Saturday, December 17, 2011

"shaky basis of U.S. representation"

from: Alternative Paths: Soviets and Americans, 1917-1920David W. McFadden, Oxford University Press, Mar 25, 1993
Before Chicherin advised Radek further regarding his strategy vis-à-vis the Allies, another issue complicated the situation. Not only had British troops at Murmansk begun to advance toward the interior, in violation of understandings given by Lockhart to Chicherin regarding the purpose of that landing, but the British, French, and American representatives in Murmansk had signed a treaty of defense with the Murmansk Regional Soviet. This soviet had defiantly broken with the Bolsheviks after Trotsky had at first given his permission for them to seek Allied assistance against the Germans and then rescinded it. The treaty—signed July 6 by Rear Admiral Thomas Kemp, British commanding officer of Allied troops at Murmansk; French Captain Petit; and the Reverend Jesse Halsey, United States YMCA representative in Murmansk—assured Alexei Yuryev, the chairman of the Murmansk Regional Soviet, of Allied support against both the Germans and Bolsheviks. Despite the unorthodox nature of its negotiation and the rather shaky basis of U.S. representation in its signing, it was officially approved by the U.S. government in October 1918, and served as the legal basis for American intervention in the Murmansk region.

Chicherin sent a protest against the United States treaty with Murmansk to Poole on July 13, and immediately made it public. Even in this note, he still insisted that the Bolsheviks put a high value on the “friendly attitude” of the United States and hoped “that the friendly American government will not continue to follow the road of violating the territorial integrity and elementary rights of the Soviet Russian Republic.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Misc. Notes

Those who tread this last physical, those who tread its last 1,000 feet tread the physical limits of the world. Smyth imagined that a Shape climbed with him, and that “if it slipped he would hold me.” Sir E. Shackleton and his 2 companions climbing the inhospitable mts of S Georgia after the terrible voyage in an open boat from Elephant Island, [thought] that a fourth walked with them All three men were persuaded that an unseen presence was guarding them.


Christian men who hold industrial and political power in their hands would be far more amenable to the persuasive pressure of the socially-minded Christian church than any of us dream. Their conservatism, is in the main, honest.

Reverend Jesse Halsey

Moses, my servant, is dead . . . thou therefore arise.

George Washington is one of the few men in history who gained the approval and praise of his contemporaries. He lived to see some of the fruit of his labors. During his service his detractors were many, in the army and without, but his persistence and perseverance in the end won him the acclaim of most of his fellow citizens and of the best judgment in other nations.

It is a common thing for humanity in time of crisis to express its approbation of greatness by calling the great to come back. During the way, the British sailors had a myth that Nelson was seen at Jutland. Francis Drake, of Armada fame, comes back, according to legend, in every crisis of England’s need. Vachel Lindsay has Lincoln as our contemporary during our Great War, walking the streets of Springfield. “Milton thou shoulds’t believing now, England hath need of thee.” Once and again humanity calls back its great heroes, but they never come, except in spirit; and it does happen that sometimes the spirit of Elijah doth rest up Elisha.

--Reverend Jesse Halsey

Brevity without haste. Simplicity without coldness.

Note on the publication of A Living Hope: Suggestions for Funeral Services 
(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1932)
Jesse Halsey

Brevity without haste. Simplicity without coldness.

A decided trend in non-liturgical circles [is] to make the funeral service more simple and more stately, and in liturgical circles to add warmth.

The purpose of this book is to furnish material suitable for all occasions and in line with the present tendency. The funeral sermon or address is disappearing; some bit of appropriate prose from a worthy source, or some lovely poem may well take its place. A short but telling reference to the life and character of the departed is appreciated, whereas a long extempore eulogy is often out of place and offensive.

It is hoped that the brotherhood will e led by this beginning to send to publisher or compiler material that has proved helpful to be included in future editions if this prove useful.

The form is loose leaf, so that arrangement of the selected material can be made in the cover, for us on individual occasions.

Three of the services as used by the editor are available in print and may be given to the bereaved family with such additions as the minister may make.

She knoweth that her hour is come

B. Andrews told me that one of the revealing moments of God was when he laid his hand on his wife’s abdomen and felt the first stirring of new life before the advent of their first baby.

I knew I was grown up and must take the places of the Fathers when Heckie, of all souls, the most cheerful and courageous through the years, looked to me for comfort in her last days. When I repeated Samuel Rutherford, “deep waters crossed life’s pathway,” etc., she said something that was like the accolade of knighthood after a long vigil; I knew I had been initiated.
--Reverend Jesse Halsey

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


By Jesse Halsey c1937
2726 Cleinview Ave.,
Cincinnati, Ohio, 24385
[rejected by The Reader’s Digest, Pleasantville, N.Y.]

We had come up through the hills along the twisting roads, brushing the wisps of fog that half hid the mountains and blanketed the lakes. It was early and we were looking for breakfast—and other things to follow. An old man who was trudging along the road leaning heavily on a light pole, such as the Bible would call a staff, stepped aside to let us pass. I stopped the car to ask the way to Plymouth.

“Top of the hill, turn right fer the cemetery, the village’s t’th’ left”—direct Yankee fashion.

No, he would not ride.

“Good day t’yer”—like that.

We drove to the cemetery. Wrong light for pictures. But the severity of the place, and the simplicity of those two stones in granite, made their impression. Films not needed.

Some unknown hand that very morning, beside the President’s stone, has laid a handful of goldenrod, rosemary, and yarrow. The Coolidge name is common in that cemetery. Seven generations lie there. Always a “John” or a “John Calvin.”

Breakfast was not ready, “yet.” So to the post-office store.

It is hardly a village, just a few houses and barns scattered about with a flagpole, a store and a church snuggling where the roads meet in a triangle.

A “tea-room,” in thrift and cleanliness, stands down the road. “Open at eight.”

While we waited for our griddle-cakes and maple syrup (made famous in the White House), we asked questions of the postmistress (a thousand times repeated, she said!) and looked in on the room where “he was born” and visited the house across the way where “he was sworn in, by a kerosene lamp,” and there bought some maple syrup, “in the very room,” and made, “on this very farm.”

Hurrying back, half-famished, toward the tea-room, we found our ancient guide, now sitting on a corner of the post-office stoop, titled back in a Windsor chair, balancing with the aid of his stick.

Breakfast over and light favorable, I began to take pictures. When I snapped the store, the old man turned his face away. The second time, before focusing, I asked him to turn around.

“No,” he said, “I don’t like it.” “Lots o’ times they been here taking pictures when the President was home, but I always went inside. Somehow, I just don’t like it.”

So I have my pictures of the place where Coolidge was born, there in the back room of his father’s store, and of his father’s house across the street, (which later became his own), but I have no picture which shows the face of that old man on the post-office steps.

He was, however, glad enough to talk, when later, I asked him some questions—and he found out that I wasn’t a reporter.

His name was Brown, he said.

“Knew the President?”

“Well, he’d oughter! Had talked with him many times while they waited with the neighbors on the steops for the mail.”

Neighbor Brown, Miss Cilley, and the keeper of the tea house tell you interesting things, but you glean no gossip; there is none to glean. Their memories of their famous neighbor are wholesome; they have a genuine respect and affection. You feel you are back in the presence of some of the simplicities and realities that helped make the nation. More generous, the setting (and these characters) might be. Care and prudence are in evidence, but not parsimony.

At the time of the Civil War the township had fifteen hundred population and now it is less than four. But the contemporary Plymouth did its bit, and under the great elm stands a granite stone to a dozen World War veterans.

I asked about the old homestead across the way. He told of the new addition, never used, with its fireplace and extra bath—“so they could have company”—the furniture and gifts from Washington, never unpacked. A small house in trim New England weather-boarding with clean white paint, one building attached to another, the house, the sheds, the barn, strung together, all white and glistening in the early morning light, but with some kind of green composition roof. I listened while looking. Somehow, that roof was not properly acclimated.

Brown told about the man—“the President,” their neighbor. He told me many things—they were all true to form, “a plain man, well respected.” And then, this, which I remember almost word for word, though the drawl and accent I can’t convey by my pen.

“I was settin’ there, right on the top step.” His long stick tapped the spot. “I was settin’ there waitin’ fer the mail one day when the President was home on his vacation. That was the year, likely, they put on that new roof you was askin’ about. I was settin’ here when he come across the street and sets down on that lower step, awhittlin’ on a stick he carried. Not sayin’ much, but whittlin’ slow and careful. Bym’bye the President he says to me, ‘Brown, that looks like a nickel’—pointin’ toward the road with his stick he was whittlin’. Then he gets up, goes down the step, bends over, and picks up somethin’ out of the dirt, and comes back. ‘By Jiminy, Brown, it is a nickel,’ he says, and puts it into his vest pocket.”

Luckily, I didn’t interrupt and he went on.

“A few days later I saw Mrs. Coolidge. She passed the time o’day with me, and I says to her, ‘Mrs. Coolidge, excuse me, ma’am, but what did the President do with that nickel he found in the road, t’other day?’”

“’Why, Mr. Brown, he’s put it to work,’ says she.”

We talked on. That roof still interested me. I had seen Sunday supplement pictures, some years back, of Mr. Coolidge cleaning up old shingles while his father’s house was being repaired. He had worn a curious kind of over-all-apron, and had his arms full of old shingles ready for the woodhouse.

In that country, in the heart of the wooded New England hills, it seemed a pity to put anything except wooden shingles, with their deep shadows, on that old house. But I is now resplendent (and “tight,” no doubt) in a coat of fire-resisting, green-colored composition asbestos—imitation slate. (I am not expert enough in such things to give the name of the brand.”

A leaky roof, it seemed, had “been the botheration of the Colonel” (the President’s father) who had long since sold his store and moved to the little house across the road. While he was looking round for a carpenter, so Mr. Brown said, and pricing wooden shingles, a salesman from a concern that manufactures asbestos ones appeared and offered to cover the house and barn and connecting sheds and woodhouse—all of them—with his superior product, free of all cost to the owner—“just for advertising.” After due investigation, the Colonel accepted the offer and told the agent to “go ahead.”

A few days later, along came another agent extolling the quality of another kind of composition shingles. He offered to cover the buildings—and to pay a premium of $5,000 for the privilege! “Good advertising, I suppose,” said Brown.

“And what did the Colonel do?” I asked.

“Do? Why he told that second feller there was ‘nothing doin’ . . . ‘the thing was settled’ . . . ‘a contract was a contract, whether it was signed or not’ . . . ‘He’d told the other man, that was the end of it.’”

“And that,” said Mr. Brown, tapping the top step with his staff and squinting up at me as the sun came into full view above the mountains, with the fog “all burned off,” “that’s the other side of yer nickel.”

The East Riding of Yorkshire

By Jesse Halsey, c1938

The East Riding of Yorkshire. Thus it was called in the early days. The name has changed but the savor of the old time lingers.

Farmhouses low and sturdy with gray weathered shingles punctuate the flat countryside. Shingles three feet long, rived from red cedar that grew in the swamps, worn thin now where they have defied the east-wind-driven storms of two hundred winters and the bristling heat of as many summers, but with butts still thick enough to cast healthy shadows in endless parallel windows where the long sweeping roofs on the north side slope almost to the ground.

“Regardless of the direction of the highway those houses were set by their builders always facing the south—and the sun and the sea. Farm houses like that, gray and weathered but trim and tight against the weather, were built, some on village streets and some at the hub of the surrounding acres.

Tiny windowpanes peek out, diamond, and square and oblong, most from the days when glass came from over the water and was priced in shillings and pence and is bubble-scarred and blue streaked and is enchantingly distorting as one peers out.

Lanes there are that wind as one did the cow-paths. Lanes with names like this: Job’s Land, Gin Lane, Loylsome Lane, Hither Lane, Further Land, Middle Lane. Some lead through the woods and some across the meadows but all come at long last—or short—to some water, great or small, fresh or salt—any one of a dozen bays or ponds, or the beach banks and the Ocean.

Squat and square brick chimneys anchor the houses to the ground. Within, these chimneys are fed by fireplaces, one in each and every room. Floorboards creak when you enter, boards half as wide as puncheon head. Low ceilings, paneled woodwork, musical H and L hinges on gently squeaking doors.

Leaning barns and wood sheds where eel-spears and clam rakes and harpoons prod the latest agricultural machinery. A discarded seine is sometimes seen, used now for a net for tennis or volley ball, but a swift reminder of days when corn was grown with fish for fertilizer—“two bunkers to a hill.”

By trim white Churches, surmounted by pointing spires, one comes upon ancestral burying rounds where rhymed epitaphs quarrel with life’s adventures to attempt to perpetuate the excellence of some village worthy—or mayhem his idiosyncrasies.

Names nostalgic attach to the villages, reminiscent of Old England—Southwold, Maidstone, Southampton. The music of the Indian words echoes in geographic designations –Quoque, Quioque, Ponquogue, Kumsebog, Shinnecock, Amagansett, Montauk, as the New Yorkers say. Or as the natives say, Montawk. (I am a native.)

Hamlets, two house or a dozen, a mile apart, or two, the names come back as you flash through, remembering the days when in the springless farm wagon it took half the day to take a grist to the mill. Littleworth, Good Ground, Scuttle Hole, and Hecox. Tuckahoe, Seabonac, North Ben, or Hog Neck. Towd and Cobb and Little Cobb, Flying Point, the Sea Poose, and Wickapoque. Then there was—and is—Scuttle Hole and Wainscott, Sag and Sag Harbor, Water Hill and North Sea and Canoe Place.

Captain’s Neck is there, and Cooper’s Neck, First Neck, and Halsey’s Neck is there, and Cooper’s Neck, First Neck, and the Great and Little Plains.

Windmills, a dozen or so, some in wreck, some in good repair, one, or maybe two, still grinding! And Whalebone Landing, Sandy Hollow, and Coopers Hill, The Twelve Acres or Reeves’ Orchard. In each of these my grandfather owned parcels of woodland. They furnished fuel aplenty for his many fire-placed house. He had inherited the woodland from his father, and he from his, for seven generations since the settlement date. I own it now. It is worth little, that land, but it has furnished fuel for Halsey households for nigh on to three hundred years, one generation after another—ten of them now. A cutting of new growth, is ready, say, once each thirty years.

Some of the wood from those parental acres I heap upon the fire tonight—steady burning hickory with a back of fragrant cedar—and in its glow of memory many things come back some out of the dim past. For I have lived a long time. Sometimes I think it must be close on to two centuries. What I mean is this—in fifty years, and odd, I’ve seen in the village where I was born the change from colonial simplicity in belief, in practice, and in custom to the usages of modern mechanized today.

I can remember for example when one family in our community kept Sabbath from Saturday sundown to Sunday evening, when everyone kept Sabbath in some strict form, when many people had candle moulds and some used them. When the few cottagers were called Yorkers. When most families raised and cured their own pork and canned their own fruit and dried their own vegetables. When potatoes and turnips and cabbage were the sole and staple vegetables for nine months of the year. Salt pork, salt codfish, steady diet. Carrots were for horses, pumpkins would keep only up to Christmas and were never canned, hence the untiring profusion of “pumpkin” pie this time of year.

It is as it were, a sprightly evening in early winter and a fire is burning on the hearth. It seldom snaps; it never smokes for grandfather was a skilled mason and knew his trade. Supper is over and the dishes cleared away, from the kitchen come the sounds of cleaning up and the stirring of buckwheat cakes being “set to rise” for breakfast. A Kerosene lamp burns on the erstwhile dining table now covered with a turkey-red damask cloth. In a Boston rocker by the fire sits and old man and on a foot-stool, toasting his shins, stretches a little boy. Whether he is six or eight or ten I cannot quite tell—no it is not the smoke, grandfather was a capable mason—it must be my eyes. Against the wall, so near that the boy can lean on it, is a seaman’s chest. The old man is reading, the boy listening, when he gets drowsy he leans his head on the chest and dozes off, waking with a start as Napoleon leaves Moscow, or Alexander reaches Babylon.

We must open that chest. Its stout rope handle smell of oakum, its battered exterior betrays its history knocking ‘round the seven seas in more than one forecastle. We should like to see what’s inside. The hand-hammered strap hinges gently protest but the boy turns back the lid. I’ve read in William James that smells quicken sure remembrance—well, they are here in urgent suggestions of far Cathay, the Moluccas, of the Celebes and other spice islands. The old people call it “cassia,” though we say cinnamon; this chest must have brought home cassia on occasion: at any rate its lined with strips of red cedar and San Domingo mahogany and sandal wood. It has fragrance when opened that to me is pleasant, though pungent and pervasive.

The boy explores the contents while his father holds the lamp. A broken backed leather bound Bible, with s’s that look like f’s, an old log book, some maps and charts, a volume of town records, a bunch of yellow letters tied with a faded blue linen rag, a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress, a Bodwich’s Navigator and a box that used to hold a sextant. These and some sea shells from the south seas, (the boy holds one to his ear to hear the throbbing ocean), a few small nuggets of gold from California, more books—a lot of junk, so the boy thought—then. Now—with reverence he closes the lid realizing that the chest is empty—except for memories.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"and seems to me I’ve been asleep"

[March 1939]

Dear Jess,
I hope you got to Pittsburgh for the Alliance and I hope Helen is better from the grip. Several girls are in the Infirmary with it.

I left a black silk slip and an old bl. felt hat in my closet. If Helen is sick please ask Abbie to wrap that up and send it to me. I need the slip.

I like your Thank You a lot and know Bill had a kick out of it. Had a nice letter from Ibby today. They were well and the kiddies happy. It was her birthday the 24th—31 years. Boo’s baby had a cold in his ears. He gets them, little lad. Louise gets lonely, but has Vi and Donald Warner near. They have a new daughter. Here is a nice letter from Add you will enjoy reading with news of Ted Kinsey’s marriage. Shy little Ted. He’s done well. I hope he has a wife half as good as Mary was.

I have a dollar to last me till Mar 15—paid too many bills I guess. I need very little but car fares are 10c to Troy and I guess you’d better send me a little. I’ll get paid for my work when I’m through. I can’t work any harder than I do seems to me. I have a pageant written, but it’s not inspired yet and after I talk it over with Miss Kellas shall know better what she wants. And the light will come. I find plenty of sleep is my best preparation—my mind clears and thoughts converge. The eyes are better. I hope your back is and that you are on your feet again and Helen is getting over her grip.

Give my love to Freck. I want you to read right away “Heroes of Thought” buy Middleton Murry an English critic. It is a wonderful book. Miss Potswell is reading it aloud to me. It is very searching. 12 men Chaucer, Shakespere, Cromwell, +. Don’t fail to get it.

I miss you all, but this is a lonely place to be. I’ve just begun my work and am happy in it. I’ve been to a concert tonight.

Bishop Dallas of New Hampshire spoke to our girls Sunday. Such a missionary talk I never heard, gentle and tender and inspiring. Spoke of their church (any church) in which they had been reared, what did it mean to them? What were they going to do about it? Then he told them what other girls had done about it: a girl working in Alaska in a remote mission, another one in Japan in these trying times holding to Christ’s way of love, another in a mountain town in New Hampshire far from R.R. among dire poverty teaching the Christ way. It was beautiful, practical. He was a tall dark man, about 65 I should say, looking—I thought with a pang—what Warren Kinsey might have looked like and been if---.

Yesterday I went out to Albany hospital to see my old friend Blanche Felter (Hieles) who is lying very ill after an operation. We graduated together in Newburgh, again in New Paltz, taught together in Westfield, again in Haverford. Only by the light from her eyes would I have known her. She knew me and said, “How wonderful you came.” Then when the nurse came could not tell her who had brought her the red rose. All life gone by—in a flash, like that—and I doubt if I will see her again. It is all so short, so beautiful, and seems to me I’ve been asleep. Good-night dear—


Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Our heart is gone"

The Depression has wrought havoc with fortunes. Not only the speculative, paper kind have diminished, but the substantial kind have been depleted. Industry has lagged, buying power been curtailed, charity has failed to meet insistent needs, and even the time honored respect for educational expenditures has been thoroughly challenged. Every department of life has been effected and every stratum of society influenced more or less. Men live by bread, and bread is lacking because there is no work.

Men live by bread, but not by bread alone, and with all the seriousness of the economic situation the Depression has another more sinister aspect—the spiritual. Morale has been lowered, character shaken, and spirit broken.

“We have lost character” says Will Durant, “we squeal so.” Undoubtedly the ease and superfluity of life’s setting had made us “soft.” We needed discipline—and we got it. In many ways the hard times have helped us to face reality. But the fact remains that multitudes of people have lost their grip.

Early in the 1930s the associated charities made a ruling that no family could receive aid that owned an automobile or a radio. But it soon became apparent that the auto might be a means of livelihood in many cases so exceptions were made. As to the radio, the ruling stood until a wise school principal (one whom to certain knowledge knows more homes and hearts than any other individual in our town), until this man of sense impressed the charities that morale was a concern that they had overlooked and that an inexpensive radio was a great implement of spirit in many a home. Expensive they had been in the palmy days, but their intrinsic value had shrunk pitifully while their intangible value had heightened, they helped to keep up an atmosphere less gloomy.

Exceptional souls have found relief in having less; some families have been welded now that less entertaining and party-going takes place, but many and many a home has been broken in spirit with the passing of material things.

Here, for example, is a University professor who in boom times bought a $15,000 house, paying his lifetime savings of $6,500 and carrying the rest on mortgage. His salary has been twice cut. His property is not now worth the face of the mortgage. He questions the equity of such a system; is discouraged, views Bolshevism with sympathy and has lost his nerve generally.

Mrs. X of our acquaintance, whose brilliant son passed the bar examinations three years ago and has had no employment since—Mrs. X after her husband’s two-year invalidism and death with attendant hospital bills, finds her savings gone, her husband’s insurance money exhausted, a mortgage immanent, and taxes overdue. Where shall she turn at sixty? Her faith is shattered.

We are poor stuff, you say? Likely that applies to many, but not to all, and not to most. Something has happened inside, we are frightened of the future—our heart is gone. Nothing seems to rouse us; the nerve is cut.

--Reverend Jesse Halsey, circa1936

Organization Versus Freedom

These causes appear to me to have been of three kinds: Economic technique, political theory, and important individuals. I do not believe that anyone of these three can be ignored or wholly explained away as an effect of causes of other kinds.

Economic technique must be regarded as the most important cause of change in the Nineteenth Century, it cannot be regarded as the sole cause; in particular, it does not account for the division of mankind into nations. I do not believe that, if Bismark had died in infancy, the history of Europe in the past seventy years would have been at all closely similar to what it has been.

--Jesse Halsey


"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord"; the words came slowly but with firm enunciation, deep groanings and checked sobs were impounded by their cadence no doubt. The habit of years could not be broken. The family were at morning prayers though the oldest son had just died. My father, past seventy, read on, for fifty years this had been the daily routine, now it stood him in good stead, as it had before. Twenty years ago his young wife had died, now it was his eldest son; "He knoweth our frame, He remembreth . . ." He hesitated then stopped. It was a good terminus; the rest was so obvious just now.

--Jesse Halsey

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Guarding the Russian Dictator: Two of Lenin's Red Guards | Smolny at Petrograd
(excerpt from Jesse Halsey's Russia recollections)

It was late in January of nineteen eighteen. The night was clear and cold. The place was Petrograd. We found a sleigh and driver—and a horse. In those days most horses looked like skeletons. This driver had gone without his bread and given it to his horse and his horse was full of energy and spirit and we flew along.

And we went to Smolny. Five miles or more we flew. Such a night crackling clear and stars brilliantly alight. No street lights blurred the heavens. Orion and Betelgeuse I remember flashed in the eastern sky. For it was early evening.

Exhibit A

(excerpt from Jesse Halsey's Labrador recollections)

"One day I was under the hospital putting in steam pipes. Earl Gray, the Governor General of Canada, was the guest of the mission. After he had looked around and seen the medical and industrial work, meeting several doctors and others, he asked Dr. Grenfell where the minister was. Sir Wilfred saw my skin boots, he says, disappearing under the hospital. At any rate, he pulled me out and presented me as Exhibit A of a missionary to Lord Grey."

Irish Linen

Jesse Halsey
2726 Cleinview Av
Cincinnati, Ohio

Bowling along at fifty while the signs said forty, suddenly I sensed the staccato put-put of an accelerating motor-cycle coming up behind.

The Grand Boulevard that writhes its intricate way round successive suburbs to the north of The Metropolis was crowded with hustling morning traffic. Car after car with a New York license had passed me. When in Rome I am a Roman, but this time it hadn’t worked. For while all the cars perceptibly slowed down at the sound of that Cop’s barking exhaust, of all the dozen in sight he picked on me with the out-of state license.

He came along side; paralleled me for a mile (while I kept forty). Then he motioned me into a right hand intersection. I pulled up and he dismounted. Out of his pocket cam a little blue book. Then with some clumsiness he adjusted a carbon sheet and began to write.

“Ohio ais it? Yes thinks yes can get away with oinything cause ye have no driver’s license. I’ve got yer number, now what’s yer name?”

“Reverend,” I began meekly.

He looked up the word half written.

“Revener nothin’,” he exploded, “yer don’t bamboozle me. With yer red neckie and blue shirt . . . Revener.” He spat with vigor.

I produced an envelope. He spelled out the first word; REV-ER-END.

“Well, oil be domed . . . Now why wouldn’t youse guys dress like a priest oughter? If Oid a known I wouldn’t be givin’ ye a ticket now, maybe.”

Again he looked me over.

“Oid like to let ye go, bygor, but now Oi’ve wrote in me little book.” He fumbled with the carbon sheet. It wouldn’t erase—“REVER—”

“Oil have ter take yer name.”

I brought out the letter and he began laboriously to copy REVEREND J-O-H-N-B-A-Y-S-O-N. Then he spelled it over.

“John Bayson and Revener” he said slowly, half aloud, as he tilted back his trim white cap and scratched his head. “John Bayson, Oi used to know a fellow with that name in Soithampton.” He looked at me hard.

“Be gor, is youse the Jock Bayson whose father had a farm on the East Sea Road? Ye bald headed old cuss, ye can’t be. Excuse me me language, Revener.”

“Yes, I’m Jack Bayson alright, but who in the world are you?” I queried.

“Be gor, don’t yer know me?” He took off his stiff white cap with its resplendent traffic emblem, and stood straight. I hadn’t the dimmest recollection. This handsome military figure didn’t register in my memory.

“Youse oughter know me alright coming ter yer house fer milk fer me mother with narry a cent and yer old aunt a givin’ us all that first winter after we landed, and yer father keepin’ us in pertatoes when me father was sick, and all us kids. Yer ought ter know, me, Oi’m Michael Burke, be gor.”

It all came back, after forty years. Mike Burke! I was out of the car now. We were talking fast, while the traffic on the Grand Boulevard whizzed by unheeded. As boys we had played together. I was the older—and a great tease. But luckily he had forgotten that. Only the kindness of my people to his people was remembered. Over and over he told it. “Irish and Catholic,” he said, “green as grass” they found kindness and understanding in the New England village where fate had thrown them. And the Puritan Deacon, “be gor” had more than once loaned them a horse and buggy to drive the ten miles to the Harbor to Mass, “be gor.”

A raucous siren blatted into our conversation, coming nearer. ON went his cap and the officer came to quick attention, his official self again.

“That’s the patrol with a change of detail,” he said. And then as if in pain, he wailed, “Me gor, what shall Oi do?” I thought he had had a heart attack.

“Why, Mike, what’s the matter?” I gasped.

“Matter, me gor, ‘tis matter enough. ‘Tis this domed little book. Yer name’s in it and I can’t rub it out, be gor. It don’t rub out loike the old slates we used to use,” he smiled ruefully.

The patrol was coming close now, horn howling at intervals, while I volunteered, “Well never mind, Mike, I’ll pay the fine. Don’t worry.”

“Be domed if yer do,” says Mike. And with that he jerked open the hood of my car and smeared his cambric handkerchief with the grease and gas in the pan under the engine, struck a quick match, and as the patrol drew up, in answer to his whistle, was beating out a tiny but very smoky fire under my left running board with his white cap.

The sergeant came running from the patrol with a fire extinguisher (there was one unused one on Mike’s motor-cycle) and we both got spattered.

The officer Burke got down on his knees, reached under my car and came up swearing volubly.

“Me loittle book, be gory. This baldheaded, careless cuss, he gits his car ofire and Oi try to help him put it out and I drops me book, be gor.”

Mike handed the book to the sergeant. Sure enough some two pages were crisp and illegible, “clean gone,” in fact.

“This’ll cost you three days suspension, Burke,” snapped the sergeant.

The relief officer held the traffic while I pulled into the Grand Boulevard, headed toward home. The last I saw of my friend Burke, he was climbing in to the patrol wagon, one eye on me, unconsciously dusting his once-white cap on his chevroned sleeve.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“Us young heathens”


Wednesday, January 18, 1939

Dear Dr. Higginbottom,

It was a joyful treat to hear you this evening and to hear you speak of Daddy. When you and Mrs. Higginbottom come back on furlough each five years you both look younger and happier each time. And—from what you say, India’s climate is not particularly comfortable.

This note is to warn you that there will be a group of “Us young heathens” at Mother’s on Saturday. Many of my young married friends for one reason or another try to, and do, live good Christian lives—but find very little time to go to church and renew their faith.

So, in your own wonderful way, won’t you please re-interpret the actual value of Christ’s commands for us? Your simple vivid teaching tonight, using some of our American slang, brought home again to me the same sturdy faith in the Bible that was my father’s. Thank you! Then, too, it is good for us to be reminded that in the Foreign field all Christian faiths and denominations do work together in fact as well as in spirit. If you ever do come back to the United States more or less permanently, I hope you’ll help us untangle such problems as flood control and soil erosion. I’m sure you could.

Please use the enclosed for whatever you think best, be it more grapefruit trees, or a multiple pen for saving your time in signing the very fine letters you send home—some 3000, Mrs. Higginbottom says! Of course this comes in remembrance of Allen Collier, and of Charlie Vail too, both of whom worked at the same task as yours but in other fields. If possible to do so, I’ll try to send the same amount to you quarterly.

Cordially yours,

Caroline Collier Russel

P.S. Albert had to spend tonight at work with a client; he is looking forward to seeing you on Saturday. C.C.R.

"Things seem to get harder for us in place of better"

Dear Dr. Halsey,

We had a hoped by this time to have sent you all or at least a part of what we owe you.

Things seem to get harder for us in place of better, we are not giving up, but we are discouraged.

We want you to know we have not forgotten you and your help and are hoping soon that things will break for us so we can show you we mean it.

We went to the country after Hubert left us, took a cheap little place and set about to get ahead.

In a few weeks the C.&D. laid off there [sic] men and in 2 months Lois and Bob came home it was hard but we kept working on. Then the baby came she was less than a year old, when my brother came down and asked me to help him with the care of Mamma and Dad as he could not send them as much as he had.

We had no money so all we could do was take them in with us. That ment [sic] a larger place and more expense. Lois and Bob said they would move and try it for themselves.

My brother gave me $45.00 a month to help with the expense, we did it for 3 yrs.

We were trying to help Lois and Bob what little we could, we gave them all their butter, milk and other little things, I was sick and the work and worry was more than I could stand and Lois needed us so badly.

Mamma and Dad thought they could do better alone.

Weldon got work in a garage in Montgomery while working there things picked up and Weldon got a better chance with Elliot in Reading Rd. Ford.

Then you know of Lois and Bob’s trouble, we then made a home for Lois and the babies. Things looked brighter but in Jan. Lois was taken to the hospital. But after a time we started to save a little again when I got a letter from my brother telling me he had lost his position and had no money. That I would have to take Dad. In March we got a larger house moved Dad in. In May 2 mos later, Elliot close up throwing Weldon out of work, with Lois her 2 babies and Dad beside ourselves to take care of. What little we had was soon gone. Weldon did every thing to make ends meet, but you know conditions.

In Jan. Weldon got a truck and is trying to build up a bakery business, it is very slow and people are out of work so they can’t buy much, but we believe if we can hang on physically, and financially, for a little while longer we can make a living out of it, and get some of your money to you. We don’t mind how hard the work if we can only do what is right for Lois and these babies and pay our way. Right now it is mighty tough, but we are hoping soon to get ahead. We do thank you and want you to know we haven’t forgotten you.

You have been an inspiration to us all.

Lois gets no help from her husband at all. And the little she makes don’t go very far, but she is much happier now, and we do so want to take care of her and the children.

With our deepest gratitude and thanks we are,

Mr. & Mrs. Weldon Leist

We hope you understand.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"she is making a man of Chas"

W.W. Bishop
Clearview Farm
Southampton, N.Y.
March 9, ‘39

Dear Jesse,
My daughter makes a terrible fuss every time I write using single spacing and I suppose other people mind it just as much but don’t dare speak up, so I’ll try to remember to keep the double space on. I have been trying to write to you for a month now—but don’t worry I won’t try to write all I’ve thought in this note. First of all, we wall want to thank you for the grand cheese—we use it on every occasion and still wwe have a good size hunk left—I can’t write a poem but we are enjoying it very much just the same.

Last week I had a chance to ride to Baltimore with Oyie (Wiltshire) and spent a day with Helen—she has been having some sinus trouble but is better now—heading south and a bit west made me think of last Spring and wish that I was repeating my visit but guess I’ll have to stick here for the present. Chas brought his family down for the weekend and he tells me that you will be coming east in March and will plan to take time to come out here—we’ll be counting on it and just let me know where you want me to meet you and I’ll be there at the specified time. We did enjoy Cameron so much—he is a little monkey and lots of fun. I tell you there are few girls like Justine—she is making a man of Chas (I always said he’d grow to be a good one some day but she is speeding the process).

Potatoes are almost gone from our farm and we are expecting the new seed in next week and if we get a few dry days we will be plowing: are you going to be sending any messages over the radio to the “Farmers on Eastern LI” at plowing time this year?

Rented the other house finally—very nice people and guess I’ll have to be satisfied with $35 a month—it is better than having the house stand empty and will help pay some of the expense of the properties that Mother and Dad left me; so far they have been mostly expense—there is lots of real value in the things but they don’t pay any dividends now; just finished paying Harri Micah this week, $865—came rather hard out of potatoes at $.72 per bu.

I wish you were a smoker—just discovered a tobacco that is cured with Vermont maple syrup and Jamaica rum—I haven’t used a pipe for years but this is so good that I’m back it hard as ever.

My row boat is already in the water and in commission and I know just where the clam rakes are—all we need now is a little heat in the water and we can go right on where we left off last Summer. I burned off all the paint this year from the boat and have adorned her with a new coat of light gray and green—she’s a bird. The other day I went up to Scallop Pond and tried my luck with boots but only dug out four clams—I never could do anything till I get in nearly to my neck.

Just to make you sore I’ll tell you that “Did” Beeman brought us a good mess of fat long clams today and tonight we are going to have fried crisp with crumbs in deep fat—yum yum.

Must get back to work now and be sure not to let anything interfere with the plants to get out here next time you come east.


Friday, October 21, 2011

"where the bays and the ocean are easily available"

Clearview Farm
Southampton, N.Y.
W.W. Bishop
Jan. 25, ‘39

Dear Jess:
It seems ages since I heard from you or anything about you but having followed you around in Cin. I know that you are one busy man and have little time to do the things you like to do yourself. We are having real Winter and no mistake—plenty of snow and all the ponds are frozen—it rained Sunday and last night so that the ponds are clear—this AM the temp. was bout 35 but the wind has been rising steadily and the temp dropping steadily all day till it seems almost like a hurricane and the temp is 24—feels like the side of the house was not there. Guess we’ll have to have a good fire in the potato house tonight. Pot. market is slow and priced dropped to $1.40 per cwt and acts like it would stay there although the crop reports would indicate a higher price. We have taken one load out of the cellar with Jimmy’s conveyor-works swell and Levi and I can do what otherwise would take 4 men. Jim seems more and more interested in his work at Cornell and is now planning to get a job on a big farm in Penn for the Summer—I have advised him that there were lots of things that a Dad could not teach a son and have encouraged his trying for a job away from home—hope it materializes.

Alma is not taking the Winter term course at the school for Social Work and I miss the trips to NY and the other attending excitements. Haven’t seen Chas or family since before Xmas but have had a couple of letters from C.—Alma is getting is auto license in Riverhead today and we expect him out Sunday to get it—think he works all day every Sat. now—hope he brings Justine and Cameron too.

We are having quite a time helping Bob decide between Cornell, St. Lawrence and Middlebury for next year—guess we’ll have to take a trip into Vermont and over to the St. Lawrence valley next Spring, stopping by at Ithaca and let that decide if we don’t get it settled before.

Wish you would send me a tenant for the other house—aren’t there some of your people who would like to get out of the heat in Cin. this Summer that might be interested in a comfortable house that is situated where the bays and the ocean are easily available?

Wish I was going to be with you again this Spring but thank God I have no excuse like last year for getting away from home—it is wonderful to feel alive and not afraid all the time once more.

Write when you can and if you are to be in NY let me know and perhaps I can get in; and if you can spare an extra day, say so, and I’ll be glad to bring you out here.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

April 11, 1939: CHH to JH

Dear Dad:

Your Easter Cards with enclosures arrived as did your birthday card also. Our Thanks, and appreciation from all of us to you for the bit of Happy Easter that you sent. Acknowledgement of the receipt of your letters is late as there have been numerous things to do since and before Easter. However this letter will tell you that all has been received safely as well as a package addressed to his Royal Nibs the Master Jr. from the H. & S. Pogue Company. I did not open it but forwarded it to Winsted where Cameron and Justine are spending most of this week.

We drove up Friday afternoon late arriving there at 8:45. It was a nice change for all of us. I benefited by the two day vacation that I had and I know that the two other members of the family will get a lot of good out of their prolonged stay. I envy them for at this point I could do very nicely with a week’s vacation at least. However that is not my lot. I sometimes regret that I didn’t become a school teacher of some kind. I think I would have made a good one and with it three months vacation in the summer and several weeks at other times.

Saturday Mother Comstock had a little celebration in honor of my birthday. She thought it was on the 8th, but at that what we had to eat was just as good then as it would have been on the sixth. The Baileys came in for diner and the main course was Turkey with all the fixings. A grand treat it was, I only wish that you all could have been at the table too.

Saturday while in Winsted I went to see Dr. Royce about a tooth that has bothered me this winter. Apparently there is an abscess on the root and he advises having the molar extracted. Do you suppose that Dr. McMillan would be able to recommend a Dentist here that would not charge too much and who would know what it was all about. Dr. Royce did not think best to do it at Winsted because the tooth would need treatment and stated that a dentist more familiar with extraction could probably do a better job. Perhaps you have a suggestion.

A young lady here in the office asked me the other day if I knew of any good book that would depict the beginning and rise of Presbyterianism. In other words a history of the Relegation, how it started and by whom. Also the various splits that it has had. I told her that I did not know off hand and that I would ask you, as you would know the best book of that kind that is published. Give the name and author.

I was glad to hear that Freck was improving a little. I hope that the improvement is continuous.

Thanks again for all that you have done for us, both now and in the past.

Our Love to you all,

Your devoted Son,

552 Riverside Drive, N.Y.C

Babbie's Dream


Thurs. Night [June 1, 1939]

Dear Jess,
What is this I hear through Mr. Ells and Mr. Moyer that you are appointed Vice Moderator with Dr. Higginbotton? You did not say anything about that in your letter. What does it mean? More work? Or more glory? Or a double-beated campaign the church union and missionary enterprise? Let the world move on. God bless you, only let me know about it, what shall I tell your inquiring friends?

Memorial Day was fine with Nan and Jack at their camp and Gardner Jagger the only representative of our older generation and Babbie slipping into their ranks watching waters of young the bathers. Boo, Louise, Boogie came for the night with me and broke the loneliness of the first night the old house.

Yesterday I went to Ibby’s for the night of little Jerry’s second birthday—found them well although Jean had had tonsillitis. I had a dream that has been with me all day, thought Edward came up the stairs bringing Lizbeth in his arms. I said, “O my Darling, you have come back to me!” She murmured, “Don’t talk to me just yet. I’ll be all right in a minute.” What you know were the last words she said to me. Her voice, the moment of experience, all so real, have been with me all day.

I wish you would write to Boo asking him about the estate encouraging him to keep after the real estate people about the house. Ed is away. It is all new to him. The market is bad and the place is eating itself up as it is—people are just beginning to rent, things here are so backward, but now are looking surprising well in the village, at the beach.

Goodnight and congratulations.


When are the gals coming?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Y.M.C.A. Eagle Hut

Following the U.S. entry into World War One in April 1917 and subsequent shipment of American soldiers to France for active duty, servicemen's centres were established throughout the world but most notably in Europe.  This had been initiated a week earlier with the publication of a General Order (#26-II-1) by U.S. Commander-in-Chief General John Pershing.

Published on 28 August 1917 it affirmed that the Y.M.C.A. would "provide for the amusement and recreation of the troops by means of its usual programme of social, physical, educational and religious services."
Perhaps the most famous of the servicemen's centres was the so-called Eagle Hut opened in London on 3 September 1917.  Operated by the Y.M.C.A. the centre, staffed by some 800 voluntary personnel, offered overnight accommodation and food for American servicemen passing through London.
The centre additionally helped with arrangements for London sightseeing tours and entertainment.  Turnover was heavy: in February 1919 alone 134,566 meals were served.  The Eagle Hut remained open beyond the armistice, finally closing its doors on 25 August 1919.
Many other such centres were operated worldwide, each funded through a combination of public government and private subscriptions.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Babuska: From the Russia Folder

by Jesse Halsey

In a Russian home the grandmother is always the boss. No matter how large the house or the household, “Babushka rules the roost.” A son may marry and bring home his bride; she merely becomes another subject in grandma’s realm. The house may grow and sprout wings in all directions, as one son after another marries, but so long as she lives the “little grandmother” is supreme.

Of course, my verbs should be in the past tense. It used to be that way before the Revolution. In the topsy-turvy world of Bolshevism things are very different. But, in the old days . . . it was then I saw the country . . .

One night, after a long day’s journey by sledge, we came, my friend and I, to a hamlet frozen fast to the shore of the White Sea. The snow was deep, the going heavy, and our horses were tired out. So were we. There was no tavern, but we found no difficulty in securing lodging in a big, rambling, log house near the church. The Russians are always hospitable—or were, at least, in those days. In the spacious central room, that was combined kitchen and living quarters, there were a dozen children. Some hid behind their respective mothers, while the older boys stood their ground in honest wonder, looking over the first Americans they had ever seen.

We asked for keptok (hot water for making tea). And presently a steaming samovar was brought and put upon the heavy-legged table that stood at one end of the room. Meanwhile, taking off our heavy over-clothing, one layer after another, we warmed our hands against the white-washed side of the great brick oven-stove that was built four-square in the center of the room.

Then, rummaging in our duffel-bags, we found our tea and sugar and utensils and started to brew the tea.

During these preparations, while the younger women of the house were waiting on us, the little old grandma sat in a corner near the stove rocking a sick child. His moaning was like an undertone to all our clatter and talking.

Tea, though it be imbibed glass after glassful, is scant provision for famished Americans, and the crusts of black bread that were offered by the war-bled family added little comfort, even when smeared with half-frozen jam from our supply. We were famished! So, out of my bag I pulled a can of beans and, with my limping vocabulary, asked permission to build a fire in the big stove that we might heat them. The young woman relayed my request, in much more elegant and speedy language, to her mother-in-law and Babushka, much to my surprise, answered with a resounding Netu, which even the poorest linguist might have guessed, had they heard the emphasis, means “NO.”

When we were at our fifth glass of tea, or thereabouts, (you never keep count), the sick child set up such a piteous wailing that I showed my interest, by my looks I suppose, for I had no diagnostic Russian words. The grandmother reluctantly uncovered the red, swollen hand of the six-year-old youngster whom she held on her lap. It was an ugly sight, swollen to the elbow, but with a distinct localization on the palm below the thumb, it was throbbing with fever.

Largely by motion, I suggested treatment. Now, the Russians have a convenient word, which happened to be in my vocabulary. As I was hunting through my pack for the medicine kit, Babushka kept asking me if I were a doctor. When, finally, I understood, I answered “No.” But I hastened to add, “I am a Felcher.” And this I could say in all honesty, having lived in a mission hospital for some years where one does all sorts of practical things, when doctors are away, from pulling teeth to delivering babies.

“Yah, Felcher,” said I. (“I’m a ‘sort of Doctor.’”)

“Chorosho,” said Grandma, (That means “Good.”) bobbing her head in assent.

Some bichloride (which we carried to wash off cooties) went into a big bowl of warm water (the Captain, who looked on, warned me not to mix it with our tea) and then the boy soaked his hand for a while. The heat relieved the pain somewhat, I suppose, at any rate he sat quietly in grandmother’s lap, watching my every move. Then, I swabbed off the hand with alcohol. He didn’t move, half fascinated. With a quick slash, while grandma turned his face away, I drew the sharp lancet deep across the swollen palm. The little fellow howled from surprise more than from pain, but in a moment we had his hand immersed again in the blue water. Presently it was bandaged, and in no time he was off to sleep.

Then it came grandma’s time for action. She called one of her sons, and in almost no time he came back in with chips and split wood and a fire was roaring in the great furnace-like stove.

Pseuoste, Pseuoste. (Please, please) and much more that we did not understand, but lavish gestures made the intent evident.

I hacked open the frozen beans and put them in an iron pot that they gave us. Then another can, that the family might have a taste. Everyone seemed happy now and more tea was brewed. The captain got some cognac from his bag, and he and Babushka had a nip. On and on she talked, ordering her daughters here and there, scooting the numerous grandchildren out of the way when they came near with ever increasing boldness, as the Captain shared his meager supply of chocolate.

In the midst of our festivity, with a great commotion, off the top of the stove rolled old Grandpa, dripping with sweat and swearing (I suppose) volubly. Grandma was quite equal to the situation, for she speedily explained things, and soon had grandfather shaking hands with the Amerikanski offitzer. We had learned some things, in addition to a few new words for our poor, but expanding, vocabulary: First, a Russian stove is to cook in but to sleep on (that is as true today as it was twenty years ago). And, second, Babushka rules the roost. That is, alas, past tense now and, for aught I know, they may have changed even the name, along with everything else, and the Soviets may now have no grandmothers. I don’t know. Babushka may be gone now, but in the good old days she was an institution, as well as The Person of the house.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Aunt Libby

from In the East Riding of Yorkshire:
(Quasi-Auto-Biographical. Written for one’s children.)
by Jesse Halsey 

There was the remains of an old fort not far from our house and adjoining our farm. It was near enough the little school house, where we went, that during recess all the boys would run there to play war. On lucky days I commanded the attacking party. That was the American army—the attacking one for the fort had been built by the British when they occupied East Riding after the battle of Long Island.

The house where the British General Sir Wm. Erskine dined still stands next door, but one, to mine. It is a veritable museum of the accumulated colonial wealth of many generations. Its present owner is one of my closest friends. Likewise our children, as were our father and their fathers before them. This kind of consanguinity of the spirit is thicker than blood and defies time.

Of an evening neighbors would come in, Uncle Bill Fowler who had been to California in ’49, had mortgaged his farm to go; came home penniless and had to go back to his masons trade. His nephew John Fowler who mixed mortar for him lived on for many years. He would come to help my father hoe corn. I would be given one row between the two men, Father with two rows on one side and uncle John two rows on the other. He was short and fat but could hoe his own roe as the saying goes and help with mine. “Hi by golly” I can hear him now . . . then he’d start off on some whaling yarn.

This was always the theme of conversation and while the old men would sit spinning yarns little Jess quiet for once, sat listening.

“The year the ‘Old Sabina sailed,’ or the ‘Old Neptune,’ or the ‘Old—“ that careening adjective prefixed all ships’ names. Ten miles away was the Harbor. The hurricane of last month [ed note: Wednesday, September 21, 1938] toppled over the lovely towering spire from the old church that the whale oiled money built a hundred years ago. There for a century it has stood a beacon by night and spire by day. The little village has now sunk to diminutive economic proportions. It cannot be rebuilt. Ichabod—the glory hath departed.

But even in my boyhood a vessel occasionally sailed for the whale fishery and across the sound from New Bedford whalers put out until ten years ago. Every Long Island boy with few exceptions went to sea, all through the years from the Revolution till after the Civil War.

Two years, three years, a hard life but they loved it. And the tales they could tell! I have listened by the hour. Captain Austin Herrick wrecked on the coast of Patagonia and working his way along the coast among the savages and coming home long after he was given up for lost. Willie and Eddie Fowler never heard from, and their mother, my great aunt, telling me in a moment of confidence one day as I went through her yard on the way to school that though they had been gone for fifty years that her gate never clicked but that she went to the window or the door to look and see if they might yet be coming home.

[Great] Aunt Libbie [ed note: Elizabeth P Halsey Fowler 4 Jul 1815] —she gave me my first bath and first spanking I imagine the spanking came first)—was the village midwife and practical nurse, the adviser of its gentry and poor folk alike. Her cookie jar (with raised doughnuts in the winter) was accessible to all the boys of the North End. Her yard (next to the graveyard) was the short way to school. In the Cemetery—and only there—was I allowed to stroll on Sunday. (I can take you on the darkest night to any stone you name.) After the walk in the cemetery, father and I would slip through the back gate to Aunt Libbie’s. He was her favorite nephew. She nursed him when he was a baby, too. And I have one little cloth shoe (beautifully made) that she fabricated for little Charles Henry. In her old age she was still active. I can remember her helping my mother in the care of a sick neighbor—or my mother helping her. They came to our house one morning before daylight, went to the attic and got a pig’s bladder that hung on the rafters. (It had been inflated at butchering time.) This was before the day of rubber water bottles. The bladders of slaughtered animals were always preserved. (Sometimes when the old crop was not exhausted, we boys were allowed to have a new one for a football—not often, however.) My brother was sent off into the night to get ice from the one ice house in the community, over a mile away. Birth and death and all the occasions in between Aunt Libby was always there and most welcome.

Back to my whalers—and the fireside. Capt’n Guss (Halsey) would come and spend the day. He and my Uncle Will (a real uncle—Father’s brother) were my favorites. (When I was seven Uncle Will drowned before my eyes one day when we were clamming—I was too young to understand what was happening but not too little to help had I only known.)  Well, Cap’t Guss would come from Watermill two miles away, and once or twice a year father would go and spend the day with Cap’t Guss (and take me with him). Most Cap’ns’ who came would pat me on the head and straightway forget (I caught on to what they were saying to themselves-“poor child, with no mother”). But Captain Guss thought it worthwhile to talk to a boy. So did Uncle Will who lived across the street. He and father had married sisters. I’d go across the street after our early farm breakfast, in time for theirs. My aunt would try to send me home, but I can hear Uncle Will now . . . “Feed him . . . feed him.” Between Uncle Will and Aunt Libbie I was well supplied.

Abbie's Account of Frederick

Frederick Isham Halsey | Delta Upsilon | Cornell University | 1932
"Frederick played sax, Billy violin. There were two grand pianos in the living room of the manse [in Cincinnati] and their mother would invite various ladies over to play. All the children took art classes on Saturday mornings at the Cincinnati Art Museum with a Mrs. Alexander. Helen got the most out of the classes. Frederick was handsome and popular and went, along with Charles, to the Cincinnati cotillions and socialized a great deal. Sometime during his year at Cornell he suffered a minor injury playing football, which spiraled into a deep depression. He intended to continue on at Cornell, but the Great Depression and the 'closing of the banks' prevented his return, as well as Helen's planned enrollment at Wellesley. After some time at Wooster College, Frederick's depression was so extreme that he was institutionalized in sanitariums at Johns Hopkins, White Plains, and in Cincinnati. It was at the Cincinnati Sanitarium that he contracted tuberculosis."

Cincinnati Sanitarium

"In fine style"

October 1937

Dear Justine,

It was a week ago today we had our big trip to your city and called on you. It was so nice to see you again and I hope our call didn’t delay you too late for your dinner engagement.

Charles Halsey, Jr | Riverside Drive, NYC | 1937
We didn’t see the show Winifred wanted to finally for when we reached the theatre district again we found only high priced seats left and the boys decided they were too expensive for us. We walked along Broadway and did some “window shopping” and finally came home on the 9 PM train so reached home at midnight instead of 4 AM. That suited me all right for I was tired enough to call it a day without doing any more.

The Sunday excursions from here are $2 for the round trip so I’d like to go again some Sunday and visit the Planetarium. I haven’t seen Radio City either so there is a lot for me to do down there yet. However, we crowded in plenty last Wednesday I think, but we had a good time anyway.

I was glad to meet your husband and he seemed very nice. Am glad you are so happy and now I can picture you both in your home when I think of you.

Hope you will come and see us whenever you can. You know there is a spare room so I can keep you overnight whenever you care to come.

Wonder if you are going to Winsted for Easter? If so, give my love to Aunt Laura.

I wish we could go to Torrington, but we can’t so I’ll have to be content and wait until later.

I expect you are busy caring for the 14 months old baby and I’m wondering if the mother has decided to go to Siberia and leave the baby with you? You will be tied down in fine style if that happens.

Come up when you can.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cumulative Kodakery c. 1934

Places and events to be enjoyed on the annual trip from Cincinnati to Southampton . . .

by Jesse Halsey

Both business necessity and vacation pleasure take me back and forth between the Middle West and the Eastern seaboard. So many times we have gone and come that most routes are thoroughly familiar. The decimal numbers 20, 30, 40, 50 seem to be the FEDERAL Highways that run from ocean to ocean. Route 30 is the Lincoln; the first transcontinental road that was developed. Rt. 40 is the National, which Thomas Jefferson projected to St. Louis and built as far as Cumberland.

Anyone who is interested in history or geography ought now and then to record his impressions. Ten minutes; stop refreshes the driver and a picture here and there years after refreshes the memory. Twenty years ago, when we began these trips, the notable things were the places where the engine broke down or there was a change of tires. The boys, who have come to their maturity, often point out a tree where once upon a time we patched a blowout. Of course, in these days, blowouts seldom happen, which gives one time for extra pictures.

Let us be more specific. As we go east on Federal Rt. 22, which leads from our door to the Holland Tunnel, we pass through the village of Somerset, Ohio, where General Phil Sheridan was born. In the public square is a bronze equestrian statue of this dashing Federal Cavalry leader. A little inquiry will reveal that a block and a half away is the modest one-story cottage where he was born. It may be the holly hock season. If so, you will find it a most interesting subject. A mile away, out on one of the country roads, is the more pretentious house where he later lived. This, with its pine trees, is worth a picture. The, of course, you will snap the Norseman in the square. And these three negatives will go into an envelope in your file. On this trip, or more likely some other, it may be several years after—you will plan to drive up or down the Shenandoah Valley. A picture of Winchester, a road sign likely, where Sheridan’s name appears. These pictures will go into your “Sheridan Envelope.”

Sometime when you are down town in Cincinnati, you will snap the house on Eigth Street where Thomas Buchanan Reed lived; he who wrote “Sheridan’s Ride.”

Winchester twenty miles away.

On a picnic some springtime you will be in Murdoch. You will be at Bethel Church near Loveland, Ohio, where Murdoch lived, the actor who first declaimed Reed’s poem to a war-weary Cincinnati audience.

This has likely started a Civil War train in your mind. Certainly, as you pass through Lancaster, only twenty miles from Somerset, you will snap the house where General Sherman was born and the house next door where Senator John Sherman lived . . .

Or, as they get a little older and have other interests, you will tell them how Senator Sherman, who had extensive farm interests, went home from Washington one spring, telling his friends that he must go out to Ohio “to fix his fences.” From that day on the phrase has always had a political complexion. Out of an experience like this, made to register in the mind largely because it was definitely registered on a Kodak file, you will find that both you and members of your household will be reading say—the Life of Sherman? This is not only cumulative photography but cumulative education.

The next summer we planned our trip to include as many spots as possible connected with General Jackson’s life. So I found a steel engraving of Jackson and his wife and little girl, and ever since it has hung in my study, ‘though I am of New England extraction born and bred.’ We never visited Jackson’s birthplace, but have a picture of the house at Guiney Station where he died, and have gone to the spot in the woods on the Orange Pike where he had his last conference with General Lee, went to the monument on the same road in the Wilderness where he was accidentally shot by his own men. This we found surrounded by tar barrels and gravel used in road repair. A letter to the Richmond Times Dispatch and one to the Daughters of the Confederacy, signed by a Yankee and protesting against the desecration, lead to a cleanup, and the next year we found the place sodded and mowed.

Gettysburg we have visited time and time again; the first time under the guidance of a friend who spent his college years there and twice with Official guides (one thought we were Northerners and the other was sure we were of Southern extraction, and their interpretations of the battle varied to suit).

On one occasion we camped overnight in “The Devil’s Den.” A terrific thunderstorm in the night blew down the tent and nearly washed us out. In the morning, which was beautiful and clear, the little girl of eight looking up through the trees and seeing General Vincent’s statue, said, “Dad, I think that soldier must have been watching over us last night.” Of course, a picture of that soldier went into our “Gettysburg Envelope” and eventually into the “Civil War Scrap Book.” A print with the story, brought pleasure to our neighbor and friend, Bishop Boyd Vincent, brother of the General who was killed at Gettysburg (the Bishop is very much alive at eighty-seven).

Or take a Revolutionary trail. My great great grandfather, whose name I happen to bear, fought in the American Revolution. Our family has visited every place where he is known to have fought, and many others. Hearing of the Battle of Lexington, he and his brother, with other men, crossed Long Island Sound, walked from New London to Boston and engaged in the Battle of Bunker Hill. He was present at Cambridge when Washington took command of the Continental Army, at times was on Washington’s staff, spent the winter in Morristown (at Valley Forge we are not certain). At Monmouth he heard Washington rebuke General Charles Lee. So, in the “Grandfather Envelope” we have pictures of the spot where his house stood on the east end of Long Island, one of the monument at Groton, Connecticut, where his brother, Captain Henry, was killed when Benedict Arnold made his raid on New London, Bunker Hill Monument, Cambridge Square, the headquarters in Morristown, Molly Pitcher’s well at Monmouth (with a member of our own family standing by), the old tenant Church where grandfather, who was wounded in the battle, may have been carried, Yorktown, where likely he was present, and his grave in the old cemetery at Water Mill, where his D.A.R. great great granddaughter has erected a suitable marker.

Some of our leads have yet to be followed. For instance, in passing through Brandon, Vermont, last summer, we discovered a monument to Stephen A. Douglas, who was born there. Sometime, when we are in Illinois, we will add to the collection. In the meantime we will, some of us, do some reading and become a little better informed about Lincoln’s protagonist.

“Molly Pitcher Envelope” contains not only the well at Monmouth, but the monument in the cemetery at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which would just be a name on the map to us except for our interest in Molly.

Some of these pictures have made slides and we have inflected on our friends some accounts of our summer travels. The Kodak has gone twice to Europe, but never has it given as great satisfaction as when the family, with an over-loaded Ford and wet tent, has worked its way across the mountains.

During the Bicentenary there appeared in Maryland on some of the highways a marker, “G. Washington Went This Way.” That year we tried to follow his trails, visiting Fort Necessity, where for the first and last time he was defeated in military engagement. Not many miles away is Braddock’s grave. Down on the peninsula we found Westover, his birthplace, that had just been restored (it was too late in the day to get a picture, even with panchromatic film, and the supersensitive film had not then appeared). That same itinerary included Yorktown and, of course, Mt. Vernon. The capital city, named for him, his headquarters at Morristown were revisited, his crossing on the Delaware north of Trenton, the battlefield at Princeton, and, on the return trip, West Point and the headquarters at Newburgh.

This is a painless method of teaching history, a great incentive to large reading, a method of making a necessary trip into a pleasurable memory and an inexpensive way of keeping an illuminated diary. It involves long distances and, more to the point, a succession of years, with different areas visited. It is, however, an inexpensive adjunct to a vacation or a necessary business trip.

Distance is not absolutely necessary, but points in local history can be correlated by this picture method. For example, the writer lives in Cincinnati. The law office of Solomon P. Chase, Lincoln’s secretary of the treasury and chief justice is marked and worthy of a picture. The home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, where part of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was written, stands on one of our hills. The observatory dedicated by John Quincy Adams, and Mt. Adams, named for him, where stands a convent almost European in its setting. The place where Eliza crossed the river on the ice is not many miles up the river. An old church and several houses in the neighborhood, which were stations of the underground railway, are to be found. The old hostelry where Grant and Sherman planned the “March to the Sea” was just recently demolished. One of the battles “in General Morgan’s audacious raid into Ohio” is less than twenty miles away.

One passes Princeton, turns aside to the cemetery; America’s Westminster. Here, with the other college presidents, lies Jonathan Edwards, who died of smallpox in the village where he had just come to take the college leadership. Two days or a week later you are in Stockbridge, remembering Edwards lived there for a decade. You find a sundial on the side of his old house and in the public library, hidden away upstairs, the hexagonal revolving table on which he wrote his “Freedom of the Will.” At Northampton a church is named for him and on another corner stands a church where his church stood. In the Princeton cemetery, again on a back street, ‘though one with a famous name (Witherspoon, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration), you will find the grave of Grover Cleveland with its simple monument.