Make me want to pack up and move to Mars. These babes look a real good mess. Gerd Filipowiak on March 16, at McGraw on March 21, at
Let's start at the creation, Tod. When were you born? I was born between Washington and Lincoln's birthday inactually February nineteenth, in Portland, Oregon, this outpost of New England, Protestant, WASP culture that had formed itself into a bastion of Boston and parts thereabout and remains so to this day, I gather.
What would the cultural life of that region have been? You say it's an outpost of Boston? Well, I left when I was very young -- actually, I was three and a half years old, but I have had contact with Oregonians through my family and other people ever since from time to time, and it comes through very clearly to me, both by descriptions and by contact with people whom I have met, that they are about as close to a selfconsciously New England mentality, preserving the qualities of Americanized British culture, as any part of the United States.
I remember, years later, that Hyatt Mayor of the Metropolitan, giving a talk at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, saying that there are three epicenters of American culture. One is New York. Another is Boston and a third is Minneapolis. I would just simply like to add Portland to this because of what I just said.
What would the political complexion of that region have been? Well, it's rather liberal. People such as Erskine Scott Wood, who wrote Heavenly Discourse, as a liberal maintainer of a liberal tradition in the United States laid the foundations, I think, of a continuing liberal tradition there that was related to the pioneers and related to free thought and related to egalitarian principles.
He was someone that my family knew and this, I think, has shown in Senator [Wayne] Morse, who came from there in the time of the Roosevelt Administration. My own aunt Ruth established the first progressive school based upon the principles of Montessori inorwhich I think is probably one of the reasons I was born there.
You mentioned the Catlin School in Portland, Oregon. And you returned there for your early exposure to music and art history. I didn't return there. My aunt came East when I was about to graduate boarding school, and I came into this liberal tradition at that point. But many of her friends came East also.
She was closely related to some of the faculty of Mills College and poets, musicians, Robinson Jeffers, architects of my time, actually, and social life and the museum, which were closely interwoven from that sector of American society, which constituted itself, I always felt, as a very superior breed of intellectuals, and who maintained against any kind of down-running popularization of culture, this level quite jealously.
Tell me about your parents. This is a complex story. My mother was from Waycross, Georgia, a descendant of a family that had emigrated from Haiti at the time of the revolution -- the eighteenth century independence revolution -- they had been a planter family in Aux Cayes and had to leave quickley by boat when the Toussaint L'Ouverture uprising took place and they made their way to Georgia, by way of the Cayman Islands, I think, and moved into the interior of Georgia, Waycross in what in my mother's time was a rail head, a small, provincial town.
My father met her as a representative -- as an employee of -- a New England gas company laying pipelines or establishing that the gas industry in that frontier part of America under the aegis of one of his relatives -- Burdett Loomis, of Hartford, a man who made and lost several fortunes, according to family legend, and after whom my middle name is taken.
My father was a young man who had been born in Chicago, in Evanston, and was out to make his own life and fortune, and this is the way he started. He and my mother were married and they moved very quickly to Portland, Oregon, I suppose to establish a further branch of this entrepreneurial business of Burdett Loomis and there I was born.
My grandfather, who had been a member of the Board of Trade in Chicago and had left his wife -- my grandmother -- had moved out there, too, so there was another reason for my father going out there. But the third most important reason, I think, was my aunt, who had established the Catlin School, now the Catlin Gable School, who had raised and educated herself.
She was a handicapped person -- an accident early in life, and had never been able to walk except with a cane, and had continuous trouble with her physical situation until the end of her days, but had been brought up after Chicago, in New York City, where she had become a close friend of the Lewisohn family, particularly the Lewisohns of -- the daughters of Leonard Lewisohn -- Alice Lewisohn who became Crowley and her sister Irene Lewisohn, who together continued the philanthropic tradition of their father and established -- were great helpers -- of the Henry Street Settlement and Lilian Wald there, and who eventually established the Neighborhood Playhouse theater program at the Henry Street Settlement and these remained lifelong friends of my aunt, particularly Alice Crowley, who herself moved after their careers in New York, to Zurich in Switzerland and became a very close follower of Dr.
Jung and student of his particular school of psychoanalysis. Well, my aunt, after establishing the school in Portland -- after many years there -- retired, and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she established her residence, but became a kind of a world traveler or a European traveler in the company of some of the foremost luminaries of the pre-World War I period, including members of the royal family, or at least -- not members of, but friends of the royal family -- the vicars and people of that generation and in close relationship to upper-class British life.
She knew Sir Basil Zaharoff and other people of that stratum, long before I knew her, and of course, when she came East during the Depression, that all sort of rubbed off, poured into me. But you asked about my parents, so back to them.
My father and my mother-- my father rose rather quickly in the esteem of the people in the industrial world at that time and when I was three-and-a-half years old, they moved to New Britain, Connecticut, where he was brought in as a designer and inventor and an engineer, I think, in the Landers, Frary and Clark firm, which made some of the earliest devices -- we call them -- appliance devices, such as automatic washing machines and this sort of thing.
My mother never really lost her great feeling for the South, and continued the songs of that part of the country of the early twentieth century, that were very close to the popular strains of James Whitcomb Riley and -- well, Frank Lebby Stanton, actually, who was her uncle, and who became the poet columnist for the Atlantic Constitution and the poet laureate of Georgia.
A long-term relationship there, and at the same time, wrote such popular tunes -- or not tunes, actually the words of what became tunes -- of the Old South and its dialect, one called "Mighty Like a Rose" and "Just Wearyin' For You," that were set to music by Ethelbert Nevin and became well known popular songs throughout the United States, but mainly attributed to Nevin, rather than the author of the verse that inspired the tunes.
So she travelled from New Britain, and eventually, and afterwards, from Fairfield, Connecticut, where my father moved to be with the Bryant Electric Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and I occasionally went back with her to Waycross, Georgia and had my first kindergarten school days in the little school in Waycross, meeting the blacks of that surrounding area -- and her large, Southern family -- several daughters and one son of a very high standard of rectitude and public spirit and service that I remember quite well from those days, because her family, as they married -- her sisters moved to South Carolina and to Tennessee and to Atlanta, and I met these people -- and to Neuman, Georgia -- marrying two physicians and people of a professional standing.Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a series of graphic novels written by American author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney.
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