Monday, August 21, 2017

HvS | Blog passes 70,000 page views.

L to R: Hilda, Olga, Willem, Bram van
The HvS Blog has passed 70,000 page views. 

Thank you for reading.

Here are the top ten posts by number of page views, since the blog began:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

WW2 LETTERS | FDR Re-Elected to 4th Term, Nov. 1944

USA Votes in FDR for
4th Term
To ERM in London from HvS in Washington, 1944-11-8 [Typed by JJT-M]

Hilda Marlin
3728 Northampton Street, NW
Washington D.C. 15

November 8, 1944

Dearest Husband,
Thanks for your last interesting letter. You may imagine that we're happy Roosevelt is elected [his unprecedented 4th term]. That is because an electoral landslide is due, I think, to the evenly divided percentage of intelligence in America. Don't you think so?
I hope you heard Dorothy Thompson when she repeated her speech. Randal and I were the first in the family to know who won. I had gone to sleep at the usual time but Johnny woke me at one-thirty and then Randal cried because he had a stomach ache so I put him in your bed with a hot water bottle and we heard the Republican foreman's speech with the comments afterwards of a roundtable of reporters, and finally [Thomas E.] Dewey’s farewell speech, a handsome one, I must say. I don't think it hurt him as much as [Wendell] Willkie [who was the GOP candidate against FDR in 1940]. He might have liked the honor but he had no real vision and plans; Willkie had.
I forgot to tell you that on Hallows Eve [Halloween] Mother ate with Mr. Smith and his clergyman at Barnhards. I sat at home with a bag of sweets, opening the door all the time to give handouts. Mother and Mr. Smith and the Clergyman dressed themselves up with paper bags and gave the fright of my life, pushing into the house after I had given the clergyman his hand out. (He was the same one you met the first day you came.)
Rita expects her baby any day now. I bought a new hat. I need clothes, Montgomery Ward was sold out on Maternity wear so I bought a nice pattern of a jumper and am going to make my own [Liz is on her way.]. Jumpers always look nice with fresh blouses under them and I'll buy a pretty smock to wear over it when I get too big. Nothing elso really hides you.
Randal is in bed with his stomach. He had to have an enema and may not eat. It's colic or something. I have changed Sheila's hours at school. She goes in the afternoon now. The morning class is too big, Sister Tarcinius couldn't give her enough attention and complications developed with Eddie. Rivalry or something. Sheila refused to go to school. Now she is happy.
I have aired your clothes in the sunshine and when I have time I'll clean out the closet, but I've been very busy. Shopping for Olga's birthday takes a lot of time. She is getting a buffet supper with chicken soup (a whole chicken in it), frankfurters (five pounds of them) with rolls, sandwiches, potato salad, cider and cake. I hope it is a success. Olga is very excited. Mr. Smith will be there too, it s on Sunday.
I haven't heard from May [Massee] yet, which is disappointing. If she doesn't want it now I'm going to send it to another publisher. Enough is enough.
Perhaps it is mean of me, but I suddenly wonder whether May's decision about my Santa Claus story [Kersti and St Nicholas, for which the illustrations meant to be landscape were in portrait position] was influenced at all by having two other Christmas Story books on her list? I think perhaps we writers underrate those factors. That's why it is really much better not to be tied too much to one publisher. Not that the Saint Nicholas story was perfect.
One evening after you were gone Sheila cried: "I want Daddy, why isn't Daddy home?" She sobbed. I explained that you would come back. She loves you very much. I am not going to hunt moths. If it spoils your evenings, what would my life be if I had them cheating me all the time with last year's insects or something?
Love, Hilda
P.S. You are giving Olga a female canary. It only cost three dollars and fifty cents as against fifteen dollars for a male, but she doesn't know that. She'll give you credit for a huge present. I got a nest too and the pet shop has promised to buy the babies when they're nine months. The female took possession of the cage briskly. Our Pete's heart thumped visibly and interest in life went up one hundred percent. But he is already henpecked. Mrs. shoves him into a corner and orders him around with shrewish pecks. Yet he adores her. Aren't men fools!

Friday, July 14, 2017

REVOLUTION | July 14 – Bastille Day

Storming of the Bastille (Artist unknown.)
This day in 1789 the French Revolution began in Paris with the storming by an angry crowd of the Bastille prison, a 14th century medieval fortress long used as a prison, especially for the royal family's opponents.

One theory is that the Parisian mob wanted to get at the ammunition believed to be in the Bastille.

The origin of France's problems was the financial stress from supporting the American colonies' war of independence (a fact that Americans sometimes forget when they remember American help to France during the two World Wars).

Higher taxes provoked questions from French citizens about their government and its finances. Rebellions occurred in different parts of France. Louis XVI relied on Jacques Necker, finance minister and effectively prime minister, for answers. Necker tried to negotiate his way to some solutions, organizing the return of the Estates-General, an assembly consisting of clergy, aristocrats, and commoners (the "Third Estate"), for the first time since 1614.

The Estates-General came to no agreement. Necker either did not fully appreciate that political reforms were required or decided that the King wouldn't agree to them. On July 11, Louis dismissed Necker, unleashing mob violence.

The fighting at the Bastille, three days later, lasted several hours, with nearly a hundred attackers killed and one guard. The mob broke in only to find just just seven prisoners to liberate. They killed the governor of the Bastille and paraded around the city with his head on a pike.

When the King returned that evening from a day of hunting, a duke told him the story of the day's events at the Bastille. Louis asked, "So this is a revolt?" The duke replied: "No, Sire, this is a revolution!"

King Louis was executed in January 1793. Shortly afterwards, The Third Estate was  reborn as the National Assembly.

While the day is celebrated as the birth of the French Republic, not all French people celebrate the day. They may remember ancestors who had their heads removed by a guillotine during the years following the taking of the Bastille, or they may have left France. The defeat of the French Navy at Trafalgar is attributed by some to the lack of experienced naval officers, who before the revolution had to be "four quarters" nobility (all four grandparents).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

HvS Letters | February 15, 1944

3728 Northampton Street, NW
Washington 15, D.C.
To: Mrs. Bertha Mahoney Miller

The Horn Book
Boston, Mass.
Feb. 15, 1944
Dear Mrs. Miller.
It was lovely to get your letter. I am so glad you like my article! I don't mind when I'm paid for it, really, any time that is convenient for you. I am so sorry you are having so many troubles. A sick husband certainly is a tribulation. Mine always wants to have me hovering around in great anxiety about him and at the same time he wants to do exactly as he pleases, get up and go to the phone, and work in bed, and go back to work again much too early. He wants to have his cake and eat it too, for oh me, oh my! If I don't show concern and am as casual about him as he is about himself, or dare to treat lightly his “symptoms"!!!
The Irish, Like the Arabs, Are Spiritual
I think you are right about the Irish having inferiority feelings. I think the reason is that they have a special gift which is not easily appreciated in this pragmatic century. They are dreamers, poets, storytellers and mystics. With that goes a shrinking from daily monotonous toil. They can become furiously active to serve an idea, they are grand soldiers and missionaries and agitators, but to spend most of your time on merely living seems useless to them. You will not find a good Irish cook— they do not serve the stomach well, it is not an interesting organ to them. Now this quality does not make for "success" in the modern sense, though it makes beautiful personalities. 
I met an Arab at a supper party recently, a real Arab, a believing Muslim. (He looked like a fat, contented Dutchman.) I was most interested to hear him describe the Arab country and people. They reminded me so much of the Irish. I asked him how he liked [Wendell] Willkie's book [he had a book out in 1943, One World, including a visit with Stalin-JTM], and he said it was quite intelligent for such a short journey, and the intensely individualistic Arab would enjoy meeting a "great personage" who is as simple as Willkie, which sounded like the Irish to me. He also told of the hospitality in Arab villages, and how one "cottager" killed his cow, his sole possession, to do him honor. 
He said he didn't like Washington (I don't blame him for that) and that when he left Iraq people said: "Oh, you are going to the United States, how lucky for you, you must never come back if you have any sense," but he says he would rather live in Iraq with hardly any money than in the U.S.A. with wads of it, and I understand how he feels. He says everybody you meet there is a person, alive and full of the tradition and wisdom of centuries.
"You have no steam-heat conversations!" I said, and he was a little puzzled until I explained that it was my name for the conversation one gets in steam-heated arguments. There is something about sitting grouped around a fire which unlocks men's souls and when you sit facing each other in a small modern sitting-room with your back against a radiator, you only feel self-conscious and ridiculous and your soul shrivels inside you.
He admitted right away that it was so. They have only fires in Arabic countries, but they have very thick walls to their houses. The climate is much hotter in summer than Washington, but not so humid; it feels worse here. The winters are about the same. While he talked I caught a glimpse of a lovely, magic land, full of stories and poetry, and I couldn't help contrasting it with the terse sentences in Willkie's book about their not having any bathtub. According to their religion they have to wash five times a day, so they can't be as dirty as some people think, and their wisdom must be immense. It seems that also the harems are exaggerated. This Arab says it is impolite to speak of a man's wife, it is too intimate a term, so you speak of a man's harem to spare his feelings. According to the Koran a man may marry more than one wife, but only if he can give them economical equality and keep the peace between them. Men nowadays seldom risk it, according to this Arab.
The Koran also says it is the duty of a man and woman to beautify themselves, but only for intimates. Their face may be seen, the veil was an imported addition which has been largely abandoned. The word Fez apparently means "The Vienna," because it came from Vienna via Greece [actually seems to have originated in Cyprus, came to Arabs from Greece via Vienna, which developed a monopoly-JTM] to the Arab world. There is no difference between Muslims of various nationality; they are all equal because they are Muslims. (The Christian Church could learn something from that.) Of course their religion is largely laws, and reminds one of the Commandments of Moses. They consider Christians and Jews as belonging to the Muslim Church because they believe in One God. However, the idea of a sacrament is a closed book to them, if I'm to judge by this Arab. He thought his marriage much more "sensible" than the Christian, because it was just a contract. He simply disbelieves there can be anything more than a belief in God, and a lot of sensible rules. It was very interesting to me.
Of course this lack of a mystic quality differentiates the Arab greatly from the Irish, but I imagine they can be as much of a political pain in the neck, they are naturally fanatic and individualistic. What was most absorbing to me, though, was that when he was speaking you could see how sensible and enlightened he thought his own religion and culture and how inferior and fanatic he thought ours. Since we are apt to think vice versa it makes one see how patronizing everybody always is about others. It reminds me of the way unbelievers like to make first a ridiculous image of faith only to knock it down again, like Bernard Shaw who, in a recent interview, said, that of course he didn't believe in a God who had a beard and looked like himself! I could have told him "Well, who does?"
Perhaps what makes Arabic countries and Ireland so attractive is the unity of their faith. Of course I think it wrong to force religion on anyone, but if people more or less could agree naturally it would be so much easier to make laws and to write articles. As Chesterton says, it is impossible even to solve a small argument if there is no principle on which you can agree. The cleavage in Christianity is, I think, the main tragedy of the modern world which led to all other evils. Holland was very like America in many ways, especially in the admiration for science and the feeling that Christianity has had its day. I only began to be interested in religion when I arrived in Ireland.
Yet, for all its charm, Ireland too has its drawbacks. My husband heaved a sigh of relief when he was transferred from Ireland to London. There is an insularity about Ireland, and a self-centeredness which sometimes makes one want to tear out one's hair. And though the people seem to be more alive and eager, I think in reality they are even less interested in others than are the Dutch or the Americans. The nicest Irish people are not the intellectuals or the politicians, but the farmers, leaning over their half-doors and stone walls, with a smattering of astrology and mythology, and a view on everything under the sun, including the uselessness of weeding, "because everything grows again."
They are not unlike the Vermont farmers, except that they are less reserved. They are eager to speak and air their souls. And, of course, Ireland's great charm is the general acceptance of the supernatural. It is remarkable how easily one breathes in a country where God is as real as an apple. Also, in Ireland you are close to nature. You deal with stones and sand and sea, with hearths and fire, with wells and udders and surf-holes. Everything you use is dug up or squeezed out of something. One is near the heart of the world.
New York City
Now New York is quite different, it stunned me. I remember hanging desperately on to my personality like a dog with a bone, and being very much on the defensive to the disappoinment of my husband, who thought I would be overwhelmed with enthusiastic admiration for his native city. When I arrived there for the first time exactly the ninth of February ten years ago, he proudly presented me with a box of strawberries. His face shone with the miracle of it, this product of American ingenuity, symbolic, to him, of his fabulously wealthy and productive country. 
I hadn't even taken off my hat and coat, but I sat right down and burst into tears. The idea of eating strawberries when it was sixteen below zero was enough to finish me off. Then I remember my frustration and rage when I found out that I couldn't get out of our apartment without bothering the elevator boy, and the red-letter day when I discovered the stairs, and the amazement of my husband when I insisted on using them. I remember my horror when I couldn't regulate the temperature of my room, it all happening mysteriously downstairs, and twenty degrees above my liking.
Then I remember the open-mouthed amazement of a fellow apartment dweller when she found I had my windows wide open, and how she summoned all the inhabitants of that particular floor to come and look. And then, when Olga was coming, my determination to get out of that "hole" into some human place, and how we at last found an old house on thirtieth street, squashed between high buildings, where we had a whole floor, and it had a chimney which could be "opened" which my husband promptly did, with the help of a mason or plumber or something, who was very interested in my "condition," and kept telling me to sit down and rest, and also enlarged on the fact that he had nine sons and that his wife would soon have another, and that she still hoped it would be a girl, notwithstanding her nine disappointments.
I would so much have liked to hear whether the girl materialized, but we never did. The apartment was supposed to be heated by "hot air," but the air was decidedly cool, and so we lugged bags of coal up and had a fireplace in the living room and a potbellied stove in the bedroom, was I happy! 
Praying for the Mice
We also had a lot of mice and my husband insisted on exterminating them. He explained lengthily about the unsanitary aspects of having them around as pets, and on account of the baby I at last capitulated. We thereupon went to a place where they sell the means by which one gets rid of those animals, and the man, looking only at my husband, went with gusto into the mechanics of their horrible death.
When he saw me tugging frantically at my husband's sleeve, however, he slowed down and explained how absolutely and utterly painless it all was, but I, having seen the cruel gleam in his eyes at first, would not believe him. My husband was like granite, however and so my only refuge was prayer. So at night after having duly pleaded for the safety of the mice, I fell into a lovely sleep, to be wakened the next morning by the furious cries of my husband, who was dancing around with the trays in his hands, saying that the mice had eaten the cheese and got away. I chuckled. That's all I did, chuckle. But my husband spun around on his heels and glared at me. 
"You didn't...You didn't..." his voice trembled with indignation — "You didn't pray for them?!"
"Only one Hail Mary," I confessed timidly.
"Well of all the mean...!" my husband was speechless. Then he made me promise never to pray for them again, and hopefully set out the trap once more. But one prayer can be very powerful. The only mouse he ever caught was one that accidentally fell into a pot of paint. Now my husband never lets me know when he sets out traps and he and Randal [her third child and first son] dispose of them secretly, with masculine hardihood.
Of course you must not jump to the conclusion that I do not like America, I feel it is the hope of the world and I should be very proud of it, if it weren't so proud of itself. My husband says the very nicest people he has ever met are Americans, but then, he is American himself of course. I always say, "Well I married you, didn't I, when I could have had a Dutchman or an Irishman (at least, I pretend to him that I could have). On the other hand, you took a Dutch-Irish girl." We compromise by saying that American men are nicest but that Dutch-Irish girls are nicest, and since there are precious few of the latter I ought to be satisfied.
I think Americans have made their life too full of gadgetry. They call it a high standard of living and I call it clutteritis. But I admit some things are handy. Only when they start making houses that you can carry around with you and divide in two halves when you get divorced, as they are threatening to do, I don't know what I'll do. Buy a castle for two dollars and fifty cents or something. And put a moat around it. And get me a couple of bows and arrows. And say: "No houses parked here," etc., etc.
I hope you do not feel that we can't correspond any more now I've written my article. Your letters are no end of enjoyment to me. When I write my husband I practically get no answer, for it takes so long to get there that by the time he writes back I've forgotten what I've written. And, though I write May [Massee, her editor] sometimes, she is much too busy to answer, so I always end up thinking she probably disagrees with everything I say, which is rather disappointing. So your letters have been a real find of happiness for me.
Though I think I have an enviably full life, it is not overly social. I meet few people. I have some friends but I do not see them often. I am not in touch with anybody who paints and with very few who write. This is all very good for developing independently of current fashions but it leaves one rather hungry for exchange of thought. You're so tremendously alive and appreciative and interested in others, one can't help wanting to exchange views with you. So I hope you don't mind if we carry on.
Mr. Royanovsky may still have my letter… But I'm not sure it's fit for publication. On the other hand, what about his next book? I should love to write about it if it is as good as his last.
Cordially yours,

Hilda Marlin
Handwritten letter. Transcribed by JJTM, edited-annotated-posted by JTM.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

HvS | Two New Fans of "Patsy and the Pup"

Charlotte and Henry Read "Patsy and the Pup"
Patsy and the Pup just got a couple of new fans.

They are Charlotte and Henry.

Who can resist the story of a lost puppy and the adventures that a little girl, Patsy has trying to bring it home to its owner?
Book rating provided by Goodreads:
 4.67 avg rating
Henry and Charlottee studys one of the
pictures. Every right-hand page has one.
Synopsis of Patsy and the Pup (from the preface by Elisabeth Marlin, who was the same age as Patsy when the book was first written): 
A sweet puppy follows Patsy home one day, but Mother says she has to take it back to its owner. 
The mischievous pup is in no hurry to go home and drags Patsy into one hair-raising adventure after another on the way. The story is told with pace and humor and the pictures add amusing details for children to discover for themselves. This is a story that parents and children from 2 to 6 years old will enjoy reading together, over and over again.
About the Author: Hilda van Stockum (1908-2006) was an internationally noted author and illustrator of such children's classics as The Mitchells, Patsy and the Pup, Kersti and Saint Nicholas, and A Day on Skates, for which she took Newbery honors. Winner of the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, van Stockum was known for her warm and vivid, but realistic depictions of family life, often in the face of difficulty or danger. Her most famous book, The Winged Watchman (1962, named a "Notable Book" by the American Library Association), tells the story of two young boys living in a windmill who help the Dutch resistance during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. Her books were originally published primarily by Viking Press, during what has been called a "golden age" of children's literature shepherded by the inspiring and author-friendly editor, May Massee. Her books were widely and favorably reviewed, and were also favorites among librarians because they celebrated family life and dealt with issues of good and evil — and especially because librarians noticed that the books held the attention of children. "Librarians were my biggest fans," she said.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

CONVERSION | Why Did Hone and HvS Become Catholics? (Updated Apr 7, 2017)

"Evie Hone" by Hilda van Stockum. National
Gallery of Art. Used here by permission of the
Estate of Hilda van Stockum.
From James Robinson (Comment, Feb. 2017): "I have just read [your] rather interesting note about St John’s, Sandymount. Fr S.R.S.Colquhoun did not become a bishop, in fact he was prosecuted by the Church for High Church Practices. The Church of Ireland definitely did not want re-union with Rome. Many English Anglo-Catholics wanted this. St John's was a miniscule minority of High Church in a generally very low church protestant Church."

Mar 31, 2017: Thank you, James Robinson. I have made the corrections. (Fr Colquhoun must have been in Monsignor garb.) They help the story! I have added my email address at the end of this post.

I have previously noted on this blog site that my mother, Hilda van Stockum, in 1938 followed Evie Hone into the Roman Catholic Church, just as Evie Hone earlier followed Hilda van Stockum into the art world. (Evie asked Hilda, who was already an established artist, what she thought of her art and Hilda was enthusiastic about Evie's first stained-glass attempts and encouraged her to make this her career).

Evie and Hilda were introduced, says my eldest sister Olga, by Fr Colquhoun, as I noted in 2014. 

Now I have a better idea of what might have precipitated the formal conversion of both Evie Hone and Hilda van Stockum to the Roman Catholic Church. 

They must have been outraged at the witch-hunt of Fr Colquhoun for being too High Church for Church of Ireland members of his own St. John's congregation in Sandymount, Dublin.

My interpretation of what happened is that the two of them turned their back on the Church of Ireland and embraced what the witch-hunters most feared, namely an exit to the Church of Rome. HvS took her mother and her children, who would number six (all living as of today😊), with her...

References: Rev. S. R. S. Colquhoun, of St John's church, Sandymount, Dublin, was suspended. The Sandymount church had long been noted for Its High Church tendencies. Winnipeg Tribune — 
The formal name of the Sandymount church was Saint John the Evangelist, Sandymount, Dublin 4. StJohn's is a Church of Ireland church. (My mother always told me I was named after St. John the Evangelist, not St. John the Baptist. She may have been naming me after this church!)

The case against the Revd S.R.S. Colquhoun, incumbent since 1930 of St John'sSandymount, Dublin, began with a petition started in 1934, the year Hilda van Stockum first became famous as a writer, winning one of the two Newbery Honor Roll awards that were given out in 1935 along with the Newbery Medal. It was also the year her first child, Olga E. Marlin, was born in New York City. The E initial in Olga's name is for Emily MacDonnell, HvS's Anglo-Irish grandmother. The Irish Protestant Churches in the Twentieth Century. A. Megahey.

The vicar of St John's church in Sandymount, Dublin, the Rev SRS Colquhoun, was suspended for six months in 1937 for High Church Practices. (In 1937, that might have been the equivalent of being burned at the stake.)

If you have another piece of this puzzle to add, I can be reached directly at jtmarlin[at]🙏

Related Posts: "The Vocation of Women"

Sunday, February 5, 2017

FEATURED BOOK | "Little Old Bear"

In honor of Hilda van Stockum's birthday (she would be 109 on February 8 this year – she died 11 years ago) Boissevain Books is featuring LITTLE OLD BEAR.

Here is a review of the book by Alex Baugh on the Randomly Reading site.

Here's another review posted by Judy Polhemus:

Sometimes toys have wishes. The Velveteen Rabbit wanted to be real, and soon enough, he was. Little Old Bear just wants to be wanted. And so it comes to pass.

The lovely pen and ink drawings of Little Old Bear render him worn out yet reminiscent of better days. (Hilda van Stockun both wrote and illustrated the story.) He knew the same cycle of love that the Velveteen Rabbit knew. He was loved until the child was grown, then set aside. At least, Little Old Bear finds himself in the attic, where....the lady of the house comes to clean and throws out the bear! Birds reject him, a kitty rejects him, and little boys find him and toss him around like a ball, then throw him in someone's backyard. A little girl claims hims, then rejects him, and throws him back onto the sidewalk, where a kind old lady discovers him and takes him home.

The old lady gives him back his eyes and sits him in the front window where he watches the world pass by. He sees little boys and girls play with their nice new stuffed bears and feels lucky just an old lady found him. [And then a wonderful thing happens to him...]

Sunday, January 29, 2017

BOISSEVAIN | John Charles van Hall

Only photo online
for John van Hall.
Jan van Hall (L) and Hester
Boissevain van Hall (R–"Tante
Hessie" to the family).
The only way I know how to track a large family–after decades of trying–is to find out as much as possible about individuals who are of interest and then place them one by one in their family context.

A person of interest to me is John Charles van Hall. He was the son of Jan van Hall and Hester Boissevain, whom I knew in my childhood as "Tante Hessie" although she was not my aunt but my great-aunt (my grandmother's sister).

We visited the "Kolkhuis" in Hattem many times, starting in 1948 or 1949. My last visit there was in 1959.

There is very little about John Charles that I can find online, which piques my curiosity and prompts me to want to fill the gap.

Of all my mother's childhood friends, the ones she spoke about the most were her "twin" cousin Nella de Beaufort and her two van Hall playmates Eugen and AndrĂ© van Hall. My mother stayed with the van Halls for a while and she spoke of "Eugen-and-AndrĂ©" as if they were a single person, although only one of them proposed marriage to her (at, what, six years old?).
John Charles van Hall was a sibling of Eugen and AndrĂ© with an American connection–he was born in 1899 in Maryland (Baltimore, I believe) when Jan and Hester van Hall were visiting. 

Of his three other siblings, one was Frederik Maurits, known as Freddy, who died while a midshipman riding on the back of fellow Middy's motorcycle. It was a major family tragedy; Freddy was well loved. 

After Freddy's death, the Academy forbade taking riders on a motorcycle. John married Maria Fransina Gannett Böeseken, four years younger than him and born in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia.