Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blue Mountains of Basutoland, 1947

Woodblock print on card to Jesse Halsey from George and Dorothy Barbour

"It’s wonderful how your spirit and influence linger and people are still conscious of your influence and speak of you with deep affection."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"The gradual scattering of the family has some grief in it . . ."

Rev. Charles E. Craven, D.D.
355 North Fullerton Avenue
Upper Montclair, N.J.

26 March 1933
My dear friend, Jesse Halsey:

For March 26th I find the note: “Jesse Halsey, m. 1910.” So I am sending you and Mrs. Halsey my congratulations—and Mrs. Craven’s also. After more than 47 years of it we are so well persuaded that marriage is good that we like to send congratulations to younger voyagers on the matrimonial sea and tell them that it gets better as the years go on. We find marriage as comfortable as an old shoe—a wonderful old shoe which grows easier, but like the shoes of the children of Israel in the wilderness never wears out.

We wish you and Mrs. Halsey a happy new year together, with God’s blessing upon your work, your family, and your church. I suppose the days are here or soon coming when your children will be away from home at school or college. The gradual scattering of the family has some grief in it, but it comes gradually, and brings compensations of many sorts. These men and women that are our children and now have children of their own in different places certainly bring many new and varied interests into our lives.

The care of a large church in these days must fill your hand and heart with many cares and responsibilities, and I can imagine that active ministry was never more interesting, engrossing, and useful than now. May you have health and strength for it, and rich satisfaction in it.

Faithfully yours,
Charles E. Craven

Friday, October 17, 2014

Report on SuffrageDay

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Monday, May 11, 1914

Southampton, L.I., May 11--On Saturday afternoon the regular monthly meeting of the Southampton Woman's Political Union was held, at the home of Mrs. Edward P. White. The principal business was the report of the two delegates--Mrs. Edward P. White and Miss Helen T. Halsey--who represented the union at the Suffrage Day celebration in New York.

Votes For Women

  Suffragists meeting at Grant's Tomb, held as part of Woman Suffrage Day events in New York City, May 2, 1914. (Source: Library of Congress; Flickr Commons project, 2010; and New York Times, May 3, 1914)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Suffolk Workers at Riverhead Expect Victory--and the Vote--in 1917

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle |Sunday, June 18, 1916
"Owen R. Lovejoy, secretary of the National Child Labor Committee, in an excellent address declared that as the women are better than men we need them in our civic and political affairs. He added that 'when mothers get the ballot the children will get better educations, bad tenement conditions will be removed, child labor will be reduced to a minimum, and we need the women's ballot to help rejuvenate our democracy in America.'"

"District officers were elected by ballot as follows: Mrs. G. S. Baxter, Bellport, Vice leaders, Miss Grace Homan, Patchogue; Miss Louise Painter, Sag Harbor; Mrs. W. C. Atwater, Westhampton Beach; Mrs. D. T. Hinckley, Wading River; and Mrs. J. Bonelli, Port Jefferson; secretary, Mrs. Edward White, Southampton; treasurer, Miss Dorothy Canfield, Patchogue."

Monday, October 13, 2014

"we are prepared as Rotarians to takeour part in municipal service"

Jesse Halsey | draft | c1940
The Jesse Halsey Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

“A Lady—Thinking Backward and Living Forward”

Introduction to Sermon c1926

Delivered in Avondale Presbyterian Church by Jesse Herrmann
[Pastor | 1916-1928]

Matthew 5:17—“I came not to destroy but to fulfill.”

One of my most vivid vacation memories clusters around a weekend spent in Southampton, Long Island. Southampton, as you may know, is a so-called fashionable summer resort. It is a popular rendezvous for men with millions. But in the midst of these ultra-modern externals you distinctly sense an invigorating atmosphere reminiscent of other days. I know of no community of its size in America that has more direct human and material contacts with the Colonial period than Southampton. On Sunday, I preached in the oldest Presbyterian church in America, founded in 1640—twenty years after the landing of the Pilgrims. Many of the permanent families in Southampton today are the direct descendents of these founding fathers. Hard by this town is the Shinnecock Hills Golf Course, where an Indian caddie carries your clubs, for close by is a government reservation for the ancient Shinnecock tribe.

A man must be exceptionally dull if his memory and emotions are not stirred in a place where the Indian hut, the colonial house, and the Millionaire’s mansion stand within a stone’s throw of one another.

But the experience that I treasure most, after a brief visit to Southampton, centers in a home whose presiding genius is a gracious lady who has rounded out more than eight decades of life. For over fifty years she had been the uncrowned queen and the unmetered priestess of that whole community—mother to the orphan, friend to the wayward, and delightful companion for the young and old. In a remarkable way she gathers up in her character the fruitage of the past, the opportunity of the present, and the promise of the future. In perfect blend the three tenses mingle in her person.

Her home clearly belongs to the Colonial vintage. Much of its furniture was built and carved by skilled ancestors. During her youth, in the open fireplace, now an interesting museum, all the meals were prepared. But these antiques stand in marked contrast with the furnishings of her mind. On the table the latest books are  found. Unless compelled otherwise by the visitor her conversation is geared exclusively to the present and the future. The windows of her soul are ever open to the winds of God as they blow from the four corners of the modern world. The roots of life are deeply embedded in the congenial soil of the past, but every branch is n intimate contact with the fresh breeze of a new born day.

In the person of this delightful character I find a living commentary on my theme: “Thinking backward and living forward.” Her life illustrates what Jesus meant when he said: “I came not to destroy, but to fulfill.” He came to reveal the beauty and to unfold the value of the old and to build them anew into the living tissues of today and tomorrow. There is supreme need in our day for skilled hands and broad-gaged souls who can sense the permanent values in the past and weave them effectively and artistically into a new garment fit for modern wear. Men and women who can think backward and live forward.

The Jesse Halsey Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

"to what purpose is this waste?”

The Jesse Halsey Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"My father used to sit and read the dictionary by the hour."

My father used to sit and read the dictionary by the hour. As a boy I could never understand it, but I do now. He was one of the original subscribers of the Standard Dictionary, paying five dollars in advance and when it was impossible to publish at that price sending in the second five. As I say, he used to read it by the hour. I never learned the dia-critical marking, new style, and have always stuck to a Webster. In college days my roommate talked me into buying a Standard. This I did, floundered around with the pronunciation and wished I had a Webster. At the same time the president of our college, Woodrow Wilson, had bought a Webster. This he did not like, wanting a Standard. He mentioned the fact one day in a preceptorial division and I offered to exchange. We made an even trade, as I remember. This was in 1908. I have often wondered if his war speeches were abetted by my dictionary. His, I used, up ‘til 1918 when it was stolen out of my study. I hope the appropriator found Mr. Wilson’s name in it, ‘though I doubt if that was the reason it was taken. For a long time I have coveted the Oxford Dictionary, the big one, but the price was prohibitive. When in came down to within my reach I happened to read Billy Phelps who says it’s pedantic for an individual to want it so I have up my ambition and not very long ago became the proud possessor of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, known in England as the S.O.E.D. I am sure that if my father had had this he would have read nothing else, for the history of each word is traced, and dated. So many many words came into the language, I find in the decade following 1600. This, however, is more or less of a teaser. Someday I am going to have the big one. This just starts you off on a hunt, and then you go to the library to look up the full genealogy of your word. Today, I wrote an appreciative review of a friend’s book, saying something like this—“He weighs with a just balance. It is in the main however, Troy rather than avoirdupois,” thinking that I had paid him a fine compliment indicating the scrupulous discerning quality of his observation. I turned up Troy, however, in the Oxford and found to my consternation, having mailed my manuscript, something like this—B. fig. In allusion to the pound Troy being less than the pound avoirdupois 1599, “There was Cresid and Nell was avoirdupois 1599.” My friend wrote back in high dudgeon that I had done despite to his volume. Why the magazine editor didn’t catch it I do not know, apparently he was no wiser than I.

--Jesse Halsey

Clamming in Labrador

"The Boss & the Gang (College Students from U.S. College)"
Repeatedly, I asked Joe Souley, John Patey, and the other fishermen who worked at the time “on the Room” (mission) if there were no clams in the harbor. The bottom at low tide looked just right for long clams, but they always said, “No.” One day I took a bucket and spade and went up to the “top” of the harbor (a mile) and came back with some good-sized one. The mud was full of them. When I showed them to Joe, he blurted, “Skipper, them are no clams, they be Cocks and Hens.” “Don’t you ever eat them?” I asked. “Not if we can help it, all durin’ the Starvation Winter we had nothin’ else, and never ate ‘em since.” Our reasonably meager diet was often increased by clam bisque, clam-pie, and fried clams; soon other Mission folk followed and after a meal at our house, Joe and some other of the harbor folk followed suit—but gingerly. They had had enough.

They didn’t know that many other groups, Indians and settlers, have survived starvation winters by the same means as is attested by the great shell heaps long the coast from Maine to Florida.

Joe Souley was a great person. He could neither read nor write but he knew a lot about life and human nature. He has sailed the seven seas and could describe ports, like Liverpool, that I had seen so accurately that I trusted his description of those I had not seen. And year after when I saw Yokohama, and Fuji, it looked just as Joe said it ought to.

Joe had worked in a copper mine up the coast at Tilt Cove and knew how to use dynamite. He taught me how to blast, but he couldn’t temper drills. They would be too soft and not hold an edge, or too brittle and break. I had watched Andy Jagger in the blacksmith’s shop on the way home from school, blown the bellow fro him, broken his twist drills, and learned many things from him. I remembered that he heated things he wanted to temper to a “cherry-red” and then dipped them in oil. Just what color cherry-red was while in a forge fire memory didn’t say, but trail and error demonstrated that it could be done.

Great boulders stood in the way of our pipe lines and cellars and much blasting was indicated.

(After his first Cottage Hospital was under roof, the Doctor, so he told me, had thought of a cellar and got a miner to blast—the roof was damaged! So we did our blasting first.)

Joe would have me hold the drill, then with a giant sledge he would begin to strike while I turned the drill in the hole. Then brave man, he took his turn holding while I . . . swung the sledge, fortunately for him I never missed—my old grandfather coming to the rescue. (I am a great believer in atavism—or whatever it may be called. Cap’n Harry, my grandfather, was a skilled mason (he built most of Greenwich Village in New York, over a hundred years ago.) He once was known to have cut the center out of a millstone to convert it into a well curb, cut it—on a bet—in thirty minutes. He knew how to swing a maul; I’m sure he was there fifty years later, for my help. (What’s fifty years among Yankees?)

--Jesse Halsey

Southampton C1887

--> Jesse Halsey

Memory prompts me to go down the village street as it was some 50 years ago. Following the old Indian trail, likely the early settlers placed their houses along the winding way that they called the main street. All the early houses, salt-box style, faced the south. The next generation built their house close to the street, many of the porches coming out even with the sidewalk. The street was wide and line on both sides by massive trees, many of them spreading elms. The trail was deep with dust in the summer, almost impassable with mud in the springtime, and in the winter rough with ruts.

The railroad came through about the time I was born, linking the villages with New York, about ninety miles to the west. Before that, most commercial and cultural connections were with New England; trading vessels plying between Boston and New London, Stonington, and our Island. At the north end of our Main Street there was a Scotch immigrant familiarly called Josh Ellison; he had four boys and six girls. Five of the latter, as I remember, succumbed in a diphtheria epidemic that swept through the village long before the time of anti-toxins. The oldest boy became a very skilled cabinet maker and wood carver. The second boy, John, went to work for the village painter. My older sisters were painting their bedroom and wanted some cream colored paint for wood work. They sent me, a boy of five or six, to the other end of the village where the paint-shop was located. I delivered my order and came home with a quart of the paint that John had mixed. When the girls applied it they found it was a brilliant colonial yellow. My older brother commented at the supper table that night, “The cream from John Ellison’s cows must be a deeper color than from ours.” (I told this story to John Ellison last summer. He still owns the paint business and half the local bank, but he did not seem to appreciate my story.)

Next down the street came “Uncle” Sam Bishop. I remember one day as a boy coming home from Camp’s Pond with a big load of wood. Mud was deep; the horses had all they could pull. As we came by Uncle Sam’s house he called out to me, “Choose a good rut, boy, you’ll be in it for a long time.” Back of the present circumstances there may have been a subtle philosophy.

Next door lived Walter Jagger whose buildings were always freshly painted, his whole farmstead meticulously kept and his farm work was always a week ahead of anyone else’s. He took the latest agriculture journals and was in many ways the most progressive man in the community. Naturally at the time when the little red school houses gave place to a union school and later added a high school, Mr. Walter was the president of the school board. The first graduating class of the new high school put on a “banquet” at the one hotel that catered to the summer visitors. The first course was bouillon served in double-handled cups. Mr. Walter, who presided led off by adding cream and sugar to his cup and saying so all could hear, “The sailors always start the day with coffee, but I suppose New Yorkers who don’t get up until noon have it for dinner. Just why they have to have two handles on the cup I do not know, but here goes.” “Strange tasting coffee,” he remarked, “but one has to keep up with the times.”

His brother [Charles A. Jagger (1862-1914)], living nextdoor, was the editor of the local paper. He had a Ph.D. from a Germanuniversity and had real literary skill. Having some financial resources (his father had been a 49-er in California) it is doubtful if he ever made his newspaper pay. In cold weather it was scarcely legible because the ink stayed sticky in the cold pressroom. Dr. Jay had political opinions and maybe ambitions. He was always in controversy with someone in the village, the President, or the Congressman. He could lay it on thick and his editorials were the talk of the village, and I imagine of the whole county. He was killed when his primitive automobile, likely . . .


Copyrighted 1934 by The Union News Company, N.Y.
Here, “way out west” as our down-east fathers thought, by express (“re-iced” as it said on the box) they came, those FirePlace oysters—big of shell, fat to fullness, firm yet tender, just waiting to be opened! And with the Long Island oyster-knife that we keep handy, opened they were and devoured!

“A well know edible bivalve mollusk” (oysters virginca) found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast of North America,” says the dictionary. Another kind is found on the Pacific Coast and a gold digger (of the forty-niner kind) who went to the golden state wrote that they were “scarce and small.” John Smith who skirted our coast in 1612 found “creuises (whatever they are), oysters, cockles, and mussels.” The Plymouth laws in 1661 inacted “five shillings shall bee payed to the cuntrey for euery barrel of oysters that is karried out of the government.” (Five shillings translated into our value might mean as much as $10.00.)

The oyster appears in many metaphorical expressions, for example, Knickerbocker’s History has “Every place was shut as tight as an oyster.” Persons have been known to enjoy themselves “like and oyster in the mud.” “Dumb as an oyster” appears in our literature and Carl Sandburg quotes a sunburned Westerner as saying, “You ain’t got the sense God gave an oyster.”

And it’s an old time business. Ben Franklin in 1726 has “oyster merchants fetch them from other places.” Narragansett had a governor in 1777 who was an “oyster-pickler.” “Oyster-venders,” “oyster-planters,” “oyster-traders,” “oyster-men,” “oyster-openers,” “oyster-gatherers,” “oyster-pirates,” and “oyster-merchants,” have appeared all up and down the East Coast all through the years.

In 1761, Conner in his diary says, “We anchored at Southold harbor by oyster ponds on Long Island,” and the Huntington town records (1857) this—“over and across the cove to the old oyster pond dam.”

Recipes for oyster pies, oyster patties, oyster soup, oyster stew, oyster currie, oyster gumbo, and oyster loaves appear in newspapers and cookbooks all across the last hundred years.

There was an oyster war in 1654 between the New Yorkers and the Jerseyites. (That latter were called clam diggers.) The New York Tribune of December 20th, 1861, records the re-opening of the oyster trade and related the difficulties of the oyster business occasioned by the War between the States. Oyster fisheries, oyster packing-houses, oyster canneries, oyster traffic, oyster laws, and oyster commissions are mentioned.

A whole fleet of oyster gathering boats appear, not only a plain “oyster boat” and the ungainly “oyster scow,” but “oyster schooners,” “oyster pinkies,” “oyster pungies,” and even an “oyster canoe” was used for tonging in Chesapeake Bay.

In Harper’s Magazine of 1882, we read that “the ship was both a fruiter and an oyster boat prosecuting these callings at different seasons,” so that the Century Dictionary definition of an oyster-boat as “a shucking house constructed on a raft” would not appear to be entirely correct.

General Putnam in the Revolution had authority to commission oyster boats for privateering and in the War of 1812 some were so employed.

“Oyster clubs,” “oyster suppers,” “oyster parties,” “oyster banquets,” as well as “oyster roasts,” are recorded.

Nichols in his account of “American Life” (1664) says that “gentlemen living upon the rivers, ponds, and inlets in the vicinity of New York have their oyster plantations as regularly as their gardens.” Scribner’s Monthly (1870) speaks of “oyster farms” and another writer in 1888 speaks of an “oyster field supplying a bounteous repast.” The “oysterman” appears in New York in 1755 and “he could clear eight to ten shillings a day.”

Oysters are sold in “cellars,” “houses,” “depots,” at “stands,” and in “shops.” In 1875, the Chicago Tribune on the fifth day of September records that “Wilson’s is decidedly the most handy and convenient oyster-parlor in the city.” George Ade in his fables frequents an “oyster bay.” The hang-out of a certain thief was an “oyster shanty,” and the “oyster bar” is still with us. “Oyster cellars” did not at first include gentlemen among their visitors” (Watson’s Philosophy 1830).

Oyster lime, obtained from the shells, is an ingredient of many plastered walls in colonial and later houses. “Wonder Working Providence” (1654) speaks of, “the country that affords no lime but what is burned of oyster shells.” In 1853, Fowler, in his “Home For All,” advises that “those persons who would economize have only to order those very shells which the oysterman has to pay to have carted away, carried to your building spot.” As early as 1853, an Almanac discloses that “all land on which clover is grown must either have lime naturally or that mineral must be artificially supplied in the form of stone-lime, oyster-lime, or mar.”

To “Oyster” is used as an intransitive verb and the Brookhaven town records in 1767 record that “The Trustees shall . . . [missing page 4]

. . . seaboards from Maine to Florida. Morton (1667) explains that many of these are twelve or fifteen feet high. Hawkins (1787), “At the lower part of the bluff is a bed of oyster shells.” Paulding (1817) writes from the South, “There are large masses of oyster shells along the banks.” New Haven (1642), “The common fields called the oyster shell fields.” Providence (1723), “eight acres upon oyster shell plains.” New York (1885), “Oyster shell bank.”

So with Weld (1799) in his “Travels” we record that on the day that the FirePlace Oysters came from Ellsworth in Greenport, that “oyster meat formed the whole of our dinner.” Someone in 1902, in a New York paper speaks of “the twenty-five cent democratic oyster stew” so we must add that ours cost more than that by a considerable amount—but was entirely worth it.

We enjoyed the oysters and the reminiscences of home; how our boys one summer went to the FirePlace Camp and how in the patriarchal days of Lyon Gardiner and his succeeding proprietors, the signal fires to call the Gardner’s Island boat were kindled at the “fire place” from whence our oysters came out of deep water, sea salted, and fresh (all at the same time), and “fat as butter” as the saying goes; “like a piece of pork” in texture and everything else that a Gardiner’s Bay oyster ought to have and be.

And because Bronson Alcott said that one ought to live above the table we have with the generous help of the Dictionary of the American Language, put together this tribute to this succulent bivalve.

“If I am not here when you awake
Just hunt me up with an oyster-rake.”
(Billings “HardTack” 1866) 

--Jesse Halsey