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Joseph C. Lincoln bibliography
posted January 2005
Celebrities at Our Hearthside
LORING HOLMES DODD, Ph.D., L.H.D.
DRESSER, CHAPMAN & GRIMES, INC. PUBLISHERS
Prof. Dodd developed and hosted a lecture and performance series at Clark University, and took notes on his guests. I scanned 4 of the 80.
CAPE COD AND JOSEPH LINCOLN
There is that story of an old Kansas farmer who attended the funeral of his neighbor. The clergyman eulogized the deceased at great length and fulsomely. During the course of the eulogy the farmer tiptoed up to to the coffin and peered in. Then he tiptoed back to his seat.
"What did you do that for?" whispered a man who sat beside him.
"I was afraid," the farmer whispered back, "I was at the wrong funeral."
It was a story Joseph Lincoln loved to tell. He had a fund of them. Mostly they were Cape Cod stories. This one had been told him by his friend William Allen White, the popular Kansas editor.
No one could spin a yarn better than Joseph Lincoln. He told it so easily, with such relish, as if storytelling were so simple a thing, that others were tempted to match stories with him. I have scon them fail ignominiously. They missed the point, or reaching it, failed to emphasize it, or fell confusedly into anticlimax.
I have sometimes called Alexander Woollcott America's raconteur Number one. He never missed a point or neglected to stress it properly. He was never guilty of anticlimax. But his was the voice of sophistication. He was urban, metropolitan. Joseph Lincoln was the voice of the people, a simple, thrifty, witty people, as independent as the strip of sand, their home, that reached out and shook its fist at an angry ocean.
His speech had Cape Cod pronunciations, Cape Cod idioms, a Cape Cod quality of voice. He was a Cape Codder through and through. His father was a sea-captain, his mother one of the hardy breed who accompanied husbands on their far global journeys.
His grandfather was a sea-captain. So were his uncles. For a mile on either side of the little white house in Brewster where he was born were other little white houses, the homes of sea-captains all.
He was born in 1870. His boyhood knew a Cape Cod that had not yet been invaded by hordes of city folks and vacationists.
It knew the fish-weirs that at low tide studded the flats of Brewster and Barnstable. It knew of the ships that foundered on the Cape's treacherous shoals, of the brave men who put out in lifeboats for the rescue, of the lonely vigils of the beach-patrol on nights when a blizzard blinded or rain slashed or sand cut the face like a knife.
His boyhood knew the picturesque windmills that once ground wheat and rye and oats, or extracted salt from the sea, but are now merely quaint relics or metamorphosed guest houses on the lawns of the summer sojourner. It knew the cranberry bogs, for which the opening of school was postponed till October, that he and other boys might work in them — for a cent and a half a quart!
It knew the gathering of seaweed to pack around the base of the house to keep out winter gales, which even pushed beneath doors and billowed the center of the carpet, though it had been tacked down on all sides.
At night the family gathered about the great stove in the living-room — they called it the sitting-room — then a small boy went up to his unheated little cubbyhole beneath the eaves and dove into fathoms of featherbed. In the morning he emerged into the icy cold, his first job to lug wood stacked in the shed to the woodbox by the cook stove in the kitchen.
How he hated that woodbox! Winter or summer, it always demanded filling, just when he wanted to go skatin' or swimmin' or fishin' or play baseball. In one of the best of his early poems he anathematized it. He read the poem as a part of his lecture at the university. He read as well as he talked, and that was very well indeed!
Saturday nights in the Lincoln home there were unvarying baked beans with brown bread, Sunday mornings unvaryingly the beans warmed over and served with codfish balls. In the spring the air was sweet with roses and honey suckle that clambered over walls and fences, in the fall with the wild grapes which, together with beach plums, his mother and grandmother made into jams and jellies.
The fish peddler blew his horn at their gate, the tin peddler left kettle or frying-pan in exchange for rags, cotton, wool, or silk.
Once a year, on Stockholders' Day, the entire Cape rode free on the Old Colony Railroad to Boston — whether they owned Old Colony stock or not.
It was to Boston that young Lincoln went for a job with an investment firm. His father had died of a fever in Charlestown years ago — there was no money for college education.
Tenure with the investment firm was of the briefest. "They were as glad to be rid of me," he said, "as I was to be free of them."
Oddly, like his contemporaries Booth Tarkington and Vachel Lindsay, he wanted to be an artist. He submitted drawings to magazines, accompanied by little verses. It was the verses that succeeded.
For three years he was associate editor of the "American Wheelmen's Bulletin." Bicycling then — please forgive me — was all the go. He began writing short stories. He sold his first to the "Saturday Evening Post."
He published his first book, Cape Cod Ballads, in 1902. With his wife and child — he married in 1907 — he went to New York to try his literary fortunes. On the diningroom table of their apartment he wrote his first novel, Cap'n Eri. It was successful. Others followed annually, the sale of each exceeding that of the last.
Head Tide, Storm Signals, Blowing Clear, Rugged Water, All Along Shore — the tumultuous ocean is in the very titles. I am not concerned if sometimes the pattern of his stories is repetitious, if occasionally there is poverty of plot invention.
I have summered for more than a quarter of a century on the Cape. No other author so gives it back to me. With a story of his before me I am instantaneously and miraculously transported there. Here are the white beaches, the roar of the surf upon them, the high, grass-crowned dunes, the elm-shaded village streets, the natives with their familiar idioms of speech.
A prolific author, nevertheless a punctilious one. "Doing work that is in any degree satisfying to me," he declared, "means that I must fairly sweat it out."
Yet in the ease and flow of his style never an evidence of that — once more art conceals labor. The sex problem, the divorce question, did not bother him. The morbid and the macabre did not interest him.
"I would much rather try to make people cheerful," he stated, "and keep myself cheerful at the same time. Life contains both laughter and sorrow. One is as real as the other."
My correspondence with him began in 1925, but he did not come to Clark till the fall of 1933. Sickness had been the deterrent. He had been threatened with the recurrence of an attack of inflammatory rheumatism. He wrote, "My doctors have insisted that I give up all speaking for some years."
In April, 1933, he drove up from Winter Park, Florida — he died there in 1944. He had written: "Since my return home I have not been in good health — high blood pressure and that sort of thing. The doctor does not wish me to promise to speak even as far ahead as October. That is my dilemma. What shall we do about it? I shall be glad to have your advice."
At any rate, in late October he and his wife stopped off on their way from their summer cottage at Chatham to Villa Nova, Pennsylvania, which was their home. The pretty cottage at Chatham, screened from the highway by a tall privet hedge, its smooth lawn stretching down to the sea, is a familiar landmark to all who travel on the Cape.
Certainly his health must have improved. He was round of cheek, ruddy of complexion, rotund of girth — the country squire type. They were the nicest of guests, very fearful of causing trouble.
In mid-November he wrote me, "I cannot begin to tell you what a pleasant time Mrs. Lincoln and I had during our visit. I am sending you two small books — Cape Cod Ballads and Our Village. They are, of course, of no real value in themselves, but perhaps you would like to add them to your collection of souvenirs. If not, they are convenient to use for door-stops. With the hope that we may meet next summer on the Cape,
Copyright © 1959 by Loring Holmes Dodd
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 59-14846
These eighty vignettes or thumb-nail sketches were built around our experiences with personages celebrated in the arts. They were limited each to a single page with photo in the "Feature Parade" of the Worcester Sunday Telegram, by whose permission they are here reprinted in book form.
Loring Holrnes Dodd, Ph. D., L.H.D., Clark University, Worcester
Printed in the United States of America
TABLE OF CONTENTS — vii
Amy Lowell 7
Henry Van Dyke 15
Vachel Lindsay 21
Ogden Nash 27
Arthur Guiterman and Berton Braley 32
Robert Frost 39
Albert Payson Terhune 47
Charles Hanson Towne 53
Katharine Cornell 60
Edna St Vincent Millay 66
Alexander Woollcott 71
Cissie Loftus 76
Cornelia Otis Skinner 81
"Billy" Phelps 86
Charles Dana Gibson 91
Hugh Walpole 96
Helen Gahagan 101
Mrs. Pat Campbell 106
Helen Hayes 111
Carl Sandburg 116
John Mason Brown 121
Hamlin Garland 126
James Montgomery Flagg 131
TABLE OF CONTENTS — continued — viii
McClelland Barclay 136
Edna Ferber 141
Booth Tarkington 146
Margaret Deland 151
Otis Skinner and William Gillette 157
Elliott Nugent 162
Rachel Crothers 167
Raymond L. Ditmars 172
William Beebe 176
Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis 181
Burton Holmes 186
Beatrice and Oliver Herford 191
Gutzon Borglum 196
Jane Cowl 201
Rockwell Kent 206
S. J. Woolf 211
Joseph Lincoln 216
Percy Grainger 221
Zona Gale 226
Myra Hess 232
Jose Iturbi 237
E. H Sothern and Julia Marlowe 242
Fanny Hurst 248
Emlyn Williams 253
Sara Teasdale 258
Allan Cruickshank 263
George Arliss 268
Phyllis McGinley 274
TABLE OF CONTENTS — continued ix
Thornton Wilder 279
Malvina Hoffman 285
Ruth Draper 290
"Copey" of Harvard 295
Bliss Carman 300
Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn 306
Robert P. Tristram Coffin 311
Christopher Morley 316
Norman Rockwell 321
Peggy Wood 327
George Grey Barnard 332
Iva Kitchell 337
Pearl Buck 342
Edwin Markham 347
Grace George 352
Thomas Augustine Daly 357
Arthur Heintzelman 363
William Butler Yeats 368
Maurice Evans 373
Katherine Brush 378
S. N. Berhman 383
Louis Untermeyer 388
Joseph Auslander 393
PROLOGUE: IN THE FALL OF 1921
In the fall of 1921 Walter Hampden appeared in Worcester for a week of Shakespearean repertoire. The Worcester Club held a reception for him. I asked him there whether he could not come to Clark University to speak to the students at a noon assembly. He pleaded heavy duties as an actor-manager but promised to send one of his company as substitute.
His substitute was his Ophelia, Mona Morgan — and a very good Ophelia, too. Her Shakespearean readings at the University were tremendously successful. Right there was born the idea for a Fine Arts Course which should bring to the University and the Worcester public those who were famous in the various arts.
I went with my idea directly to the President of the University, Wallace Atwood, the country's most distinguished geographer. He liked the idea immensely but asked, as all college presidents do, "Where is the money coming from?"
"Let me try it for one year," I proposed, "and if there is a deficit I will take it from my own pocket."
But there never was a deficit.
In the fall of 1922 the Course opened with Robert Frost, Amy Lowell, and Alexander Woollcott. Each asked $100. The first two apologized for asking so much. That seems funny now, in the light of present fees which have tripled and quadrupled. But there were no lecture and entertainment bureaus then, no agents anxious to boost fees for their percentage in them. The artist's agent business, largely operated from New York, had not become "big business" as it is to-day.
The field was open then and I might have whomever I wished, sometimes by persuasion through letter, sometimes by personal visit. There was no celebrity in the arts I did not invite, few whom I did not obtain. As for the local public, the idea of such a course was so appealing that for years, till almost the very end, there was a large and insistent waiting-list. There was no competition — there are now in the city some half-dozen other subscription series, mostly musical — and of late there has been television, which has affected all entertainment, with what ultimate result no one knows. Nevertheless the Fine Arts Course, till 1956, the year I resigned from the directorship, was still paying its own way, was still solvent. In 1922 the cost of artists alone totaled $300, in 1956 $6000.
The popularity of the Course was further attested by the fact that for the first sixteen years it was held in old Jonas Clark Hall at the top of the Main Building, reached by one small elevator and several long flights of stairs. In the last nineteen years it has been held in the new Atwood Hall, which is really a little gem of a theater.
It perhaps should be said here that the Course contributed $1500 for the purchase of chairs in Jonas Clark Hall and spent additional sums for raising the floor level at the back of the hall, velvet curtains, etc. For Atwood Hall it purchased movable chairs, now largely used on the platform, contributed toward improving the sound system in the hall, and toward the two campaigns the University conducted for the raising of funds. For the Blue Room in Atwood Hall it assembled a collection of water-colors and
etchings valued at approximately $2000. The total expenditures for the two auditoriums amounted to something over $5000.
In 1922, in order that the Course might start auspiciously, I telephoned all acquaintances and friends, soliciting their support. The response was instantaneous. When I retired after thirty-five years, there were still subscribers in the Course who had been charter members. In many instances acquaintances became friends. Friendships ripened into intimacy.
As for the celebrities who came to our home as dinner-guests, over-night guests, or half-week guests, they proved, almost without exception, delightful people and, of course, intensely interesting people. We never presumed upon our hospitality to accept hospitality in turn from them, even though they proffered it. Yet through the years a number of cherished friendships resulted from that initial association.
The night of each program was a "first night," which meant a certain nervousness for me as to how the "show" would take with the audience. Invariably it took well. There was scarcely a handful of actual "flops" in the 250 odd programs of the thirty-five years.
Then there were the nights so wonderful that one fairly "walked on air" — the night when Peggy Wood played in Barrie's "Rosalind," when Katharine Cornell played in Behrman's "No Time for Comedy," when Grace George and Aubrey Smith played in "Spring Again" — and all with Broadway casts. There was the night of "The Barber of Seville," of "Don Pasquale," each with its complete Metropolitan cast, of "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with the same cast that televises it every Christmas. There was that fiery pair, Antonio and Rosario, the nonpareils of Spanish dancing. There was Charles Dana Gibson, the idol of the youth of a generation! I must temper my enthusiasm.
There was, too, the utter satisfaction of being a one-man committee. There never had to be discussion, sometimes exhausting, whether we should engage this artist or that. President Atwood, the geographer, his successor President Jefferson, the philosopher, might have proposed geographer or philosopher as speaker. Neither did. I was left entirely free. Except with my wife, Ruth, I never discussed the choice of programs. She, it should be added, was the ardent secretary-treasurer of the Course, auditing accounts, seating 800 subscribers — Atwood Hall's capacity — and keeping them happy or mollifying or pacifying them — no easy matter when all scats are reserved. She did this with little help, except for the last half-dozen years when sometimes a secretary was employed. She was the charming hostess in our home, at dinner, or at a reception we might give for the artist. Credit, in fact, for a considerable share in the success of the Course is due her.
It need only be added that the vignettes were largely made from notes taken at the time, and rarely has any record been made of subsequent events. The profiles follow one another chronologically according to date of composition.
THE MID-WEST OF HAMLIN GARLAND
When I went to meet Hamlin Garland at the station I kept an eye on the two Pullmans the train carried, assuming he would emerge from one of them. But he did not. He traveled by ordinary coach. There was a reason for this. His life had been one long struggle to support his wife and children and to give comfort to an aging father and mother. It mattered not that before reaching middle age he was an established author.
Editors liked his work and asked for it. They would give him $3500 for serial rights or a similar amount in advance royalties. He was the first to use the mid-West for background — the Middle Border as he termed it in his two fine autobiographical volumes, A Son of the Middle Border, and A Daughter of the Middle Border — the latter a Pulitzer Prize winner for 1921.
Popular as he was, however, he never wrote bestsellers, and the sums I have mentioned do not go far toward meeting what were really the living costs of two families.
His father and mother were Easterners who finally settled in West Salem, Wisconsin, where in 1860 he was born. He died in Hollywood eighty years later. As a boy he gave six months to schooling, the other six months to the exacting labors of the farm. He saw his father and mother, like their neighbors, slaves to unremitting drudgery. There were mortgages, droughts, blizzards, grasshopper invasions. In protest he wrote his revelatory Main Traveled Roads, a series of short stories. The best story in it and one of the most perfect in all American literature is "Mrs. Ripley's Trip." It was told him by his mother.
Those were the days of government "free land." He staked out a claim. This he sold for $200 and with the money started East for Boston. There he occupied bleak attic rooms, ate eight-cent breakfasts, fifteen-cent dinners, ten-cent suppers. His coat grew shiny and ragged, his trousers frayed.
In the pioneer West he had taught a little. He turned to teaching again. He got what pupils he could, holding classes in elocution. He spent his evenings studying in the Public Library.
He loved the theater. When he had the money he attended, peering down on the stage from what was ironically called "the gods." From this altitude he saw the great Booth, and later was to meet him, looking into "the deepest, darkest, saddest eyes" he had ever seen.
He had a passion for friendship. An acquaintance with James A. Herne, who was famous in that homey American play, Shore Acres, ripened into a lifelong friendship. He visited Walt Whitman in Camden and found "the old man sitting in an arm-chair in his decaying wooden tenement, as stranded as a sea-god." He left him, feeling he had seen "one of the very greatest literary personalities of the century."
He saw much of Mark Twain, who was "full of laughter and wonderful conversation." He sought counsel from William Dean Howells and recognized the modesty and sweetness of his character. "Mrs. Howells," he told us, "was in her latter years a nervous invalid and very difficult. But Howells never varied in his patience or kindness to her." I think Mr. Garland never got over his surprise and delight that he, a humble farm boy, had become the associate and intimate of the great in the arts and letters.
In those years of struggle in Boston, when he began earning as much as eight dollars a week he sent half of it home to his mother. When his first stories were accepted
and money came in more freely, he modernized the kitchen of the old homestead for her. His care and love for Isabel McClintock Garland never ceased till her final breath. There are few finer tributes to motherhood than A Daughter of the Middle Border.
It is almost a wonder his wife was not jealous. On the contrary, she shared this love and devotion with him. She was the sister of that admirable sculptor, Lorado Taft, who was additionally the wittiest writer on art the nation could boast. Hamlin Garland met her in her brother's Chicago studio. The acquaintance with Zulime Taft began in disagreement.
She was starting abroad for art study with Janet Scudder, sculptor of children. He emphatically told her he did not approve of the trip, arguing, though futilely, that it was wrong for Americans at their most impressionable age to submit themselves to foreign influence.
He himself looked American and nothing else as he alighted from the train that October of 1923. His eyes were dark and deep-set, his eyebrows shaggy, his mustache of handle-bar length. He recalled Hawthorne. He had much also of Hawthorne's spiritual beauty of feature.
"Yes," he assented smilingly, "people have told me I look like Hawthorne — like Mark Twain also. In London I have been pointed out as Lloyd George."
But to me he resembled the fiery British premier of World War I only in the cut and length of his hair. He had neither the air nor appearance of a politician, nor did he suggest doctor, lawyer, or clergyman. It was impossible not to associate him with one of the arts.
Despite his rural upbringing there was a quick urbanity in his greeting and a graciousness that comes of genuine friendliness.
On the way to the house conversation turned to Sinclair Lewis' Main Street and Babbitt, best-sellers both and scathing indictments of mid-Western crudity and
complacency. "I could not have written those books," Mr. Garland said. "They lack pity. Those people are what they are through circumstances."
In advance of his coming to Worcester he had written, "I do not eat before speaking. But I am in your hands, if only I may have complete rest before the lecture."
We followed instructions implicitly. Still there were difficulties. He had forgotten his evening waistcoat. He was embarrassed. "I have never forgotten it before," he assured me.
I had two, but neither met across him by four inches. Suddenly he asked, "May I cut one of your waistcoats up the back? I'll take it away with me and have it tailored afterward." We protested we would attend to the tailoring — a small matter. Thus was the evening saved.
After the lecture, at home over his belated dinner, he turned again to literary anecdote. Our enthusiasms abetted him. It had interested him immensely, he said, that Barrie had risen from a little thatched two-room cottage in a poor weavers' village to great wealth, through "clean" writing, and that too in the day of the sex obsession of Freud and H. G. Wells.
He told of a dinner party at the Kiplings. He was taking off his things in the hallway when a little old man entered hurriedly. He had on a short overcoat, reached under it and removed a pin. The tail of the dress-coat flopped into view. He removed a pin from the other side — down flopped the other tail! The old man was very much perturbed as to what the Kiplings might think of this procedure.
Evidently the Kiplings, greeting other guests, missed it. At any rate they were delighted with the reading he gave from his poetry. The reader was James Whitcomb Riley!
When Mr. Garland came down to breakfast the next morning he was in expansive mood. As he sat down at the
table he exclaimed, "Now I am reaping my reward!" Then he added, referring to the open space, the trees and shrubs all about the house, "In places like this you people really live. I am compelled to live in New York, near editors and publishers."
I happened to say that as a boy I had neglected an opportunity to hear Mark Twain. "I will imitate his way of speaking," he volunteered. In a slow, drawling, somewhat nasal twang, the voice sliding up and down the scale, he told of Twain's great scoop as publisher.
Coming from the theater one night, Mark heard someone say, "Grant is publishing his memoirs."
He didn't have to hear that twice. Next day he went to see Grant. The General's son Frederick was with him. "If it isn't indelicate or a violation of confidence, General, may I ask how much you are to get from the Century people for your memoirs?"
"A very generous sum," replied Grant. "Ten per cent royalty."
"My God, General, I'll give you an advance royalty check of $50,000 on the spot!"
Grant thought himself morally bound to the Century Company. "No, Father," interrupted his son, "you've only entered into the preliminaries of negotiation."
"And I had the gratification," Mark continued, "of leaning over the General's bed two or three days before his death and saying, 'General, there are $600,000 in a bank downtown subject to your or your wife's withdrawal!' "
One distinguished author impersonating another even more distinguished is an event to remain green in memory as long as memory lasts!
ARCTIC ADVENTURER: ARTIST ROCKWELL KENT
"You would be far happier as professor in a government-controlled college," insisted Rockwell Kent. This had been the tenor of most of his talk at our dinner. He was an ardent socialist, a believer in government ownership. Education, he felt emphatically should be a federal function.
"But," I had countered, "I am thoroughly happy as a professor in a privately endowed college. Why should I plunge into the unknown?"
Not for a minute would I have you think Rockwell Kent had been unpleasantly insistent on his own viewpoint. Our discussion, serious at moments, had at times slipped into banter or given way to mirth.
He was, we found, the most genial and companionable of guests. How different his life had been from my own — a teacher in cloistered halls striving to share with the young my enthusiasms for the arts, his one of self-sought adventure and danger. Yet what a chummy fellow he was!
He was born in 1882 in Tarrytown Heights, Westchester County, New York. He attended the Horace Mann School in New York City and the Columbia University School of Architecture. In his fourth year at Columbia an exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy lured him from architecture to painting:. He studied painting under Chase, Miller, Henri, and Thayer, a distinguished foursome. Nothing spectacular in his career thus far — rather on the conventional side instead.
An inlander's curiosity was driving him seaward. He made his first trip northward to Monhegan. He became a carpenter, building his own house, a lobsterman, getting up before dawn, chopping the ice off the gunwale of his dory. He liked the thrill of cutting wood for his fire, "against the bitter cold of a Maine winter."
He hated cold, but he felt it was character-building to resist it. He moved farther north to Newfoundland. Always he was to move. Feeling decadence in himself, an urge to escape effete civilization, to dwell among people who of necessity had little and were happy with nothing, north and south he went, to Tierra Del Fuego at one arctic end of the globe, to Greenland at the other.
The paintings he brought back from Newfoundland established his reputation as an artist, those from Greenland added immensely to it. The tall cliffs that had foundations deep within the ocean, the jagged rocks, the ice, the far stretches of snow, the weird effects of color and cloud patterns in the northern skies, were a startling novelty to the general public.
He would set out from the tiny village he had made his headquarters with a team of a dozen huskies — he drove them expertly — his sleigh laden with a week's provisions and his painting material. He would paint away in sub-zero weather, his hands in woolen mittens, a hole in the right one by which he held his brush — a lone and fearless figure against the menacing vastness of space.
In one of his early exploratory trips northward, he set sail from Halifax with two companions in a thirty-three-foot cutter. They were wrecked on the inhospitable coast of Greenland, the angry, rapacious water lifting them high on a rocky ledge.
At low tide they were able to salvage a good part of the ship's provender. Then off he started to secure aid. A fifty-pound pack on his back, held by the tumpline across his forehead, hugging the shore as he might, he
clambered over rocks, cliffs, waded, forded, was rain-drenched, chilled. Only a rugged physique like his could have stood the savagery of the elements.
He tells all this in N by E, one of his early books. What a flair he has for vivid narration! How original the decorations that begin and end the brief chapters' He is a wood engraver. All his pen drawings have at once the stiffness and the charm of wood engravings
In the full-page drawings of single figures, in flow of line, in sculptural effect, he hails, consciously or unconsciously, from William Blake, who in turn hails from Michelangelo. This holds also for his illustrations to Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, Moby Dick, and Voltaire's Candide.
He was romantic, the object of curiosity and admiration among the plump little Eskimo girls, the plumper for the layers of clothing an Arctic climate made imperative.
There was pathetic Justinia, who loved him shyly from afar off and for whom he finally secured a position in a sanatorium where she was heavenly happy in the care of little children. There was flirtatious and provocative Anna, whose husband would have sold her for Rockwell's pipe which he coveted. And there was Salamina, about whom he wrote a book, her name the title.
She was a young widow with a child, and she kept house for him with scrupulous neatness. Incidentally, he had, to the wonder of the natives, built the house himself. Salamina was mother and nurse to him and watched his goings-out and comings-in sharply, so that he was very like a little boy in his secretive efforts to escape her.
I remember how, as he lectured to us at Clark, he beamed down at us, his teeth flashing white against the dark of his tan. I think he enjoyed shocking us a little with the story of his escapades, and I recall President Atwood's chuckling — as we all were — and saying, "He certainly has a nerve to tell those things."
Once his fourteen-year-old son accompanied him, and once his wife Frances. Nurtured in the gentler air of Virginia, she bore the rigors of the arctic winter stoutly. Best of all is his account in his autobiography, This Is My Own, of their search for a permanent home. For privacy it had to be in a wilderness. They chose the Adirondacks.
On horseback, attracting no end of attention, they boarded the Hudson River boat in New York City and disembarked at Albany. They found a site attuned to their hearts' desire.
The old farmer agreed to sell at once. But each succeeding day he met them with, "My wife and I have talked it over." He demanded the retention for life of the old farmhouse, the garden before it, the right to continue excavating a sand-pit!
But ultimately they found their Paradise — 200 acres, with a glorious view of Mount Whiteface. Asgaard, they called it, which is Nordic for Paradise, "the farm of the gods." They built a house and filled it with the old things they loved, long possessed or inherited. There were books everywhere, of course in the living-room, but in the hall and bedroom as well. I like this spilling over of books into every part of a home.
They built a tennis court and a swimming pool, so close to the house that one might almost bounce out of bed into it. There were long week-ends with guests of their own choosing. There were Gargantuan feasts. Always there was music Each of the children played an instrument — piano, violin, viola, trumpet He himself played the flute Like every traveler, he savored the joy of at last being at home.
They still live at Asgaard. But it has not been possible to keep people away, even from Paradise There was the fight to force the Delaware and Hudson to restore passenger service on the spur that ran to Ausable Forks. He won, only to lose when in his absence the railroad obtained
a reversal of the court's decision. There was an attempt on the part of a state legislator to make an amusement park of Whiteface with a lighthouse on its summit and refreshment and hot-dog stands at convenient intervals. That he succeeded in quashing.
He came to Worcester a second time, a day in advance of a talk he was to give before the Woman's Club, and was again our guest. That evening he and I attended a fragile comedy at the moribund Worcester Theater and had fun commenting to each other on its dramatic deficiencies and inanities.
Once in Boston's Copley Plaza Hotel I came upon him, back to me. The lobby was filled with men — very likely some convention. Pinioning his arms behind him, I said quietly, "Sir, you are under arrest. Don't resist." Then he wriggled free and, turning, saw me. We shook hands heartily and laughed merrily.
We liked the bread-and-butter note he sent us after that first visit in December of 1933, especially what he had to say of the patrons of the Fine Arts Course.
"Dear Friends," he wrote, "lecturing, as I have told you, is far from fun. Clark University was fun. I have you both to thank for it — not only as my hosts, but for what you have made of your lecture course, and the fine people whom you have made your course attract."
A STAR OF THE THEATER: PEGGY WOOD
"Well, it's nice for us to be resuming a correspondence after all these years," wrote Peggy Wood last May. "I was so happy to have heard from you and delighted that we can come to a satisfactory arrangement for next fall."
Thus it was that I went to meet her on that October afternoon at our Worcester Airport that rests so excitingly atop a high hill. All that morning in New York she had been rehearsing in television's Mama, in which, incredibly, she had been starring since 1949. She had to rehearse again the next morning, so up we all rose at six for six-thirty breakfast and a swift drive in the splendor of a rising sun, up to the aerie whence at seven-thirty a silver falcon would speed her back to New York.
Of course, that evening before the Fine Arts audience, she spoke well — being Peggy Wood, of the clear mind, how could it be otherwise? — on whether the personality of the actor is more important than the role he plays. This she climaxed with three samples of styles in acting, a scene of jealousy from Blithe Spirit, the sweet surrender of Portia to her lord Bassanio, the pretty Christmas story of a child confronted by a pair of thieves in the Norwegian-English of Mama. What a breathtaking climax it was!
At home the question of personality versus role again raised its controversial head, but I think we were unanimous that one went to the theater for the sheer
enchantment of personality — John Drew, Otis Skinner, William Gillette, Maude Adams, Jane Cowl, Alfred Lunt, Katharine Cornell — in roles, to be sure, fitted to their high talents.
At dinner, at breakfast, we talked plays, playwrights, and actors, animatedly and incessantly — three people a little daft on the theater, one who had known it intimately behind the footlights, we who had as often as possible occupied its first row.
Again and again our talk reverted to the time, twenty-eight years ago, when the Fine Arts Course was five years old, she had been with us three days rehearsing Rosalind, that tenderest and most touching of one-act comedies by James Matthew Barrie. How fresh our memories of it all!
What an ecstasy ours when she sent us a note then that began: "Your interest in having me do Rosalind next year in your Fine Arts Course has given me the greatest pleasure and I accept promptly the offer, the date, and the fee."
The only stipulation had been that she might come in early October in order not to interfere with theater commitments. How willing we were to accede to a subsequent request that the date be shifted after all to the end of October. "You see, I am going to have a baby the latter part of September. We do want it so much after our tragic loss last year."
Came the great night! Would our home accommodate her Aunt May, who customarily traveled with her on tour, her husband John Van Alstyne Weaver, whose poems, In American, and More in American, everybody was then discussing, the colored maid who dressed her backstage, her pianist? Our little home could and did. It fairly burst physically with people and excitedly with telegrams, long-distance telephones, meals at random, multiple exits and entrances.
She was starring at Dennis' famous theater on the Cape the following summer. There was a general interchange of friendliness and hospitality. We were guests at her cottage for lunch preceding a matinee. Several times she and her husband were our guests at West Falmouth. Several times they stopped off with us in Worcester, motoring to New York.
Once in New York we dined with them when they were occupying for the winter Francis Wilson's apartment on Gramercy Park, with its library of precious books, its Sir Joshua Reynolds portrait, its chairs made from a pew Shakespeare worshipped in. Peggy had to rush away before dessert to rehearse with George Arliss in The Mer-chant of Venice. Small wonder, on the evening of October 19 at Clark University, she spoke in such dulcet tone:
You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand, Such as I am I would be trebled twenty times myself, A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times More rich, that only to stand high in your account
By what stages does one rise to play the enviable role of Portia opposite a George Arliss? Peggy Wood was born in Brooklyn, the largest of the five boroughs that are New York. She too played in Prospect Park, built the illegal bonfire on the streets whereon the illicit potato, purloined perhaps from a grocer's barrel, was not so much roasted as charred, followed an ice-cart in the hope of a chance bit of ice, patronized the hokey-pokey man, and knew the magic of a penny that would buy delectables in candy.
Her family, English, Scotch, Dutch, came to America before the Revolution. Her father, a Socialist and SingleTaxer, was a newspaperman who wrote articles and fiction for magazines and knew unknowable O. Henry intimately. As late as 1935 Doubleday Doran republished his Back Home and Folks Back Home. He rented "a little sweet-toned reed organ" for fifty cents a week, thereby discovering that his child had a voice. When she was eight he secured for her the best possible teacher. He took her
often to the opera. Years later, when she was already famous on the stage, she spent an entire summer under the tutelage of Calve, the Carmen of her era.
The family had moved farther out to Long Island's Northport. A neighbor took her for an audition to the Manhattan Opera House, then competing with the Metropolitan, where I used to see Oscar Hammerstein, bulking large, in the box office, cigar in mouth, a silk topper always on his head.
Hammerstein placed her in the chorus of Naughty Marietta at twenty dollars a week. It was the briefest interval when another manager, J. J. Shubert, spied her out for the lead in May time. "You are the only girl who can do the part," he told her. Up went her name in lights on Broadway.
She became a favored member of that Round Table at the Hotel Algonquin where Alexander Woollcott, Worcester's Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, a score of wits and wags, foregathered for luncheon. In her repertoire, Naughty Marietta and Maytime were succeeded by Mar-jolaine, that in turn by Buddies.
John Weaver, poet and young scion of Chicago society who was to be her husband, attended every performance of Buddies for a week. He even followed it on tour. Woollcott had introduced them. One summer the three had roamed Europe together. Yet when the romance between Peggy and Johnny ripened into marriage, Woollcott shook his omniscient head. He would give it, "two years, no more, but they'll probably be fun."
It lasted fourteen. David, the baby who had caused a several weeks' postponement of his mother's first visit to Worcester, was approaching his second year. "He is such a dear," she wrote later, "and such fun, I fear for the girls later." As a little boy she took him to the memorable Rembrandt exhibit at the Metropolitan, only to find "he put up a violent defense against culture." For herself, the
portrait of "An Old Lady Cutting Her Nails" was "just about the greatest picture ever." At the Everett Shinn show she bought his famous "Fifth Avenue Bus." "It is really a dream."
"Have you it still?" I asked her recently. Her affirmative was a smile of contented possession.
She first went to London to play in Noel Coward's Bittersweet. She was as popular with the English as with the Americans. While she was playing in London, her husband, fighting tuberculosis in Colorado, died suddenly. Today she might have reached him by jet plane.
"I know you especially will keep his memory green, not only in your hearts but through your bringing his poetry to the young minds that come before you each year." To the Little Lady of the House and myself Johnny Weaver was a lovable fellow.
When Katharine Cornell had to leave Candida for Michael Arlen's Green Hat, Peggy Wood took her place. When Pauline Lord left the all-star cast of Pinero's Trelawney of the Wells touring under the leadership of John Drew, she became the Imogen Parrot of the piece.
In 1942 she wrote, "Blithe Spirit goes on and on. If the War doesn't blast us out of 45th Street we have hopes of long tenure there " It ran two years. Not only was she the bright star of operetta, she was queen in her own right of the legitimate theater.
In her very readable autobiography she once declared, "If I had turned out to be a housewife I should have been a terror, for an adage about a woman's work being never done would have reduced me to a state of ineffectual fury ever since."
Time changes us all' She has a maid for her Park Avenue apartment, but for the long week-end she and her present husband — he is William Walling, an executive in the printing business — spend in their country home, she docs those very housewifely chores you have seen her do in Mama.