On June 11th. my daughter, my grandson, and I flew to Arizona for a family reunion. I had not seen or communicated with my sister, Victoria, in fourteen years. The death of our aunt Lillian, and the vanishing of our older brother, left my younger sister and I the Keepers of the Flame, the bearers of our family tales.
Before we lay eyes on one another after all these years, we talked over a thousand hours on the phone. We compared ourselves to archeologists unearthing our buried lives and souls from under the rubble caused by the terrible war our alcoholic parents waged since we were born. Alas, being able to tell our stories after digging out of Auschwitz, we began to piece back together our history that had been blown asunder.
The funeral of our late and famous sister, Christine, fell on her first sober birthday in AA. I have twenty four years of sobriety, Vicki has twenty three. If we had not gotten into Recovery, none of the history you will be reading on this blog, would exist, beginning with the article on George Wharton James that appears in an Out West magazine that our mother, Rosemary, held on to before her four children were born, for within is her father’s story of camping on Anacapa Island.
Being estranged from his family, very little history about Roy Reuben Rosamond was passed on to his children and grandchildren. I never met my grandfather, who may have known George James and Charles Lummis, the publisher of Out West. In this same issue is a tribute to the poet Robert Browning by George Sterling, who was a co-founder of the Carmel Bohemian community where Christine Rosamond had two galleries.
George Wharton James took some of the first photographs of the Grand Canyon and helped establish it as a National Park. To stand on the brink of this canyon with my daughter and grandson, was to gaze upon the Western History Royal Reuben Rosamond helped preserve and define for an eternity. Below is Rosamond’s poem ‘The Road Runner’ that are to be seen at Victoria’s door in Bullhead City. Just inside her door, is Rosemary’s Treasure Box wherein important Californian history is kept.
Here is just the beginning of what the poet and philosopher, Henry Mead Bland had to say about George James;
“The man doing more to preserve California literary tradition, and to foster Western letter, to search the highways and the byways for the relics of both obscure and great writers, to record the fast-disappearing story of the lives of California literary people then any other individual.”
The Road Runner
By R. R. R.
Low hangs the mists, and chill the wintry air,
Rain-swept the pines, and sodden everything.
And into these the weary travelers fare
For shelter from the night’s approaching sting.
The woodman’s axe to pitch-wood bark applied—
Then red flames leap and light a circle wide!
A desert waste, white, and hot, and bone strewn!
Here giant cacti eke a living death;
And there beside, a man with face plain-hewn—
No water left to stay his waning breath!
But see! a miner’s pick, in cacti driven,
A fount of life the desert there has given!
Resourceful bird, Road-runner of the South,
Grey as the desert road he runs along.
What chance for food and drink where withering drouth
Holds awful sway and robs all life of song!
There vicious rattlers add their venom-hate
But choya armed the bird has mastered fate.
With instinct given to start a fire in rain,
Instinct to drink were sparkling springs unheard,
And horn of plenty moved beyond the plain,
Give me the wisdom of this desert bird.
Then I can go with right good cheer and will
Where life’s great desert meets the verdant hill.
Rosamond, Roy Reuben. 1911. The Road Runner. Out West (New Series). 3 (March), 234.
You can read Rosamond’s poem in the original magazine along with his stories, “Camping on Anacapa,” and, “Guilty,” on Google books: