Is This William Oltman Stuttmeister?


Here are the additional San Francisco family photos that I had. Does anyone look familiar? Any similarities with the photos you might have?


Murray Oltman”

There are no names on the photos Murray sent me. The people have been anonymous for a long time. I look at the photographs of the man with the long chin and high forehead, and I see myself. Is this the face of my lost ancestor, William Oltman Stuttmeister, who played the violin in the Oakland Symphony, owned esoteric books, then, turned his back on his family and moved to the Geronimo Valley – because he had no male heir, no one to carry on the fine new culture he planted in the City by the Bay? Surely this is the young idealist, a graduate of U.C. Berkley, who prompted his best friend to gift him ‘The Kasidah’ by Sir Richard Burton, with this inscription inside;

“Dear Will;

To one with whom I can always share the rare privilege of thinking aloud.

Your Friend

Frederick March 1919”

Is Frederick March the man on the right, with sharp eyes, like the faint man in the background of the large picnic? I believe these people are survivors of the San Francisco earthquake.

Is this the man in the boy, who owned inspired DNA from God knows whom, who at twelve years of age debated for weeks whether to become an Architect, or and Artist? The un-named man is a San Francisco Pioneer. From his cloth, is cut the very image that made this city famous all over the world. Even if his name never be known, his picture is worth a thousand words.

A thousand words of thanks to Murray Oltman, who just sent me these photos.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2011

“Stanzas from the Kasidah”

NOTE: “Kasidah” is an Arabic or Persian panegyric. A panegyric is a public speech or writing in praise of some person, thing, or achievement; a laudatory discourse, a formal or elaborate encomium or eulogy. According to the ancient rules the author of a “qasîda” must begin by a reference to the forsaken camping-grounds. Next he must lament, and pray his comrades to halt, while he calls up the memory of the dwellers who had departed. The Kasidah is a very artificial composition; the same rhyme has to run through the whole of the verses, however long the poem may be. (OED.)

Friends of my youth, at last adieu!

Haply some day we meet again;
Yet ne’er the self-same men shall meet;

The years shall make us other men:

Fie, fie! you visionary things,

Ye motes that dance in sunny glow,
Who base and build Eternities

On briefest moment here below;

Who pass through Life like caged birds,

The captives of a despot will;
Still wond’ring How and When and Why,

And Whence and Whither, wond’ring still;

Who knows not Whence he came nor Why,

Who kens not Whither bound and When,
Yet such is Allah’s choicest gift,

The blessing dreamt by foolish men;

Hardly we learn to wield the blade

Before the wrist grows stiff and old;
Hardly we learn to ply the pen

Ere Thought and Fancy faint with cold.

When swift the Camel-rider spans

The howling waste, by Kismet sped,
And of his Magic Wand a wave

Hurries the quick to join the dead.

How Thought is impotent to divine

The secret which the gods defend,
The Why of birth and life and death,

That Isis-veil no hand may rend.

O the dread pathos of our lives!

How durst thou, Allah, thus to play
With love, Affection, Friendship,

All that shows the god in mortal clay.

Cease, Man, to mourn, to weep, to wail;

Enjoy thy shining hour of sun;
We dance along Death’s icy brink,

But is the dance less full of fun?

How shall the Shown pretend to ken

Aught of the Showman or the Show?
Why meanly bargain to believe,

Which only means thou ne’er canst know?

There is no Good, there is no Bad;

These be the whims of mortal will:
What works me weal that calI I “good,”

What harms and hurts I hold as “ill:’

They change with place, they shift with race;

And, in the veriest span of Time,
Each Vice has won a Virtue’s crown;

All good was banned as Sin or Crime:

All Faith is false, all Faith is true:

Truth is the shattered mirror strown
In myriad bits; while each believes

His little bit the whole to own.

What is the Truth? was askt of yore.

Reply all object Truth is one
As twain of halves aye makes as whole;

The moral Truth for all is none.

With God’s foreknowledge man’s free will!

What monster-growth of human brain,
What powers of light shall ever pierce

This puzzle dense with words inane?

There is no Heaven, there is no Hell;

These be the dreams of baby brains;
Tools of the wily Fetisheer,

To ‘fright the fools his cunning blinds.

Who drinks one bowl hath scant delight;

To poorest passion he was born;
Who drains the score must e’er expect

To rue the headache of the morn.

From self-approval seek applause:

What ken not men thou kennest, thou!
Spurn ev’ry idol others raise:

Before thine own Ideal bow:

Be thine own Deus: Make self free,

Liberal as the circling air:
Thy Thought to thee an Empire be;

Break every prisoning lock and bar:

By Sir Richard F. Burton (1821-1890).

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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