Tag Archives: spiritualism

EMILY, JASPER and Patience Worth

HerronCoverThere is an interesting tale to be told concerning Pearl Curran’s best friend Emily Grant Hutchings.  Emily and Pearl were very good friends when the Patience Worth saga began to unfold as Pearl and Emily sat at the Ouija Board together on a hot July night in 1913.  But that friendship eventually soured when Emily was discharged as amanuensis and transcriber for the Patience Worth sessions by Pearl’s husband, John Curran.  This prompted Emily to strike out on her own to contact the spirit world with the help of medium Lola V. Hays and eventually to hook-up with the spirit of Mark Twain who transmitted several short stories to them, including “Up the Furrow to Fortune”, “A Daughter of Mars” andJap Herron.”

The following information was gleaned from a 42-page introduction written by Emily Hutchings to “Jap Herron”.

Emily had been invited to attend a small psychical research society meeting in St. Louis Missouri in March 1915 and it was there that she met Mrs. Irwin Hays (Lola Viola) who had the ability to transmit spirit messages by means of a planchette and “lettered board.”  Emily coyly admitted that the apparatus was familiar to her and that her name had appeared in connection with a “recently detailed series of psychic experiments.”  She acknowledged that, “it is true that I had taken part in another psychic demonstration, but it was in a remote part of the city  .  .  .  .”  Although Emily played a big role in initiating the contact with Patience Worth in 1913 with Pearl Curran using the planchette and lettered board, apparently, because of lingering hurt feelings, she did not wish to acknowledge her partnership in the Patience Worth dictation in her book.  Instead she spent 42 pages detailing her camaraderie with Mark Twain in the production of Jap Herron.  She gave little recognition to the more pivotal role of Lola Viola Hays who was the medium through whom the words of Mark Twain were spoken.

Mrs. Hays (Lola Viola Rodenmayer married Irwin Milton Hays in 1885) was gaining a local reputation in St. Louis as someone with the ability to transmit spirit messages by means of a planchette and a lettered board.  Emily met Lola by chance at a regular meeting of a small psychical research society in St. Louis.  At that initial meeting, Samuel L. Clemens, ‘Lazy Sam’ spelled out, through Lola, a few sentences on the board .  Emily’s heart skipped a beat when she heard the name Samuel L. Clemens since she had some interest in his writing and had grown up in Hannibal Missouri the childhood home of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) so, after the meeting she arranged a private meeting with Mrs. Hays hoping to have a personal conversation with Mark Twain.

Again, not mentioning the name of Patience Worth, Emily told Mrs. Hays that “in my former psychic investigation, it had been my habit to pronounce the letters as the pointer of the planchette indicated them.”  Mrs. Hays urged her to render the same service when she sat with her, because she (Lola) never permitted herself to look at the board, fearing that her own mind would interfere with the transmission.  Apparently, according to Emily, Mark Twain had told Mrs. Hays that he had carried with him much valuable literary material which he yearned to send back (from the spirit world) and that he would transmit stories through her, if she  could find just the right person to sit with her at the transmission board. (This person, according to Emily, of course was—Emily!)

“As far as possible, we sat twice a week on Mondays and Fridays,” Emily reported.  “We usually worked uninterrupted for two hours with no sound save that of my voice as I pronounced the letters and punctuation marks over which the pointer of the planchette paused in its swift race across the board.”  Emily stated that, “Three evenings in succession we had had trouble with the planchette.  It had seemed to me that Mrs. Hays was trying to pull it from beneath my fingers.  Meanwhile she had mentally accused me of digital heaviness.”  Emily said that Mark Twain wanted Lola to be passive and that it is up to the ‘Hannibal girl’ to receive the transmissions.

Although Mrs. Hutchings and Mrs. Hays were seasoned writers; Mrs. Hays having written short stories for one of the large religious publishing houses and Mrs. Hutchings was a well-known writer of articles of interest to women in St. Louis (See ‘That Hannibal Girl’),  Emily explained, “Neither Mrs. Hays nor I could have written the fiction that has come across our transmission board.  .  .  .  Our literary output is well known, and not even the severest psychological skeptic could assert that it bears any resemblance to the literary style ofJap Herron’ “  (This is in sharp contrast to Pearl Curran who had no writing credits to her name and stated that she never had any desires or inclinations to write anything at all!)

Also in contrast to the writing of Patience Worth, the writing of ‘Mark Twain’ through Emily and Lola required a lot of rewriting, with months of juxtaposing of words, sentences and paragraphs.  Mrs. Hays and Emily “discussed the plot at some length.”  Emily states that “I know nothing of Mark Twain’s habits; but in all the work we have done for him, the first draft has been rough and vigorous and sweeping changes have been made by him while the work was undergoing revision  The story had been virtually rewritten twice although a few of the chapters, as they now stand, are exactly as they were transmitted, not so much as a word having been changed.  .  .  .  Sometimes in the course of the revision, we have been interrupted by the jerkily traced words, ‘Try this,’ or ‘We’ll fix that better,’ or ‘I told Emily to take out those repetitions.’  It has happened that he used the same word four times in one paragraph, and in copying I have substituted the obvious synonym.”  Twain added that it was “up to Emily” to give this book to the world.

(Perhaps this kind of behavior on the part of Emily is what got her in trouble with John Curran, resulting in John’s decision to not allow Emily to transcribe the Patience Worth dictation.)

“The revision sheets covered a big table,” claimed Emily “and my husband found it very exasperating to make the corrections.”  “When next we met, we had no thought of any other work than the revision of the story on which we had been working at frequent intervals for about two months.”  According to Emily, Mark Twain stated that, “Emily will know where to fit the revisions in.”  “Once when I implored him to tell me where a certain brief but gripping paragraph belonged, he replied, Emily, that is your job.  I don’t want the Hannibal girl to fall down on it. .  .  .  the entire responsibility had been on me .  .  .  as Mark Twain had said that he didn’t want to be disappointed in the Hannibal girl.”

And so it continued.  Emily seemed to require center stage so she left Pearl Curran and Patience Worth in a huff because John Curran wouldn’t let her rewrite the Patience Worth dictation and then she subjugated Lola V. Hays to allow her to rewrite Mark Twain’s short stories ad libitum.

The following is an example of the writing in “Jap Herron.”  The book has been severely criticized as not worthy of the greatness of Mark Twain but I think if nothing else it does capture the flavor and style of Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.”  The Clemons family of course didn’t like it and sued to prevent it from being distributed and sold,  They were successful and the book was quickly withdrawn from the marketplace.

JAP HERRON

CHAPTER II

“Run out and get a box of sardines,” ordered the boss of the Washington press.  “I’ve got a nickel.  I can’t let you starve.  I lived three months on them—look at me!”

Jap surveyed him apprehensively.

“I’d hate to be so thin,” he complained, “and I don’t like sardines nor any fishes.  My dad fed us them every day.  Allus wanted to taste doughnuts.  Can I buy them?”

Ellis Hinton laughed shortly, and spun the nickel across the imposing stone.  Jap caught it deftly.  An hour later he appeared for work, smiling cheerfully.

“Why the shiner?” queried Ellis, indicating a badly swollen and rapidly discoloring eye.

“Kid called me red-top,” said Jap bluntly.

“Love o’ gracious,” Ellis exclaimed, “what is the shade?”

“It’s red,” quoth Jap, “but it ain’t his business. If I am agoin’ to be a editor, nobody’s goin’ to get familiar with me.”

This was Jap’s philosophy, and in less than a week he had mixed with every youth of fighting age in town.

The office took on metropolitan airs because of the rush of indignant parents who thronged its portals.  Ellis pacified some of the mothers, out talked part of the fathers and thrashed the remainder.  After he had mussed the outer office with “judge” Bowers, and tipped the case over with the final effort that threw him, Jap said, solemnly surveying the wreck:

“If I had a dad like you, I’d ‘a’ been the President some day.”

Ellis gazed ruefully into the mess of pi, and kicked absently at the hell-box.

“I’ll work all night,” cried Jap eagerly.  “I’ll glean it up.”

“We’ll have plenty of time,” said Ellis gloomily.  “We have to hit the road, kid.  Judge Bowers owns the place.  He has promised to set us out before morning.”

But luck came with Jap.  It was Friday again, and Bowers’s wife presented him with twins, his mother-in-law arrived, and his uncle inherited a farm.  There was only one way for the news to be disseminated, and he came in with his truculent son and helped clean up, so that the Herald could be issued on time.  More than that, he made the boys shake hands, and concluded to put Bill to work in the Herald office.  After he had puffed noisily out, Ellis looked whimsically at Bill.

“Are you going to board yourself out of what I am able to pay you? he asked.

“Oh, I don’t reckon Pappy cares about that,” the boy said cheerfully.  “He just wants to keep me out of mischief, and he said that lookin’ at you was enough to sober a sot.”

Months dragged by.  Bill and Jap worked more or less harmoniously.  Once a day they fought; but it was fast becoming a mere function, kept up just for form.  Ellis was doing better.  He had set up housekeeping, since Jap came, in the back room of the little wooden structure that faced the Public Square, and housewives sent them real food once in a while.

Once Ellis feared that Jap was going to quit him for the Golden Shore.  It was on the occasion of Myrtilla Botts’s wedding, when she baked the cakes herself, for practice, and her mother thoughtfully sent most of them to the Editor, to insure a big puff for Myrtilla.  Ellis was afraid; but Jap, with the enthusiasm and in-experience of youth, took a chance.  Bill was laid up with mumps, or the danger would have been lessened.  As it was, it took all the doctors in town to keep Jap alive until they could uncurl him and straighten out his appendix, which appeared to be cased in wedding cake.  This experience gave Jap an added distaste for the state of matrimony

“My dad allus said to keep away from marryin’,” he moaned.  “But how’d I know you’d ketch it from the eatin’s?”

The subscription list grew apace.  There was aload of section ties, two bushel of turnips and six pumpkins paid in November, Bill and Jap went hunting once a week, so the larder grew beyond sardines.  Jap acquired a hatred of turnips and pumpkins that was inafter years almost a mania.  At Christmas, Kelly Jones brought in a barrel of sorghum, “to sweeten ’em,” he guffawed.  Jap had grown to manhood before he wholly forgave that pleasantry.  It was a hard winter.  Everybody said so and when Jap gazed at Ellis across the turnips and sorghum of those weary months, he said he believed it.

“Shame on you,” rebuked Ellis, gulping his turnips with haste.  “Think of the wretched people who would be glad to get this food.”

“Do you know any of their addresses?” asked Jap abruptly.  “Because I can’t imagine anybody happy on turnips and sorghum.  I’d be willin’ to trade my wretched for theirn.”

Kelly said that Jap would be fat as butter if he ate plenty of molasses, and this helped at first; but when the grass came, he begged Ellis to cook it for a change.

When George Thomas came in, one blustery March day, to say that if the turnips were all gone, he would bring in some more, Ellis pied Judge Bowers’s speech on the duties of the Village Fathers to the alleys, when he saw the malignant look that Jap cast upon the cheery farmer.

Once a week Bill and Jap drew straws to determine which one should fare forth in quest of founds, and for the first time in his brief business career, Jap was glad the depressing task had fallen to him.  “Pi” was likely to bring on an acute attack of mental indigestion, and the boy had learned to dread Ellis Hinton’s infrequent but illuminating flame of wrath.

The catastrophe had been blotted out, the last stickful of tope had been set and Biill had gone home to supper when Jap, leg-weary and discouraged, wandered into the office.  Elllis looked up from the form he was adjusting.

“How did you ever pick out this town?”  the boy complained, turning the result of his day’s collection on the table.

Ellis turned from the bit of pine he was whittling, a makeshift depressingly familiar to the country editor.  He scanned the meager assortment of coins with anxious eye.  Jap’s lower jaw dropped.

“I’ll have to fire you if you have’t got enough to pay for the paper.”

“Got enough for that,” said Jap mournfully, “but not enough for meat.”

“Didn’t Loghman owe for his ad?” Ellis demanded.  “Did you ask him for it?”

“Says you owe him more ‘n he’s willin’ for you to owe,” Jap ventured.

Ellis sighed.

“Meat’s not healthy this damp weather,” he suggested.  “Cook something light.”

“It’ll be darned light,” said Jap.  :”There’s one tater.”

“No bread?” asked Ellis.

“Give that scrap to the cat,” Jap returned.  “Doc Hall says she’s done eat all the mice in town and if we don’t feed her she’ll be eating’ off’n the subscribers.”

“Confound Doc Hall,” stormed Ellis.  “You take your orders from me.  That bread, stewed with potato, would have made a dandy dish.”  He shook the form to settle it, and faced Jap.

“How did I come to pick this place?” he said slowly.  “Well, Jap, it was the dirtiest deal a boy ever got.  I had a little money after my father died.  I wanted to invest it in a newspaper, somewhere in the West, where the world was honest and young.  I had served my apprenticeship in a dingy, narrow little New England office, and I thought my lifework was cut out for me.  I had big dreams, Jap.  I saw myself a power in my town.  With straw and mud I wanted to build a town of brick and stone.  Dreams, dreams, Jap, dreams.  Some day you may have the, too.”

He let his lean form slowly down into a chair.  Japbraced himself against the table as the narrative continued:

“In Hartford I met Hallam, the man who started the Bloomtown Herald.  I heard his flattering version.  I inspected his subscription list and studied the columns of his paper, full of ads.  I bought.  The subs were deadheads, the ads—gratuitous, for my undoing.  It was indeed straw and mud, and, lad, it has remained straw and mud.”  He leaned his head on his hand for a moment.

“That was the year after you were born, Jap.  I was only twenty-one.  For a year I was hopeful; then I dragged like a dead dog.  OYou will be surprisedwhen I tell you what brought me to life again.  I tell you this, boy, so that you will never despise Opportunity, though she may wear blue calico, as mine did.

“It was one dark, cold day.  No human face had come inside the office for a week.  That was the period of myh life when I learned how human a cat can be.  We were starving, the cat and me, with the advantage in favor of the cat.  She could eat vermin.  I sat by the table, wondering the quickest way to get out of it.  Yes, Jap, the first and, God help me, the only time that life was worthless.  The door opened and a plump woman dressed in blue calico, a sunbonnet pushed back from her smiling face, entered.”

To jap, who listened with his heart in his throat, it seemed that Ellis was quoting perhaps a page from the memoirs he had written for the benefit of this townsmen.  His deep melodious voice fell into the rhythmic cadence of a reader, as he continued:

” ‘Howdy, Mr. Editor,’ she chirped.  ‘I’ve been keenin’ for a long time to come in to see you.  I think you are aprintin’ the finest paper I ever seen.  I brought you a mess of sassage and a passel of bones from the killin’.  It’s so cold, they’ll keep a spell.  And here’s a dollar for next year’s paper.  I don’t want to miss a number.  I am areadin’ it over and over.  Seems like you are agoin’ to make a real town out of Bloomtown,’ and with a friendly pat on the arm, she was gone.”

Ellis brushed the long hair from his brow, the strange modulation went out of his voice and the fire returned to his brown eyes as he said;

“Jap, I got up from that table and fell on my knees, and right there I determined that starvation nor cold nor any other enemy should rout me.  Jap, I am going to make Bloomtown a real town yet.  My boy, that blue calico lady was Mrs. Kelly Jones.”

 

WRITING STYLES: ‘Poetry’

In the poems of Patience Worth one can find her most creative and imaginative work.  She called her poems “songs” and writing them her “singing”.  Of course, Pearl Curran knew all about songs and singing as she had spent many years of her young life studying piano and singing.  Patience Worth uses the language of her poems as an artist uses paint on canvas. She smoothes and blends words of archaic and modern origin to produce images and feelings that pull the reader into a dimension outside of time and space.  The following  poems are, in my opinion, some of her best.

 

THE SOUNDS UNHEARD BY MAN
(July 1919)Woods_Moon

I have heard the moon’s beams
Sweeping the waters, making a sound
Like threads of silver, wept upon.
I have heard the scratch of the
Pulsing stars, and the purring sound
Of the slow moon as she rolled across
The night.  I have heard the shadows
Slapping the waters, and the licking
Sound of the wave’s edge as it sinks
Into the sand  upon the shore.

I have heard the sunlight as it pierced
The gloom with a golden bar, which
Whirred in a voice of myriad colors.
I have heard the sound which lay
Between the atoms which danced in the
Golden bar.  I have heard the sound
Of the leaves reclining upon their cushions
Of air, and the swish of the willow
Tassels as the wind whistled upon them,
And the sharp sound which the crawling
Mites proclaim upon the grasses blades,
And the multitude of sounds which lie
At the root of things.  Oh, I have heard
The song of resurrection which each seed
Makes as it spurts.  I have heard the sound
Of the night’s first shadow, when it 
Intermingles with the day, and the
Rushing sound of Morning’s wings as she
Flies o’er the Eastern gateway.

All of these have I heard, yet man
Hath not an ear for them.  Behold,
The miracle He hath writ within me;
Letting the chord of imagination strum!

 

THE SOUNDS OF MEN
         (July 1919)Rivera_Cour2

I have heard the music men make
Which is discord, proclaimed through
Egotry.   I have heard the churning
Of water by man’s cunning, and the
Shrieking of throttles which man addeth
Unto the day’s symphony.  I have heard
The pound of implements, and the clatter
Of blades.  I have heard the crushing blasts
Of Destruction.  I have heard men laugh
And their laughs were rusted as old vessels
In which brine wert kept.  I have heard
Women chatter like crows o’er carrion
And laugh as a magpie o’er a worm.
I have beheld all of these
And heard them.  Men have ears
For such; and the mystery of man is
That he should present them, and cry:
“Sing! Sing, Poet! Sing!”

 

 

THE BATTLE FIELD
(November 1916)

Constant_Mayer_

‘Twas morning, when my footsteps led me down the winding way.
The heavy smoke still hung the damp grey airs.
Mine eyes looked for the coming sun, but it did fail,
And weak stars fearful, trembled ‘mid the heaven’s deep.
The Earth beneath my very footfall shook.
The sod’s breast opened in gashes wide.
The field’s bloom drooped, or flamed red,
E’en as some dull fire.

And ah, mine eyes sought, sought, sought!
I looked on every way and ever saw some livid lip,
Some grinning death-oped mouth, some glaze-dimmed eye that saw
No morning’s coming, some man-stopped hand
That reached in suppliance for a brother’s grasp,
Some beast felled ‘mid his master’s blood,
Some cheek still stained of youth-fear tears,
Some empty bowl, that belched
To wipe Him from out His own, some blade,
Deep-dyed, the drops still thick’ning on its edge.

Ah, ’twas dark!  But sudden from the East,
E’en through the thick of smokes and mists,
Slipped a golden shaft that fell
E’en at my feet, to light—ah! another of the host!
A youthed son of some waiting one, his faith cut down
E’en ‘mid his faith-flashed smile; his locks crisp-young;
His cheek still stained of youth’s kiss on its curve;
His weak-sunk head at rest upon his bended arm,
And stiffened lips had failed to reach
The ebon cross that shewed within his fingers grasp.

And lo, the sun did kiss his bended head and gleam an halo ’bout.
And I did stoop to touch, and at the touching, lo,
I sunk there ‘pon the sod and wept;
And looked on high unto the weak sun climbing slow,
And oped my prayer in anguished word; for on the host that lay
God’s sun-smile shewed, and on the cross
There gleamed one word that spake me shame.

And I did raise mine eyes
And look afar unto the fields that lay,
And lo, there, cross on cross did stand,
Rude-wrought of such an stuff as His
Was builded up.  No word that, read
Might tell who lay within Earth’s breast.

And I did shut away the sight;
For His bright sun did light the hosts,
And on them showed the mocking, searing scripts,
And each one bore his shaming word:
“Brother!”  “Brother!”  “Brother!”

 

GLORIASaints

Oh ye mighty walls and towering spires astride the cowled gabled ways!
Thy emblazoned scripts depicting fanciful reaction of ancient times;
Smoking altars upon which yellow candles flare, burning the sacred air,
To send aloft a pungent scent of mouldering decay,
Blackening with slow sure touch the placid faces of the saints,
Who with stony visages gaze adown the aisles, unseeing man’s exultant
     joy or his despair.
Vault-like, in cold aloofness, proudly do ye stand, reechoing the chants
That flow from out cold tombs, the unlit hearts of priesthood and of
     saintly nuns.
For this did saints ope up their veins?  Did martyrs writhe?  And did
     holy writs
By their tedious array enslave the humble sanctity of men?
Or did men, to do their will, write with unalterable tracery
Law, that ran new within the fluid pressed in fervid troth to God?
While blood in lapping waves washed thy very doors, did Mary stand
Dumb, hearkening to some litany mumbled in a limped tongue,
And priest send incense up, or light a taper in thy pit-like dark?
Oh, everlasting God!  I am dismayed, that thy very stones did not gape
And fall apart; that every scarlet line within thy illumined records
Did not spurt in anguish and, bleeding, wipe the “law” from off the page.

Oh, holy structure, revered by man, upheld through ages through thy
     claim of part with Him!
Already is that morning come, and quaking earth upheaving!
Already doth thy mellow chime whisper its eerie knell.  Already doth
That King whom thou acclaimest sit in regal glory upon the mighty seat!
Oh, crumbling vestment of the ego,  Man—make way!  His host proceeds!
No altar yet upraised but shall give way to that his Sire hath flung
     from His prolific hand.
He, the High-priest, lights the taper Day, each morning with the sun,
And incense flings across the valley way in silver mists;
Filling the night with litanies, lighting each star in memory of some
     holy soul,
Defying mould and ravages of time, the festival of worm upon the
     festering flesh.
Exultant doth this God erect anew each coming day and night
An altar upon which to burn our hearts, while thou dost re-echo dead prayers;
Burning incense yet before the embered fire of Hope.

While thy dimming tapers die, and the carved saints stand mute before
     thy suppliants
What, should His holy step be heard naked upon the stones, with the
     pattering of sheep beside?

 

THE DAY’S WORK
(February 1926)young_man_drinking_a_glass_of_wine_400

Behold, behold, the roadways lying stretched in grey dust-patterns
     about the field, curving the hillocks like necklets of ash;
And the creeping pageantry of man, sweeping out in gentle lines upon
     the pathways of the earth;
Yea, men who sweat, men who ache, men who anguish;
Men who torture from crude stuffs, stones and clay, wondrous imagery
     which speaks their souls;
Men who dip within their hearts and write scripts which the ages yet shall read;
And men who dip within a fluid, writing that which is not thick enough to
     cast a shadow;
Men who press their breasts upon implements of labor, striking the
     pregnant soil that it belch forth its teeming utterance;
Men who idly dream dreams that shall stir the hearts of empires;
Men who labor with blind eyes, never seeing, ever striving, with
     confusion as companion;
Men who live!  live to the last bitter dreg within the cup, quaffing with
     delight the potion of death—in defiance lifting the goblet;
Men who sit within the shadow of their doubt, beholding the cup of
     death in fearing,
Waiting for Tomorrow who already hath laid her hand upon the cup’s brim—
     Tomorrow whose finger pointeth to Eternity!

So this is the pageantry of labor; these are the vitals of Day.
     Behold, when they stop the Day is finished.
This is Day’s labor, this intricate pattern of laboring;
     What pattern doth it weave?
Oh, some morrow shall I stand beside the Loom
      with the shuttles empty—
All these little crawling puppets of the day, each unwound
     of its strand of existence;
Beholding the Plan, the Pattern God wove!