Friday, March 30, 2018

Apr 2018

Love Amid the Ligatures...

April 1878:
Elizabeth Lovell Peak,
Twenty-six, self-assured,
Typesetter,
Born in Cambridge,
The old one, in England,
Arrives in New York City
With sister, Rebecca,
Another typesetter. Both
Full of girlish hope
For careers and families
In new world.

June 1878:
Rebecca decides to
Move on to Winnipeg,
Later home to Winnie the Pooh,
Is there some connection?
Maybe someone will
Connect dots.
Not I.

July 1882:
Still in New York City
     Mr. McNutt publishes a
     Weekly newspaper in
     Calvert, Texas.

Publisher friend introduces
Typesetter Elizabeth to
Potential employer.
     Oh, The Calvert Courier?
She asks—not because
She knows the paper,
But because alliterative mastheads
Are de rigueur in England.
     Why…. Yes, Miss Peak.
Answers Alexander Dewitt McNutt.
Smile in eyes as well as on lips.

That’s the beginning.
Mr. McNutt doesn’t hire
The young typesetter.
He courts her via letters
And telegrams.
They marry.
Elizabeth joins him in east Texas
Where they live
In white corner house in Calvert.
The Calvert Courier becomes
Renown regional rag,
Circulates beyond
Robertson County,
Even to Dallas:
Repository of Texas gentry,
Wealth and society.

Four daughters
Arrive in bi-annual installments:
Alice, my grandmother, the bright one.
Alexandria, the wild one.
Mary, the difficult one.
Florence, the beautiful one.
Little Dee, sole son,
Dies of consumption at four.

November 1895:
On Galveston shopping trip
With three-year-old Mary,
Elizabeth reads of ship
Sailing for England… today.
Sudden bitter homesickness
Overwhelms.
Counting money in purse
She finds enough for
One-way tickets.
     Have gone home with Mary.
     Will wire for money when
     Ready to return.

Terse telegram to Mr. McNutt.
Six months later they return
To blooming east Texas roses.
No explanation required.
Mr. McNutt is accustomed
To wife’s self-directed nature.
He welcomes her back home
With those smiling eyes.

The Calvert Courier flourishes.
The McNutt family prospers,
Lives happily.
Photos show little girls
In splendid dresses and
Feathered hats.
Elizabeth sets type on occasion and
Helps out in Courier office on occasion.

September 1898:
When Mr. McNutt dies
At fifty-six.
She carries on as publisher.

Sorting through his papers
Elizabeth finds old invoice
Squirrelled away in roll-top desk:
Cost for new masthead
Changing
     The Calvert Messenger
To
     The Calvert Courier.
It’s dated September 1878.

Elizabeth Lovell Peak McNutt sits,
Stunned to learn
Twenty years on,
Effect of her first remark
To Alexander Dewitt McNutt,
And significance of
His first smile
In eyes as well as on lips.
...
Pic is from my entrance all. Of course, that's Alexander on the left and Elizabeth on the right.

The marble torso is one of mine, carved from a hunk of pink marble Phoebe found on her grandmother's property outside of Dilly, Texas. Pink marble is not native to Texas so its presence there remains a mystery. Actually, it was originally a much larger hunk but the cowboy her grandma sent to fetch it, used a sledgehammer, breaking it into five smaller pieces to make it easier to carry. This hunk was a happy birthday present from Phoebe. I call this piece the Cilician woman, because I had been studying Anabasis in Greek and this woman, queen, general aided Cyrus in his Persian expedition.
The small silver dish with honeycomb edge peeking out (and a bee you can't see here!) is done by Lyn Belisle, a university classmate Phoebe and I met the first time at our reunion in 2015. The little green bird has no story. I like his colour and he fits on this perch watching over all my comings and goings.
...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course