Saturday, March 14, 2015

The House on Rock Harbor Road -- February 8 and 9, 1963 - Final Entries

The last two entries in my father's House on Rock Harbor Road journal trace a cold but not unusual winter on the Cape. My father is back in his nature/environment mindset with poetic musings on the cold and snowy winter. He ends talking for the first time about a novel he was writing and how humor pieces aren't very funny at the moment because of the recent "Cuban situation." Also, a critique of Thurber.

So this is it. What next? Where to go? I started the blog, honestly, because at the time (and no doubt, still) a writer going public with his/her work needed an online platform. I started Unreliable Narrator long before Beyond the Margins happened. When BTM started up, I moved my writing about writing, reading, and publishing there. Back here I experimented with movie reviews for a year. Since then it's been mostly intermittent entries from my father's work. I will keep UN going in some capacity. There is more Wendell writing, but I'm not sure my blog is the place for it. Maybe so. Or possibly my Dad's writing is meant to stay where it is--scribbled on legal pads, typed on stacks of white paper, scrawled on yellowed and delicate parchment, and as clipped and saved articles from long gone magazines and newspapers. We'll see.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The House on Rock Harbor Road -- February 6 and 7, 1963

We move into 1963 and Wendell discusses book buying and admits he has a problem (the first step to kicking the habit). Also, we get an inside glimpse into his publishing short and humorous pieces. What makes a piece funny and what magazines (in the early '60s) were looking for.

The pastel above is a Wendell original, hanging in my condo. Not sure what year he did it, but it was one of his later works.

[To enlarge each image below for a better reading experience, right click and select Open Link in new window. In the new window, click the image to make larger or smaller.]

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The House on Rock Harbor Road -- December 27, 1962

Jumping ahead to the end of 1962. Wendell is still in a reflective mood, but the piece ends with a new addition to the family! (No, not me.) This illustration of Rock Harbor (looks like a pastel) is one of my father's from 1961.
Yesterday was warm for a few hours early in the afternoon so I went into fields across the way—the fields that edge the marsh. At the line of the highest tide I gathered thatch and marsh grass layered there and carried it back to bank against the house, on the northeast where the wind blows the hardest and coldest up beneath the shingles. The marsh is still as good a place as any to gather wood for my collages, wood, that is, and other bits of floating stuff.

Uptown after lunch I picked up a dead bird by Nickerson’s store window. Perhaps it had survived the cold only to have its life dashed away by flying into the invisible wall of the window. It lived that its neck might be broken trying to get a sight of the manger scene and the crèche.

For Christmas, a pup. Liz, part collie, part golden retriever. A fat happy pup, that is about as big and fat a happy (pup) as you would want to see.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The House on Rock Harbor Road -- January 11, 1962

In this entry, my father is feeling, well, a little sad. Maybe a little removed from the goings on in the world. Maybe it's just mid-winter blues. The piece ends with Wendell (and Muriel?) on the hunt for furniture. This, it seems, is an unfinished entry. We'll never know why there is a sadness to the stranger's house.
Today is a day of cold, the nation seems locked in a gigantic mass of cold polar air. Snow strands motorists in Tennessee. Chicago reports thermometers reading 15 below zero.

Far to the south in Peru, 3000 souls are buried under a gigantic slide of ice and earth. The Bridge of San Luis Rey is brought up to date by 400 years and multiplied several hundred fold. And of these lives little will ever be recorded except to note their passing.

Here on the Cape it is cold too, but in the teens and twenties and warmer in the sun in a protected spot. I walked on the beach of the bay. It was a silent world. The wind blew enough to make me turn away and hood my parka and yet there was no sound of waves for a billion tiny particles of ice formed a covering on the water some hundreds of yards out from shore to muffle waves and sound of waves. Only from far out over the white tide line did there came the faint hiss and rush of the small white caps that drove against the grated edge of the flow.

Occasionally the lisp of sparrow came from the tangle of beach plum and scrub on the high bank beyond the strands then all was silence except for the soft pad of my shoes in the sand and the crunch they made when I stepped upon a frozen patch of ground.

You found the turnoff into the sand drive by an anchor out at the main road. Following up the drive you came to the house set in a clearing in the pines. It was a frame house, wood-shingled, weathered now after a century so close to the sea and when you stepped out of your car to stand warm in the sun you were surprised to discover that the house had a view clear to the ocean down over the scrub and the moors and the dunes.

The yard had the quality of being now unattended and yet it bore the marks of sharing a life with the house –a spreading back (yard) with its rope ladder for kids to climb, a bird bath set on a high pole where a chickadee came to drink, a toy truck broken and tossed aside, rose bushes in need of cutting back, and around the yard a low stone wall to enclose the lawn.

We knock at the door and ask, “Are you the fellow advertising furniture for sale?”

“Yes, getting rid of what I can,” the man replies, as he sweeps ashes from the floor near the fireplace, the sound of the broom strokes loud in the half empty room. The great open fireplace held smoldering logs, the walls of the room were plaster, the beams in the ceiling natural. There was about the room a simple charm—yet now a sadness…

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The House on Rock Harbor Road -- January 3 & 5, 1962 -- Cape Cod Sketchbook

Combining here two short journal entries that show my father continuing to explore the idea of a written sketchbook, cataloging in word statistics and descriptions of nature and the environment.

Also, for your enjoyment, I found a couple pictures of Drummer Cove Cottages, one featuring my three sisters.  ->


January 3, 1962. Sketchbook
The wind blew in hard for two days out of the west across the bay. And on the third day while still it blew, I went to the beach at Skaket for seaweed and grass to bank the house against the cold. On the beach half covered with sand and drift I came upon an oar. Its blade was split, a third of its power gone, it lay mute along the heaps of black weeds.

I brought the oar home to look at it more closely. Six foot tall, it stands, thin and lean, tapered straight to the blade, and nicked and scared, a piece of heavy leather where she fit the lock. Probably all the way from Scotia, a neighbor said. See, it’s long, like as not for a dory.

Somehow cast adrift, the oar rode the currents south by west through fog and squalls, brine swelled, a strong tough hardwood, bleached white as bone but carrying yet the remnants of yellow paint or varnish while deep within the blade still showed a tint of red where she’d dipped the sea uncounted times. Whose hands gripped this oar? I’ll never know.

January 5, 1962 CCSB (Cape Cod Sketchbook)
A mist rises from the tidal meadow for several forces there are met. Some days ago it snowed, and banks of white are left across the ocher marsh and now it rains a steady coming down of drops too fine to see, a warm rain for January after days of cold.

Add to this a tide not quite at flood but high enough to line the marsh with lakes and flows, a vast wet place, mottled brown and white and gun-metal gray hazed now with mist.

Ducks course the channels of marsh and gulls appear and pass gracefully, silently, in the air above until at last beyond the road and the dark outlines of shrubs there is only mist and with it the strong salt smell of the sea.