[lxx] Ibid. 3

[lxxi] Ibid. 3

[lxxii] Ibid. 5

[lxxiii] Ibid. 5

[lxxiv] Ibid. 5

[lxxv] Ibid. 5

[lxxvi] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “My Earliest Home.” Box 63, folder 2168.

[lxxvii] Ibid.

[lxxviii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. Box 63, folder 2163.

[lxxix] Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 5-6

[lxxx] Ibid. 5

[lxxxi] Ibid. 6

[lxxxii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Woodland Days.” Box 63, folder 2170.

[lxxxiii] Ibid. 6

[lxxxiv] Ibid. 6

[lxxxv] Ibid. 6

[lxxxvi] The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Volume 2, 298.

[lxxxvii] Ibid.

[lxxxviii] Teale, Edwin Way. “The Gray Cipher,” skeleton chapter, 20 Sept. 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187.

Roger L. Crossgrove: A Lifetime of Art and Art-making

 

Roger L. Crossgrove: A LIfe in Art 

Three concurrent exhibitions on display now through August 4, 2017 at UConn.

Until his passing in December of 2016, Roger L. Crossgrove was a highly visible and active participant in Connecticut’s arts community. The works on display in the Homer Babbidge Library, the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery, and McDonald Reading Room in Archives and Special Collections through August 4, 2017 are representative of his artistic life expressed in various media.

Born in Farnam, Nebraska in 1921 and raised on the family’s farm, Crossgrove’s mother, a self-taught artist, encouraged his interest in art at a young age. From 1942 to 1946, Crossgrove served in the US Army as a Staff Sergeant, 73rd Field Hospital in the Philippines. After returning home, he received his BFA from the University of Nebraska in 1949 and his MFA in 1951 from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Crossgrove fell in love with the art of Mexico and twice had the opportunity to live and paint there, first in 1950 on the GI Bill and again in 1965, the influence of which is evident in the early oil paintings on display in the Plaza Gallery in Homer Babbidge Library. Between 1950 and 1968, Crossgrove taught at the prestigious Pratt Institute in the Department of Graphic Art and Illustration. In 1968, he was recruited by the University of Connecticut to serve as Department Head in the School of Fine Arts. Crossgrove retired from the University of Connecticut in 1988. During his collective 38 years as an art professor, Crossgrove taught noted artists such as Tomie dePaola, Robert Mapplethorpe, Joseph A. Smith, Normand Chartier, Cyndy Szekeres, and Michael Maslin. Described as patient, supportive, firm, friendly, generous, and cheerful, he is remembered for emphasizing well-rounded foundational lessons, in a wide variety of idioms, as crucial preparation for a career in fine art or illustration. In 2008, Crossgrove was the recipient of the UConn School of Fine Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.  Read more…

Prologue: Into the Beautiful, Free Country; Reexamining the Life and Writing of Edwin Way Teale

By Richard Telford

Author’s Note: Though the product of many hours of research, writing, and revision, this chapter is nevertheless a draft; it will be subject to revision as the larger book in which it will appear takes shape. In this chapter, the very first of the book, I have departed from the time period I wrote about in the previous three chapters published on the Archives and Special Collections site, during which the Teales lost their only son, David, in wartime service. Those chapters can be accessed here. I welcome critical response, either in the comment section below or through direct e-mail. I am grateful to the Archives and Special Collections staff for providing me the opportunity to share this work, and to the Woodstock Academy Board of Trustees for awarding me a sabbatical for the 2016-2017 school year so that this work could be undertaken.  Contextual information about the project and manuscript can be found here.

 

Prologue: Into the Beautiful, Free Country

 

Not only have you made us both very happy indeed; but you have also enabled us to get away from the heat and fatigue of the city into the beautiful, free country earlier than we could otherwise have done; and you know, I delight in nothing more than in being close to Nature’s heart.[1]

 

                                                                               Helen Keller, from a letter to Alexander Graham Bell, June 2, 1899

 

Down the slopes of the wooded hills there came a long sighing breath that set the leaves a wavering, down the long dancing corriders of the woodland.

It told a tale of the piles of drifting snow, of fluttering grouse, and wind swept ice, of strife and har[d]ships; yet [the] trees sang on with a glad hear[t], for it told more to them than hardships and struggle, it told of gorgeous costume[s] of colored woods and fleecy sky; and so the leaves sang on, with the joy of childhood.[ii]

 

                                                                              Edwin Way Teale, from “The Moon of Falling Leaves,” typed manuscript, ca. 1909-1910

 

Edwin Way Teale at Lone Oak, the Indiana farm of his maternal grandparents Edwin F. and Jemima Way, circa 1910.

In 1943, amidst unprecedented slaughter that would add the word “genocide” to the common lexicon, author Edwin Way Teale introduced to the world a boy who sat perched atop the roof of his grandparents’ Indiana farmhouse, watching at once the divergent aerial paths of a bald eagle soaring on high and a gray sandhill crane hugging the earth in low, loping flight. The boy imagined what he might see through the eyes of each bird. He wondered how each might see the dune landscape, the “shining, mysterious land of gold beyond the treetops at the horizon’s edge.”[iii] Less than two miles from the roof he straddled lay a “fragment of untamed wilderness” where the boy had heard that “wolves still howled among the snow-clad dunes on winter nights.”[iv] Such wilderness stirred the boy’s imagination, and so, too, did the north woods at the edge of his grandparents’ 90-acre farm, “a mysterious realm of little trails and piles of yellow sand dug from burrows.”[v] In 1943, the world needed this boy, and the boy, now grown and suffering the trials of war, still needed that childhood world of wilderness, of unfettered exploration, of natural order, of simple beauty.

The boy, born on June 2, 1899, had entered the world as two of his future heroes, John Muir and John Burroughs, occupied adjacent state rooms on the steamer SS George W Elder en route to Alaska during the Harriman Alaska Expedition. The expedition, funded by American railroad magnate Edward Harriman, assembled the nation’s most accomplished scientists, natural historians, and artists to conduct a comprehensive two-month survey of the Alaskan coast all the way to Siberia.[vi]  Of that day, when the expedition rounded the coast of British Columbia, Burroughs later wrote, “I had often seen as much color and brilliancy in the sky, but never before such depth and richness of blue and purple upon the mountains and upon the water.”[vii] On that same day, a hemisphere away, the Malolos Congress, the National Assembly of the Philippines, declared war against the United States, a war it would take the American military three years to win, at a cost of more than 4200 troops.[viii] The boy, too, would later suffer the losses of successive world wars. One of these would haunt him for the remainder of his life, would inhabit his dreams decade after decade, a perpetual “nightmare at dawn.”[ix] But that loss, on the day of his birth, was a generation removed. Finally, on the day the boy entered the world, Helen Keller wrote to her lifelong benefactor Alexander Graham Bell, to whom she would later dedicate her 1903 autobiography The Story of My Life.[x] To Bell, she confided, “I delight in nothing more than in being close to Nature’s heart,” and few statements could more aptly reflect the future trajectory of the boy clad in blue overalls, for whom the natural world would be at once a playground and a sanctuary, a nourisher and a balm. While the boy would undergo countless evolutions during the 81 years to follow, the hold of the natural world upon him would remain a constant, a holdfast in a relentless sea of waxing change.

The house at Lone Oak, the Indiana farm of Edwin F. and Jemima Way, the maternal grandparents of Edwin Way Teale, early twentieth century.

Edwin Way Teale, on the fourth page of his 1943 book Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist, revealed the identity of the overall-clad boy, who through so many trips up the shingled roof of his grandparents’ farm had left a visible trail to the ridge like “the thin trail of a garden slug.” “It was thus,” he wrote, “as the boy in the blue overalls, that I spent many hours during the long summer days of my earliest boyhood.”[xi] These summers and numerous Christmas and Easter holidays spent at Lone Oak, the 90-acre farm of his maternal grandparents Edwin and Jemima Way, formed “the most memorable months” of his childhood.[xii] Decades later, in the darkest hours of adult life, “in nights of strain and days of trouble,” Edwin would return often in memory to “the sounds of the dune country night”: the alternate refrains of katydids and crickets, the shadow-calls of nighthawks and owls, the susurrations of poultry and nesting storks.[xiii] Through the lens of time, Lone Oak became for Edwin what Tintern Abbey had been to English Romantic poet William Wordsworth, a sustaining sanctuary of memory. Amidst copious notes for his never-published autobiography, Edwin, reflecting on memories of Lone Oak, copied out the following lines from Wordsworth:

But oft in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din

Of towns and cities, I have owed to them

In hours of weariness, sensations sweet…[xiv]

 

Amidst “the tensions, the pressures, the constraints, [and] the strain”[xv] of a “desperately unhappy”[xvi] childhood, Lone Oak was, and in recollection always would be, a sanctuary. “I never was free from the bridle and the bit,” Edwin wrote later, “except at Lone Oak—Dear, lifesaving Lone Oak!”[xvii]

Edwin Way Teale with his maternal grandparents Edwin F. and Jemima Way at Lone Oak, their Indiana farm, circa 1916-1918.

For Edwin, the school year spent in the industrial city of Joliet, Illinois and holidays spent at his grandparents’ dune country farm near Furnessville, Indiana divided life “into a kind of mental Arctic night and day.”[xviii] The metaphor was well chosen. The Arctic night represented a spirit-choking home life; school days teeming with bullies and marked by the chronic shadow of personal failure; an oppressive, soot-stained, limestone landscape. Sprawling along the United States Steel company’s outer rail belt around Chicago, Joliet attracted “Wire mills, coke plants, stove companies, horseshoe factories, brick companies, foundries, boiler and tank companies, machine manufacturers, can companies, bridge builders, plating factories, [and] steel car shops.”[xix]  “Everything in our vicinity,” Edwin recalled later, “was begrimed and gray…, the air always scented with coal smoke.”[xx] Soot from the locomotive stacks of the Michigan Central Railroad to the north and the Eligin, Joliet, and Eastern line to the east often forced a second washing of his mother’s sheets drying on the line.[xxi] The Teales’ Washington Street home was little better. “When winter came,” Edwin wrote, “…storm windows and doors virtually sealed us in. From December to March we seemed to breathe the same dead air scented with coal gas and cooking.”[xxii] And then there was the specter of Edwin’s mother, Clara Louise Teale, whose “rigid training,” “unending inspection,” and “continual consideration of every act” he committed constrained him more than any physical landscape, interior or exterior, could have done. Her pedagogical tyranny, he reflected later, “made me turn to nature. Here was freedom, here was liberty. Here my tether was lengthened or left behind.”[xxiii]

The contrast between Joliet and Lone Oak could not have been more stark. In Joliet, inmates from the Illinois State Penitentiary carved limestone from the earth with forced labor.[xxiv] Smokestacks lined the horizon in all directions, spewing from industrial furnaces a dark cloud that blanketed the city. Images of the time, intended to extol the advanced industry of the city, instead illustrate the dual toll of corporate greed on human health and the human spirit.[xxv] At Lone Oak, clean, crisp air revealed “hills of gold shining in the sun” and “the blue hills of the Valparaiso moraine against the lighter blue of the summer sky.”[xxvi] In this land of boyhood freedom, “prevailing winds…carried quartz grains to the southeastern tip” of Lake Michigan, forming “the dunes themselves as well as the great blowouts and the small ribbed patterns on the beach sand….”[xxvii] While Joliet offered only “a haunted place beneath the smoke,”[xxviii] Lone Oak offered a place of deliverance beneath the “great clamor of the geese and waterfowl circling in the [late-day] light.”[xxix] For a boy liberated from the confines of city life, Lone Oak was as worthy a site for exploration as the Alaskan coastline was for Burroughs and Muir. At his grandparents’ farm, Edwin fixed his eyes with equal acuity on the sweep of the vast dune landscape and that of the long, emerald leg of the night-calling cicada. No titan of industry funded his expeditions. His stateroom was an attic, his steamer a rambling farmhouse, his benefactors wise and loving grandparents. The influence of Gram and Gramp Way upon him would ultimately exceed that of his own parents, and no single factor would shape more profoundly the trajectory of his life than the glorious days he spent in the beautiful, free country of Lone Oak, the childhood landscape he recalled, nearly three-quarters of a century later, as “that home of my heart.”[xxx]

 

Richard Telford has taught literature and composition at The Woodstock Academy since 1997. In 2011, he helped found the Edwin Way Teale Artists in Residence at Trail Wood program, which he now directs. He was a long-time contributing writer for The Ecotone Exchange. He was recently awarded a Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant by the University of Connecticut to support his work on a book about naturalist, writer, and photographer Edwin Way Teale. The Woodstock Academy Board of Trustees likewise granted him a sabbatical for the 2016-2017 academic year to support this work.

 

References

Burroughs, John, John Muir, et al. Alaska: The Harriman Expedition 1899. Facsimile: Two volumes bound as one. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1986.

“Illinois Steel Works, Joliet.” Photograph. http://trollmongo.deviantart.com/art/Joliet-IL-1900-291620595

Illustration of Joliet Iron and Steel Works, 1877-8, from advertisement in Poor’s Manual of the    Railroads in the United States. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joliet_Iron_%26_Steel_1870s.jpg

“Joliet, IL.” The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/676.html

Keller, Helen, letter to Alexander Graham Bell, 2 June, 1899. Library of Congress, Alexander Graham Bell family papers, 1834-1974. MSS51268: Folder: Helen Keller, 1888-1918, undated.

Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life. Doubleday, Page, and Co., 1903.

“Phillipine-American War, The, 1899-1902.” Office of the Historian, Department of State, United States of America. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1899-1913/war

Renehan, Jr., Edward J. John Burroughs: An American Naturalist. Hensonville, NY: Black Dome Press Corp., 1998.

Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living: Volume II, unpublished journal, February 1944 to May 1946. Box 113, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special  Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist. Lone Oak Edition. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1943, 1957.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Lone Oak Cat Stories.” Ca. 1909-1912. Box 84, folder 2587, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig” chapter notes, drafts, 1974 July 31. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2169, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. Most Complete Manuscript, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2187, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home,” draft, 28-31 July, 1974. Most Complete Manuscript, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2187,

Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “My Earliest Home” chapter notes, drafts, 1974 July 31. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2168, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. Notes, Clippings, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2163, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Trail Wood” chapter notes, undated. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2186, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. “Woodland Days” chapter notes, research, drafts of manuscript, correspondence, 1974 August 19. The Long Way Home (EWT’s autobiography). Box 63, folder 2170, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

 

Notes

[1] Keller, Helen, letter to Alexander Graham Bell, 2 June, 1899.

[ii] Teale, Edwin Way. “Lone Oak Cat Stories.” Ca. 1909-1912. Box 84, folder 2587.

[iii] Teale, Edwin Way. Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist. Lone Oak Edition. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1943, 1957. 2.

[iv] Ibid. 2.

[v] Ibid. 5.

[vi] Renehan, Jr., Edward J. John Burroughs: An American Naturalist. Hensonville, NY: Black Dome Press Corp., 207

[vii] Burroughs, John, John Muir, et al. Alaska: The Harriman Expedition 1899. Facsimile: Two volumes bound as one. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1986.

[viii] “The Phillipine-American War, 1899-1902.” Office of the Historian, Department of State, United States of America. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1899-1913/war

[ix] Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living, Vol II. 8 August 1945.

[x] Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life. Doubleday, Page, and Co., 1903.

[xi] Teale, Edwin Way. Dune Boy. Lone Oak Edition. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1943, 1957. 4.

[xii] Ibid. 6.

[xiii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “My Earliest Home.” Box 63, folder 2168.

[xiv] Wordsworth, William. From “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abby, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1793.” Copied into undated notes. “The Long Way Home.” Box 63, folder 2163.

[xv] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “My Earliest Home.” Box 63, folder 2168.

[xvi] Teale, Edwin Way. “Memories of a Bent Twig,” draft, 3-7 Aug., 1974. The Long Way Home, most complete manuscript. Box 63, folder 2187. 6

[xvii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Memories of a Bent Twig.” Box 63, folder 2169.

[xviii] Teale, Edwin Way. Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist. Lone Oak Edition. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1943, 1957. 5.

[xix] “Joliet, IL.” The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/676.html

[xx] Teale, Edwin Way. The Long Way Home. “My Earliest Home.” Most complete manuscript. 30 July, 1974. Box 63, Folder 2187. 2

[xxi] Ibid. 2

[xxii] Ibid. 6

[xxiii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Memories of a Bent Twig.” Box 63, folder 2169.

[xxiv] Ibid.

[xxv] a. “Illinois Steel Works, Joliet.” Photograph. http://trollmongo.deviantart.com/art/Joliet-IL-1900-291620595.  Illustration of Joliet Iron and Steel Works, 1877-8, from advertisement in Poor’s Manual of the Railroads in the United States. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joliet_Iron_%26_Steel_1870s.jpg

[xxvi] Teale, Edwin Way. Dune Boy. Lone Oak Edition. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1943,1957. 4-5.

[xxvii] Ibid. 3.

[xxviii] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Memories of a Bent Twig.” Box 63, folder 2169.

[xxix] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Woodland Days.” Box 63, folder 2170.

[xxx] Teale, Edwin Way. Undated notes. “Trail Wood.” Box 63, folder 2186.

 

 

Dana T. Leavenworth – A Connecticut Soldier’s Experience

Dana T. Leavenworth was born 25 June 1888, presumably in Roxbury, Connecticut.

Dana T. Leavenworth

He attended  Yale College and graduated in 1910.  Like many of his generation, Leavenworth joined the Army in 1914 and saw action along the U.S. –  Mexico border prior to joining the American Expeditionary Force in  France in 1918.

 

While in France he served as an officer and the documents in his papers reflect the range of his responsibilities as part of the “Fighting Yankee Division.”

Plans for action in the field

 

While he was abroad, Leavenworth received correspondence from friends and family.  Sentiments throughout the correspondence he received, from 1917 until his return to the States, resonate with the unified effort the entire country was undergoing to support the war effort, both home and abroad.

Many wrote of their personal contributions to the war effort while others conveyed pride and gratitude for Dana’s service. His future bride applied for service in both the Red Cross and Y. M. C. A. War Service, similar to other women, anxious to do their part.

Marie Schmitz’s application to the Red Cross, 1917

15 September 1918, Carlton Redmond having moved to the Washington, D.C. area writes, “I simply got desperate, while I was giving considerable of my spare time to war work for the past year, I wanted to do more…”  And in another letter on 24 October 1918,  “I am working very hard to aid in the production of Ordnance for you boys.”

Another friend wrote on 18 November 1917, “Everyone is busy—Ladies with their knitting and at Present the men are in the throes of a YMCA campaign raising money to promote them in the army corps and at the front for in them we figure is the big saving influence of the men.”

Antoinette Pierce wrote on 14 November 1917, “You don’t know how you soldiers are the center of all our thoughts nor how proud we are that our defenders in these hard times are of the sort we can safely rely upon in every need.”

Letter from Antoinette Pierce, 14 November 1917

The activity on the home front is highlighted in the 6 December 1917 letter from Pastor Charles A. Dinsmore, “Waterbury is about the same as usual. We are very busy, raising money most of the time for the Red Triangle, the Red Cross, and just now it is the Knights of Columbus.  Personally, I am kept pretty busy as chairman of the Waterbury Red Cross, as a member of the local Council of Defense…the girls are all working in the Red Cross.  There seems to be no fun going on anywhere.”

Chalmers Holbrook writes on 9 January 1918, “Who knows but by this time you are tasting the trenches and the wildest stretch of the imagination cannot see it as you do because we never know what reality is until we actually experience it.”

And even representatives of his employers at the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance contacted him, “It is very gratifying that, in spite of the fact that you left us early to go into the service, you had accomplished enough to qualify you for the year’s Leaders List.” [2 February 1918, Superintendent of Agencies, Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance]

Dana was one of the fortunate ones to survive the war, returning to the States in 1919 and resuming his civilian life. In 1924, he married  Marie Christina Schmitz, daughter of  Charles W. Schmitz of Waterbury and continued his employment as an estate councilor at  Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company.  Dana and Marie established their household at 25 Staples Place in  West Hartford, Connecticut. There they raised three sons, Robert, Donald and Alden.

 

Dana T. Leavenworth and Marie Schmitz

Dana T. Leavenworth — A Connecticut Soldier’s Experience

is one of several World War I themed exhibitions on display in Babbidge Library and the Dodd Research Center this Spring, marking the centennial of the official involvement of the United States in World War I. The United States Congress declared war on the German Empire on 6 April 1917.

The Land-Grant College at War

 The following guest blog post is by Allison Horrocks, Ph.D. ’16. Dr. Horrocks received her B.A. in History and American Studies from Trinity College and her M.A. in History from the University of Connecticut. Her research explores the history of Home Economics in higher education in the twentieth century.

 

One hundred years ago, students at the Connecticut Agricultural College were trudging through campus to attend spring classes and to take part in one or many extracurricular activities, most of which would still be familiar today. While some co-eds might seek out or even play basketball, others could pass the time by writing for the school paper, acting in a drama club, or attending social meetings at a fraternity.

But the spring of 1917 was also charged with a feeling of anticipation. These same students were gearing up for war.

30 April 1917 Connecticut Campus

Between March and April of 1917, students and faculty members at Connecticut Agricultural College, hereafter cited as CAC, saw their futures change dramatically within a matter of weeks. On April 6, 1917, the United States formally entered the global conflict known as the Great War. How the people of Connecticut, and those at CAC in particular, mobilized to “do their part” in order to win the war is the subject of a new retrospective exhibition hosted in the galleries of the Dodd Center.

When considering how the people of Connecticut contributed to the war, service in the armed forces is usually what comes to mind. A small, but proportionally significant number of male students from CAC (and other in-state institutions, of course) would be called up for military service. But this was not the only way that Nutmeggers or CAC students demonstrated their loyalty. This focus on student life at CAC between 1917 and 1918 shows a much wider concept of service to the war effort, work that did not marshal guns as its weapon of choice.

Grove Cottage

Though war had loomed for years, the US’s official entry changed campus life rather dramatically. By April 30, the student paper, The Connecticut Campus and Lookout was filled with news of student departures and other adjustments to be wrought on campus. In addition to those who would be called overseas, there was a buildup of forces to do work on the agricultural front in the fields and farmlands of Connecticut. Each age group, indeed every citizen, male and female, was thought to have a special role in serving the warring nation. Throughout the state, youth grew corn and managed crops for the Junior Food Army and adult women joined up with a farming program known as the Women’s Land Army. Meanwhile, faculty at CAC taught thousands how to conserve food and agents traveled to provide demonstrations on food conservation. The central thread with all of this work was the notion that food and crop management were vital to winning the war. For contemporaries, the notion of a “homefront” was expansive, including domestic spaces as well as on-campus laboratories, farms, and civic halls where families learned proper food saving methods.

In addition to shedding new light on the war effort in Connecticut, the objects curated for this exhibition offer a wide view of what life on campus was like a century ago. Alongside propaganda posters from the period, photographs of dormitory rooms, dance cards, and other student belongings will be put on display. Other objects from throughout the state, including letters from “the front” in France and images of youth activities with the Food Army will also be on view.

Memorial Oak

In all, this exhibition draws from a range of archival materials from the Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries. In addition to objects from the University of Connecticut Memorabilia Collection, photographs and other artifacts from the Connecticut Soldiers Collection and Augustus Jackson Brundage Papers (among others) will also be on display.

 

The Land-Grant College at War is one of several World War I themed exhibitions on display in Babbidge Library and the Dodd Research Center this Spring, marking the centennial of the official involvement of the United States in World War I. The United States Congress declared war on the German Empire on 6 April 1917.

Bibliotherapy: From library war service to science

The following guest blog post is by Mary Mahoney, doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Connecticut. Ms. Mahoney received her B.A. in History and English from Trinity College and her M.A.  in History from the University of Connecticut. She is currently completing a dissertation on the history of bibliotherapy, or the use of books as medicine.

 

Have you ever read a book and felt healed by it?

Most readers can think of a novel that offered some comfort, a poem that presented

Distributing books to wounded veterans

direction, or even a biography that provided inspiration. The notion that books can heal is as old as reading itself but, during World War I, doctors and librarians joined together to apply reading as a form of therapy.

 

A new exhibit at the Dodd Center, “From Library War Service to Science: Bibliotherapy in World War I” tells that story.

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, troops travelled to the front with the help of massive mobilization efforts to provide weapons, food, and books. The Library War Service, formed by the Library of Congress and the American Library Association, created a national system to collect and distribute books to troops at home and abroad during and after the war. Between 1917 and 1920, the Library War Service distributed approximately 7­10 million books and magazines. The Service built 36 camp libraries to incorporate reading into daily life, and provided library collections to over 500 locations, including military hospitals.

At camps, military hospitals, YMCA huts and other relief stations, librarians distributed books believing that reading played a vital role in the war effort. Books could provide education, entertainment, war training, vocational training and therapy.

Ward Library Service, Base Hospital, Camp Pike, Arkansas

In 1918, the Library War Service stationed librarians in military hospitals to provide dedicated service to the sick and wounded. By 1919, the Service established libraries of approximately 1000 volumes in hospitals without dedicated librarians, and collections of roughly 3,500 in hospitals where a librarian lived and worked on site. There the mostly female librarians wore specially designed uniforms intended to help them fit in among doctors and nurses, and equate their work with the authority of medical professionals. This was important as doctors were often sold on the necessity of books for their patients, but not librarians. “All the army hospitals wanted books,” one librarian noted, “but not all wanted librarians.”

In these hospitals, librarians noted that fiction circulated at an estimated rate of 3 to 1 (to non­fiction). As one hospital librarian noted, “The epidemic of authors is more common than that of disease. Periods of Zane Greyism will be followed by feverish cravings for ‘Tarzanry.” Using the language of disease, this librarian spoke to the desire patients had for books that offered escape, entertainment, and in some cases, consolation. While books in camp libraries primarily offered information about the war or resources to prepare for postwar careers, books in hospital libraries were put to a different use. Yes, books could educate and entertain, but they could also serve as medicine.

“Stories are sometimes better than doctors,” one wartime librarian noted. “Men were brought in from the front, self-control gone, nerves shattered, sleep impossible. A compelling story would often calm them and start them on the road to recovery,” another noted.

Hospital librarians developed this emerging “science” with physicians during the war. “The librarian is often asked by a doctor or nurse to “prescribe” for a patient who is in need of a stimulation which can come from a good book,” one article on the hospital library service explained. But how should librarians prescribe books? What genres made the best medicine?

“Books that take the mind off the war are frequently prescribed by the physicians, and selected reading of a crisp, bright variety proves very helpful,” one librarian observed at the front.

Connecticut’s military hospitals played a role in this history. Louise Sweet, the hospital librarian stationed at United States Army General Hospital No. 16 in New Haven, Connecticut, experimented with matching the right literary prescription to her patients’ needs. Her work posed multiple challenges. During and after the war, the hospital exclusively treated soldiers suffering from tuberculosis.

To “prescribe” books of therapeutic value to these patients, librarians like Louise Sweet

Serving convalescents, U. S. General Hospital, Bronx, New York.

had to consider several potential dangers. Some librarians feared that certain genres, such as detective stories and westerns, could raise the temperature of TB patients or quicken their pulse rates. There was also considerable debate as to whether TB patients should be allowed to read fiction or non­fiction that referenced their disease in any way. Was a healing book one that offered escape from illness, or one that allowed a reader to confront it?

This question, along with the challenge of matching book to patient, continued to shape the emerging practice of what became known as bibliotherapy.

 

For more information on this exhibit, and on the history of bibliotherapy in Connecticut during the war, please visit the website accompanying the exhibit: http://www.booksasmedicine.com

There, along with more information about the exhibit, you can try your hand at writing your own literary prescription, just like Louise Sweet and other librarians during the war.

From war service to science: Bibliotherapy is one of several World War I themed exhibitions on display in Babbidge Library and the Dodd Research Center this Spring, marking the centennial of the official involvement of the United States in World War I. The United States Congress declared war on the German Empire on 6 April 1917. This exhibit will be on display in Babbidge Library through May 15, 2017.

[Images Courtesy of American Library Association Archives.]

Commemorating the Centennial

Known as “The Great War” and “The War to end All Wars”, World War I triggered by the diplomatic crisis brought about by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Gavrilo

Adventure and action, Library of Congress WWI Poster Collection

Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. On 25 July Russia began mobilization and on 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia. Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilize, and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on 1 August. Germany then invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, leading the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany on 4 August.

At the outbreak of the war, the United States pursued a policy of non-intervention, avoiding conflict while trying to broker a peace. In the face of repeated attacks at sea and unsuccessful attempts to mediate a settlement, President Wilson warned the German government that the United States would not tolerate unrestricted submarine warfare, in violation of international law.

Grove Cottage, Connecticut Agricultural College

In January 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, realizing it would mean American entry. The German Foreign Minister, in the Zimmermann Telegram, invited Mexico to join the war as Germany’s ally against the United States. In return, the Germans would finance Mexico’s war and help it recover the territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The United Kingdom intercepted the message and presented it to the US embassy. From the embassy it was passed to President Wilson who released the Zimmermann note to the public, and Americans saw it as casus belli. Wilson called on antiwar elements to end all wars, by winning this one and eliminating militarism from the globe. He argued that the war was so important that the US had to have a

Field message on the front, 1918

voice in the peace conference. After the sinking of seven US merchant ships by submarines and the publication of the Zimmermann telegram, Wilson called for war on Germany, which the US Congress declared on 6 April 1917. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I#Entry_of_the_United_States]

In commemoration of the centennial of the involvement of the United States in this historic and world changing event, Archives & Special Collections has installed five World War I themed exhibitions located in Homer Babbidge Library and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Two of the exhibits highlight the research of UConn graduate students Allison Horrocks (History, Ph.D., 2016) and Mary Mahoney (History, Ph.D candidate). The exhibitions are scheduled to be open from 6 April – 15 May 2017.

Please join our guest curators for a gallery talk on Thursday 6 April 2017 from 11:30-12:30.  The talk will begin in Homer Babbidge Library in the West Alcove and then walk over to the Dodd Center.  Light refreshments will be served after the talk in the Dodd Center.

Exhibitions in this series include:

Posters of World War I from the collections of the Library of Congress illustrate the need for men, resources and financing necessary to support the efforts of the United States in its support of its allies. [Dodd Center, West Corridor]

The Land-grant College at War: A Centennial Retrospective traces the turn-of-the-century activities and role of Connecticut Agricultural College through its involvement in food production, research, military training, and the active participation of its staff and students. [Horrocks, Dodd Center Gallery]

From Library War Service to Science: Bibliotherapy in World War I outlines the implementation of a theory that books can heal. Put in practice in Connecticut during World War I, doctors and librarians joined together to apply reading as a form of therapy. [Mahoney, Homer Babbidge Library, West Alcove]

Dana T. Leavenworth – A Connecticut Soldier’s Experience from the Leavenworth Family Papers, the documents highlight the concerns of an officer serving in France as well as the activities and emotions of those serving on the home front.  [Dodd Center, Reading Room]

Commemorating the Centennial utilizes archival materials selected from the holdings of Archives & Special Collections.  The individual cases each represent a format or range of activity unified to illustrate the variety of perspectives, activities, emotions and consequences of the United States actively participating in the war effort. [Homer Babbidge Library, Gallery on the Plaza]

Losing the Remembrance of Former Things: Reexamining the Life and Writing of Edwin Way Teale

By Richard Telford

Author’s Note: Though the product of many hours of research, writing, and revision, this chapter is nevertheless a draft; it will be subject to revision as the larger book in which it will appear takes shape. The chapter published below, “Losing the Remembrance of Former Things,” follows two preceding chapters, published in January and February on this site: “The Lonely Suffering of the Fallible Heart,” which can be viewed here, and “Throwing Bricks at the Temple,” which can be viewed here. For greatest clarity, these chapters should be read in order. This present chapter is being published on the 72nd anniversary of the combat death of David Allen Teale near the end of World War II. David figures prominently in this and the preceding chapters. The timing of this publication is an apt reminder of the oft-forgotten sacrifices of previous wars. I welcome critical response, either in the comment section below or through direct e-mail. I am grateful to the Archives and Special Collections staff for providing me the opportunity to share this work, and to the Woodstock Academy Board of Trustees for awarding me a sabbatical for the 2016-2017 school year so that this work could be undertaken.  Contextual information about the project and manuscript can be found here.
Chapter 11: Losing the Remembrance of Former Things

Is there a thing of which is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already,
In the ages before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance
Of later things yet to happen
Among those who come after.[i]

Ecclesiastes 1: 9-13

 

Of course, there are at present, and no doubt will continue to be for many generations yet, a number of fire-eating war-mongers and dashing blades who will always bounce about the delights of battle and the salubrious qualities of slaughter. But these, when genuine, are atavisms, and must gradually become as extinct as dodoes, as the world advances in sense and experience…[T]he New Army…has seen and felt a very great deal too much of the reality of war to be under any illusion as to its loveliness or enjoyability. Unredeemed horror is the whole thing, a horror that breaks up the soul of man into a gibbering wreckage.[ii]

Reginald Farrer, The Void of War: Letters from Three Fronts, 1918

 

To be killed in war is an event beyond our yes and no. It is a great sorrow but not a tragedy. The collapse of character alone is tragedy; not the events that test it from without. A single day of life with courage and character towers above the years of a centenarian if lived as a plaything of fate.[iii]

Edwin Way Teale, January 3, 1945

 

On the back side of the Norman Rockwell April Fool cover of The Saturday Evening Post that Edwin sent to David on Easter Sunday of 1945 is a full-page advertisement for the Parker “51” Aeromatic fountain pen. A strong, sure hand, its palm towards the viewer, holds the pen delicately between extended thumb and middle finger. The index finger steadies it from behind, the nib pointed upward. The hand is positioned just as the ad’s viewer might position his or her own, not just to inspect “this ‘most wanted’ pen in the world” but to appreciate the faux sapphire appointments on its engraved golden cap, to examine the understated black barrel with concealed nib, to feel the heft in hand. In the text below, The Parker Pen Company of Janesville, Wisconsin reminds the viewer that its production of “rocket fuzes and other war materièl” has stopped pen production. However, with the war’s end near, the ad continues, “More Parker ‘51s’ are on the way.” The ad’s large script headline, bisected by the pen and hand, assures the reader, “Sooner than you think…a Parker ‘51’ may be yours.”[iv]

In two letters sent in the fall of 1944, one from England to his mother on November 1[v] and the other from France to his father on November 16,[vi] David Teale asked his parents to buy him a Parker “51” fountain pen. “If [the] cost is too great for your purse,” he wrote Edwin, “take the required amount from my nest egg.”[vii] On June 18, 1945, however, the Teales realized it was a purchase they would never make, at least not on David’s behalf. On that day, when Edwin Stroh’s father had called to report that the War Department had declared his son killed in action, the Teales lost all hope that David would return to them. Nearly two months later, on August 8, Edwin would write, “It was that afternoon in June that the bottom collapsed and let us drop into darkness. It could have happened. We saw finally it must have happened to David.”[viii]  That day of cascading hopes brought “a violent thunderstorm in late afternoon,” and Edwin continued “working in a daze on another chapter.”[ix] The writing was torturous, but it was necessary torture, an act of survival, just as it had been in the preceding months. It was more so now. “Will I ever be able to finish it or go on?” he questioned. “Every line seems the last I can possibly write.”[x] Nonetheless, he persevered, and in the coming days he would work to exhaustion to keep The Lost Woods on schedule, not in spite of David’s fate but in answer to it. “It is worth-while work, work I would want to do up to my final hour,” Edwin continued on June 18. “I hope I can meet this worst blow life can give with my head up without cringing or giving in. I think I can; but it is the weeks and months and years beyond I dread. How wonderful our whole family is and has always been, so close together.”[xi]

A partial view of a Nazi flag recovered by David Teale in Stadtkyll, Germany in early March of 1945. Seventeen members of a Tiger Patrol of the 346th regiment, 87th Division of the U.S. Army signed the flag. Five of the men whose signatures are visible here died on March 16, 1945, while crossing the Moselle River in Germany on a night reconnaissance patrol: Antonio J. Alvear, Bill Cummins, Eugene B. Pings, Edwin A. Stroh, and David A. Teale. Harold F. Gould Jr., whose signature also appears in this part of the flag, survived the mission. He wrote to Edwin Teale upon his return to the United States, sharing what he knew of the events of that night.

Two days later, on June 20, another of the packages they had sent David was returned, and their response to it, which Edwin recorded in the Guild diary, illustrates his and Nellie’s complete loss of hope: “A package comes back—This one marked ‘missing’ by Lt. Hawkins. But that means nothing. Our despair is complete.”[xii] Now, they simply waited for the inevitable. On that same day, the Teales received a letter from Walter F. Gould, the grandfather of Harold F. Gould Jr., explaining that his grandson was coming home on furlough from Europe before shipping out for the Pacific, and it might be possible for the Teales to see him or at least speak by telephone. Walter Gould could fully understand the Teales’ suffering. He informed Edwin both by telephone and letter that he had “had one son (31 years old, single) killed in that heavy drive in Belgium” the day after Christmas of 1944, roughly a week after David had witnessed and survived the pummeling of his regiment by German 88s.  “I don’t think we will ever get over it,” the elder Gould told Edwin.[xiii]  Just as the Teales were doing now, Walter Gould had reached out to a fellow soldier in his deceased son’s unit to understand more fully the circumstances of his death. In reply, he had gotten “a very nice answer telling one a good deal more about his death than the Army had told me.”[xiv] Though David’s fate now seemed certain, Edwin and Nellie, too, wanted to understand the events that had led to David’s death, events on which the younger Gould could, and later would, shed light.

A week after receiving Walter Gould’s letter, there was still no word from his grandson. The implications of Edwin Stroh’s confirmed death weighed heavily upon the Teales. Edwin noted, “Nellie and I plan to spend 2 weeks at Concord for our vacation in September.”[xv] There is no inclusion of the possibility that David might join them if he returned, for they now knew that he would not. One year earlier, on July 18, 1944, Edwin had written to David during a vacation with Nellie at Crocker Lake in Maine while David was at Fort Jackson: “We will have a good time for you at the camp. I hope another year, you can be along…if you aren’t walking down the coast!”[xvi] He referenced this walk down the coast a second time in a letter sent eleven days later: “When you take your long walk all by yourself, after the war, you ought to read John Muir’s ‘A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf.’ It is very good and would be right up your alley.”[xvii] But for David, there would not be “another year,” and Muir’s book would go unread. One year later, as the Teales planned their September Concord trip, they knew that David would not join them, and the timing of their departure from Baldwin was deliberate. On September 8, 1945, David would have turned twenty. Where better to find solace and shelter from their grief on that day than in Thoreau’s country. The following night, Edwin began reading Van Wyck Brooks’ The Flowering of New England, which had won the Pulitzer the year Edwin published Grassroot Jungles —“at least the chapter on Thoreau at Walden,”[xviii] Edwin qualified.

On June 28, Edwin once again found his footing, if tenuously, in his work on The Lost Woods. “On this evening,” he wrote, “I print ‘The Lost Woods’ on the top of the final manuscript box and stamp…my home address at top and bottom. This regular rite—engaged in since ‘Grassroot Jungles’ days—makes me feel a little nearer the completion of my long labors.”[xix] Such small, symbolic acts mattered. Each was an act of control, even as his life with David and their life as a family, “always…so close together,”[xx] had been rended by a complex, fickle chain of events over which he could have no influence. “In spite of everything,” he would later write, “there is nothing in the world I would rather be doing than working on my book. That, with all its complexities and pains, is the thing I want most to do.”[xxi]

In the days that followed, Edwin worked steadily in The Lost Woods, besieged by reminders of David’s absence. “So much to do!” he declared.[xxii] On Sunday, June 24, he taught the last Victors Sunday School class of the year, having a “fine talk” with two brothers, Warren and Edgar Fong. “So ends the Victors year,” he wrote that evening, “the last year when Davy was linked to it. Twelve years I’ve had the class. Can I keep on if David is gone?”[xxiii] On the following day, Mrs. Selby, a neighbor, brought Lieutenant Henry Loud to see the Teales, ostensibly to give them some insight on what might have happened to David, but, Edwin noted, he had “little to tell us of help on David. Depressed.”[xxiv] Two days later, on June 27, Forrest Dayton paid a visit to the Teales. Forrest, in Edwin’s estimation “David’s closest friend,” had likewise been deployed to Europe. Now, Forrest had returned, and David had not. It was a hard visit. “Headache lays me low in afternoon,” Edwin noted. In a postscript in the Guild diary, he added, “Twenty-eighth Chapter Done! Only Two to Go!”[xxv] One of these chapters was “The Calm of the Stars,” which could now serve only to memorialize David.

By July 1, the revised deadline for completion of the full draft of The Lost Woods, Edwin had only “The Calm of the Stars” left to complete. He spent the morning working on it but got “only two pages done,”[xxvi] using the rest of the day to review the completed chapters and rearrange their final order. It was not the day he had hoped for. The following morning, he began working at 7:30 a.m. and continued “until 8:52 p.m., with only time out for meals and a ½ hour sunbath.” With this last dash, as he often put it, he “completed the final difficult chapter on ‘The Calm of the Stars.’” He added: “Book completed, ready for revision, one day beyond my schedule—Thankful.”[xxvii] His celebration was understandably muted. Absent in his Guild diary entry are the flourishes with which he typically marked the completion of a book, even in its rough draft form. There are no headlines written in oversized characters; no ornate stacks of underlining elevate particular words; no geometric shapes adorn the margins; his daily progress note at the bottom of the page is formatted no differently than those of the preceding weeks. Instead, he noted in the sentences that followed: “Saddened by paragraphs in this chapter on Davy at Weller Pond. How impossible to believe he may never go on that trip again—never.”[xxviii]

The following day, Edwin took the 10:19 train into the city to visit Popular Science Monthly for a “reunion with the old crowd. Lunch with Richards, Samuels and de Santas. How thankful I have escaped the cells of 353 Fourth Ave!”[xxix] The juxtaposition of this reunion with the completion of the full draft of The Lost Woods is telling. While the “reunion” was certainly planned in advance, so too was the completion of the book draft, and Edwin had missed his target by only one day. Through this visit, he placed the celebration of one of the many fruits of the recent “glorious years in the sunshine”[xxx] alongside memories of the excruciating drudgery of Popular Science Monthly—now a painful phantom. The latter he had compared to “slavery” at a “Concentration Camp” two months earlier.[xxxi] This comparison, which now seems self-absorbed and indifferent to the horrific suffering endured in the camps of the Third Reich, must be considered in the context of the time, during which the ordinary American citizen was ill-informed on the events of Hitler’s war on the Jews, Roma, and other minority groups in Europe. Long-time New York Times journalist Max Frankel noted in 2001, on the 150th anniversary of the paper, that the events of what would only afterward be named the Holocaust “were mostly buried inside [the paper’s] gray and stolid pages, never featured, analyzed or rendered truly comprehensible.” There was, he concluded, no greater journalistic failure “than the staggering, staining failure of The New York Times to depict Hitler’s methodical extermination of the Jews of Europe as a horror beyond all other horrors in World War II,” and the Times’ coverage influenced that of many other journalistic organizations in New York and beyond.[xxxii] On this early day in July, Edwin’s view of the war was trained inward, as it had been two months earlier. The loss of David overshadowed all else, and this reunion with former Popular Science Monthly colleagues offered a spot of sunshine amidst darkening clouds. He could revisit the former site of his emotional and intellectual imprisonment, for an instant, and likewise leave it in an instant, returning to the long-desired life of freedom that he had earned through his toil and his willingness to gamble on a better future. For Edwin, such a juxtaposition of life before and life afterward filled him with gratitude and joy. While these feelings were greatly tempered by the loss of David, they likewise helped him to endure it.

Edwin’s trip to Popular Science Monthly reflects as well another interesting juxtaposition. In 1941, October 15 had for the Teales, with Edwin’s departure from Popular Science Monthly, become their personal Independence Day, a holiday they would celebrate yearly for the remainder of their life together. On July 3, 1945, Edwin’s visit with his former colleagues, one day after the completion of The Lost Woods, was followed a day later by the American holiday of Independence Day, July 4. The Fourth of July had special significance only two months after VE-Day. For most Americans, it was a day to celebrate a long-sought victory, but for the Teales the day was bittersweet at best. Not surprisingly, they spent the entire day in the shelter of the Insect Garden: “Today was as perfect a Fourth as the cloud that hangs over our spirits would permit. All day long in the open at the garden, sitting at a wooden table I found under the wagon shed and catching up on entering my Nature Notes, taking pictures, juggling around the order of the chapters and so forth.” It was, Edwin added, “A ‘Thoreau Day’—unhurried and out-of-doors.”[xxxiii] Nellie, who was and always would be Edwin’s working partner in his writing life, read and offered comment on ten of the new chapters in The Lost Woods. Such an unhurried day was a rarity. “Tomorrow,” Edwin wrote, “I begin the grind—revision and copying—that must get the book in before the end of this month!”[xxxiv] Were David returning, this Fourth of July might have been near-perfect. Edwin knew, however, that he would not, and this fact was driven home the following day when several more of their letters to David were returned. These too were marked “Deceased” but lacked the previous change to “Missing.” On each letter, to the hand-written word “Deceased” was added a jarring one-word postal stamp: “Verified.”[xxxv]

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

Burying himself still deeper in his labors on the book, Edwin set for himself a schedule that would bring The Lost Woods to its final form by July 26. It required the revision and retyping of thirty chapters in twenty-one days. With the mass of assisstive computer technology available to us in the twenty-first century, along with the unprecedented access to information provided by the Internet, we are largely ignorant of the sheer physical labors that an author undertook in 1945 to bring a book to publication.  We can do a great deal more, now, with less labor, but one wonders if the ease of publication has largely contributed to us doing considerably less with the more we have been given. For Edwin to remain on schedule, he would have to type an average of two revised chapters per day. On July 5, despite the emotional drain of the return of their letters to David, Edwin finished two chapters.[xxxvi] On the following day, he completed “The Striking Serpent” and “On the Trail of Thoreau,” bringing the total to four and keeping him on schedule.  It was a good start, and Edwin, realizing that speed and efficiency were critical if he was to maintain this pace, devised “with paper clips and an empty velour Black box […] a ms. holder that holds the sheet I am copying upright and aids me greatly.”[xxxvii]

The following day, July 7, Edwin managed to type three additional chapters. “Laboremus!” he declared at the opening of his Guild diary entry for that day, a Latin word meaning “Let us do our work!” Later in the century, the phrase “Laboremus! Let’s get to work!” was widely attributed to twentieth-century historian Arnold J. Toynbee as a favored motto.[xxxviii] For Edwin, however, at the end of the first week of July in 1945, it was less a life philosophy and more a pragmatic necessity. His completion of three chapters on the previous day allowed him, on July 8, to embark on a 7 a.m. “fishing trip on the bay with the Verity’s,” Baldwin neighbors. It was, Edwin noted, a much-needed “good time and good rest.” Returning home by 2:00 in the afternoon, Edwin slept for several hours, rising at 4:30, “half asleep,” and began typing “The Mystery of the Vanishing Flies,” finishing it by 8:00 that evening.[xxxix] This kept up the needed rate of two retyped chapters completed per day, a pace he managed to maintain on July 9 and 10 as well.

“No word of David—expected July 2 letter from Government,” Edwin noted on July 9.[xl]  In the April 3 confirmation letter that followed the telegram notifying the Teales of David’s MIA status, Major General James Alexander Ulio of the War Department had written, “If no information is received in the meantime, I will communicate with you again three months from the date of this letter.”[xli] Those three months had elapsed, with one week added. Though certain of its contents, Edwin likely feared that the arrival of this letter—certain to mirror the official communications received by the Strohs and the Alvears—might cripple his ability to keep to the demanding schedule of the days ahead. It would be a staggering, final blow. Edwin’s feverish work during this time to bring The Lost Woods to completion was in part a race against the arrival of that blow, especially now that the book was nearly done. Just as he had worked diligently throughout the day before V-E Day—“…in case there is bad news I will have that much done and that will help”—he did so again on July 9.

On July 10, CBS Radio called to invite Edwin to be a guest “on the ‘Invitation to Learning’ program…on Maeterlinck’s ‘Life of the Bee.’” The Nobel Prize-winning Maeterlinck had written to Edwin after the latter’s 1940 publication of The Golden Throng: A Book About Bees, declaring, “This will be the Bible of the Bees!” The praise, Edwin noted, “lifted my feet off the ground for a moment….”[xlii] With authentic regret, Edwin declined the CBS Radio invitation, knowing he would “need every minute for my own book!”[xliii] Having completed two more chapters, he retired to bed at 6:00 that evening with a sore throat and fever—the strain of his working pace taking its toll—and spent some time “going over chapters in bed.”[xliv] Twelve chapters were retyped in their final form, with eighteen remaining. As of July 12, there was still “no word from government on Davy,” and Edwin spent the day working on “Men of Nature,” completing it by 2:30 that afternoon.[xlv]  Combined with his work of the previous day, he was up to fourteen completed chapters. The next day, he completed two more: “Crocodile Dragover” and “A School for Foxes.” “Hurray!” he declared on July 13.[xlvi] By the following day, with a thorough revision of “In the Heart of a Cloud,” he was “on schedule or a little ahead of it,” feeling “pretty good.”[xlvii] In the afternoon he went to the Insect Garden, where he photographed a “yellow swallowtail” butterfly. These were the productive days in which Edwin had reveled for many years, and he did so now, despite his grief.

Edwin awoke on July 15, a Sunday, to what would be daylong rain. He stayed in bed until after 9 a.m. following “a sleepless night with dreams of David.”[xlviii] On the previous day, he had begun the final retyping of “The Lost Woods,” the book’s opening chapter. In it, he recalled simpler days spent with Gram and Gramp Way at Lone Oak. He retold the story of a trip by horse-drawn bobsled with Gramp Way “to a distant woods” to gather stored stove wood. Growing weary of loading the sled, Edwin, then six, had “wandered about, small as an atom, among the great trees—oak and beech, hickory and ash and sycamore.”  He had been “at once enchanted and fearful,” and the experience made “a profound impression” on the six-year-old boy, filling him with “an endless curiosity about this lonely tract and all of its inhabitants.”[xlix]  Edwin had searched in vain for these woods with his childhood friend Dewey Gunder on March 16, 1945 during his Midwestern lecture tour[l]—forty years after his only visit to them, and the same day David was declared missing. It is hardly surprising that Edwin’s dreams the previous night were occupied by David, to whom, like the lost woods of childhood, Edwin could not return except in memory—the inadequate, longing-filled shell of former joys.

Edwin spent time that day revising only the “first page and a half of ‘The Lost Woods’” before shifting his attention—perhaps because of his deep emotional connections to the chapter—to “Boundaries of the Night,” on which he spent time “revising and inserting more natural history.”[li] Edward H. Dodd Jr. had suggested in March that the book as a whole, while representing Edwin’s finest work to date, was in need of “more natural-history facts.”[lii] By early afternoon, the eighteenth retyped chapter was done, and he read for several hours in Volume II of Thoreau’s journals, a shelter from the emotional rigors of a difficult day.[liii] That evening, Nellie read to him from J.S. Fletcher’s detective novel The Box Hill Murder, which, Edwin noted, “relaxes my mind—just what I needed.”[liv]

By July 19, Edwin had revised and retyped twenty-one chapters in fourteen days, 223 pages in total. He was up at 5:20 a.m. after a “wakeful night.” He reviewed some of Nellie’s corrections and set about preparing the first two-thirds of the final manuscript for submission to Dodd, Mead for the production of galley proofs. He ordered and numbered the pages and by noon had “the whole thing wrapped up in its Keeboard ‘The Lost Woods’ box to deliver.”[lv]  He took the 12:45 train into the city and arrived in a downpour, taking “muggy, stifling subways by round-about way” to Dodd, Mead’s 28th Street office, probably to keep the manuscript—not himself—out of the rain as much as possible. During a “good meeting” with Edward H. Dodd, Jr., the latter suggested a possible reissue of a revised version of Edwin’s 1942 Byways to Adventure. He also asked Edwin to “supply photos and [an] introduction” for a forthcoming reissue from Dodd, Mead of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden[lvi]—a project which, for Edwin, was especially meaningful in light of recent events. Dodd certainly knew this, and the offering of this project—or at least its timing—may have been intended in part as a modest balm for Edwin’s great suffering, an occupier for a troubled mind and heart. Back in Baldwin by 4:30 that afternoon, Edwin and Nellie went to the theater to celebrate the accomplishments and the future prospects of the day, both of which gave further shelter from, or perhaps tolerable passage through, the present darkness.

Following the celebration of the previous evening, Edwin went directly back to work on July 20, faced with the revision and retyping of nine chapters in seven days. With the arrival of confirmed news of David’s death seeming imminent, his grief-laden efforts were all the more daunting but likewise critical. After a short early-morning trip to the Insect Garden, he began to organize his materials for the remaining chapters.  His fatigue of the recent weeks, however, made sustained work difficult, and he had to lie down and rest for an hour. “If I can get one chapter copied somehow today,” he noted, “will keep on my schedule.” He managed only to type out half of the “Snowflake chapter…in sweltering heat” and quit for the day.[lvii] That night, he garnered his optimism as best he could. “Rested now,” he wrote, “and ready to go!”[lviii] On the following day, however, his fatigue set fully in. With great exasperation, he wrote, “Copy page 1 of ‘Wildlife at Walden’ over 10 times—making typing mistakes over and over. Ready to go through the roof!”[lix] Here again we are reminded of the absence of a delete key in 1945. “My head like a rock,” he lamented, “with heat and fatigue—residue.”[lx] Residue. The residue of longing; the residue of trampled hopes; the residue of time’s indifferent forward march. Still, by evening he had finished the chapter and even took time to mull over plans for “a new book on the injurious insects.”[lxi] Of necessity, he kept his gaze forward.

While toiling away on the first full draft of the The Lost Woods, Edwin had put off writing “The Calm of the Stars”—what the reader might reasonably call the David chapter—until the end. On July 22, however, after a quick trip to the wagon shed at the Insect Garden “to photograph baby swallows,” he set to work on revising it ahead of the other six chapters that remained to finalize. He wrote only one sentence on this effort in the Guild diary: “Fall to on ‘The Calm of the Stars’ and finish it before lunch.”[lxii] With the looming likelihood of receiving confirmation of David’s death—both from the War Department and an expected letter from PFC Harold F. Gould Jr.— Edwin likely strove to complete the chapter as quickly as he could. On the previous day he had expressed his “hope to go faster after today,” and he did so. After completing “The Calm of the Stars,” he went on to revise and retype another chapter. “Five chapters to do in four days,” he noted, “then all will be done!”[lxiii]

The next day, following the pattern of recent weeks—an alternating rhythm of productivity and debilitation—Edwin fell prey to the latter:

Up feeling dead-headed. The successive days of rain; the high-pressure work; the strain of David; the suspense of waiting for a call from Harold Gould—the returning member of Davy’s patrol—and the call from Dodd on how he liked the first 21 chapters—all combined to stall my engine completely.[lxiv]

 

In total, Edwin completed “less than 2 pages on ‘World of the Wild Bee,’”[lxv] disheartening output in light of the revision timeline for the final chapters. Edwin was likely forthright about his struggles with Edward H. Dodd, Jr. during a telephone call later that day. He noted afterward, “I get a reprieve; don’t have to hand the final chapters in until next Monday.”  Feeling relieved, he and Nellie went out to see a movie and were in “bed and asleep by 9” with the “hope to do better tomorrow!”[lxvi] That hope would not, however, come to fruition.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

On July 24, 1945, the storm cloud that had loomed since April 2 finally and fully broke open. There would be no word from David, not now, not ever. There would be only word of David, and it would come first from Harold F. Gould, Jr., of Plymouth, Massachusetts, in a letter written on small stationary whose only letterhead was the figure of a running G.I. clad in drab fatigues and clasping an M1 Garand rifle, bayonet mounted, a field bag trailing from his ammunition belt. The soldier grins at the letter’s reader—a mask muting the “unredeemed horrors” of war—and that grin must have made the Teales shudder.

The first page of a letter sent by Private First Class Harold F. Gould, Jr. to Edwin Way Teale on July 23, 1945. Gould explained the events leading up to the March 16, 1945 death of David Teale on Germany’s Moselle River during the closing days of World War II.

Gould began by apologizing for not calling, as camp prohibitions had forbidden doing so. “Anyway,” he wrote, “I thought it would be better if I wrote you a letter. I figured that I could explain it to you better.”[lxvii] He wrote of how he and David “used to chum around together quite often,” and how the Tiger Patrol “did mostly night work.” In that capacity, Gould added, David “was very courageous,” and “all the boys liked Dave very much.”[lxviii] These formalities aside—and one imagines the Teales having the impulse to skip over them while, at the same time, dreading to do so—he came “down to the point” and detailed the events that led to David’s death on the Moselle River:

We had received our orders from commander that we were to cross the Mosel[le] River and get some important information that we needed for the attack. We had twelve men in the patrol and four rubber boats. Three men were assigned to each rubber boat. We had been broken up into two six man patrols. We all started in our rubber boats across the river, just as the boats were nearing the enemy side we were opened up on by machine guns. The boys shot back at them until they ran out of ammunition. Then they withdrew so that they could get more ammunition. They came back again and started in their boats across. They met heavy opposition and the boats were sprayed with bullets. Some of the compartments in the rubber boats were shot to pieces so I guess the boys got a little excited when they saw this so they started jumping over. That was their gravest mistake…Especially for Dave because before he went on this patrol he told us he couldn’t swim. He still volunteered to go on the patrol and I’ve always admired him for that.

The last time they ever saw Dave he was in the water calling for help but none of the boys could reach him because he went under this time and never came up. It’s very strange that the army couldn’t find his body.[lxix]

To this account, Harold Gould added a second reference to David’s inability to swim:

If David could swim he would have had a good chance of coming out alive. I still remember what he said before we went on patrol. He said “I don’t know how to swim but I’ll volunteer to go on patrol.[”]

 

This must have confused the Teales greatly. David was, by Edwin’s account, a strong swimmer, a fact supported by a Boy Scouts of America patrol record book among David’s personal belongings. In it, David, as Patrol Leader, had tracked the rank advancements of all of the boys in the Flying Eagle patrol, including himself. On the merit badge roster, beside David’s name, the requisite boxes are checked off for the swimming and lifesaving merit badges.

Harold Gould closed:

I liked your son very much Mr. Teale and I was very proud of him. I know you will always be too.[lxx]

 

Such a statement, though well-intentioned and certainly appreciated, was nonetheless an arrow to the heart. In mid-April, when hope still lived, Edwin had written of David, “He is one of which we are proud in so many ways. And, viewed from the most distant star—remote from our emotions and longings—that is all that counts.”[lxxi] But David’s return, alive, had also counted; so too had the bright future before him—the long walk down the Pacific coast, the possibility of future matriculation at Earlham, the return to Weller Pond, and so much more. All of these would never be. No pride could mitigate the staggering loss of David’s future. “This is it!” Edwin wrote after reading Harold Gould’s letter, “How terrible we feel.”[lxxii] The news was not official, but it was sufficient, and it would be confirmed days later by a letter from PFC Lester Snider, the last Tiger Patrol member to see David alive. There is no record of Edwin having completed any work on The Lost Woods on July 24; even that labor of his heart could offer no refuge. As if an insult to their grief, the afternoon brought the return by special delivery of the package in which Edwin had sent David the Grenfell parka in March, eight days before the latter’s death. It was one more manifestation of a future that would not be. Boxed in thick lines of black ink, Edwin wrote the following in the Guild diary:

On this day hear definitely, but unofficially, that David was killed on the Moselle River near Coblenz, Germany, on the night of March 15-16, 1945—

 

To this he added a bracketed postscript:

How long and how devoutly I hoped this entry would not have to be made![lxxiii]

 

No tears stain this page. Harold Gould’s letter offered not a revelation but a confirmation of what, in their hearts, Edwin and Nellie already knew. Edwin Stroh’s death had confirmed David’s, and both had been foretold by the death of Antonio Alvear. Harold Gould’s account, though vitally important to the Teales, could serve only as a coda. They certainly cried on July 24, 1945, but they did so in the privacy of their own collapsing world. Edwin left no trace of those tears to revisit later, neither through the narrative of his words nor through their partial dissolution by tears on the page. It is an apt analogy for the turning inward that would follow, both from the greater world and, despite their mutual devotion, often from each other.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

The day after receiving Harold Gould’s letter, Edwin reached him by telephone. Gould shared that “only 4 out of 12—only 1 out of 6 with David’s 2 boats—returned alive after crossing the Moselle.”[lxxiv] One of those four, PFC Lester Snider, of Hennessey, Oklahoma, had been in charge of David’s boat and was “the last one to see David alive.”[lxxv] Snider had returned home, and Edwin wrote to him that afternoon. “Our son, David Teale, was reported missing in action on March 16th,” Edwin began, “and we have had no word from the government since….I have learned that you went across at the same time David did and that you were the last person to see him alive. If you can give us any information about what happened, we will be most deeply grateful.”[lxxvi] Snider received Edwin’s inquiry on July 30 and replied the following day, offering his account:

Six of the boys including your son David volunteered for reconnaissance patrol. We crossed to the east of the Mosel[le] River in two boats. Your son David + another boy were with me in the one boat. We made a successful reconnaissance of enemy positions + possible landing places.

While making the return trip across the river we encountered heavy enemy machine gun + sniper fire. Our boat was hit + sank. And one of the boys was hit but don’t know exactly which one. The last I saw of either of the boys was when they went over the side of the boat into the water.[lxxvii]

 

Just as Gould had done, Lester Snider praised David’s selflessness: “I didn’t know your son very long Mr. Teale. But he was well liked by all the boys. And he was a son to be proud of. He didn’t have to go on this mission, but realizing the danger, volunteered to do so.”[lxxviii] David had volunteered; for this he had died. Although Edwin, half a year earlier, had written of war death that “the collapse of character alone was tragedy,”[lxxix] this abstract philosophy abruptly withered with David’s death. David’s character had not collapsed on the night of March 15, 1945; his courage and his character had towered above those of others. For this David had died, and his death was a tragedy. His life, no matter how its worth had been elevated by his actions, was no less “a plaything of fate,”[lxxx] and this embittered Edwin terribly. “All hope gone,” he wrote. “Life goes on no matter how heavy the heart! Life outlives the joy of life; the spring is wound up and, normally, has to run down. And it can’t be rewound.”[lxxxi] David’s spring had not run down. It never would. It had been cracked by the violent folly of war, and with that fracture had gone all the youthful tension of future possibility.

 

 

Richard Telford has taught literature and composition at The Woodstock Academy since 1997. In 2011, he helped found the Edwin Way Teale Artists in Residence at Trail Wood program, which he now directs. He was a long-time contributing writer for The Ecotone Exchange. He was recently awarded a Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant by the University of Connecticut to support his work on a book about naturalist, writer, and photographer Edwin Way Teale. The Woodstock Academy Board of Trustees likewise granted him a sabbatical for the 2016-2017 academic year to support this work.

 

References

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Gould, Harold F. Jr., Letter to Edwin Way Teale, 23 July, 1945, Box 146, Folder 2952, Edwin  Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Gould, Walter F., Letter to Edwin Way Teale, 16 June, 1945, Box 146, Folder 2952, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd  Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

“Ecleasiastes.” The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version: New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1952.

Ikeda, Daisaku. The Third Stage of Life: Aging in Contemporary Society: Santa Monica, CA: World Tribune Press, 2016.

Parker Pen Company. Advertisement. The Saturday Evening Post. 1 April 1945.

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Snider, Lester L., Letter to Edwin Way Teale, letter, 21 August 1945, Box 146, Folder 2952, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

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Teale, David Allen, Letters to Edwin Way and Nellie Donovan Teale, 1945, Box 146, Folder 2950, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

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Teale, Edwin Way and Nellie Donovan, Letters to David Allen Teale, 1944, Box145, Folder 2941, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas    J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way and Nellie Donovan, Letters to David Allen Teale, 1945, Box145, Folder 2942, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas    J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

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Teale, Edwin Way, Letter to Herbert F. Schwarz 25 May 1942, collection of the author.

Teale, Edwin Way. The Lost Woods. New York: Dodd, Mead , and Company, 1945.

“Tiger Patrol First to Enter Koblenz.” Unsigned news clipping, 1945, no bibliographical information noted.

Ulio, James Alexander, Letter to Nellie Donovan Teale, 3 April, 1944, Box 146, Folder 2952, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Witsell, Major General Edward F., to Nellie Teale, letter, 25 February 1946, Box 146, Folder 2952, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J.   Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

 

Notes

[i] Ecclesiastes 1, 9-13. The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version: New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1952.

[ii] Farrer, Reginald. The Void of War: Letters from Three Fronts. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 37-8.

[iii] Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living, Vol II. 3 January 1945.

[iv] Parker Pen Company. Advertisement. The Saturday Evening Post. 1 April 1945.

[v] Teale, David Allen, to Nellie Donovan Teale, letter, 1 November 1944.

[vi] Teale, David Allen, to Edwin Way Teale, letter, 16 November 1944.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living, Vol II. 8 August 1945.

[ix] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 18 June 1945.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 20 June 1945.

[xiii] Gould, Walter F., to Edwin Way Teale, letter, 16 June 1945.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 22 June 1945.

[xvi] Teale, Edwin Way, to David Allen Teale, letter, 18 July 1944.

[xvii] Teale, Edwin Way, to David Allen Teale, letter, 29 July 1944.

[xviii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 23 June 1945.

[xix] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 28 June 1945.

[xx] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 18 June 1945.

[xxi] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 28 June 1945.

[xxii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 24 June 1945.

[xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 25 June 1945.

[xxv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 27 June 1945.

[xxvi] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 1 July 1945.

[xxvii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 2 July 1945.

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 3 July 1945.

[xxx] Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living, Vol II. 25 August 1945.

[xxxi] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 4 May 1945.

[xxxii] Frankel, Max. “150th Anniversary: 1851-2001; Turning Away From the Holocaust.” The New York Times 14. November 2001.

[xxxiii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 4 July 1945.

[xxxiv] Ibid.

[xxxv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 5 July 1945.

[xxxvi] Ibid.

[xxxvii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 6 July 1945.

[xxxviii] Ikeda, Daisaku. The Third Stage of Life: Aging in Contemporary Society: Santa Monica, CA: World Tribune Press, 2016.

[xxxix] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 8 July 1945.

[xl] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 9 July 1945.

[xli] Ulio, James Alexander, to Nellie Donovan Teale, letter, 3 April 1945.

[xlii] Teale, Edwin Way, to Herbert F. Schwarz, 25 May 1942.

[xliii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 10 July 1945.

[xliv] Ibid.

[xlv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 12 July 1945.

[xlvi] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 13 July 1945.

[xlvii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 14 July 1945.

[xlviii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 15 July 1945.

[xlix] Teale Edwin Way. The Lost Woods. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1945. 1-3

[l] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 16 March 1945.

[li] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 15 July 1945.

[lii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 6 March 1945.

[liii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 15 July 1945.

[liv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 12 July 1945.

[lv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 19 July 1945.

[lvi] Ibid.

[lvii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 20 July 1945.

[lviii] Ibid.

[lix] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 21 July 1945.

[lx] Ibid.

[lxi] Ibid.

[lxii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 22 July 1945.

[lxiii] Ibid.

[lxiv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 23 July 1945.

[lxv] Ibid.

[lxvi] Ibid.

[lxvii] Gould, Jr., Harold F., to Edwin Way Teale, letter, 23 July 1945.

[lxviii] Ibid.

[lxix] Ibid.

[lxx] Ibid.

[lxxi] Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living, Vol II. 18 April 1945.

[lxxii] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 24 July 1945.

[lxxiii] Ibid.

[lxxiv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 25 July 1945.

[lxxv] Ibid.

[lxxvi] Teale, Edwin Way, to Lester L. Snider, letter, 25 July 1945.

[lxxvii] Snider, Lester L., to Edwin Way Teale, letter, 31 July 1945.

[lxxviii] Ibid.

[lxxix] Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living, Vol II. 3 January 1945.

[lxxx] Ibid.

[lxxxi] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 4 August 1945.

Vulnerability Empowering Advocacy: The Phyllis Zlotnick Papers

The current political climate has re-invigorated discussions regarding advocacy as well as boosted interest in the affairs of both local and state government.  It is fortuitous, then, to be working on the collected papers of Phyllis Zlotnick (b.1942-d.2011), who was a pioneering advocate for the civil rights of disabled people in Connecticut.  Her collection of personal papers centers primarily on her work as a lobbyist for legislation pertaining to disabled populations.  Reading through transcripts of her speeches, correspondences, and publications reveals a rich life of political activism, intellectual engagement and staggering patience.

Born with muscular dystrophy, Zlotnick used a wheelchair for most of her life.  In defiance of the convention at the time, Zlotnick’s parents Sidney and Marion refused to institutionalize her because of her disability.  Zlotnick’s education was an uphill battle for Sidney and Marion as well, having to picket the Hartford Board of Education for enrollment into a special education class, and needing to participate in her Portland High School classes via speaker phone.  Despite these isolated experiences, she graduated with honors from Portland High School in 1960.  Six years after her high school graduation Zlotnick would be hired as a receptionist at the Hartford Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center, a job that would prove to be a formative time for her developing acumen in advocacy.

Zlotnick’s work with the Hartford Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center and The Easter Seal Society of Connecticut brought her in contact with June Sokolov, a trailblazer for increasing access to occupation therapy within Connecticut.  Sokolov’s work proved to be a powerful influence and inspiration for Zlotnick throughout her life.  The Zlotnick papers include a large collection of Sokolov’s work, papers written, as well as speeches given, and correspondences made to cultivate awareness on the effectiveness of occupational therapy as a discipline.  The commitment to advocacy and empathy within Sokolov’s works has a clear influence on the directions and writings of Zlotnick herself.

At the start of the nineteen seventies, Zlotnick began to be an active presence for increasing awareness about architectural barriers to disabled populations in Connecticut.  This start to advocacy work would see her contribute repeated testimony before the Connecticut General Assembly, work as an aide to House Speaker Earnest Abate, and eventually be called upon for her input in the Americans with Disabilities Act in the nineteen nineties.  The Zlotnick papers offer an insight into the process of struggling to be heard in legislative and civic meetings, getting laws passed, and then fighting to have those laws enforced and implemented.  The struggles that took place to have the Connecticut legislature pass laws for disabled individuals to have access to buildings and sidewalks involved long struggles for implementation as well as for enforcement.  Zlotnick summarizes the challenges of advocating for equality in her talk entitled “Victory in Pursuit of Patience”,

It’s a seemingly never ending task for recognition of rights; of demonstrating the inappropriateness of exclusionary policies.  There will always be those who are trying to undo or dilute the progress, people who repeatedly have to be educated and reminded of man’s inhumanity to man.  We must keep going until we achieve full equality and integration.

(“Victory in Pursuit of Patience” c. 1992).
One of the most striking features of Zlotnick’s writing is the vulnerability within it.  In her writing one reads not just how architectural and attitudinal barriers (to borrow one of Zlotnick’s own phrases) impact her on a physical and emotional level, but how the legibility of vulnerabilities in disabled populations reminds many with able bodies of the precarious nature of their own mobility, cognition, and autonomy.  In a transcript of Zlotnick’s speech to the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Connecticut in 1974 she writes, “We [disabled people] represent a psychological threat – the average person is afraid of illness and by accepting us he must also accept his own potential for disability.”  Zlotnick engages with these overlapping vulnerabilities in her testimony before the State and Urban Development Committee in 1978,

Many of you know that great numbers of handicapped people can appear to testify or otherwise show support.  You will not see that kind of demonstration today because I am taking a gamble, the biggest one of my life.  Rather than trying to persuade you by intimidation through a sea of wheelchairs, I am going to rely on your intelligence and my personal credibility.  Should pressure tactics by more powerful lobbies who oppose the handicapped, for whatever reasons, break down the members of this committee or another committee should these bills be given a change of reference then I will have led thousands of handicapped people to the slaughter by not having a demonstration today.  I’ve opted for intelligence and wisdom rather than fear and intimidation – please don’t prove I overestimated you.

(Testimony Before the State and Urban Development Committee 1978).

My instinct is to want to push back against the characterization of a group of people advocating for civil rights as intimidating, but in her acknowledgements Zlontick addresses the apprehension of her audience before offering a connection of her own.  This acknowledgement is not an act of apologetics, it recognizes the tacit agreement behind the circumstances of Zlotnick acting as an advocate alone.  Both sides of the conversations should start a discussion with an awareness of what renders them vulnerable to one another.  It is a penetrating insight that sees traction in all vulnerable populations, not just those with disabilities, and exhorts us to conceive of vulnerability as a commonplace to draw communities and identities together rather than build barriers between them.

Patrick Butler is a Ph.D. Candidate in Medieval Studies at the University of Connecticut; his areas of interest are in Middle English romance and depictions of violence and vulnerability.  In addition to his graduate studies and work in Archives and Special Collections, he is a Modern Language Association Connected Academic Proseminar Fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Wild, Outside, in the Night: Maurice Sendak, Queer American Jewishness, and the Child

The following guest blog post is by Golan Moskowitz, a doctoral candidate at Brandeis University, where he received a joint M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies.  Mr. Moskowitz is the 2016 recipient of the Billie M. Levy Travel and Research Grant, an annual research grant awarded to scholars to encourage use of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection.  Mr. Moskowitz is also a visual artist with a B.A. in Art from Vassar College.

Children’s books are serious business.  So thought the late Maurice Sendak (1928-2012), who believed that the apparent simplicity of the children’s book – along with children’s talent for intuition and interpretation – made it an ideal form for burying complex messages. Among the most serious of artists to ever write children’s books, Sendak offered messages about how the wider society might neglect or threaten unusual individuals, but also how those individuals might harness fantasy, animal strength, and improvisation to endure and survive.  As a recipient of the Billie M. Levy Travel and Research Grant, I had the privilege of studying several of the collections in Archives and Special Collections, which enriched my understanding of Sendak’s relationships with children’s authors Ruth Krauss (1901-1993) and James Marshall (1942-1992), as well as with children’s literature scholar Francelia Butler (1913-1998). Sendak absorbed much of Krauss’s critical stance toward social conventions of constrained gender and sexuality.  He found solidarity with Marshall’s good-natured cynicism and candidly shared some of his controversial intentions and interesting underlying beliefs with Butler.

Selling over eighty thousand copies by its fifth year in publication, A Hole Is to Dig (1952), children’s literature scholar Leonard S. Marcus writes, first established the twenty-four-year-old Sendak as “a talent to reckon with.”[1] To write the book, which was published as “a series of definitions reflecting childlike logic (many supplied by children themselves),”[2] Krauss studied children at the progressive Bank Street School, collecting definitions offered to her by the toddlers and preschoolers on 3×5-inch index cards.[3] She assembled and typed lists of these definitions; some that did not make it to the final version included: the stomach is a “food factory,” a match is “to light cigarette,” a chimney is “Smoke comes up and Santa Claus comes down,” and a shell is “Lobsters – snap your hand off.”[4] The Krauss papers also include hand-written comments on Sendak’s sketches for the book.  The author advised against pictures of children sitting on books (to get higher up), as books should not be treated “too rough.”  She also asked that for the caption, “dogs are to kiss people,” Sendak include among the other children being licked (each by a different dog) “one polygamous child with many dogs.” [5]

Krauss’s input sheds additional light on the young Sendak’s forming artistic values.  To better access his own vitality and humor, he was learning to revere books as sacred objects while demystifying the dominant, often clichéd narratives of the social order. [6]  Extraneous doodles in Sendak’s layout sketches for A Hole Is to Dig reveal the young artist’s self-liberating impulse during his work on the book. One sketch depicts two nude figures with a relaxed line, one leaning on the other, genitalia exposed.  Beside them, a small girl reclines with a dog, kissing the dog on the mouth. [7] Such free-flowing sensuality surely helped Sendak resist the self-policing of a closeted gay son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants – an essential exercise for an artist to strengthen honest expression and resist cliché. Sendak applied such subversive, child-like flow to the close relationships of his own life, including with Krauss, whom he loved dearly.  When he later visited her on her deathbed, he kissed the withering writer on her lips with tongue, eliciting a giggle that emanated the mirth and energy that was sadly fading from her body.[8] Sendak might have seen himself as something of a playfully welcomed intruder and an anomaly in the social matrix of heterosexuality – not belonging, but carving out a relational position for himself with play and affection.  One of his unused sketches for A Hole Is to Dig depicts a child on his mothers lap with the caption, “Marriage is so your brothers and sisters could get married when they grow up and then you could be the only child.”  A comment below reads, “This needs some rephrasing.” [9]

Sendak viewed illustration as a means for illuminating hidden interpretations or expressing his own emotional truth between the lines of the text. He enjoyed the illustrator’s prerogative, for example, in his Hector Protector (1965), which enlivens a short, ambiguous rhyme: “Hector Protector was dressed all in green; Hector Protector was sent to the Queen. The Queen did not like him, Nor more did the King; So Hector Protector was sent back again.” Sendak’s illustration of the poem creates a face-off between a scandalized, rotund Victorian queen reading Mother Goose and a wild boy, phallus erect in the form of an extended sword, riding on the back of a masculine lion. A serpent tangled around Hector’s sword in the shape of two coiled circles and a lunging head further emphasizes the phallic element (pp.15-16) [image at top]. One young male reader responded to the drawing with a letter to Sendak, asking, “When I grow up will mine be as big as Hector’s?” Describing his drawings for this book as a sort of revenge against critics who found his work too explicit for children, Sendak admitted, “I very consciously, obviously used and played with the snake in just those ways. Those pictures are so obvious it is embarrassing.” [10]

Sendak’s dark sense of humor and questioning of social boundaries was shared by artist and writer James Marshall. Sarcasm and morbid jokes helped them protect themselves against the potential pain that could result from clashing so starkly with aspects of mainstream, bourgeois culture. Both artists were gay men in an era that predated mainstream acceptance of LGBTQ people, especially in the field of children’s literature. A handmade birthday book [11] from Marshall to Sendak brims with delightful snark and suggests a level of solidarity that was rare for the reserved Sendak – a man who once confessed, “My rough time comes when [a] book is over and then I have to go to dinner with people and I am expected to go uptown and act like a grown-up at a party.”[12] Marshall and Sendak, however, much enjoyed their visits with each other.

Marshall seems to have appreciated the latter’s identification with German high culture, playfully inscribing a copy of one of his books to Sendak “For Wolfgang, Carl, Gustav Maurice.” He accompanied the inscription with a drawing of a boy blowing a horn, dressed in the German Romantic style of Sendak’s Outside Over There (1981). [13] Like Sendak’s proclivity for empathetically illustrating pigs, even coming from a culture that treated swine as abject and impure (Bumble-Ardy, House of Sixty Fathers, Swine Lake, etc.), Sendak’s identification with Germany may have reflected his own sense of difference or rejection. Germany and its art were queer love objects for a WWII-era Jewish child of an Eastern European, Yiddish-speaking family – much of which was destroyed in the Holocaust. Like his homosexuality and his veneration of childhood and artistic pursuits, Sendak’s identification with German culture signified a socially rebellious impulse to sometimes honor his own personal tastes and sensory drives even against the expectations of the wider public and of his family heritage. But as children, LGBTQ people, those resisting acculturation, and others who follow their inner drives understand, Sendak knew early on that integrity to an unusual calling could cost him the privilege of social belonging, even as it offered distinction.  An unused panel by Sendak for A Hole Is to Dig paired the caption “Lonely is to be like a star” with the image of a solitary boy staring up at a star.

My research at the Dodd Center adds important elements to my dissertation, which explores how Sendak contributed to shifting conceptions of modern childhood in relation to his own boyhood internalization of his immigrant family’s losses in Europe during WWII and the years surrounding it, as well as his “queer” difference as a gay, physically frail artist. The project examines Sendak’s articulations of how marginalized human beings – including refugees, traumatized individuals, and LGBTQ people – navigate a social order that neglects or threatens them. I am grateful to Melissa Watterworth Batt and Kristin Eshelman for ably administering the Dodd Research Center’s collections, generously facilitating my visit, and making it such a pleasant and productive one.

-Golan Moskowitz

 

[1] Leonard S. Marcus, “Chapter I: The Artist and His Work: Fearful Symmetries: Maurice Sendak’s Picture Book Trilogy and the Making of an Artist,” Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work, ed. Leonard S. Marcus (Abrams, 2013) 18.

[2] Vincent Giroud and Maurice Sendak (curators), Sendak at the Rosenbach, exhibition catalog, Rosenbach Museum, April 28-Oct. 30, 1995, 8.

[3] Marcus (2013) 18.

[4] Ruth Krauss, list collected from the class of Dorothy Walker, Group G., January 12, 1951. Ruth Krauss Papers, Series 2, Box 8, Folder 261: “A Hole is to Dig Teachers’ Notes, Jan 11-12, 1951,” Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

[5] For unknown reasons, the published drawing does not accommodate this request.  Ruth Krauss, letter to Sendak (“Thursday,” n.y.), Ruth Krauss Papers, Correspondence to Sendak, Series 1, Box 2, Folder 63. Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

[6] Typed definitions from the class of Margaret Jane Tyler, Group F, January 11, 1951, Ruth Krauss Papers, Series 2, Box 8, Folder 261, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

[7] Maurice Sendak, layout pencil sketch for A Hole Is to Dig, Ruth Krauss Papers, Series 2, Box 8, Folder 270: A Hole is to Dig Layout Sketches by Maurice Sendak, n.d., Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

[8] “‘Don’t assume anything’: A Conversation with Maurice Sendak Philip Nel,” 2001, rpt. in Conversations with Maurice Sendak, ed. Peter C. Kunze (Jackson: U. Press of Mississippi, 2016) 138.

[9] Ruth Krauss Papers, Series 2, Box 8, Folder 282: “A Hole is to Dig Cover Paste-up Dummy and Copy (Images not used in book), n.d.,” Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

[10] Maurice Sendak, Interview with Francelia Butler’s children’s literature class, April 1976, 19. Francelia Butler Papers, Series 2, Box 9, Folder: “Sendak, Maurice – Children’s Literature,” Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

[11] James Marshall, birthday book for Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak Collection of James Marshall, Box 2, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

[12] Maurice Sendak, Interview with Francelia Butler’s children’s literature class, April 1976, 26. Francelia Butler Papers, Series 2, Box 9, Folder: “Sendak, Maurice – Children’s Literature,” Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

[13] James Marshall inscription to Maurice Sendak in Sendak’s copy of James Marshall, The Stupids Die (1981), Maurice Sendak Collection of James Marshall, Box 1, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

This Week: Rachel Carson The Film and Elizabeth Kolbert Speaks at UConn

Rachel Carson, a new documentary film produced for the PBS series American Experience, is now available to watch online marking its debut broadcast on CPTV Connecticut public television.

Archives and Special Collections contributed collection materials to be included in the production of the film and we have been eagerly awaiting its release.

According to PBS, the film draws heavily from Carson’s writings and letters and incorporates recent scholarship: “Rachel Carson illuminates both the public and private life of the woman who launched the modern environmental movement and revolutionized how we understand our relationship with the natural world.”

The film features photographs and letters by the naturalist Edwin Teale from the Edwin Way Teale Papers held here in the Archives and Special Collections. [Read more about the correspondence between Teale and Carson on the blog post “Nature, Wondrous and Fragile” by Richard Telford.]

Silent Spring was published in September 1962 and became a national bestseller.  The film features rarely-seen images and home movies, unpublished letters and writings, and explores the science and public debate surrounding pesticide-use ignited by the book. Special features can be found on the American Experience website, including an introductory essay, bonus video, and an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and science writer Elizabeth Kolbert.

Join us on Thursday, February 2 at 4:00pm to hear Elizabeth Kolbert’s lecture “The Sixth Extinction” at UConn in the Dodd Research Center.  The event is FREE and open to the public, no registration is required.  The event will be live-streamed, details can be found here.

Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer for The New Yorker and won the Pulitzer for The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change in 2015. Her series on global warming, The Climate of Man, from which the book was adapted, won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine writing award and a National Academies communications award. She is a two-time National Magazine Award winner.

The Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series brings leading scholars and scientists to UConn to present public lectures on nature and the environment.  Since 1995, the UConn Library has sponsored the award-winning Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series in partnership with several UConn departments.  The Lecture Series is named in honor of the Pulitzer-prize winning naturalist and author, Edwin Way Teale, whose vast archive of literary manuscripts, letters, diaries and photographs is preserved and accessible at Archives and Special Collections.