TRIBUTES -- 1960
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GARLAND DOYLE, from Van Nuys, California, October, 1960.
of course, of the whole-hearted help and encouragement that my father gave
to young writers and artists. But what I think is most notable is that
it was given so ungrudgingly. There are not too many of us, I suspect,
who do not secretly envy the achievements of others. My father seemed to
be completely free of this envy. His admiration for ability and accomplishment
was genuine and fearless. The help and encouragement he gave to us, his
daughters, was given in the same free, enthusiastic spirit.
I can hear his
voice now, "Just keep at it, Daughtie. You'll make out." Or, "Of course,
you can do it." And, with a chuckle, "You should! After all, a great deal
of time, trouble, AND expense has been put into you."
No venture we
made into the arts was ever thoughtlessly dismissed. When I finished an
unskilled but devoted piano performance of one of the MacDowell "Woodland
Sketches," his comment, "Do you know, I think it's quite remarkable the
way you get the feel of that," was both heartening and rewarding. His was
not simply fatuous praise. No one knew better than he the value of work,
of training, of application. Nor was it the urging of a frustrated parent,
bound that his child should succeed where he had failed. His was the quiet
assurance that ability and work are an unbeatable team.
A roaring subway
is scarcely the ideal place to impart confidence to a frightened school
girl. But Daddy did exactly that. My sister, thoroughly trained for the
stage and lecture platform, had been accompanying him on a series of "Middle
Border" programs. However, on this occasion, she was unable to leave the
"Cyrano" Company, and I was summoned from school to take her place. Daddy
sat besides me, entirely calm, as I studied the program material while
the grim station lights flashed past. At our destinaiton, he arose and
said cheerfully, "Here we are, daughter. Now it's up to you."
Not once had
he shown the slightest doubt of my ability, nor questioned my method of
approach, and when we walked out into the vast, darkened auditorium, his
quiet confidence was so reassuring that I had no difficulty in carrying
out my part. At the end, when we bowed together, he whispered jubilantly,
"We made it. We wowed 'em."
I cannot say
truthfully that we walked in side by side to the interview with Mr. Latham
at the Macmillan Company. Frankly, Father usually marched a bit ahead,
propelled, I suspect, by his own enthusiastic anticipation. But when we
emerged with a commission for me to illustrate Trail-Makers of the Middle
Border, I can say truthfully that he grasped me firmly by the arm and hustled
me toward the bus, saying, "We'll have to hump it, Daughtie. We have a
job to do!"
And so we did.
Sitting together at the dining room table in the chill New York dawn, braced
by his superb coffee, my sketches began to emerge. Any doubts I had were
swept away by his gleeful, "You're getting it! That's the ticket. Just
The phrase "Just
keep at it!" has brought me back to my easel many times when a difficult
problem almost had me down. "You'll make it!" These heartening words from
one who knew the problems of creative effort have been invaluable to me,
as well as to many others.
STEFANSSON, from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August
background for my Hamlin Garland anecdote, I chose the Catskills neighborhood
where the Garlands and the Lathams had their summer homes in the early
1920's. He and I had the same publisher, the Macmillan Company, whose chief
editor, Harold Latham, was one of his best friends, and mine.
Spending a week-end
with the Lathams, I remember particularly a luncheon where Zulime Garland
was holding forth on Hamlin's relation to his fan mail. According to her
version of that afternoon, a crest of appreciative letters was around five
a week. If there were more, Hamlin started complaining that readers of
books they liked did not commonly realize that showering an author with
letters would decrease both the quality and quantity of his future output,
for it took time and was distracting to have to compose responsive replies
to the kindliest effusions.
But, said Zulime,
if Hamlin's mail dropped below five complimentary letters a week, he began
to worry that his popularity was correspondingly dropping. So she had a
scheme. In times of appreciative flood, she would prevent his seeing a
few of the best letters, especially ones with some such vague date as "Tuesday,"
and feed these to Hamlin discreetly when gloom threatened to set in through
a dearth of fan mail.
You might also
tell that Hamlin and I used to put on an act about being fellow Iowans,
though neither of us was born there: he in Wisconsin and I in Manitoba.
And, to hear us tell it, we were also fellow Dakotans, each having been
there before his part of the Territory changed its name to South and mine
to North Dakota. From Iowa, we had both "gone East" to Boston. However,
that we saw so much of each other for some years was for other reasons.
Zulime was a Taft, and Lorado Taft, sculptor, was among the best friends
of my best friend, Carl Akeley, sculptor. Carl and I, with Joe (Herbert
J.) Spinden, had what were for us very large rooms on Central Park West
in New York, and we had a housekeeper. So the Garlands were in and out
of our house; we less so with them, for in that period, at least, Hamlin
was a steadier worker than most of the rest of us.
Both in New
York and the Catskills, we had many other friends in common. Among them
was Frank Chapman, curator of birds at the American Museum of Natural History,
on the staff of which Akeley, Spinden, and I also were. I remember vividly
Frank's laughter at lunch when Zulime was explaining to us that five-a-week
was the ideal for Hamlin's fan mail.
FARRAR, from New York City, November 1, 1960.
is tricky, of course, and mine cannot be aided by early correspondence
and files, for most of them are lost. As I do remember, however, I was
first introduced to Hamlin Garland by that amazing woman, Mary Austin,
or, perhaps, I just met him at a party. We soon became staunch friends.
I realized quickly that he was actually an ally of the young realistic
writers, unlike Booth Tarkington, for example, who tried to understand
them but never did. The young writers, on the other hand, were suspicious
of Hamlin. He was interested in too many worthy causes; he seemed ponderous
to them. It has taken the years to show that he was one of the barrier-breakers.
As was the case with Howells, the young of his time could not accept his
hand with eagerness. The fact that I did does not lead me to boast, but
only to be thankful for having had in him a warm and loyal friend.
I have taken
from The Bookman the few quotations which follow. I find myself saying
in December, 1921, in reviewing A Daughter of the Middle Border
it seems, was once a literary radical: more than that, some of his views
of life would now be considered by some as far from conservative. Nice
tags. Convenient to fasten thoughts loosely.
1923, he wrote for the magazine a piece called "Pioneers and City Dwellers."
It was a confession after a sort of the feeling of guilt felt by the pioneer
living in the city who was yet unwilling to go back to the farm. He wrote
There are people,
there must be people, who still love to farm, to milk cows, to pick fruit,
and to dig potatoes--how else can we go on eating?--but such doings are
not for me. I have had my share of all such activities. I am content to
feed my goldfish and exercise my dog on the roof. I do not intend to play
the hypocrite in this matter, urging the other fellow to go West as Horace
Greeley did while enjoying Union Square and Broadway himself.
And later, in
the same article
was a lonely business in the past is no bar against its being a different
process in the future. When need of altering the gregarious tendencies
youth is keen enough, all the resources of art, literature, and invention
will be turned in the direction of making the farm attractive, just as
these wonder-working forces are at play making the city the romantic, dangerous,
and inspiring place which the sons and daughters of our pioneers have found
it to be.
At a Boy Scout
luncheon for Douglas Fairbanks in April, 1924, Mr. Garland and I were in
attendance, with Dan Beard, John Finley, Norman Hapgood, Carl Van Doren,
W. T. Hornaday, and many others. Mr. Garland was in a fine mood, impressed
that Mr. Fairbanks quoted Herbert Spencer and that the crowds jamming the
streets to hail the great movie star were so large that Mr. Garland, built
somewhat like a fullback, had to shoulder his way through and enter by
a side door.
Later in the
same year, having met him on Forty-Third Street, I find myself writing
is exactly our idea of what a literary man should look like... If we were
as sturdily made as he, we should wear our hair just as long. He is always
dignified, interesting, and kindly--a most unusual combination.
I find myself
chuckling over that last sentence. Ah, well! I was young.
1925, I met him again in the Forties, and wrote of him
... there walked
Hamlin Garland, white-haired and dignified. He is still much interested
in the progress and development of the Town Hall Club. He is still a calm
figure in the midst of hurrying Fifth Avenue or the bellowing of literary
1926, I was making overwhelming use of my ebullient style to voice my great
admiration and recommend his new novel Trail-Makers of the Middle Border,
in that unreserved fashion that so annoyed many of my contemporaries. I
read my review with a blush now, but I have not changed my high opinion
of Mr. Garland and his works.
is secondarily the novelist, and first the historian. His publishers are
announcing his book as a novel. Certain it is that his former Middle Border
stories were definitely autobiographical. In the new book, which is far
and away better than the others, he proves himself one of the few realistic
chroniclers of pioneer days who maintain verisimilitude and refrain from
sentimentality. This story of New Englanders moving to the West, in its
essence the story of a boy's adventures, is filled with incident, humor,
pathos, and romance. It should be read as widely as any of the books of
Herbert Quick or Emerson Hough, and it has, of course, an artistry which
neither of these robust authors displayed. Mr. Garland's treatment of the
Civil War is masterly. Here is a book of great importance to men and boys,
and for their wives and sisters and mothers, too. Hamlin Garland can show
aces to any of the youngsters of the day. It is a great book!
S. LATHAM, from Kearny (Arlington), New Jersey, August 18, 1960.
many memories of Hamlin Garland, ranging from relaxing hours at his home
in the Catskills to serious literary conferences about his work, either
in his New York City study or in my Macmillan office.
in particular, a moonlight stroll with him on the wooded trail that wound
around the top of Onteora Mountain, the site of his summer home. It was
a beautiful evening, and Garland would stop now and then as an opening
in the trees brought into view the moonlit valley below, and exclaim over
the beauties of the world and voice the satisfaction and inspiration he
said he always received from his contemplation of nature. Garland, bundled
up in heavy coat and muffler, for it was late autumn, silhouetted against
the night sky, pointing with his cane at something far below us: that is
a picture that is indelibly etched on my mind.
concentrating on some literary problem, with that puzzled, quizzical expression
we all knew so well, this, too, I remember with equal vividness. Sensitive
to a high degree, easily hurt, overgenerous toward others, firm in his
convictions, he was a man deeply admired and respected by the editors who
worked with him; and these editors recognized, too, his moods of "up and
down." He was easily discouraged, and his publishing friends tried ever
to stress the recognition which his work had aroused throughout the world
and to minimize those trivia in the fields of criticism which sometimes
assumed undue proportions in his mind.
How well I remember
the day he received the Pulitzer Prize for A Daughter of the Middle Border.
His delight in that was unconcealed, and yet there was a modest, almost
boyish charm and excitement about it. And we at Macmillan's were as happy
as he was. It was ever a great satisfaction to me to know Hamlin Garland
and to work with him: a most rewarding association.
HAGEDORN, from Santa Barbara, California, October 9, 1960.
the Postman, Fame Rang His Doorbell Twice"
When I first
knew Hamlin Garland, he was in his middle fifties, in frail health, living
precariously by lecturing. The fame of his Main-Travelled Roads and other
early books, written in revolt against the sentimental idealization of
farm life, had largely faded. Though he worked with us younger writers
during the first World War, and worked effectively, we were inclined to
look on him as an attractive and lovable but no longer significant has-been.
He was entertaining when he and Theodore Roosevelt swapped stories of the
Western frontier, but, to us, in our early thirties, only as a literary
1917, something happened. Two things, in fact, happened. Garland fell into
the hands of a brilliant New York physician, Dr. Turck; and Macmillan's
published A Son of the Middle Border. The Doctor put Hamlin through a vigorous
and, I suspect, painful discipline that gave him twenty-five or more years
of vigorous life; and A Son of the Middle Border received the accolade
of the critics and became, overnight, a best-seller.
To what extent
the book rode a wave of new interest in the American past, or the book
itself helped to create that interest, I have no way of knowing. But Garland's
realistic memories of his boyhood in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa caught
on. He was old enough to remember his father's return from the Civil War
and young enough to speak the language of the second decade of the following
century. Everybody and his wife read the book, and before he knew it, Garland
was wreathed in a new aura of fame, brighter and more permanent than the
Being the person
that he was--simple, unself-conscious, and unpretentious; honest to the
bone, and warm in his relations with people--Hamlin carried his fame lightly.
He continued lecturing--to larger audiences now--and brought out a second
book, A Daughter of the Middle Border, his wife's story this time. Now,
in quick succession, followed other books of reminiscence, recalling the
literary figures of the Eastern seaboard in the nineties and early nineteen-hundreds.
He had kept a detailed journal for, God knows how long, and it proved a
By the middle
nineteen-twenties, Garland was comfortably well off, and he moved to California
and in 1930 built himself a charming Monterey-type house in Hollywood.
A lifetime's interest in psychic phenomena prompted him to write a volume
or two of reminiscence on another frontier.
I was living
in Pasadena the year that he died. There was for him, happily, no period
of gradual eclipse, painful to him, his family, and his friends. What I
remember of those final months is the undiminished vigor of his mind and
body, the robust heartiness of his welcome when I went to see him, his
keen interest in life, and in all that was important to his friends, and
the impression he gave, unconsciously, that he was going to be around for
another decade, anyway. The news of his death when it came, with no warning,
would not register at first. It seemed unbelievable that a man so definitely
still standing in the fullness of life could thus go, between one day and
And, in this
year, 1960, if he had lived, he would be a hundred! Even at that age, Hamlin
Garland, I am persuaded, might still have the robust delight in life that,
at eighty, he so obviously retained. His second fame, like his first, has
faded; his name is no longer familiar to any large segment of the public.
But A Son of the Middle Border goes on, perennially true, perennially interesting,
because the vanished way of life that it records echoes the heart-beat
of the American story. That way of life was harsh and stern in many of
its aspects, but it made for reality in the people who lived it. Readers
loved the book and generations of other readers will, in turn, love it
because that reality is in the story itself, as it was in that son of the
Middle Border who wrote it so simply and so unforgettably.
DE WOLFE HOWE, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 5, 1960.
is a pleasure to contribute a few words to the memorial of Hamlin Garland.
Our relation was largely that of correspondents, but I enjoyed greatly
his writings, and feel that he made a genuine contribution to the history
of his time, and not only to his region but to the country at large. I
hope he will be long remembered.
LAWRENCE, from Newark, New Jersey, August 22, 1960.
I think of Hamlin Garland it is with gratitude to a generous and gracious
gentleman who voluntarily took the time and trouble to write kind words
to a beginner far back on the road that he had so successfully travelled.
I never met him, except in his books, but his friendly gesture, totally
unexpected, made a deep and lasting impression that I appreciate more than
ever today when courtesy and kindness have become the "old-fashioned" virtues.
I have a feeling
that he would like to be remembered not only for his books and magazine
work and all the tangible evidence of a famous author, but for the quiet
encouragement he offered the timid unknowns--there must have been many
CROY, from New York City, August 19, 1960.
day, Hamlin Garland and I were going in a car to Stoke Poges to revel in
the "Elegy." An ordinary, everyday-looking house came into view.
"There's a story
in that house. I'd like to move in with the family and live there six months,"
"Do you know
the family?" I asked.
I was surprised
and said, "Then how do you know there is a story in that house?"
"There's a story
in every house," said Hamlin.
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