For the sake of the fish

This is my final paper about Grandpa’s fishing journals from last semester’s class.

“For the sake of the fish”:

An introduction to the abridged fishing journals of Chuck Cleaver

“You can pray on the river, but you cannot fish in church.” – an anonymous fisherman, overheard in Melrose, MT

 

When they said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,”

I told them, “He’s dead.” And when they told me,

“God is dead,” I answered, “He goes fishing every day

in the Kentucky River. I see Him often.”—Wendell Berry

 

 

“Ten o’clock… two o’clock… Ten o’clock… two o’clock…” The yellow bug on the end of my line exhibited behavior never before seen by insect or fishing fly, but Grandpa’s voice persisted, patient, steady, measured: “ten o’clock… two o’clock… ten o’clock… two o’clock.” He held the rod with me for a moment, placing his hands over mine and rotating the rod around an imaginary clock to show me the range of motion appropriate for fly-fishing: “…ten o’clock… two o’clock.”

Grandpa’s hands were much bigger than mine, chapped, and leathery from fishhooks and the process of tying flies. They were never quite clean– neither were his canvas pants, or his hat with the odd flaps that protected his ears from the sun. Even the boat, wide and green with the much-cherished fifteen horsepower outboard motor, held its fair share of dirt—so much, in fact, that a variety of grasses had taken root in the dirtiest places, along the gunwales and between cracks on the seats. My sister Emily and I jokingly referred to the boat as Grandpa’s “floating garden.” When criticized for the quantities of dirt that he carried on his person and belongings, Grandpa would respond with scoffing references to the small number of moles of dirt present—a reminder of the forty years he spent as an organic chemist for DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware. (My scientist father usually responded that it only took a few moles of some substances to kill a person—and the arguments began. Grandpa had two great loves: fishing and arguing.).

Grandpa knew this wide river, the Kennebec, like the back of his big leathery hand. From the shoreline where we fished that day in the late 1990s, I could see the red one-story house where he and my grandmother had retired in 1981, driving up from Delaware after Grandpa’s retirement party to the sleepy mill-town of Skowhegan, Maine (At the retirement party, a coworker asked Grandpa when he planned to move back to Maine. A 2002 newspaper article on my grandparents captures his response well: “ “I told them, `See that station wagon with that small dog in it?’” [Grandpa] smiled, remembering the car that was loaded with the last of their belongings.”[1] My grandparents left Delaware a few minutes after the interchange with the coworker). I could see the steeple of the Congregational Church where Grandpa’s father, Thomas Cleaver, served as the minister throughout Grandpa’s adventurous adolescence. I could see the steep hill leading up to the now derelict building where Grandpa attended high school, and the dam he watched a dummy float over on a raft during the filming of the movie Empire Falls. I could see the yard where my aunt Becky married her late husband Kevin, and the water lilies Grandpa tried so hard to protect from the wedding party.

Grandpa must have seen all these things as he looked at the river, with a more detailed sense of memory and greater nuance than I had. But he also would have seen the Kennebec through a lens I lacked, and still lack: that of the devout fisherman, the doting and obsessive expert. He could see probabilities flickering their tails just beneath the surface of the water with all the allure of actual fish. For my grandfather, fishing was more than an obsession: it represented the confluence of fieldwork and art, religion and research. It was the place where the scientist, the artist, and the believer in him came out to play with one another.

These characters, the scientist, artist and believer, live on despite my grandfather’s absence in his fishing journals, six three-ring binders packed to the gills by loose-leaf paper, newspaper clippings, letters and hand-drawn maps. Starting in 1951, Grandpa kept a detailed record of every fishing trip he took, and tracked any and all patterns he could find in the data he collected therein. The journals embody at once a serious undertaking in objectivity and a deeply intimate project; they bridge the gap between lab notebook and diary. They serve as a testament to the depth and longevity of commitment required to truly pay attention to something.

Grandpa’s fishing journals took up a whole shelf in my grandparents’ busy living room; now they occupy a shelf in my room at college, standing out pleasantly amid the textbooks and novels. Of the six binders, all but one are held together in some fashion by the timeless Cleaver family cures-all: duct tape. Five are approximately four inches thick, and hold paper measuring about nine by six inches. The oldest and thickest binder, a volume the color and peeling consistency of lichen, bears the fading Sharpie label “TRIPS Del 1951-1981.” Four others hold dates from 1982 to the movingly incomplete “2007–  ”; and the sixth has a blank blue front with a torn-off label held inside the cover: “PATTERNS.” The white plastic “02-06” binder is only about half as thick as the preceding three, as though, purchasing it at age eighty, my grandfather thought he had relatively few pages left to fill. But the pages overflow from this binder more than from any other; finally in 2007 my eighty-five-year old grandfather caved in to the continuing pull of fishing and purchased another thin binder, this one the black “2007—“ volume (This too is nearly full.). The binders emit the musty, confectionary smell of my grandparents’ house, which intensifies as I open them.

The pages have wrinkled, yellowing edges in the older binders, and straighter edges in the more recent ones. Many pages contain accounts in three or four different colors of pen and pencil, as though my grandfather revisited and revised the entries time and time again. Most pages are slightly torn, especially around the hole-punches; those leathery hands have turned them many times. Some pages hold coffee stains. Lined paper appears more frequently than unlined, except in the 1951-1981 binder, where unlined paper prevails. Most pages in the five dated binders record individual fishing trips. They list participants in the trips an inch or so above the rest of the entry (usually “CSC”—Charles Spencer Cleaver, my grandfather—or “CSC + Dot”, when my grandmother, Dorothy, went along; though a diverse cast of other characters appears from time to time). They chronicle the number, types, and sizes of fish caught; the lures, worms, and flies used; the weather conditions and water temperature; and other bits of observation and reflection—from “they seemed to want it floating awhile before hitting” to “forget this brook!! The handwriting appears fairly consistent over the fifty-nine years recorded in the binders until the last few years, although the size of the letters varies within years. Interestingly, the entries do not proceed in chronological order within the binders. Within each binder, the pages fall into one large calendar-year cycle. For example, 7/31/93 is followed by 7/31/94; 7/31/95; 7/31/96; 7/31/98; 7/31/99. Each of these days receives a half-page to two-page-long entry.

A noticeable proportion of these entries begin with the number 0, followed by a description of unsuccessful fishing. The roundness of Grandpa’s handwritten 0’s makes these accounts read at first like tragic poetry, like Rilke’s “Lament” (“O how all things are far removed / And long have passed away…”): “O—had good one on pool above [a dam] (didn’t let him take it long enough)…” Although I doubt that Grandpa fully intended this resemblance, I find that it captures a part of the emotional involvement of his fishing process compellingly. In these journals, Grandpa does more than record a simple hobby or a way of passing time; fishing carried high stakes.

In the sixth binder, “Patterns,” as well as at the back of the green ’82-’91 volume, the content changes distinctly. Page after page of hand-made tables followed by summary write-ups document my grandfather’s attempts to answer the question “When + Where to Fish.” The format resembles that of a laboratory scientist’s notebook, as though by chronicling his fishing endeavors, Grandpa was in fact describing a series of experiments. For example, preceding six double-sided pages of tabulation of fishing data from the early 1990’s is a nine-bullet list:

 

Conclusions from Next few pages

 

  1. ’95 was an exceptional year—lots of larger fish—catchable all season.
  2. Difficult to make case for [hypothesis about fishing patterns here, invoking yearly trends]
  3. Stopped fishing in 92 and 93 too early in season. Normally [Month] and [Month] very good.
  4. Many larger fish have been caught in or near ——- River ([hypothesis about why this is the case])

 

[and so on.]

Fourteen double-sided pages with tightly-packed writing share the title “Rumors” and record the fishing recommendations of friends and acquaintances, commonly annotated with my grandfather’s follow-up results. Other page and section titles show a broader and less objective sort of attention than that of the scientist alone: “The Smelt Connection”; “My Campfire’s Origins”; “Leaping Fish—Real Athleticism”; “Love is Dot.” The back of the grass green Du Pont Photo Products binder labeled “TRIPS ’82-‘91” contains a series of poems, observations about monarch butterflies, a pasted-in recipe for venison chili, records of deer- and duck-hunting expeditions, and an affectionate and informative letter from Paul Johnson at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The letter from Mr. Johnson stands out to me because I have heard his name repeatedly throughout my childhood and adolescence and recently met him at a gathering in Skowhegan, but in reality it forms only a tiny part of a suite of letters from conservation and state officials, mostly from the late 1980s and 1990s and carefully tucked into the ’02-’06 journal, in response to letters from Grandpa. These letters provide tangential evidence that Grandpa did a great deal of thoughtful outside research in addition to collecting his own data on his fishing-related questions. A 1999 letter from Dave Boucher at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shows the degree of questioning my grandfather must have performed in his letters: “Dear Chuck: Thanks for your letter and the kind words… I’ll try to answer each of your questions in the order that you posed them.” From the three detailed paragraphs that follow this introduction, it is clear that Grandpa shared both in-depth observations and thoughtful hypotheses with Mr. Boucher.

Other letters hint at a more proactive, perhaps activist side of Grandpa’s interest in fishing—a 1986 letter from J. Dennis McNeish at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife seems to respond to concerns about both invasive and endangered species: “You may be assured that this agency is well aware of the folly of allowing carp to extend their range in the waters of Maine”, he writes; “We are by no means categorically opposed to developing an Atlantic salmon fishery in the Kennebec…” Some of the strong language in McNeish’s letter hints at the insistence with which the letter of Grandpa’s to which he replied must have been written; this was not a man who withheld his opinions.

In spite of this reluctance to withhold opinions, Grandpa certainly withheld the results of his fishing data tabulation very carefully. His fishing journals contain a warning to family members not to share the Patterns book outside the family: “…the summaries in other notebook will save lots of time to success– & hopefully will not become known beyond the family—ever—for the sake of the fish.” Furthermore, Grandpa delineated the rules according to which he might discuss his fishing trips with friends and inquirers according to type of fish and distance from Skowhegan at the back of the patterns book. He laid out the reasoning behind the guidelines in painstaking detail, for example:

Trout, salmon, togue—Because it’s hard to find close-by fast water with good fly-fishing for these species, & because they are scarce, highly prized species with heavy pressure on them, & because solitude is an important facet of fly-fishing, & because the good fishing is a result of the fish being seasonally concentrated in only a few small areas, I use the following rules for disclosure of information…

 

Grandpa’s argumentative voice shines through this passage very clearly. The fact that this code, originally written in red ink, has been revised in blue ink, suggests a depth of thought that underlines its importance to Grandpa.

But this privacy surrounding fishing information did not arise—at least not primarily—out of any sense of selfishness; rather, it seems to have arisen out of a coalescence of a sense of stewardship, and a respect for the sanctity of the act of fishing. A passage about a favorite location in the autumn embodies this relationship:

In —-, this stretch of river may be the best fall land-locked salmon fishing trip in the world—great natural beauty, naturally bred fish, minimal intrusions of man (no roads, camps, etc.)—plus the charms of canoe fishing, clean flowing water, tenting and wildlife—all combine to make it my favorite fishing experience in Maine. It’s not much changed from Thoreau’s trips in the 1850s.

            The fish and their habits and mysteries are the ultimate charm. How they act, where they are, their vibrant obvious wildness, their great beauty make fly-fishing for them on this river the truth of the poem—

“Each cast a gentle quest for nature undefiled

The Call, a fly,

A strike, reply,

Pulsing fish, the heartbeat felt of God.”

            So the following paragraphs are aimed at helping readers achieve this ultimate high—the brief glimpse and feel as of and proof of undefiled nature—“the heartbeat.”

 

First, a few notes of my own to provide context: the poem Grandpa quotes in its entirety in this passage is one he wrote several years prior to this passage on salmon-fishing (which dates to October 23, 1991). The strategy of quoting from his previous writings occurs frequently in the journals. It highlights the iterative, cyclical quality of Grandpa’s thinking about the topic of fishing and the larger topic of nature, not unlike the methodical quality evoked by the journals’ resemblance to a laboratory notebook. Additionally, Grandpa was a great reader of Thoreau, and he especially cherished his copy of The Main Woods. He frequently professed that no one should enter certain parts of Maine’s wilderness unversed in Thoreau. The influence of Thoreau’s nature writing on the journals is made explicit in this passage; here is a place where the journals give a hint about a potential nature-writing lineage in terms of their genre.

The passage above first helped me shed light on an aspect of the fishing journals’ real purpose for Grandpa: the journals represent, in part, an attempt to get close to the “ultimate high” of communion with the natural world. The language of “proof” pulls the notebooks back toward science; the word “undefiled” pulls them toward a transcendentalist strain of religion. I think that in the journal, these two genres of awe support one another.

The paragraphs directly following the preceding quote provide further, even more moving illumination of the intersection of scientific, diarist and transcendentalist genres in the fishing journals:

But because real experiments can’t be run, these paragraphs are happily only happy personal experience, and The fish in their wonderful wildness and perversity give the fishermen the ultimate high in their way and at their time—and that gift is from fish-to-fisherman. These paragraphs only seek to place the fisherman in a position where the gift might be given. The surroundings will place the reader in a mood where the gift will be understood and appreciated.

** Salmon are special. It’s partly because they like clean, running water—preferably generally in natural surroundings. It’s partly because they’ll hit flies. But for me, it’s mostly because they usually often hit with an all-out pop—and then mostly because they are completely irrational on hooking. They jump out of their element—they jump in the boat—they jump onto land—they go upstream—they don’t care what they do—they save nothing for the future—they squander their energy in an unmeasured response.

They go wild—they are wild.

[A list of dictionary definitions of wildness]

And something in me (mankind?) cheers this, respects this, needs this—at least on a fly-rod.

 

The idea (albeit crossed-out) that in the realm of fishing, at least this experiential side of it, “real experiments can’t be run” is striking here, given the similarity between the fishing journals and the genre of the laboratory notebook. The idea that this non-experimental side of fishing deserves the descriptors “happy” and “happily” amplifies the significance of this phrase. This first part of the passage suggests to me that the endless tabulation, the grand experiment presented in the fishing journals, was only the means to exploring the more important, non-experimental side of fishing: communion with the natural world. By knowing where to fish, and when, and with what lure, Grandpa could put himself in a likely position to receive the gift he found in playing a fish, and by recording this knowledge, he could show future generations of Cleaver fishermen—or future generations of “mankind”, perhaps—how to occupy this same lucky position (This is not, of course, to undervalue the pleasures of tabulating those hundreds of pages of data for the grand experiment.).

Grandpa’s avowal that the fishing journals’ descriptions and summaries intend to place this future fisherman “in a position where the gift might be given” resembles the way some poets talk about their muses—the muse may or may not arrive, but the writer can hope to receive a visit only if he or she is engaged in the act of writing. This points to a way in which fishing, for Grandpa, resembled a sort of poetry. Both fishing and poetry, at its best, give him a way to communicate with a higher being (“A strike– reply”; punctuation from the poem’s later version), a way to feel the divine “heartbeat.”

Grandpa’s well-articulated sense of communion with and through the fish emerged over the course of a fascinating life, a mix of humble rural origins and a highly successful career, religious grounding from a young age and doctorate-level training in science. The journals span the last sixty years of this life, and chronicle the last thirty with particular intensity, but to understand the source of the reflections contained within these journals, “the pool from which [they] spring”, we must remember his life story.

Grandpa started out, in the words of his doting son-in-law, a “juvenile delinquent.” Growing up in the mill-town of Skowhegan, Maine, the son of a preacher, he spent much of his time stirring up trouble with the son of the town’s police officer. Most of their adventures were apparently fairly innocent, but they also got themselves into trouble upon occasion: for example, when they shot the town duck (In the decades since the incident, “shooting the town duck” has become something of a catchphrase or yardstick for trouble in my family, as in, “I’m worried about our granddaughter’s aimless ways;” “Nothing to worry about; she hasn’t shot the town duck yet.” Meanwhile, in all my years of primary source research, no one has provided me with a satisfactory answer to the question of why Skowhegan had a town duck in the first place). But trouble was only a second love of Grandpa’s in these early days. His first love was, as will come as no surprise to followers of this project, fishing and time outdoors in general.

Grandpa documented his early fishing trips in the patterns book of his fishing journals during a writing spree in March of 2007. The first trips occurred in Michigan, outside the geographic scope of most of the fishing logs, when Grandpa was between the ages of eight and eleven. First he caught a twenty-inch pickerel, possibly in Oswego Lake, while trolling with his father—a thrilling parenthetical of “(photo exists)” has yielded an unfruitful search on my part. Most of the location names on this page of the fishing journal suggest a young boy’s interest, rather than that of the seasoned scientist, as well as the effects of the seven decades that passed between the trips and his description of them; Grandpa recorded locations such as “tiny brook” and “Bad Creek.” But his memories of some of the fish from these trips were far more detailed, such as his description of his first brook trout: “saw & caught first brook trout, a tiny, beautiful, nearly 5” trout from tiny wooded brook on Eglers’ cherry-growing farm- where Dad ministering for two weeks at a church on Lake Mich., near Indian Settlement.” The richness of this description hints at the formative effects of this early fishing trip.

The move from Michigan to Maine, which occurred when Grandpa’s father received a job as the new minister of Skowhegan’s Congregationalist Church, marked a transition from a boy’s enjoyment of fishing to an adolescent’s obsession with it. I suspect it also marked the beginning of a handful of long-term friendships that nurtured Grandpa’s love of fishing. Names I have heard my whole life appear in the journal on the first full page devoted to Maine: John Merrill, Fred Viles, Paul LaFond, Brooks Huxley. Grandpa documented these trips in his journal as “[Location] Trips”—a reminder of the fact that the friends visited the locations, some of them a considerable distance from Skowhegan, repeatedly. Grandpa’s entries about these trips, like most of the other story-based entries in the journal, focus on the fishing but leave room for adventures: “One night, 2 of the guys took the wrong turn [back to camp] in the dark and ended up at —- Pond for the night—coming in next a.m. for breakfast.” Also shining through these entries is the way in which Grandpa kept track of these locations over the decades; about a stream that was his favorite spot “in the thirties”, Grandpa wrote: “The logging camp is now (1991) only a clearing—but remnants of the dam stand. The pools we fished are now mostly empty and the hatches skimpy—but the deep hole —- above the dam can still be good. I recently caught a 15” trout there (9/4/84).”

Somewhere in between the boy’s simple love of fishing and the (self-)trained observation of the scientist, sketches from Grandpa’s senior year of high school serve as an interesting landmark. Hanging above Grandpa’s much-used desk in the home to which he and my grandmother retired in 1981 are two figures he made of fish he caught in 1937 and 1938, the first sketched on a piece of paper and the second on a scrap of birch bark. He not only traced the fish, he also filled in the outlines them in detail: the teeth, the eyes, the fishes’ spots and stripes, their colors. And then he preserved these sketches for more than seventy years. The locations labeled on the paper and birch bark are places Grandpa fished with the friends he lists in many of the recollections; I wonder if they went along when he caught the fish he sketched or whether this was a solitary activity.

Grandpa also engaged with his fluvial surroundings in a less direct way, by working in the woolen mill that operated in Skowhegan at the time (and now houses a New Balance factory). I remember hearing him tell stories about watching his friends and girlfriend wave up to him from the parking lot on their way to go swimming, showing him their swimsuits. His journals document the day he received the job—he was camping on a favorite pond far from home, when a family friend who lived near the pond came to tell him he had a job: “Another time, [respected family friend and outdoorsman] Iral [Bean] came all the way to the upper pond where we were camped to tell me a job in the woolen mill awaited me. Bill and I left in the dark. Iral later told me I should have cleaned up the site better—and I was destroyed by even this mild reproach from this god.”

After he graduated Skowhegan High School in 1938, Grandpa’s parents decided further study would behoove him before college, so he attended Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts for a postgraduate year on full financial aid. My mother says that the one “black hole” in her understanding of Grandpa’s life is the question of how Grandpa’s father found Deerfield, and how he found financial aid for Grandpa there. Grandpa spoke warmly into his eighties about Mr. and Mrs. Boyden, the headmaster of Deerfield (a 1902 graduate of Amherst College!) and his wife. Boyden reigned as headmaster of Deerfield from 1902 to 1968, retiring as an eighty-nine year old. At Deerfield, Grandpa fell in love with chemistry under the tutelage of Mrs. Boyden, and decided to study the subject further in college. My mother says that at Deerfield, “the trajectory of Dad’s life took a drastic turn.”

Grandpa hated Yale, at least retrospectively. As an eighty-five-year old he still steamed at the ears when he talked about it. He studied chemistry there, however, and continued to love the subject. He served in the navy as a gunnery instructor for two years in Hawaii, but did not see combat. Then, Grandpa returned to Yale for his phD in organic chemistry, which he received in 1948. On a Thanksgiving break during Grandpa’s second period at Yale, both of my grandparents—not yet introduced—were home from their various posts, and family friends named the Wymans introduced them at a party. Grandpa had spent all day hunting, and he was very tired. He apologized to my grandmother and then fell asleep in his chair.

That was my grandparents’ first date. Their sixth date was their wedding. In between, they wrote letters and met a handful of times to go hunting and fishing. My grandmother, Dot, grew up one of four daughters on a farm in Strong, Maine. Because the family had no sons but needed help with farm work, Grammy stood in as a sort of son substitute for her father. She worked on the farm, and she hunted and fished with her father—and she loved these activities. This meant that she and Grandpa shared many of the same loves.

Grandpa proposed to Grammy at the end of one of their days hunting, pulling the car over on the way back to the house where they were meeting friends and relatives to a party. He said, “Now… I’m not askin’ you [to marry me], but if I were… what would you say?” My grandmother responded yes to the unfair question, and Grandpa gave her a ring.

They married in 1949 in the chapel of Colby College. Their honeymoon consisted of a camping and fishing trip, described in the patterns book of the journal. This could aptly be described as an adventure honeymoon: after the fishing at two other ponds proved dissatisfactory,

…we headed to — Pond, driving to within about 2 miles of the pond. The trail came to the present launch area. With no tent, we built a lean-to near the lake, but were forced by bobcats to sleep 200 yds away—they yowled and screeched near our lean-to all night because of a territorial dispute with our presence… Fishing was excellent, but after a day or two I got a flu-like disease and we were forced to struggle back to the car, drive to Bingham to a hotel and doctor me with OTC [over the counter] medicines.

The journals chronicle my grandparents’ marriage from this point on in a tremendously moving way; they point to a remarkable number of shared fishing and hunting hours in a sixty-year union between two people whose “gazes met and entwined as they looked at a third thing.”[2] Although CSC documented the trips in these logs, “Dot” appears so frequently in the record that to consider her as a minor or passive character would mean missing an important part of the story the logs contain. My grandfather retrospectively records some of his first fishing and hunting trips with my grandmother in the 1940s in the “Patterns” book. Nearly sixty years later, he names a favorite fishing spot “Dot’s brook” because after a botched surgery that nearly crippled her, my grandmother could still fish this pool from the road and thereby participate in the trout fishing that would otherwise require tramping around in the brush. In between these two stories, the adventures of “CSC & Dot” abound.

After the wedding, Grandpa found a job as an organic chemist for the DuPont company, and the pair moved to Wilmington, Delaware, and started a family. My mother, Patty (Patricia) was born in 1950, followed by Tom, Kip, Becky, and Rob. They also kept dogs, springer spaniels, one at a time but all (except the last two, Barney and Tillie) named Kate. My grandfather thought the sharp-sounding name worked particularly well for training the dogs (“come, Kate”; “sit, Kate”; etc.), and he wanted them well-trained so they could work as retrievers on duck-hunting trips.

These hunting trips, as well as other canoeing, camping and fishing trips, formed the foundation of the Cleaver family, as well as a staple of Grandpa’s existence. My grandmother says that the morning my mother, Patty, was born, Grammy had to work hard to convince Grandpa not to go out on a planned fishing excursion with a friend. The friend showed up at the front door, and Grandpa reluctantly sent him away to attend to the birth of this first child.

The Cleaver clan grew up paddling, camping, fishing, and hunting. My mother likes to reminisce about five-am stops at donut shops on the way to the duck marshes in Delaware. My grandmother led girl scouts up and down mountains in all sorts of weather and taught them to paddle, fish, and perform first aid. Any time the family traveled overnight, they brought a tent and camped in the closest gravel pit they could find. And canoe trips abounded: summer vacations to Maine centered around time on the water. I think the hardest I ever saw my grandfather laugh was during an episode telling one of his favorite stories, about eating breakfast with the family on a canoe trip on the Allagash River in Maine during bug season. Looking down at her oatmeal, Becky, ten or so at the time, exclaimed excitedly, “mine has raisins in it!”. Grandpa knew there were no raisins in the oatmeal; Becky’s raisins were dozens of black flies and mosquitoes.

The 1960s and 1970s were a tremendously busy time for Grandpa and his family. During the 1950s, Grandpa and Grammy had started a church in a shoe store in Wilmington with a few other couples, dissatisfied with their experiences in other churches (this religious dissatisfaction would be a theme in Grandpa’s life; as the family worked together to write Grandpa’s obituary in the summer of 2010, my uncle Tom joked that we ought to include the following line: “Over the course of his lifetime, Chuck was a member of most of the churches in town.” This description would be surprisingly close to accurate.). Over the years, the church grew and grew, and eventually relocated from the shoe store to a new building with, in my grandmother’s words, “a fancy new rec hall.” In 1963, during the March on Washington, protesters en route to Washington, D.C. asked if they could stay in the church overnight. The directors of the church refused, out of concern that the protesters might harm the new building. Grandpa and Grammy left the church, disgusted, after this incident, attending instead a church in inner-city Wilmington. Their engagement with this church community led Grandpa into a tutoring relationship with a young woman in the congregation who wanted to be a nurse; Grandpa went into the city to tutor the young woman during race riots when his coworkers though he was crazy. I think this is particularly important context for the fishing journals because it helps us avoid the assessment that fishing provided Grandpa with an outlet from a world he did not otherwise find interesting or engaging; to the contrary, I think the journals represent an outlet for an interest and engagement with the world that was nearly all-encompassing.

This interest took on new geographic scope for Grandpa when, during this busy time, he started reading the journals of men who had explored the North American arctic in search of the northwest passage—Samuel Hearne, John Franklin, Robert Peary and others. In the late 1970s, he began saving money to retrace some of these explorers’ routes by canoe. The next two decades saw him exploring the Back River, the Kazaan River, the Coppermine River, and others in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and remote parts of northern New England, and nearly starving on a trip gone awry on the George River in Quebec.

Science was always interesting, but the woods continued to call. Grandpa worked at DuPont until 1981, when he retired. He and Grammy moved to Skowhegan, Maine, and a small red house on Norridgewock Avenue. Grammy, who had grown up just upstream of Skowhegan on the Sandy River (which flows into the Kennebec), in Strong, Maine, and Grandpa returned to an enormously changed Maine, especially as river usage was concerned. Though the piers in the river (small artificial islands on which men used to stand to direct the traffic of lumber that was floated downriver) from the logging days still exist a few hundred meters from Grammy and Grandpa’s house, a nimble person can no longer walk across the river on floating logs, and though most of the mill buildings still stand, they no longer dump toxins into the river. The fact that Grandpa fished in the Kennebec for the entirety of his retirement—although he did not frequently eat the fish he caught in it—represents a tremendous departure from the fishing of his adolescence; it is a testament to the river restoration movement in New England.

This restoration movement was very near and dear to Grandpa’s heart. He nearly included the Nature Conservancy as a “sixth child” in his will and testament, before deciding that the sentimental value of calling the Conservancy a child did not outweigh the legal complications of doing so. His work on the Skowhegan Conservation Commission was—other than the time he spent fishing—some of the time in his retirement he considered most valuable. Interestingly, in the late 1990s a placard was erected on a stone about a half-mile from his house in Skowhegan (near a favorite spot of his which I can describe no further because of Grandpa’s disclosure code) in honor of the work of the Skowhegan Conservation Commission, and his name was included on the plaque. But Grandpa hated placards of this sort almost as much as he hated Yale, and he urinated on the plaque on the way home from a family cross-country skiing excursion.

On November 19th, 2011, several dozen individuals bundled up and gathered along the shores of the Kennebec a mile or so below the Skowhegan dam for another dedication. The Somerset Woods Trustees had decided that this site, a boat landing with an expansive view looking downstream along a flatwater section of the Kennebec, should be dedicated to Chuck and Dot Cleaver for their lifelong love affair with this river and their long-term dedication to conservation in Maine. A glacial dropstone from the shore (which I identified in collaboration with my father as a porphyritic monzonite, similar to a granite) was engraved as a marker. Friends and family gathered for a small ceremony, and I had the chance to put faces to many of the names that had appeared in the fishing journals—Paul Johnson, for example—and to meet descendents of others. The fishing journals contain a sort of solitude—the seclusion of the scholar, even as he consults with others about his questions—but the dedication ceremony and the correspondence that followed it showed me that Grandpa’s engagement with the local watershed also involved another type of watershed: that of community.

 

My grandmother, Dot Cleaver, at the Cleaver Landing marker.

 

One of Grandpa’s last major fishing experiences occurred in the fall of 2009. At the sweet old age of eighty-eight, and with fewer than six weeks of recovery from an invasive heart surgery under his belt, Grandpa piled into his pickup truck with his long-time fishing partner, Grammy, and my mother Patty, and drove several hours for a three-day trip to the favorite salmon-fishing river described above in such effusive terms (“…the best fall land-locked salmon fishing trip in the world—great natural beauty, naturally bred fish, minimal intrusions of man (no roads, camps, etc.)—plus the charms of canoe fishing, clean flowing water, tenting and wildlife—all combine to make it my favorite fishing experience in Maine”). The fishermen slept in Grandpa’s canvas “Triple T” tent by night and fished by day, meeting up with a few other friends who prided themselves on their fishing abilities. The old fisherman out-fished them all. The description of the trip is the penultimate entry in the journal, and so peppered with flies and locations that I cannot include it here. Grandpa makes no mention of having out-fished the rest of the crew.

 

The second page in the Patterns book yields a list of “Great Friends (Past)”, many of whose names have been encircled by scalloped ovals in ink of a different color from the names themselves. Over the course of my childhood, I heard these names often enough for most of them to engrave themselves in my mind, though I now remember stories about only a few. This commemorative page in particular holds my attention. Watching someone I deeply miss make his own way through grief and absence offers a strange sort of solace and a hint at how to keep lost loved ones alive inside of me.

Despite this source of solace, in my work with the fishing journals I have mostly stayed away from that final, thin binder marked “ ’07–     .” Even as I find it impressive and deeply moving to read of an eighty-nine-year old’s adventures camping and fishing in those same old places and even some new ones, it is simply hard to see the documentation of this dear life trail off and the handwriting disintegrate, to read my grandfather’s understated explanations for less frequent fishing and writing: “much rain in early summer + much doctoring”; “cancer” circled in the same scalloped way as the friends’ names in the patterns book. My work with the journals has been a study in lessons, heritage, and life gained. Of course, it also touches on loss. The fishing journals’ last entry dates 9/26/09 and lists “Patty + CSC” as participants on a favorite river, with a tone that mixes close observation and wonder: “O fish, but saw hundreds of jumping —- reflecting sun brightly in low sunlight of afternoon. They were floating down the river in large groups of several hundred, but we saw no evidence of feeding —–.” Grandpa died a kind and happy man on July 28, 2010, after a battle with cancer. In his final days, as his mind was less and less present, we watched his hand flick forward and back, and realized he was (is?) still fishing.

Blank pages at the end of the Patterns book, the unfinished date label on the last binder, and a proliferation of unanswered pescetary questions help me understand that Grandpa’s engagement with the questions of this world, as much as his heavenly fishing activities, continues on through the individuals he influenced so intensely. I hope that this collection of writings from within Grandpa’s journals will help the continuation of the flow of Grandpa’s ideas.

 


[1] Deidre Fleming, “Love at first bite… and happily ever after—The Cleavers of Skowhegan have been husband and wife—and fishing partners—for over 50 years”, Maine Sunday Telegram, Sunday, September 1, 2002.

[2] Donald Hall, “The Third Thing”, Poetry Magazine Online, November 2004, <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/article/146874>.

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A confluence of genres

My grandfather’s fishing journals represent not a single genre, but a confluence of several. The intersection of these genres, in turn, tells me more about the journals than any individual genre could. First, there is a way in which the journals seem to function as a form of laboratory notebook. My grandfather was an experimental chemist; he learned early on to maintain fastidious records of his experiments and perfected this skill as his work matured. The “patterns” book contains page after page of hand-drawn summary tables, figures and map, commonly followed by lists of conclusions, as though to record successive iterations of experimentation. For example, preceding six double-sided pages of tabulation of fishing data from the early 1990’s is a nine-bullet list:

Conclusions from Next few pages

  1. ’95 was an exceptional year—lots of larger fish—catchable all season.
  2. Difficult to make case for [hypothesis about fishing patterns here, invoking yearly trends]
  3. Stopped fishing in 92 and 93 too early in season. Normally [Month] and [Month] very good.
  4. Many larger fish have been caught in or near ——- River ([hypothesis about why this is the case])

[and so on.]

The journal’s strategy of moving from data tabulation to conclusions, reminiscent of the structure of a laboratory notebook, reveals an important characteristic of the mode of thought at work behind the fishing journals. It points to the methodical, perhaps even obsessive quality in Grandpa’s relationship with his rivers and streams. It suggests that, perhaps, this fishing business represented (at least in part) a grand experiment for him, a chance to learn something substantial and scientific over the course of many years.

Second, the journals bear a striking resemblance to the “commonplace books” of mid-nineteenth century natural thinkers like Emerson and, most closely, Professor Edward Hitchcock of Amherst College. The commonplace book had its heyday in the Renaissance, but was a common practice through the nineteenth century. An influential paper on the commonplace book describes its purpose as follows: “…the world was full of signs: you could read your way through it; and by keeping an account of your readings, you made a book of your own, one stamped with your personality.” The books were essentially themed scrapbooks and quotation books. Thoreau, Emerson, and Hitchcock all learned to keep commonplace books during their days in college. A trip to the Amherst College Library’s Archives and Special Collections allowed me to garner a suite of similarities between the two forms, and interestingly, between the types of content contained in the fishing journals and in Edward Hitchcock’s commonplace books. Hitchcock’s books shed particular light upon Grandpa’s fishing journals.

Hitchcock’s commonplace books and Grandpa’s fishing journals both show the work of active minds that take no topics prisoner, hopping from subject to subject but considering each with great intensity and finding linkages between them. Hitchcock’s 1812 commonplace book juxtaposes an essay entitled “No. 5: On the present state of liberty”, with hundreds of pages of “No. 6: Astronomical observations on the comet of 1811/12. On the variation of the magnetic needle; and for setting the latitude and longitude of Deerfield.” Similarly, Grandpa’s journals mix tabulations of smallmouth bass data with speculations on the existence of God. Where the fishing journals include carefully hand-drawn maps of fishing hole locations, Hitchcock pasted into the 1812 commonplace book charts explaining solar eclipses and showing the orbit of the earth. Even some of the epigraphs to Hitchcock’s 1813 commonplace book seem to agree with Grandpa’s fishing journal’s themes: “Science is the physic of the soul”; “like the stagnant pool is the man whose soul is dark.”

I think most of the differences in genre between Hitchcock’s 1812 and 1813 commonplace books and Grandpa’s fishing journals come as a result of their difference in binding (interestingly, then, perhaps binding has a sort of binding effect on genre; genre is partially physical). Where Grandpa could insert pages and thus have July 4, 1994 follow July 4, 1993 follow July 4, 1992, and so on, Hitchcock worked within the constraints of a book whose pages he could not rearrange. Hitchcock does insert a few scrap pages into the commonplace books, and Grandpa numbers some pages to keep his journal from succumbing to chaos. But the effect of loose-leaf binding on Grandpa’s fishing journals is to allow a more ordered sense of synthesis around particular themes than Hitchcock seems to have achieved in the commonplace books. The fishing journals include disparate passages (deer hunting and religion, for example), but the possibility of rearranging pages allows the fishing journals to avoid many of the stark juxtapositions of Hitchcock–instructions on how to use a sextant against an essay entitled “On the present state of liberty”, for example.

Third, the journal resembles a sort of educative nature writing, not unlike some of Thoreau’s writings. Reading Thoreau’s journals reminded me distinctly of the fishing journals: both have foundational links to place and minute natural observation. And both distill the accumulation of vast and detailed natural observation into larger reflections on nature and the place of man in nature. Here is one such distillation, a poem entitled “Primer Coat” from the back of Grandpa’s green ’82-’91 log:

Primer Coat

Part-way up Little Spencer

A giant boulder halts me,

Tousled ferns across its head,

Lichens peeling on its face.

A small-sized earth—

Thin film of life

Nourished by

Thin film of dead.

The image of the boulder and its resemblance to the earth, as well as the annotation reading “in so many ways—culture as well as physically (carbon cycle, photosyn, etc)”, show the way that the philosophizing that occurs in Grandpa’s fishing journals, as in Thoreau, finds its root in nature.

It is tempting to think of the fishing journals as a mosaic comprised by shards of the laboratory notebook, the Commonplace Book, and the genre of nature writing. But to do so would neglect a key element in the manuscript: the way these genres flow together. A lengthy passage in the Patterns book illustrates this confluence of types:

In —-, this stretch of river may be the best fall land-locked salmon fishing trip in the world—great natural beauty, naturally bred fish, minimal intrusions of man (no roads, camps, etc.)—plus the charms of canoe fishing, clean flowing water, tenting and wildlife—all combine to make it my favorite fishing experience in Maine. It’s not much changed from Thoreau’s trips in the 1850s.

The fish and their habits and mysteries are the ultimate charm. How they act, where they are, their vibrant obvious wildness, their great beauty make fly-fishing for them on this river the truth of the poem—

“Each cast a gentle quest for nature undefiled

The Call, a fly,

A strike, reply,

Pulsing fish, the heartbeat felt of God.”

So the following paragraphs are aimed at helping readers achieve this ultimate high—the brief glimpse and feel as of and proof of undefiled nature—“the heartbeat.”

First, a few notes of my own to provide context: the poem Grandpa quotes in this passage is one he wrote several years prior to this passage on salmon-fishing (which dates to October 23, 1991). The strategy of quoting from his previous writings occurs frequently in the journals. It highlights the iterative, cyclical quality of Grandpa’s thinking about the topic of fishing and the larger topic of nature, not unlike the methodical quality evoked by the resemblance to a laboratory notebook. Additionally, Grandpa was a great reader of Thoreau, and he especially cherished his copy of The Main Woods. He frequently professed that no one should enter certain parts of Maine’s wilderness unversed in Thoreau. The influence of Thoreau’s nature writing on the journals, then, is made explicit in this passage; here is a place where the journals give a hint about their lineage.

This passage first helped me shed light on an aspect of the fishing journals’ purpose: the journals represent, in part, an attempt to get close to the “ultimate high” of communion with the natural world. The language of “proof” pulls the notebooks back toward science; the word “undefiled” pulls them toward a transcendentalist strain of religion. I think that in the journal, these two genres of awe support one another.

The paragraphs directly following the preceding quote provide further, even more moving illumination of the intersection of genres in the fishing journals:

But because real experiments can’t be run, these paragraphs are happily only happy personal experience, and The fish in their wonderful wildness and perversity give the fishermen the ultimate high in their way and at their time—and that gift is from fish-to-fisherman. These paragraphs only seek to place the fisherman in a position where the gift might be given. The surroundings will place the reader in a mood where the gift will be understood and appreciated.

** Salmon are special. It’s partly because they like clean, running water—preferably generally in natural surroundings. It’s partly because they’ll hit flies. But for me, it’s mostly because they usually often hit with an all-out pop—and then mostly because they are completely irrational on hooking. They jump out of their element—they jump in the boat—they jump onto land—they go upstream—they don’t care what they do—they save nothing for the future—they squander their energy in an unmeasured response.

They go wild—they are wild.

[Dictionary definition of wildness]

And something in me (mankind?) cheers this, respects this, needs this—at least on a fly-rod.

The idea (albeit crossed-out) that in the realm of fishing, at least this experiential side of it, “real experiments can’t be run” is striking[1] here, given the similarity between the fishing journals and the genre of the laboratory notebook. The idea that this non-experimental side of fishing deserves the descriptors “happy” and “happily” amplifies the significance of this phrase. This first part of the passage suggests to me that the endless tabulation, the grand experiment presented in the fishing journals, was only the means to exploring the more important, non-experimental side of fishing: communion with the natural world. By knowing where to fish, and when, and with what lure, Grandpa could put himself in a likely position to receive the gift he found in playing a fish, and by recording this knowledge, he could show future generations of Cleaver fishermen—or future generations of “mankind”, perhaps—how to occupy this same lucky position (This is not, of course, to undervalue the pleasures of tabulating those hundreds of pages of data for the grand experiment.).

Grandpa’s avowal that the fishing journals’ descriptions and summaries intend to place this future fisherman “in a position where the gift might be given” resembles the way some poets talk about their muses—the muse may or may not arrive, but the writer can hope to receive a visit only if he or she is engaged in the act of writing. This points to a way in which fishing, for Grandpa, resembled a sort of poetry. Both fishing and poetry, at its best, give him a way to communicate with a higher being (“A strike– reply”; punctuation from the poem’s later version), a way to feel the divine “heartbeat.”

[1] yuk yuk yuk

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Sorry Scholars!

I must apologize to any scholars who may be interested in commenting on my research on Ethel Parton. I would love to hear what you have to say, but unfortunately it’s become impossible to weed out the genuine comments from the faux! I am getting 30-60 spam comments a day now, and have decided to disable that feature.

Sorry!!!

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Jack Warner Sells Sheridan Gibney Down the River

Jack Warner did a bad thing.

In 1947, Warner was head of production for Warner Bros. Production. Testifying in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Warner was asked to name names. He did so with relish:

Here are the names of people who in my opinion wrote for the screen and tried to inject these ideas…Whether or not they are Communists I don’t know, but some of them are, according to what I have read and heard.

At the end of the list was the name of Sheridan Gibney. Gibney was no communist, and Jack Warner would later retract his accusation, explaining that he was “carried away” at the time. The damage, however, was already done. The American Legion picked up the accusations and Gibney’s career as a screenwriter in Hollywood quickly collapsed.

 

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Gibney: Screenwriter and Tennis Player?

Before Gibney became a screenwriter, or even matriculated into college, he was a tennis champion–or almost was. At the age of fifteen, Gibney battled his way to the finals of the metropolitan tennis championship, facing off against a Stephen Schlessinger for the trophy. According to the New York Times, Gibney “gave a demonstration of such tennis as would hardly be expected in a boy’s tournament.” Despite this, Gibney lost, dropping the final two sets.

Gibney, however, might have had the last laugh. Mr. Schlessinger, do you have two Oscars sitting on your shelf?

An Introduction to A Treasure Hunt in Japan

Due to a general interest in Japan, I used it as one of my keywords in searching through the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections. After scrolling past dozens of theses in which Japan plays a role, I came to a group of mixed material collections and one individual manuscript: A Treasure Hunt in Japan. So that’s what first attracted me to this manuscript. Just a place. What kept me interested were the genre, the writer, the voice, and the circumstances. A Treasure Hunt in Japan is the title Lilla Perry gave to her 1936 journal of her trip to Japan. I wanted to look at a journal or diary in order to feel a sense of history and real emotion, and the voice of Lilla Perry provides both of those. She writes her journal somewhat like a novel; she depicts important events and adds some emotional description concerning them. There are characters, anecdotes, and a playful style of writing that goes beyond the average reckoning of the days happenings.

It is the circumstances of the trip to Japan, though that really attracted me to this manuscript. Lilla had no business to attend to there. It was simply a pleasure trip undertaken for her love of Japanese art. A pleasure trip is not so unusual, but Lilla took the trip by herself, leaving a household with at least two semi-grown children still living there, and I get the impression that she was not very wealthy – she mentions teaching music up until the day of departure and using less expensive means of travel in order to have spending money for art while on her trip. The mode of travel she chose – freighter – also adds a lot of interest. The beginning of the journal is concerned largely with that rather archaic form of travel: the social sea voyage. Much of the interest of the beginning of the journal is created by her relationships with and observations of the crew and the few other passengers. These details were most responsible for my interest in this manuscript because I imagine that they shaped her experiences in striking and fascinating ways.

Many of the physical details of the manuscript add interest as well, especially those details that leave unanswered questions. The first physical aspect that I noticed, and is important to note, about A Treasure Hunt in Japan is that it is a typescript journal. It is typewritten in slightly faded black ink on light tan colored paper, a bit thicker than today’s standard print paper, but of approximately the same texture and dimensions. The very edges of the paper are darkened with age and each piece of paper has two punched holes for binding, though they are not actually bound together. The stack of pages curves on the left side from being stored upright.

It’s hard to say how thick the stack is or how many pages it has in it, though the pages are numbered at the top. Most of the pages have a typed number, starting from 1, centered at the top of the paper, but so close to the edge that the number isn’t even on the page completely on some of them. This numbering continues until page 21, but the next page is labeled with the number 1755, and the numbers continue up from there. However, on many of the pages there is a smaller number scribbled out or possibly whited out on some. The change in numbering is one of the minor mysteries of this manuscript’s physical entity. Lilla explains it, in part, in the journal. She says that she excluded a few dozen pages from her original longhand journal because they have to do with private letters that belonged to a friend. This does not explain the jump of over 1,700 numbers in the pagination though.

There are other interesting changes that also occur from the same page. From the beginning of the journal, there were typed corrections, as well as some written in pencil and black ink. This includes some underlining, such as the name of the ship Lilla was on—the Dagfred—adding accents to French words, and plenty of crossing things out. On page 21, there is a paragraph at the bottom of the page crossed out in pencil, with “See next page” written above it. That next page, 1755, starts with the paragraph that had been crossed out, but it has blue ink writing at the top, which is also crossed out, and the hand written corrections are now in blue ink. More noticeable than this, though, is that the font of the type is different. I assume this means Lilla changed to a different typewriter, which brought me to an interesting point. Lilla is still traveling on a freighter at this point; would she have access to a typewriter (never mind two) on the boat? It suggested to me the possibility that she wrote her journal by hand originally and then typed it later, which opens up whole new questions of audience and editing. Several points in the journal confirmed this suspicion. Once I read more closely into the actual text of the journal, I found that there is a parenthetical comment on page 21, the last of the pages with smaller numbering and original font, which begins “Here I omit 37 pages from my first long-hand account of this trip to Japan,” referring to the pages about her friend’s letters. The fact that such questions of editing and audience as this comment raises are also raised by the physical manuscript speaks to the power of the manuscript as an object.

Lilla’s normal entries are neatly formatted into double-spaced paragraphs, and each entry is headed by the date, written in a consistent format (ex. July 20th, 1936. Monday). There are some special sections that she writes single-spaced, such as notes on the Japanese history book she read while on the ship—Griffis’s Japan in History (I think it is notable, though not quite relevant to anything else I’ve written here, that Lilla displays a very solid knowledge of Japanese history and classical literature throughout the journal). The pages are generally filled with writing, but some pages are left blank until half way down. The most notable example of this is the very first page, on which is typed the title “MY SUMMER IN JAPAN”. Black ink is used to cross out “MY SUMMER”, write “A Treasure Hunt” above it, and add “, 1936” to the end of the title. Such editorial details also point toward questions of audience and toward the retrospective aspect of retyping the journal. I imagine that once she looked at what she had written as a whole, she saw more of a theme than just vacation. Her search for woodblock prints and other particular types of Japanese art really does come across as a treasure hunt through art stores, tourist attractions, thrift shops, and collectors’ homes.

Other pages with spaces left free of writing appear toward the end of the stack, which can take us away from the minutiae of ink color and font type. These gaps are filled with pictures and other paper pieces pasted onto the pages. There is a variety of sepia toned and black and white photos and what seem to be postcards or other officially issued and captioned picture materials, including pictures of Buddhist statues, of Lilla feeding the wild deer in Nara, and from various schools affiliated with Doshisha University (founded by Amherst’s first Japanese graduate). The scraps pasted in include a “handbill scattered by the Geisha”, a “Guide to Mt. Hiei”, and some newspaper clippings. Some of these scraps have left noticeable impressions – rectangles the size of the scraps and the same aged color as the very edges of the paper – on the back side of the pages opposite them.  There are some pages that are filled entirely with pictures and scraps, sans typewriting. These pages have their numbers written at the top in blue ink, and some have handwritten captions underneath, but there are also pictures with typewritten captions.

Also toward the back of the stack are letters that Lilla seems to have received while on her way to Japan. The relationship between these and the journal is rather ambiguous. It is unclear whether Lilla inserted them as part of the completed journal or they were received with the diary and are just stored in the same folder. They are attached to paper consistent with the rest of the journal but are not inserted or ordered in any significant or organized way like the rest of the non-typed material (photos and scraps).

Lilla’s outgoing letters are also incorporated. As part of the structure of the journal itself Lilla included letters she wrote during her time in Japan. This is one of a few structural anomalies that appear in the journal, though, due to the way the journal is formatted, with the date and location (once in Japan) written at the top right, it is hard at first glance to distinguish Lilla’s letters from the journal entries. It turns out that they are, basically, just journal entries. After leaving Kyoto, she wrote her entries as letters to send to her Kyoto host and new friend, Miss Denton, to keep her up to date about the rest of the trip. Another structure that is a bit different from her normal entries is a sort of story or anecdote. There are a few sections that are headed by a centered, underlined title rather than a date. The first of these that I noticed comes directly after an entry in which the subject matter of the story section is mentioned briefly (“We rode back to the ship in the water taxi”, “AT THE WATER TAXI WHARF IN YOKOHAMA”). This implied, to me, that the story structure elaborates on things mentioned in the journal entries, possibly in a different style or possibly added later, upon typing the journal. Upon further reading, I discovered that these sections were ones written while still “out on the town,” for lack of a better term. Most entries were written back on the Dagrfred or in whatever other sleeping accommodations she had at the time. “AT THE WATER TAXI WHARF IN YOKOHAMA,” for example, was is a section about her second day in Yokohama, written while waiting for the water taxi back to the Dagfred because she knew she would be too tired to write once she was back on the ship. My ability to pick out these separate sections without a thorough reading shows how consistent Lilla was in her formatting. The overall sense I get from the physical aspects of this manuscript is that Lilla was attempting to prepare it for publication, or at least viewing by other people, an important aspect to keep in mind while working with A Treasure Hunt in Japan.

Great Folk as Little Folk – updated!

*Thanks to Sarah Jensen, this list has now been updated with corrections.*

I decided to type out the list of names Ethel Parton recorded on a yellow notepad for her story idea “Great Folk as Little Folk”.

It appears that the names written up to number 44 were all jotted down in the same sitting, the rest vary in color and thickness of ink, font-size, and varying sloppiness.

This is a first-draft transcription of the list—I initially tried to work my way through the typed list and double-check all the names and correct all the typos until I realized I really don’t have time for this right now, but rest assured I will update the list as soon as I possibly can. If you catch any obvious mis-transcription, please let me know!

A quick note about the various symbols: X’s were written next to a few names by Ethel Parton, I’m not really sure why yet—I haven’t seen those names elsewhere in her manuscripts, though I have found a few drafts of short “Great Folk as Little Folk” stories that cover names from this list. (?)’s are placed next to words that I wasn’t sure I transcribed correctly. A few ?s are Ethel’s, and I indicate where these are so.

Here you go!

Historic Children

  1. Napolean
  2. Queen Elizabeth
  3. Eliz. di(?) of Charles I
  4. Edward V
  5. Son of Queen Anne
  6. Mary Queen of Scots
  7. Joan of Arc : Jeannette of Dowréruy(?)
  8. Lady Morgan : The Used Irish Girl
  9. Louis XIII
  10. Madame Elizabeth (Toufle)(?)
  11. Mme Le Bruris(?) daughter            X
  12. Prince Imfenil (?)
  13. Empress Eugénie
  14. Q. Victoria
  15. Nieudelssolin(?)
  16. Mozart
  17. Frederick the Great
  18. Peter
  19. Wargrauin of Bameuth (?)
  20. Betty Sewall            X
  21. Nancy Winslow            X
  22. Lady Gizel Baillie
  23. Mary Someiaille (?)
  24. Wluther (?)
  25. Celia Thaxter
  26. Li Aiglon (?)
  27. Charles Dickens
  28. George Eliot
  29. John Keats
  30. Ellen Terry
  31. Sir James Barrie (?)<–her question
  32. R. L. S [Robert Louis Stevenson]
  33. Lanseer [,Edwin Henry]
  34. R. Boulieur
  35. Chester Harding
  36. Herring (?.. Fauker(?))
  37. Q. Isabelle of E. & her dolls
  38. Marjorie Fleming            X
  39. Walter Scott
  40. Henry of Navarre
  41. Josuph(?) Jefferson
  42. H. M. Stanley
  43. Jeanne Q’Albert.
  44. Lordy Byron (might join B. Z Keats for confront?)
  45. William Wordsworth–”The Boy of Winander”
  46. The Black Prince
  47. Jean Jacques Rousseau
  48. St. Auguistine
  49. Victor Hugo’s Grandchildren
  50. Victor Hugo
  51. Dolly Madison
  52. Charlotte Cushman
  53. The Wesley Brothers
  54. Macaulay
  55. Princess Amelia (see F. Burney)
  56. Admiral Farragut
  57. Muriel Calder, heiress
  58. Desirée of Sweden: Napolean’s Little Sweetheart
  59. Duke of Gloucester
  60. WIlliam de Morgan children
  61. Burka & His Son            X
  62. Sheridan & Tom            X
  63. Susan B Anthony
  64. Harriet Beecher Stowe
  65. Benjamin Franklin
  66. Hans Andersen
  67. Bertel Thorvaldsen
  68. Reine Margot ?<–hers
  69. Marie ANotinette
  70. St Gaudens??<–hers [Augustus Saint Gaudens]
  71. Louis XV
  72. The Daughter of LXV – Rag. Tag. etc.
  73. Fanny Burney
(74 and 75 were left blank)

 

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