From My Notebook
by Dora Hepner Moitoret
COMING to Columbus, I find I am privileged to spend the entire summer in the home where I was born, a small country place now shrunk to four acres. These four acres are still covered with many things my father and mother planted nearly seventy years ago: lilac bushes whose blooms we pick from the second-story windows; lilies of the valley, narcissus and peonies by the actual thousands; pear trees grown as thick of limb as a woman who sits in the sun, content to send her tatting out like little white blossoms of the pear. A handful of violets brought from the old mill when we were children now send their progeny into every nook and cranny of the place so that we walk over a purple carpet and gather handfuls of flowers every day with no apparent depreciation of supply.
Wild grapevines and honeysuckle take hold of every opportunity and clamber into decaying peach and quince trees. The birds nest there, birds of every color and indescribable beauty. The brown thrasher sings his mockingbird medley over and over and over. The cardinal flies to the tip of the walnut tree and sends his chee-ee-eer up and over anything today could possibly have of depression. The bluejays make a picture sitting on an old gray fence post, and a yellow-breasted warbler lights in the rose-of-sharon tree by the dooryard.
Frances calls out, “Bunting in the pear tree,” and we rush from whatever we are doing. Gradually he comes closer and closer to the house – today three of these brilliant birds, greenish blue and bright, sat in the drive near the house and while we watched, the bright red cardinal flew down and joined them. A brown creeper walks up a trunk and a tiny kinglet, smallest of all the birds, flits from branch to branch of “the big green bush” whose name we never knew.
We have found the nest of the robin and the wren and the silly thing a dove calls a nest on the edge of a plum branch where the first storm shall knock it down. The cat birds come and the starlings add nothing but noise and clatter. As the summer waxes, the cat bird calls our names – or so we think – for he mimics the calls he hears. A flock of wild geese fly over, and we know we shall have “weather.” The setting sun lays its gold across Harry’s meadow where wild cress is in yellow bloom, and we call each other to hurry, knowing that five minutes can destroy an effect where sunlight is concerned. A double rainbow comes out brilliantly behind the barn, and rests its right hand on the elms by the ditch.
Midsummer will come, and the oppressive heat, chiggers and the sweetcorn. Fireflies will rise from the meadow, and we will not be able to stay in the house day or night, for the constant procession of beauty to be seen. Perhaps I may even catch a glimpse of northern lights this year, a sight I have never been able to catch up with.
All about me the art of life is transpiring in its fullest and best. We are three sisters, of different interests and talents, living our three separate lives in happy communion, learning the fluidity of life in its temporal present and hopeful future. We laugh together until we are hysterical; we work together until our very marrow aches, only to get up from a brief rest and go back again to our digging. And from the earth we draw such deep content with life that our poverty becomes wealth and our small acre a paradise. None of the canvases in the galleries I have visited in the cities can equal the pictures I walk among every day, for they cannot hold the overpowering sweetness of lilacs in the evening air or the feel of morning dew on my fingers, or the sound of birds in the branches at five of a May morning. Yet, because I constantly see these very things being transferred to canvass by my sister, I look twice at a rose or a bunch of wild grape, for her paintings are small masterpieces since she paints for love and not for lust after honor or glory or any recompense save the proper expression of a beauty which she sees as beauty.
There is always night, when we come in from outdoors and sit at our desks or in the rockers with our books and writing. And the art of learning takes over where the art of living left off. One is concentrating on a theosophical study, one is reading her Bible, and I am deploying with Albert Schweitzer and the Cocktail Party by Elliot – in the field of religion applied to life, where I like best to find it.
And so to bed, and instant sleep, unless the poison ivy itches and must be bathed in the middle of the night. And so to morning with eagerness, and laughter, and anticipation of the weather, since it governs our day. Ladies of leisure, I call us, and the girls sniff and say, “What leisure?” But it’s all a life of doing what we want to do, whether it is work or play, and if that isn’t leisurely living I don’t know what is. One irons shirts for a neighbor, to earn money for her Bible class, and I read Evangeline aloud to her since I can’t help with the ironing. It reminds us of our school days together, and we branch off into a “Do you remember” adventure of love and laughter.
But no more time for writing – the weather is clearing – I must go to town and buy a hat and some shoestrings, some envelopes and stamps – return my books to the library – sordid things that have to be done, when I’d rather spend the day pulling weeds from the roses. Frances says, “Stay off this clay soil after a rain” – so the chance to loaf presents itself. I will make myself some summer shirts and shorts – I say – not half meaning it. No, I will write a letter – and work a cross-word puzzle Victor has sent me – suddenly I feel a little tired – perhaps I’ll have a go at the piano – the whole day in which to do as I please. Such are the blessings of accepted poverty.
Brauner J. Ostergaard
by Fred C. Eichin
My boyhood friend and mentor (how wisely you will discover upon perusing future publications) has taken unto himself a press. Back in 1912 he was a craftsman of that order and I understand his keen anticipation of future pleasure and torment in applying himself to that honorable profession, but as a hobby. (What a difference!) His first publication was named (unwisely, for there is no such thing) Utopia.
Through a fire he lost his copies and when I lately learned of this catastrophe I gave him the copies I had cherished throughout these many years. However, ironically, his Utopia shall “phoenix-like” arise from its ashes. Mayhap his new Utopia will inspire a land devoid of Trumans, Stalins, et al. William Morris will rise from his grave and salute Mr. Ostergaard for his valiant endeavors and all of us will welcome the calm and peacefulness that will again be ours when humanity comes to reign.
Mr. Ostergaard is a vice-president of The Fossils. (Capital F, please!) Being the proprietor of an airplane factory he confines his travels exclusively to the air lanes, a busman’s holiday as it were. His many friends will await his forthcoming publication with keen expectancy. Let us hope his first issue will not be too vitriolic and also not have the unsavoriness of our presidential campaigns. It would be surprising if his first issue contained articles on “How to Sew,” “Vacuuming as an Art,” “Drop One, Purl Two” and such intimate tidbits. If he follows the Ladies Home Journal pattern I will disown him. So, Mr. Brauner, pitch in and “give them you know what.” Now who said that?
An Early Demise: Barabbas’ Tragedy
(Below is a draft of a tentative publication by BJO and FCE)
‘Soon grows the Pygmy to gigantic size.’
Dryden – Virgil’s Aeneid IV
Watch Us Grow
Vol. 1, No. 1, June 1913
The Lynching by Brauner J. Ostergaard. 750 words (where are they?)
Antique Furniture by Fred C. Eichin. 750 words (still waiting for BJO’s printing skill).
Almost at the 11th hour this publication goes to press (Time surely stands still) The Editors wish to congratulate Mr. Edward Cole on his recent Olympian wherein he adverts to lack of Essays on Literature, etc.
by Fred C. Eichin
I will drop the editorial “we” and write in the first person in an attempt to reintroduce myself to my many friends and fellow members. In 1912 I became a member of the National and United amateur press associations because of Mr. Brauner J. Ostergaard’s insistence. At that time I was very active and published The Baracca Bulletin, The Friday Club, The Observer and also was co-editor of The Chicago Press Writer’s Journal. I ceased these activities due to business pressure but became active again in 1933 and 1934 when I was editor of The Free-Lance for the Chicago Press Writers Club, which publication I personally financed. This was a 6 x 9 professionally printed magazine, twelve pages of text exclusive of covers. The contents comprised stories, essays, poetry and special articles of more or less merit, written by our club member.
In 1951 I rejoined the National and the United. In April 1952 I attended the New York convention of The Fossils (the alumni of the National) and was admitted as a member. I met Mr. Edward Cole (of Olympian fame) and many other outstanding members of the National Amateur organization. These members’ early publications I have treasured throughout the years. Those were the days of fine writing and press work.
Today I note but few, viz. F. T. Thomas’ Far Afield and Geo. I. Haney’s Divertissement and I bow to them for their splendid achievement. If there are other comparable publications I am not aware of them and apologize for their exclusion. I hope that our membership will arise to the occasion and seek to emulate their standards. Rather fewer publications of intrinsic value than a multiplicity that are of ephemeral nature.
I appreciate that this introductory issue is not of the “Thomas-Haney” standard. However, I trust the contents will merit your interest. I have been fortunate in securing from Mrs. Dora Hepner Moitoret (the reigning President of the National Amateur Press Association) some delightful reminiscences from her Notebook. I know you will find them charming. I recently read her essay “Accent on Imagination” published in Mr. Haney’s Divertissement and consider it a masterpiece.
This editor had hopes of publishing his Feather Duster, a publication toyed with long before he knew of Amateur Journalism (1906) but was informed that Dr. Charles R. King is publishing under that title. Never having seen this work and rather than cause confusion, the title The Bookery has been substituted.
After this lengthy introduction of myself I hope a welcome will be accorded me and that this publication will merit the interest and approbation of my fellow members.
Published by Fred C. Eichin, Chicago 47, Ill., for distribution to AJ associations, and The Fossils. Entered for all Laureateship contests. (No. 1 Winter 1952-53.)