by Carla Patsuris
Like sleepless babes aroused with fright
The boats scream out across the night,
While cats meow and young dogs bark
As though rebelling at the dark,
And starlings chatter tender things
Until the whole world sings and sings
For one brief interlude, and then,
Returns to dreaming once again;
Except the few who lie awake
To weep in pain from hearts that break
With grief turned sigh and sigh turned moan
That each man learns is borne alone!
I Question Blake
by Carla Patsuris
He said, “’Tis only artist sees
The true perfection of the trees.”
I challenge him; he must have known
Of orchard lands where trees were grown
By farmer, patient at his toil,
Who looked on fruit from fertile soil
As parent might upon a son…
With love, and hope for work well done…
While waiting seasons through, intense
With fear lest some outside immense
Unknown, destroy his great life deed
To hurl him back, reduced to seed.
Must, too, have known the will to sing;
And love of words is such a thing
Makes poets, lost in ecstasies,
Forget the flesh in praise of trees!
Everyone knew her as
A Fine Woman
by Margaret Dills Gawthorp
HOWDY, SHERIFF, come in, come in. Been lookin’ for you to stop by. ’Pears like everybody else has come to set with me since Maria died. Glad to have ’em; like company. I got the parlor opened up, so you can come in here. It never was opened when Maria was livin’, ’cept when the preacher come or there was a funeral. Always bent on keepin’ things clean, Maria was. Mustn’t go in the parlor, couldn’t use the front bedroom; just used the kitchen an’ the back bedroom. Set on the back porch in summer; front porch had to be kept clean. Me, I chew tobacco. Nowhere to spit.
Sure glad you come by. You been sheriff here a long time; you an’ yore wife has always been friendly an’ neighborly, ready to help out. You never had much arrestin’ to do – just a few times when one o’ the boys got a mite too much to drink. They never helt it against you. Guess you know people ’round here better’n anyone else. You knew Maria. Yes, she was a fine woman – never spent nothin’ unless she had to. Helped me in my shop till I was able to hire Jim. Got him cheap; good worker, too.
Just go ahead an’ smoke yore pipe. Maria, she wouldn’t allow no smokin’. Said it smelled things up. Said it was filth. You an’ I an’ the fellows has done a lot o’ smokin’ an’ chewin’ down at the store; could do pretty much as we pleased there.
Sure appreciate a friendly call here at the house. Know what I do now? Set right in the parlor an’ chew. Neighbors come in an’ set with me, just like you’re doin’. Mighty friendly community; people feel sorry for me, losin’ Maria. Mighty fine woman, everyone says; no foolishness ’bout her. Don’t know as I’d ever have saved a penny if it hadn’t been for her. She never bought a lot o’ clothes an’ trinkets like most women.
Yes, it did seem strange, Maria fallin’ down the cellar steps. Broke her neck, Doc Will said. Didn’t seem natural seein’ Maria lyin’ on the cellar floor with her neck broke. She always washed down there on Mondays – had a hankerin’ for clean clothes, clean house, even clean cellar. Me, I had to clean up soon’s I come home every night.
Sure, sheriff, you can see the cellar; nothin’ down there now. Ain’t as clean as it was. I put up a new clothes line; old one was gettin’ rusty. Promised Maria I’d do it; don’t know why I didn’t get ’round to it sooner. Sure, sheriff, you can go anywhere you please in this house now. I got it all open; neighbors is welcome.
Nail holes? Now ain’t that funny. Maria wouldn’t a-liked that. Must plug ’em up. Maria wouldn’t have a flaw nowhere; everything had to be just right. Mighty fine woman; strange to see her lyin’ at the foot o’ the steps all crumpled up. Maria wasn’t the kind to be crumpled up. She was always neat, always clean; helt herself straight, like one o’ them telephone poles….
Yes, this is where she was lyin’ when I found her, just like she was when you come. I phoned you, remember? Neighbors all come. Women fixed her up for the funeral. Looked real natural in her coffin; clean, neat, straight, like always.
She was one that didn’t hold with bad habits nor dirt. For twenty years I took my shoes off before comin’ in the back door. Maria kept a pair o’ bedroom slippers just inside….
Want to look again where Maria was lyin’ with her neck broke? This is the place. See, she died clean, on a clean floor. What wire? Why, sheriff, you know Maria wouldn’t a-had no wire hung here at the head o’ the stairs in the dark. She never burned no lights in the day time. Maria was careful, an’ savin’. Me, I’m burnin’ every light in the house now. Set in the parlor, with my shoes on, chewin’ tobacco. Maria died clean, but all crumpled up.
How’s that, sheriff? Got it all figgered out? Thought you would. Guess you know people ’round here better’n we know ourselves. Sure have enjoyed these last few days….
Okay, sheriff, let’s go.
First months in a strange land in the second installment of
It Happened to Me
by Rose S. Kocher
AFTER MANY years of longing and striving to get to the United States my day came at last in July 1904. On the evening before my departure, my grandmother, my Aunt Rosi, and some of my cousins came to bid me goodbye. That evening I saw my grandmother for the last time. In spite of my causing her much trouble when I was younger, she loved me. Also present, of course, were my mother, my stepfather, two of my sisters and my two younger brothers. The next morning my mother and stepfather came with me as far as Basel, where my big journey would really start.
Many years later, when I was back in Switzerland, my mother and I went back over events and she mentioned that the visiting relatives had missed me and one of the boys who went in search of me found me leaving the cemetery. Knowing I hated to show emotion, he quickly left. I had been to bid farewell to my father’s last resting place. Later in the evening I found my brothers huddled together in their room, weeping bitterly. We had been good friends.
The travel agency at Basel had arranged my trip. Of course, I traveled third class, and the trip from Basel to New York including board on ship came to all of Thirty-eight dollars!
The New York branch of the agency sent a representative to Ellis Island, where we landed, to meet their clients and to accompany them to the Swiss hotel, from where some left to go farther inland, some went down South, some to the far Northwest. I had meant to travel as far as Iowa to stay awhile with the mother of my cousin Julia. It must have been the terrific excitement of the big city which made me want to remain and be a little part of it. The wife of the hotel owner needed help and offered me the job, which I declined as the opportunities to learn English and become acquainted with American people were practically nil. As it was summer and the well-to-do people were in the country, this woman thought my chance to secure a position before fall would be slim.
My money was running out and it was time to look for work. I had bought an “Interpreter,” which is a book from which a foreigner can learn the phrases most often used in daily living here. As near as possible it gives the proper pronunciation of the words. At the end of the little book it gives a few rules on grammar and it really was a Godsend. One day an old man selling “Interpreters” at the hotel agreed to take me for a small fee to the office of the German Housewives Society. I had seen one of their ads in a newspaper. This Society offered to place newly arrived European girls into good homes. I was fortunate. A woman was at the office looking for a girl to replace her chambermaid, who had left her service to commit matrimony.
The family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. K., their grown daughter and two small boys. They lived at Larchmont, N. Y., during the summer months and returned to town in the autumn. Larchmont was a summer resort for wealthy people. Large, well-kept homes, surrounded by spacious lawns, dotted the countryside. The family owned both homes, which were kept in perfect order by a household staff which included cook, nursery-governess, chambermaid, laundress, and a man to do the heavy work. The cook was English and loved ale or beer. Every week she had a case delivered for her. She was an excellent cook, but at times rather temperamental.
Lena, the nursery-governess, did beautiful handwork. She was supposed to teach the boys good deportment, but didn’t succeed very well. Occasionally the small sons were permitted to eat dinner with their parents and big sister, and invariably were sent away from the table howling and in disgrace. The head of the house I remember as a man with a big voice, who often became very angry with the lads. His wife never interfered when her sons were disciplined. She was a quiet, unassuming woman, who seemed to keep herself very much in the background. The daughter, a tall athletic girl, I admired very much. However, the person I liked best in that household was the soft-spoken, quiet and dignified colored laundress, who was never too busy to help me in my effort to learn the English language, which was my first goal.
Lena and I shared a room on the top floor of the home. The only light and air was through a skylight. Out beds were of iron, painted white. The mattresses were nothing extra, but when one is tired and young, one can sleep almost anywhere. We also shared a bathroom. At 1:30 o’clock we usually were through with our morning work and could go and rest in our room and then clean up and change our uniforms before getting ready for dinner.
My duties as chambermaid included bed-making, changing the household linen at regular intervals – and we had a plentiful supply of good linen to work with – sweeping and dusting the rooms, waiting on the table, washing the glasses and dishes, and cleaning the silver. The dishes were washed in a pantry, situated just off the kitchen and between it and the dining room. The cook took care of her own pots and pans and all the utensils she used. In another pantry was an immense ice-chest. I had to use a small footstool to be able to look into it, which I did just once. Of course, it was rather difficult to clean, still I thought it could have been done somewhat more thoroughly. I wondered why Mrs. K. didn’t insist on it. I helped with the ironing. My work in that line was quite good, but it did not come up to the standard of the laundress, who did the fine stuff. I also did much of the mending. I could do good plain sewing. My buttonholes were really good, even if I do say so myself. I was no good at fine embroidery, but could knit and crochet.
My work was not too hard and the treatment accorded me by the family, while cold and impersonal, was fair. The only cause for discontent was the slow progress in learning English. The family spoke German altogether.
In September we returned to town and occasionally I called on the people in that Swiss hotel. I had had no chance to make friends in the country. I was at the hotel that November day when Theodore Roosevelt was elected President of the United States. We all went outside and joined the jubilant crowd. If I remember rightly it was a raw and chilly day. It must have been at that time that the diphtheria bug got me, for it was soon after that when I became ill. As I related in the first installment, when released from the hospital I found another girl in my position. Mrs. K. accompanied me to a Girls’ Home, a dormitory where girls with no other home could live between jobs, of which I have only sad memories.
After a few days in that Home an old lady came to look for a girl who would be willing to help out in the home of a friend. The pay would be small but the treatment would be good. The family consisted of husband and wife, a two-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy. The wife had not long before returned from the hospital and the old lady would come and help out. This seemed to be the place for me, as I had not fully regained my strength so I could take a full-time job.
When I arrived at that home it was to find out that I would have to sleep on the couch in the living room. The old lady said there were two children in the family: pretty, curly-haired Alice and her brother Willie, who was as unruly and even vicious as a small youngster could possibly be. Once he almost caused his little sister’s death by holding the open gas hose in her mouth while keeping her pinned to the floor. The old lady did not tell me that there were also twins, three weeks of age. The only thing that was true of all the things claimed was that the young mother needed help. Realizing this and also lacking will and energy to look for an easier position I remained for two months, when an opening came which made it possible for me to really get to know more about America and the American people. [Another installment will be presented in the Autumn Sampler]
IN HIS fifth Buddy, John Brann had an unobtrusive contest. While setting the Christmas Sampler we tried to figure out the answer, decided we were too inexperienced, and awaited the results. The sixth Buddy omits mention of it and we are wondering if John got any replies. If there is anything wrong with NAPA, it is the lack of concerted enthusiasm. Most members are enthusiastic about something in the hobby, but not all at once nor in the same phases. Whether you find this amusing or frustrating depends upon your attitude. You’ll admit our hobby reveals human nature.
On this page you were to read
LAST FALL a “Message to The Fossils” from Edward H. Cole made an appeal for material for The Fossil which sent me searching old journals for leads on early Virginia a.j.’s. The result was “F. F. V. – First Fossil of Virginia” on Fanny Kemble Johnson which is in the current (April) issue.
Accomplishing that result included help by Roy Martin, a trip to FKJ’s home community, finding Mrs. E. P. Barger who when a child knew the young FKJ, and correspondence with her brother, Ludwell Johnson. This drew in Richmond member Dorothy Winn, when I asked her to check the directory and she called him and reported that during their interesting chat he recalled names famous in his sister’s heyday. All this I planned to print, but Mr. Cole said he found my research so extensive that he cut it drastically and asked me to incorporate what was cut with my story of the search, so you will have to wait for a future Fossil.
Which reminds me to urge you to join The Fossils if you are eligible (fifteen years an amateur journalist) or to subscribe to the official organ ($1 yearly) if you are not. Applications and subscriptions should go to Mrs. Edna H. McDonald, Morris Hts. Station, New York 53, N. Y.
The current issue of The Fossil contains a full page piece on Ora E. Stark by Sheldon Wesson; several pages on the Oakland Amateur Press Club in a then-and-now vein by Vic Moitoret; an article by George Macauley on Ik Marvel which Mart especially enjoyed because he had recently read his “Reveries of a Bachelor” and considered it reminiscent of Wallace Tibbetts’ work. Mr. Cole contributes a piece on Will Bates Grant, and another on the file of an amateur paper published in 1846. Poetry by Rowena Moitoret and John Kendall Smith, officers’ reports and messages, a page on new members, a write-up of the American Antiquarian Society, obituaries, and assorted news items completes this very interesting issue.
UNTIL some other amateur journalist produces a genealogical chart proving his descent from Gutenberg himself, Mart seems to have the most legitimate claim to being amateur journalism’s closest name-descendent of anyone connected with the first printing by movable type.
The Amateur Book Collector for March, 1955, features an article on “Johann Gutenberg and His Bible” which gathers what little is known about Gutenberg’s life. The writer advances 1398 as most probable birthdate, and names his father as Friele zum Gensfleish, and his mother as Elsgen Wyrich Gutenberg. In accordance with the custom of that time he took his mother’s surname because she was the last of her line. He was born in the city-state of Mainz into the patrician class which controlled the government and his father was believed to have had a post in the mint; Johann is thought to have worked there and gained his interest in molding type. A political disturbance sent him to Strasbourg and there he carried on his experiments in finding the proper alloy of bismuth and lead, in casting the type, and establishing a standard height.
Recent discoveries prove he did other printing before producing the Bible, but in 1444 he returned to Mainz and obtained financial backing from a wealthy goldsmith named Fust, Thus he was able to equip a shop and secure and train some “bright young men,” one of whom was named Heinrich Keffer. Gutenberg’s zeal to produce the most perfect type face possible delayed the start of printing and used up all the money until finally Fust brought suit and took over the shop. The first Bible is believed to have been printed by Fust and an apprentice about 1455, using Gutenberg’s type.
Meantime Gutenberg, using two small presses he had stored, and type he had designed in Strasbourg, opened another shop. Two of the printers, including Keffer, who had been witnesses in the trial, came with him instead of staying with Fust. About 1459 these men and a new backer completed about 200 copies of a 36-line Bible.
In the July, 1920, National Amateur I found mention of teenager Martin B. Keffer helping to publish a Scout paper, so maybe he not only has printing ink in his veins, but in his genes, thanks to that Keffer of 500 years ago who shared the exciting experiments of printing with movable type.
PARADOXICAL would be the one-word description for Burt Foote’s print shop, which Mart and I visited May 14. Mr. Foote has been an amateur journalist for over 50 years and published Printer’s Pet from 1933 to 1942.
Burt Foote is tall, spare, and kindly, with a pleasant wife who is an excellent cook. He is retired from thirty-odd years as a rural postman and hopes to do some traveling, but his print shop keeps him busy. He apologized for the clutter, but as that is unavoidable we threaded our way through the two small rooms – additions to the house – which make up his shop. One holds his 10×15 C&P and an 8×12 that he is selling; the stove which heats his quarters, a cutter, imposing stone, large stand of metal furniture, and a homemade rack to hold spare chases, an idea which will be copied in the Keffer shop. Every corner was filled with stock and supplies.
The back room, which only seems small because it is crowded with type racks, holds more printing equipment than any shop I’ve ever been in, even including Russ Paxton’s. In one corner is a type rack he made himself which must hold twenty cases. One entire length of wall is lined with type racks, and others occupy the center of the room. Eight or ten cases are stacked in the middle awaiting a rack; and by the door is a rack tailored by a carpenter to fit cases holding ornaments, borders, and standing forms in galleys.
The paradoxical aspect is that in all this seeming disorder, Mr. Foote knows where everything is. And when you examine typecases you find every one has a dust cover, and every sliver of type is as clean as when it came from the foundry. Paper left over from a job is wrapped and labeled. He is famous for meticulous make-ready.
The purpose of our trip to Anna, Ohio, was to pick up some amateur journals, but we almost lost sight of that in the pleasure of chatting with the Footes and their young son who is married but dropped in for dinner, and in making a tour of the printshop. Just the one visit has revolutionized my ideas of printshops so that it is not the clutter I recall, it is the incredible cleanliness and system, and I hope the Keffer shop will soon be reflecting what I saw.
There is much more to tell but space is running out; however we plan to repeat the visit and we can cover omissions when reporting on the second trip to Anna.
After Long Absence
by Helen E. Middleton
Some other summer, when hot breezes sifted
Through pushed-back grasses by another shore,
Did you lie prone, your dark eyes thick with dreaming,
Of Love and War?
Did some brash girl with lips like ripened cherries,
Press thick delight to each small singing vein,
Congeal your blood with yearning, clutch your heart-strings
Tight with pain?
What lonely vigils by these salt-pale sand dunes
Grooved lines like these beside a laughing mouth?
What agony made soul-wings beat so wildly
North and south?
Dear Heart, I ask these questions, seek no answers
Of what has gone before, or what must go;
(Content to glean small dreams that are remaining)
Because I know.
Shady Acre Sampler
Number Seven – April, 1955
This Jonah number of the Sampler was planned for Easter and is grimly dated April although completed in early June. Body type is 12-point Cloister Roman, leaded one point, verse unleaded. Piranesi furnishes the initials, the titles, and the cover lettering. You will also find Caslon Old Style and Cloister Italic. The latter I’ve adopted as house style when referring to the Sampler. After one look at my cover design, Mart withdrew as co-editor (actually he is too busy to edit) though he is running Old 99 and is vocal as critic.
Willametta Keffer, Editor
Shady Acre, Route 5, Roanoke, Virginia.