Category Archives: Lapel Pins and Hat Patches
The P.G. Wodehouse Society of Canada
The vital years of the English humourist P.G. Wodehouse, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, are 1881 and 1975. He lived in many countries, but never in Canada, though at one time he considered the wisdom of moving here, as he admitted in correspondence with a friend: “I always find a great charm in Canada and sometimes toy with the idea of settling there.” Thus he wrote in 1949 following a convivial conversation with Stephen Leacock conducted in Montreal. Wodehouse described his own fiction as “light writing.” It has always been popular in Canada and indeed there even existed a loose association of his Canadian readership while the author lived and breathed. On 15 October 2012 – the 131st anniversary of the author’s birth – the association took on new life under the auspices of George A. Vanderburgh, M.D., Major (ret.), Canadian Armed Forces, resident of Lake Eugenia, Ontario. It reaffirmed the appropriateness of the name “The Pale Parabolites” which, as every member of the association is pleased to recall, is derived from the opening line of a poem from the collection Songs of Squalor attributed to Ralston McTodd, “Singer of Saskatoon,” a visitor to Blandings Castle. This occurs in the pages of Wodehouse’s comic novel, Leave It to Psmith (1923), where the poet is described in the following fashion: “A sullen, gloomy man with long, disorderly hair, he is a cigar-lover who likes to be the centre of attention, and to impress people with his epigrams.” Epigrams to one side, here is the poem’s opening line: “Across the pale parabola of joy….” Any Canadian connoisseur of the “light writing” of this master stylist, who registers as a member of the association, may thereupon refer to himself or herself as “a Pale Parabolite.” Each and every member may bear the association’s insignia, and purchase a lapel pin ($10.00 plus shipping), which depicts upon a field of pale blue (to represent the Prairie sky) a white parabola or arch (to suggest simplicity or innocence) which is adorned with a ruddy maple leaf (to symbolize the Dominion of Canada). The three words “The Pale Parabolites” appear in the typeface known as Copperplate, with its suggestion of tradition and gravitas. These emblematic details are drawn to the attention of past, present, and future members by the designer and typographer Bill Andersen. Please send along your e-mail and other contact information to receive irregular notices of meetings, which will be luncheon meetings at Massey College at The University of Toronto, 2 Devonshire Place. While there is a charge for the lapel pin, and that purchase is entirely optional, there are no fees for membership, since all communication will be in cyberspace. Join the PP Facebook Group page. Please contact: — George Vanderburgh, Chief Apogee email@example.com P.O. Box 50, R.R. #4, Eugenia, Ontario, Canada N0C 1E0
During a recent car excursion to Florida, we had some some experiences worthy of note. I won’t bore you with the repetitive details necessarily involved — like lousy or good meals, or lousy and hard beds, not enough towels etc. nobody wants to take their time to read that trivia.
The first night we stopped at Dunkirk, New York. We have stayed there before and I know there is a computer in the lobby with the usual gambling and tourist shortcuts, but there was also a short cut to “Google Earth.” I was struck with an idea and I punched in “Maiwand Afghanistan.” And indeed I did get an aerial view of Maiwand, not in great resolution but certainly recognizable. I printed it out, and have now rescanned it. I wasn’t able to save the original digital image, but I post it here, and hope that I haven’t committed some egregious act of piracy. When I get home I should be able to find the landmarks and the military (British and Jezail) graveyard. I don’t suppose I will see the rock cairns, nor the signed entrance, nor the obelisk in the treed grove that marks the Afghan cemetery. Maiwand of course was where Dr. John H. Watson received his wound(s) serving as a Medical Officer with The Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers.
The first destination the next day was my appointment at The Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group in York, PA to discuss the possibility of two large bulk book purchases. One batch of books was held in inventory at the warehouse in York, and the other batch of books was held at the warehouse, sixty miles up the road at their warehouse in Fredericksburg with a Lebanon, PA mailing address. I met with Joan, Shonna and Bradley in shipping and was very pleased when they accpeted Arkham House lapel pins.
That same afternoon we drove to “Fallingwater” a house built over running water of a stream somewhat southwest of Pittsburgh. We took a wrong turn, and got some excellent directions from Emily and her associates working in Campaign office of a Democrate running for office. Emily was in fact a guide at Fallingwater — serendipity in Pittsburgh. Fallingwater is a remarkable world class attraction where Frank Lloyd Wright built a home for Mr. Kaufman the department store magnate back in the 1930’s. The project went over budget, and rather than describe it here, I’ll let the reader google the word — Fallingwater. They have a remarkable webcam on site which is viewable on their website. The water was running very high under the house with the spring thaw. David Niles and his film crew were conducting a high definition film shoot of the house, and David noted that he had waited for 43 years for this two-day opportunity of a lifetime. The security guard noted that the site had 150,000 visitors per annum. I took a photograph of David doing the shoot, and we agreed that we would meet again at his studio in New York City — likely in January 2011. I invited him to do a shooot of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and he was interested. He knew of the recent Thomson renovation to the tune of 300 million, but he did not know of the 110 million dollar Reubens! I was going to post that picture of David but when I read the disclaimed that the gatekeeper had given me — no pictures of the site are to be posted on the internet, I decided not to. In closing well worth the visit — and now a cherished memory.
A point of interest: Frank Lloyd Wright (Spring Green, Wisconsin) lived just down the road from August Derleth (Sauk City, Wisconsin). They were neighbors and they kknew each other. Augie hired an architect from Chicago to build his house which Augie called “The Place of Hawks” the house that Redbook built. The money from the downpayment came from a series of Sac Prairie novels that Augie sold to Redbook. Some of these have never been collected in book foorm, and a couple are still in manuscript and have never been published at all. They were presumably turned down by Redbook, but on this point the written record is unclear. When FLW asked AD why he had not hired him to do Place of Hawks, Augie is alleged to have said “because if you had designed the house, it would be your house, and because the fellow from Chiago designed it — it is my house. Neat point! who remebers that fellow Kaufman now? The Fallingwater property designed by FLW belongs to the Pennsylvania Conservatory.
The second night we stopped at Breezewood, Pennsylvania. Then after a hectic drive around Washington, DC.
we stopped at Richmond, Virginia. We walked through the mall next door for a relaxed Italian Dinner. I consulted the tourist guides in the lobby, and thought a visit to The Confederacy White House and the The Holocaust Museum in Richmond were top of the list for a visit, but got on the road first thing instead.
On the road again in North Carolina we stopped at J&R Outlet Mall and my major purchase was a $3.00 children’s baseball bat. Not that I’m a baseball player, but I am publishing a 3rd edition of The Annotated Casey at the Bat by Martin Gardner. I mailed the bat to Martin in a mailing tube, and suggested that his son Jim take a picture of Martin swinging the bat like Casey did in Thayer’s poem. This will form the back cover illustration for the book with a suitable caption.
The fourth night we overnighted in Florence, South Carolina. The Fatz Cafe was located within walking distance from the motel. The next day we did a whirlwind sight seeing tour of Myrtle Beach, and Charleston South Carolina. I placed a telephone call to Dan Boulden and we discussed the two editions of The Shunned House a 2008 facsimile edition issued in an edition of 100 copies. There are minor differences which will be elaborated in a blog in the near future.
The fifth night we stopped at Ridgeland, South Carolina after a long day. Mexican meal nearby, and on the road early to visit the St. Augustine Outlet Mall. I sat patiently and quietly for a couple of hours while a shopping spree occurred.
We arrived at our destination in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Upon registration I was presented with a package from Pasquale Accardo containing the final correction of the Chester-Belloc Project. I collection of G.K. Chesterton’s illustrations, published and unpublished for some 13 books.
We went out to dinner at a Sports Bar, and I was impressed that not a single one of the 100 TV’s in the place featured the Health Care Debate which was in progress, and that I had been following every morning and every evening of the trip. On the way home I purchased a Magic Jack, a rather magical device for placing and receiving telephone calls at no charge in The USA and Canada.
That’s enough! and here’s Maiwand! I uploaded it twice, and I can’t figure out how to delete the second image.
I travelled to Sauk City Wisconsin to visit April Derleth at Arkham House Publishers this week. I met with Bob Weinberg in Chicago going and coming back as well. At “Place of Hawks” April had her two dogs with her, and our conversation was difficult because both dogs, named Reggie and Queenie were constantly barking. Reggie is elderly and arthritic, and he grew tired and laid down in the corner. Now Queenie was a young, lean, large Dobermann Pinscher with significant mouth full of teeth. The more I tried to talk with April about editorial duties and responsibilities with Arkham House, the more Queenie barked and howled at me. She bared her teeth in her barking and actually bit me, but did not break the skin of my hand. April noted that her dog would do better with a couple of milkbones but there were none in the house. I offered to bring some the next day, and I did. However April’s friend Jesse had already purchased a box of flavored large sized milkbones the evening before. April and I shared a couple of cans of “SunDrop” which is a local favorite — more later. At one point when we were travelling from the home to the bookhouse, I put the can of pop in my pocket, and it unfortunately it spilled in there. Both dogs were happy to be outside in the snowy cold, and Queenie decided to start barking once again with a vengeance. Suddenly I was struck with an idea, and I went back into the house and filled both my coat pockets with large and medium seized milkbones. Queenie continued to bark viciously between milkbones, but she much preferred the milkbones from the pocket containing the spilled Sundrop. It must have been the high sugar content in the soda pop, that swayed her preference. We took the Arkham SUV to go shopping, and I was doing the driving; the dogs were eager and came along for the ride, and April helped Reggie into the back seat. Queenie was excited about the trip and in a moment of weakness licked my right cheek in the driver’s seat. I was somewhat surprised and April chuckled. When the four of us returned from shopping, Queenie started to bark again in the front yard but was much subsued with a dozen or so more Sundrop coated milkbones.
And now “Sundrop” — Originally Sundrop was produced by the Celo Bottling Company with its headquarters at 708 Water Street, Sauk City. It closed down in December 2006, when its founder George Koehler passed away. George referred to himself as “King George” and to his wife as “Queen Thelma.” They were both keen fans of “The Rambler” and I met King George one day at Hugo’s Harness Shop, and he gave me a calender and a digital clock to display in the Shop. We sat and talked for well over an hour about everything under the sun. King George sat in Hugo’s chair, and I sat in Augie’s chair. George told me of his cars, and of his bottles — I actually said very few words that day. We discussed Hugo’s bamboo fishing rods, and King George’s memories of Auggie — going morelle hunting and walking uptown every day in his sandles and carrying his wicker basket for the mail. King George wanted to arrange to have a couple of cases of Sundrop at the Walden West Festival that year, and we talked turkey and it happened. He got all of his empties back, except a couple of the visitors who kept them as souvenirs — they are now collectibles. There are only a handful of rebottlers of glass return bottles left in The U.S.A. George told me that his Celo Bottling Company had its roots in the Second World War when it processed and bottled celery into a carbonated beverage for local consumption. For more information google Celo Bottling Company.
The Celo Bottling headquarters is located just down the street from the Old Hahn House where the old shack was located where August Derleth and Mark Shorer first composed those early collaborations for Weird Tales, and they both front on The Wisconsin River. I photographed this property in the fall of 2009 and I append it here.
And so the editorial responsibilities were fulfilled with the four participatants imbibing Sundrop, Queenie vicariously. On my next visit, I will go prepared with my pockets full of milkbones!