Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Staff/Personnel
Alice Cobb Travelogue, 1942
TAGS: Alice Cobb ; travelogues ; fundraising ; Boston, MA ; New York City ; Wellesley College ; Dorothy Olcott Elsmith ; Evelyn Wells ; Daughters of the American Revolution ; DAR ; Children of the American Revolution ; CAR ; Maddy [Maddie] Cadden ; Daughters of the Mayflower ; Merle Easton ; Dr. Tom Yahkub ; ichael Martin ; Raymond Ingersoll ; Malcolm White ; Agnes Foote ;
Alice Cobb’s 1942 Travelogue of her fundraising trip is a unique opportunity for the reader to feel the pulse of urban and rural life in the midst of WWII. The era was a difficult time for institutions both small and large and a time to assess lives and loss and shifting values. Cobb manages to capture the challenges and the mood of the country in her sometimes rapid, acerbic and ironic narratives. She never ceases to entertain and engage the reader. It is not difficult to imagine her very effective and sometimes not so effective, presentations for the School. She was, however, a very successful fundraiser for the institution.
TRANSCRIPTION [slightly edited]
Page 01. [cobb_1942_travelogue_001.jpg]
Travelogue for Pine Mountain
Boston, New York & New Jersey, Baltimore
Jan., Feb., March, 1942
Thursday, January 15th. Left New York at 10:30 A.M., torn between pure delight at escape from dragon at 180 Waverly Place (Meli calls her Lord High Executioner) and doubts about facing cold New England. Read en route Rilke’s War Letters, loaned by Mrs. [Dorothy Olcott] Elsmith; beautiful prose, and interpreting poignantly feelings one has felt, but not ever put into words, or perhaps even been aware of — silence, numbness caused by excruciating grief over disillusionment of war.
Arrived Boston about 2:30. First reaction, weather bitter. Second, taxis very expensive. At College Club the major domo, or mistress, rather particularly cool, had not she said received my letter reserving room, but finally gave me one. Note from Miss [Evelyn K.] Wells saying she would come for dinner. Settled myself in 2×4 number 12, took nap, got dressed for dinner and awaited Miss Wells.
Very good to see Miss Wells, made me more sure that I’d not made a mistake. Appalled by first good look at the College Club residents — such a quantity of old ladies all in one room together startling to say the least. All seemed very gay and satisfied with life, prosperous, piles of silver hair elaborately waved and arranged lovely dinner dresses — a most gentile atmosphere. Refine murmur throughout the room and occasional conversation bits overheard all had to do with intellectual things.
Miss Wells came up to my cubby hole and we discussed the coming month uninterrupted except for maid who came to open the bed. Prospects for program not too good. Found I’d chosen the time of mid-semesters and term holidays. Since Boston is so very college minded it seems this period is automatically observed with two weeks of silence all over greater Boston. Don’t know whether or not the stores close but shouldn’t wonder. Am invited to Wellesley Saturday evening, and then Sunday there is a meeting at Wollaston with the Children of the American Revolution. Most of the meetings seem to have to do with descendants of the revolution. Probably most everybody here is descended that way. Am beginning to feel a little stifled. Am afraid I may yield to temptation to do something undignified before long, stand up in the elegant living room and yodel. Only reassured by conviction that long before that happens shall have done something equally inappropriate without intending to. I don’t think I can stay here for a month. Also have a feeling one has to be clever and calculating, not to say unscrupulous, here to slip a bath in edgewise. There is real competition in the matter of securing the bathroom (can locate only one on this corridor, hope there is a second hidden away somewhere).
Friday, January 16th. Got up fairly early, snatched towel and toothbrush, but not quick enough to anticipate the old ladies. Went back and waited, tried again more cautiously, no luck. Left my door open ready to make a dash, but turned away for a second and it was too late again. Went out to guard the door but that was no good either because there was one lined up behind me, and it was age before beauty. Finally achieved bath but by that time had lost interest in cleanliness. Anyway there was a flowerpot in the tub. What a place.
Mrs. Wilbur called and I started out to meet her at George Washington’s statue in the public gardens. It was so cold couldn’t tell which statue was G.W. so missed her (had chosen one of the muses, I think) — back to College Club and she was there waiting for me. The coldest day this winter in Boston, and I spent it running back and forth across the Commons. Thought once I was really dying. This is no place for me.
Page 02. [cobb_1942_travelogue_002.jpg]
Saturday, January 17th. Went shopping here and there, learned more of way about town, except it was too cold to notice. There are two streets which have interesting names — Winter Street and Summer Street. I kept trying to keep on Summer Street, for some reason, although it was just as cold, possibly colder than Winter. Saw Miss [Maddy] Cadden, who looks ten years younger than when she was at Pine Mountain. Of course she had just been over Black Mountain then, which is enough to put ten years on anyone from a quiet street near Boston Public Gardens. Maddy is a dressmaker, the kind we used to read about in Pride and Prejudice, and Little Women, who stitches and philosophizes and does a world of kindly things for her friends, adores the “higher ups” and gets vicarious kind of distinction out of making over their expensive clothes, and finishes every sentence with “That’s what I always say, dear!” Went to see Porgy and Bess, which is one of the grandest things I ever experienced. Was interested to see that the audience liked it — it was the final performance in Boston, and will go on to New York next.
Took train to Wellesley. Very nice taxi driver hunted her house for me, and I had dinner with Miss Wells. She has a lovely downstairs apartment, large and spacious, and beautifully furnished. Several people came after dinner to see the pictures, most of them, or all, faculty members. Miss Dwight (Katherine) I had met before at the College Club, and her sister came with her. They are delightful, lovely oldish women, charming to talk with, and seemed very much interested in Pine Mountain. Miss Wells gave me a note about them for my cards — social minded, not well to do but very generous. Miss Johnson, a cousin of Mrs. Holton [possibly Celia Cathcart Holton] was there, and I liked her tremendously — she’s just past middle age, seems to be a home economics teacher, or perhaps teacher of chemistry, am not quite sure, anyway she’s just as witty as can be, in a nice, wholesome good natured sort of way. Miss Jones, who has to do with the service fund which contributes to the school — I believe she is next year’s advisor. Miss Hewin housemother etc. at Big Log in Miss Pettit‘s time. Miss Hewins was at Whispering Sands I believe — anyway she had met Mrs. Elsmith. I was not quite sure how much interested she felt — she seemed to be rather aghast over innovations, and incensed at the idea of indoor toilets at school. Perhaps I misinterpreted — she may have been being humorous. Is a teacher at Winsor School.
My part wasn’t so good — felt too self-conscious with Miss Wells there, and likely to make some faulty generalizations about the mountain problem. But all were very courteous, pretended to be interested, anyway. While Miss Wells was in the kitchen fixing the ginger ale, I was able to melt somewhat. Don’t think after this shall be so self-conscious, and it is stupid, for Miss W. is ever so kind, and so tolerant of awkwardness and mistakes too.
Stayed the night and had leisurely breakfast by the fire place. Heard many old stories about the early days which I love. Went for drive over the campus, also Radcliffe and Harvard. Couldn’t help feeling that they — that is the buildings are much too lavish and elaborate, and wonder how young persons can keep from being cramped and stifled under so much elegant mortar. Must be a communist or something, at heart, but don’t think so. Could probably endure with considerable satisfaction any amount of it — mortar — myself.
Sunday, January 18th. Took train to Wollaston, met by Mrs. Bullock and son Robert. The meeting of the Children of the American Revolution was at her home. Felt rather blue from the beginning. Hope it isn’t sign of lack of patriotism to get anxious when they start a meeting by standing a flag in front. Feel that it’s only conditioned reflex from dark past dotted with soapboxes around MacDougal St. The “Regent” was there, evidently a very important person, and don’t think was deferential enough by half; must look up and find out what a regent is. Saluted the flag and went through a lot of foolishness, reading from little cards, without noticing much what was being read. Would have sung “Star Spangled Banner”, except none of the children could play it on the piano, so compromised on “America”, that being much easier — no it was “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies”. Scripture lesson was 1st Corinthians 13, which seemed a trifle ironic. It was evident from the beginning that this was not either a loving or sacrificing or awakened group. The girls, especially daughter…
Page 03. [cobb_1942_travelogue_003.jpg]
…Phyllis, all right, but the boys were devils, and nothing to be done about it, since the customer is always right. Did give them a look when I mentioned that mountain men know how to be courteous, and they got it. It lasted two minutes almost. Should have mentioned that all of our children could be C.A.R.’s if they wanted to, and must remember to do that at a future time. Kept wondering what would happen if I called them stuffy little humbugs, but didn’t. Afterward Mrs. Bullock said how much she regretted they didn’t have more boys. Just missed replying that there were 100% too many as it was. During the ice cream and cake got them steered from Christmas cards as far as towels, but no farther.
Home exhausted and thinking it was too bad to start the publicity tour with the revolution. New Testament opens to “Off with them all now — off with anger, rage, malice, slander, foul talk”– and I guess that’s meant for me.
Monday, January 19th
Rain all day, but not so cold. Walked around in the morning, stopped at loan library, browsed through a shower.
Met Miss Child at College Club for luncheon. An old subscriber. Started right off saying she had New England in her blood, and was Bostonian since the beginning, all ancestors preachers or governors, now lying at King’s Chapel cemetery. Said Boston isn’t the same since the hordes of midwestern barbarians have invaded and spoiled things. Father and mother were Unitarian liberals, discountenanced in Episcopal church because of liberal views. Took me all over College Club parlors, etc., and showed me place where Mark Twain spoke, presumably the place where I shall be talking. Wonder what Mark Twain thought of the College Club. He was something of a barbarian, I suppose.
Miss Child a darling in spite of misfortune of birth, and like other people in many ways. When I told her (we having reached subject of ages) she looked fifty, she beamed and glittered with pleasure saying that the truth was she would be 72 next birthday.
Went over to 25 Beacon Street, Unitarian headquarters, where I am to speak in a few days. Nice woman with false teeth took us all over, and did enjoy seeing first glimpses of liberal Boston. Saw Mrs. Fahs‘ books everywhere and her picture on a poster, and felt at home. Took an armload of literature home. Have read some of it and it is wonderfully convincing.
Met Mrs. E. whirling in but no time to talk then. Went to dinner at Colonial kitchen and thru downpour to Mrs. Wilbur‘s house. She says there is a club of Daughters of the Mayflower, and they are even more sticky than the D.A.R. — she is a D.A.R. herself.
Home worn out and so little done. Feel discouraged, and can’t understand feeling so tired about doing nothing at all. Read in N.T. “So up with your listless hands — strengthen your weak knees. And make straight paths for your feet to walk in”. Wonder why I always open it to something that strikes home.
Tuesday, January 20th
Breakfast with Mrs. [Dorothy Olcott] Elsmith. Heard about Olcott’s and Jane’s apartment on Myrtle St. under the state house. Mrs. E. off to many appointments I to shop for typewriter. Found Corona 54.50 best buy. Couldn’t get anything nearly so good except by ordering from company, and paying tax too, even if they could deliver. So bought this one. They accepted personal check without reference. Tried to explain how they could identify me but they didn’t seem interested.
Page 04. [cobb_1942_travelogue_004.jpg]
Home and had long visit with Mrs. Elsmith getting some lines out for meetings. Thought I might better take the empty week and go back to New York where living would be free, but decided it would be foolish. She thought it best to stay here too.
To kitchen for dinner. Winfield has meeting arranged at his church and invited me to his home Friday for tea and evening having some friends to see pictures. Felt very pleased to think he had done this. He is the kind of alumnus we ought to be able to demonstrate often.
Started out on subway to Arlington for Apsey Bible Class meeting. Trip to last one half hour — got there in an hour and forty-five minutes. Subways obviously meant for Phi Beta Kappas. Kept finding myself on the wrong side of the tracks (!) and confused by “surface” cars which are under the surface. One sign I could comprehend. Over a stairway it said “This is not the way to go out”. Was starting out but it stopped me — I got it. Last straw though was not being able to find the slot in the peanut machine.
Finally reached the stop and then looked in vain for the street. There were a dozen to choose from, and by process of elimination finally got it, the last one. Light was to be on porch at the house, but there were lights on all the porches. Felt like the robber chief in Ali Baba. Finally got the house but rang on the wrong landing.
At last found the Apseys. All about 80 of course, and in a flutter for fear I wasn’t coming. Tremendous flurry over where to put the screen. Tried it over the piano and all piled into the opposite room. Not so good, tried it by the window and they all herded into the next room. Frenzied search for a table to put the machine on. Tried several and settled on the telephone stand. The cord wouldn’t reach. Shoved the dining room table, teacups rattling, silver knocking together, forks and spoons flying every way — off into a corner. Got that fixed and the screen was too far away. Shoved that table, big Chinese lamp and all into the middle of the room etc. etc. So much excitement and all the ladies a little provoked with me (introduced in the meantime very formally) for precipitating so much moving around. Tried to be a Christian.
Finally everything fixed and they snapped off the lights before I could say to wait — lights on again, and determinedly made my speech, but it was five minutes before they could settle down from the excitement. But it turned out rather well. Those who weren’t deaf were thrilled, and the deaf ones were even more thrilled.
This was the first talk since Miss de Long in the first days, and they’ve been sending $3.00 a year ever since. One woman recalled falling into the first barrel they had started to pack for Pine Mountain. This crowd [has] been together since they were sixteen years old. Awfully sweet. Gave me a dollar for my expenses, and another dollar “to buy something I needed”. I will need it for postage goodness knows.
Homemade cake and coffee, lots of chatter, about calories and things. Two husbands came and said “Time to go home, girls” so they all got their bonnets. Took me to the car stop, and altogether it was a grand evening. They worried dreadfully about me so young and all, being in the dangerous mountains, but I told them it was much safer than Boston subways, which they thought very funny, and didn’t realize was true.
Home about midnight and hall guard looked very severe. I guess they have rules, altho haven’t asked. Have the idea that there are no men visitors permitted, not that it makes any difference for I haven’t seen any men except the streetcar conductors. They are doubtless Ph.D.’s.
Page 05. [cobb_1942_travelogue_005.jpg]
Wednesday, January 21st
Breakfast with Mrs. [Dorothy Olcott] Elsmith. She was just leaving for Woods Hole [MA]. Worked solid day on Notes and had delightful feeling of accomplishment, while feeling that what was accomplished isn’t too good.
Dinner with Mr. Michael Martin at fish place down on Market Street, very Greenwich Villagey, scallops and Indian pudding, perfectly delightful and not a bit like Boston. Awfully nice to talk with a Bostonian under 75 (suddenly realize Mr. M. isn’t a Bostonian, at that). Took walk over some of the old part of town — Fanueil (sp) Hall market, etc. Walked past King’s Chapel and saw cemetery full of Winthrops etc. Vice President Dawes can be buried there if he wants to. It looked full to me. I wondered where they’d put him. Mr. M. told me all about King’s Chapel — George Washington contributed the columns on the outside. It’s a Unitarian church but the people who go there are insulted if you call them Unitarians. They are conservative Episcopalians. Boston is a funny place.
Back to College Club. Mr. Martin very nervous about coming into living room — sat on edge of chair and cowered every time one of the old ladies appeared. Asked the Negro man if he could stay and the man said unwillingly he guessed so if he wouldn’t smoke. So he did but not very happily. I hate to think how dreadfully safe I am here.
Mr. M. had some suggestions for meetings, also ideas about publicity, noted elsewhere. Likes Notes. Thinks Glyn Morris is a very great man and Pine Mountain the only place he knows of which is educating instead of theorizing. Says he feels we are doing what other people are talking about. Has friend who wants to serve in needy center. From what he said I gathered Glyn Morris had suggested Med[ical] Settlement. Told him all I could about it. This young man is engaged to marry Raymond Ingersoll‘s daughter — the Brooklyn philanthropist. I’d like to see them come but hate to see more young hearts battered on the Medical Settlement rock. Told Mr. Martin I should think it would take a consuming amount of grace of God to stay there and come out whole, and he said his friend was full of it. Well —
Thursday, January 22nd
Wrote letters — the College Club stationery must be running low. Am undecided whether it is more embarrassing to keep asking for more, or to get supplies from the living room myself. I have done both several times. Every time I swipe another supply, I always make a point of being very open and stopping at the office to look for mail or something before coming upstairs with the lute (sic). I suppose it really doesn’t matter to anyone if I use all they have in stock.
To lunch at kitchen. Caddy there and all chirrupy. Mrs. Wilbur, she said, had made an appointment for me at Amherst [MA] — which is probably on the other side of the world — but it seems they will pay expenses, etc. Didn’t see Mrs. W. Walked over the Commons for a while, it being a grand day, and I tired of cubbyhole. Then home to write more letters — still have seventeen in Boston. Mr. Martin called and invited me to tea with Miss Case and dinner at the Seminary, and then to speak there. A woman keeps singing “Star Spangled Banner” somewhere, evidently practicing for something. It’s distracting because I keep having the stand-up feeling.
Interested to see what the Bible says this evening — “Charge the rich of this world not to be supercilious….Tell them to be bountiful, rich in good works, open handed and generous, amassing treasures for themselves in the world to come”, etc. I am wondering who after all are the rich. I’m always reminded of what our Chapel children said when asked: “Rich folks have dumb waiters and bathrooms.” And the Riverside children said, “Rich people have servants at their heels.” And of course neither bathrooms nor servants have anything really to do with it. I suppose our job is education really — or perhaps that’s our contribution. Perhaps we are, after all, the rich ones, and the passage is meant for us. Pine Mountain has so much to give — and to people everywhere, not just Harlan County children.
Page 06. [cobb_1942_travelogue_006.jpg]
Friday, January 23rd
Wrote letters in the morning. The new typewriter is an inspiration and I now have a good form, I think, inviting people to the College Club meeting, and in lieu of that suggesting that I come to call.
At 4:00 went to Winfield‘s. He and Charlotte both there with the baby Tommy. Charlotte is delightful, New England school teacher type, very understanding of Winfield and his problem. He hasn’t changed a great deal — still says heered and he don’t etc. C. corrects him and he very grateful for all corrections. The baby adorable — looks like Charlotte, but has Cornett expressions — booed and gurgled and waved and performed at best for me. After Winfield left we gave the baby a bath and put him to bed. Later in the evening after we’d had supper, the others came — small group, including Addie and her latest friend, Jerry, a big bruiser type. They all liked the pictures, and am turning over in my mind idea for a kind of alumni association — I believe Charlotte Cornett would put it across if she should get interested. It’s the sort of thing they ought to do for their own souls’ sake, as well as for Pine Mountain, but shall try to let them suggest it.
Gossip — Winfield says John is married to girl in Tennessee — no mention of Audrey of course. It seems too bad. Mrs. Wilbur says John was rejected for the draft because of some sort of disability but would not have it corrected in order to continue escaping. Wilson is in the army, in South America.There are cornetts and Cornetts, I guess.
Sunday, January 25th
To First Baptist Church nearby, and enjoyed it very much. Home until time to meet Addie for Newton — she to sing some ballad songs. Got there and Mrs. Kendrick at the trolley stop holding dulcimer to identify herself. To meeting of Eliot Church young people.
There’s something wrong about young people today — they haven’t any social vision — seem completely self-centered — perhaps I shouldn’t generalize — it seems to be characteristic of church young people’s organizations, and perhaps that’s because most of them are probably there in order to have a date. There may be some help in this group through the leader, Miss Stratton. The assistant minister, Mr. Owen, was very much interested. Addie sang pretty badly but think it was good for her and didn’t hurt them. She hurried home for a date with her Jerry, but I stayed and went home to talk with Mrs. Kendrick. She wanted to show me snapshots of her honeymoon at Pine Mountain.
She couldn’t find the snapshots but we sat on the floor of her study room with old letters and clippings piled everywhere, and she reminisced. Mr. Kendrick has been dead for ten years, but she talks about him a great deal, and about their courtship. She said to me very seriously that she always advised young people not to get married — they should wait until they are really a good deal older, as she did, she thinks. I said that made me feel very much encouraged, and she said oh dear she hoped I hadn’t any thoughts in my head — was far far too young even to dream of such a thing. She is very friendly warm person, seems to know everyone in Newton, is cousin of Miss Wells, and Miss W. born in her house. Think she would be a very good advisory person for the Newtons.
Page 07. [cobb_1942_travelogue_007.jpg]
Monday, January 26th, 1942
Afternoon to Baptist Home for ged in Newton, arranged by Miss Abercrombie, friend of the Stapletons, worker at Pine Mountain in 1913, very dear old lady. Glad to remember gifts she sent in early days of books, and special mention by Stapletons. Had dinner at the Home and wondered at it — one small slice of cold meat, slightly spoiled I thought, biscuit, and cup of lukewarm tea. Decided that perhaps the old people just haven’t appetites.
Had meeting in parlor. Thought I might have trouble being Christian even in Baptist Home (or especially) because one cranky old lady sat in her chair and complained that she wouldn’t be able to see, it never occurring to her apparently that she might move to where she could see. Anyway we shifted screen, projector, and practically the whole platform untill all was in correct justaposition with her chair. Funny.
After it got started everything was lovely. The old gentlemen were all there being very gay, roared at the stories, signed and gasped at the right places. I shouted thinking they were probably deaf, and afterward Miss A. said it was the first time they’d ever all been able to hear! All made a great fuss, especially the gentlemen, who flocked around so I felt like a debutante as haven’t for a long time if ever. Were pleased to hear about Merle Easton, who has been to talk to them and always sends Christmas greetings. One old professorish looking gentleman asked lots of questions. Said his daughter’s best friend was a former worker, and asked if I knew her name — said she was a mannish kind of girl, and on inspiration asked if it could be Ruth Gaines — it was — that was the girl. he was ever so pleased.
This group can’t help much themselves, but they all have contacts all over Boston. Through various ones of them I can get into several Baptist missionary groups. I marveled as always do, at how contented they are. One woman who was in business in Minneapolis (now in eighties), sharp as a tack and flirting awfully with “Uncle Henry” (to me, by request) said she guessed if a person couldn’t be happy here he wouldn’t be happy in heaven either. Uncle Henry agreed — said this was as near heaven as you could get on earth. I’ve been to many homes like this and always been interested in their happiness but never felt the crowd having quite so normal a good time. They were jolly, nothing sad or strained or goody good. I guess it’s because of the men. Like co-education even in old people’s homes.
Wednesday, January 28th.
Miss Wells called early to say she would be in for lunch. Met her at 12:30 and went to India House, Una Ritchie‘s place. Una was there hostessing. Very striking looking red hair, lots of dignity, and still very much a Kentucky mountain person, Place attractive, food awfully queer, all kinds of odds and ends with curry mixed in. Ended with banana malabar.
Left Miss Wells and went to Tremont Temple. Miss Abbie there, and interviewed several people, especially Mr. Brown of the lecture bureau. Miss Frost in charge of children’s work asked me to come and speak to Juniors on the 8th. Felt it was profitable on the whole, because this is the wealthiest Baptist Church in the country, and far the wealthiest of them all in Boston. Looks like a factory or a beehive.
Page 08. [cobb_1942_travelogue_008.jpg]
January 30, 1942
Biting cold but very bright day. Surface(?) car to Trinity Home for Aged. Conductor forgot to stop at my stop but let me off farther down and I started walking back up the hill. Came to home for aged and went in, announced myself. They seemed bewildered, and discovered I was in the wrong home! Quite a blow — mine was three houses farther up. Seems as though almost every other house is a Home.
Finally got there, met by Miss McLeod, housemother or whatever it is called, went upstairs and after a good deal of engineering got machine and screen fixed. Ladies all there patiently waiting. Just ladies at this home, so not so exciting as the Baptist one. But they adored the pictures. Said it was the nicest time they’d had since Mr. Morris Glenn [Glyn Morris] was here, such a nice young man. Asked if he’d aged any and I said yes, considerably but still quite active. Mrs. Blair so pleased over ballad songs that she sang a Shaker song and all very gay and clubby. Stayed for lunch which was a decided improvement upon the Baptist one. Also it was a more cheerful dining room, not so institutional looking.
Home and Christian Science Monitor called to get story. Reporter asked a lot of questions — didn’t have time to let me send in the story, and I could tell by the way her typewriter clicked over the phone that she was getting it down incorrectly. Insisted on having my picture, and wouldn’t be switched to any other pictures, so they sent over a photographer, and then I finally got to India House, where Una [Ritchie] and I were to plan for her ballad singing at the College Club meeting.
Dr. Yahkub (his name is Tom) was there supervising the painting of Indian murals on the walls. Black as the ace of spades but very pleasant. Verses from Tagore around the wall, just under the ceiling. Had tea by fire-place. Very bohemian, odd people of various nationalities and accents appearing, would drink a cup of tea, say something intellectual or bizarre, and disappear. Little Molu, daughter of Una and Tom, very beautiful sort of dark ivory color, with jet black braids. She was all excited over a Vidante dance she was to do at the Indian center, wearing bells. Very friendly talkative child. Una’s sister [Una Ritchie] Mallie [Ritchie] also there, from Kentucky. Tom is a nationalist — anti-British I would say, but cautious about talking.
To Eliot place as had promised to look up Addie Cornett — going in met girl who said she was a stranger and would I sit with her. She has just come from Pearl Harbour — husband now between here and Iceland. Very lonely, thinks Boston is ratty, and old fashioned. Wish she could see what they’d do in a nice modern city like San Francisco if Commonwealth Ave. were dropped down in the middle of it. I suggested brushing away the cobwebs, but she said “Ginger, they’d drop a bomb on it.”
Walked home with her since she was so lonely. She [was] very grateful and said she wouldn’t have dared to speak to me except she knew right away I didn’t belong to the hard-hearted Boston crowd. Didn’t feel flattered as had thought I was getting fairly well Bostonized. Didn’t stop but walked home.
Addie looked better than before — well dressed and capable.
Saturday, January 31
Regretted urgent luncheon appointment with Mrs. Kendrick who insisted on taking me to India house, and I knew I couldn’t stand much more curry and rice. But went there to meet her. Tom still supervising painting. Gandhi blossomed over the fireplace, and Taj Mahal in outline in another wall. Very oriental. Tom giving lectures on Indian life. Rather liked him. He very friendly and proud of his accomplishments — sic semper. Una told me she had had a trip to India with him. He belongs to a very liberal…
Page 09. [cobb_1942_travelogue_009.jpg]
…family, of course.
Mrs. Kendrick came and — rice and curry again. Had plans for meeting on 17th, and asked me to come to Newton [MA] to spend the extra days with her to save expense. Shall do that unless intervening meetings fill the time. She very midwestern in her manner. Hard to believe she was born and brought up in New England. Started conversation about income taxes with a young man at the next table and found he lived in the next block. Invited both to College Club. He a professor from Lexington, Kentucky. Both interested in P[ine] M[ountain]. Asked about colonial architecture in mountains. I said our architecture chiefly limited to one room log cabins and caves. Otherwise very sensible conversation. Mrs. K. said her philosophy is always speak to strangers, and you never can tell what will come of it, but it’s bound to be interesting.
Sunday, February 1st
Went to Second Church — not too far from here. Found church, left movie machine in hallway and forgot all about it. Escorted to Miss Plimpton‘s pew and she delighted to meet me. It was her group which sent $50.00 for the Increase Mather book to P.M.
Interesting church, Cotton Mather’s chair. nice young minister. To lunch at St. Clair’s and had finnan haddie — evidently very plebian dish but had a curiosity to try it. This is on Harvard Square — walked home, met Sister Mary and talked about ancestors. They [are] both Daughters of Mayflower, not just Revolution. Great uncle burned alive by Indians. Sister Mary and Sister Francis had very thrilling lives — educated in France, and spent a great part of life in different countries in Europe, I forget just why.
Cousins came. Time for pictures and suddenly remembered machine at church. Regrets, especially since one cousin deaf and couldn’t hear — could have seen — well.
Returned to church and got machine. Then home.
Monday, February 2nd
Up at crack of dawn to buy shoes before going to meet Miss Coburn on Tremont St. — Lend a Hand woman. Visited P.M. with mother in 1935 and took movies. Very Bostonian in some ways, but completely colorless and correct. Showed pictures and she polite but not by any means overwhelmed. Planned Cheerful letter meeting. She speaks first and shows pictures of southern trip. I follow with P.M.
Left her and went to have hair done. At 7:00 Charlotte called for me and we went to the home of the minister of Mount Vernon Church, where the women’s meeting was held. Quite a crowd considering the bitterness of the weather. First person I met was one who contributed to Caney Creek, and kept asking me if I didn’t think Caney was just wonderful. Very hard to side step that. it seems Mrs. Lloyd has been around Boston with a gospel team, although years ago Wellesley College and the Boston Transcript exposed her completely. But she’s just coming back now, and I suppose most people have forgotten the old scandal. Mrs. Campbell has also been here with a craft display, and Mrs. Breckenridge with her bag of treasures — I follow a poor fourth with very little really to offer. It’s a little discouraging.
However, it seemed to go over. They were very much interested — undoubtedly a group which will give money, perhaps $5.00 or $10.00 a year and may be called on for special needs. No talk of Christmas cards. Minister Mr. Kopf. He had listened to the meeting from the stairs sitting on the top step first and gradually moving down till he was on the front row for the end. Young and really enthusiastic. Miss Putee leader. Very sensible youngish woman. she should be a sound addition.
Page 10. [cobb_1942_travelogue_010.jpg]
Tuesday, February 3rd
After this when I think of winter it will be Boston on February 3rd. The coldest day in history and an icy wind off the ocean that froze one’s breath before it was breathed. Got to subway and found tears rolling down, nose not “holding” as Georgia would say, and hands so stiff I couldn’t get the dime out of my pocketbook for the fare. Very cold day.
Got to Newton and asked how many blocks to Church. Said to gentleman, standing on corner looking peaceful, should I take a taxi? He looked as if he couldn’t have heard aright [sic], so repeated. My God, lady, he said; it’s only a five minutes walk. what are you made of? Would have replied in kind but tongue frozen ,too, so started walking instead. Faced the wind for something like a week and finally got to the church. Couldn’t find the right door. There were a dozen and by this time I was crying. Both feet were so numb couldn’t feel pavement etc. Finally reached the right door and got in just in time for the business meeting.
Thawed out to hear them say they were sending $50.00 to Malcolm White for a stove. when my turn came couldn’t resist wasting one of my minutes saying Malcolm was old Union pal, and we’d always had understanding that everywhere I went to speak I found he’d been there the week before, and it was nice for us to get in together on this one. (didn’t add “except that he got the $50.00”). Spoke very briefly but seemed to be effective. Many friends of Miss de Long there and all plan to return to women’s meeting 17th where I will go the whole hog as it were. Didn’t ask for names. Mrs. Kendrick will look after this crowd.
Sat [at] the speakers’ table. Dr Lauback speaking to afternoon meeting. (Minister sitting by me said this church was built on the site where John Eliot preached to the Indians — it is supposed to be the Riverside of Greater Boston). Dr. L. is from the Philippines and gave a very good talk — discussed war with Christian sanity indicating distaste for slaughter propaganda and asking that people hate and fight evil, which is in us all as well as in Japanese. Gave me a tip when he said he wasn’t asking for their money but for their hearts — said money would follow hearts. Said much about power of prayer. Am convinced that this is right and wish I could be disciplined to learn and use this power — can’t really help Pine Mountain until I can do so. Felt that there was a lesson for my work, if I could only get it.
After meeting, Mrs. Kendrick and friend Mr. Reed took me to Cambridge driving through Harvard Campus. Left me at Miss Case‘s door but it was an hour before time I was invited so hesitated about going in, even bitter cold being no match for proprieties. Started on run against the wind to Harvard Square, in search of a drugstore or something where I could wait. Almost too cold to notice but did see Tory Row Book shop, sigh, stopped there and discovered Agnes Foote. She is a lovely young person — had the Infirmary room at Pine Mountain the year before I did, and had heard a great deal about her. Had a long talk. Her assistant is Bliss Perry‘s daughter. Invited to come to lunch.
Time finally up, so went on the run again back to 11 Mason St. Fingers almost too stiff to ring the bell but did. Mr. Martin answered and Miss Case had lovely fire. Had tea and talked about Pine Mountain. He tremendously interested, much impressed with Glyn’s ten-year report. Thought it excellent piece of expository writing — suggested similar annual report to go to subscribers.
Discussed liberal religion. She asked if by chance I knew Mrs. Fahs — said something I had said would seem to indicate I followed her philosophy. I settled down then to enjoy the evening. It was lovely altogether altho I think she is wrong and we are right. But she’s wonderful. Mr. Martin didn’t commit himself — he never does — but I think he is one of these people who speak and think of “easy” liberalism — it’s so hard to explain that true liberalism is the farthest think of all from “easy” — ever so much more difficult than straight orthodoxy which has all the answers cut and dried.
Page 11. [cobb_1942_travelogue_011.jpg]
To Chapel in seminary which was impressive except that I find it difficult to enjoy pure ritual. Perhaps can’t feel at ease unless I can hear and understand and weigh every word — and of course being unfamiliar with the ritual can’t possibly understand all of it.
Dinner at seminary lots of fun — like Union except all boys which was all to the good. Horrible meal — but nice boys. To lecture room and gave talk — what might be called howling success in literal sense. When the time came for the talk there was considerable turmoil — they thought my screen was too small to be worthy of the speech (not my expression either). I looked the room over and came to rest on luscious white panel of wall in front, adorned with 8×6′ portrait of some grave divinity. Whole crowd noted what must have been calculating look, and in chorus shouted “Take him down!” Half a dozen of them were on the table in a whisk, attacking the portrait — a massive thing which surely couldn’t have been moved for ages. Looked sideways at Mr. Martin and thought he looked a trifle dismayed — the whole business was disorderly to say the least. But down came the doctor and the pictures went on amidst loud acclaim size 8×6.
At the end noted an hour of my forty-five minutes had gone and dismissed them, but Mr. M. suggested a ballad song so sang “Aunt Sal’s Song” and all flatteringly appreciative — evidently there is no school of music at this seminary. Stayed forty-five minutes longer to answer questions, which were still raining when we left. Felt very happy but still wonder about acquitting my cause with dignity to Mr. Martin’s taste — after all he was responsible for the meeting, and it would be too bad if he were disappointed. Had quite a long talk afterwards about religion and education. Can understand how he and Mr. Morris would get along. Mr. Martin’s interest is in training gifted boys for leadership — it’s the old Republic idea should say. I see a fallacy which would not express to him — partly because it may be unfounded. But do feel that training philosopher kings for leading a nation of all kinds of people, without knowing a great deal about the inside of the cup, is teaching in a vacuum. Would not think of saying this aloud — but it is a first impression which I shall examine later.
Wednesday, February 4th.
Chocolate or baked lamb or something kept me awake till 5:00 A.M. so slept till noon today. Had lunch at Kitchen but couldn’t eat, still feeling indigestible. Mildred home from Florida, so stopped at her place a few minutes. She is wife of Vincent Wilbur, Barby’s brother, who owns the Kitchen, and they should become interested in Pine Mountain. Don’t think they are social minded whatsoever, and yet are generous to a fault. Seems as though these people are the most difficult of all to reach. They are so very nice that you hate to reproach them, or to give suggestion that you are trying to reform them — and yet — they’re lost souls until they do reform. I sound very orthodox.
[handwritten at bottom of page; “(to be continued)”
Page 12. [cobb_1942_travelogue_012.jpg]
Beautiful snow today — but what a day. First meeting to be with D.A.R., Paul Revere Chapter, here at Club at 11:00 A.M. Got already (sic) and they called me at 10:45. Went down bag and baggage. Recording Secretary seemed to be reading minutes. Typical D.A.R. crowd, lots of pearls dripping over ample black bosoms. Record. Sec. had several chins and read on for minutes on end. Lady at my side whispered apologies. Said they didn’t usually go into so much detail.
Details continued while I yawned slightly and looked at watch to indicate that I was waiting. No Notice. R.S. finished at long last and I prepared to acknowledge introduction. But then there were reports, all at length. Didn’t listen. Neither did anyone else. Daydreamed about Pine Mountain, took a trip to Europe, relived Porgy and Bess, composed a poem about Boston public gardens in snow, composed letters to back sliders, wrote the April Letter, hiked to Turkey Fork, started back to New York, and suddenly heard welcome words — that completes the reports. Sat up again ready to take a bow. But they had to choose delegates for something. Those chosen. Got ready again — but there were Alternates to be chosen. Felt irritated to be interrupted from dreams. Alternates finally settled — time for me (3/4 of an hour late) but it seemed there was a woman there determined to talk about daguerreotypes for 20 minutes. Settled back, came to in 20 minutes to find she showed no signs of stopping. Woke up and started tapping heels on the floor. Stared fixedly at watch and looked annoyed for 15 more minutes. Suddenly it was over, just like that. Stalked to the front of the room, waived introduction and got going with very bad grace, hating everybody enthusiastically. At end of speech all ladies in a flutter —
Asked if they should send Xmas cards. Said they’d read an appeal for them in the newspaper. I said No you pikers, keep them and enjoy them (mentally). Aloud explained why we didn’t need them. People had sent them so generously etc. Please send linen. Words just out when somebody on the second row said she wanted to help us and how would we like lovely Christmas cards. Ground teeth and explained sweetly — no, we don’t need cards, people very generous etc etc. (Mentally ****). Rushed out with pictures to be stopped on threshold and asked if we needed back of envelopes and old letters. Advised they send them to the government for defense purposes. Said we didn’t want to rob the government at this critical time of valuable materials of this kind.
Got back disposition more or less with walk in park through snow and then got ready for Baptist women at Tremont Temple. Went at 3:15 per instructions. Miss Abbie there and introduced ladies. All very cordial and knew Merle Easton. Her mother came and sat by me at the meeting which was as bad as the D.A.R.’s. Reports and reports and then, by ginger, delegates to be chosen. Women organized must all be pretty much on the same pattern. Started speaking at 5:15 — wondered what Mr. Morris would have done at this juncture. Raced through talk and movies and made further comfortable (?) by seeing ladies surreptitiously leaving by the back door!
After meeting to church dinner, and this was the last straw. Sat at speakers’ table beside Jewish missionary to Jews. Made awful mistake of saying I had a good deal of interest in liberal Jewish religion, and then hell was popping. Told me I was a lost soul and had better look out or I’d be burning. Said he understood I represented a “work” and did I think I was greater than St. Paul to be daring to talk about works. Said I was cursed and twice cursed not only to do works but to go around talking about them. Said didn’t I know if I didn’t change my ways I’d go to hell. I, completely taken aback, said I thought it was a poor kind of religion which existed just to keep oneself out of hell, and I thot (sic) it was sacrilegious to worry about eternity — that the best we could do was to jolly well do the best we could here, and let heaven and hell take care of themselves — which seemed to be worse and worse and worse. Jew assured me I was eternally damned and seemed very gratified at the prospect. Sort of licked his chops. I said if it was a…
Page 13. [cobb_1942_travelogue_013.jpg]
…question of spending eternity in heaven with people like him I’d far rather burn and excused myself from the table. Minister (the real one of Tremont Temple) and his wife and the president of the missionary society and two or three others all came rushing out after me to see what was the matter. They were very sorry — even offered to ask him not to speak (he was the next speaker) but I said to let him talk, only I wouldn’t listen, and I wouldn’t come back to Tremont Temple, and they could all go to heaven and play harps, and I’d be thankful not to be there (I was quite angry). Had long talk with the minister and he is grand, very orthodox but so tolerant of liberal view-point. We talked theology and had a grand time. I’m invited back to speak to two different groups there.
Home and opened Bible to words, “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, truth, self-control, etc.” and decided to forget it. Also found passage, “Judge not lest ye also be judged” and decided since I objected to this Jew’s judgment of me I’d no right either to judge him. But it takes all the …est out of religion when we can’t judge other people. Oh yes another thing the Jew said was, “You think because you’re so sweet and beautiful you can get to heaven, but you can’t.” In spite of hopeless condition of immortal soul, or perhaps because of complete depravity, couldn’t help feeling flattered. Few people tell me I’m beautiful, and no one ever with such complete objectivity.
Guess the best thing to pray for in this exigency is a sense of humor. But wouldn’t I be pleased to get to the pearly gates sometime and see him scorching and popping down below. It would be worth the agony of having all my theories about immortality proved wrong.
Have thought too, that the background of suffering and innate inferiority complex in Jewish race bars them forever to the better half of the Christian religion. They can understand the hell fire part but can’t absorb the joy and natural generosity of it. See ever so clearly that marriage to Jew would have been utterly impossible for me, or for any Christian who takes even a normal interest in his faith. The Baptist preacher said very seriously that perhaps I’d find in thinking it over that this man had crossed my path for a purpose — that God sent him. And maybe that’s true but I’m convinced it’s not the purpose the minister had in mind.
Bitterness born of centuries of hate and fear can only find in Christianity a new kind of bitterness. No, it isn’t time for the kingdom of God — not yet, and maybe it never will be except in persons here and there, at moments now and then.
Page 14. [cobb_1942_travelogue_014.jpg]
Hurried to the Perkinses on Commonwealth Avenue — late for luncheon. Dr. Perkins is pastor emeritus of King’s Chapel. Mrs. Perkins gives lectures on gardens. She had written about great Dixter in Northiam, and it was interesting reminiscing about the chickens carved in boxwood there. They are the aunt and uncle of Miss Emily Hale at Northampton, friends of Mrs. Elsmith and Michael Martin, who had more or less arranged this invitation. He was there also and talked theology with the Doctor while I talked about Pine Mountain with Mrs. Perkins. They are lovely. (My hoosier drawl terribly prominent, and I wished I knew who Dr. Hornack was when Michael gleefully informed me the doctor had studied with him in Germany. I am forever regretting mental laziness. Goodness knows that at Pine Mountain we don’t have time, or don’t seem to, or at any rate don’t keep reading and studying. So often little experiences are like wee small voices saying “This is the world you might live in — but it’s too late now!” — Neibuhr’s lectures, Moffatt, even old moth-eaten Hume — and I wonder if I’m really glad I didn’t cling to the cloisters, which would have been so easy to do at one time. Yet one needs people — all kinds of people, and disappointing as they often are, and safe and dependable as books always are — still — people seem closer to reality than books, and every person one knows is a kind of book to read. On the other hand must confess that this futile busyness has always been an excuse for not reading and thinking. Am shocked to find that a good detective story is the only thing which will keep me awake these days — and used to be so smug about the size of the tomes I pored over. Well —-
Too tired to go to Country dance party scheduled for this evening. Haven’t done much — but spent all those hours waiting to speak, which seems to be the most exhausting kind of thing there is to do. People in this kind of work spend too much time in situations where they’re forced to be idle, golden hours all gone up in choosing delegates. I’ve got to find a way of doing something more constructive with this time than smirk about it in my journal afterward, or it will destroy the value of the whole job itself.
This justifying the whole experience by a flip, offhand amused tolerance for all foolish people, myself included, and let it go at that — is wrong. Can’t seem to discover or be impressed with the seriousness of things. Much as I long for people to be inspired to give substantial help to Pine Mountain, am prone to be content with smiling over the ones who are cluttering up the works and not doing anything — and yet I’m not doing much more, and it’s my job. Think have touch upon my greatest weakness — the tendency to enjoy people as they are and be entertained by them, rather than passionately try to show them what they ought to be.
This travelogue for instance is a satire — a weak one, but that’s what it is, which could be called “Sweet Charity” — yet in the end, unless I can change my whole approach, it will find me out as the most satirized of them all. The Jewish preacher is far ahead of me.
Have decided to rewrite the Pine Mountain talk and put direct appeal with pathos in it — preach a sermon — say “I’m not asking for money now. I want your hearts to go out for these people as ours go out. I want your prayers and your tears. I want you not to forget that however much you have given, you can always give a little more. I want you to have a meal of rice and cocoa and send the two or three or five dollars you didn’t spend for artichokes or lobster to the children of the mountains who wouldn’t know a lobster from a whale” — or something of the sort. Must find a scripture verse like “Inasmuch as” — and I must not talk with my tongue in my cheek — must not be smart. Am afraid after all I’m really not the one to be doing this work.
Page 15. [cobb_1942_travelogue_015.jpg]
Sunday, February 8
To Tremont Temple. Spoke to Junior worship group. They are too young to understand what it’s all about but have great faith in Miss Frost, superintendent, to beat it into them. She is the type.
Impressed first with difference in atmosphere from Riverside. Bare floors, bare tables, folding chairs — not even a bouquet of flowers to give the idea of worship. Verse of dreadful parody on “Onward Christian Soldiers” on the blackboard. Small boy there early said “Miss Frost, — these two sentences — you know — well I found out you were right’. Miss Frost, tinkering with screen, back turned — “What? Oh yes — I should hope so.” etc.
Meeting opened with march played by older boy — “Hail Hail the Gang’s All Here” syncopated a lot. Then singing of verse on the blackboard, first the boys, then the girls, and then all of us, etc. Then singing “for Miss Cobb”(!) of Bible verse chorus, John 3:16 — solo of same by wee boy who sang in blank little monotone, with complete ignorance and indifference to what it was about, “Whosoever beweeveth, beweeveth” and so on. Then same by four little girls, giggling and tittering. Then we all repeated it together. Then we repeated the verse on the blackboard about bringing in the kingdom, washed in the blood, and all. My heart ached at the error of it all, and wondered what Mrs. Fahs would say.
After children went down to Philathea group, about 100 women, who promptly voted $10.00 for Pine Mountain, for which I gave entire credit to the Jewish minister. This group especially kind and tactful in view of word probably passed around about the incident last Thursday. Introducer careful to emphasize that our work was preparing way for bringing salvation to souls.
Noticed about 2/3 of them had been in the Thursday audience, so varied the talk to bring in social problems to date — which didn’t make a big hit. Still, this is an old, former big giver, now giving nothing, so it’s something to get them back.
Back to meet all the Wilburs at Kitchen, then to Fenway Court. Tonight to lecture at the City Club. Nice to go to a meeting where somebody else was showing slides besides me. These were of Denmark and Sweden before the war. Have entre through Caddy to membership of this club, and think it may be possible to speak there if I go back next fall. This talk was really very dull, and of course quite out of date — but audience not at all critical and seemed delighted. Think Pine Mountain story far more interesting.
Monday, February 9
Funny experience today. Had a few backsliders on list to get in touch with in Boston and after making every possible excuse for inaction finally lifted receiver to call on one — this is the hardest part of my job, for me. Decided to pick the oddest name, so selected Mrs. John Dry to begin with. Maid answered and fully expected to be told she was out or busy or indisposed. But she did answer, and without waiting to hear what I had to say asked if I knew Marian Frenyear, of all people — they had visited Pine Mountain together when Miss Wells was there. We had her address wrong, and she was pleased to get in touch again. Odd. I wonder if there are a half-dozen people in the country who don’t know Marian Frenyear.
This ends approaches to Boston people except for a Mrs. Lovell whose call is a 15-cent one and I hesitate to make it. The rest are doctors’ offices, and at Mrs. Elsmith’s suggestion am taking them all off.
Page 16a. [cobb_1942_travelogue_016a.jpg]
Mrs. A. questioned our student government. She convinced it doesn’t work. When you give responsibility to children, they just forget it. Told her experience and I was moved to talk about progressive education but forbore. She very irritating.
Miss Hodge perfectly delighted — is going to send a “few pennies”. Says she hasn’t many, but I rather think she has. She will see that her friends do too, she says. Is sending two nieces to College Club meeting tomorrow.
Home and rather at loose ends. Fortunately Michael couldn’t come in this evening after all, because didn’t get the second draft of Notes finished and then Miss Bertha Cold came too, so it was a full evening. She perfectly delighted — evidently has been lonely. Looks very thin. Had dinner and visit. Don’t know if shall see her again or not — perhaps at C[ollege].C[lub].
Wednesday, February 11
This was the biggest day. Of course it doesn’t rain without pouring so had two meetings for today and one of them out at Waltham. Got up at crack of dawn to run all the way to Stearns to get buttons, then ran back across the Commons and to place on Charles St., clear at the end to have hair done — and then ran all the way back to C.C. to get ready for Waltham meeting. Simply worn out and felt like a marathon contestant. Got to Waltham late it being very complicated surface car transfer to bus kind of trip but it was just as well because they had the business and election of delegates and what not completed when I arrived.
Had awful time getting the machine set up. The room was too light. Finally shifted the whole direction of the room and persuaded the ladies, all comfortably settled to knit and nap for the afternoon, to move knitting, etc., to another angle. Spoke hurriedly and noticed with unusual tolerance that about half were asleep. Don’t know whether it was the nap or the talk they enjoyed, but all were perfectly ecstatic. President Mrs. Cogghill (?) seemed energetic woman, well-dressed, etc. She stayed very wide awake. This group ready for an appeal. practiced on them the new speech I had prepared for the College Club meeting and it came out rather well (better than at the C.C. later, I’m sorry to say).
Hustled off amid cheers and tears and got home just in time to dress for dinner. Unfortunately not time enough to do it as elaborately as I hoped, in honor of first appearance in dinner dress for years. Found roses sent by Miss Wells. Got dressed up, and felt too beautiful (and foolish) for words, just as Mrs. Kendrick called. Went down stairs with care to avoid stepping on skirt — spike heels adding to danger. Gave roses to James to put in lecture room except two which I wore, feeling like Cinderella about to go to the ball.
Mrs. Kendrick brought a Miss Kline and we had dinner. Relieved to find others dressed so didn’t feel quite so odd. Sorry not to be able to eat. Swanky dinners always coming my way at the wrong time nowadays. Went up early to supervise James while he fixed my machine. He very solicitous, grieved that I wouldn’t use platform which he had fixed himself, assured me I’d have a big audience. He can always tell, he says, the way some people tell about weather, by their corns.
Miss Aims was about the first to arrive. Looked at her, thought of the office and marveled. Miss Child came with two friends and Dr. Little, Miss Fitts and Miss Fox, and then all the others so fast couldn’t keep track of them. Got through the preliminaries without doing anything more gauche than step on Miss Woodman‘s velvet train (she is the president of the club) but she said it was her fault — she always wears her train too long because thinks it makes her look taller. All this took place just before the meeting. Went wishing could snap fingers and have it all over. At long last the time came. Don’t know whether James’s corns were accurate or not but it looked like a lot of people to me,…
Page 016. [cobb_1942_travelogue_016.jpg]
Was to meet Jane at Kitchen and go to Cambridge for luncheon but she forgot about time changing, failed to come, and finally had to cancel appointment with Agnes Foote. It was much too cold to go anyway so felt just as glad. went over to Jane’s and Olcott’s apartment on Myrtle Street for short stay until time for afternoon meeting. It is precious — looks like a ship’s cabin. Very Woods Holey.
Walked from there over to 9 Ashburton Place to speak to Old Boston Chapter of D.A.R. Mrs. John Langdon chairman — met her at Tremont Temple — another result from the Jewish preacher, I guess. Must get her address for she is wide awake. Meeting was at Genealogical building. Miss Plimpton, who phoned this morning, very excited and insisted I must look up myself there. Curious, but not enough to do anything about it. Thought too I might as well let well enough alone. Miss P. assured me Cobb was a good name, and it would be a disappointment to find our branch perhaps didn’t come on the Mayflower after all.
Anyway a miracle happened. Shall always remember this Chapter with love and respect. As pushed open the door into the meeting room the chairman was just saying, “And now we are ready for our speaker — I hope she hasn’t had trouble finding us.” She hadn’t, but was considerable intrigued by genealogical building itself which is built on archeological arrangement resembling catacombs, should think. You go into the hall, and find a little sign by the stairs saying “Old Boston below” and an arrow pointing — at the next landing down another sign still saying Old Boston below, and so on until you must be in some subterranean cavern halfway to China — and the sign sudden changes to “Old Boston!” with a hand pointing to the door. And there is Old Boston.
I was so pleased at not having to hear any reports that I gave them my very best talk, reserved for special audiences — very well received — many questions. They will become regular contributors (they said this, and I’ll try to keep it on their minds).
Only one thing — that a gem. One woman asked me if there were lots of Indians in Kentucky. I said no, not to speak of. She said she knew a full-blooded one — and — it was the strangest thing — he married a real American girl. Felt it was too bad this hadn’t come out of one of the other dub (sic) chapters, for had made up my mind to like this group and rather hated to find a genuine D.A.R. touch.
Home and had call from Barbara Bicknell. She was coming into town so asked her to have dinner with me, and we had a long talk. She looks very thin and it seemed to me was very much on the defensive, protesting every other moment that she was happier than ever in all her life. She certainly has taken her medicine. Whether she really likes it or is only spunky, I can’t say. Asked me to come to meeting of Baptist women at Stoneham.
Tuesday, February 10
At last got some work done at home. Early in afternoon went to call on Miss Hodge, a backslider. She lives at 297 Beacon Street, in a perfectly lovely apartment. Is 87 years old and deaf as a post. She told me all about her life history. Plymouth is the home of her heart. Didn’t go to college because in her day only the wrong type of girl went — it wasn’t feminine. Was long time worker in Trinity Church ladies aid (called cutting society, I believe). Brother was at P[ine] M[ountain] in early days, knew Miss Pettit. Was an engineer at Big Stone Gap. Miss H. a darling little fluffy fragile old lady.
When we got ready to have the pictures couldn’t find a room in the house dark enough and finally settled in kitchen which wasn’t quite so bathed in sunshine. She called in Mrs. Atherton from next door and both looked at them, I shouting the patter part in Miss Hodge’s ear the whole time. At the end was so hoarse could hardly talk. Had glass of ginger ale — everybody in Boston keeps ginger ale in the refrigerator as we do grape juice in Indiana. Considerably revived.
Page 17. [cobb_1942_travelogue_017.jpg]
Had terrible attack of stage fright — the first in this whole time, really. Can’t remember how got started — every time I caught sight of an old familiar face there was a row of stars in the speech while I hunted around for the beginning of the next section, and just saw a great blank. Told old stories with telepathic regrets to Miss Wells, talked about song ballads with ghastly consciousness of Melville Smith whom I didn’t recognize at first, he’s grown so fat and good-humored, discussed social trends with Mrs. Elsmith very much in mind, planted a plural verb with a singular subject every time I looked at Michael Martin, and delivered direct appeal for financial support with sincere apologies to everybody there. Don’t know really what I did say I was so rattled, but came back to consciousness during picture and finally sat down aware of one redeeming fact — hadn’t tripped over my long skirt on that awful polished floor, which would have been the last straw. Pipe-dreamed about sinking through floor or fading behind curtain or something while Una sang ballads — beautifully. Felt she redeemed the evening, suddenly remembered had meant her to have the roses and then forgotten. She delighted the audience.
Everybody very kind. Kept busy meeting people during and after reception — punch and sandwiches. So glad to see Melville and Mrs. Smith — recalled last cantankerous exploits of Maud. Dear Dr. Perkins said, “My dear, you told me the other day that I remind you of your father. I want you to know that if your father were here tonight he would be proud.” I thought that was a lovely thing for him to say.
After everybody had gone, went up to get my machine — found all literature had been taken. Miss Woodman was there and we talked for nearly an hour. She had spent several years in Hungary — very charming person — simple and unassuming. Liked her tremendously, velvet train and all.
Back to room and to bed — anticlimax, but relief. Starved to death.
Thursday, February 12, 1942
Mrs. Elsmith called in the morning to say cheering word about meeting which made me feel happier. Idled until lunch time, not having slept till four or five in the morning. To lunch and then dressed for Wellesley. Met Mrs. Elsmith and checked over plans. Then to Wellesley. Miss Wells met me at the station and we went to Munger Hall for dinner. This hall given by Miss Munger who gave our chapel and organ, which made an interesting connection.
Sat at table with next year’s head of Service fund and this year’s chairman, also other committee members. Very much interested, asked lots of questions, so was kept busy talking. They knew “The Emerging Curriculum” and were interested in Educational end. Geared talk after dinner entirely to that. It was a large group, very responsive, and felt it was a successful evening. Was much impressed by earnestness and intelligence of girls. Had same feeling as at Smith College meeting. Feel we have sound social resources in college students of this type. These girls especially interested in our Cooperative store because their house is cooperative.
Saturday, February 14, 1942
Spent best part of morning getting rest of my stay here lined up and arranging about Amherst on Sunday. Suddenly conscious that shan’t have time for half the things I want to do. Called up the Plimptons and arranged to go there Monday, and will see Rose Epstein after that.
Page 18. [cobb_1942_travelogue_018.jpg]
Got some of my things packed, sorted out literature for remainder of Boston meeting. To kitchen for lunch. Miss Staats a nurse there, very silly, and I a trifle sarcastic. Hurried home to get dressed for D.A.R. at Belmont — the Colonel Jededuthan something Chapter. Glad to find out how to pronounce it.
Ready just at 1:30 and went down to find Mrs. Buffum waiting. She very pleasant but quite formal — reserved new Englander I’ve heard about — finally discovered the trouble was she was very shy. Was too preoccupied to talk much and couldn’t help being irritated by foolish questions. Persisted in talking about “mountain whites”. Finally got to Belmont. Miss Tobey president of the chapter, lovely old lady, white hair, black dress of course, with pearls.
Had trouble getting the flag up because on the standard it hit the ceiling and off the standard it dragged on the floor. Finally put it on the desk in a flower vase. All saluted. Never know whether it is correct for me to join in on the ceremony or not, but fear it might look unpatriotic not to, so always do though still have feeling that the D.A.R. salute is different from the usual one — more like the Nazis it seems to me. Well, so all of us lame halt and blind and those too fat to make a military gesture — saluted. Then there were reports. Miss Tobey, who was pulling for my side, begged the committee chairmen to make the reports brief in view of the “choice treat in store for us” but suppose one might as well speak to a blizzard as to a D.A.R. committee woman all steamed up to make a Report.
Cannot say what the reports were about but after we got that done it was time for Mrs. Matz to discuss the proper treatment and use of the Flag. She entitled her dissertation “A Quiz With Some Informative Remarks Appended”. Couldn’t help but be interested in spite of determination to remain bored. Questions very exciting — “When do you hang up a flag?” A. Morning. Q. When do you take it down? A. Evening. Q. What should you do with an old dirty flag? A. Burn it, but not if the children are around for it will disillusion them. Wait till husband has had breakfast and gone to the office, and the children have left for school. Then, while the maid is busy upstairs, fold the banner, sneak off to the basement, and with reverent prayer, poke it in the furnace. (This is verbatim.) The quiz got very exciting like a race and we got all tense to see how many knew the answers, Mrs. M. very thrilled whenever we got one right, etc.
This went on for 30 minutes. Then there was a devotional program, and some other things, and then I spoke. By this time was primed to make vitriolic remarks which have become too common. Started out by telling them never never to say mountain whites. Said how would you like to be called New England whites — heard faint little gasp from Mrs. B’s corner, and hastily smoothed things over but presently warmed up again and said all our children could be D.A.R.s if they wanted to. Another gasp this time from all over, then silence filled with meaning, for once had all my audience listening to every word. From then on was my charmingest, not quite sure whether was forgiven but in the end all delighted and ended with grand tribute to the D.A.R and how glad we were to be an approved school, etc. So all was well.
Tea with red white and blue napkins and they are going to contribute. Got in a slash at Christmas cards before anybody could bring up the subject and one brilliant member got A in the social IQ test by suggesting to me that perhaps it would be better if they sent money instead of something else. It was a long afternoon but that one spark made it all worthwhile and went far to redeeming DAR altogether, national and all. Mrs. B. spoke about the mountain whites and said she was so glad to be corrected, which was score two for them.
Was driven home by polite woman who didn’t attend meeting because she said she didn’t feel physically up to it. Later inadvertently dropped information that she had spent the time shopping in Boston! Said she was having difficulty with papers (DAR). She belonged to the Mayflower society but ancestors all Quakers and didn’t have the decency to fight in the revolution, alas. I remarked driving me back to Boston must be great strain and she said of course it was. She was always promising to do things like this and when the time came wishing she hadn’t. Felt just fine after that, of course. But got home intact.
Page 19. [cobb_1942_travelogue_019.jpg]
Took train to Wellesley. Supper with Miss Wells and long talk over publicity trip. Can never be too grateful and appreciative of her helpfulness. She is like a rock of Gibraltar. Working[?] idea for graphical presentation of our program which I must work on this summer.
Sunday, February 15th
Went to Kings Chapel S[unday] S[chool] held in Little Chapel on Marlborough Street, very close to College Club. It is one of the old grey stone fronts converted into a Chapel, and perfectly lovely. Was a little late, but welcomed by Dr. Perkins, the minister, not related to Dr Perkins, emeritus. Opening exercises in session. Most of the children wore choir robes. Music led by (evidently) a theological student doing field work. Songs were lovely, unusual, very good. Haydn hymn which they were learning was beautifully explained in its musical historical setting. This was very different from the traditional Sunday School at Tremont Temple, and good.
The rest was a little stiff going for a liberal Baptist. Following the singing all the group, about forty, filed into the little Chapel in the back of the house — a miniature Episcopal church with altar, pews, etc., all children’s size and the prayer service carried through, abridged, of course, but following exactly the ritual, minister in clericals, etc. It was most dignified, evidently training for adult church later. But it did lack the freshness (seemed to me to lack it) of the children’s worship service at Riverside. I wondered if this traditional service has the meaning for the child which it has for the adult, and if it isn’t more really worshipful to build the service around the actual children’s experiences and knowledge.
Michael asked if I would care to speak to his boys, but thought he could do that, and I wanted to visit Miss Winslow’s class of girls. This was interesting because Miss W. is a very interesting little person. The lesson was about Lent, and one girl said it meant temptation, she thought. I thought that a good answer too, but it was wrong. Then we had a little discussion about giving up things which somehow led into the realms of self-control, turning the other cheek instead of hitting back again. Very spirited debate in which Cornelia, Dr. Perkins daughter (who looks so much like Debby) was quite unconvinced to the end. She though if somebody socked you, you’d better sock ’em back. She had done that once and knocked a girl’s tooth out, and still thought it was just and proper. It was proof, I guess, of Miss W.’s very good leadership that even the visitor was strongly tempted to enter the discussion — but I didn’t.
Somehow got on to Adam and Eve and one daring child said she didn’t think Satan could really have been a snake because snakes couldn’t possibly talk, and then Cornelia said the Bible was silly in lots of ways like that, such as always talking about forty — forty days and forty nights, etc., and you just had to make allowances — which again I thought was just as good a way of saying it as could be found.
Altogether it was really very interesting, and I was glad to be there. Sorry that I didn’t have an opportunity to meet the teacher afterward.
Page 20. [cobb_1942_travelogue_020.jpg]
After Sunday School Michael came over to the College Club and we checked over the publicity and discussed Rose. She has been refused by several colleges, even Antioch — because of her name, which is Epstein. Seems very odd.
Couldn’t have dinner because I had to speak to the Men’s class at Pak St. Church at 12:30. Got there while the lesson was going on and saw right away that this church was interested in saving souls not bodies or spirits. The lesson lasted so long — the teacher a jolly old fundamental grandfather sort of man with a booming voice that sort of rose and fell with Ahs and Glory to Gods, etc., reminiscent of Holiness Church at P[ine] M[ountain], all the men echoing Amen, etc. There were five minutes left for me and I talked mostly about Uncle William‘s wanting “all young uns taught to serve the livin’ God”, but I don’t think they like the progressive touch about “choosing right or wrong whichever they will.”
One good thing about this class. They serve refreshments. I came away with an orange, a kumquat and a flower for my coat.
Had just time to get home and pack my bag to go to Amherst. Intended to write on the train but went to sleep and woke up as we came to Springfield. Mr. Holt met me. His letter had said jocosely that I was to pick out the handsomest man in the station. He is not that by a long shot — fiftyish — but ever so kind and just as liberal as they come. We talked theology all the way to Amherst. He said very humbly that perhaps his liberalism was responsible for his empty pews. He sort of made me want to cry. Seemed sort of helpless and so anxious to be efficient and effective. His wife died rather recently and he’s taken to smoking, as he explained apologetically.
Entertained at supper with Mrs. Brown — typical homey New England person, all bustle and anxiety to please — quite flustered, apologizing for everything especially for shouting, a habit she has because her husband is deaf, and won’t admit it and get an ear trumpet, so she has been shouting 33 years.
To meeting — just a handful there for it was a bitter evening. Mr. Holt so distressed and sorry that I did my best to make it seem worthwhile, and they stayed till 10:30 asking questions. It seemed to be a peak evening. The leader, a teacher of English at State college was most intelligent and we had a corking bull session. Shouldn’t wonder if a ball was started rolling. Had three invitations to speak to other groups, of course couldn’t do it, but am invited to come to them on my next trip.
Home to Mrs. Brown (she had been at meeting and quite delighted). She dragged in her son Robert, a buxom brute going to the army next week. He obviously unwilling to meet the visiting missionary, and felt great sympathy, so tried to be as nice as possible succeeding all too well. He hung around the rest of the evening, which wasn’t so long, but seemed very long to me, and when bedtime came Mrs. B. suggested that she and father would go on to bed and let the “young folks” (!) have the living room. Didn’t feel equal to listening to Robert’s wisecracks any longer so hustled off myself. Before this however showed the pictures to Robert and father, to Mrs. B’s delight, she not having been able to drag them to the meeting. Robert thrilled and so was father. She said with awe that father hadn’t stayed up later than 10:30 since they were married. But when she asked him if he didn’t want to go to bed instead of seeing the pictures, he said testily that of course he didn’t — he wanted to see the show.
To bed and froze all night. Decided the furnace must be out of order or they were short of coal or something.
Page 20v. [cobb_1942_travelogue_020v.jpg]
[reverse side of page 20] After S[unday] S[chool] Michael came over to the C[ollege] C[lub] and we checked over the publicity and discussed Rose. She has been refused by several co…[ends here]
Page 21. [cobb_1942_travelogue_021.jpg]
[underline] February 16th, Monday
Up before daylight. Son Robert playing hillbilly music on radio, doubtless complimentary to me. Delighted to see me. Said he could tell a school teacher, missionary, secretary or anything you might name at a glance, but couldn’t quite figure me out — didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. Breakfast with Mrs. B. hustling here and there. Learned the reason for the cold. They can’t stand heat! Mrs. B. wondered if I were comfortable. Assured them between teeth chatterings that I adored cold houses — couldn’t have them cold enough, etc. Off at crack of dawn to Northampton. Took rickety accommodation train with one engine, one smoker and one box car. Looked them over and chose the smoker, but wished I had decided on the engine. Got sick and stayed that way all day. Long wait at Springfield. Boston train late. Slept all the way to Boston, groggily found College Club, called off Cambridge appointment and went to bed. Got up for 4:30 appointment and met Rose Epstein. She very nice little girl, certainly no earmarks of being Jewish, but then I never can tell anyway.
Finished with her and found Bertha Cold and Merle Easton both waiting in the living room. Miss Weske arrived and we all to Kitchen for dinner, then on to endless trip to Stoneham, which must be in northern Canada. I still sick from that ghastly smoker. Merle very much on her dignity. Has grown extremely fat, but is stunning looking. Very conscious of her new position on National Council of Cong. Board. It really is high, but I thought she was taking herself rather too seriously. Remarked it was nice to know somebody who belonged to the upper crust, and she started to be offended, but laughed and after that the atmosphere was much less formal.
Got to Stoneham. Met at trolley end by Barbara Bicknell and her friend who is an officer of the Berea class — where I was speaking. We were late and the meeting seemed to be well on. Terribly noisy crowd of women. Thought probably this group wouldn’t be very much interested in my story, and was right, in a way. They weren’t very attentive and really didn’t understand. Believe leader was Mrs. Bradford. Anyway did not make a point of getting names as this group will only give as a group, and Barbara will probably look after them. Evidently not wealthy at all, and not socially very wide awake — would have preferred more sentimental talk with lots of little stories. Have decided to prepare a special speech of this kind for this kind of group. The trouble is you can’t tell often till you’re well on the way, what kind you’re dealing with.
After the meeting, and while we were waiting for the hostesses to put the whipped cream on the cake, I sang, and Miss Bertha Cold talked a little. The ladies were quite interested in her. She talked about Topsy the cat, and subjects closer to their general background of interest. Had a huge piece of cake and cup of tea so strong I though it was coffee, knowing all the while that it would be the last straw, and it was. Got home at 12:30 and to sleep at something like 4:30. Funny that while everybody else in Boston has been fussing about the cold and bad colds, I’ve not have a sniffle or even so much as a headache except from indigestion due to missionary meeting and DAR refreshments.
Tuesday, February 17
Tonight it is farewell to Boston, and am both sorry and glad. This morning up late. phone call from Caddy saying she had found a zipper bag for my extras. Wakened me at 9:00. Still half asleep called Mrs. Kendrick, and evidently wakened her — she sounded as sleepy as I felt. Ate a chocolate ginger to get myself wider awake, remembering this is the last day before Lent and six weeks abstinence, maybe. Dithered about packing and then got ready for Newton, still so sleepy couldn’t tell soap from toothpaste. Got off to Newton and arrived still dragging and feeling furious at necessity of speaking at all. Had lunch still feeling aggrieved at idea. Ladies came, met them all with smile glued on. Just felt silent and unwilling to talk. Meeting began and suddenly woke up to find the speech coming out with the ohs and ahs of audience in usual places. warmed up and got to pictures.
Page 22. [cobb_1942_travelogue_022.jpg]
Suddenly realize hadn’t put them in order. Gave slides to daughter to sort out while I filled in time singing ballad songs. Showed pictures, each one a milestone to the end, and finally came to the churchbell ringing out glad tidings, etc. and felt I might be fainting. Ladies delighted. Revived with two cups coffee and quantities of sandwiches. Mrs. Kendrick after hearing this three times, seemed very pleased. Took taxi to trolley and arrived at C[ollege] C[lub] to find Merle Easton waiting. Had dinner and talked a while. She same old self tonight. Much friendlier than before. After she left ran across park to collect zipper bag from Caddy. It looks like a swimming bag but no matter, serves the purpose. Mary there. She driving to N.Y.C. tomorrow and wants me to go with her at 8:30 A.M. Caddy returned with me and did most of my packing in about half an hour. Black out intervened. Met Winfield Cornett sloshing around as air raid warden, looking like a detective, with rain coat and slicker hat pulled down low, very impressive. Sirens made a fearful racket.
Can’t think whether talking or waiting to talk at meetings has worn me out, but think probably it is the waiting, for there hasn’t been too much talking on the whole — but anyway am sick of talking and hope to get back energy before Montclair on Monday or Friday, or whatever it is. Glad shall never run for president, and think of Mr. Wilkie with more sympathy than before.
Wednesday, February 18th
Got up at crack of dawn to get ready to leave, and waited for an hour before Mary arrived to my disgust. [handwritten notation in margin: “don’t know who this Mary is — not M.R.! Aec(?) 1979″] That’s just what she would do. She finally came and somehow got to Hartford, went to the station, and then she departed on her errands, and I found Dr. Van Vleck. Had luncheon with him. He is fine — young, energetic, and very nervous, has fine family connections in Montclair, will be going to a party to be given in his honor Saturday night by Mrs. Percival Gates who is inviting me to tea on Friday — seems as though everybody knows somebody. Dr. V.V. not sure he can come to April meeting because he is expecting a baby, about that time. He is entirely too much engrossed in Victor Obenhaus and Pleasant Hill. In conversation, although hadn’t planned it so, felt we touched on some rather vital points. Regarding publicity he feels the educational policy of the school ought to reach the elected officers of the state or the voting constituency in such a way that we could sometime turn the elections, put in state officers who would understand educational needs, and subsidize certain aspects and projects of our program. I thought it was a pipe dream to be sure, but all that we do, as he said, begins with dreams. Eventually that’s what we’d work toward anyway.
Somehow got on the old subject of personnel — he intimated that Pleasant Hill has no problem. Should like to see P.H.
Thursday, February 19th
Had 12:30 appointment with Professor Swift and Mrs. Elsmith. Rather hurried but touched on chief points. Publicity program at least lined up and I have an idea of where I’m going. Had lunch with Mr. E. and Ruth Campbell who met us. Ruth does not look well. We talked over some of the current news. Some publicity plans. Have so many in mind now that I’m afraid I’ll get jammed up. But if I can just get to P[ine] M[ountain] and lay everything out in order think it will organize itself.
Page 23. [cobb_1942_travelogue_023.jpg]
Friday, February 20th
Up before daylight and took bus at unearthly hour to Christopher St. Ferry. Got to Montclair, and met by Miss Reeves. She is deeply buried in a book. Looks just the same. Took me to high school where Miss Shultz and Miss Burrows were waiting, also Miss McVeigh. Miss Shultz is a tiny little old lady, very nervous for fear I might do or say the wrong thing — not the least bit reassuring! Quite deaf, so couldn’t tell whether I did or not, and didn’t give benefit of doubt, but I liked her anyway — it’s so nice to find someone so deeply concerned as to be troubled that way. Gave me lots of instructions, listened politely, and then forgot them. Miss Burrows is her companion, a former nurse, very nice person. Miss McV. dean of high school a stunning young woman. Had been in the Appalachians, was at Norris one year. Found she was roommate there of Ruth Wolf. She will return to mountains as soon as she is financially settled. Think she would be fine addition to P[ine] M[ountain] staff, and shall ask Mr. Morris what he thinks. I think she is the real thing, has fine eyes.
Talk not entirely successful. Spoke in large assembly room and they insisted on putting up a microphone. Avoided this, to their annoyance, and got on splendidly except when I accidentally got in the range of the thing, heard voice suddenly jumping back at me. Students (devils) howled with delight whenever this happened. The pictures were bad because the light wasn’t strong enough in the machine, and the assembly room couldn’t be darkened, so the pictures could hardly be seen. Also there was a boy operating the machine — they insisted on this too — high schools al[l] ready to make arrangements whether you want them to or not. I think it must be something to do with having the children share the experience. Anyway it was just awful, and I hope never to go through such an experience, although they seemed quite satisfied, and said the order was better than usual. I thought it must be dangerous to be there usually, at assembly time.
Went to Miss Madison‘s book store, or rather it used to be hers, I gather. Now she works there. She very nice middle aged-ish woman, cordial, wholesome, much interested in Pine Mountain, etc. Then to Miss Shultz’s house for lunch. A beautiful mansion sort of house. She says it is a white elephant, and they can’t sell it to anyone, and can’t afford to keep it running. They have had a great deal of money, and now most of it is gone. Took a nap and had lunch, and long talk in Miss S’s ear, after which she seemed to have a good deal more confidence in me — suppose I must have looked too young and irresponsible for any use to her in the beginning. Anyway we talked most of the afternoon, and by the time I took the bus back to New York was quite worn out with shouting.
Monday, February 23
This was day for Dwight School, and went with some premonitions. This is the place where I spoke before, and the movie flickered and the light went out, etc. Remembered advice of elevator man at College Club: “The things you worry about mostly never happen.” Got early start to Englewood — so early was an hour and a half before time. Better than being an hour and a half too late. Waited in faculty room and watched milk and graham crackers consumed, feeling very unhappy, having had no breakfast. Met by Miss Leggett, one of the principals, who was most cordial. Remembered her from last time there, but she didn’t remember me, so didn’t remind her, that being sad memory best forgotten. She fatter and much pleasanter. Evidently it improves people’s dispositions to get fat. it was her birthday, too. Betty Thomson the postgraduate in charge of social program took me to the library where I was to talk. Without a doubt this school has the keenest social mind and most active program of any I have seen. They have a student sheet, and send money to China, Greece, Africa, etc. There is a Pine Mountain drive every year.
Page 24. [cobb_1942_travelogue_024.jpg]
The library is really a lovely room, just the right size for talking informally. Had just got machine adjusted when the Junior school, tiny baby children began to file in, all pigtails and red noses, very quiet and obviously awed by privilege of meeting with Intermediate school. Seeing how very small they were, had to make lightning revision of talk and somehow related High School program to these little ones. Decided to give a little show and sing ballad song, so started off to take them to visit a mythical Cindy Ellen, same age as youngest pigtail, and living on Greasy Creek. Amazed to see how interested they were. It was so successful that I never did get to the ballad song. Visited Cindy Ellen and family, ate biscuits for breakfast, helped wash the clothes in the creek, went to the district school, and then wondered what would happen to her after she finished eighth grade. Then showed pictures of Pine Mountain. Was so pleased with the response. Have grand idea for children’s story talk, now.
As soon as these were done and disposed of, the Seniors came, [I] looked them over and decided they could take the grown up talk. Had a little less time, but raced through and they were wonderful. Evidently had made some study of social science. It was one of the most intelligent and responsive groups I have met.
Afterwards found friends of Mr. Arny in the audience, and one little girl told me she thought we must be cousins for she is Irvin Cobb‘s granddaughter. Very lovely looking child, no resemblance to Irvin. Reminded that it was at this school I met daughter of author of “Tobacco Road” play several years ago.
Lunch with Miss Leggett, then had to hurry back to New York. She remarked that few years ago they had had the movies, which they didn’t like at all, but these pictures were fine. Didn’t remind her that I’d been the bringer of the movies also!
Tuesday, February 24, 1942
Went to Montclair on afternoon train, got to station, and found no one to meet me. Sat down and began waiting patiently, more or less. Minutes went by — saw a woman there who seemed to be trying to meet someone, and thought of asking her if she was meeting me, but thought my movie camera and screen should indicate who I was, and hesitated to interrupt her. She looked very preoccupied, also very much irritated as train after train came in and still there was nobody for her. Got quite amused, wondering when her person would come, and finally said it seemed she was having as much difficulty finding someone to meet, as I was being met — and it turned out she was Mrs. Huggins. Felt rather foolish, but she felt more foolish, as she should have, and it was a nice informal way to meet — both perfectly disgusted! Anyway we got home in time for supper, and it really was most elaborate. They seem to be very wealthy people. Had a lovely evening. Mr. H. is something of a photographer, and had a machine like mine. While he was tinkering with mine it stopped working — still don’t know whether the bulb was burned out, or he broke it, but he took it to be repaired, and I used his. Daughter Joan seemed restless, very outspoken young person. Had had two years at Stephens of which Mr. Huggins is trustee.
To bed with radio of my own to hear the president’s speech, and a map to follow what he was going to say. Breakfast in bed the next morning, and Mrs. Huggins came up and talked a long time about Pine Mountain, and possibility of Joan finding a place here. Joan wants to learn practical nursing.
Went to Kimberly School. Showed pictures in gymnasium, and all the girls sat on the floor. Didn’t feel same kind of interest as at Dwight School, but the girls seemed to be very much interested. Principal had known Mrs. [Ethel de Long] Zande. They contribute every year.
Page 25. [cobb_1942_travelogue_025.jpg]
Afternoon meeting of Montclair association at Baptist church, which was built by Dr. Fosdick. The Hugginses of course know him very well, and share an island with his family in Maine, in the summer. There was really a large group of women to hear the talk, and I enjoyed this meeting very much. Among them were Mrs. Gates, and Mrs. Huggins, both of whom are friends of Mrs. Elsmith, and Mr. Huggins. Mrs. Gates is a sort of relative of Dr. Van Vleck. After the meeting went with her for tea, and had a long talk. She wants to arrange several meetings in the fall in Montclair, and feels there is a great deal of potential interest there. She is from Chicago. Miss Shultz was at the meeting, and seemed delighted with everything, so I think that it was altogether fairly successful. I do think we can do a great deal more in Montclair, for this seems to be one place which really belongs to Pine Mountain, and we have the interest of the “cream” as Miss Shultz says.
Wednesday, February 25
Luncheon with Mrs. Elsmith
Conference with Dr. Carder of Riverside Church, regarding Turrell fund.
Meeting of Western College group, for talk and pictures at Jackson Heights
Friday — Conference with Professor Swift, re: Turrell Foundation
Evening with Ruth Campbell
Sunday — To Wilmington, spent day with Miss (sic) [Ethel] de Long [Zande], then to Baltimore, night at College Club, visited Park School in morning.
Monday — To Garrison Forest School, talked to assembly.
Tuesday — Ruth Campbell
Thursday — Baltimore — Park School
Friday, March 6 – Monday, March 16 — Seymour, Indiana.
March 16 — Pine Mountain.
Alice Cobb – Biography
PMSS Notes, November 1927
[Issue edited by Alice Cobb]
Alice Cobb’s Report to Trustee Dorothy Elsmith, 1944
[A report of her visits to several mountain institutions]
Alice Cobb – Travelogue, 1946