My Dad the Writer…Who Knew?

“Good Evening My Gorgeous Lovely Darling Wife: I love you with all the love there is in my heart. I’m mad about you, crazy about you, can’t live without you, do anything in the world for you. Fight for you, die for you, beg for you, steal for you. I’d do anything in the world for you. All you have to do is ask.”-Sunday, Feb. 2nd, 1943 Written by My Dad to My Mom

I just took a lot of pictures from mom’s home because I’d like to sort through them. I discovered 2 rubber-banded packages of letters my dad wrote to mom in 1943 before they were married and as I peeked at 2 of the letters, the salutations were very romantic with “wife” as the last word of the salutation. I said to mom, “You and Dad were married in 1945, but in his 1943 letters, he calls you “wife.” Mom said, “That’s how your dad thought of me.”

I am asking my WordPress readers for advice on how to go about putting together a book of dad’s letters and photos. This will be a labor of love and it will entail many hours, days, week, months, so I know Step 1 is to get organized. After I’m organized, I’m thinking of getting a Duplex portable wifi scanner that will scan 2 sides.

For those of you who have done this sort of thing before or put together your own book with photos or letters, what advice would you give me? Which portable wifi scanners would you suggest?

NOTE:  I used to always be able to copy images from Google Image for my posts and now I can’t!!!  Anybody know why or have suggestions?????    In addition, the print is not coming out like it used to and I do not know why!!!!  Have things changed at WordPress????

“Let Us Cultivate Our Garden.”-Voltaire (Candide)

 

“I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens.”-JFK

In 1974, I saw a revival of Voltaire’s Candide on Broadway. It was interesting to learn that it was the writer/playwright, Lillian Hellman who first adapted Voltaire’s Candide as a play in 1956. Voltaire was born today in 1694 and was a French Enlightenment writer who brought wit to his writings as he observed and criticized the world around him. “The French Enlightenment philosophers became known as the philosophes.  The philosophes used criticism and rejection of the old authority, along with a desire to explain man’s role in the universe, and in society to reshape the world in which they lived.  They attacked many topics like morality, politics, economics and religion to design their new world.  Along with natural law and human reason the philosophes emphasized toleration, especially religious toleration and progress.  There was a great confidence in modern man and his achievements in technology and understanding the natural world.”-gettysburg.edu

As we commemorate 50 years since President JFK was assassinated, let us remember for a moment, that both JFK and Jackie Kennedy promoted the Arts during his short time in The White House. A series of “Concerts for Young People” at The White House was started by The Kennedys in 1961. French writer, Andre Malraux, who was The French Minister of Culture at the time, was hosted by The Kennedys, whose aim was to promote Washington D.C. as a national hub of The Arts. “President Kennedy affirmed that, “creativity is the hardest work there is” and playfully added that the White House “was becoming a sort of eating place for artists. But, they never ask us out.”jfklibrary.org

Less than a month before JFK was assassinated, he spoke at Amherst College in Massachusetts at a gathering honoring American Poet, Robert Frost, whom JFK greatly admired. As you well remember, Robert Frost created a poem for JFK’s inauguration in 1961. This was the very first time a poet, a creative individual, was part of the inauguration ceremony. At this Amherst College event to remember Robert Frost who had died at the beginning of 1963, Kennedy said, “If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth. And as Mr. MacLeish once remarked of poets, there is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style. In free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society–in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man, the fate of having “nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.”

As a retired teacher and teacher-researcher, I witnessed how important the Arts were to my students as they tried making sense of this world. The Arts gave a voice to my students from other shores and comforted all of my students as they groped with difficult situations in their lives. It was so important to me that they have The Arts in their lives and I always wrote my own plays that taught them (and their audience) tolerance, social justice, history and used folk songs, union songs and songs to which I set new lyrics that addressed the theme of the various plays. All students participated. It didn’t matter if they didn’t know one word in English. The Arts brought us together. My students were my “garden” and my inspiration to always do better.

Thomas Edison and The Jefferson Airplane???

“My main purpose in life is to make enough money to create ever more inventions…. The dove is my emblem…. I want to save and advance human life, not destroy it…. I am proud of the fact that I have never invented weapons to kill….”-Thomas Edison

In 1877, Edison completed model of 1st phonograph. We still listen to vinyl in our home. In 1965, The Jefferson Airplane made their debut at the Matrix/Fillmore in San Francisco without Grace Slick. Grace replaced Signe Anderson in 1966. I saw Jefferson Airplane with Grace Slick at The Fillmore East in NYC in the late 60s and early 70s.

“Feed your head means read a book.”-Grace Slick


 

 

 

 

“I believe there is no more creative medium than photography to recreate the living world of our time.”-Berenice Abbott, American Photographer

Famed photographer, especially for her NYC photos, Berenice Abbott was born today in 1898 and died in 1991. “Berenice Abbott can be considered the photographer of New York City. A revolutionary documentary photographer, Abbott was born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898, and studied for one year at Ohio State University, Columbus, before moving to New York in 1918 to study sculpture. While in New York, Abbott met Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, two of the founders of the Dada movement, an artistic intellectual movement that emerged as a protest to the senseless suffering of World War I. Dada artists sought to question convention and tradition through seemingly nonsensical works presented in performances, literature, and the visual arts.”American Art, The Phillips Collection  

“From an early age, Ohio native Berenice Abbott felt restricted by the societal expectations placed on girls and women during her time. She resisted the traditional and pursued independence and personal satisfaction over social acceptance. A rebellious and unconventional woman, Berenice Abbott changed her name to signify her break with cultural norms, adding an “e” to the common spelling of her name, “Bernice.”Extravagant Crowd, Carl Van Vechten’s Portrait of Women Site

“I’ve Photographed Everybody from Matisse to Isamu Noguchi.”-Carl Van Vechten

Bessie Smith Langston Hughes Lady Day

When I began my interest in the Shakers and Movers of the Harlem Renaissance (Post WWI-Early 30s) as a teenager, I was always fascinated by the amount of photographs that were taken by one Carl Van Vechten, born in Iowa on June 17th, 1880. I marveled how close he got to the many writers, musicians, artists, philosophers, dancers that created an era and body of work that stands strong today. Carl Van Vechten was a writer, a patron of the arts and literature and a photographer who loved and knew his music and whenever you read a book on the Harlem Renaissance or someone from that period, you are sure to see Van Vechten’s photos. If there was an event or a party including a “rent” party, Van Vechten was there, here in the U.S.A. and around the world.

Van Vechten was born in 1880 and grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a child of progressively thinking parents — his father operated a lumber mill; his mother was ‘a suffragette who kept company with abolitionists.”Lynell George

In the early 1930s, Miguel Covarrubias introduced Van Vechten to the 35mm Leica camera. He began photographing his large circle of friends and acquaintances. His earlier career as a writer and his wife’s experience as an actress(Fania Marinoff to whom he was married over 50 years) provided him with access to both fledgling artists and the established cultural figures of the time. Some of his subjects from this period include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Alfred A. Knopf, Bessie Smith, and Gertrude Stein.”Library of Congress