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after Trotsky had at first given his permission for them to seek Allied assistance against the Germans and then rescinded it.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—