Thursday, July 28, 2016


(1866 - 1944)


Before his death, he knew that life had been good to him. "I feel that I have been fortunate in arriving on earth just when things were beginning to happen. As a member of the reception committee I have greeted the telephone, the electric light, the airplane, motor cars, moving pictures, radio, concrete highways, electric refrigeration, air conditioning, woman suffrage, television, and a lot of interesting by-products...It's a great world and most of the people are worth knowing. I am glad to have been among those present."  But it was in his essay, "The Yankee's Prayer" that his philosophy was eloquently expressed and inspirational.   Here below is the text.

Help me to get things straight. Give me an outlook on the whole world. Open my eyes to the truth regarding the material wealth and the golden opportunity of my native land, but strike me with swift punishment if I roll my 'r's in speaking the "great" or feed the vanity of my ignorant neighbors who think that the U.S.A. has become a symbol of perfection.

Help me to understand that the comforts and luxuries and pleasant accessories of modern life abound in my bailiwick because my friends and I have moved into a new country in which there is much recent wealth to be divided.  Teach me to modify my sense of importance with an humble thankfulness.

     Save me from delusions regarding continued and abounding prosperity. Give me the wisdom to preach against wastefulness.

     Incline me to avoid boasting, but keep me from being an idle weeper or an idle faultfinder. Let me read history aright and learn that a people seldom can be made happy and prosperous by involved and ponderous legislation. Assist me and my associates to look to ourselves and not to Congress.

     Give me patience and tolerance and strength to brace myself against sudden and hysterical and gusty changes of popular feeling.  Let me not construe the rule of the majority into a fool axiom that the majority is always right. Cause me to bear in mind that in every age of which we have record, an unpopular minority advanced measures, which, later on, were accepted by the majority.

    Protect me against labels and memberships and binding obligations which will submerge me as an individual. Save me from being enslaved or hampered by catch-phrases. May I never take orders which will make me a coward in the sight of my conscience. Let it not be said of me that I "belong" to a political party.

    Lead me to an understanding of the new meaning of "service."  Help me to believe that the man prospers best and longest who is concerned as to the welfare of the people about him. Compel me to see that our organization is a huge experiment in cooperation and not a scramble for prizes.

    Give me large portions of charity with which to regard the performances of my easy-going countrymen. Help me to judge every act by the intent of it.

    Increase my usefulness by giving me an X-ray vision, so that I may detect the goodness and deservedness of those who do not wear my kind of clothes, worship in my church or live in my township.  Make it open to me that integrity and patriotism cannot be monopolized.

   Keep me from trouble, but make me dangerous if I am drawn into a fight. Convince me that every battle should be fought to a finish, so there will not be any argument later on.

   LET me remain level-headed when I am envied by the people of other lands, but do not take away the things which arouse their envy. PERMIT me to retain my heritage as long as I know how to take care o fit.

Google search
Wikipedia: George Ade

Thursday, July 14, 2016

                                               SARAH BERNHARDT AT THE PLAYERS IN 1911
                                                      A loving memory from George Middleton

                  George Middleton was a Player for 40 years. In his autobiography, he describes in detail Sarah Bernhardtʼs visit to the Players in 1911.  
         “My one meeting was at the Players: a reception, one of the very few our club ever gave a woman. She plucked the carnations from a vase on a tea table by which she stood. She gave me mine. I can see the smile yet. Iʼll wager I am the only one who still has the flower. I have always been sentimental about the great ladies of the stage. Sentiment is all I could ever give them in return for what they have given me. Ada Rehan moves into my thoughts often, and even now, as I write. . . . But place a Sarah, for her little scene.

          " It is hardly anything---a flower, and a woman in a crowd; but I have kept the impression.  She was more than an individual, of course--such personalities suggest so much beyond their mere being; she was a world of emanations, the countless memories others like myself have kept alive which she gave birth to!  She was a tradition that those of us still living helped to make. She was to be the last of a royal line, and in her turn, had made the theatre of her time great. Also, she was unquestionably the most famous woman then alive. Yet, only a few years later, I was to stand at her grave...... 

           She came to the Club June 20, 1911, with a couple of secretaries and Lou Tellegen, her last romance. She was still able to walk in spite of her bad leg. She stood by the stairs to greet us with the spontaneous grace which had, no doubt, become a mechanical habit.  She wore a toque, on the side of which a bunch of grapes seemed mysteriously to dangle. Her hair edged about this---it was not gray, of course. The gown was of yellow lace, with golden buckles around her waist. The collar reached chin-high so that her neck was hidden; the sleeves ended in long points which left only the fingers visible. It was all designed to mask her age; for even then she was past sixty. " Her face was a marvel of make-up; the eyes shadowed, the cheeks without a wrinkle! The only time her age showed was when she smiled; for nothing could conceal the way the skin sank back around the mouth. She carried her habitual long scarf, wound around her back and over both arms. "

                     Francis Wilson, Vice President, greeted her in French. He didnʼt know French; but, to our astonishment, he had acquired this perfect sample. That was Frank. " She responded, full of emotion. How happy she was to be there! Her arms lifted up ecstatically and held high and pausing, for a moment, as I had so often seen her on the stage--while the long scarf hung from them, lining her in its frame. Her face at times was innocent, almost virginal; yet, in profile, it was a sphinx cynically guarding every secret of life she herself had devoured. It was a double woman I saw. As she talked, the scarf wound constantly with the serpent life she gave it.  We went out where tea was served. She stood by the table and poured. She hesitated to put sugar in one cup, as there were no prongs. A member gallantly begged her to use her fingers. She smiled and did. It was then she reached for the red carnations and gave them to us--to me; just so that I could write this now perhaps.

             A telegram from John Drew, our President, who was on the road, was passed to her. I was standing behind her when she eyed it, clasped it to her heart, overcome with sentiment. But I noticed that she held the wire upside down. With the resource of one who had forgotten a cue she handed it over and mentioned that it be read out loud. Some one translated it. She got it that way. How moved she was!

           A tactless, well intentioned member brought forward a photograph she had given the club many years before. The sun had faded it even more than time had touched her own youth. She looked at it and murmured softly in French, so that only those of us near could hear: “I will give you another, but not so pretty.”
      She kept her word. There hangs now in the clubhouse a striking photograph of her as Pierrot. Under it she wrote:
                      “Cʼetait pour les aveugles, fermez les yeux et admirez.”


This photo by Nadar may not be the one hanging in the clubhouse, but I found it on the Internet and thought it was appropriate.

George Middleton. These Things Are Mine The Autobiography of a Journeyman Playwright 
The Macmillan Company. New York. 1947

BOOK Cover portrait by Gordon Stevenson 
Book owned by Mari Lyn Henry

Monday, July 11, 2016


Celebrate their poetry, their contributions to the Harlem Renaissance, education, African American culture and their storytelling brilliance.

May was born in Washington, D.C. in 1899; Maya was born in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri.  Both women were civil rights activists and  their extraordinary achievements as poets, playwrights and teachers reflect their dedication and commitment to the betterment of all Black lives.  

As we have seen recently all lives matter but these two pioneering black women understood the need to write about the pain of separation and loneliness and struggle and challenges which their race were forced to endure.  I think there is no better evidence than to read some of their magnificent and visionary work.
                                               THE WASHINGTONIAN
                                                        May Miller

Possessed of this city, we are born
into kinship with its people
Eyes that looked upon
Cool magnificence of space,
The calm of marble,
And green converging on green
In long distances,
Bear their wonder to refute
Meaningless dimensions,
The Old-World facades.

The city is ours irrevocably
As pain sprouts at the edge of joy,
As grief grows large with our years.
New seeds push hard to topsoil;
Logic is a grafted flower
From roots in a changeless bed.
Skeleton steel may shadow the path,
Broken stone snag the foot,
But we shall walk again
Side by side with others on the street,
Each certain of his way home.


                                                  STILL I RISE    
                                                  Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my room.

Just like moons and like suns,
Withe the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
'Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up rom a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave....