Rick London: poem

  Rick London

  Bach Reviews The Newly Discovered
  Mingus / Dolphy Session

 
  JPR 09

Bach Reviews The Newly Discovered Mingus / Dolphy Session

I hate this, this — offal
The ensemble fancies nerve

as the medium of design
We can’t conclude anything

about the soloist
His statements are mostly

a frenzy of digression
What’s he saying?

If this were a garden
we couldn’t tell a footpath

from a ditch
There’s no accumulated time

in which to think
or serene interval

to lift up our passions
How are we to understand

that place in the order
of things

for the sacrament
of a breath?

This is the syncopation of ruin
Everything keeps happening

 
U. S. poet Rick London
 

Rick London is the author of the poetry collection The Materialist (Doorjamb Press, 2008). He is co-translator (with Omnia Amin) of works by Mahmoud Darwish, Ibrahim Nasrallah, and Nawal El Saadawi. He lives in Oakland, CA.

 

Ward Ritchie: My Life in Printing (last quarter of UCLA interview) 8112

nibs-2-slant

PRINTING AND PUBLISHING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
[an interview by] Ward Ritchie
Completed under the auspices of the
Oral History Program, University of California, Los Angeles

Copyright © 1969
The Regents of the University of California

In compliance with current copyright law,
U. C. Library Bindery produced this replacement volume on
paper that meets the ANSI Standard Z39 48-1984 to replace
the irreparably deteriorated original

The last episode (the third of four sections of the book) ended with the party examining the old adobe Butterfield Stage Station at Warner’s Ranch:

Nothing could have made it better. Experiences like these helped to [congeal] (make) the members of The Club (more congenial; see the end of the last sentence above) and also interested them in having some permanent place.
          I mentioned this at one time to Garner Beckett who was president of the Riverside Cement Company which owned Warner’s Ranch, and he mentioned that there was an old Butterfield Stage Station, an adobe, down there on the ranch, and possibly if we would like to take it and fix it up it could be ours on a permanent loan. So Roger and Rosamond Smith and Janet and I made the tour down there to see it and it was a most enchanting spot.

The page continues:

It had been going to ruins for some sixty or seventy years.
          We were quite

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excited about it, but when we discovered what it would cost to fix it up and maintain it, we felt that even in those Depression happy years, it was a little beyond the budget of the members of The Club. So we had to turn that offer down, though quite reluctantly.
          Gordon Newell at one of the Thursday night meetings produced an ad which appeared in the Los Angeles Times offering 640 acres of land three miles from Big Sur, including a stand of redwoods, a gushing stream and a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. This intrigued us very much, and we called the people who had made the offer. They said that it would be necessary for us to give them $25.00 before they would divulge the exact location. Delmer was so entranced by the idea that he said that he would put up the $25.00, and so we went down to see the people.
          They explained that it was in back of Big Sur, but that before they could consummate a deal, it would be necessary for some of us to go and personally inspect the property. Once again we made up a small caravan, this time consisting of Peter O’Crotty and his wife Betsey, Hunt Lewis and his wife Rosemary, and Janet and myself. Going up the coast of California is always beautiful and spectacular. Gordon a year or so before had picked up a plot on a hill above Big Sur and had started building there. When we arrived there fairly late in the day, we decided to camp out under the redwoods at his place. The next day we went on to the

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forestry station to find out how to get to this particular-piece of property. The ranger who had been an old-timer there, puzzled a little while and then said, ‘Yes, I was there once.’ [laughter]
          We said, ‘Well it’s only three miles from here, isn’t it?’
          And he said, ‘Yes, if you were a crow, but it took me three days to get in there by horse.’
          It developed that in order to get there you had to go up one side of the Big Sur River about twenty miles or so until there was a place where you could cross the river and then you had to climb back and up the hills and over the mountains until you finally got there. And he said, ‘it is delightful when you get there, but it’s practically inaccessible.’ (it was at that time.) Well, we gave up on that. But he said, ‘If you are interested in buying property, the Castro family owns plenty of it around here.’
          We found out where they lived. I’ve since forgotten the name of the man who was the head of the family then. He had married one of the Castro girls. We saw them and they were delightful to us and took us up through the fire roads to the very top of the hills overlooking Big Sur. We could see the ocean on one side — this vast expanse of the Pacific — and on the other side we could look down into the great wild Big Sur area — the canyon which the river had dug down there. We didn’t buy because although this land that he

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showed us was beautiful, being on top of the ridge we saw no possibility of getting any water up there. But the family was very generous and kind to us and took us down and fed us jerky and then had us to lunch, and we spent a very pleasant day with them. The idea was good about having some permanent hideaway such as the Bohemian Club has up at their grove, but we were never quite that affluent.

I DON’T THINK ANY WHO WERE MEMBERS OF THE CLUB WILL EVER FORGET
J.D. Hicks, who was our man-of-all-work around the club. J.D. may have had a first name, but he was always known as ‘J.D.’ He was a colored gentleman from Arkansas, and I first met him one day when he was ambling up the street. He came up to the front door and asked me if I was Colonel So-and-so, and I admitted that I wasn’t.
          He said, ‘Well, I was told that I could get a job if I could find Colonel So-and-so.’ And he looked around and he said, ‘Might you have any work that I could do here?’
          And I looked around, I saw that it needed some weeding so I said, ‘All right. I’ll pay you so much an hour if you’ll go out and weed the garden.’
          He was willing and able, but as I recall now he pulled out more flowers than he pulled out weeds. Anything that was green was a weed to him. This was when we were living on Griffith Park Boulevard, with the house on the side of the hill. Before the day was over, he knew more about the arrangement than I did. On the one side of the building

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there was a door that led into the dirt hillside where we used to leave tools and things like that. By nighttime, J.D. came to me and asked if I would mind if he cleaned that out a bit and slept in there that night. Well, I was agreeable and that became J.D.’s permanent abode. The next thing he wanted to fix it up and put in a cement floor and a cement wall on the side, and that was perfectly agreeable.
          J.D.’s method of working was rather crude. He had a great deal of confidence in his ability. And when any question came up, certainly J.D. could do it. In this particular case, he was going to complete this new room to my great satisfaction, and asked if I would give him enough money so that he could buy a sack of cement and get some sand. That was fine. The shop at that time was about two blocks away, and at mid-morning he came and asked me if he could have enough money to get another sack of cement. Well, that seemed reasonable, so I gave him some more. Another hour or so, he came and asked if he could have enough money to get another sack of cement. After this had happened four times, I became puzzled and came back to look at his beautiful handiwork. To my amazement, he had built a form in which to pour the cement for the side of the wall, but in his inimitable way he had very jerry-made it. Every time he poured in a bucketful of concrete the form would spread, and the wall had a fine bulge, and it was at least

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three feet thick in the middle. [laughter] Each time that he would pour some more in, it would spread a little more. He was beginning to get frustrated because he never seemed to be able to get the concrete up to the top of his form. [laughter] We solved that problem for him, and eventually it hardened and J.D. had his little room there. He stayed for — I don’t know how long — a year or more than that.
          As I said, J.D. could do anything. When The Club first started, he became the handyman. He would serve the beer, and he also made up sandwiches which he would sell to us at five cents apiece which is not exorbitant, but it was a good deal for what J.D. gave us. It was two slices of white bread with no butter or anything on and a slab of cheese usually. J.D. also mentioned the fact that he was a fine cook, and any time that we would want to have a dinner party he would be willing and able to cook it for us. We took him up on it occasionally, and truly the meals were quite satisfactory, but we found that he imported a fat girl friend of his who did practically all of the work for him, but it was satisfactory to us.
          We enjoyed J.D. especially when he would sing to us Negro spirituals. J.D. always talked about himself as the Reverend J.D. Hicks, and this theological title fitted him quite well at times. I imagine that it was quite easy in some of the Negro churches to acquire a title like

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GREGG
… formations which prints the various shadings. But when a scientist is looking at these through a microscope, they are so distorted by the dot-structure that he doesn’t really see what he is looking for. However, this collotype process, which is a completely different type of printing, allows the reproduction to be made without any screen distortion at all. While printing these things, they had a small typesetting unit to do the captions for the illustrations, and Gregg went there to set the type for them.

GREGG
          Soon in his meticulous way he had cleaned up the place; the type had accumulated for dozens of years in this old antiquated printing plant. It wasn’t long after he started work that they noticed that the lights were on in a certain portion of the building until midnight every night, and out of curiosity some of the employers went down to see what was happening. It was Gregg working on his own to get the place cleaned up as he had wanted it. Well, they didn’t think that he should be doing all of this on his own, but they became quite interested in a man who had their well-being so much in his mind and yet never mentioned it to them that he was doing all of these things. So he became quite a favorite there. Another young fellow there by the name of E. Harold Hugo, who later became the general manager, became extremely fond of Gregg, and the two of them started making plans for the publication of some books. The first one which they got out was called The Collections of

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The kitchen was probably an inch-deep with plaster all over, and this included the top of the stove and the refrigerator and everything. The ceiling was a complete mess, and evidently the door from the kitchen to the dining room had been left open and there was plaster all over the rugs.
          I got J. D. — to ask him what had happened. Then I noticed that there had been a whole bottle of gin over in one corner which was also completely covered with plaster, with handprints on it, and it was about three-quarters gone now.
          ‘Well, Mr. Ritchie,’ he said, ‘I mixed the plaster and I got up on the ladder with a trowel and I put it up in that little spot. Then I pulled the trowel away, and the plaster fell on my face. I did it again and I held it up there a long time and I jumped quickly and the plaster fell down again. Now, I don’t like to have plaster in my hair or on my face, so I very ingeniously figured out a new way. I got the bowl of plaster and I put my hand in it and then I would throw it up. You know in time, it began to stick?’ [laughter] But in the meantime the house had to be thoroughly cleaned up and fixed up after that.
          Now J.D. would never admit to drinking because being a preacher it wasn’t good policy. He had a habit of talking to himself. Every time he was thinking, the words would come out. He had a bottle of Pisco, a Chilean liqueur which we had gotten many years ago because it had been quite popular at one time in San Francisco — the famous Pisco

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punch. At one Wine and Food Society dinner, they had brought in a case of it so that we could relive those ancient San Francisco days with Pisco punch, and I had acquired a bottle of it. Now, it’s the type of thing which you don’t drink very often, possibly once a year, and it always seemed a little curious why this bottle slowly went down. One day I was in the next room and I heard J.D. shuffling in the kitchen. He was talking to himself, ‘Poor J.D., he sure feels bad today. I just wonder what J.D. could do to make himself feel a little better. Well, you know, there’s some of that stuff up there, but then I don’t think so, that’s Mr. Ritchie’s. But you know, Mr. Ritchie wouldn’t really care, not if I just took a little. No, I’m sure he wouldn’t care.’ And then you’d hear a little glug. J.D. would amble around doing something, and then he’d say, ‘Well, you know, that did help a bit but not quite enough. I think possibly Mr. Ritchie wouldn’t mind if I had two drinks today.’ [laughter] Well, that was J.D. — quite a wonderful character — and he lived with The Club members for a year or so.
          One day he came to me and said, ‘Mr. Ritchie, I’m going to get married.’
And I said, ‘J.D., this is wonderful. How come at your age?’
          He said, ‘Mr. Ritchie, all of my friends are on relief and here I’m working. Now if I get married, I can go on

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relief with the rest of them.’ [laughter] And so J.D. married his fat cook and that was the last we ever heard of J.D. He moved down to Central Avenue and …
          Dixon: Presumably went on relief?
          Ritchie: I imagine that he did.
          In 1911, we moved to La Cañada, and while it didn’t actually end The Club, for all practical purposes that was the end because we were too far from the center where everybody was and nobody else had the place or the willingness to take over the Thursday nights, though there were many attempts to do this and to revive it. The war came soon after and most of the people were dispersed to other areas. So the little club era of four, five years was quite an interesting, exciting one. Then it ended, and from time to time various members get together but they too are so spread now, all over the United States, that The Club is gone.
          In 1936, Remsen Bird, President of Occidental College, asked me if I would give a course in graphic arts at the college. It seemed to me a most interesting project, and I wasn’t a bit adverse to adding slightly to my income at that time, though the amount that the college could pay, because it too was suffering from the Depression, was not very great. That fall, I began teaching twice a week. It was a different course than had been given at Occidental previous to it, and the result was I got a very special type

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of student. They were eager and interested, and we had great fun.
          I should like to read my introduction to the course which began on September 22, 1936:

I should like to be able to tell you at this first meeting of the class exactly what the course will cover and how it will be conducted, but I am unable. In truth the whole thing is an experiment inasmuch as Occidental has never given a course similar to this and I have never taught a course at all. In the catalogue it is listed under a rather technical title, but I want to make it to include more than it there promises. I hope to make it the sort of course that I should have liked to have had in college. I have memories of evenings in the home of David Starr Jordan of Stanford at which a great variety of subjects were discussed, perhaps that was near it. It is not the kind of course that will prepare you for any practicular work. I watched the men who were my classmates in college, most of them entered business to find that the definite preparation which they had made in college was of no very great value. They found that starting at the bottom they had to learn all the practical methods of their particular business as they worked up. What was the value and what gave them an advantage against their less educated working companions was that they knew how to seek out new knowledge as it was demanded of them. They knew what books were for. But their education was of the most value to them in fields outside of their own immediate one. For you too will find that once you’ve entered upon a career that there is all too little time for grounding yourself in other valuable but not immediately useful subjects. They are easy enough to carry along if you’ve already mastered the fundamentals during your school days, and they offer many opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment. Books are the granaries of knowledge, and it is my object to make you love them now when you are just starting your intellectual life that, henceforth, you may have the pleasure which they give. Naturally I want you to love the physical book as well as the knowledge which it contains, for that is the apparent purpose of this course. I think it is important for you to start buying your own books and forming a library. You’ll never find a happier sport than

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prowling in old bookstores where some odd volume may be hidden that was made to fit your fancy. And you will find still more pleasure when you unwrap it at home and slowly pour [pore] through [over] its pages. Your shelves will grow along with your years and you will mark new interests and pleasures. A man’s library is the history of his mental life, and its lack is a serious handicap. I don’t think it is fair to oneself to read without owning books. There are hundreds of books on my shelves which I shall never read again.
          Yet the mere sight of them reawakens memories of the emotions or the ideas I had while reading them. I even remember with pleasure the feel of the paper and the touch of the binding. Each of these books remains an important part of my life with which I’d [be] loathe to part [with] and while I am sad often with the thought that they have passed through my mind and I probably shall never read them again, I shall still carry them along my ways until the end. You will have fun with books because there are also booksellers and other avid collectors to help enhance life. And some day you will meet authors and even with great daring send a timid note to one of your favorites and have a happy surprise when he answers you. But primarily I want you to create. I hope that you will write — poetry, criticism, fiction, or whatever is in your mind. I hope that some of you will become interested in illustrating or in making initial letters. I hope that before the course is over that we can gather together all of our creations and form a book, material evidence of our interest in creation.

          The course consisted of many things. Basically it was a history of the book from the origin of the written word, of letter forms, on through to the modern creation of the printer. But as we went along, we tried many things. For instance, for several weeks or a month we would do calligraphy. We cut our own pens, made our own quills.
          They learned the letter forms as the great calligraphers of the Middle Ages had perfected them. They practised them so that they too could write similarly.
          We were creative to a certain extent. One year we did a book of poetry, perhaps thirty-six pages. We had a

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competition; we allowed students from the college to submit their verse. We winnowed them, laid them out, printed them and illustrated the book. The final examination was always a thesis rather than asking them questions. It was most surprising the amount of research that was done for this little two-unit class. The theses that I received were full of research, good bibliographies to them. Each of them chose a subject, whether it be of books in the Middle Ages or one of the great printers, and did a thoroughly good job.
          Dixon: Was this an upper division course?
          Ritchie: I imagine it was; I don’t recall. It was a fairly selective course. Usually there were about a dozen students in it. It was a seminar-type course where we sat around a large table and chatted and talked. I would lecture to a certain extent, but it was a lot of talk too. When we had our projects, we could all have table room to work.
          The greatest help to me in this particular course was not from the Art Department, but from the Department of English. During the time when the students would get their advisors’ consent for various courses, the English Department was quite intrigued with this course and would pick some of the brightest, most energetic people to recommend for it. As I recall I gave this course for three years at Occidental College. Then I started a summer school in printing at the plant.

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The inspiration for this came from a couple of sources. One was from a most energetic girl who had gone to Occidental College; her name at that time was Helen Dallas. She had been editor of the Annual back around 1933 or 1934. President Bird, who was always interested in taking somebody with ability and trying to build new interests for them, brought this girl over to me and said, ‘Here is the new editor of the Annual. Perhaps with your experience, you can give her some ideas.’ It ended, up that I designed the Annual and set the type and was responsible for all of the makeup. Then it was printed by the printer who had been doing the Occidental Annual for a good many years. But it was a wonderful challenge. The yearbooks that I had seen had been sort of dull, badly arranged picture books. We changed the size and the format; it was a much larger book in format than Occidental had ever had. We made it clean, cut down on the text and gave space for the pictures. The pictures with their captions told the story of the year at Occidental College. It caused quite a bit of turbulence at Occidental because the students weren’t used to anything like it.

[494 somewhere here?]

          It was resented somewhat by the members of the athletic teams because they feel that they weren’t getting as much recognition in this particular Annual as they sometimes did. But in the long run it had a great effect because the succeeding annuals of Occidental reflected on what had been done this year. Other schools, also seeing this, began fashioning some of their ideas to what was being done at Occidental.
          Helen Dallas had gone back to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. She was back there working on development. They had received a Sloan Foundation grant of some size for ‘consumer education.’ She was working on this project which included the publication of the Proceedings of a Conference on Consumer Education. From her past experience working with me on the annual she insisted on sending the job of printing this to me in Los Angeles.
          While it was only a paperback, it was selected by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as one of the Fifty Books of the Year. As a result, this enhanced her position back there and also made her interested in knowing more about the graphic arts process. She wrote saying that the college would like her to know more about printing, together with a young chap, Joe Melia, who was their production man. She asked if it would be possible for them to come out during the summer and study under me?
          At the same time, Dorothy Drake, the librarian at Scripps College, had become more and more interested in the arts of the book. One day while I was out there, I met Mary Treanor and her mother; I had known John Treanor many years before as a member of the Zamorano Club. He had been president of the Riverside Cement Company at

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that time and had been killed. Both Mary and her mother had acquired from John an interest in fine printing.
          The subject came up at Scripps that it would be nice if there was someplace where they could learn more. Mary Treanor said that she would like to take the course, too.
          The fourth member came in, and I am not certain how she heard of it, but a big Cadillac stopped in front of the shop one day and a very handsome woman came in. Her daughter had just graduated from Marlborough School and she was interested in art and she wanted her to learn something about the art of books. So Robin Park was the fourth of the students that came in that year.
          This was a month course which I gave during the summer, and it was a real hard hitting course. We started in the morning and had a two-hour lecture session each morning and then questions. After lunch was a laboratory session. The building in which we were located on Hyperion Avenue had originally had two stores down on the first floor and four apartments upstairs. We used the downstairs as our plant, and the upstairs we had rented out to various families — usually some of our employees. I took one of those apartments, and we converted it into a little private press with several cases of type and the little proofing press that I had gotten from Thomas Perry Stricker several years before. We also had all of the facilities of the shop down below if we needed additional type orna-

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ments, blocks or other things.
          During the afternoon, the students would work on various projects.
          We started out with simple things; they would just set up a few paragraphs so they would learn how to set type. What I did was to give them a poem by Housman or somebody like that, and each of them would work out a design for it and make it into a little booklet. They did bookplates and they did Christmas cards. Finally they got on to major projects; each one was supposed to do a booklet before he got through.
          It was tough on me because I had to prepare a two-hour lecture every night for the next day. During the afternoon, of course, they were pretty much on their own. I didn’t have to supervise them too closely, so it gave me a certain amount of time to work in and around the shop while conducting the class.
          Mary Treanor and Robin Park were so interested in their work that they asked if they could stay on during the winter months. They were pretty much on their own.
          I gave them a certain amount of supervision, but they had their own projects. The first of these was a talk which had been given at Scripps College which Mary brought in.
          They set and printed a hundred or so copies. Then they got a commission to do a little book of poems for somebody. Then Robert Cowan wanted to have a keepsake for the Zamorano Club, and he commissioned them to do that.
          But their triumph was a book called An Evening With the Royal Family by A.E. Housman. This juvenile work of Housman’s had been found someplace. One of the American magazines had printed it, and the girls got permission to reprint it. I think they only did a hundred copies or so — very nicely done — and it turned out to be the first edition in book form. If and when copies can be found, it should prove to be a very valuable Housman item. They called themselves the Greenhorn Press.
          The next year I repeated this program and had as pupils Barbara Chapin and Helen Abel from Scripps College and Jane Frampton from Occidental College. Jane went back to Occidental College for her masters’ degree after that and wrote the first history of the fine printers of southern California, as her thesis. I saw plenty of her the next year while she was working on it because she relied on me for much of her information. I would take her over to meet people such as Stricker, Cheney, Bruce McCallister, Dahlstrom and Marks. She worked this out with a bibliography of the books that had been printed by each of the presses up to that time. It is a valuable source book.
          In the meantime, Scripps College got interested in a printing program, too. Mary Treanor helped stimulate their interest. They were given a grant by Mrs. Phillips to have a typeface designed and to start a Scripps College

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press. Frederic Goudy was chosen to do this new typeface, and during the that year I was called in quite often to see what Mr. Goudy had sent out in the way of letter designs, to check them over for possible suggestions and to work with them as closely as possible on this new project. The presentation was made by the Class of 19′-Hj during graduation week on the 5th of June in 1941.
          Mary Treanor was still working with us and with Robin Park at the press. Mary set up an announcement for the event. The press was to be called the Hartley Burr Alexander Press in memory of the great Scripps teacher. The program consisted of the introduction of the guests of honor, Nelly Alexander; Catherine Coffin Phillips, who had made possible the type; Frederic Goudy himself; and myself, who had given them the Washington hand press on which I had started. I have further notes about a subsequent dedication:

September 18th, 1941, was a memorable day at Scripps and the whole campus, especially Dorothy Drake, was excited by the celebration arranged for the presentation of the new type Goudy had designed for their little press. The type had been cast up by Mackenzie and Harris and a couple of paragraphs had been set up, none too well. On Monday Goudy brought it into the shop and we restyled it, making a few corrections and alterations and proofs and he took the type out to Claremont with him for the celebration on Thursday. Here it was placed on the old hand press, and as a miscellaneous group of students, faculty and friends gathered around, Mr. Goudy pulled a proof to inaugurate the Hartley Burr Alexander Press.
          That evening there was a banquet in honor of Mr.

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Goudy and Mrs. Phillips who put up $1,000 for the design of the type. It was formal and Mr. Goudy and I changed our clothes in his room at the Claremont Inn. Thanks to him I did not have to go cuff-buttonless as he had an extra pair which the Boston House of Printing craftsman had given him on some occasion, and I had forgotten to bring any. The dinner was followed by many lengthy speeches by Dr. Jaqua, Dorothy Drake, Mrs. Esterly and Robert Schad leading up to the piece de resistance, the talk by Frederick Goudy. All of these talks had been elaborate, very finished and fluently given. Mr. Goudy got up and stumbled around a few minutes as he deprecated the many nice things which had been said about him in the previous introductions. Then he told how happy he was, as Christopher Morley had once said: ‘Fred Goudy has an incalculable capacity for friendship.’ And now he felt this great friendship enveloping Scripps. Then he turned around and said, ‘I had a story and I was going to tell you, but I’ve forgotten what it is.’ And then, ‘Now that I am up here I am in a quandary because I don’t know how to sit down again.’ Whereupon everybody clapped and though from where I sat and watched him he appeared to be going to continue on Dr. Jaqua turned to him and said, ‘Let us all sit down so that Mr. Goudy can do it comfortably.’ And that was the end of the celebration, except that Goudy told us after the dinner had broken up, the story he had forgotten. He was going to tell of the occasion when the toastmaster got up and said, ‘Tonight we were planning to have with us, the celebrated wit So-and-so. But unfortunately at the last moment, he found that he would be unable to be present. And so we were pleased and fortunate in getting two half-wits.’ [laughter] Then Mr. Goudy said, ‘I was going to hope that the audience would not start looking for the other half-wit.’

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TAPE NUMBER: THIRTEEN, SIDE TWO

September 1965

Ritchie: A couple of sessions back I was talking about P.J. Smith, and since then I’ve found some notes on P.J.’s early struggles to get by, which I think will be a little more accurate than the memories that I gave you.

This was back in 1939; when I was out at P.J.’s and he told me of his early struggles. He had gone two years to Emory and Henry College when he fell in love with a girl and was so frightened and jealous when she went out with another man that he secretly married her. But his father found out and there was a terrific fight. Paul Jordan walked out, left Emory and Henry and transferred to the University of Chattanooga where he got the teaching fellowship in Chemistry. Also he delivered morning and evening papers and on Saturday worked in a shoe store.
          During his senior year, he was taken down with typhoid fever and had a nervous breakdown which took all of his money. Also he had his first child Isabel Smith. When he went back to school, he had to get a scholarship and for several months went on crutches, but was finally well and graduated with his class at the age of twenty-one. He was awarded a Fish Fellowship to Harvard University but didn’t have enough money to get there. Through Some friends of his family he made arrangements to borrow enough, but

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when his father heard of it, he went to the man who had offered to give the money and asked him if he would favor him by not giving Paul Jordan the money.
          As a result he didn’t go to Harvard, but he went to Atlanta where he shifted from the Methodist church to the Unitarian church, because in the South the Unitarian church was not especially strong and he was able to go to the seminary there. The Unitarian church had been anti-slavery and had been having difficulty getting any Southern college men to attend. He spent a year there and was promised a big church, but when his father and the Atlanta Unitarian minister got together and the Unitarians found out how he had deceived his father, they didn’t give him the job they had promised. So he deserted to the Universalist church and got a job near Galesburg in Illinois. By that time he had two or three children, but he was a spellbinder so never had much trouble thereafter. In Kansas City, he built a church to great proportions by keeping its doings in the paper. He threw out the Bible and Prayer-book; he covered the walls with biological specimens and gathered in the IWW’s and Socialists. His entrance was always dramatic run down the aisle and a leap onto the platform. He was extremely popular except with the orthodox and had trouble with the Mother Church. But already he had a better-offer in Chicago, where he stayed three years building up a settlement house. From there he went to Berkeley to teach

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in the University but was kicked out for some scandal or radicalness and soon after married Sarah Bixby Smith.
          I was talking about Goudy and the dedication of the press at Scripps College last time when we stopped.
          Goudy had a remarkable career, designing well over a hundred different typefaces; very few of them were major when we think of the great typefaces of all time. But they had a consistently high level, and some of them will probably remain among the standard types from now on. When I knew him, he was fairly well-advanced in age. He was short, dumpy–hardly a man that you would think of as being a playboy, but when Perry Stricker returned from New York one time, told many many tales of Fred Goudy who loved to drive a high-powered car as fast as he could around the New York area. He was not a drinking man — at least he wasn’t during his later years — but he seemed to have had a knack with girls. I do recall once when he was here visiting that he mentioned having a girl friend in California. Well, I was sure at his age that it was in memory mostly, [laughter] But he was quite annoyed at one time because I had bought a copy of one of his books on alphabets in which there was a kindly dedication to some girl, and the thought that she had sold this book almost killed him. [laughter]
          One story of his which always amused me was when he was asked how he designed a type — a letter. And he said, ‘Well, it’s not too difficult. First, you think of a

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letter in your mind and you draw a line around it.’
Which is about the simplest way of explaining a design that I can think of.
          Now that Scripps had a hand press and some type designed especially for them, they wanted to start producing. They had ambitious plans, being quite innocent of what is required in printing and how limited actually their facilities were. Mrs. Phillips, who donated the money to have Goudy do the type, expected this to be a great publishing house, handling not only all Scripps’ printing needs but to issue many books. Since Mary Treanor had been a graduate of Scripps College, they asked her to take charge of the press that year. It was a most trying year for her, I am sure, because technically she wasn’t yet equipped to handle it and teach. The technique of using the hand press is quite different from the proof press that she had been operating at our shop, she had kept careful notes during the previous summer when she was taking the summer course from me, and she used this as a basis for her lectures or her talks to the girls. But there was little accomplished during that first year.
          The next year, starting in September of 1942, Dorothy Drake, the librarian, asked me if I would consider teaching out there, at least giving them some help. At that time, the war had started and I was working at Douglas Aircraft six days a week. It didn’t give me very much time.

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something much more caustic, and found that he was quite urbane; expected him to be brusque, and he goes out of his way to give me directions here and there, tells me what I should see; gives me a card to the Atheneum, and letters to all the printers he knows. I think he feels a little responsible for me, as if he had lured me out of the west and here I am, and what can he do about it.
          But he still does not feel that he is bound to hire me. I am sure I do not know the technique of breaking down his resistance; maybe there is none. However, he set me right on one point. Writing personal letters to him without being introduced first is an A-l crime. That was no kind of letter to write. So when I had the opportunity to write to the Meriden Gravure Company which had responded slightly to a line I wrote them, I took it around to him before mailing it, and he pruned and clipped it into what he thought was a straightforward and business-like form, and then off it went.
          But he tells me that when he hires someone, he wants someone he can boss, no bright young fellows with suggestions to offer. And he doesn’t want someone with ambitions, who will work a while and then off for the woods. He might hire me, he said, if he needed someone to set type, but no quicker than he would anyone else who came along. And he has all the typesetters he needs at present, thank you. So I have given up hope, as far as he is concerned.
          Gregg did get the job at Meriden Gravure Company which was a printing plant in Meriden, Connecticut which was concerned at that time with collotype, which is a method of printing illustrations without a screen in the illustrations, so it is usually used in scientific works or in very specialized books where they want the reproduction as clean and faithful as possible. The problem when scientific photographs are printed in the usual method, either by letter-press or by offset, is that they are photographed through a very fine screen which makes the dot

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but I did agree to go out there one Sunday a month. We did start operations, and there was enough interest that a batch of the girls gave up their Sundays, as I had, to try and operate the press.
          It was a most pleasant experience.
          We had a little room in the basement of the Art Building at that time.
          The old Washington hand press had been refurbished somewhat by the college. These old presses sometimes do get a bit worn, and this particular one had a little low spot right in the middle where through years and years of hard usage it had worn a bit. The college had it planed off and put into good shape for me. I spent only six or seven sessions out there during the year           — hardly enough time to accomplish much. The next year I had left Douglas and was working with an advertising agency which wasn’t quite as rigorous from the standpoint of time. I was able to go out every Saturday, and we had a much better opportunity to both teach and produce little booklets. I did this also for the year 1944/45 and for 1945/46.
          The classes were always small because with the equipment it was difficult to work with more than five or six. Even so we usually had to allot time at the hand press to print a job. We started out much as the students had at my summer sessions, setting a bit of poetry and progressing to little personal projects           — booklets, bookplates, Christmas cards and such things. Some of the booklets

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became quite ambitious. As some of the girls were also taking art they did linoleum-cut illustrations for their books, and many of them wrote their own material too.
          A few were particularly outstanding. Betty Davenport, who later known as Betty Davenport Ford, has been most successful as an animal sculptor. There was a little girl by the name of Charlene Mahoney who had great ability; she took almost every prize at Scripps during her senior year and was writing what I thought was to be very creditable verse. Of course, she was so attractive that she was very soon snapped up. [laughter] I imagine that she’s become a housewife since I’ve heard nothing more about her.
          One very amusing girl was Nancy Scripps, who is one of the Scripps family who had started Scripps College. She told one amusing story — her family lived down near San Diego and she had a couple of younger brothers. There was a fire on the street one time, and her mother, being a very sensible woman, took the children down and not wanting them to be frightened by this thing, she explained how beautiful the flames were and such reassuring things. The fire was over and they went home, and within a little while, their house was on fire. [laughter] The children had been so intrigued and this was such a nice thing that they wanted to see more of it.
          Goudy was quite interested in the college press, and naturally the college was very proud of having his type

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there. I recall that several years before, when I had first had correspondence with Fred Goudy, it was in May of 1933. It has always interested me since because it gives an insight of how Goudy worked and also what a typeface would cost in those days. I had a note from him.

Dear Mr. Ritchie:

A note from Mr. Carroll Harris from San Francisco received this morning suggests that you might be interested in securing the exclusive rights to my Village text, the redesigned and recut Aries which I offered some months ago to Mr. Grabhorn at a ridiculously low price, as such things go. I have been holding off, as one of the large New York publishers was considering it but who finally decided that times are too hard to incur the expense for the comparatively limited use they could make of it.
          It is essentially a type for the private printer rather than for the general run of publications.
          The matter stands this way, I have recut the matrices in what are called masters from which the monotype company can make electro-display matrices and which Mr. Harris could cast on his monotype or Thompson caster. These electro-mats will cost me approximately $100, possibly a trifle more, depending on the actual number of characters. And I would want at least $600 for the exclusive rights to the design or $700 for the matrices and rights.
          $250 down and balance in one, two or three monthly payments, from time when mats were ready for delivery. If time is any object to you, I might accept $50 less for all cash.
          This price is practically one-half my usual charge for a type and if not disposed of now will go into my specimen of new faces and sold through Continental Type Founders to printers, specimen now preparing.
          I am sending you some proofs of it. It has never been shown except in two little Christmas cards of my own, that is none of the type has been sold to any printer.
          Mr. Harris tells me that you met my friend Bruce Rogers in England. You probably met also my friends George Jones and Stanley Morison. Rogers is here now and is returning to England this month to finish the Bible, now printing at Oxford. We, Mrs. Goudy and I, have just completed the composition for him in Deepdene italics, l6-point for a privately

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printed edition in limited number of the letters to B. R. from T. E. Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia) on the making of the Odyssey. From what Mr. Harris tells me regarding you it would be pleasant to know that the type which in a sense is an unique design had an appreciative owner and a good home. There are a few slight changes in two or three characters I would make and possibly add two or three to add to its value and usefulness. Additional sizes could be added as needed if wanted and a reasonable charge made for cutting. I shall be glad to hear from you.
Very truly yours.
          P. S. It would require from two to three weeks to get the commercial mats from my masters.

This was a great temptation, as you can imagine, to a young printer to have something unique and beautiful, and certainly it would enhance my position as a private press printer. But it was still 1933. And jobs were scarce           — money was scarcer           — and even though the price seems ridiculously low now, in those days it was quite high. It had been offered to Grabhorn, and subsequently Grabhorn did buy the type and the rights from Mr. Goudy and rechristened it Franciscan. A typeface which he has used quite often and with very pleasant results. As was typical of Grabhorn in those days, he disliked paying bills so years later Mr. Goudy still complained about the slowness with which he was paid by Grabhorns [laughter] for the matrices. But I think all was eventually happy; Goudy too must have been pleased with the numerous books which were set in his unique face.

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During the last year that I was teaching at Scripps, I suggested during Christmas vacation that if some of the girls wanted to see a really interesting printing shop they should see the shop of the Grabhorns in San Francisco, which was more of an art gallery than a printing shop, and it was an antique gallery too. Everything was so delightfully arranged that it’s unlike any printing shop in the country. Several of the girls went up there during vacation and came back quite ecstatic about it. In the meantime, I was down with the mumps so that we had to postpone classes for a few weeks. When I got back, I was so pleased to find that they hadn’t completely wasted the time that I was away.
          They had printed for me this little poem which had been written by Ruth Kestenbaum:


To our Master Craftsman

Four hearts are now enlightened
And our day was greatly brightened
By our survey of the works of Grabhorn’s Press.

But we were in such terror
At the thought of Nature’s error
When we heard of Mr. Ritchie in distress.

We stopped our criticising
Of your work in advertising:
Your illness has our spirits in the dumps.

We take back jokes about your age
Knowing now you are a young sage.
For an old man could not ever have the mumps. [laughter]

I relinquished my job teaching out there with a certain amount of regret, though it was a little trying to spend every Saturday at the press, because the trip out and

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back took me a couple of hours and the teaching took three more hours so that I never had a free Saturday to myself.
          But a professor by the name of Joseph Arnold Foster was coming to teach in the English Department. Joe Foster had had admirable training at Carnegie Institute of Technology where he had been one of the bright lights in Porter Garnett’s Laboratory Press. So it was felt that with him full-time on the faculty, that he could take over the printing shop and handle both jobs without too much difficulty.
          Joe Foster had never been a professional printer; he had attended Carnegie Tech and later had gotten his doctor’s degree and had gone into teaching. He had taught at Oberlin College where Waldo Dunn, the head of the English Department at Scripps, had come from, and so there was a rapport between the two. He was the one who induced Joe Foster to come to Scripps. Porter Garnett was a precisionist — a man who used type ornaments with great delicacy and ingenuity. The specimens which came out of the Laboratory Press reflected his own typographical preferences. Joe Foster followed this pattern of designing and embellishing with type ornaments. From the standpoint of teaching — when you’re not teaching professionally but in order to stimulate an interest in amateurs — it has many advantages because in using, arranging and rearranging type ornaments you are able to do pictures and decorative designs. it’s like a puzzle, and

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it is an intriguing way of handling small projects. Foster has been eminently successful with his girls. As he himself says, ‘The girls have created things which I would have loved to have produced and would never have thought of their simple variations and the way that they’ve done it. But when you get half a dozen girls vying with one another on these projects, these delightful creations come.’
          Joe didn’t use the hand press; that was left over in the Art Building for the art students to use for wood blocks. He moved the press over to one of the academic buildings where his own office was, and rather than have the girls do their own presswork, he had a little Chandler & Price and incredibly enough, he did all the presswork for all of these girls. He was a man of great devotion because he had to do this at nights, on weekends, when otherwise he could have been enjoying himself or working on other things. He is such a modest man that, aside from recognition at Scripps, he has had hardly any recognition of what has been done there. For years I have tried to get samples from him and he said, ‘Well, one of these days.I’ll get them together.’ And it literally took me about ten years before I was able to get a batch of them.
          This last year, when Beatrice Warde the eminent English printing historian and one-time editor of the Monotype Recorder in London was here, I spirited her away and took her out to Scripps, after calling Joe Foster

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because I thought that she of all people would be the one to appreciate what was being done. It was a great surprise to her to see what was being achieved. Fortunately Foster had gathered together a considerable bundle of the things that had been done by the girls and she was ecstatic. I’ve never seen her quite as enthusiastic about any work, and I’m sure that she’s going to take these back to England, as she said, and have a series of exhibits in the various schools of England to show what is being done in America. For several years, I have been toying with the idea myself of writing an article about this press, and I do hope that I will get the time one of these days.
          Joe, as I’ve mentioned, is probably one of the most modest men in the world, and from time to time I send him something and get a letter back, and it’s always such a delightful experience. One of his letters will give you some idea of the man. This was written to me in 1962. Evidently he had written in a previous letter that I ought to write something about my own press, and, of course, a year or so before I had written a bibliography which had evidently escaped him, so in the meantime I sent him a copy:
Dear Ward:
For the past two weeks, my face has been fiery red.
Not ordinary red, mind you, or pink or Vermillion, or even old rose, but just plain ordinary fiery red.
I could have bitten my tongue off when I received your letter for if I had known that you had published the very sort of book that I mentioned in my letter.

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I certainly never would have said anything about it. This is simply a perfect example of my abysmal ignorance of everything that is going on in the field of printing. And while I can not excuse it, I certainly do apologize for my stupidity. Your book is the sort that reviewers welcome with open arms.
There are so many good things that can be said about it that it is hard to know where to begin. One of the chief drawbacks with the field of printing, as far as historians are concerned, is that it is such an Impersonal and anonymous affair. Men design beautiful typefaces and print beautiful books. But too often we know the men only as names. I have sometimes wondered what Fournier the Younger for example, what was he like? And his home? And his daily life? He had a wonderful sense of design, one that appeals to me, and for that reason I should like to know the man better, but the answer is silence.
For years my favorite book was Mackail’s Life of William Morris, but in time even this was replaced by the volume on the Daniel Press. Daniel may not have been a great printer, but his life shines through the pages of the book and everything he did. And what is more, he seems to have a lot of fun in doing it, too. This is what pleases me more than anything else about your book. It is handsomely designed and printed and bound, and the title page is a gem. Damn it all to hell. Ward, you have done things with title pages that I never would have dreamed of. Had the courage to toss out a lot of the old nonsense and take new approaches, all in good taste. In short, you have done the sort of thing that I wish I could have done, and the very thought of it makes me so mad that I am hardly on speaking terms with myself. It is a handsome volume, cover to cover, and a pleasure to leaf through and examine and study. In addition to all this, however, you have done something that is very rare in the annals of printing. You have produced a thoroughly readable and enjoyable account of printers and printing. One that I know for a fact that is without rival to date in this century, and one that will be without rival when the century closes. You have told the story in terms of men and women and their daily lives, their hopes and their disappointments, their ups and their downs. You not only make people come alive on your pages, but you let the reader see them working in a setting. You’ve done what Rogers and Updike, and even Goudy fail to do. And incidentally you missed your calling, you should have been a biographer. There are enough accounts of presses to make one wonder whether automation didn’t begin in the field of printing. I only wish that you had been charged with writing the stories of Rogers and Updike and Gaudy, for further generations would have known them as men and not mere names. There are two other very rare qualities in your book. The first is the frank recognition of the fact that there is a back door as well as a front door in printing establishments. I do not mind amateurs. I certainly am not in a good position to object to my own existence, but I do get fed up with all the blankety-blank yapping of the dilettantes who refuse to take an honest look at life. I admire someone who takes life as it comes and takes life as a whole and then does his best with everything that his hand touches, not just the bonnets from the Portuguese.
The other quality is a generosity that is rare among those that turn their hands to any form of creative activity. Your generosity and warmheartedness in recognising the good in others, in distributing praise with a lavish hand and keeping none for yourself. Well, sir, this brings us to the secret of the whole book. You have not only breathed life into it and made people and places and things come alive, but you have put so much of yourself into it—the hardest thing to put on paper—that a hundred years hence, men will Bay,
‘That was Ward Ritchie.‘ For a book that can be read as well as looked at, and for a book that can be reread and reexamined with ever growing pleasure, a thousand thanks. But hell’s fire and damnation, why did you have to go and make it impossible for me to print something, let alone write something that I could send to you without first leaving town.
Sincerely,
Joe.

You can gather from this that he’s a man of fulsome praise. He wants you to feel good; he is also a man who deprecates his own great ability. He is such a retiring and modest fellow in many respects.
          Some of his projects are quite incongruous. A couple of years ago, he wrote me and asked me if it would be too much of a bother for us to bind some books for him.
Another young man of great talent, almost an intellectual genius whom we got to know. It must have been about 1937.
          I don’t recall the exact circumstances when we first met him, but as with so many of these young people of talent,
          I suspect that it was Jake Zeitlin who first heard of him and introduced us. His name was Alvin Lustig, and he was a local product of the Beverly Hills school. As a boy, he had been very small.
          He became interested in magic and sleight of hand.
          He pursued any interest with great energy and devotion.
          As a result he soon become one of the most adept amateur-magicians in the area. In high school he used to put on complete shows, and he was in such demand that he was sent around to various schools in the local southern California area to put on these shows for their assemblies. I remember writing about him once after talking over these things. He said he was sent out by the Board of Education almost three times a week to be on programs, and his mother-said that they could have put him out on the stage at $300 a week. But she was afraid that it would have ruined him as he was so nervous from the school entertainments that they had to speak to the officials to put reins on the appearances. The schools were just overdoing it.
          He became interested in art while making posters for his magic programs. In his final year in high school, he became more interested in drawing the posters than in the

and naturally it wasn’t. He said that he would like us to buy some brick red cloth, enough for five volumes, one hundred books in each volume. He said that he was working at that time on volume one, and he would send the sheets over to us as soon as they were done, with specifications for the binding. We bought the cloth, and the sheets came over. Surprisingly enough I looked at it and it was called Brickmaking in America, Volume I. And the next year, Volume II, the sheets came over. As yet we haven’t seen Volume III, IV, and V, but I assume that as time passes we will get them. How Joe Foster became interested in this particular subject is hard to determine. I Imagine that his initial interest stemmed from the fact that he ran into some early accounts of brickmaking.
          The first volume is devoted primarily to English laws prescribing the rights and duties and so forth of the brickmakers in England and in early America, and it will gradually go on from there. Strangely enough, the subject has a certain interest, and he has had a good many subscribers, primarily libraries, especially after they see the scholarly method in which he works, they are going to have to have the full series. But it is basically a labor of love on his part because he’s setting by hand the whole thing and printing on a little press in his extra hours.
          Dixon: What is the size of each volume in pages?
          Ritchie: Well, the books run about 100 to 120 pages, I

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Jake had him do a Christmas card for him in 1937 and we printed it, so that may have been the first association. From then on we did various other little jobs which he, Lustig laid out and made the ornamental type arrangements, and we would do the printing. It was obvious from the first that he had. a flair for interior decoration, too. He had taken a little office in one of the buildings opposite Westlake Part on Seventh Street and painted it himself and designed and built some very simple furniture out of plywood. He made it so extremely attractive that the landlord, seeing what had been done, rented the studio out to someone else for about twice what Lustig was paying for it, and Lustig was out of a studio in which to work. We invited him to move his case of type and desk into our front office and work out of there. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. Lustig designed, for us a new front office with a background of bookcases. In one corner he had his desk and cases of type ornaments.
          Here he worked, arranging them into his designs. My own desk was a vast 6 by 12 foot piece of plywood on one side of which I sat and my secretary on the other.
          Alvin was there I would say for one or two years. He was not actually an employee of ours, serving as his own salesman, designer and compositor. He did lots of work for decorators and architects — folders and pamphlets — and we would do the printing for him. He also did many decorations

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would say. My recollection is that it’s about 6′ by 9′ in size.
          The Laboratory Press was one which I greatly admired even before my closer association with Joseph Arnold Foster. Quite early in my printing career, a young fellow came to see me by the name of Ned Sterling, who also had been a graduate of the Laboratory Press at Carnegie Institute.
          He came to work for me back in 1934 I believe, directly from Carnegie Institute (this was his first job) , It was about the time that I was doing these things for the Works Projects Administration. It was he who hand set the Declaration of Independence, which we printed at that time.
          He worked for me for about a year when he was offered the job of printing instructor at Pasadena Junior College which, of course, paid a little more and was quite a bit more secure. He taught there for several years and later worked as designer at the San Pasqual Press in Pasadena, which had quite an ambitious publishing program going on because the president of one of the large title companies in Los Angeles was sponsoring it. The man had great ambitions, and unfortunately just as it was getting started, he died, and so the San Pasqual Press wasn’t able to follow on.
          When the war came, Ned Sterling enlisted (I’m not sure whether he had had ROTC at Carnegie Tech, but he was able to go in as an officer), and had one of the most interesting experiences of any printer in the Armed Services.
          magic part of it. This led him into art in junior college. He went to Los Angeles City College, which was a junior college, I believe, at that time, and he became also interested in reading for the first time in his life. He had a professor who encouraged and stimulated him in art, but his reading was self-induced. He began to read almost everything that he could lay his hands on in the library especially in the fields of philosophy and religion.
          Spinoza and Goethe seemed to be his favorite authors at this particular time.
          He never graduated from any college; he would get interested in a phase of knowledge, pursue it until saturated and then proceed to another field. He became interested in architecture and went to Taliesin East where he worked with Frank Lloyd Wright for a while, getting a great deal from the association with this great and intelligent architect. And then he came back West and went to Art Center School, becoming interested in the graphic arts at that time. When I first met him, he was developing an interest in design through the medium of the geometrical ornaments which are available to printers. I believe I have mentioned his work on the book of Alfred Young Fisher which he did with us. With great ingenuity, he arranged these elements, using both shape and color to make a beautiful abstract from geometrical type units.

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He was taken to England and put in charge of the mapmaking for the Normandy invasion. It was a very responsible job and one which is not too well-known. I recall when he came back that he told of how he and perhaps a thousand men were put in this compound, almost as if they were prisoners of war because it was so secret and so vital. No man, once he got in there, was allowed to leave, with the exception of Major Sterling himself because he had to have certain contacts. As Eisenhower was mailing his plans, they would set up the maps themselves, and these were all printed, and were ready. On the eve of the invasion, there was the tremendous job of distribution with the half of a million maps having to be placed in the hands of every man who was going on the invasion ships, so that they would have some idea of the terrain, of the roads, the places that they were going once they arrived in Normandy. Yet it all had to be so secret that no word would get out. I imagine that a very small handful of people knew the exact plan, aside from all of these printers who knew more than they could tell.
          Ned came back, though he was never very well after his experience over there. He worked as production manager for the advertising agency of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn for several years before he finally died from some sort of infection.
          The third Laboratory Press boy that I knew quite well was Wilder Bentley, who was of the same era as Joe Foster, I believe, and also went on to get his doctor’s degree.

517-518

I got an announcement from Carl Purington Rollins of Yale that he was going to be out here and give a series of summer lectures at the University of California. I did want to go up there and hear them. I wasn’t able to make the full session, but I did manage a few of them.

It was Wilder Bentley, however, who practically saved my life. I had taken the night train up to San Francisco, and naturally doing it as inexpensively as possible, I sat in a chair car and arriving in San Francisco in the morning almost dead tired.
Body aching and eyes hurting, I checked my luggage at the station and walked uptown. Had breakfast and called Groenewegen; he had gone to Atlanta. Rode out to see George Fields; his book was still up in the air. Back to town, called Julie Malmouth about the money she owed me; she had returned to L. A.
I was very weary and discouraged. Finally got Wilder Bentley on the phone and he told me to come over for lunch. Could barely keep awake on the ferry and train. It was hot and I had to pack bag, overcoat, and typewriter across the campus and up the hill to his house. It was hot and I was exhausted. Four bottles of beer and lunch revived me somewhat. Wilder found me a boarding house for $1.00 a day.
          I left my things and went to the library for Carl Rollins’ class. I sat down, then saw John Henry Nash, went over to greet him. He told me that he had been there regularly. He introduced me to Rollins and later to Mrs. Barr of Mills. Rollins, of course, was very interesting. He spoke on the nineteenth century printers, reading from his typed notes.
          Later he showed slides. Afterwards we talked; he’s coming south after the course. Then I went back to Wilder’s for dinner and music, now to bed.
          I stayed there for several days and found Wilder to be somewhat discouraged about all and as a result a little bitter, though he was such a nice fellow that that didn’t come out too much.

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Ward Ritchie

          Printing and Publishing in Southern California,
          (My Life in Printing)

          an interview for the Library at UCLA
          last quarter of interview, JPR08

nibs-2-slant

PRINTING AND PUBLISHING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

[an interview by] Ward Ritchie

Completed under the auspices
of the
Oral History Program, University of California
Los Angeles

Copyright © 1969
The Regents of the University of California

In compliance with current copyright law,
U. C. Library Bindery produced this replacement volume on
paper that meets the ANSI Standard Z39 48-1984 to replace
the irreparably deteriorated original

The last episode (the third of four sections of the book) ended with the party examining the old adobe Butterfield Stage Station at Warner’s Ranch:

Nothing could have made it better. Experiences like these helped to [congeal] (make) the members of The Club (more congenial; see the end of the last sentence above) and also interested them in having some permanent place.
          I mentioned this at one time to Garner Beckett who was president of the Riverside Cement Company which owned Warner’s Ranch, and he mentioned that there was an old Butterfield Stage Station, an adobe, down there on the ranch, and possibly if we would like to take it and fix it up it could be ours on a permanent loan. So Roger and Rosamond Smith and Janet and I made the tour down there to see it and it was a most enchanting spot.

The page continues:

It had been going to ruins for some sixty or seventy years.
          We were quite

page 481 begins here

excited about it, but when we discovered what it would cost to fix it up and maintain it, we felt that even in those Depression happy years, it was a little beyond the budget of the members of The Club. So we had to turn that offer down, though quite reluctantly.
          Gordon Newell at one of the Thursday night meetings produced an ad which appeared in the Los Angeles Times offering 640 acres of land three miles from Big Sur, including a stand of redwoods, a gushing stream and a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. This intrigued us very much, and we called the people who had made the offer. They said that it would be necessary for us to give them $25.00 before they would divulge the exact location. Delmer was so entranced by the idea that he said that he would put up the $25.00, and so we went down to see the people.
          They explained that it was in back of Big Sur, but that before they could consummate a deal, it would be necessary for some of us to go and personally inspect the property. Once again we made up a small caravan, this time consisting of Peter O’Crotty and his wife Betsey, Hunt Lewis and his wife Rosemary, and Janet and myself. Going up the coast of California is always beautiful and spectacular. Gordon a year or so before had picked up a plot on a hill above Big Sur and had started building there. When we arrived there fairly late in the day, we decided to camp out under the redwoods at his place. The next day we went on to the

page 482 begins here

forestry station to find out how to get to this particular-piece of property. The ranger who had been an old-timer there, puzzled a little while and then said, ‘Yes, I was there once.’ [laughter]
          We said, ‘Well it’s only three miles from here, isn’t it?’
          And he said, ‘Yes, if you were a crow, but it took me three days to get in there by horse.’
          It developed that in order to get there you had to go up one side of the Big Sur River about twenty miles or so until there was a place where you could cross the river and then you had to climb back and up the hills and over the mountains until you finally got there. And he said, ‘it is delightful when you get there, but it’s practically inaccessible.’ (it was at that time.) Well, we gave up on that. But he said, ‘If you are interested in buying property, the Castro family owns plenty of it around here.’
          We found out where they lived. I’ve since forgotten the name of the man who was the head of the family then. He had married one of the Castro girls. We saw them and they were delightful to us and took us up through the fire roads to the very top of the hills overlooking Big Sur. We could see the ocean on one side           — this vast expanse of the Pacific           — and on the other side we could look down into the great wild Big Sur area           — the canyon which the river had dug down there. We didn’t buy because although this land that he

page 483 begins here

showed us was beautiful, being on top of the ridge we saw no possibility of getting any water up there. But the family was very generous and kind to us and took us down and fed us jerky and then had us to lunch, and we spent a very pleasant day with them. The idea was good about having some permanent hideaway such as the Bohemian Club has up at their grove, but we were never quite that affluent.

          I don’t think any who were members of the club will ever forget J.D. Hicks, who was our man-of-all-work around the club. J.D. may have had a first name, but he was always known as ‘J.D.’ He was a colored gentleman from Arkansas, and I first met him one day when he was ambling up the street. He came up to the front door and asked me if I was Colonel So-and-so, and I admitted that I wasn’t.
          He said, ‘Well, I was told that I could get a job if I could find Colonel So-and-so.’ And he looked around and he said, ‘Might you have any work that I could do here?’
          And I looked around, I saw that it needed some weeding so I said, ‘All right. I’ll pay you so much an hour if you’ll go out and weed the garden.’
          He was willing and able, but as I recall now he pulled out more flowers than he pulled out weeds. Anything that was green was a weed to him. This was when we were living on Griffith Park Boulevard, with the house on the side of the hill. Before the day was over, he knew more about the arrangement than I did. On the one side of the building

page 484 begins here

there was a door that led into the dirt hillside where we used to leave tools and things like that. By nighttime, J.D. came to me and asked if I would mind if he cleaned that out a bit and slept in there that night. Well, I was agreeable and that became J.D.’s permanent abode. The next thing he wanted to fix it up and put in a cement floor and a cement wall on the side, and that was perfectly agreeable.
          J.D.’s method of working was rather crude. He had a great deal of confidence in his ability. And when any question came up, certainly J.D. could do it. In this particular case, he was going to complete this new room to my great satisfaction, and asked if I would give him enough money so that he could buy a sack of cement and get some sand. That was fine. The shop at that time was about two blocks away, and at mid-morning he came and asked me if he could have enough money to get another sack of cement. Well, that seemed reasonable, so I gave him some more. Another hour or so, he came and asked if he could have enough money to get another sack of cement. After this had happened four times, I became puzzled and came back to look at his beautiful handiwork. To my amazement, he had built a form in which to pour the cement for the side of the wall, but in his inimitable way he had very jerry-made it. Every time he poured in a bucketful of concrete the form would spread, and the wall had a fine bulge, and it was at least

page 485 begins here

three feet thick in the middle. [laughter] Each time that he would pour some more in, it would spread a little more. He was beginning to get frustrated because he never seemed to be able to get the concrete up to the top of his form. [laughter] We solved that problem for him, and eventually it hardened and J.D. had his little room there. He stayed for — I don’t know how long — a year or more than that.
          As I said, J.D. could do anything. When The Club first started, he became the handyman. He would serve the beer, and he also made up sandwiches which he would sell to us at five cents apiece which is not exorbitant, but it was a good deal for what J.D. gave us. It was two slices of white bread with no butter or anything on and a slab of cheese usually. J.D. also mentioned the fact that he was a fine cook, and any time that we would want to have a dinner party he would be willing and able to cook it for us. We took him up on it occasionally, and truly the meals were quite satisfactory, but we found that he imported a fat girl friend of his who did practically all of the work for him, but it was satisfactory to us.
          We enjoyed J.D. especially when he would sing to us Negro spirituals. J.D. always talked about himself as the Reverend J.D. Hicks, and this theological title fitted him quite well at times. I imagine that it was quite easy in some of the Negro churches to acquire a title like

page 486 begins here

… formations which prints the various shadings. But when a scientist is looking at these through a microscope, they are so distorted by the dot-structure that he doesn’t really see what he is looking for. However, this collotype process, which is a completely different type of printing, allows the reproduction to be made without any screen distortion at all. While printing these things, they had a small typesetting unit to do the captions for the illustrations, and Gregg went there to set the type for them.

          Soon in his meticulous way he had cleaned up the place; the type had accumulated for dozens of years in this old antiquated printing plant. It wasn’t long after he started work that they noticed that the lights were on in a certain portion of the building until midnight every night, and out of curiosity some of the employers went down to see what was happening. It was Gregg working on his own to get the place cleaned up as he had wanted it. Well, they didn’t think that he should be doing all of this on his own, but they became quite interested in a man who had their well-being so much in his mind and yet never mentioned it to them that he was doing all of these things. So he became quite a favorite there. Another young fellow there by the name of E. Harold Hugo, who later became the general manager, became extremely fond of Gregg, and the two of them started making plans for the publication of some books. The first one which they got out was called The Collections of

page 487 begins here

The kitchen was probably an inch-deep with plaster all over, and this included the top of the stove and the refrigerator and everything. The ceiling was a complete mess, and evidently the door from the kitchen to the dining room had been left open and there was plaster all over the rugs.
          I got J. D. — to ask him what had happened. Then I noticed that there had been a whole bottle of gin over in one corner which was also completely covered with plaster, with handprints on it, and it was about three-quarters gone now.
          ‘Well, Mr. Ritchie,’ he said, ‘I mixed the plaster and I got up on the ladder with a trowel and I put it up in that little spot. Then I pulled the trowel away, and the plaster fell on my face. I did it again and I held it up there a long time and I jumped quickly and the plaster fell down again. Now, I don’t like to have plaster in my hair or on my face, so I very ingeniously figured out a new way. I got the bowl of plaster and I put my hand in it and then I would throw it up. You know in time, it began to stick?’ [laughter] But in the meantime the house had to be thoroughly cleaned up and fixed up after that.
          Now J.D. would never admit to drinking because being a preacher it wasn’t good policy. He had a habit of talking to himself. Every time he was thinking, the words would come out. He had a bottle of Pisco, a Chilean liqueur which we had gotten many years ago because it had been quite popular at one time in San Francisco — the famous Pisco

page 448 begins here

punch. At one Wine and Food Society dinner, they had brought in a case of it so that we could relive those ancient San Francisco days with Pisco punch, and I had acquired a bottle of it. Now, it’s the type of thing which you don’t drink very often, possibly once a year, and it always seemed a little curious why this bottle slowly went down. One day I was in the next room and I heard J.D. shuffling in the kitchen. He was talking to himself, ‘Poor J.D., he sure feels bad today. I just wonder what J.D. could do to make himself feel a little better. Well, you know, there’s some of that stuff up there, but then I don’t think so, that’s Mr. Ritchie’s. But you know, Mr. Ritchie wouldn’t really care, not if I just took a little. No, I’m sure he wouldn’t care.’ And then you’d hear a little glug. J.D. would amble around doing something, and then he’d say, ‘Well, you know, that did help a bit but not quite enough. I think possibly Mr. Ritchie wouldn’t mind if I had two drinks today.’ [laughter] Well, that was J.D. — quite a wonderful character — and he lived with The Club members for a year or so.
          One day he came to me and said, ‘Mr. Ritchie, I’m going to get married.’
And I said, ‘J.D., this is wonderful. How come at your age?’
          He said, ‘Mr. Ritchie, all of my friends are on relief and here I’m working. Now if I get married, I can go on

page 489 begins here

relief with the rest of them.’ [laughter] And so J.D. married his fat cook and that was the last we ever heard of J.D. He moved down to Central Avenue and …
          Dixon: Presumably went on relief?
          Ritchie: I imagine that he did.
          In 1911, we moved to La Cañada, and while it didn’t actually end The Club, for all practical purposes that was the end because we were too far from the center where everybody was and nobody else had the place or the willingness to take over the Thursday nights, though there were many attempts to do this and to revive it. The war came soon after and most of the people were dispersed to other areas. So the little club era of four, five years was quite an interesting, exciting one. Then it ended, and from time to time various members get together but they too are so spread now, all over the United States, that The Club is gone.
          In 1936, Remsen Bird, President of Occidental College, asked me if I would give a course in graphic arts at the college. It seemed to me a most interesting project, and I wasn’t a bit adverse to adding slightly to my income at that time, though the amount that the college could pay, because it too was suffering from the Depression, was not very great. That fall, I began teaching twice a week. It was a different course than had been given at Occidental previous to it, and the result was I got a very special type

page 490 begins here

of student. They were eager and interested, and we had great fun.
          I should like to read my introduction to the course which began on September 22, 1936:

I should like to be able to tell you at this first meeting of the class exactly what the course will cover and how it will be conducted, but I am unable. In truth the whole thing is an experiment inasmuch as Occidental has never given a course similar to this and I have never taught a course at all. In the catalogue it is listed under a rather technical title, but I want to make it to include more than it there promises. I hope to make it the sort of course that I should have liked to have had in college. I have memories of evenings in the home of David Starr Jordan of Stanford at which a great variety of subjects were discussed, perhaps that was near it. It is not the kind of course that will prepare you for any practicular work. I watched the men who were my classmates in college, most of them entered business to find that the definite preparation which they had made in college was of no very great value. They found that starting at the bottom they had to learn all the practical methods of their particular business as they worked up. What was the value and what gave them an advantage against their less educated working companions was that they knew how to seek out new knowledge as it was demanded of them. They knew what books were for. But their education was of the most value to them in fields outside of their own immediate one. For you too will find that once you’ve entered upon a career that there is all too little time for grounding yourself in other valuable but not immediately useful subjects. They are easy enough to carry along if you’ve already mastered the fundamentals during your school days, and they offer many opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment. Books are the granaries of knowledge, and it is my object to make you love them now when you are just starting your intellectual life that, henceforth, you may have the pleasure which they give. Naturally I want you to love the physical book as well as the knowledge which it contains, for that is the apparent purpose of this course. I think it is important for you to start buying your own books and forming a library. You’ll never find a happier sport than

page 491 begins here

nibs-2-slant

PRINTING AND PUBLISHING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

[an interview by] Ward Ritchie

Completed under the auspices
of the
Oral History Program, University of California
Los Angeles

Copyright © 1969
The Regents of the University of California

In compliance with current copyright law,
U. C. Library Bindery produced this replacement volume on
paper that meets the ANSI Standard Z39 48-1984 to replace
the irreparably deteriorated original

The last episode (the third of four sections of the book) ended with the party examining the old adobe Butterfield Stage Station at Warner’s Ranch:

Nothing could have made it better. Experiences like these helped to [congeal] (make) the members of The Club (more congenial; see the end of the last sentence above) and also interested them in having some permanent place.
          I mentioned this at one time to Garner Beckett who was president of the Riverside Cement Company which owned Warner’s Ranch, and he mentioned that there was an old Butterfield Stage Station, an adobe, down there on the ranch, and possibly if we would like to take it and fix it up it could be ours on a permanent loan. So Roger and Rosamond Smith and Janet and I made the tour down there to see it and it was a most enchanting spot.

The page continues:

It had been going to ruins for some sixty or seventy years.
          We were quite

page 481 begins here

excited about it, but when we discovered what it would cost to fix it up and maintain it, we felt that even in those Depression happy years, it was a little beyond the budget of the members of The Club. So we had to turn that offer down, though quite reluctantly.
          Gordon Newell at one of the Thursday night meetings produced an ad which appeared in the Los Angeles Times offering 640 acres of land three miles from Big Sur, including a stand of redwoods, a gushing stream and a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. This intrigued us very much, and we called the people who had made the offer. They said that it would be necessary for us to give them $25.00 before they would divulge the exact location. Delmer was so entranced by the idea that he said that he would put up the $25.00, and so we went down to see the people.
          They explained that it was in back of Big Sur, but that before they could consummate a deal, it would be necessary for some of us to go and personally inspect the property. Once again we made up a small caravan, this time consisting of Peter O’Crotty and his wife Betsey, Hunt Lewis and his wife Rosemary, and Janet and myself. Going up the coast of California is always beautiful and spectacular. Gordon a year or so before had picked up a plot on a hill above Big Sur and had started building there. When we arrived there fairly late in the day, we decided to camp out under the redwoods at his place. The next day we went on to the

page 482 begins here

forestry station to find out how to get to this particular-piece of property. The ranger who had been an old-timer there, puzzled a little while and then said, ‘Yes, I was there once.’ [laughter]
          We said, ‘Well it’s only three miles from here, isn’t it?’
          And he said, ‘Yes, if you were a crow, but it took me three days to get in there by horse.’
          It developed that in order to get there you had to go up one side of the Big Sur River about twenty miles or so until there was a place where you could cross the river and then you had to climb back and up the hills and over the mountains until you finally got there. And he said, ‘it is delightful when you get there, but it’s practically inaccessible.’ (it was at that time.) Well, we gave up on that. But he said, ‘If you are interested in buying property, the Castro family owns plenty of it around here.’
          We found out where they lived. I’ve since forgotten the name of the man who was the head of the family then. He had married one of the Castro girls. We saw them and they were delightful to us and took us up through the fire roads to the very top of the hills overlooking Big Sur. We could see the ocean on one side           — this vast expanse of the Pacific           — and on the other side we could look down into the great wild Big Sur area           — the canyon which the river had dug down there. We didn’t buy because although this land that he

page 483 begins here

showed us was beautiful, being on top of the ridge we saw no possibility of getting any water up there. But the family was very generous and kind to us and took us down and fed us jerky and then had us to lunch, and we spent a very pleasant day with them. The idea was good about having some permanent hideaway such as the Bohemian Club has up at their grove, but we were never quite that affluent.

          I don’t think any who were members of the club will ever forget J.D. Hicks, who was our man-of-all-work around the club. J.D. may have had a first name, but he was always known as ‘J.D.’ He was a colored gentleman from Arkansas, and I first met him one day when he was ambling up the street. He came up to the front door and asked me if I was Colonel So-and-so, and I admitted that I wasn’t.
          He said, ‘Well, I was told that I could get a job if I could find Colonel So-and-so.’ And he looked around and he said, ‘Might you have any work that I could do here?’
          And I looked around, I saw that it needed some weeding so I said, ‘All right. I’ll pay you so much an hour if you’ll go out and weed the garden.’
          He was willing and able, but as I recall now he pulled out more flowers than he pulled out weeds. Anything that was green was a weed to him. This was when we were living on Griffith Park Boulevard, with the house on the side of the hill. Before the day was over, he knew more about the arrangement than I did. On the one side of the building

page 484 begins here

there was a door that led into the dirt hillside where we used to leave tools and things like that. By nighttime, J.D. came to me and asked if I would mind if he cleaned that out a bit and slept in there that night. Well, I was agreeable and that became J.D.’s permanent abode. The next thing he wanted to fix it up and put in a cement floor and a cement wall on the side, and that was perfectly agreeable.
          J.D.’s method of working was rather crude. He had a great deal of confidence in his ability. And when any question came up, certainly J.D. could do it. In this particular case, he was going to complete this new room to my great satisfaction, and asked if I would give him enough money so that he could buy a sack of cement and get some sand. That was fine. The shop at that time was about two blocks away, and at mid-morning he came and asked me if he could have enough money to get another sack of cement. Well, that seemed reasonable, so I gave him some more. Another hour or so, he came and asked if he could have enough money to get another sack of cement. After this had happened four times, I became puzzled and came back to look at his beautiful handiwork. To my amazement, he had built a form in which to pour the cement for the side of the wall, but in his inimitable way he had very jerry-made it. Every time he poured in a bucketful of concrete the form would spread, and the wall had a fine bulge, and it was at least

page 485 begins here

three feet thick in the middle. [laughter] Each time that he would pour some more in, it would spread a little more. He was beginning to get frustrated because he never seemed to be able to get the concrete up to the top of his form. [laughter] We solved that problem for him, and eventually it hardened and J.D. had his little room there. He stayed for — I don’t know how long — a year or more than that.
          As I said, J.D. could do anything. When The Club first started, he became the handyman. He would serve the beer, and he also made up sandwiches which he would sell to us at five cents apiece which is not exorbitant, but it was a good deal for what J.D. gave us. It was two slices of white bread with no butter or anything on and a slab of cheese usually. J.D. also mentioned the fact that he was a fine cook, and any time that we would want to have a dinner party he would be willing and able to cook it for us. We took him up on it occasionally, and truly the meals were quite satisfactory, but we found that he imported a fat girl friend of his who did practically all of the work for him, but it was satisfactory to us.
          We enjoyed J.D. especially when he would sing to us Negro spirituals. J.D. always talked about himself as the Reverend J.D. Hicks, and this theological title fitted him quite well at times. I imagine that it was quite easy in some of the Negro churches to acquire a title like

page 486 begins here

… formations which prints the various shadings. But when a scientist is looking at these through a microscope, they are so distorted by the dot-structure that he doesn’t really see what he is looking for. However, this collotype process, which is a completely different type of printing, allows the reproduction to be made without any screen distortion at all. While printing these things, they had a small typesetting unit to do the captions for the illustrations, and Gregg went there to set the type for them.

          Soon in his meticulous way he had cleaned up the place; the type had accumulated for dozens of years in this old antiquated printing plant. It wasn’t long after he started work that they noticed that the lights were on in a certain portion of the building until midnight every night, and out of curiosity some of the employers went down to see what was happening. It was Gregg working on his own to get the place cleaned up as he had wanted it. Well, they didn’t think that he should be doing all of this on his own, but they became quite interested in a man who had their well-being so much in his mind and yet never mentioned it to them that he was doing all of these things. So he became quite a favorite there. Another young fellow there by the name of E. Harold Hugo, who later became the general manager, became extremely fond of Gregg, and the two of them started making plans for the publication of some books. The first one which they got out was called The Collections of

page 487 begins here

The kitchen was probably an inch-deep with plaster all over, and this included the top of the stove and the refrigerator and everything. The ceiling was a complete mess, and evidently the door from the kitchen to the dining room had been left open and there was plaster all over the rugs.
          I got J. D. — to ask him what had happened. Then I noticed that there had been a whole bottle of gin over in one corner which was also completely covered with plaster, with handprints on it, and it was about three-quarters gone now.
          ‘Well, Mr. Ritchie,’ he said, ‘I mixed the plaster and I got up on the ladder with a trowel and I put it up in that little spot. Then I pulled the trowel away, and the plaster fell on my face. I did it again and I held it up there a long time and I jumped quickly and the plaster fell down again. Now, I don’t like to have plaster in my hair or on my face, so I very ingeniously figured out a new way. I got the bowl of plaster and I put my hand in it and then I would throw it up. You know in time, it began to stick?’ [laughter] But in the meantime the house had to be thoroughly cleaned up and fixed up after that.
          Now J.D. would never admit to drinking because being a preacher it wasn’t good policy. He had a habit of talking to himself. Every time he was thinking, the words would come out. He had a bottle of Pisco, a Chilean liqueur which we had gotten many years ago because it had been quite popular at one time in San Francisco — the famous Pisco

page 448 begins here

punch. At one Wine and Food Society dinner, they had brought in a case of it so that we could relive those ancient San Francisco days with Pisco punch, and I had acquired a bottle of it. Now, it’s the type of thing which you don’t drink very often, possibly once a year, and it always seemed a little curious why this bottle slowly went down. One day I was in the next room and I heard J.D. shuffling in the kitchen. He was talking to himself, ‘Poor J.D., he sure feels bad today. I just wonder what J.D. could do to make himself feel a little better. Well, you know, there’s some of that stuff up there, but then I don’t think so, that’s Mr. Ritchie’s. But you know, Mr. Ritchie wouldn’t really care, not if I just took a little. No, I’m sure he wouldn’t care.’ And then you’d hear a little glug. J.D. would amble around doing something, and then he’d say, ‘Well, you know, that did help a bit but not quite enough. I think possibly Mr. Ritchie wouldn’t mind if I had two drinks today.’ [laughter] Well, that was J.D. — quite a wonderful character — and he lived with The Club members for a year or so.
          One day he came to me and said, ‘Mr. Ritchie, I’m going to get married.’
And I said, ‘J.D., this is wonderful. How come at your age?’
          He said, ‘Mr. Ritchie, all of my friends are on relief and here I’m working. Now if I get married, I can go on

page 489 begins here

relief with the rest of them.’ [laughter] And so J.D. married his fat cook and that was the last we ever heard of J.D. He moved down to Central Avenue and …
          Dixon: Presumably went on relief?
          Ritchie: I imagine that he did.
          In 1911, we moved to La Cañada, and while it didn’t actually end The Club, for all practical purposes that was the end because we were too far from the center where everybody was and nobody else had the place or the willingness to take over the Thursday nights, though there were many attempts to do this and to revive it. The war came soon after and most of the people were dispersed to other areas. So the little club era of four, five years was quite an interesting, exciting one. Then it ended, and from time to time various members get together but they too are so spread now, all over the United States, that The Club is gone.
          In 1936, Remsen Bird, President of Occidental College, asked me if I would give a course in graphic arts at the college. It seemed to me a most interesting project, and I wasn’t a bit adverse to adding slightly to my income at that time, though the amount that the college could pay, because it too was suffering from the Depression, was not very great. That fall, I began teaching twice a week. It was a different course than had been given at Occidental previous to it, and the result was I got a very special type

page 490 begins here

of student. They were eager and interested, and we had great fun.
          I should like to read my introduction to the course which began on September 22, 1936:

I should like to be able to tell you at this first meeting of the class exactly what the course will cover and how it will be conducted, but I am unable. In truth the whole thing is an experiment inasmuch as Occidental has never given a course similar to this and I have never taught a course at all. In the catalogue it is listed under a rather technical title, but I want to make it to include more than it there promises. I hope to make it the sort of course that I should have liked to have had in college. I have memories of evenings in the home of David Starr Jordan of Stanford at which a great variety of subjects were discussed, perhaps that was near it. It is not the kind of course that will prepare you for any practicular work. I watched the men who were my classmates in college, most of them entered business to find that the definite preparation which they had made in college was of no very great value. They found that starting at the bottom they had to learn all the practical methods of their particular business as they worked up. What was the value and what gave them an advantage against their less educated working companions was that they knew how to seek out new knowledge as it was demanded of them. They knew what books were for. But their education was of the most value to them in fields outside of their own immediate one. For you too will find that once you’ve entered upon a career that there is all too little time for grounding yourself in other valuable but not immediately useful subjects. They are easy enough to carry along if you’ve already mastered the fundamentals during your school days, and they offer many opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment. Books are the granaries of knowledge, and it is my object to make you love them now when you are just starting your intellectual life that, henceforth, you may have the pleasure which they give. Naturally I want you to love the physical book as well as the knowledge which it contains, for that is the apparent purpose of this course. I think it is important for you to start buying your own books and forming a library. You’ll never find a happier sport than

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prowling in old bookstores where some odd volume may be hidden that was made to fit your fancy. And you will find still more pleasure when you unwrap it at home and slowly pour [pore] through [over] its pages. Your shelves will grow along with your years and you will mark new interests and pleasures. A man’s library is the history of his mental life, and its lack is a serious handicap. I don’t think it is fair to oneself to read without owning books. There are hundreds of books on my shelves which I shall never read again.
          Yet the mere sight of them reawakens memories of the emotions or the ideas I had while reading them. I even remember with pleasure the feel of the paper and the touch of the binding. Each of these books remains an important part of my life with which I’d [be] loathe to part [with] and while I am sad often with the thought that they have passed through my mind and I probably shall never read them again, I shall still carry them along my ways until the end. You will have fun with books because there are also booksellers and other avid collectors to help enhance life. And some day you will meet authors and even with great daring send a timid note to one of your favorites and have a happy surprise when he answers you. But primarily I want you to create. I hope that you will write — poetry, criticism, fiction, or whatever is in your mind. I hope that some of you will become interested in illustrating or in making initial letters. I hope that before the course is over that we can gather together all of our creations and form a book, material evidence of our interest in creation.

          The course consisted of many things. Basically it was a history of the book from the origin of the written word, of letter forms, on through to the modern creation of the printer. But as we went along, we tried many things. For instance, for several weeks or a month we would do calligraphy. We cut our own pens, made our own quills.
          They learned the letter forms as the great calligraphers of the Middle Ages had perfected them. They practised them so that they too could write similarly.
          We were creative to a certain extent. One year we did a book of poetry, perhaps thirty-six pages. We had a

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competition; we allowed students from the college to submit their verse. We winnowed them, laid them out, printed them and illustrated the book. The final examination was always a thesis rather than asking them questions. It was most surprising the amount of research that was done for this little two-unit class. The theses that I received were full of research, good bibliographies to them. Each of them chose a subject, whether it be of books in the Middle Ages or one of the great printers, and did a thoroughly good job.
          Dixon: Was this an upper division course?
          Ritchie: I imagine it was; I don’t recall. It was a fairly selective course. Usually there were about a dozen students in it. It was a seminar-type course where we sat around a large table and chatted and talked. I would lecture to a certain extent, but it was a lot of talk too. When we had our projects, we could all have table room to work.
          The greatest help to me in this particular course was not from the Art Department, but from the Department of English. During the time when the students would get their advisors’ consent for various courses, the English Department was quite intrigued with this course and would pick some of the brightest, most energetic people to recommend for it. As I recall I gave this course for three years at Occidental College. Then I started a summer school in printing at the plant.

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The inspiration for this came from a couple of sources. One was from a most energetic girl who had gone to Occidental College; her name at that time was Helen Dallas. She had been editor of the Annual back around 1933 or 1934. President Bird, who was always interested in taking somebody with ability and trying to build new interests for them, brought this girl over to me and said, ‘Here is the new editor of the Annual. Perhaps with your experience, you can give her some ideas.’ It ended up that I designed the Annual and set the type and was responsible for all of the makeup. Then it was printed by the printer who had been doing the Occidental Annual for a good many years. But it was a wonderful challenge. The yearbooks that I had seen had been sort of dull, badly arranged picture books. We changed the size and the format; it was a much larger book in format than Occidental had ever had. We made it clean, cut down on the text and gave space for the pictures. The pictures with their captions told the story of the year at Occidental College. It caused quite a bit of turbulence at Occidental because the students weren’t used to anything like it.

[page 494 somewhere here?]

          It was resented somewhat by the members of the athletic teams because they feel that they weren’t getting as much recognition in this particular Annual as they sometimes did. But in the long run it had a great effect because the succeeding annuals of Occidental reflected on what had been done this year. Other schools, also seeing this, began fashioning some of their ideas to what was being done at Occidental.
          Helen Dallas had gone back to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. She was back there working on development. They had received a Sloan Foundation grant of some size for ‘consumer education.’ She was working on this project which included the publication of the Proceedings of a Conference on Consumer Education. From her past experience working with me on the annual she insisted on sending the job of printing this to me in Los Angeles.
          While it was only a paperback, it was selected by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as one of the Fifty Books of the Year. As a result, this enhanced her position back there and also made her interested in knowing more about the graphic arts process. She wrote saying that the college would like her to know more about printing, together with a young chap, Joe Melia, who was their production man. She asked if it would be possible for them to come out during the summer and study under me?
          At the same time, Dorothy Drake, the librarian at Scripps College, had become more and more interested in the arts of the book. One day while I was out there, I met Mary Treanor and her mother; I had known John Treanor many years before as a member of the Zamorano Club. He had been president of the Riverside Cement Company at

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that time and had been killed. Both Mary and her mother had acquired from John an interest in fine printing.
          The subject came up at Scripps that it would be nice if there was someplace where they could learn more. Mary Treanor said that she would like to take the course, too.
          The fourth member came in, and I am not certain how she heard of it, but a big Cadillac stopped in front of the shop one day and a very handsome woman came in. Her daughter had just graduated from Marlborough School and she was interested in art and she wanted her to learn something about the art of books. So Robin Park was the fourth of the students that came in that year.
          This was a month course which I gave during the summer, and it was a real hard hitting course. We started in the morning and had a two-hour lecture session each morning and then questions. After lunch was a laboratory session. The building in which we were located on Hyperion Avenue had originally had two stores down on the first floor and four apartments upstairs. We used the downstairs as our plant, and the upstairs we had rented out to various families           — usually some of our employees. I took one of those apartments, and we converted it into a little private press with several cases of type and the little proofing press that I had gotten from Thomas Perry Stricker several years before. We also had all of the facilities of the shop down below if we needed additional type orna-

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ments, blocks or other things.
          During the afternoon, the students would work on various projects.
          We started out with simple things; they would just set up a few paragraphs so they would learn how to set type. What I did was to give them a poem by Housman or somebody like that, and each of them would work out a design for it and make it into a little booklet. They did bookplates and they did Christmas cards. Finally they got on to major projects; each one was supposed to do a booklet before he got through.
          It was tough on me because I had to prepare a two-hour lecture every night for the next day. During the afternoon, of course, they were pretty much on their own. I didn’t have to supervise them too closely, so it gave me a certain amount of time to work in and around the shop while conducting the class.
          Mary Treanor and Robin Park were so interested in their work that they asked if they could stay on during the winter months. They were pretty much on their own.
          I gave them a certain amount of supervision, but they had their own projects. The first of these was a talk which had been given at Scripps College which Mary brought in.
          They set and printed a hundred or so copies. Then they got a commission to do a little book of poems for somebody. Then Robert Cowan wanted to have a keepsake for the Zamorano Club, and he commissioned them to do that.
          But their triumph was a book called An Evening With the Royal Family by A.E. Housman. This juvenile work of Housman’s had been found someplace. One of the American magazines had printed it, and the girls got permission to reprint it. I think they only did a hundred copies or so — very nicely done — and it turned out to be the first edition in book form. If and when copies can be found, it should prove to be a very valuable Housman item. They called themselves the Greenhorn Press.
          The next year I repeated this program and had as pupils Barbara Chapin and Helen Abel from Scripps College and Jane Frampton from Occidental College. Jane went back to Occidental College for her masters’ degree after that and wrote the first history of the fine printers of southern California, as her thesis. I saw plenty of her the next year while she was working on it because she relied on me for much of her information. I would take her over to meet people such as Stricker, Cheney, Bruce McCallister, Dahlstrom and Marks. She worked this out with a bibliography of the books that had been printed by each of the presses up to that time. It is a valuable source book.
          In the meantime, Scripps College got interested in a printing program, too. Mary Treanor helped stimulate their interest. They were given a grant by Mrs. Phillips to have a typeface designed and to start a Scripps College

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press. Frederic Goudy was chosen to do this new typeface, and during the that year I was called in quite often to see what Mr. Goudy had sent out in the way of letter designs, to check them over for possible suggestions and to work with them as closely as possible on this new project. The presentation was made by the Class of 19′-Hj during graduation week on the 5th of June in 1941.
          Mary Treanor was still working with us and with Robin Park at the press. Mary set up an announcement for the event. The press was to be called the Hartley Burr Alexander Press in memory of the great Scripps teacher. The program consisted of the introduction of the guests of honor, Nelly Alexander; Catherine Coffin Phillips, who had made possible the type; Frederic Goudy himself; and myself, who had given them the Washington hand press on which I had started. I have further notes about a subsequent dedication:

September 18th, 1941, was a memorable day at Scripps and the whole campus, especially Dorothy Drake, was excited by the celebration arranged for the presentation of the new type Goudy had designed for their little press. The type had been cast up by Mackenzie and Harris and a couple of paragraphs had been set up, none too well. On Monday Goudy brought it into the shop and we restyled it, making a few corrections and alterations and proofs and he took the type out to Claremont with him for the celebration on Thursday. Here it was placed on the old hand press, and as a miscellaneous group of students, faculty and friends gathered around, Mr. Goudy pulled a proof to inaugurate the Hartley Burr Alexander Press.
          That evening there was a banquet in honor of Mr.

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Goudy and Mrs. Phillips who put up $1,000 for the design of the type. It was formal and Mr. Goudy and I changed our clothes in his room at the Claremont Inn. Thanks to him I did not have to go cuff-buttonless as he had an extra pair which the Boston House of Printing craftsman had given him on some occasion, and I had forgotten to bring any. The dinner was followed by many lengthy speeches by Dr. Jaqua, Dorothy Drake, Mrs. Esterly and Robert Schad leading up to the piece de resistance, the talk by Frederick Goudy. All of these talks had been elaborate, very finished and fluently given. Mr. Goudy got up and stumbled around a few minutes as he deprecated the many nice things which had been said about him in the previous introductions. Then he told how happy he was, as Christopher Morley had once said: ‘Fred Goudy has an incalculable capacity for friendship.’ And now he felt this great friendship enveloping Scripps. Then he turned around and said, ‘I had a story and I was going to tell you, but I’ve forgotten what it is.’ And then, ‘Now that I am up here I am in a quandary because I don’t know how to sit down again.’ Whereupon everybody clapped and though from where I sat and watched him he appeared to be going to continue on Dr. Jaqua turned to him and said, ‘Let us all sit down so that Mr. Goudy can do it comfortably.’ And that was the end of the celebration, except that Goudy told us after the dinner had broken up, the story he had forgotten. He was going to tell of the occasion when the toastmaster got up and said, ‘Tonight we were planning to have with us, the celebrated wit So-and-so. But unfortunately at the last moment, he found that he would be unable to be present. And so we were pleased and fortunate in getting two half-wits.’ [laughter] Then Mr. Goudy said, ‘I was going to hope that the audience would not start looking for the other half-wit.’

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TAPE NUMBER: THIRTEEN, SIDE TWO

September 1965

Ritchie: A couple of sessions back I was talking about P.J. Smith, and since then I’ve found some notes on P.J.’s early struggles to get by, which I think will be a little more accurate than the memories that I gave you.

This was back in 1939; when I was out at P.J.’s and he told me of his early struggles. He had gone two years to Emory and Henry College when he fell in love with a girl and was so frightened and jealous when she went out with another man that he secretly married her. But his father found out and there was a terrific fight. Paul Jordan walked out, left Emory and Henry and transferred to the University of Chattanooga where he got the teaching fellowship in Chemistry. Also he delivered morning and evening papers and on Saturday worked in a shoe store.
          During his senior year, he was taken down with typhoid fever and had a nervous breakdown which took all of his money. Also he had his first child Isabel Smith. When he went back to school, he had to get a scholarship and for several months went on crutches, but was finally well and graduated with his class at the age of twenty-one. He was awarded a Fish Fellowship to Harvard University but didn’t have enough money to get there. Through Some friends of his family he made arrangements to borrow enough, but

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when his father heard of it, he went to the man who had offered to give the money and asked him if he would favor him by not giving Paul Jordan the money.
          As a result he didn’t go to Harvard, but he went to Atlanta where he shifted from the Methodist church to the Unitarian church, because in the South the Unitarian church was not especially strong and he was able to go to the seminary there. The Unitarian church had been anti-slavery and had been having difficulty getting any Southern college men to attend. He spent a year there and was promised a big church, but when his father and the Atlanta Unitarian minister got together and the Unitarians found out how he had deceived his father, they didn’t give him the job they had promised. So he deserted to the Universalist church and got a job near Galesburg in Illinois. By that time he had two or three children, but he was a spellbinder so never had much trouble thereafter. In Kansas City, he built a church to great proportions by keeping its doings in the paper. He threw out the Bible and Prayer-book; he covered the walls with biological specimens and gathered in the IWW’s and Socialists. His entrance was always dramatic run down the aisle and a leap onto the platform. He was extremely popular except with the orthodox and had trouble with the Mother Church. But already he had a better-offer in Chicago, where he stayed three years building up a settlement house. From there he went to Berkeley to teach

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in the University but was kicked out for some scandal or radicalness and soon after married Sarah Bixby Smith.
          I was talking about Goudy and the dedication of the press at Scripps College last time when we stopped.
          Goudy had a remarkable career, designing well over a hundred different typefaces; very few of them were major when we think of the great typefaces of all time. But they had a consistently high level, and some of them will probably remain among the standard types from now on. When I knew him, he was fairly well-advanced in age. He was short, dumpy–hardly a man that you would think of as being a playboy, but when Perry Stricker returned from New York one time, told many many tales of Fred Goudy who loved to drive a high-powered car as fast as he could around the New York area. He was not a drinking man — at least he wasn’t during his later years — but he seemed to have had a knack with girls. I do recall once when he was here visiting that he mentioned having a girl friend in California. Well, I was sure at his age that it was in memory mostly, [laughter] But he was quite annoyed at one time because I had bought a copy of one of his books on alphabets in which there was a kindly dedication to some girl, and the thought that she had sold this book almost killed him. [laughter]
          One story of his which always amused me was when he was asked how he designed a type — a letter. And he said, ‘Well, it’s not too difficult. First, you think of a

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letter in your mind and you draw a line around it.’
Which is about the simplest way of explaining a design that I can think of.
          Now that Scripps had a hand press and some type designed especially for them, they wanted to start producing. They had ambitious plans, being quite innocent of what is required in printing and how limited actually their facilities were. Mrs. Phillips, who donated the money to have Goudy do the type, expected this to be a great publishing house, handling not only all Scripps’ printing needs but to issue many books. Since Mary Treanor had been a graduate of Scripps College, they asked her to take charge of the press that year. It was a most trying year for her, I am sure, because technically she wasn’t yet equipped to handle it and teach. The technique of using the hand press is quite different from the proof press that she had been operating at our shop, she had kept careful notes during the previous summer when she was taking the summer course from me, and she used this as a basis for her lectures or her talks to the girls. But there was little accomplished during that first year.
          The next year, starting in September of 1942, Dorothy Drake, the librarian, asked me if I would consider teaching out there, at least giving them some help. At that time, the war had started and I was working at Douglas Aircraft six days a week. It didn’t give me very much time.

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something much more caustic, and found that he was quite urbane; expected him to be brusque, and he goes out of his way to give me directions here and there, tells me what I should see; gives me a card to the Atheneum, and letters to all the printers he knows. I think he feels a little responsible for me, as if he had lured me out of the west and here I am, and what can he do about it.
          But he still does not feel that he is bound to hire me. I am sure I do not know the technique of breaking down his resistance; maybe there is none. However, he set me right on one point. Writing personal letters to him without being introduced first is an A-l crime. That was no kind of letter to write. So when I had the opportunity to write to the Meriden Gravure Company which had responded slightly to a line I wrote them, I took it around to him before mailing it, and he pruned and clipped it into what he thought was a straightforward and business-like form, and then off it went.
          But he tells me that when he hires someone, he wants someone he can boss, no bright young fellows with suggestions to offer. And he doesn’t want someone with ambitions, who will work a while and then off for the woods. He might hire me, he said, if he needed someone to set type, but no quicker than he would anyone else who came along. And he has all the typesetters he needs at present, thank you. So I have given up hope, as far as he is concerned.
          Gregg did get the job at Meriden Gravure Company which was a printing plant in Meriden, Connecticut which was concerned at that time with collotype, which is a method of printing illustrations without a screen in the illustrations, so it is usually used in scientific works or in very specialized books where they want the reproduction as clean and faithful as possible. The problem when scientific photographs are printed in the usual method, either by letter-press or by offset, is that they are photographed through a very fine screen which makes the dot

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but I did agree to go out there one Sunday a month. We did start operations, and there was enough interest that a batch of the girls gave up their Sundays, as I had, to try and operate the press.
          It was a most pleasant experience.
          We had a little room in the basement of the Art Building at that time.
          The old Washington hand press had been refurbished somewhat by the college. These old presses sometimes do get a bit worn, and this particular one had a little low spot right in the middle where through years and years of hard usage it had worn a bit. The college had it planed off and put into good shape for me. I spent only six or seven sessions out there during the year           — hardly enough time to accomplish much. The next year I had left Douglas and was working with an advertising agency which wasn’t quite as rigorous from the standpoint of time. I was able to go out every Saturday, and we had a much better opportunity to both teach and produce little booklets. I did this also for the year 1944/45 and for 1945/46.
          The classes were always small because with the equipment it was difficult to work with more than five or six. Even so we usually had to allot time at the hand press to print a job. We started out much as the students had at my summer sessions, setting a bit of poetry and progressing to little personal projects           — booklets, bookplates, Christmas cards and such things. Some of the booklets

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became quite ambitious. As some of the girls were also taking art they did linoleum-cut illustrations for their books, and many of them wrote their own material too.
          A few were particularly outstanding. Betty Davenport, who later known as Betty Davenport Ford, has been most successful as an animal sculptor. There was a little girl by the name of Charlene Mahoney who had great ability; she took almost every prize at Scripps during her senior year and was writing what I thought was to be very creditable verse. Of course, she was so attractive that she was very soon snapped up. [laughter] I imagine that she’s become a housewife since I’ve heard nothing more about her.
          One very amusing girl was Nancy Scripps, who is one of the Scripps family who had started Scripps College. She told one amusing story — her family lived down near San Diego and she had a couple of younger brothers. There was a fire on the street one time, and her mother, being a very sensible woman, took the children down and not wanting them to be frightened by this thing, she explained how beautiful the flames were and such reassuring things. The fire was over and they went home, and within a little while, their house was on fire. [laughter] The children had been so intrigued and this was such a nice thing that they wanted to see more of it.
          Goudy was quite interested in the college press, and naturally the college was very proud of having his type

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there. I recall that several years before, when I had first had correspondence with Fred Goudy, it was in May of 1933. It has always interested me since because it gives an insight of how Goudy worked and also what a typeface would cost in those days. I had a note from him.

Dear Mr. Ritchie:

A note from Mr. Carroll Harris from San Francisco received this morning suggests that you might be interested in securing the exclusive rights to my Village text, the redesigned and recut Aries which I offered some months ago to Mr. Grabhorn at a ridiculously low price, as such things go. I have been holding off, as one of the large New York publishers was considering it but who finally decided that times are too hard to incur the expense for the comparatively limited use they could make of it.
          It is essentially a type for the private printer rather than for the general run of publications.
          The matter stands this way, I have recut the matrices in what are called masters from which the monotype company can make electro-display matrices and which Mr. Harris could cast on his monotype or Thompson caster. These electro-mats will cost me approximately $100, possibly a trifle more, depending on the actual number of characters. And I would want at least $600 for the exclusive rights to the design or $700 for the matrices and rights.
          $250 down and balance in one, two or three monthly payments, from time when mats were ready for delivery. If time is any object to you, I might accept $50 less for all cash.
          This price is practically one-half my usual charge for a type and if not disposed of now will go into my specimen of new faces and sold through Continental Type Founders to printers, specimen now preparing.
          I am sending you some proofs of it. It has never been shown except in two little Christmas cards of my own, that is none of the type has been sold to any printer.
          Mr. Harris tells me that you met my friend Bruce Rogers in England. You probably met also my friends George Jones and Stanley Morison. Rogers is here now and is returning to England this month to finish the Bible, now printing at Oxford. We, Mrs. Goudy and I, have just completed the composition for him in Deepdene italics, l6-point for a privately

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printed edition in limited number of the letters to B.R. from T.E. Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia) on the making of the Odyssey. From what Mr. Harris tells me regarding you it would be pleasant to know that the type which in a sense is an unique design had an appreciative owner and a good home. There are a few slight changes in two or three characters I would make and possibly add two or three to add to its value and usefulness. Additional sizes could be added as needed if wanted and a reasonable charge made for cutting. I shall be glad to hear from you.
Very truly yours.
          P. S. It would require from two to three weeks to get the commercial mats from my masters.

This was a great temptation, as you can imagine, to a young printer to have something unique and beautiful, and certainly it would enhance my position as a private press printer. But it was still 1933. And jobs were scarce           — money was scarcer           — and even though the price seems ridiculously low now, in those days it was quite high. It had been offered to Grabhorn, and subsequently Grabhorn did buy the type and the rights from Mr. Goudy and rechristened it Franciscan. A typeface which he has used quite often and with very pleasant results. As was typical of Grabhorn in those days, he disliked paying bills so years later Mr. Goudy still complained about the slowness with which he was paid by Grabhorns [laughter] for the matrices. But I think all was eventually happy; Goudy too must have been pleased with the numerous books which were set in his unique face.

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During the last year that I was teaching at Scripps, I suggested during Christmas vacation that if some of the girls wanted to see a really interesting printing shop they should see the shop of the Grabhorns in San Francisco, which was more of an art gallery than a printing shop, and it was an antique gallery too. Everything was so delightfully arranged that it’s unlike any printing shop in the country. Several of the girls went up there during vacation and came back quite ecstatic about it. In the meantime, I was down with the mumps so that we had to postpone classes for a few weeks. When I got back, I was so pleased to find that they hadn’t completely wasted the time that I was away.
          They had printed for me this little poem which had been written by Ruth Kestenbaum:


To our Master Craftsman

Four hearts are now enlightened
And our day was greatly brightened
By our survey of the works of Grabhorn’s Press.

But we were in such terror
At the thought of Nature’s error
When we heard of Mr. Ritchie in distress.

We stopped our criticising
Of your work in advertising:
Your illness has our spirits in the dumps.

We take back jokes about your age
Knowing now you are a young sage.
For an old man could not ever have the mumps. [laughter]

I relinquished my job teaching out there with a certain amount of regret, though it was a little trying to spend every Saturday at the press, because the trip out and

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back took me a couple of hours and the teaching took three more hours so that I never had a free Saturday to myself.
          But a professor by the name of Joseph Arnold Foster was coming to teach in the English Department. Joe Foster had had admirable training at Carnegie Institute of Technology where he had been one of the bright lights in Porter Garnett’s Laboratory Press. So it was felt that with him full-time on the faculty, that he could take over the printing shop and handle both jobs without too much difficulty.
          Joe Foster had never been a professional printer; he had attended Carnegie Tech and later had gotten his doctor’s degree and had gone into teaching. He had taught at Oberlin College where Waldo Dunn, the head of the English Department at Scripps, had come from, and so there was a rapport between the two. He was the one who induced Joe Foster to come to Scripps. Porter Garnett was a precisionist           — a man who used type ornaments with great delicacy and ingenuity. The specimens which came out of the Laboratory Press reflected his own typographical preferences. Joe Foster followed this pattern of designing and embellishing with type ornaments. From the standpoint of teaching           — when you’re not teaching professionally but in order to stimulate an interest in amateurs           — it has many advantages because in using, arranging and rearranging type ornaments you are able to do pictures and decorative designs. it’s like a puzzle, and

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it is an intriguing way of handling small projects. Foster has been eminently successful with his girls. As he himself says, ‘The girls have created things which I would have loved to have produced and would never have thought of their simple variations and the way that they’ve done it. But when you get half a dozen girls vying with one another on these projects, these delightful creations come.’
          Joe didn’t use the hand press; that was left over in the Art Building for the art students to use for wood blocks. He moved the press over to one of the academic buildings where his own office was, and rather than have the girls do their own presswork, he had a little Chandler & Price and incredibly enough, he did all the presswork for all of these girls. He was a man of great devotion because he had to do this at nights, on weekends, when otherwise he could have been enjoying himself or working on other things. He is such a modest man that, aside from recognition at Scripps, he has had hardly any recognition of what has been done there. For years I have tried to get samples from him and he said, ‘Well, one of these days.I’ll get them together.’ And it literally took me about ten years before I was able to get a batch of them.
          This last year, when Beatrice Warde the eminent English printing historian and one-time editor of the Monotype Recorder in London was here, I spirited her away and took her out to Scripps, after calling Joe Foster

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because I thought that she of all people would be the one to appreciate what was being done. It was a great surprise to her to see what was being achieved. Fortunately Foster had gathered together a considerable bundle of the things that had been done by the girls and she was ecstatic. I’ve never seen her quite as enthusiastic about any work, and I’m sure that she’s going to take these back to England, as she said, and have a series of exhibits in the various schools of England to show what is being done in America. For several years, I have been toying with the idea myself of writing an article about this press, and I do hope that I will get the time one of these days.
          Joe, as I’ve mentioned, is probably one of the most modest men in the world, and from time to time I send him something and get a letter back, and it’s always such a delightful experience. One of his letters will give you some idea of the man. This was written to me in 1962. Evidently he had written in a previous letter that I ought to write something about my own press, and, of course, a year or so before I had written a bibliography which had evidently escaped him, so in the meantime I sent him a copy:
Dear Ward:
For the past two weeks, my face has been fiery red.
Not ordinary red, mind you, or pink or Vermillion, or even old rose, but just plain ordinary fiery red.
I could have bitten my tongue off when I received your letter for if I had known that you had published the very sort of book that I mentioned in my letter.

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I certainly never would have said anything about it. This is simply a perfect example of my abysmal ignorance of everything that is going on in the field of printing. And while I can not excuse it, I certainly do apologize for my stupidity. Your book is the sort that reviewers welcome with open arms.
There are so many good things that can be said about it that it is hard to know where to begin. One of the chief drawbacks with the field of printing, as far as historians are concerned, is that it is such an Impersonal and anonymous affair. Men design beautiful typefaces and print beautiful books. But too often we know the men only as names. I have sometimes wondered what Fournier the Younger for example, what was he like? And his home? And his daily life? He had a wonderful sense of design, one that appeals to me, and for that reason I should like to know the man better, but the answer is silence.
For years my favorite book was Mackail’s Life of William Morris, but in time even this was replaced by the volume on the Daniel Press. Daniel may not have been a great printer, but his life shines through the pages of the book and everything he did. And what is more, he seems to have a lot of fun in doing it, too. This is what pleases me more than anything else about your book. It is handsomely designed and printed and bound, and the title page is a gem. Damn it all to hell. Ward, you have done things with title pages that I never would have dreamed of. Had the courage to toss out a lot of the old nonsense and take new approaches, all in good taste. In short, you have done the sort of thing that I wish I could have done, and the very thought of it makes me so mad that I am hardly on speaking terms with myself. It is a handsome volume, cover to cover, and a pleasure to leaf through and examine and study. In addition to all this, however, you have done something that is very rare in the annals of printing. You have produced a thoroughly readable and enjoyable account of printers and printing. One that I know for a fact that is without rival to date in this century, and one that will be without rival when the century closes. You have told the story in terms of men and women and their daily lives, their hopes and their disappointments, their ups and their downs. You not only make people come alive on your pages, but you let the reader see them working in a setting. You’ve done what Rogers and Updike, and even Goudy fail to do. And incidentally you missed your calling, you should have been a biographer. There are enough accounts of presses to make one wonder whether automation didn’t begin in the field of printing. I only wish that you had been charged with writing the stories of Rogers and Updike and Gaudy, for further generations would have known them as men and not mere names. There are two other very rare qualities in your book. The first is the frank recognition of the fact that there is a back door as well as a front door in printing establishments. I do not mind amateurs. I certainly am not in a good position to object to my own existence, but I do get fed up with all the blankety-blank yapping of the dilettantes who refuse to take an honest look at life. I admire someone who takes life as it comes and takes life as a whole and then does his best with everything that his hand touches, not just the bonnets from the Portuguese.
The other quality is a generosity that is rare among those that turn their hands to any form of creative activity. Your generosity and warmheartedness in recognising the good in others, in distributing praise with a lavish hand and keeping none for yourself. Well, sir, this brings us to the secret of the whole book. You have not only breathed life into it and made people and places and things come alive, but you have put so much of yourself into it—the hardest thing to put on paper—that a hundred years hence, men will Bay,
‘That was Ward Ritchie.‘ For a book that can be read as well as looked at, and for a book that can be reread and reexamined with ever growing pleasure, a thousand thanks. But hell’s fire and damnation, why did you have to go and make it impossible for me to print something, let alone write something that I could send to you without first leaving town.
Sincerely,
Joe.
You can gather from this that he’s a man of fulsome praise. He wants you to feel good; he is also a man who deprecates his own great ability. He is such a retiring and modest fellow in many respects.
          Some of his projects are quite incongruous. A couple of years ago, he wrote me and asked me if it would be too much of a bother for us to bind some books for him.
Another young man of great talent, almost an intellectual genius whom we got to know. It must have been about 1937.
          I don’t recall the exact circumstances when we first met him, but as with so many of these young people of talent,
          I suspect that it was Jake Zeitlin who first heard of him and introduced us. His name was Alvin Lustig, and he was a local product of the Beverly Hills school. As a boy, he had been very small.
          He became interested in magic and sleight of hand.
          He pursued any interest with great energy and devotion.
          As a result he soon become one of the most adept amateur-magicians in the area. In high school he used to put on complete shows, and he was in such demand that he was sent around to various schools in the local southern California area to put on these shows for their assemblies. I remember writing about him once after talking over these things. He said he was sent out by the Board of Education almost three times a week to be on programs, and his mother-said that they could have put him out on the stage at $300 a week. But she was afraid that it would have ruined him as he was so nervous from the school entertainments that they had to speak to the officials to put reins on the appearances. The schools were just overdoing it.
          He became interested in art while making posters for his magic programs. In his final year in high school, he became more interested in drawing the posters than in the

and naturally it wasn’t. He said that he would like us to buy some brick red cloth, enough for five volumes, one hundred books in each volume. He said that he was working at that time on volume one, and he would send the sheets over to us as soon as they were done, with specifications for the binding. We bought the cloth, and the sheets came over. Surprisingly enough I looked at it and it was called Brickmaking in America, Volume I. And the next year, Volume II, the sheets came over. As yet we haven’t seen Volume III, IV, and V, but I assume that as time passes we will get them. How Joe Foster became interested in this particular subject is hard to determine. I Imagine that his initial interest stemmed from the fact that he ran into some early accounts of brickmaking.
          The first volume is devoted primarily to English laws prescribing the rights and duties and so forth of the brickmakers in England and in early America, and it will gradually go on from there. Strangely enough, the subject has a certain interest, and he has had a good many subscribers, primarily libraries, especially after they see the scholarly method in which he works, they are going to have to have the full series. But it is basically a labor of love on his part because he’s setting by hand the whole thing and printing on a little press in his extra hours.
          Dixon: What is the size of each volume in pages?
          Ritchie: Well, the books run about 100 to 120 pages, I

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Jake had him do a Christmas card for him in 1937 and we printed it, so that may have been the first association. From then on we did various other little jobs which he, Lustig laid out and made the ornamental type arrangements, and we would do the printing. It was obvious from the first that he had. a flair for interior decoration, too. He had taken a little office in one of the buildings opposite Westlake Part on Seventh Street and painted it himself and designed and built some very simple furniture out of plywood. He made it so extremely attractive that the landlord, seeing what had been done, rented the studio out to someone else for about twice what Lustig was paying for it, and Lustig was out of a studio in which to work. We invited him to move his case of type and desk into our front office and work out of there. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. Lustig designed, for us a new front office with a background of bookcases. In one corner he had his desk and cases of type ornaments.
          Here he worked, arranging them into his designs. My own desk was a vast 6 by 12 foot piece of plywood on one side of which I sat and my secretary on the other.
          Alvin was there I would say for one or two years. He was not actually an employee of ours, serving as his own salesman, designer and compositor. He did lots of work for decorators and architects — folders and pamphlets — and we would do the printing for him. He also did many decorations

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would say. My recollection is that it’s about 6′ by 9′ in size.
          The Laboratory Press was one which I greatly admired even before my closer association with Joseph Arnold Foster. Quite early in my printing career, a young fellow came to see me by the name of Ned Sterling, who also had been a graduate of the Laboratory Press at Carnegie Institute.
          He came to work for me back in 1934 I believe, directly from Carnegie Institute (this was his first job) , It was about the time that I was doing these things for the Works Projects Administration. It was he who hand set the Declaration of Independence, which we printed at that time.
          He worked for me for about a year when he was offered the job of printing instructor at Pasadena Junior College which, of course, paid a little more and was quite a bit more secure. He taught there for several years and later worked as designer at the San Pasqual Press in Pasadena, which had quite an ambitious publishing program going on because the president of one of the large title companies in Los Angeles was sponsoring it. The man had great ambitions, and unfortunately just as it was getting started, he died, and so the San Pasqual Press wasn’t able to follow on.
          When the war came, Ned Sterling enlisted (I’m not sure whether he had had ROTC at Carnegie Tech, but he was able to go in as an officer), and had one of the most interesting experiences of any printer in the Armed Services.
          magic part of it. This led him into art in junior college. He went to Los Angeles City College, which was a junior college, I believe, at that time, and he became also interested in reading for the first time in his life. He had a professor who encouraged and stimulated him in art, but his reading was self-induced. He began to read almost everything that he could lay his hands on in the library especially in the fields of philosophy and religion.
          Spinoza and Goethe seemed to be his favorite authors at this particular time.
          He never graduated from any college; he would get interested in a phase of knowledge, pursue it until saturated and then proceed to another field. He became interested in architecture and went to Taliesin East where he worked with Frank Lloyd Wright for a while, getting a great deal from the association with this great and intelligent architect. And then he came back West and went to Art Center School, becoming interested in the graphic arts at that time. When I first met him, he was developing an interest in design through the medium of the geometrical ornaments which are available to printers. I believe I have mentioned his work on the book of Alfred Young Fisher which he did with us. With great ingenuity, he arranged these elements, using both shape and color to make a beautiful abstract from geometrical type units.

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He was taken to England and put in charge of the mapmaking for the Normandy invasion. It was a very responsible job and one which is not too well-known. I recall when he came back that he told of how he and perhaps a thousand men were put in this compound, almost as if they were prisoners of war because it was so secret and so vital. No man, once he got in there, was allowed to leave, with the exception of Major Sterling himself because he had to have certain contacts. As Eisenhower was mailing his plans, they would set up the maps themselves, and these were all printed, and were ready. On the eve of the invasion, there was the tremendous job of distribution with the half of a million maps having to be placed in the hands of every man who was going on the invasion ships, so that they would have some idea of the terrain, of the roads, the places that they were going once they arrived in Normandy. Yet it all had to be so secret that no word would get out. I imagine that a very small handful of people knew the exact plan, aside from all of these printers who knew more than they could tell.
          Ned came back, though he was never very well after his experience over there. He worked as production manager for the advertising agency of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn for several years before he finally died from some sort of infection.
          The third Laboratory Press boy that I knew quite well was Wilder Bentley, who was of the same era as Joe Foster, I believe, and also went on to get his doctor’s degree.

517-518

I got an announcement from Carl Purington Rollins of Yale that he was going to be out here and give a series of summer lectures at the University of California. I did want to go up there and hear them. I wasn’t able to make the full session, but I did manage a few of them.

It was Wilder Bentley, however, who practically saved my life. I had taken the night train up to San Francisco, and naturally doing it as inexpensively as possible, I sat in a chair car and arriving in San Francisco in the morning almost dead tired.
Body aching and eyes hurting, I checked my luggage at the station and walked uptown. Had breakfast and called Groenewegen; he had gone to Atlanta. Rode out to see George Fields; his book was still up in the air. Back to town, called Julie Malmouth about the money she owed me; she had returned to L. A.
I was very weary and discouraged. Finally got Wilder Bentley on the phone and he told me to come over for lunch. Could barely keep awake on the ferry and train. It was hot and I had to pack bag, overcoat, and typewriter across the campus and up the hill to his house. It was hot and I was exhausted. Four bottles of beer and lunch revived me somewhat. Wilder found me a boarding house for $1.00 a day.
          I left my things and went to the library for Carl Rollins’ class. I sat down, then saw John Henry Nash, went over to greet him. He told me that he had been there regularly. He introduced me to Rollins and later to Mrs. Barr of Mills. Rollins, of course, was very interesting. He spoke on the nineteenth century printers, reading from his typed notes.
          Later he showed slides. Afterwards we talked; he’s coming south after the course. Then I went back to Wilder’s for dinner and music, now to bed.
          I stayed there for several days and found Wilder to be somewhat discouraged about all and as a result a little bitter, though he was such a nice fellow that that didn’t come out too much.

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prowling in old bookstores where some odd volume may be hidden that was made to fit your fancy. And you will find still more pleasure when you unwrap it at home and slowly pour [pore] through [over] its pages. Your shelves will grow along with your years and you will mark new interests and pleasures. A man’s library is the history of his mental life, and its lack is a serious handicap. I don’t think it is fair to oneself to read without owning books. There are hundreds of books on my shelves which I shall never read again.
          Yet the mere sight of them reawakens memories of the emotions or the ideas I had while reading them. I even remember with pleasure the feel of the paper and the touch of the binding. Each of these books remains an important part of my life with which I’d [be] loathe to part [with] and while I am sad often with the thought that they have passed through my mind and I probably shall never read them again, I shall still carry them along my ways until the end. You will have fun with books because there are also booksellers and other avid collectors to help enhance life. And some day you will meet authors and even with great daring send a timid note to one of your favorites and have a happy surprise when he answers you. But primarily I want you to create. I hope that you will write — poetry, criticism, fiction, or whatever is in your mind. I hope that some of you will become interested in illustrating or in making initial letters. I hope that before the course is over that we can gather together all of our creations and form a book, material evidence of our interest in creation.

          The course consisted of many things. Basically it was a history of the book from the origin of the written word, of letter forms, on through to the modern creation of the printer. But as we went along, we tried many things. For instance, for several weeks or a month we would do calligraphy. We cut our own pens, made our own quills.
          They learned the letter forms as the great calligraphers of the Middle Ages had perfected them. They practised them so that they too could write similarly.
          We were creative to a certain extent. One year we did a book of poetry, perhaps thirty-six pages. We had a

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competition; we allowed students from the college to submit their verse. We winnowed them, laid them out, printed them and illustrated the book. The final examination was always a thesis rather than asking them questions. It was most surprising the amount of research that was done for this little two-unit class. The theses that I received were full of research, good bibliographies to them. Each of them chose a subject, whether it be of books in the Middle Ages or one of the great printers, and did a thoroughly good job.
          Dixon: Was this an upper division course?
          Ritchie: I imagine it was; I don’t recall. It was a fairly selective course. Usually there were about a dozen students in it. It was a seminar-type course where we sat around a large table and chatted and talked. I would lecture to a certain extent, but it was a lot of talk too. When we had our projects, we could all have table room to work.
          The greatest help to me in this particular course was not from the Art Department, but from the Department of English. During the time when the students would get their advisors’ consent for various courses, the English Department was quite intrigued with this course and would pick some of the brightest, most energetic people to recommend for it. As I recall I gave this course for three years at Occidental College. Then I started a summer school in printing at the plant.

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The inspiration for this came from a couple of sources. One was from a most energetic girl who had gone to Occidental College; her name at that time was Helen Dallas. She had been editor of the Annual back around 1933 or 1934. President Bird, who was always interested in taking somebody with ability and trying to build new interests for them, brought this girl over to me and said, ‘Here is the new editor of the Annual. Perhaps with your experience, you can give her some ideas.’ It ended, up that I designed the Annual and set the type and was responsible for all of the makeup. Then it was printed by the printer who had been doing the Occidental Annual for a good many years. But it was a wonderful challenge. The yearbooks that I had seen had been sort of dull, badly arranged picture books. We changed the size and the format; it was a much larger book in format than Occidental had ever had. We made it clean, cut down on the text and gave space for the pictures. The pictures with their captions told the story of the year at Occidental College. It caused quite a bit of turbulence at Occidental because the students weren’t used to anything like it.

[494 somewhere here?]

          It was resented somewhat by the members of the athletic teams because they feel that they weren’t getting as much recognition in this particular Annual as they sometimes did. But in the long run it had a great effect because the succeeding annuals of Occidental reflected on what had been done this year. Other schools, also seeing this, began fashioning some of their ideas to what was being done at Occidental.
          Helen Dallas had gone back to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. She was back there working on development. They had received a Sloan Foundation grant of some size for ‘consumer education.’ She was working on this project which included the publication of the Proceedings of a Conference on Consumer Education. From her past experience working with me on the annual she insisted on sending the job of printing this to me in Los Angeles.
          While it was only a paperback, it was selected by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as one of the Fifty Books of the Year. As a result, this enhanced her position back there and also made her interested in knowing more about the graphic arts process. She wrote saying that the college would like her to know more about printing, together with a young chap, Joe Melia, who was their production man. She asked if it would be possible for them to come out during the summer and study under me?
          At the same time, Dorothy Drake, the librarian at Scripps College, had become more and more interested in the arts of the book. One day while I was out there, I met Mary Treanor and her mother; I had known John Treanor many years before as a member of the Zamorano Club. He had been president of the Riverside Cement Company at

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that time and had been killed. Both Mary and her mother had acquired from John an interest in fine printing.
          The subject came up at Scripps that it would be nice if there was someplace where they could learn more. Mary Treanor said that she would like to take the course, too.
          The fourth member came in, and I am not certain how she heard of it, but a big Cadillac stopped in front of the shop one day and a very handsome woman came in. Her daughter had just graduated from Marlborough School and she was interested in art and she wanted her to learn something about the art of books. So Robin Park was the fourth of the students that came in that year.
          This was a month course which I gave during the summer, and it was a real hard hitting course. We started in the morning and had a two-hour lecture session each morning and then questions. After lunch was a laboratory session. The building in which we were located on Hyperion Avenue had originally had two stores down on the first floor and four apartments upstairs. We used the downstairs as our plant, and the upstairs we had rented out to various families           — usually some of our employees. I took one of those apartments, and we converted it into a little private press with several cases of type and the little proofing press that I had gotten from Thomas Perry Stricker several years before. We also had all of the facilities of the shop down below if we needed additional type orna-

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ments, blocks or other things.
          During the afternoon, the students would work on various projects.
          We started out with simple things; they would just set up a few paragraphs so they would learn how to set type. What I did was to give them a poem by Housman or somebody like that, and each of them would work out a design for it and make it into a little booklet. They did bookplates and they did Christmas cards. Finally they got on to major projects; each one was supposed to do a booklet before he got through.
          It was tough on me because I had to prepare a two-hour lecture every night for the next day. During the afternoon, of course, they were pretty much on their own. I didn’t have to supervise them too closely, so it gave me a certain amount of time to work in and around the shop while conducting the class.
          Mary Treanor and Robin Park were so interested in their work that they asked if they could stay on during the winter months. They were pretty much on their own.
          I gave them a certain amount of supervision, but they had their own projects. The first of these was a talk which had been given at Scripps College which Mary brought in.
          They set and printed a hundred or so copies. Then they got a commission to do a little book of poems for somebody. Then Robert Cowan wanted to have a keepsake for the Zamorano Club, and he commissioned them to do that.
          But their triumph was a book called An Evening With the Royal Family by A.E. Housman. This juvenile work of Housman’s had been found someplace. One of the American magazines had printed it, and the girls got permission to reprint it. I think they only did a hundred copies or so — very nicely done — and it turned out to be the first edition in book form. If and when copies can be found, it should prove to be a very valuable Housman item. They called themselves the Greenhorn Press.
          The next year I repeated this program and had as pupils Barbara Chapin and Helen Abel from Scripps College and Jane Frampton from Occidental College. Jane went back to Occidental College for her masters’ degree after that and wrote the first history of the fine printers of southern California, as her thesis. I saw plenty of her the next year while she was working on it because she relied on me for much of her information. I would take her over to meet people such as Stricker, Cheney, Bruce McCallister, Dahlstrom and Marks. She worked this out with a bibliography of the books that had been printed by each of the presses up to that time. It is a valuable source book.
          In the meantime, Scripps College got interested in a printing program, too. Mary Treanor helped stimulate their interest. They were given a grant by Mrs. Phillips to have a typeface designed and to start a Scripps College

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press. Frederic Goudy was chosen to do this new typeface, and during the that year I was called in quite often to see what Mr. Goudy had sent out in the way of letter designs, to check them over for possible suggestions and to work with them as closely as possible on this new project. The presentation was made by the Class of 19′-Hj during graduation week on the 5th of June in 1941.
          Mary Treanor was still working with us and with Robin Park at the press. Mary set up an announcement for the event. The press was to be called the Hartley Burr Alexander Press in memory of the great Scripps teacher. The program consisted of the introduction of the guests of honor, Nelly Alexander; Catherine Coffin Phillips, who had made possible the type; Frederic Goudy himself; and myself, who had given them the Washington hand press on which I had started. I have further notes about a subsequent dedication:

September 18th, 1941, was a memorable day at Scripps and the whole campus, especially Dorothy Drake, was excited by the celebration arranged for the presentation of the new type Goudy had designed for their little press. The type had been cast up by Mackenzie and Harris and a couple of paragraphs had been set up, none too well. On Monday Goudy brought it into the shop and we restyled it, making a few corrections and alterations and proofs and he took the type out to Claremont with him for the celebration on Thursday. Here it was placed on the old hand press, and as a miscellaneous group of students, faculty and friends gathered around, Mr. Goudy pulled a proof to inaugurate the Hartley Burr Alexander Press.
          That evening there was a banquet in honor of Mr.

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Goudy and Mrs. Phillips who put up $1,000 for the design of the type. It was formal and Mr. Goudy and I changed our clothes in his room at the Claremont Inn. Thanks to him I did not have to go cuff-buttonless as he had an extra pair which the Boston House of Printing craftsman had given him on some occasion, and I had forgotten to bring any. The dinner was followed by many lengthy speeches by Dr. Jaqua, Dorothy Drake, Mrs. Esterly and Robert Schad leading up to the piece de resistance, the talk by Frederick Goudy. All of these talks had been elaborate, very finished and fluently given. Mr. Goudy got up and stumbled around a few minutes as he deprecated the many nice things which had been said about him in the previous introductions. Then he told how happy he was, as Christopher Morley had once said: ‘Fred Goudy has an incalculable capacity for friendship.’ And now he felt this great friendship enveloping Scripps. Then he turned around and said, ‘I had a story and I was going to tell you, but I’ve forgotten what it is.’ And then, ‘Now that I am up here I am in a quandary because I don’t know how to sit down again.’ Whereupon everybody clapped and though from where I sat and watched him he appeared to be going to continue on Dr. Jaqua turned to him and said, ‘Let us all sit down so that Mr. Goudy can do it comfortably.’ And that was the end of the celebration, except that Goudy told us after the dinner had broken up, the story he had forgotten. He was going to tell of the occasion when the toastmaster got up and said, ‘Tonight we were planning to have with us, the celebrated wit So-and-so. But unfortunately at the last moment, he found that he would be unable to be present. And so we were pleased and fortunate in getting two half-wits.’ [laughter] Then Mr. Goudy said, ‘I was going to hope that the audience would not start looking for the other half-wit.’

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TAPE NUMBER: THIRTEEN, SIDE TWO

September 1965

Ritchie: A couple of sessions back I was talking about P.J. Smith, and since then I’ve found some notes on P.J.’s early struggles to get by, which I think will be a little more accurate than the memories that I gave you.

This was back in 1939; when I was out at P.J.’s and he told me of his early struggles. He had gone two years to Emory and Henry College when he fell in love with a girl and was so frightened and jealous when she went out with another man that he secretly married her. But his father found out and there was a terrific fight. Paul Jordan walked out, left Emory and Henry and transferred to the University of Chattanooga where he got the teaching fellowship in Chemistry. Also he delivered morning and evening papers and on Saturday worked in a shoe store.
          During his senior year, he was taken down with typhoid fever and had a nervous breakdown which took all of his money. Also he had his first child Isabel Smith. When he went back to school, he had to get a scholarship and for several months went on crutches, but was finally well and graduated with his class at the age of twenty-one. He was awarded a Fish Fellowship to Harvard University but didn’t have enough money to get there. Through Some friends of his family he made arrangements to borrow enough, but

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when his father heard of it, he went to the man who had offered to give the money and asked him if he would favor him by not giving Paul Jordan the money.
          As a result he didn’t go to Harvard, but he went to Atlanta where he shifted from the Methodist church to the Unitarian church, because in the South the Unitarian church was not especially strong and he was able to go to the seminary there. The Unitarian church had been anti-slavery and had been having difficulty getting any Southern college men to attend. He spent a year there and was promised a big church, but when his father and the Atlanta Unitarian minister got together and the Unitarians found out how he had deceived his father, they didn’t give him the job they had promised. So he deserted to the Universalist church and got a job near Galesburg in Illinois. By that time he had two or three children, but he was a spellbinder so never had much trouble thereafter. In Kansas City, he built a church to great proportions by keeping its doings in the paper. He threw out the Bible and Prayer-book; he covered the walls with biological specimens and gathered in the IWW’s and Socialists. His entrance was always dramatic run down the aisle and a leap onto the platform. He was extremely popular except with the orthodox and had trouble with the Mother Church. But already he had a better-offer in Chicago, where he stayed three years building up a settlement house. From there he went to Berkeley to teach

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in the University but was kicked out for some scandal or radicalness and soon after married Sarah Bixby Smith.
          I was talking about Goudy and the dedication of the press at Scripps College last time when we stopped.
          Goudy had a remarkable career, designing well over a hundred different typefaces; very few of them were major when we think of the great typefaces of all time. But they had a consistently high level, and some of them will probably remain among the standard types from now on. When I knew him, he was fairly well-advanced in age. He was short, dumpy–hardly a man that you would think of as being a playboy, but when Perry Stricker returned from New York one time, told many many tales of Fred Goudy who loved to drive a high-powered car as fast as he could around the New York area. He was not a drinking man — at least he wasn’t during his later years — but he seemed to have had a knack with girls. I do recall once when he was here visiting that he mentioned having a girl friend in California. Well, I was sure at his age that it was in memory mostly, [laughter] But he was quite annoyed at one time because I had bought a copy of one of his books on alphabets in which there was a kindly dedication to some girl, and the thought that she had sold this book almost killed him. [laughter]
          One story of his which always amused me was when he was asked how he designed a type — a letter. And he said, ‘Well, it’s not too difficult. First, you think of a

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letter in your mind and you draw a line around it.’
Which is about the simplest way of explaining a design that I can think of.
          Now that Scripps had a hand press and some type designed especially for them, they wanted to start producing. They had ambitious plans, being quite innocent of what is required in printing and how limited actually their facilities were. Mrs. Phillips, who donated the money to have Goudy do the type, expected this to be a great publishing house, handling not only all Scripps’ printing needs but to issue many books. Since Mary Treanor had been a graduate of Scripps College, they asked her to take charge of the press that year. It was a most trying year for her, I am sure, because technically she wasn’t yet equipped to handle it and teach. The technique of using the hand press is quite different from the proof press that she had been operating at our shop, she had kept careful notes during the previous summer when she was taking the summer course from me, and she used this as a basis for her lectures or her talks to the girls. But there was little accomplished during that first year.
          The next year, starting in September of 1942, Dorothy Drake, the librarian, asked me if I would consider teaching out there, at least giving them some help. At that time, the war had started and I was working at Douglas Aircraft six days a week. It didn’t give me very much time.

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something much more caustic, and found that he was quite urbane; expected him to be brusque, and he goes out of his way to give me directions here and there, tells me what I should see; gives me a card to the Atheneum, and letters to all the printers he knows. I think he feels a little responsible for me, as if he had lured me out of the west and here I am, and what can he do about it.
          But he still does not feel that he is bound to hire me. I am sure I do not know the technique of breaking down his resistance; maybe there is none. However, he set me right on one point. Writing personal letters to him without being introduced first is an A-l crime. That was no kind of letter to write. So when I had the opportunity to write to the Meriden Gravure Company which had responded slightly to a line I wrote them, I took it around to him before mailing it, and he pruned and clipped it into what he thought was a straightforward and business-like form, and then off it went.
          But he tells me that when he hires someone, he wants someone he can boss, no bright young fellows with suggestions to offer. And he doesn’t want someone with ambitions, who will work a while and then off for the woods. He might hire me, he said, if he needed someone to set type, but no quicker than he would anyone else who came along. And he has all the typesetters he needs at present, thank you. So I have given up hope, as far as he is concerned.
          Gregg did get the job at Meriden Gravure Company which was a printing plant in Meriden, Connecticut which was concerned at that time with collotype, which is a method of printing illustrations without a screen in the illustrations, so it is usually used in scientific works or in very specialized books where they want the reproduction as clean and faithful as possible. The problem when scientific photographs are printed in the usual method, either by letter-press or by offset, is that they are photographed through a very fine screen which makes the dot

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but I did agree to go out there one Sunday a month. We did start operations, and there was enough interest that a batch of the girls gave up their Sundays, as I had, to try and operate the press.
          It was a most pleasant experience.
          We had a little room in the basement of the Art Building at that time.
          The old Washington hand press had been refurbished somewhat by the college. These old presses sometimes do get a bit worn, and this particular one had a little low spot right in the middle where through years and years of hard usage it had worn a bit. The college had it planed off and put into good shape for me. I spent only six or seven sessions out there during the year           — hardly enough time to accomplish much. The next year I had left Douglas and was working with an advertising agency which wasn’t quite as rigorous from the standpoint of time. I was able to go out every Saturday, and we had a much better opportunity to both teach and produce little booklets. I did this also for the year 1944/45 and for 1945/46.
          The classes were always small because with the equipment it was difficult to work with more than five or six. Even so we usually had to allot time at the hand press to print a job. We started out much as the students had at my summer sessions, setting a bit of poetry and progressing to little personal projects           — booklets, bookplates, Christmas cards and such things. Some of the booklets

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became quite ambitious. As some of the girls were also taking art they did linoleum-cut illustrations for their books, and many of them wrote their own material too.
          A few were particularly outstanding. Betty Davenport, who later known as Betty Davenport Ford, has been most successful as an animal sculptor. There was a little girl by the name of Charlene Mahoney who had great ability; she took almost every prize at Scripps during her senior year and was writing what I thought was to be very creditable verse. Of course, she was so attractive that she was very soon snapped up. [laughter] I imagine that she’s become a housewife since I’ve heard nothing more about her.
          One very amusing girl was Nancy Scripps, who is one of the Scripps family who had started Scripps College. She told one amusing story — her family lived down near San Diego and she had a couple of younger brothers. There was a fire on the street one time, and her mother, being a very sensible woman, took the children down and not wanting them to be frightened by this thing, she explained how beautiful the flames were and such reassuring things. The fire was over and they went home, and within a little while, their house was on fire. [laughter] The children had been so intrigued and this was such a nice thing that they wanted to see more of it.
          Goudy was quite interested in the college press, and naturally the college was very proud of having his type

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there. I recall that several years before, when I had first had correspondence with Fred Goudy, it was in May of 1933. It has always interested me since because it gives an insight of how Goudy worked and also what a typeface would cost in those days. I had a note from him.

Dear Mr. Ritchie:

A note from Mr. Carroll Harris from San Francisco received this morning suggests that you might be interested in securing the exclusive rights to my Village text, the redesigned and recut Aries which I offered some months ago to Mr. Grabhorn at a ridiculously low price, as such things go. I have been holding off, as one of the large New York publishers was considering it but who finally decided that times are too hard to incur the expense for the comparatively limited use they could make of it.
          It is essentially a type for the private printer rather than for the general run of publications.
          The matter stands this way, I have recut the matrices in what are called masters from which the monotype company can make electro-display matrices and which Mr. Harris could cast on his monotype or Thompson caster. These electro-mats will cost me approximately $100, possibly a trifle more, depending on the actual number of characters. And I would want at least $600 for the exclusive rights to the design or $700 for the matrices and rights.
          $250 down and balance in one, two or three monthly payments, from time when mats were ready for delivery. If time is any object to you, I might accept $50 less for all cash.
          This price is practically one-half my usual charge for a type and if not disposed of now will go into my specimen of new faces and sold through Continental Type Founders to printers, specimen now preparing.
          I am sending you some proofs of it. It has never been shown except in two little Christmas cards of my own, that is none of the type has been sold to any printer.
          Mr. Harris tells me that you met my friend Bruce Rogers in England. You probably met also my friends George Jones and Stanley Morison. Rogers is here now and is returning to England this month to finish the Bible, now printing at Oxford. We, Mrs. Goudy and I, have just completed the composition for him in Deepdene italics, l6-point for a privately

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printed edition in limited number of the letters to B.R. from T.E. Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia) on the making of the Odyssey. From what Mr. Harris tells me regarding you it would be pleasant to know that the type which in a sense is an unique design had an appreciative owner and a good home. There are a few slight changes in two or three characters I would make and possibly add two or three to add to its value and usefulness. Additional sizes could be added as needed if wanted and a reasonable charge made for cutting. I shall be glad to hear from you.
Very truly yours.
          P. S. It would require from two to three weeks to get the commercial mats from my masters.

This was a great temptation, as you can imagine, to a young printer to have something unique and beautiful, and certainly it would enhance my position as a private press printer. But it was still 1933. And jobs were scarce           — money was scarcer           — and even though the price seems ridiculously low now, in those days it was quite high. It had been offered to Grabhorn, and subsequently Grabhorn did buy the type and the rights from Mr. Goudy and rechristened it Franciscan. A typeface which he has used quite often and with very pleasant results. As was typical of Grabhorn in those days, he disliked paying bills so years later Mr. Goudy still complained about the slowness with which he was paid by Grabhorns [laughter] for the matrices. But I think all was eventually happy; Goudy too must have been pleased with the numerous books which were set in his unique face.

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During the last year that I was teaching at Scripps, I suggested during Christmas vacation that if some of the girls wanted to see a really interesting printing shop they should see the shop of the Grabhorns in San Francisco, which was more of an art gallery than a printing shop, and it was an antique gallery too. Everything was so delightfully arranged that it’s unlike any printing shop in the country. Several of the girls went up there during vacation and came back quite ecstatic about it. In the meantime, I was down with the mumps so that we had to postpone classes for a few weeks. When I got back, I was so pleased to find that they hadn’t completely wasted the time that I was away.
          They had printed for me this little poem which had been written by Ruth Kestenbaum:


To our Master Craftsman

Four hearts are now enlightened
And our day was greatly brightened
By our survey of the works of Grabhorn’s Press.

But we were in such terror
At the thought of Nature’s error
When we heard of Mr. Ritchie in distress.

We stopped our criticising
Of your work in advertising:
Your illness has our spirits in the dumps.

We take back jokes about your age
Knowing now you are a young sage.
For an old man could not ever have the mumps. [laughter]

I relinquished my job teaching out there with a certain amount of regret, though it was a little trying to spend every Saturday at the press, because the trip out and

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back took me a couple of hours and the teaching took three more hours so that I never had a free Saturday to myself.
          But a professor by the name of Joseph Arnold Foster was coming to teach in the English Department. Joe Foster had had admirable training at Carnegie Institute of Technology where he had been one of the bright lights in Porter Garnett’s Laboratory Press. So it was felt that with him full-time on the faculty, that he could take over the printing shop and handle both jobs without too much difficulty.
          Joe Foster had never been a professional printer; he had attended Carnegie Tech and later had gotten his doctor’s degree and had gone into teaching. He had taught at Oberlin College where Waldo Dunn, the head of the English Department at Scripps, had come from, and so there was a rapport between the two. He was the one who induced Joe Foster to come to Scripps. Porter Garnett was a precisionist           — a man who used type ornaments with great delicacy and ingenuity. The specimens which came out of the Laboratory Press reflected his own typographical preferences. Joe Foster followed this pattern of designing and embellishing with type ornaments. From the standpoint of teaching           — when you’re not teaching professionally but in order to stimulate an interest in amateurs           — it has many advantages because in using, arranging and rearranging type ornaments you are able to do pictures and decorative designs. it’s like a puzzle, and

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it is an intriguing way of handling small projects. Foster has been eminently successful with his girls. As he himself says, ‘The girls have created things which I would have loved to have produced and would never have thought of their simple variations and the way that they’ve done it. But when you get half a dozen girls vying with one another on these projects, these delightful creations come.’
          Joe didn’t use the hand press; that was left over in the Art Building for the art students to use for wood blocks. He moved the press over to one of the academic buildings where his own office was, and rather than have the girls do their own presswork, he had a little Chandler & Price and incredibly enough, he did all the presswork for all of these girls. He was a man of great devotion because he had to do this at nights, on weekends, when otherwise he could have been enjoying himself or working on other things. He is such a modest man that, aside from recognition at Scripps, he has had hardly any recognition of what has been done there. For years I have tried to get samples from him and he said, ‘Well, one of these days.I’ll get them together.’ And it literally took me about ten years before I was able to get a batch of them.
          This last year, when Beatrice Warde the eminent English printing historian and one-time editor of the Monotype Recorder in London was here, I spirited her away and took her out to Scripps, after calling Joe Foster

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because I thought that she of all people would be the one to appreciate what was being done. It was a great surprise to her to see what was being achieved. Fortunately Foster had gathered together a considerable bundle of the things that had been done by the girls and she was ecstatic. I’ve never seen her quite as enthusiastic about any work, and I’m sure that she’s going to take these back to England, as she said, and have a series of exhibits in the various schools of England to show what is being done in America. For several years, I have been toying with the idea myself of writing an article about this press, and I do hope that I will get the time one of these days.
          Joe, as I’ve mentioned, is probably one of the most modest men in the world, and from time to time I send him something and get a letter back, and it’s always such a delightful experience. One of his letters will give you some idea of the man. This was written to me in 1962. Evidently he had written in a previous letter that I ought to write something about my own press, and, of course, a year or so before I had written a bibliography which had evidently escaped him, so in the meantime I sent him a copy:
Dear Ward:
For the past two weeks, my face has been fiery red.
Not ordinary red, mind you, or pink or Vermillion, or even old rose, but just plain ordinary fiery red.
I could have bitten my tongue off when I received your letter for if I had known that you had published the very sort of book that I mentioned in my letter.

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I certainly never would have said anything about it. This is simply a perfect example of my abysmal ignorance of everything that is going on in the field of printing. And while I can not excuse it, I certainly do apologize for my stupidity. Your book is the sort that reviewers welcome with open arms.
There are so many good things that can be said about it that it is hard to know where to begin. One of the chief drawbacks with the field of printing, as far as historians are concerned, is that it is such an Impersonal and anonymous affair. Men design beautiful typefaces and print beautiful books. But too often we know the men only as names. I have sometimes wondered what Fournier the Younger for example, what was he like? And his home? And his daily life? He had a wonderful sense of design, one that appeals to me, and for that reason I should like to know the man better, but the answer is silence.
For years my favorite book was Mackail’s Life of William Morris, but in time even this was replaced by the volume on the Daniel Press. Daniel may not have been a great printer, but his life shines through the pages of the book and everything he did. And what is more, he seems to have a lot of fun in doing it, too. This is what pleases me more than anything else about your book. It is handsomely designed and printed and bound, and the title page is a gem. Damn it all to hell. Ward, you have done things with title pages that I never would have dreamed of. Had the courage to toss out a lot of the old nonsense and take new approaches, all in good taste. In short, you have done the sort of thing that I wish I could have done, and the very thought of it makes me so mad that I am hardly on speaking terms with myself. It is a handsome volume, cover to cover, and a pleasure to leaf through and examine and study. In addition to all this, however, you have done something that is very rare in the annals of printing. You have produced a thoroughly readable and enjoyable account of printers and printing. One that I know for a fact that is without rival to date in this century, and one that will be without rival when the century closes. You have told the story in terms of men and women and their daily lives, their hopes and their disappointments, their ups and their downs. You not only make people come alive on your pages, but you let the reader see them working in a setting. You’ve done what Rogers and Updike, and even Goudy fail to do. And incidentally you missed your calling, you should have been a biographer. There are enough accounts of presses to make one wonder whether automation didn’t begin in the field of printing. I only wish that you had been charged with writing the stories of Rogers and Updike and Gaudy, for further generations would have known them as men and not mere names. There are two other very rare qualities in your book. The first is the frank recognition of the fact that there is a back door as well as a front door in printing establishments. I do not mind amateurs. I certainly am not in a good position to object to my own existence, but I do get fed up with all the blankety-blank yapping of the dilettantes who refuse to take an honest look at life. I admire someone who takes life as it comes and takes life as a whole and then does his best with everything that his hand touches, not just the bonnets from the Portuguese.
The other quality is a generosity that is rare among those that turn their hands to any form of creative activity. Your generosity and warmheartedness in recognising the good in others, in distributing praise with a lavish hand and keeping none for yourself. Well, sir, this brings us to the secret of the whole book. You have not only breathed life into it and made people and places and things come alive, but you have put so much of yourself into it—the hardest thing to put on paper—that a hundred years hence, men will Bay,
‘That was Ward Ritchie.‘ For a book that can be read as well as looked at, and for a book that can be reread and reexamined with ever growing pleasure, a thousand thanks. But hell’s fire and damnation, why did you have to go and make it impossible for me to print something, let alone write something that I could send to you without first leaving town.
Sincerely,
Joe.
You can gather from this that he’s a man of fulsome praise. He wants you to feel good; he is also a man who deprecates his own great ability. He is such a retiring and modest fellow in many respects.
          Some of his projects are quite incongruous. A couple of years ago, he wrote me and asked me if it would be too much of a bother for us to bind some books for him.
Another young man of great talent, almost an intellectual genius whom we got to know. It must have been about 1937.
          I don’t recall the exact circumstances when we first met him, but as with so many of these young people of talent,
          I suspect that it was Jake Zeitlin who first heard of him and introduced us. His name was Alvin Lustig, and he was a local product of the Beverly Hills school. As a boy, he had been very small.
          He became interested in magic and sleight of hand.
          He pursued any interest with great energy and devotion.
          As a result he soon become one of the most adept amateur-magicians in the area. In high school he used to put on complete shows, and he was in such demand that he was sent around to various schools in the local southern California area to put on these shows for their assemblies. I remember writing about him once after talking over these things. He said he was sent out by the Board of Education almost three times a week to be on programs, and his mother-said that they could have put him out on the stage at $300 a week. But she was afraid that it would have ruined him as he was so nervous from the school entertainments that they had to speak to the officials to put reins on the appearances. The schools were just overdoing it.
          He became interested in art while making posters for his magic programs. In his final year in high school, he became more interested in drawing the posters than in the

and naturally it wasn’t. He said that he would like us to buy some brick red cloth, enough for five volumes, one hundred books in each volume. He said that he was working at that time on volume one, and he would send the sheets over to us as soon as they were done, with specifications for the binding. We bought the cloth, and the sheets came over. Surprisingly enough I looked at it and it was called Brickmaking in America, Volume I. And the next year, Volume II, the sheets came over. As yet we haven’t seen Volume III, IV, and V, but I assume that as time passes we will get them. How Joe Foster became interested in this particular subject is hard to determine. I Imagine that his initial interest stemmed from the fact that he ran into some early accounts of brickmaking.
          The first volume is devoted primarily to English laws prescribing the rights and duties and so forth of the brickmakers in England and in early America, and it will gradually go on from there. Strangely enough, the subject has a certain interest, and he has had a good many subscribers, primarily libraries, especially after they see the scholarly method in which he works, they are going to have to have the full series. But it is basically a labor of love on his part because he’s setting by hand the whole thing and printing on a little press in his extra hours.
          Dixon: What is the size of each volume in pages?
          Ritchie: Well, the books run about 100 to 120 pages, I

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Jake had him do a Christmas card for him in 1937 and we printed it, so that may have been the first association. From then on we did various other little jobs which he, Lustig laid out and made the ornamental type arrangements, and we would do the printing. It was obvious from the first that he had. a flair for interior decoration, too. He had taken a little office in one of the buildings opposite Westlake Part on Seventh Street and painted it himself and designed and built some very simple furniture out of plywood. He made it so extremely attractive that the landlord, seeing what had been done, rented the studio out to someone else for about twice what Lustig was paying for it, and Lustig was out of a studio in which to work. We invited him to move his case of type and desk into our front office and work out of there. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. Lustig designed, for us a new front office with a background of bookcases. In one corner he had his desk and cases of type ornaments.
          Here he worked, arranging them into his designs. My own desk was a vast 6 by 12 foot piece of plywood on one side of which I sat and my secretary on the other.
          Alvin was there I would say for one or two years. He was not actually an employee of ours, serving as his own salesman, designer and compositor. He did lots of work for decorators and architects — folders and pamphlets — and we would do the printing for him. He also did many decorations

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would say. My recollection is that it’s about 6′ by 9′ in size.
          The Laboratory Press was one which I greatly admired even before my closer association with Joseph Arnold Foster. Quite early in my printing career, a young fellow came to see me by the name of Ned Sterling, who also had been a graduate of the Laboratory Press at Carnegie Institute.
          He came to work for me back in 1934 I believe, directly from Carnegie Institute (this was his first job) , It was about the time that I was doing these things for the Works Projects Administration. It was he who hand set the Declaration of Independence, which we printed at that time.
          He worked for me for about a year when he was offered the job of printing instructor at Pasadena Junior College which, of course, paid a little more and was quite a bit more secure. He taught there for several years and later worked as designer at the San Pasqual Press in Pasadena, which had quite an ambitious publishing program going on because the president of one of the large title companies in Los Angeles was sponsoring it. The man had great ambitions, and unfortunately just as it was getting started, he died, and so the San Pasqual Press wasn’t able to follow on.
          When the war came, Ned Sterling enlisted (I’m not sure whether he had had ROTC at Carnegie Tech, but he was able to go in as an officer), and had one of the most interesting experiences of any printer in the Armed Services.
          magic part of it. This led him into art in junior college. He went to Los Angeles City College, which was a junior college, I believe, at that time, and he became also interested in reading for the first time in his life. He had a professor who encouraged and stimulated him in art, but his reading was self-induced. He began to read almost everything that he could lay his hands on in the library especially in the fields of philosophy and religion.
          Spinoza and Goethe seemed to be his favorite authors at this particular time.
          He never graduated from any college; he would get interested in a phase of knowledge, pursue it until saturated and then proceed to another field. He became interested in architecture and went to Taliesin East where he worked with Frank Lloyd Wright for a while, getting a great deal from the association with this great and intelligent architect. And then he came back West and went to Art Center School, becoming interested in the graphic arts at that time. When I first met him, he was developing an interest in design through the medium of the geometrical ornaments which are available to printers. I believe I have mentioned his work on the book of Alfred Young Fisher which he did with us. With great ingenuity, he arranged these elements, using both shape and color to make a beautiful abstract from geometrical type units.

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He was taken to England and put in charge of the mapmaking for the Normandy invasion. It was a very responsible job and one which is not too well-known. I recall when he came back that he told of how he and perhaps a thousand men were put in this compound, almost as if they were prisoners of war because it was so secret and so vital. No man, once he got in there, was allowed to leave, with the exception of Major Sterling himself because he had to have certain contacts. As Eisenhower was mailing his plans, they would set up the maps themselves, and these were all printed, and were ready. On the eve of the invasion, there was the tremendous job of distribution with the half of a million maps having to be placed in the hands of every man who was going on the invasion ships, so that they would have some idea of the terrain, of the roads, the places that they were going once they arrived in Normandy. Yet it all had to be so secret that no word would get out. I imagine that a very small handful of people knew the exact plan, aside from all of these printers who knew more than they could tell.
          Ned came back, though he was never very well after his experience over there. He worked as production manager for the advertising agency of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn for several years before he finally died from some sort of infection.
          The third Laboratory Press boy that I knew quite well was Wilder Bentley, who was of the same era as Joe Foster, I believe, and also went on to get his doctor’s degree.

517-518

I got an announcement from Carl Purington Rollins of Yale that he was going to be out here and give a series of summer lectures at the University of California. I did want to go up there and hear them. I wasn’t able to make the full session, but I did manage a few of them.

It was Wilder Bentley, however, who practically saved my life. I had taken the night train up to San Francisco, and naturally doing it as inexpensively as possible, I sat in a chair car and arriving in San Francisco in the morning almost dead tired.
Body aching and eyes hurting, I checked my luggage at the station and walked uptown. Had breakfast and called Groenewegen; he had gone to Atlanta. Rode out to see George Fields; his book was still up in the air. Back to town, called Julie Malmouth about the money she owed me; she had returned to L. A.
I was very weary and discouraged. Finally got Wilder Bentley on the phone and he told me to come over for lunch. Could barely keep awake on the ferry and train. It was hot and I had to pack bag, overcoat, and typewriter across the campus and up the hill to his house. It was hot and I was exhausted. Four bottles of beer and lunch revived me somewhat. Wilder found me a boarding house for $1.00 a day.
          I left my things and went to the library for Carl Rollins’ class. I sat down, then saw John Henry Nash, went over to greet him. He told me that he had been there regularly. He introduced me to Rollins and later to Mrs. Barr of Mills. Rollins, of course, was very interesting. He spoke on the nineteenth century printers, reading from his typed notes.
          Later he showed slides. Afterwards we talked; he’s coming south after the course. Then I went back to Wilder’s for dinner and music, now to bed.
          I stayed there for several days and found Wilder to be somewhat discouraged about all and as a result a little bitter, though he was such a nice fellow that that didn’t come out too much.

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Ritchie TEST 8112

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press. Frederic Goudy was chosen to do this new typeface, and during the that year I was called in quite often to see what Mr. Goudy had sent out in the way of letter designs, to check them over for possible suggestions and to work with them as closely as possible on this new project. The presentation was made by the Class of 19′-Hj during graduation week on the 5th of June in 1941.
          Mary Treanor was still working with us and with Robin Park at the press. Mary set up an announcement for the event. The press was to be called the Hartley Burr Alexander Press in memory of the great Scripps teacher. The program consisted of the introduction of the guests of honor, Nelly Alexander; Catherine Coffin Phillips, who had made possible the type; Frederic Goudy himself; and myself, who had given them the Washington hand press on which I had started. I have further notes about a subsequent dedication:

September 18th, 1941, was a memorable day at Scripps and the whole campus, especially Dorothy Drake, was excited by the celebration arranged for the presentation of the new type Goudy had designed for their little press. The type had been cast up by Mackenzie and Harris and a couple of paragraphs had been set up, none too well. On Monday Goudy brought it into the shop and we restyled it, making a few corrections and alterations and proofs and he took the type out to Claremont with him for the celebration on Thursday. Here it was placed on the old hand press, and as a miscellaneous group of students, faculty and friends gathered around, Mr. Goudy pulled a proof to inaugurate the Hartley Burr Alexander Press.
          That evening there was a banquet in honor of Mr.

page 499 begins here

Goudy and Mrs. Phillips who put up $1,000 for the design of the type. It was formal and Mr. Goudy and I changed our clothes in his room at the Claremont Inn. Thanks to him I did not have to go cuff-buttonless as he had an extra pair which the Boston House of Printing craftsman had given him on some occasion, and I had forgotten to bring any. The dinner was followed by many lengthy speeches by Dr. Jaqua, Dorothy Drake, Mrs. Esterly and Robert Schad leading up to the piece de resistance, the talk by Frederick Goudy. All of these talks had been elaborate, very finished and fluently given. Mr. Goudy got up and stumbled around a few minutes as he deprecated the many nice things which had been said about him in the previous introductions. Then he told how happy he was, as Christopher Morley had once said:    ‘Fred Goudy has an incalculable capacity for friendship.’ And now he felt this great friendship enveloping Scripps. Then he turned around and said, ‘I had a story and I was going to tell you, but I’ve forgotten what it is.’ And then, ‘Now that I am up here I am in a quandary because I don’t know how to sit down again.’ Whereupon everybody clapped and though from where I sat and watched him he appeared to be going to continue on Dr. Jaqua turned to him and said, ‘Let us all sit down so that Mr. Goudy can do it comfortably.’ And that was the end of the celebration, except that Goudy told us after the dinner had broken up, the story he had forgotten. He was going to tell of the occasion when the toastmaster got up and said, ‘Tonight we were planning to have with us, the celebrated wit So-and-so. But unfortunately at the last moment, he found that he would be unable to be present. And so we were pleased and fortunate in getting two half-wits.’ [laughter] Then Mr. Goudy said, ‘I was going to hope that the audience would not start looking for the other half-wit.’
page 500

TAPE NUMBER: THIRTEEN, SIDE TWO

September 1965

Ritchie: A couple of sessions back I was talking about P.J. Smith, and since then I’ve found some notes on P.J.’s early struggles to get by, which I think will be a little more accurate than the memories that I gave you. This was back in 1939; when I was out at P.J.’s and he told me of his early struggles. He had gone two years to Emory and Henry College when he fell in love with a girl and was so frightened and jealous when she went out with another man that he secretly married her. But his father found out and there was a terrific fight. Paul Jordan walked out, left Emory and Henry and transferred to the University of Chattanooga where he got the teaching fellowship in Chemistry. Also he delivered morning and evening papers and on Saturday worked in a shoe store.
          During his senior year, he was taken down with typhoid fever and had a nervous breakdown which took all of his money. Also he had his first child Isabel Smith. When he went back to school, he had to get a scholarship and for several months went on crutches, but was finally well and graduated with his class at the age of twenty-one. He was awarded a Fish Fellowship to Harvard University but didn’t have enough money to get there. Through Some friends of his family he made arrangements to borrow enough, but

page 501 begins here

John Bethune: A Visit with Ward Ritchie, 8112

  John Bethune

  A Visit with
  Ward Ritchie

  From The Sewanee News, April 1986, p. 31.
  JPR 08

Introduction: [Sewanee — University of the South, in Tennessee, is a private institution that was founded in 1857. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,731, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 13,000 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar.]

Paragraph One follows 1:

On the western edge of the continent, a few steps from the Pacific, Ward Ritchie, C[lass of 19]28, lives in busy retirement, designing books, writing essays and lectures, and — when he finds the time — printing small books on the antique hand press he keeps in his basement.

2:

I visited Ritchie in his Laguna Beach home in late December on a quintessentially Californian day, warm and sunny, with a mild breeze rising from the ocean — precisely the inspiring climate that Ritchie, in one of his lyrical memoirs, has credited for his successful career. “It was just the environment,” he writes, “to foster self-assurance and confidence, and when I recollect the successful careers as doctors, lawyers, and businessmen of most of those with whom I shared my youth in grammar school, I conclude that they too must have shared in my legacy of youthful self-confidence and faith.”

3:

How this Southern Californian came to study at Sewanee illustrates his optimism and spirit of adventure. “When I was a senior in high school,” he explains, “I wanted to go east to school, and I applied to Amherst, Williams, and Yale. But in those days you had to have four years of Latin and Greek to go to those schools, so I couldn’t get into any of them.” After a year at Occidental College, near his South Pasadena home, he transferred to Stanford, where he remained for several terms.

4:

In the winter of 1927 he was invited to spend the summer visiting relatives in the East and “all of a sudden” realized that this was his opportunity to go east to college. Limiting himself to the few schools that, like Stanford, were on the quarter system, Ritchie applied to Cornell, North Carolina, and the University of the South. His interest in Sewanee was piqued when he came across a copy of the Sewanee Review. The Review “had quite a long article about the college, and I was fascinated by it. When spring vacation came I hopped into my little Chrysler and drove back east.”

5:

Ritchie arrived in Sewanee one evening in March and happened to encounter some fraternity brothers, who took him in and showed him the campus the next morning. He liked what he saw: “I was so intrigued that I immediately signed up.”

6:

Part of the charm of Sewanee was its difference. “I was a Westerner among Southerners. Their mode of life was completely different from what I had experienced in California.” During the four months he was at Sewanee, he received many letters from his Occidental classmate Lawrence Clark Powell (later the distinguished writer and UCLA librarian), which finally persuaded him to return to Occidental for his senior year.

7:

After graduating from Occidental, Ritchie went on to law school, but his intense love for literature and art made law seem comparatively dull. During this period of dissatisfaction he attended the opening of the Huntington Library, where he came across a case of bindings by Cobden-Sanderson, the turn-of-the-century printer and binder. “I was fascinated by the beautiful work that he did,” Ritchie says. “It seemed to me that this was right in my field.”

8:

Soon thereafter he took some courses in printing at a Los Angeles trade school. “They didn’t know what to do with a college graduate,” he recalls with a laugh, “so they let me create my own curriculum and do what I wanted.”

9:

With his characteristic self-confidence, Ritchie went straight to the top for material to print, writing to Carl Sandburg, Archibald Macleish, Marianne Moore, and others for poems. Nearly all of his famous correspondents sent him something to print.

10:

Some months later, he read that the outstanding creator of the modern book was a Frenchman named Francois-Louis Schmied. So, as Ritchie says matter-of-factly, “I naturally decided to go to Paris and work for Schmied — which I did.” After a year of working for Schmied and knocking about Europe, Ritchie returned to California and, after founding the Ward Ritchie Press, embarked on his distinguished career.

11:

In the years since, he has designed many hundreds of books. More than twenty-five them have been selected, as recently as 1982, for inclusion in the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ prestigious Fifty Best Books of the Year.

12:

At eighty years of age, Ritchie is still an active book designer, much in demand. The Huntington Library Press relies on him to design most of its publications; currently he is designing centennial histories of South Pasadena and Occidental College.

13:

Ritchie is also a popular lecturer. In October, he lectured on the history of printing in Southern California at the Library of Congress and this spring will give a talk at Whittier College on artists he has known — Rockwell Kent and Paul Landacre among them.

14:

And, he says, “when I get a chance, I work on the hand press downstairs.” Since “retiring” — as he calls it — in 1972 and creating a new imprint, Laguna Verde Imprenta, he has printed twenty-five titles on his 1835 Albion hand press. Ritchie prints only a few copies of each book, which become instant collector’s items.

15:

Since twenty-five is a milestone number, he thinks his next hand-press project — when his schedule allows him the time — will be a bibliography of Laguna Verde Imprenta.

16:

The many essays about Ward Ritchie tend to describe him simply as a printer or designer, but his career is not so easily categorized. He has also been a publisher, a scholar and bibliographer, a memoirist, and a poet. Of all these careers, he takes a special delight in the poetic one, to judge by the pleasure with which he shows visitors his Quince, etc. This chapbook, which he printed in 1976, exposes, as the subtitle explains, “the several disguises of Ward Ritchie, poet.”

17:

The few collectors who own this pamphlet have the exceedingly rare signatures of James Beattie Pitwood, Davie Dicker, Betsey Ann Bristol, Peter Lum Quince, and Peter Mallory — a strange but resonant assortment of names, and all of them Ward Ritchie’s.

18:

Sewanee is fortunate in having a copy of Quince, etc., along with nearly 150 other Ward Ritchie books donated by the generous Frank Gilliam, C’46. Such a collection is an eloquent tribute to this master of the book arts who, nearly six eventful decades later, still remembers his brief stay in Sewanee as one of the highlights of his life.

19:

John Bethune, an assistant professor of English, is teaching this semester in the College[Sewanee College]. He is also a free-lance writer and has an interest in book collecting.

© 2009-2018 John Bethune – All rights reserved.

 

Norman MacAfee: Pound, Till, The Cantos and Intolerance

  Norman MacAfee

  Ezra Pound, Emmett Till, The Cantos, and
  Intolerance

 
  JPR 08

(Note: The first half of “Ezra Pound, Emmett Till, The Cantos, and Intolerance,” originally titled “Ezra Pound in Patria Mia,” was delivered on July 10, 2015 at the 26th Ezra Pound International Conference (EPIC), held at Brunnenburg Castle, Dorf Tirol, Italy. Then my twenty minutes were up. The following text is an elaboration of “Ezra Pound in Patria Mia,” made since then.)

to the memory of Emmett Till
“We have found a universal language, a power that can make men brothers and end war forever.” — D. W. Griffith on Intolerance (1916) [See Endnote 1]

“I don’t know how humanity stands it”
— Ezra Pound, Canto LXXIV, line 389 [See Endnote 2]

The Great War, it was called. Arcadia before, desert after. D. W. Griffith, Karl Kraus, Ezra Pound grappled with it in epic ways.

In Vienna, Karl Kraus was writing his 800-page play to be performed on Mars, The Last Days of Mankind. In Hollywood, D. W. Griffith made Intolerance, which told four stories from different epochs — most memorably the fall of Babylon — and repeatedly intercut them. Ezra Pound was commencing his lifework, his “poem containing history,” The Cantos, intercuttings galore.

From the early 1960s, I have read and revisited Pound: The Cantos, the translations, Hugh Kenner’s The Pound Era and Mary de Rachewiltz’s Discretions, and more recent biographies. Pound’s epic, The Cantos, is a challenge to all poets who write about the world, culture, politics, history, as opposed to just the poet’s daily life. The Cantos and Pound’s translations, from the Chinese, Japanese, Anglo-Saxon, Provençal, Hindi, Latin, Italian, French, and ancient Egyptian, open worlds to us.

Though I never met Pound, I grieved at his death in 1972. Then in 1980, at Yale, at a conference on Pier Paolo Pasolini, five years after his assassination, I met Pound’s daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz. She lived in Italy, but her father’s papers are at Yale and she was working on them there.

It was an incomparable moment for me. [See Endnote 3.] Since 1975, I had been translating, with Luciano Martinengo, Pasolini’s major poems: “The Ashes of Gramsci,” “The Tears of the Excavator,” “The Religion of My Time,” “Reality,” “A Desperate Vitality,” “Plan of Future Works,” and “Victory.” They — and the films, The Gospel According to Matthew, Arabian Nights, Salò, Hawks and Sparrows, Teorema, Medea, Decameron — are very great, up there with The Cantos. At Yale in 1980, I delivered my first-ever paper at my first-ever academic conference, on Pasolini, its title quoting a line from “Reality”: “‘I Am a Free Man’: Pasolini’s Poetry in America.” (Two years later, Random House’s Jonathan Galassi would publish our Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poems. John Calder would publish it in London in 1984, and twelve years later Jon Galassi would bring out a new edition at Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)

And now in 1980 at a Pasolini conference the daughter of one of the two poets most important in my tradition was before me. I told her how much I loved Pound’s poetry and translations, and her book Discretions. She quoted her father that the great virtue is curiosity. I would not know until much later that there had been bad blood between Mary and Pasolini.

In 2015, I found myself in the Pound castle, Brunnenburg, near Merano, in Italy, at the invitation of Mary, now 90, to deliver my only second-ever academic paper, “Ezra Pound in Patria Mia.” In 1912-13, Pound wrote the essay “Patria Mia” to grapple with the problems of creating an America culture.

I dedicated my paper to Emmett Till, on whom more later.

As I was writing “Ezra Pound in Patria Mia” in New York City, where I live, I was watching the Franklin and Eleanor hours of The Roosevelts documentary by Ken Burns on Public TV.

Pound hated FDR. My Pennsylvania Republican family really disliked him, too, but then they voted for him in 1936, as nearly everyone else did, because “that man in the White House” had saved the country from the worst of the Depression, as they and nearly everyone else felt. As a leftist Democrat, I love Franklin and Eleanor.

FDR, Churchill, and Stalin saved the world from Hitler. Pound was disastrously on the wrong side, for Mussolini, Hitler’s ally. And disastrously he harbored anti-Semitic feelings and broadcast his anti-Semitism for all to hear on Italian radio.

In 2002 Pound was to be honored in New York City with a plaque in the Poet’s Corner at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the cathedral that the Episcopal diocese had stopped building until the Vietnam War ended.

But this man who wrote

I don’t know how humanity stands it
with a painted paradise at the end of it
without a painted paradise at the end of it
Canto LXXIV, lines 389-91

— this man’s often insane rants broadcast on Mussolini’s Italian fascist radio during World War II with countless anti-Semitic slurs as Jews were being exterminated, made his inclusion in the Cathedral impossible. Parishioners who were converts from Judaism and who had lost family in the Holocaust protested, as did others, and the Cathedral canceled the plaque.

A fellow poet in New York, Roland Legiardi-Laura (1953-2016), told me of his father, a GI in 1945 in Rome, who loved Pound’s poetry but hated his prejudices. Roland’s father found some of the Pound broadcast discs at Italian radio and destroyed them, trying in the only way he could to protect the great poet.

In the 1960s in Venice, Pound apologized to the gay Jewish Buddhist American universal poet Allen Ginsberg for his “stupid suburban prejudice” of anti-Semitism, and the younger poet blessed him. Anti-Semitism was pervasive in Pound’s generation among non-Jews, but usually spoken in whispers. The war gave Pound a microphone and a radio show so the whispers became shouts. Beyond the anti-Semitism, and overriding it, Pound’s official crime was that as a U.S. citizen, he had propagandised for the war-time enemy. He paid with internment at St. Elizabeth’s Federal Hospital for the Insane in Washington, DC from 1945 to 1958.

In 1946, in San Francisco, Eleanor Roosevelt crafted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, which she intended would become the International Magna Carta for all people everywhere. But no Roosevelt-administration poet like minor-league Archibald MacLeish (who was on the right side of World War II) could soar like Pound, who was on the wrong side.

A Mexican Communist, Diego Rivera, in some ways redeems Pound with his murals and especially the one commissioned, nearly completed, then destroyed by the Rockefellers. They founded Standard Oil, which became Exxon Mobil, which hid its research on climate change and funded climate change deniers, leading to the worst and worsening existential crisis for life as we know it on our planet. The mural, Man at the Crossroads, was at Rockefeller Center and was destroyed because Lenin was in it.

Never inside the country to raise the standard of living,
but always abroad to increase the profits of usurers
                                          dixit Lenin
Canto LXXIV, lines 164–166

Diego, a year younger than Pound, filled North America’s walls with atheist earthly paradises and hells and with meaning, for meaning is energy.

The destruction of Man at the Crossroads (making Lenin a nonperson) led to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Project Adminstration painting murals on tens of thousands of walls across the nation. And inspiring Philadelphia — home city of Pound and me and Penn (Friend William and University, Pound’s and my alma mater), to become, decades later, with more outdoor murals than any other city in the world, via the Mural Arts Program founded in the 1980s and directed by Jane Golden, housed in Thomas Eakins’ house — inspiring Philadelphia to become the Mural Capital of the World.

At Penn, in 1964, English professor Morse Peckham said, “The three greatest US artists are Martha Graham, Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Ives.”

But what of a fourth, under Peckham’s nose, Pound, long ago of Penn?

Brilliant teacher of English Romantic literature, Peckham went on to edit the Variorum edition of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, anathema to climate change deniers. [See Endnote 4].

Pound shared the sense of injustice and outrage that today we invoke when we speak of the 1 per cent owning almost all. In 1968, in the United States, the average president of a company made 20 times what the average worker makes. Today it is 400 to 1. [See Endnote 5] Pound advocated the evaporation of money. It would have a shelf life of a month or so. Use it or lose it and never hoard it.

Ezra bound in jail, for 13 years in St. Elizabeth’s Federal Hospital for the Insane in Washington, DC. Gosh! says the title character in the recognition scene in Pound’s translation of Sophokles’ Elektra made at St. Elizabeth’s. Gosh! the living language made in the madhouse cell and stuffed in a drawer. Gosh! How could a madman make so sublime a translation of Sophocles? But hide it he must, and mad he must remain else he could still be executed for treason. Gosh!

Lucky me, in 1989 Pound’s publisher New Directions asked me to consolidate the two variant manuscript versions of his Elektra into one for publication. I am a clumsy typist, but I made a new amalgam edition, the published, acting version, for ND and published by them. [See Endnote 6] I had seen one of the premier performances a year earlier at the Classic Stage Company in New York City’s East Village directed by Carey Perloff [Editor’s note: literary critic Marjorie Perloff’s daughter].

Like Pound going to live in London, in the early teens of the century, to witness the collapse of the British Empire, I came to New York City in 1967 to witness the consummation of our democratic republic, but alas the next year saw the collapse of peace and democracy, with the assassinations of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy. In that momentous year, I invented the term “nostalgia for the future.”

Pound’s poetry mirrors the age of the cinema: so The
Cantos
compares with D. W. Griffith’s pacifist experimental epic Intolerance of 1916 while, alas, Pound’s fascist ranting bears comparison, alas, with The Birth of a Nation from the previous year, with its conclusion, alas, that the Ku Klux Klan is the savior of the nation. Dead before, now reborn, its history whitewashed by Griffith’s fabulously popular and persuasive film, the Klan embarked on new phases of terror and lynching.

Intolerance is often called Griffith’s apology, though he considered it his rebuke to his critics. In it, four separate stories — about the evils of industrialism in early twentieth-century America, the fall of Babylon, the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the French Protestant Huguenots, and Jesus’ last days — are repeatedly intercut: beginning, wrote Griffith, like four separate rivers that converge to become finally one mighty torrent. In a recurring linking device, a woman (played by Lillian Gish) in ancient garb rocks a cradle — illustrating the title card “Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,” words of Walt Whitman — linking the first great American poet to the American Father of Cinema to the next generation’s great American poet, Pound.

In Intolerance’s utopian coda, jails vanish, War ends, white people frolic in peace, and a superimposed cross joins hillside multitude to heavenly host. Griffith on Intolerance: “We have found a universal language, a power that can make men brothers and end war forever.”

I have made preliminary investigation and cannot discover if Pound saw or heard about Intolerance. [See Endnote 7] The film’s London premiere on April 7, 1917, was a great success, helped enormously because the day before, the United States had entered the war. Pound was living in London. The symphony orchestra conductor Sir Thomas Beecham attended the premiere; Pound worked with Beecham in 1917, making a translation of Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon. [See Endnote 8] So it is likely that Pound saw or knew about Intolerance. There are similarities between The Cantos and Intolerance. Griffith, though, after Intolerance, abandoned the intercutting of epochs. Pound made his half-century-long epic on just such intercutting, the mind leaping among epochs and continents. [See Endnote 9]

Now: Till, the Tills: father Louis, son Emmett:

1945: Pisa

and Till was hung yesterday
for murder and rape with trimmings…
— Canto 74, lines 171–172

In late August 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American from Chicago, was visiting relatives in Mississippi, when he dared speak to a local white woman. Because of this violation of insane Jim Crow etiquette, he was kidnapped, tortured, and beaten to death. It was from the martyred body of Emmett Till that the civil rights movement took root, grew, and flourished against overwhelming odds.

Born 1922, Emmett’s father, Louis, had had a restraining order taken out on him for beating his wife. A judge, a white judge, in Jim Crow Missouri gave him a choice: jail or the army. He chose the latter. While serving in Italy, he was accused of the rape and murder of an Italian woman, was court-martialed, and hanged in Pisa in 1945. For a time, Pound and Till were fellow prisoners in the detention camp at Pisa.

Was Louis unjustly executed? It appears he may have been, as another Penn graduate John Edgar Wideman speculates in Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File.[See Endnote 10]

During the period of Italian fascism, 1922 to 1945, Pound’s soul became poisoned with anti-Semitism.

Where — oh Ezra, named surely for the Old Testament scribe — where would we be without those Jews invoked by Pasolini in “Plan of Future Works”? [See Endnote 11]

Oh Marx — all is gold — oh Freud — all
is love — oh Proust — all is memory —
oh Einstein — all is end — oh Chaplin — all

is man — oh Kafka — all is terror

I would add:

oh Chomsky and the Chomskometer
oh Karl Kraus and The Last Days of Mankind
oh Charles Reznikoff and Testimony: The United States (1885-1890)
oh Eliot Weinberger — all is 9/12
oh Naomi Klein — all is disaster capitalism
oh Susan Sontag — all is the Republic of the Serious
oh Amy Goodman — all is Democracy Now
oh Mahler and your songs of the earth
oh Claude Cahun and your Heroines
oh Bob Holman and your Bowery Poetry Dreams
oh Nancy Miller Elliott, you Bowery Rembrandt
oh Masha Gessen, all is migration
oh gay Jewish Buddhist American universal poet Allen Ginsberg
etc.

Still, Pound is eternal. After his death I wrote these lines:

Ghosts in a grove of bonsai maples,
tiny Linnaeus, Mozart, Pound.

In these years of the Black Lives Matter movement, I dedicate my words to Emmett Till.

Copyright © 2018 by Norman MacAfee

 
Norman MacAfee in August 2017 in Mexico City at Diego Rivera’s Anahuacalli museum, in front of recently discovered studies for the Rockefeller Center mural. Photo by Miguel Cervantes-Cervantes. Copyright © 2017 Miguel Cervantes-Cervantes.
 

Norman MacAfee is working on a poem-opera, Man at the Crossroads, about Diego Rivera’s mural of that title, painted at Rockefeller Center in 1934, then destroyed because it included Lenin among its 236 figures. He is also translating, with Luciano Martinengo, the poetry of Piera Oppezzo (1934–2005).

 Addendum

Three pages of drawings of Pound and Pasolini: As part of a month-long retrospective of his films and other works, “Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Eyes of a Poet,” the Italian actress Laura Betti and I presented a reading on May 3, 1990, of his poems in the Museum of Modern Art’s Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1. Besides us, the other readers included Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Beals, Judith Malina, William Allen, Hanon Reznikov, and Tomás Milián.

Around this time, I was able to view at MoMA’s Film Library something I had only heard about: the to me two most important 20th-century poets together, Pasolini interviewing Pound for Italian television. As I watched them onscreen, I sketched them without looking at the paper. The interview is now available on YouTube. It was broadcast in 1968, but my noting “1967” probably means that it was filmed that year. At: Here.

The scribbling:

1
“Here error is all in the not done.”
Confession of a poet 1967 —
begins with “Ashes of Gramsci” —
Guido was what he wanted to be.
& continues

2
Pound

3
PPP and EP
Sublime meeting
Perhaps only PPP could understand EP
You honor me with your trust
1967

Guido was Pasolini’s only sibling, three years younger, more athletic, straight, killed at nineteen in the war.

Pound Pasolini, image 1
Pound Pasolini, image 2
Pound Pasolini, image 3

Drawings copyright © 1990, 2018 by Norman MacAfee

 Endnotes

Endnote links: If you click on the number that identifies the endnote, you will be taken back to the point in the text where the endnote anchor occurs;
and vice versa.

[Endnote 1] Lillian Gish, The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me (Prentice-Hall 1969), p. 183.

[Endnote 2] Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos, edited and annotated with an introduction by Richard Sieburth (New Directions 2003).

[Endnote 3] Pier Paolo Pasolini, Poems, selected and translated by Norman MacAfee with Luciano Martinengo (Farrar Straus & Giroux 1994).

[Endnote 4] Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species : A Variorum Text, Morse Peckham, editor (University of Pennsylvania Press 2006)

[Endnote 5] Jim Webb, “Class Struggle,” Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2006; Alyssa Davis and Lawrence Mishel, “CEO Pay Continues to Rise as Typical Workers Are Paid Less,” Economic Policy Institute Report, June 12, 2014.

[Endnote 6] Sophokles, Elektra, a version by Ezra Pound and Rudd Fleming, with an introduction and production notes by Carey Perloff (New Directions 1990).

[Endnote 7] Richard Schickel, D. W. Griffith: An American Life (Simon and Schuster 1984), pp. 344-5.

[Endnote 8] A. David Moody, Ezra Pound: Poet, Volume I (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 284, 299.

[Endnote 9] D. W. Griffith, Intolerance (Cohen Film Collection, 2013).

[Endnote 10] Scribner, 2016.

[Endnote 11] Pasolini, Poems, p. 197.

 

Chris Tysh: Turnstile

  Chris Tysh

  Turnstile: the Postcard
  from Socrates to Freud
  a n d       B e y o n d

 
  JPR 08

Jagged edge of evening like unevenly spaced streetlights, fewer cars, elongates

An already long sentence beyond recognition, its referent laissé pour compte, forlorn and off-

Center yet again reluctant to carry meaning’s cashbox anywhere near your native tongue

Quasi stranded against the sender’s folly to write in bed as if on a sea voyage, whitecaps

Unfurl flags of surrender, a brise marine sweeps upper decks where the addressee

Ends up pressing her face against a love letter like a fiancée in a silent film

Strange to think of that interminable post now passing through mailman’s hand like a mirror

 

Destined to shatter old idioms in their mouths over their heads deep in the weeds

Everywhere the smallest difference hails us poorly spelled yet making sense in the bitter

Realm of the word we’d follow fumbling or skipping between sense barrier and its sound

Receding now that we are at the station so little time to decipher your lips’ vernacular

I’ll leave en tête de train as you slip away in the crowded morning mass a photograph

Did not record this moment’s oddities nor our forgetting to smile: “It don’t mean a thing if it

Ain’t got that… (Duke Ellington, 1943); one at a time, a likeness of tears, vanishing

 

The reader’s task collapses ‘round her skull, hours squandered pounding on a door, words

Hard to pronounce or buffeted by strange syntax, the eloquence of chance, an amulet to guard

Everything buried from reaching its point de bascule in the machinery of the text

 

Prior versions deleted without ever totally gone from the hard drive, a bardo of sorts

Other than a precaution in the face of ghosts having something to say against their naked selves

Single sheet apt to slide along a narrow bed where each broie son noir like a muddy cup of woe

There will be mornings turned toward clouds passing beside us, documentary yet fictive at once

Crypt or trace, drift or graft it’s always already, as you like to say, an impossible beginning

A margin on the wet sand we tread on erasing signs in order of appearance as if the sea foam

Repositions a line’s tonic stresses, measure by measure, à la rencontre des courants

Depending on the agitation of the waves, cursive letters a little wobbly, a little different

 

Freudian slip it’s called or parapraxis like misreading whorl for whore or rogue for rouge

Rumored to let our trickster unconscious its portion of gaffes, sitting behind a prompter’s box

Once tongues leave the inverted groove, cuing each word across a tangle of roots and cords

Massacring what we meant in the first place, a kind of roulette that spins the ball awry

 

Socrates lies in reader’s lap, a spot of skin inked there mid-inner thigh, half-forgotten script

Once holding such clout, whole paragraphs with blue highlights remind her she’d understood

Crushed it, as the kid said about a Nietzsche oral, now she daydreams on the banc des amoureux

Recomposing every passing face that retains another arabesque a whole corps de ballet

Above the ramparts, tent city, some protesters’ slack limbs extend every which way

To supplant alternative facts we are rerouted, brought back to a language of insurrection

Ever so inevitable for all of its fiery summons, this is the coin we speak of when we find

So many pièges à cons within the daily accordion, its pleats grown slicker with each squeeze

 

The benign obsolescence of address, outmoded charm of the baisemain

Once de rigueur in certain spheres, a mere appendix now to the sex archive

 

From then on the store of drives stays open round the clock hoisting its iron shutters —

Rideau de fer to us francophones — only to let in ego’s other tenant just shy of a vertigo

Episode, always a suspect groping one’s mind for the proper switch to revive old memories

Unaugmented and bereft, really rows of sorrow the viewer’s eye takes for puddles and mongrel

Dogs: left to wonder how one could dream up such a ghastly little shoppe of rubbish

 

Amid the supposed drama of wrenching a tale from its framing device, assassin hand

Never far off a paternal function — nom-du-père — sets the stage for what’s to come

Down the ramp: in the faint glimmer one drops a pin between an event and its imaginary end

 

By the time you jump a turnstile, the train’s long gone and la salle des pas perdus

Echoes voyagers’ disquiet collapsed on the quay in a cinematic pan we read as

Yet another disappearance inherent to a certain text — a box of wiles sprung

Open over the scrap heap of gender lines evanescing as if swallowed by a fog machine

Night descends upon the world’s blurry pronouns, a rim of lights all flushed and newly bright

Down to dolly tracks that glide across the set like a band of hoboes across the continent

 

Lindsay Tuggle: The Autopsy Elegies

  Lindsay Tuggle

  The Autopsy Elegies
 

 
  JPR 08

Paragraph One follows: 1:

On Wednesday, July 15, 1868, Mary Lynch was admitted to Philadelphia’s almshouse, suffering from tuberculosis.[See Endnote 1A]

2:

Adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania, the almshouse operated under the auspices of Philadelphia General Hospital, a charity facility. Then, as now, American medicine was a private, for-profit system. A closed system. Charity hospitals are still the last resort for patients who cannot afford to pay for treatment.

2:

The women’s receiving register recorded precious little information on Mary. She was 28 years old, an Irish widow of ‘temperate habits’ (she did not drink to excess). That is all we know of her private life. Her medical afterlife tells another story entirely. One that blurs the boundaries between body and book, doctor and patient, author and subject, ghost and host.

3:

I write elegies for women. I can’t seem to stop. It started with my sister, but that’s another, longer story. A story for another day, as my sister would say. The women I love, whose blood I share, often die young. I have no illusions that this is extraordinary outside of the relatively privileged milieu I find myself occupying, these days. It’s a far cry from where I grew up, but that too is another story for another day. Every elegy needs an author. And then, an autopsy. Mary’s autopsy rendered her first a medical curiosity, then a bibliophilic oddity, then a museum artefact. Her elegy has been an long time coming.

4:

Mary spent six months in the almshouse prior to her death. She was admitted to Ward 27, where one of the attending physicians was John Stockton Hough, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, five years Mary’s junior, with a research interest in intestinal parasites. By a strange convergence of fate, while convalescing Mary contracted trichinosis, a parasite that passes from host to host via ingestion. [See Endnote 1B]

5:

Perhaps, if you have a the sort of imagination I do, you may think that it was not, after all, a coincidence. Nineteenth-century medical archives abound with tales of doctors in so-called charity hospitals experimenting on patients, or hastening their deaths in order to obtain their corpses for anatomy demonstrations.[See Endnote 1] Almshouses and their adjacent cemeteries were the primary source of cadavers, fuelling the black market that supplied medical colleges in constant shortage of “anatomical material”. [See Endnote 2]

5:

Due to the wasting nature of both tuberculosis and trichinosis, Mary, who was 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighed only 60 pounds (27.2 kg) at the time of her death. [See Endnote 3] She was buried in an unmarked grave in the almshouse cemetery. Hough autopsied Mary’s corpse sometime before her burial (the exact date is unknown). To say that he discovered a parasitic infestation would be putting it mildly.[4] But the parasites Mary hosted were not only internal. The medical appropriation of her body had only just begun.

6:

Hough’s graphic account of Mary’s case history was published in the American Journal of Medical Sciences (1869). The article marked his debut appearance in medical literature. Hough bestowed upon Mary a more lasting textual fame. Sometime during the autopsy, he excised a piece of skin from her thigh. After removing this specimen, he went down to the almshouse basement and tanned it in a chamber pot. Hough held onto this macabre souvenir for thirty years, during which time he became a wealthy bibliophile. In 1870, Hough entered private practice, drawing his patients from Philadelphia’s most elite circles. He travelled throughout Europe and America seeking artefacts for the fledgling book collection that became his lifelong obsession and posthumous legacy. In the following decades, Hough published widely and diversely in the arenas of hygiene, biology, gynaecology, speculative physiology, social science, vital statistics, population and political economy. He was regarded as an authority on “human monsters”, the unfortunate term then used to describe severe foetal abnormalities. Hough also attained notoriety for his invention of a dual-use vaginal / rectal speculum. [5]

7:

In January 1874, Hough married Philadelphia heiress Sarah M. Wetherill, who died less than a year after their wedding, following complications in childbirth. [6] As a wealthy widower, Hough ceased practicing medicine and devoted himself to three main passions: expanding his collection of rare manuscripts, authoring a history of pre-modern medical literature, and meticulously curating his own autobiographical archive. Following his second marriage in 1887 to Edith Reilly of New York City, Hough became a “gentleman farmer”, ran for political office, and relentlessly pursued acquisitions for his library. [7] His books and papers now reside in Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library, where I encountered them during a research fellowship.

8:

In 1887, almost 20 years after he initially collected the specimen, Hough used Mary’s preserved skin to bind three medical texts on the subject of female reproduction: Robert Couper’s Speculations on the Mode and Appearances of Impregnation in the Human Female (1789); Louis Barles’s Le Nouvelles Decouvertes sur Toutes les Parties Principales de L’Homme et de la Femme (1680); and Louise Bourgeois’s Recueil des Secrets de Louyse Bourgeois (1650). This was not an isolated, macabre fetish. Nineteenth-century medical bibliophiles often collected books bound in human skin, a technique known as anthropodermic bibliopegy. Like Hough, the creators of such volumes were usually doctors who obtained human leather from the autopsied bodies of their most vulnerable patients, often women.[8] Outwardly, these books keep their secrets well; human leatherwork does not immediately betray its origins to the naked eye. Handwritten inscriptions reveal their sources. The front flyleaf Hough’s copy of Couper’s Speculations contains a note on the binding’s origins, including its preservation in a ‘pot de chambre’ by his own hand. The book assumes the body’s protective sheath, binding this anatomical treatise to one specific cadaver. Opposite the inscription, Hough pasted his article from American Journal of Medical Sciences detailing Mary’s case history.

9:

As Carolyn Marvin’s history of human-leather books establishes, like the cadavers used for medical dissection, skin bindings were almost always sourced from marginal bodies:

10:

The human hide-bound book was situated in the scholar’s library and the museum, entitled private places… What made it morally defensible to use the poor in this fashion… was the social construction of the indigent and outcast as surplus people… useful at least for medical science, or, in the case of the bound book, for indulging the esoteric intellectual interests of medical practitioners… Like medical body snatching, it made of the poor a resource for the production of physicians.[9]

11:

Throughout the nineteenth century, when anatomical specimens were in high demand but notoriously difficult to acquire, a black market trafficked in human remains. Medical body snatching was rampant in antebellum America.[10] The bodies of African Americans, immigrants, prostitutes, Native Americans, and the poor, who crowded almshouses in life and potter’s fields in death, were ideal targets.[11] A disproportionate number of immigrants fuelled the illicit cadaver trade. By 1880, only one eighth of the US population was foreign-born, yet immigrants (like Mary) made up one third of the patients in almshouses.[12] Their bodies were buried anonymously in ‘potter’s fields’the name historically given to cemeteries for the indigent and unknown.[13] ‘Those in charge of morgues, the dead rooms of hospitals, and potter’s fields, could tell some startling things about how bodies disappear from those places,’ a whistle-blowing doctor asserted in an 1879 issue of Penn Monthly. ‘The number of bodies that are allowed to go into the potter’s fields throughout the country is very small, and the majority of those that reach them are not allowed to rest in them many hours.’[14] In 1880, the anatomy demonstrator at the University of Michigan promised the university trustees that ‘better people’ could rest assured. Although the legal supply of corpses fell drastically short, he sourced additional cadavers from the ‘paupers and friendless dead’ of the ‘county houses and asylums.’[15] Antebellum decedents were as segregated as the living: those whose disenfranchisement rendered them commodities, and those protected by power and privilege that extended beyond the grave.

12:

Couper’s treatise opens with a compellingly opaque declaration: ‘There is frequently ambiguity in words.’ He goes on to describe the female body from the perspective of an ‘ancient’ anatomist, who has ‘rise[n] from his grave’ to dissect her cadaver.[16] Significantly, neither party is alive. The scalpel is wielded by a ghost, resurrected from his tomb for the purposes of conducting this dissection. His haunted autopsy uncannily foreshadows the professional title adopted by nineteenth-century medical grave robbers, who called themselves ‘resurrectionists.’[17] The phantom’s post-mortem includes vivid descriptions of the female reproductive organs during copulation.[18] In this sense, the medical treatise doubles as a necrophilia fantasy (although the taboo is at least partially subverted by the fact that both parties are dead). As the anatomist’s scalpel pierces blood and bone, he describes the woman’s organs in various states of sexual flux:

13:

[A]natomists generally favour us with accurate measurements of the uterine system, as an antiquarian does of a piece of nice architecture. Before coition has disturbed its proportions, the canal of the uterus may be about five or six inches long… and when its walls are thrown into violent distension… its diameter may be about a sixth a part of its length… After frequent coition, the vagina becomes considerably shorter, but at the same time its diameter is more than proportionally increased… We shall pass on with the physiologist to his examination of the uterus, which meets with more of his respect, as he considers every aspect of the female genital system chiefly subservient to it.[19]

14:

Throughout Couper’s treatise, readers ‘follow’ the ‘ancient’ narrator as he ‘establishes communication’ with each of the sexual organs.[20] In his hands, the female body is reduced to ‘a piece of nice architecture,’ in which the genitals are ‘subservient’ to the womb. The vagina is merely ornamental, while the uterus is functionally ‘respect[ed]’ for its role in procreation. Yet, despite his dismissals, it is not only pregnancy that fascinates this surgeon-spectre, but also the catalytic sex act that precedes it.[21] Although the vagina does not command the anatomist’s ‘respect,’ he dwells at length on its ‘coalescence’:

15:

From its structure, its sides surely coalesce in its natural state; though from its texture and elasticity, these sides may be thrown into such a figure as may constitute a cavity. In coition, with all its uncommon phænomena, what charm have we now left to overcome this coalescence?… Though females may entertain sanguine ideas of these things, we must suppose the physiologist, toiling through the unalarming and chilly organs of the dead, can furnish us with more substantial reasons.[22]

16:

Couper dismisses whatever ‘sanguine ideas’ women hold about their own anatomies, endorsing as superior the physiologist’s conclusions, based on experiments conducted on the ‘unalarming and chilly’ cadaver. By inversion, we conclude that the living woman is not only warm-bodied and red-blooded (an alternate meaning of ‘sanguine’ is the colour blood-red), she is also alarming, unlike her passively inert doppelganger.

17:

Such erotic anatomy demonstrations were far from unique. Couper was part of a medical culture that unified anatomical investigation and sexual fetishization of the female body. It was a condition of theoretical enquiry that the woman about to be dissected must first be seen as beautiful.[23] Consider Couper’s Speculations alongside another medical fetish object, created less than a decade before his text was published. in 1782, Italian sculptor Clemente Susini unveiled his Anatomical Venus, a life-sized wax mannequin designed as a medical teaching tool. Cadavers were in short supply due to the widespread belief that the body must be buried intact in order for resurrection to occur. ‘The Demountable Venus,’ as she was also called, was made to be dismembered. Each organ was removed in a prescribed order until the final reveal: a tiny foetus resting in her womb.[24] From the moment of her debut, the Venus and her subsequent sisters — a series of anatomical models commissioned under Susini’s supervision — embodied the somnambulant allure of necrophilia: a wounded icon whose dissection was eerily presided over by her own ecstatic face. Collectively called the ‘Slashed Beauties’ and the ‘Dissected Graces,’ they fused religious iconography, erotic pathos, aesthetic symmetry and anatomical precision.[25] Their modern descendants are the scream queens of the horror genre (who remain beautiful despite their bloodbaths), and the uncanny valley girls of the flourishing erotic doll industry. The 18th-century medical equivalent of Stepford Wives, these beauty queens are unfazed by their own bloodless dissections. The original Venus wears a string of pearls. One of her younger sisters is crowned with a golden tiara. Another wears a silk ribbon looped in a bow around her own entrails. All are adorned with glass eyes and real human hair. Inert in their glass and rosewood coffins, they smile demurely with downcast, unseeing eyes.

18:

Female aesthetic beauty was vital to anatomical illustrations for centuries before the arrival of the ‘dissected graces.’[26] As though, before investigating the biological workings of the female body, medical men must first be attracted to it. Yet, unlike the gruesome realities of the autopsy theatre, students of the Venus and her sisters both invoked and overturned the necrophilia taboo. A key element of the Venus’s charm is that, unlike her human counterparts, she can be reconstructed. Even her autopsy is ephemeral. Like Prometheus, she must endure her own dismemberment, eternally (and silently).

19:

Viewing the ‘Slashed Beauties’ through the lens of our current reckoning with systemic gender violence, two questions linger and will not leave me:

20:

1) What does it mean to desire a body that remains supine and lovely even as she is torn apart?
2) What drives this form posthumous desire, where beauty is seen as a prerequisite to wounding? Is it attraction to the corpse’s inertia, or rejection of the living woman’s alterity?

21:

During my residency at the Museum, the country of my birth inaugurated a man as President of the United States of America, who, by his own (involuntary) admission, has a long history of genital violence. My time in the archive was punctuated by protests. First, the Women’s March. Then, the Republican Party held a convention in Philadelphia. The city erupted. Everywhere the delegates went, hundreds of protesters followed, streaming a virtual map of their movements as politicians were sighted. While I examined Hough’s sketches of specula designs, Planned Parenthood reported an escalating demand for IUDs as women sought a form of birth control that could outlast this administration’s assaults on their bodies and their psyches.[27]

22:

In the year that followed, I too became a case study. I spent hours inside Magnetic Resonance Imaging tunnels, listening to the whirling dervish of machinery mapping my insides, while I lay strapped to a pool of cold water to avoid radiation contact burns. I thought of Mary, whose face I’ve never seen, though I’ve touched her skin a thousand times. Whose interior I imagine I know as well as I now know the shapes of my own organs. In words and pictures, if not in flesh. I filled out many forms soliciting my consent. I thought about the unspoken debt modern medicine owes to women like Mary, to countless experiments conducted on dispossessed bodies. I thought about consent and its absence. Does human agency end when we take our last breath, leaving behind only anatomical material, as John Stockton Hough and his contemporaries presumed? Or is such appropriation a form of posthumous violence, of corporeal theft? How do we reckon with the legacies we owe to the anonymous beings whose autopsies created our current understanding of the human body, in all its fragile resilience, its hewn grace?

23:

One day, as I walked home from the clinic, I saw an advertisement for some kind of lavish face serum: ‘leave behind a ‘beautiful corpse.’[28] I recalled Poe’s conviction that ‘the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.’[29] I don’t want it to be true, but here we are. I thought of all the beautiful cadavers in my own ossuary of ghosts. And of Mary, the bookbound Anatomical Venus.

24:

The following poems are my articulated elegies not only for Mary, but also for an infinite chorus of unnamed women, past and present: fragmented specimens that play host to a haunted palimpsest — a dialogue between male and female, body and soul, doctor and patient — that slips between their century and ours. Their ending is unwritten. A story for another day.

John Stockton Hough’s library, circa 1888. Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

25:

Fugitive Sheets

There is often ambiguity in wounds.

Her cursive history guards
against whatever lies

he affixed to its conception,

that unkempt state from which
we date material origins.

General laws of the animal economy
fail us, even now.

Once again, we cease to fathom
the progress of a vein.

A specimen, lavished in enquiry,
tortured by every effort of ingenuity.

Her train of peculiar symptoms
bestowed manifold gifts under the knife.

All were encysted.

Let this medium be what it is.
Leave her room to evade

the diagnosis, where nothing coheres.

A tragic stranger, treading on bacteria,
triaged in the mouths of absorbents.

All that is left is a name I can’t recognize;
Disorderly capillaries in an otherwise poised face.

Fugitive anatomical sheets,
male and female, superimposed.

A seriality nested in fascia
her spectral limbs, unmoored.

John Stockton Hough’s sketches for a speculum design, 1878. Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

26:

Kinship Studies

Even in death,
she belonged to the house.

A wife is the worst historian.

Her eyes could not abide, awake,
husbands in the mouths of every man.

With her skirts awry
and a distaste for shipboard games,

widowed, but not yet bookish.
The kind of woman who causes suicides.

Limned in green,
glasses heavy on her cheek

unmarked by either tar or creosote.
Deemed worthy, but only just.

Tunic-sleeved, the taste of dust
still narrow in her mouth.

She belonged to that class of women
he called ‘floaters’
who drift through hospitals        (as in debris)

Later, there will be horses
and old-fashioned pornography.

Silver-fissured celluloids atop
crimson overlays of collagen.

The binding gives out
in manifold kinships.

No one is safe, here.

Salt-burdened,
angry as asphodels,

we rebel against the whims
of some minor god.

The sort with a line for every occasion
who never learns not to look back.

Always pillaging in the garden.

His wife hiding, just shy of peripheral.
She likes to watch from afar.

It is never banal to see someone unfurl.

As in the agonies of pressed flowers
or birds nailed to wooden doors.

She never was attracted to severance
but desire is a pre-existing condition.

Consent is not.
Written in breastbones. Not written at all.

Her story now bound between her own thighs.
Curatorial skin gold-vellumed

and embossed with his name.
Sleep comes not in the grave
                      but the stacks.

Photograph of Hough’s speculum. Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

27:

Anatomical Venus

At first, she ate ravenously.
Nothing strange but the subject.

A widow of temperate habits
confined to disjointed reveries.

The anatomist, long content
to number human bones,

traced with edifying precision
the decline of evanescent arteries.

Eminent men have long decorated
the usual maladies with scalpeled cadence.

Many whims have been treated
meeting the lifted sword with a glove.

In her almanac of thrift store
couture and anime organs,

mementos light wounds.
Open cavities host

jacquard-loomed larvae
shelved in gilt.

Sieged glands unmothered,
mouths portals to carrion.

Our teeth gave us cause to tear
the flesh of living creatures.

Still, there are rules
to which we must abide.

Misery requires conditions.
Cleaving to suburban biologies,

the beleaguered fortunes
of anatomical loveliness.

An unblemished specimen, aglow
                    in formaldehyde.

Her well-heeled symptoms
                    burnished in gauze.

28:

Camera Obscura

Diet her fever
as you might tend an heirloom.

Only strangers arrive by the front door.
Sterile belles hold rallies for twilight sleep.

The future belongs to obsolescent devices,
a looselimbed cabal of drugstore blondes.

Where launderette submissives wait to assume
some other, less brutal, pastoral.

The final girl will always prevail.

With violence bouqueted in her hair,
bedroomy combs fastened at the temple.

Her skull is a dream.

The anonymous ones cut their teeth
on plastic diadems and hourglasses.

It’s safer this way,
though still fraught with the usual maladies.

The road home
is littered with wooden limbs.

Detail of anthropodermic bookbinding on Joseph Leidy’s An Elementary Treatise on Human Anatomy (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1861). Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

29:

Dead Blondes

Shape the eye in silt irises
that tiny organ rendered in glass and glow.

After a cavalcade of scandals, his
rodeo girls blush into lissom pinups.

Under waning florescence the taxidermist
clothes mouths in perpetual desire.

Cadence scalpeled, tracing
ghost on faceless ghost.

False idols are fetish proof,
but telegrams arrive faster.

In case you need anything
don’t hesitate to reverse the charges.

Leave her clothing dishevelled;
photograph only flattering angles.

Catalogue the location of scars and sunburns.
These will enter the permanent collection.

There’s always a spare room in our elastic house

while we cloak relics in half-morocco quarto,
waiting for the day her wound will become a womb.

30:

Diorama, retrospective

Drunken ghosts downpour maledictions.
When will we put an end to mourning?

When we hunt machines of our own creation,
make cathedrals of our bitten selves.

Just imagine the bruises the fall must have caused.

That afternoon I saw another doctor
to milk a wound for all it’s worth.

No pretty utterances on the couch
only gutter glass and all my best vintage

the clothes that guard against your eyes.
A girl’s got to eat. Or not. Alterity is underwhelming.

Sometimes ‘no’ is the only word a mouth can shape.

My criminal record includes truancy
which is simply a refusal to remain in the designated place.

Always this compulsion to run until the femur cracks.

When I was thirteen I lived in the woods for four nights.
When hunger was a bloom on animal husbandry

When we slept on beds of needles
ribs curled into barren limbs.

Before the bridal elegy began.

Detail of John Stockton Hough’s copy of Robert Couper’s Speculations on the Mode and Appearances of Impregnation in the Human Female (1789), bound in Mary Lynch’s skin. Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
 Author’s Note

This project has been generously supported by a series of grants from the Mütter Museum and College of Physicians of Philadelphia, home to the largest collection of confirmed anthropodermic books in the world. My poems include numerous quotes altered from Hough’s papers and from Couper’s Speculations.

 Endnotes

Endnote [1A] During the nineteenth century, tuberculosis (TB) was the leading cause of death in the United States. Also termed “consumption,” primary symptoms include fatigue, night sweats, and a general “wasting away” of the victim. “Typically but not exclusively a disease of the lungs, TB is also marked by a persistent coughing-up of thick white phlegm, sometimes blood.” Prior to 1943, when Selman Waksman discovered the antibiotic streptomycin, there was no reliable treatment for TB. Physicians sometimes prescribed bleedings and purgings, but most commonly, doctors simply advised their patients to rest, eat well, and exercise outdoors. Very few patients recovered. “Tuberculosis was primarily a disease of the city, where crowded and often filthy living conditions provided an ideal environment for the spread of the disease. The urban poor represented the vast majority of TB victims.” “Early Research and Treatment of Tuberculosis in the Nineteenth Century,” Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia, 2007, Web, March 17, 2018.

Endnote [1B] Mary consumed meat tainted with Trichinella spiralis, a parasitic roundworm often found in pigs. Trichinella is transmited from host to host via “ingestion of muscle tissue that has been infected with the encysted larval stage of the parasite.” Inside the new host’s small intestine, larvae progress into their adult stage. Then, after mating and reproduction, newborn larvae exit the intestine and “migrate through the circulatory system to muscles throughout the body. The total time for this cycle to occur is 17 to 21 days.” Beth Lander, “The Skin She Lived In: Anthropodermic Books in the Historical Medical Library,” Fugitive Leaves: A Blog from the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, October 1, 2015, Web, March 17, 2018.

[1] There is no direct evidence to support this supposition. In his article on Mary’s case in American Journal of Medical Science, Hough asserted that the contaminated meat came from visiting family and friends who ‘invariably brought her ham and Bologna sausage, of which she ate ravenously.’ ‘Two Cases of Trichinosis observed at the Philadelphia Hospital, Blockley,’ The American Journal of the Medical Sciences 57 (April 1869): 565-566.

[2] Lindsay Tuggle, The Afterlives of Specimens: Science, Mourning and Whitman’s Civil War (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2017) 33-34. [See This page]

[3] Hough, ‘Two Cases of Trichinosis’ 565.

[4] ‘From the data, counting the number in 1 gram of muscle, the whole number of cysts were estimated to be about 8 million.’ Hough, ‘Two Cases of Trichinosis’ 565.

[5] Fred B. Rogers and Thomas A. Horrocks, ‘John Stockton Hough: Medical Bibliophile and Bibliographer,’ Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Ser. 5 Vol. 11. No. 4 (1989): 355-361.

[6] Rogers and Horrocks 356; John W. Jordan, Colonial Families of Philadelphia vol. 1 (New York: Lewis Publishing, 1911) 1006.

[7] Rogers and Horrocks 357.

[8] Carolyn Marvin, ‘The Body of the Text: Literacy’s Corporeal Constant,’ The Quarterly Journal of Speech 80.2 (1994): 129-149.

[9] Marvin 142.

[10] Michael Sappol, A Traffic of Dead Bodies: Anatomy and Embodied Social Identity in Nineteenth-Century America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002) 2.

[11] Sappol 2-5

[12] David C. Humphrey, ‘Dissection and Discrimination: The Social Origins of Cadavers in America, 1760-1915,’ Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 49.9 (1973): 822.

[13] The legend of the name dates back to Judas Iscariot, who as an act of repentance returned to the temple the thirty pieces of silver he was paid for the betrayal of Christ. The priests decreed that the blood money could not enter the treasury, and instead used it to purchase a plot for the burial of strangers who died in the city of Jerusalem. They acquired an abandoned field, formerly the site of a pottery, which was known locally as the potter’s field. Frederick C.Waite, ‘Grave Robbing in New England,’ Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 33.3 (1945) 279-281.

[14] Thomas S. Sozinsky, ‘Grave Robbing and Dissection,’ Penn Monthly 10 (1879) 217.

[15] Humphrey 822.

[16] Robert Couper’s Speculations on the Mode and Appearances of Impregnation in the Human Female (Edinburgh: Elliot and Kay, 1789) 10-11, emphasis mine.

[17] Tuggle 31.

[18] Couper 11.

[19] Couper 16-17.

[20] Couper 11, 20.

[21] Couper 16-21.

[22] Couper 33-34.

[23] In practice, medical cadavers were a rare commodity and physical beauty was not necessary. However, when creating models or textbooks aesthetic conventions were paramount. See Joanna Ebenstein, ‘Ode to an Anatomical Venus’, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 40, nos. 3 and 4 (2012): 349.

[24] Ebenstein, ‘Ode to an Anatomical Venus’ 348-50.

[25] Joanna Ebenstein, The Anatomical Venus (London: Thames and Hudson, 2016) 14-20.

[26] Joanna Ebenstein, The Anatomical Venus 15-16.

[27] Erin Ross, ‘Women Rush To Get Long-Acting Birth Control After Trump Wins,’ NPR, November 11, 2016, Web, March 1, 2018.

[28] The origin of this quote is the 1949 film Knock on Any Door, directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart.

[29] ‘The Philosophy of Composition’ (1846), The Poetry Foundation, Web, March 1, 2018.

 

Owen Bullock: 3 poems

  Owen Bullock

  3 poems
 

 
  JPR 08

 talk

that woman I like at the supermarket
had a new hairdo

I said
‘you look different’

she seemed embarrassed
perhaps offended

I added
‘it looks very nice
as well as different’

she looked displeased

when she handed me my change
she said quietly
‘you have a nice day’

 training

a line and a smudge

Craig’s a very jealous person

                    there’s training for desk politics

                              did Andy Warhol have a comb-over?

                                        angels play table tennis…

kunst kunst

no one forgoes the lyric

                    Vegan lip balm

                                      Dear Burglar
                                      We Forgive You

 Pancakes for Neptune
inspired by the documentary ‘Maidentrip
I’m making pancakes for Neptune —

his funding was cut in the last round
and I wanted to show support
for his long term commitment
to the maritime community

142 scholarships in the last twelve years alone —
some deprived souls
wouldn’t have run away from home
and never been found
if not for his intervention

he’s an acerbic character
but his smile makes me tender
he has a subtle, congenial handshake —
I’m making him some pancakes

 
Australian poet Owen Bullock.
 

Owen Bullock’s most recent publications are Work & Play (Recent Work Press, 2017) and Semi (Puncher & Wattmann, 2017). He teaches creative writing at the University of Canberra.

 

Lindsay Tuggle: reviewed by David S. Reynolds

  David S. Reynolds

  Fine Specimens
  Lindsay Tuggle, reviewed by David S. Reynolds

  in the New York Review
  JPR 08

The Afterlives of Specimens:
Science, Mourning, and Whitman’s Civil War

by Lindsay Tuggle.
University of Iowa Press,
254 pp., $65.00 (paper)

Drum-Taps: The Complete 1865 Edition
by Walt Whitman, edited by Lawrence Kramer.
New York Review Books,
170 pp., $14.00 (paper)

From The New York Review of Books
Copyright © 2018 by David S. Reynolds
___________________________________________
Americans in the second half of the nineteenth century had no sure prospect of resting in peace after death. If their bodies weren’t embalmed for public viewing or dug up for medical dissection, their bones were liable to be displayed in a museum. In some cases, their skin was used as book covers by bibliophiles and surgeons with a taste for human-hide binding.

The preservation, exhumation, and exhibition of human remains become, in the hands of the literary critic Lindsay Tuggle, an illuminating basis for a provocative reassessment of America’s foremost poet, Walt Whitman. In The Afterlives of Specimens, Tuggle aligns Whitman’s life and work with the practice of preserving and learning from cadavers or body parts during the Civil War era. She offers new insights into Whitman’s poetics of the body, both by limning the history of body preservation and by considering his development using the work of various psychologists and literary theorists, including Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.

Whitman, long recognized for his candid treatment of the body and sexuality, was also the quintessential poet of disability and death. As a volunteer nurse in the Civil War hospitals in Washington, D.C., he visited, according to his own estimate, between 80,000 and 100,000 wounded or sick soldiers over the course of four years. He typically went twice a day to the hospitals, walking from cot to cot, tending to the soldiers, giving them food or small gifts, reading to them, writing letters for them, or sitting quietly by their side. Although his daily visits took a toll on him (he developed tuberculosis during the war), he got pleasure — including, it appears, homoerotic arousal — from his encounters with soldiers who stoically faced death or permanent disability.

Whitman was also inspired by the war to write new poetry. In the early spring of 1865, he arranged to publish a collection, Drum-Taps, that was delayed due to Lincoln’s assassination in April and appeared along with a sequel later that year. This volume contains the finest Civil War poetry we have. Its republication as Drum-Taps: The Complete 1865 Edition, expertly introduced and annotated by Lawrence Kramer, is most welcome. Since Whitman dispersed his war poems, often heavily edited, throughout later editions of his magnum opus Leaves of Grass, these poems have previously been available to general readers only in truncated, scattered form. Kramer’s edition of the original 1865 Drum-Taps and its sequel restores Whitman’s immediate creative response to the war that killed more than 750,000 Americans and injured at least 500,000 others — more American casualties than in all other wars combined.

Some poems in Drum-Taps look unblinkingly at the horror of war. In one, Whitman describes his work as a hospital nurse:

From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,

I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood,

Back on his pillow the soldier bends, with curv’d neck, and side-falling head;

His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the bloody stump,

And has not yet looked on it.

The poem’s speaker next tends to “a wound in the side, deep, deep,” and then to one that festers “with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so offensive.”

In another poem, Whitman describes a battlefield strewn with corpses; the moon shines down “on faces ghastly, swollen, purple; / On the dead, on their backs, with their arms toss’d wide.” In the poignant “Vigil strange I kept on the field one night,” a soldier sits all night by the body of a fallen comrade, then wraps it in a blanket and buries it.

The sheer physicality of death and disability in the Civil War, accentuated in graphic battlefield photographs taken by Matthew Brady and others, leads Tuggle to identify a pattern in Whitman’s literary career, which she follows across the six editions of Leaves of Grass and the late prose works, with the war writings as her main focus — an apt choice, since according to the poet, “my book and the war are one.” Tuggle shows that before the war Whitman emphasized the chemical transformation of the interred body into new life. He writes in the first edition of Leaves of Grass (1855): “And as to you corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me, / I smell the white roses sweetscented and growing.” Tuggle links this notion of organic regeneration with Whitman’s prewar criticism of body-snatching — the exhumation of corpses, primarily for dissection by physicians — which occurred frequently in this period.

The sudden surfeit of cadavers during the Civil War, Tuggle contends, corresponded to a notable change in Whitman’s approach to the human body. Instead of compost for new growth, the body became a specimen for public exhibition and scientific analysis. Tuggle notes how important the term “specimen” became for Whitman, who wrote of “thousands of specimens of first-rate Heroism” among soldiers he visited. He described “a specimen army hospital case… Lorenzo Strong, Co. A, 9th United States Cavalry,” with his right leg amputated, “the perfect specimen of physique — one of the most magnificent I ever saw”; a New Hampshire soldier with “gangrene of the feet, a pretty bad case: a regular specimen of an old-fashion’d, rude, hearty New England country man”; and a New Yorker, “a regular Irish boy, a fine specimen of youthful physical manliness — shot through the lungs — inevitably dying.”

At the same time, Tuggle informs us, medical science analyzed human specimens: corpses, body parts, and bones. Especially striking is her account of the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C., begun in 1862 and curated by the surgeon John H. Brinton, who collected the bones of soldiers killed in the Civil War and put them on display, with identifying labels. One of Whitman’s first sights when he arrived in Washington that year was “a heap of amputated feet, arms, legs, hands, &c., a full load for a one-horse cart” sitting outside a war hospital. These were the kinds of specimens that Brinton gathered, cleaned, and displayed. He presented the bones as evidence of the effect of new weaponry, such as the powerful bullet known as the minié ball, and as mementoes of the war and its martyrs.

It was considered a noble gesture, Tuggle reveals, for a soldier to contribute the remains of a dead comrade to Brinton “for the good of the country.” The bones of four soldiers Whitman had visited in the hospital were on display in the museum, which fed the curiosity of sensation-seekers even as it created a memorial of the war. One journalist called it “a museum of horrors” but recognized its appeal: “Its many bones, which never ached, and which have survived their painful sheaths of mortal flesh, all cool and clean, and rehung on golden threads, are not unpleasant to behold.”

Human remains became such an overwhelming presence during the war that Whitman suggests that the earth is incapable of absorbing them. In both his poetry and his prose, Tuggle writes, “Whitman shifted from a focus on cyclical regeneration (‘composting’) toward a poetics of preservation (‘embalming’).” She points out that Civil War doctors perfected the art of embalming, as in the case of the assassinated Lincoln, whose corpse was drained of blood and injected with fluid that rendered it “hardened to the consistency of stone,” as a reporter put it. In this condition Lincoln’s body made its twelve-day, 1,700-mile train journey from the nation’s capital to Springfield, Illinois, viewed by millions of Americans when it stopped in many cities along the way.

Whitman’s war writings, according to Tuggle, performed a similar service of embalming both the president and myriads of fallen soldiers as specimens that remained in the poet’s sad memory. “Embalming” not only describes his literary preservation of the war in the retrospective poems and prose he wrote during the postbellum decades, but it also appears as a metaphor. For instance, in the 1890 poem “A Twilight Song,” written toward the end of his life, Whitman says of the war dead: “Your mystic roll entire of unknown names, or North or South,/Embalm’d with love in this twilight song.”

Walt Whitman and his rebel soldier friend Pete Doyle, Washington D.C., 1865. (Courtesy the Feinberg-Whitman Collection / Library of Congress.)

Tuggle thoughtfully analyzes Whitman’s experience of mourning, which melancholia, nostalgia, and the poet’s physical decline (he was forty-one when the war began) were intertwined. With regard to Whitman’s “specimen soldiers,” she writes that “as symbols of embodied mourning. Whitman’s specimens conjure psychic and physical attachments that were, melancholically, impossible to sever.”

This approach illuminates a number of the original war poems as they appear in Kramer’s edition of Drum-Taps.

The most moving poems in the volume, after all, are the portraits of the maimed or the dead; verses about the shattering effect of battlefield losses on family members; vignettes of soldiers in battle or on the march or bivouacked on a hillside. These poems are more than realistic or photographic — adjectives normally used to describe them. They are emphatically physical, alive with the sights, sounds, and smells of war. The vividness of poems like “The Veteran’s vision” (about the “grime, heat, rush” of battle), “A sight in camp in the day-break grey and dim” (describing three soldiers’ corpses), or “A march in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown” (picturing a field hospital filled with a “crowd of the bloody forms of soldiers”) substantiates Tuggle’s point about Whitman’s painful, “embodied” memories. Also, her interweaving of psychoanalysis and queer theory illuminates certain poems, such as one that ends: “(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested, / Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)”

But Tuggle underplays the complexity of Whitman’s response to the Civil War. The poems in Drum-Taps show clearly that he used poetry not only to memorialize specimens of the war but also to hail the war as a social cleansing agent and as a powerful force for union in America. Mourning was just one of several of Whitman’s responses to the war, which he viewed far more positively than she allows.

Before the war, Whitman had been appalled by corruption in the US government, which he said swarmed with “cringers, suckers, doughfaces, lice of politics,” including Franklin Pierce, about whom he wrote, “The President eats dirt and excrement for his daily meals, likes it, and tries to force it on The States.” Whitman continues, “The cushions of the Presidency are nothing but filth and blood. The pavements of Congress are also bloody.” Whitman characterized Pierce and two other presidents, Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan, as America’s “topmost warning and shame,” saying they showed “that the villainy and shallowness of rulers… are just as eligible to these States as to any foreign despotism, kingdom, or empire — there is not a bit of difference.”

He was convinced that the war purified the national atmosphere like a thunderstorm. In Drum-Taps he greets it as the savior of an America that had gone terribly awry. “I waited the bursting forth of the pent fire,” he writes, “I waited long; / — But now I no longer wait — I am fully satisfied — … / I have lived to behold man burst forth, and warlike America rise.”

Drum-Taps at times becomes stridently militaristic:

War! an arm’d race is advancing! — the welcome for battle — no turning away;

War! Be it weeks, months, or years — an arm’d race is advancing to welcome it.

Initially, in Whitman’s view, the war spirit burst through the venality and materialism that he thought had nearly ruined America in the 1850s. Believing that Southern soldiers exhibited just as much heroism and self-sacrifice as Northern ones, he asks in one Drum-Taps poem, “Was one side so brave? the other was equally brave.” In another, he insists that the war bolsters “the CONTINENT — devoting the whole identity, without reserving an atom,” because the war is “for all! / From sea to sea, north and south, east and west, / Fusing and holding, claiming, devouring the whole.”

Walt Whitman’s design for his tomb, Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, New Jersey, circa 1890

His poems about the later stages of the war become darker, but his hope for national union was revived after Lincoln’s death. In his poems about the murdered president, he shifts between the emotional fervor of “O Captain! my Captain!” and the nature-bathed lyricism of “When Lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d.” Like much of the nation, Whitman had become war-weary, but since Lincoln’s passing was mourned throughout the North and even in much of the South, Lincoln stood, above all, Whitman wrote, for “UNIONISM, in its truest and amplest sense”; his memory “belong[ed] to these States in their entirety,” thus providing “a cement to the whole people, subtler, more underlying, than any thing in written constitution, or courts or armies.”

Union was an admirable goal, but Whitman never fully learned a main lesson of the Civil War: it was, most urgently, a war over slavery. Kramer in his introduction to Drum-Taps insightfully discusses the poet’s ambivalent position on slavery. On the one hand, he opposed it and spoke out against its westward spread. He also sometimes portrayed African-Americans sympathetically in his poetry. On the other hand, he denounced radical abolitionism, which called for the separation of the North and the South unless the nation’s four million enslaved persons were immediately emancipated.

Like many other prominent white Americans, from Benjamin Rush through Harriet Beecher Stowe and Theodore Parker, Whitman stood against slavery but was capable of making racist pronouncements. Lincoln, too, could sound racist early on, but he progressed on race, whereas Whitman did not. While Lincoln in his final public speech floated the idea of African-American citizenship, Whitman opposed suffrage for blacks in the years just after the war. He also bought into ethnographic pseudoscience, which predicted the disappearance over time of “inferior” races. Antislavery sentiment is notably absent from Drum-Taps, which makes overtures to the South in the interest of reconciliation and national unity. In the poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” he embraces slave-owners:

All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,

Pioneers! O pioneers!…

All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,

Pioneers! O pioneers!

Drum-Taps, then, has as much to do with Whitman’s politics as it does with the preservation of human specimens of the war. The poems in the volume also lead us to question Tuggle’s argument that his focus on composting and regeneration was replaced by the preservationist theme of embalming. Actually, Whitman’s 1855 motif / \ of the corpse as compost reappears in Drum-Taps, as when the poet describes Mother Nature calling on the earth to absorb fallen soldiers’ bodies: “Absorb them well, O my earth, she cried — I charge you, lose not my sons! lose not an atom.” The speaker invokes the soil, the streams, the rivers, and the roots of trees to transform soldiers’ corpses into future vegetation and air: “Exhale me them centuries hence — breathe me their breath — let not an atom be lost;… / Exhale them perennial, sweet death, years, centuries hence.”

Not only does Whitman in Drum-Taps retain his belief in the organic recycling of bodies; he also pays homage to the soul. On the body / soul issue Tuggle does a deft dance. She discusses Whitman in relation to spiritualism — contact with departed spirits — and animal magnetism, with its belief in an electrical fluid known as the ‘odic force’. Into the mix she casts the phenomenon of phantom limbs, discovered by the Philadelphia physician and author Silas Weir Mitchell. Mitchell found that war amputees frequently had an uncanny sense of their missing limbs — a psychosomatic condition that Higgle links to Whitman, for whom deceased soldiers were ever-present figures. “Like Mitchell’s ‘spirit members,”’ she writes, “Whitman’s description of soldiers as ‘spiritual characters’ situates his specimens as performers in a fashionably macabre contemporary discourse.” This point casts a fresh light on certain lines in Drum-Taps about the war dead, such as these:

Phantoms, welcome, divine and tender!

Invisible to the rest, henceforth become my companions;

Follow me ever! desert me not, while I live.

The “afterlives of specimens” in Tuggle’s title, then, refer to the continuing presence of bodies or body parts, either as phantom limbs, preserved corpses, museum exhibits, or traumatic sights of war that haunted Whitman. At times, Tuggle suggests that Whitman conflates the spiritual with the physical. She writes, “Like [the amputee] Lewy Brown’s lost toes, for Whitman the body and the soul are ‘impossible to disentangle.’” We should keep in mind, however, that the meta-S, physical realm was very much a reality for Whit-13 man. Although he rejected conventional religious explanations of the afterlife, he believed in the immortality of the soul. This was his main dispute with “the s Great Agnostic” Robert Ingersoll, who loved his poetry but, unlike Whitman, believed that there was nothingness after death. In a public discussion. Whitman asked Ingersoll, “What would this life be without immortality?… If the spiritual is not behind the material, to what purpose is the material?” He addressed these questions privately by telling his companion Horace Traubel, “I am not prepared to admit fraud in the scheme of the universe — yet without immortality all would be sham and sport of the most tragic nature.”

Among the poems in Drum-Taps is “Chanting the Square Deific,” about religion. The poem describes four conceptions of God: as an angry judge, like the Old Testament’s Jehovah; as a loving consoler, such as Christ; as Satan, the fallen God; and as what Whitman calls “Santa SPIRITA,” the “essence of forms — life of the real identities, permanent, positive… the most solid” of realities. Santa Spirita, the deathless essence within all humans, is what Whitman champions. In a later poem about religion, “Eidólons,” the poet reaffirms his faith, insisting upon a spiritual reality behind everything. He describes the eidólon as “Thy body permanent, / The body lurking there within thy body, / The only purport of the form thou art, the real I myself, / An image, an eidólon.” In 1891, the year before he died, Whitman published the poem “Sail Out for Good, Eidólon Yacht!,” which contains the lines:

Depart, depart from solid earth —
no more returning to these shores,

Now on for aye our infinite free venture wending,

Spurning all yet tried ports, seas, hawsers, densities, gravitation,

Sail out for good, eidólon yacht of me!

In Whitman’s cosmic view, then, the decomposed body nurtures physical life while the soul sails on an eternal journey.
 — The New York Review [continued]
[more can be read at This page.]

 

Michael Basinski: Dobranoc

  Michael Basinski

  Dobranoc
 

 
  JPR 08

Ending at dawn, matins is the monastic night-time liturgy of the canonical hours. In the Roman Catholic pre-Vatican-II breviary, it is divided into three nocturns. The name matins originally referred to the morning office also known as lauds.

near morning Mars usually appears distinctly red or yellow
eggs over easy, sunny, yellow, appear tits up
white moony sides, up, side effects infections
greasy blue of thee sea tides outside
why not like an orange as her wild and wide her Nile phase interrupted
leaves floated green floating delta
upside down around round like a body
air lines lined up all stranded here waiting
squeezed neat bakery hairnet in a row robes of roe
blue always waiting at the terminal portal
across the street slowly up roses
where the buses turn around and head down bushes
Bernadette to reach her Lourdes

The intact body in the reliquary of the Convent of St. Gildard of Nevers. “I would have liked to open her left side of the thorax to steel each rib and then remove the heart. However, it would have been rather difficult to try and get at my heart without doing too much noticeable damage.”

                   

she humidity
and a hungry effervescence
withering the green fatigue of allowance
at early Lamas it rained off and on
I listen summon me I into a being
beg like the falling, fallen, sun on her knees
into the mouth, gape Lake Erie
burned, communion, dark yellow teeth like yolks
the sky’s red her lips red
the Mass hips in an other language
they kneel and pray, and need

·

July is another very hot month in Luxor, Egypt and with an average temperature of 33°C it is the hottest month of the year. The average high temperature is the same as June at 41°C, and the average low is a still-warm 24°C, so cold drinks can be enjoyed on a warm terrace in a late evening. July shares much the same weather as June, with 10mm rain, 30% humidity, 13 hours of sunshine per day.

being at night at the beginning
repeats a new kind, knot knew, what was coming
has was as have incantations, inclinations
decant in red carnations red
white pink ink again end

? Long ago and far away…

                   

yours Nut my snuff
heart empty net my
liver a net of fish a stuck
my knot a crow
eating popcorn nuclear
and yellow as mine eyes
uranium Nestles chocolate
Honey Nut Cheerios
as night Nut
I popped a nut
blue, numb, and at Nun’s
Nut yours my lungs
brood witch
of congested desire

·

Restraint device.
travels the smoke further vespers trousers a fire poisonous
illness Lochness sicken me ail me something fruit sickened forest
sickle sickest most Freya ill eel ailing sic kitty alewife
kitty in thee well more stricken bad poor lied liver
sicken sick illing cast laid-up taken illest less
without well plucked net pill
ill fell fall spell pulled spill feathers
thee maid make up felon on upon me
no fallen falls dis come down with witchfell
pull plesiosaurs drawn with their necks drawn
swan position up upwards in a swan on picture
necked swam swimming decay disease easy a naked
                vulnerable cup bleed someone by using a glass in which a partial vacuum is formed by heating. Link cuffs, which have buttonholes on both sides and are meant to be closed with cufflinks or silk knots. They are most commonly fastened in either the “kissing” style, where the insides of both sides are pressed together, or very unusually with the outer face touching the inner face.

In July the average monthly rainfall in Buffalo is 1.96 inches with rain usually falling on 12 days. In July 1969 there was a total of 0.00 inches of rain that fell on 10 days.
I entered entertained encountered her druids applying the blood of doves to their skin could maintain beauty myself
with what wem lack of order or predictability entrance in hands all I ever wanted with empty handed hands up enter July empty handle with care
handed with a new summer on hand handed to me
safety pins
from behind the skirt of July outskirt
go around or past the edge of legs
give to exit hands on plum tomatoes
home grown nightshade dishes sauces tomayto toe
all to harvest I left reap leave with empty hands emptying nothing in nothing on
nothing to be gained
opaque from tip to toe tiptoe tip your toe in did dip nip
collapse in my arms declined into disorder of endless resurrection
calligraphy corpse metacarpal grasping organ oven
this Sobek, laid eggs on the bank of the waters of Nun. Crocodiles independently evolved a four-chambered heart, as did birds and mammals mainly fish, but it will attack almost anything unfortunate enough to cross its path, including zebras, small hippos, porcupines, birds, wildebeest, turtles, so sweet oval or cylindrical in shape, ghosts with significantly fewer seed compartments.

·

A conical or cylindrical roll of thread wound onto a spindle.
innocence innocented I’m run, a run, ruined
already ran to pick a pick-up had was
he’s touched touching letter any letter by letter
from the torches a sensitive glandular hair
my choice choose vegetables
chorus trees are enough choirs
injection who may slips the fabric
threads slingbacks a peacock of Salem
slip crime upon on off slip pack silk
slip sing shod the dark slings sink
innocent of morning gorgeous
once and night touch, club
a person employed to take care of horses.

                   

He Said:
she, 7 poems untitled or [unidentified]
unfolds a National Geographic map
poems appear in I lose my hair
and my minds, full
All. Full of concentrated cleaning power, All® Fresh Rain now contains In-Wash Pre-Treaters for improved scent. Safe for all washing machines
all spell
she is like a simile: STOP
Ford Taurus
Kleenex
Spelling bee, Exit 3 / Clarence Center / 17 miles
her legs are perfect rose bushes
she is blue and red and Berber Carpet
Coca Cola couplets her breasts like racoon
raccoons have remarkably sensitive hands
what they’re doing when they wet and rub an object is “seeing” it
it’s thought that water contact increases a raccoon’s tactile ability
in the expensive darkness Oreo filling
a cricket forest

·

Storm brought power outages to Niagara and drenching rain flooded streets in Lockport. Lightning also struck four homes and a church in Amherst but damage was light.

opening open the peanut butter Peter Pan
an wheel encircles to fit a mirror sea of fay mercy musical
Carousel “here there *is* no time; this is the beginning and the end”
West Side Story “I a victim of disappointment”
lawn fete fate chose to have phased out
passed had will wont worn kestos
cannot have undue will not
gone did gone here, home
opened into negation
the different dishes into a fit perfect fit, had one
who what hem her shoe where unformed deformed
fit the sound of choice toward to too Tu Fu
crept into find went left

used with a past participle to form the perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect spirits, and the conditional mood Tresemmé
I in perpetuity have finished washing my hair
or whatever.

·

Ulan Bator. Thunderstorms are the most severe precipitation observed during 51% of those days with precipitation. They are most likely around July 25, when it is observed during 28% of all days.
I wish upon vacant stores to be simplified
love Simplicity a pattern sew
lama silk or yak
an ladder that didn’t not didn’t do
done in did
drain one up in need to
or rungs
rugs the champagne changing room
I became Lon Chaney’s desire
I had Cochise cheese
my choice unchanged unchained
to be change for the bus
in the old days of yak coin were used
was of use to me I
thunderstormed under
said his is the new moon a tomato
creeping caution from the cult
cottonwood woods at night time
Missa, the Mystery and air-mass thunderstorms are associated with warm, moist and thus unstable air-masses in the summer months. They develop locally during the afternoon or late in the day in response to insolation through convective heating from the surface. Thus they are also known as single-cell thunderstorms. Typically they do not persist very long — usually an hour or so — and disappoint rather quickly after sunrise. Gradually, I pour a liquid Shelley, ’s, heart did not burn

·

The Morton Salt Umbrella Girl and slogan first appeared on the blue package of table salt in 1914. Throughout the years the ageless girl has changed dresses and hairstyles to stay fashionable.
the spy of his morning you are closer to the end
close in the end of the spiders a washcloth at hand
clothed in all balled up and all ready to go
for thy body in August Anubis with priests unclothed begun
already begin then thee process
my make ready sea wrapping
must be a birthday I have been
webbed about by wounds
strings strange embalmed
between these inflamed fingered upon
I am balled in silk split am sweet
and tasted table salt
sodium carbonate decahydrate
the August the, the body are the spidered webs
time out
enough is enough
my spider bites me
while I sleep spiders equal angels
they are everywhere in my harvested haunted
and her treat traveled about
from my hunting inside deep with I depth where
on my thunkskull up of it an shore
than I am cast
away

                   

as in the beginning of September
is now was were wear where
and ever shell be
the curled nautilus lush
emptied glass
I know less
now than whens now and again
I knew less

                   

feed upon her ever-regenerating liver
over Sais most wanton wanting Lent
stop wanted watch for let’s went
I’m gone far
was I was weres
I went go going
going gone got
on with it ghost in infection upon
wanted orange Queen-O
gonad ghost in a with a witch
summer an wadka in unison wikka
all glassed fit intox
Imhotep hoped