On April 17, 2014, I found a Pre-Raphaelite Grail at the Lane County Historical Society, that hopefully will change the way we look at things today, and the way we live and communicate with one another. I beheld the beautiful master plan put forth by the Miller Brother Prophets, who are right out of the Lord of the Rings.
What I discovered was a pamphlet announcing Joaquin Miller Day. A musical drama was performed at the Woodminster Amphitheater on September 24, 1944. There was going to be the planting of memorial redwood trees around the equestrian statue of Joaquin Miller. On stage was a replica of the studio and garden used by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Holman Hunt. The Poet, Christina Rossetti was played by Jeanne Jardin. Elizabeth Siddal Hunt’s model and muse is played by Helen Kraum. Carmencita Sanchez and her Mexican dancers, performed. In Scene Two we have the Bonaparte and Queen Victoria.
When we were children we would call up Juanita Miller who we knew as ‘The White Witch’. She gave advice if you had problems. At thirteen, Bill Arnold, Nancy Hamren, and myself adopted the Beat Scene, Jack London and George Sterling, and as Hippies we understood Joaquin Miller was the source of our Bohemianism that some claim is the fastest growing religion in the world. In Eugene Oregon there is a worship of Ken Kesey. Now add to this the images of the Pre-Raphaelites and J.R. Tolkien, and you have the most powerful imagery outside of the Christian Church.
But, we are not done! Joaquin Miller was approached by Japanese Poets who asked if they could live with Joaquin and treat him like their master. There were several Japanese houses built on ‘The Hights’ that was also named ‘The Fremont Ranch’. Fremont is in my family tree because he married Jessie Benton whose father was the proprietor of the Oregon Territory. My later sister was the world-famous artist, Christine Rosamond Benton who had a gallery in Carmel a Art Colony that Elsie Martinez and her husband help found.
Joaquin Miller had dinner at Rossetti and ate with many of the Pre-Raphaelites. I suspect William Morris was present. In 1969 I began to render images on furniture after Morris whose novel ‘The House of Wolfings’ was the main inspiration for Tolkien.
Christine Rosamond Benton and I were drawn into Tolkien’s Trilogy. The artist known as ‘Rosamond’ could not put these books down, nr could I. This caused our mutual friend, Keith Purvis, a British subject, to comment;
“She doesn’t know these books are real.”
We three were original hippies who took the Lord of the Rings to heart as we modified the modern world, made it over more to our liking, we oblivious to what normal folk were about. This is exactly what William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite Brother and Sisterhood did. They – returned!
I discovered the Pre-Raphaelites in 1969 and let my hair grow long for the first time. I gave up drugs in 1967 and was looking for a spiritual format. I came under the spell of the Rossetti family who were friendly with Joaquin Miller. We Presco children knew Miller’s daughter as ‘The White Witch’ and we would call her for advice. Miller’s home ‘The Abbye’ was above our home in the Oakland Hills. Our kindred were friends of Miller, who was also a friend of Swineburn, who wrote ‘The Queen-Mother and Rosamund’ and ‘Rosamund Queen of Lombards. Tolkien was inspired by the Lombards.
Filed away in Rosamond’s probate is my plea to the executor to allow me to be my sister’s historian. I mention Miller and Rossetti. I saw myself in the role of Michael Rossetti who had his own publishing company. He published Miller and other famous poets. When I was twelve, my mother read evidence I might become a famous poet.
I was twelve when I came upon the Woodminster amphitheatre. I was put in a trance by what I beheld. I sensed I had entered the real world, the one I belonged in. Juanita Miller was the visionary for this outdoor theatre where plays inspired by her father were performed. Redwoods were planted around Woodminster. George Miller planted many trees in his visionary city, Fairmount. Nearby, my great grandfathers had picnics. Note the rifle hanging in the tree. The Stuttmeister farm lie just below this structure that is right out of Lord of the Rings.
Yesterday I presented to Mayor Kitty Piercy my idea for the New Eugene Celebration that would be centered around the Cuthbert Amphitheater and the Mill Race that I see as flowing from the Woodminster Amphitheater Cascade. I see O Lake as a reflecting pond. I see a Japanese arch at the end of a pier where is docked a Japanese boat. Up the hill is a Zen Garden and the cottages rescued from Columbia Terrace located in the lost city of Fairmont platted by George Melvin Miller, the brother of Joaquin.
There is a Writer’s Grove planted next to the cascade. I see a similar grove planted near the Cuthbert. Where will sit the two Craftsman housed rescued from Columbia Terrace. Once house will be a Miller Brother’s Museum, and the other a Museum of Bohemian Art and Literature. Ken Kesey lived in one of the barracks that was moved from Fort White. I see a Museum to Peace, with Kesey and Hippie memorabilia. Our Mayor should contact officials I Japan to see if they see these barracks that once housed soldiers destined to go to war with Japan, of historic significance.
The Calm Waters of Peace, Poetry, and Art, flow underground all the way from Oakland California, and surface in a New Arcadia in Eugene. From brother to brother. let there be a New Cultural Unity!
President: Royal Rosamond Presss
“Then he had the Japanese and Chinese artists living there. They built their beautiful little Japanese paper houses up through the woods. What beautiful country! It looks like a mess now, but it was beautiful then — a natural and wild landscape — and the Japanese had carefully created a meandering little stream, Japanese style, beautifully arranged with gardens and little rockeries near the poet’s. You know their expertness in creating beauty. They’d made this beautiful place where they had their barbecues. At that time the poet’s barbecues were always run by his Japanese friends. We’d have raw fish and soy sauce — really delicious. Then, always the particular barbecue for which the poet was famous — he had beautifully peeled willow switches on which were arranged rounds of onions and meat — which you held over the fire until cooked to your taste.
Then we’d go up to a little art colony scattered throughout the woods in their beautiful paper houses. These houses were well made, beautifully constructed, but all the doors and windows except the frames were made of paper. We’d go in, take our shoes off and sit down and we’d watch the artists work, or they’d display work to show us. Some were Chinese, most of them were Japanese.
In 1848 William Makepeace Thackeray used the word bohemianism in his novel Vanity Fair. In 1862, the Westminster Review described a Bohemian as “simply an artist or littérateur who, consciously or unconsciously, secedes from conventionality in life and in art”. During the 1860s the term was associated in particular with the pre-Raphaelite movement, the group of artists and aesthetes of which Dante Gabriel Rossetti was the most prominent:
As the 1860s progressed, Rossetti would become the grand prince of bohemianism as his deviations from normal standards became more audacious. And as he became this epitome of the unconventional, his egocentric demands necessarily required his close friends to remodel their own lives around him. His bohemianism was like a web in which others became trapped – none more so than William and Jane Morris.
Jane Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and pre-Raphaelite traits
Jane Morris, who was to become Rossetti’s muse, epitomised, probably more than any of the women associated with the pre-Raphaelites, an unrestricted, flowing style of dress that, while unconventional at the time, would be highly influential at certain periods during the 20th century. She and others, including the much less outlandish Georgiana Burne-Jones (wife of Edward Burne-Jones, one of the later pre-Raphaelites), eschewed the corsets and crinolines of the mid-to-late Victorian era, a feature that impressed the American writer Henry James when he wrote to his sister in 1869 of the bohemian atmosphere of the Morrises’ house in the Bloomsbury district of London and, in particular, the “dark silent medieval” presence of its chateleine:
It’s hard to say whether she’s a grand synthesis of all the pre-Raphaelite pictures ever made … whether she’s an original or a copy. In either case she’s a wonder. Imagine a tall lean woman in a long dress of some dead purple stuff, guiltless of hoops (or of anything else I should say) with a mass of crisp black hair heaped into great wavy projections on each of her temples … a long neck, without any collar, and in lieu thereof some dozen strings of outlandish beads.
Effie Gray by Thomas Richmond
In his play Pygmalion (1912) Bernard Shaw unmistakably based the part of Mrs. Higgins on the then elderly Jane Morris. Describing Mrs. Higgins’ drawing room, he referred to a portrait of her “when she defied the fashion of her youth in one of the beautiful Rossettian costumes which, when caricatured by people who did not understand, led to the absurdities of popular estheticism [sic] in the eighteen-seventies”.
(January 14, 1867, Huddersfield, England – January 20, 1919, New York City) was a Californian writer.
Whitaker and his family moved to the Piedmont, California hills in 1902 and took up residence in “The Bug House,” which is now Blair Avenue.
His family became part of the Bohemian group including Jack and Bess London and George and Carrie Sterling. His daughter, Elsie Whitaker, was the subject of photographs and paintings. She married Mexican-American artist Xavier Martinez (1869-1943) in October 1907, and they remained married until Martinez’s death in 1943.
His books include The Probationer (1905), The Settler (1906), The Planter (1909), and The Mystery of the Barranca (1913) among many others. His novel Over the Border (1916) was adapted for the John Ford western 3 Bad Men (1926).
Dinner at Rossetti’s
by Joaquin Miller
There is no thing that hath not worth;
There is no evil anywhere;
There is no ill on all this earth,
If man seeks not to see it there.
September 28. I cannot forget that dinner with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, just before leaving London, nor can I hope to recall its shining and enduring glory. I am a better, larger man, because of it. And how nearly our feet are set on the same way. It was as if we were all crossing the plains, and I for a day’s journey and a night’s encampment fell in with and conversed with the captains of the march.
But one may not gave names and dates and details over there as here. The home is entirely a castle. The secrets of the board and fireside are sacred. And then these honest toilers and worshippers of the beautiful are shy, so shy and modest. But I like this decent English way of keeping your name down and out of sight till the coffin-lid hides your blushes–so modest these Pre-Raphaelites are that I should be in disgrace forever if I dared set down any living man’s name.
But here are a few of the pearls picked up, as they were tossed about the table at intervals and sandwiched in between tales of love and lighter thoughts and things.
All London, or rather all the brain of London, the literary brain, was there. And the brain of all the world, I think, was in London. These giants of thought, champions of the beautiful earth, passed the secrets of all time and all lands before me like a mighty panorama. All night sol We dined so late that we missed breakfast. If I could remember and write down truly and exactly what these men said, I would have the best and the greatest book that ever was written, I have been trying a week in vain, I have written down and scratched out and revised till I have lost the soul of it, it seems to me; no individuality to it; only like my own stuff. If I only had set their words down on the next day instead of attempting to remember their thoughts! Alas! the sheaves have been tossed and beaten about over sea and land for days and days, till the golden grain is gone, and here is but the straw and chaff.
The master sat silent for the most part; there was a little man away down at the other end, conspicuously modest. There was a cynical fat man, and a lean philanthropist all sorts and sizes, but all lovers of the beautiful of earth. Here is what one, a painter, a ruddy-faced and a rollicking gentleman, remarked merrily to me as he poured out a glass of red wine at the beginning of the dinner:
“When travelling in the mountains of Italy, I observed that the pretty peasant women made the wine by putting grapes m a great tub, and then, getting into this tub, barefooted, on top of the grapes, treading them out with their brown, bare feet. At first I did not like to drink this wine. I did not think it was clean. But I afterward watched these pretty brown women” and here all leaned to listen, at the mention of pretty brown women– I watched these pretty brown women at their work in the primitive winepress, and I noticed that they always washed their feet after they got done treading out the wine.”
All laughed at this, and the red-faced painter was so delighted that he poured out and swallowed another full glass. The master sighed as he sat at the head of the table rolling a bit of bread between thumb and finger, and said, sitting close to me: “I am an Italian who has neven seen Italy. Belle Italia!…”
By and by he quietly said that silence was the noblest attitude in all things; that the greatest poets refused to write, and that all great artists in all lines were above the folly of expression. A voice from far down the table echoed this sentiment by saying:”Heard melodies are sweet; but unheard melodies are sweeter.” “Written poems are delicious; but unwritten poems are divine,” cried the triumphant cynic. “What is poetry?” cries a neighbor. “All true, pure life is poetry,” answers one. “But the inspiration of poetry?” “The art of poetry is in books. The inspiration of poetry in nature.” To this all agreed.
Then the master very quietly spoke: “And yet do not despise the books of man. All religions, said the Chinese philosophers, are good. The only difference is, some religions are better than others, and the apparent merit of each depends largely upon a mans capacity for understanding it. This is true of .poetry. All poetry is good. I never read a poem in my life that did not have some merit, and teach some sweet lesson. The fault in reading the poems of man, as well as reading the poetry of nature, lies largely at the door of the reader. Now, what do you call poetry?” and he turned his great Italian eyes tenderly to where I sat at his side.
To me a poem must be a picture,” I answered.
Proud I was when a great poet then said: “And it must be a picture–if a good poem so simple that you can understand it at a glance, eh? And see it and remember it as you would see and remember a sunset, eh?” “Aye,” answered the master, “I also demand that it shall be lofty in sentiment and sublime in expression. The only rule I have for measuring the merits of a written poem, is by the height of it. Why not be able to measure its altitude as you measure one of your sublime peaks of America?”
He looked at me as he spoke of America, and I was encouraged to answer:”Yes, I do not want to remember the words. But I do want it to remain with me a picture and become a part of my life. Take this one verse from Mr. Longfellow:
“And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.’”
“Good!” cried the fat cynic, who, I am sure, had never heard the couplet before, it was so sweet to him; “Good! There is a picture that will depart from no impressible clay. The silent night, the far sweet melody falling on the weary mind, the tawny picturesque Arabs stealing away m the darkness, the perfect peace, the stillness and the rest. It appeals to all the Ishmaelite in our natures, and all the time we see the tents gathered up and the silent children of the desert gliding away in the gloaming.”
A transplanted American, away down at the other end by a little man among bottles, said: “The poem of Evangeline is a succession of pictures. I never read Evangeline but once.” “It is a waste of time to look twice at a sunset,” said Rossetti, sotto voce, and the end man went on: “But i believe I can see every picture in that poem as distinctly as if I had been the unhappy Arcadian; for here the author has called in ail the elements that go to make up a perfect poem.”
“When the great epic of this new, solid Saxon tongue comes to be written,” said one who sat near and was dear to the master’s heart, “it will embrace all that this embraces: new and unnamed lands; ships on the sea; the still deep waters hidden away in a deep and voiceless continent; the fresh and fragrant wilderness; the curling smoke of the camp-fire; action, movement, journeys; the presence–the inspiring presence of woman; the ennobl- ing sentiment of love, devotion, and devotion to the death; faith, hope and charity,- and all in the open air.”
“Yes,” said the master thoughtfully, ‘no great poem has ever been or ever will be fitted in a parlor, or even fashioned from a city. There is not room for it there.”
“Hear! hear! you might as well try to grow a California pine in the shell of a peanut,” cried I. Some laughed, some applauded, all looked curiously at me. Of course, I did not say it that well, yet I did say it far better, I mean I did not use the words carefully, but I had the advantage of action and sympathy.
Then the master said, after a bit of reflection: “Homer’s Ulysses, out of which have grown books enough to cover the earth, owes its immortality to all this, and its out-door exercise. Yet it is a bloody book a bad book, in many respects–full of revenge, treachery, avarice and wrong. And old Ulysses himself seems to have been the most colossal liar on record. But for all this, the constant change of scene, the moving ships and the roar of waters, the rush of battle and the anger of the gods, the divine valor of the hero, and, above all, and over all, like a broad, white-bosomed moon through the broken clouds, the splendid life of that one woman; the shining faith, the constancy, the truth and purity of Penelope–all these make a series of pictures that pass before us like a panorama, and we will not leave off reading till we have seen them all happy together again, and been assured that the faith and constancy of that woman has had it reward. And we love him, even if he does lie!”
How all at that board leaned and listened. Yet let me again and again humbly confess to you that I do him such injustice to try thus to quote from memory. After a while he said: “Take the picture of the old, blind, slobber-mouthed dog, that has been driven forth by the wooers to die. For twenty years he has not heard the voice of his master. The master now comes, in the guise of a beggar. The dog knows his voice, struggles to rise from the ground, staggers toward him, licks his hand, falls, and dies at his feet.”
Such was the soul, heart, gentleness of this greatest man that I ever saw walking in the fields of art….
You’ve mentioned that Joaquin Miller seemed to favor the Whitaker family.
My father was very fond of Joaquin Miller. My father and I walked up to Miller’s, a mere four miles or so, I guess at least every other week, sometimes every week. Joaquin Miller was very fond of our family. He was a picturesque figure even as an old man; he was in his seventies then.
We would go up there every year on the Whitaker day, and in between I’d go up with my father, I guess, two or three times a month. There were often a great many interesting people there and a great many interesting Orientals; I met Yone Noguchi, the famous poet there.
I started to write a book on one year in the Whitaker life, and I had a whole chapter and I’m going to leave the manuscript with the album. In one chapter I had written a complete and perfect description of the Miller place. It was exquisite, with the picturesque little chapel and the little house in which his mother lived. She had just died.
On one of our visits up there the famous old Indiana fiddlers had come to see Joaquin Miller. He was born, you know, in a log cabin
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in Indiana. He sat there with the most ecstatic look while those old fiddlers with great big beards — they’d have to stick their long beards into the collar of their coats before they could play. Oh, it was just wonderful.
Then all through the trees — the place was beautiful then. The front of the house was enclosed in rose bowers — he loved roses — rose bowers and orange and lemon trees. There was a tiny bridge over the creek at the entrance of the chapel. Beyond the chapel was a little place where he used to demonstrate for his visitors that he could bring rain. He’d lived with the Modocs. So we decided we had to have him make rain for us, and we all — he held a Whitaker day at the Hights every year — because he said it was so unusual in those days to see a family of seven — good pioneer style.
On the first visit all seven of us were marshalled into this little dark room which was sort of rustic looking, beautiful vines and everything over it, and nothing inside except a great buffalo robe on the floor. So he sat down and told us all to sit around him. Then he began to pray for rain in the Modoc language. First of all it was a gentle murmur, soft, put you to sleep almost, and then it got stronger until it was a roar and the whole place reverberated with the tremendous roar. He stopped suddenly: soon we heard a few raindrops, then a heavy downpour. We all sat there just fascinated. He called us out and there was the sun shining but the shrubbery was dripping. We all of us were a little bit astonished, it was a little astounding, but maybe the Indians could do it. When we were on our
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way home one of my brothers said, “Listen, I sat next to the old man and I felt a bump under the buffalo robe and I found a faucet.” [Laughter] He said, “I found a faucet. I almost touched his hand on it. I pulled it away when I found his hand was there.” He’d turned the faucet on, and that little devil had stuck his hand under the robe and found where his hand was. He was suspicious.
Then he had the Japanese and Chinese artists living there. They built their beautiful little Japanese paper houses up through the woods. What beautiful country! It looks like a mess now, but it was beautiful then — a natural and wild landscape — and the Japanese had carefully created a meandering little stream, Japanese style, beautifully arranged with gardens and little rockeries near the poet’s. You know their expertness in creating beauty. They’d made this beautiful place where they had their barbecues. At that time the poet’s barbecues were always run by his Japanese friends. We’d have raw fish and soy sauce — really delicious. Then, always the particular barbecue for which the poet was famous — he had beautifully peeled willow switches on which were arranged rounds of onions and meat — which you held over the fire until cooked to your taste.
Then we’d go up to a little art colony scattered throughout the woods in their beautiful paper houses. These houses were well made, beautifully constructed, but all the doors and windows except the frames were made of paper. We’d go in, take our shoes off and sit down and we’d watch the artists work, or they’d display work to show us. Some were Chinese, most of them were Japanese. At that time his
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ambition was to overthrow Kipling’s “East and West, never the twain shall meet”. Well, he was going to correct that. He succeeded in arranging several marriages between Americans and Japanese.
My first beau, I was sixteen, was a Japanese poet living there. However, my father, being an Englishman, looked with grave displeasure on the whole thing. My young poet used to come down to our home with reams of beautiful eucalyptus bark on which were inscribed his poem in exquisite Japanese characters.
Those dreadful brothers of mine used to light the fires with them. And it (our friendship) never got beyond the stage of chanting and incense. He’d bring his incense pot, light it, and chant his poems. Of course I didn’t know Japanese but I sat quite serenely and listened to them. Finally my father told Miller that he didn’t approve and it must stop. Then there was one final parting call from Kugi. He brought his incense pot, and his lyrics must have been heartbreaking from the expressions and the dramatic rendering of them. That was the last time I saw him.
Did he speak English, too?
Oh yes. Many Japanese speak English.
But he never wrote in English?
No. Miller arranged the marriage between Gertrude Boyle, the sculptress, and a Japanese Shinto priest. Later she left the priest and married a young Japanese artist. She was a very talented woman, too, and a very interesting one. He had arranged, I understand, several other marriages before that.
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There’s the wonderful tale about Joaquin Miller in Europe that Ina Coolbrith told me. There was a tremendous wave of love of the wild West in Europe, England especially. They admired Mark Twain, Bret Harte was feted in London, Stoddard, too, was loved — he brought the South Seas there long before Stevenson did. And the famous Buffalo Bill Cody and his circus had just swept Europe by storm; Cody entertained all the crowned heads and grand dukes of Europe, taking them on hunting trips in Yellowstone when it was a magnificent wilderness. Lord Houghton had the hobby of collecting wild westerners.
Ina Coolbrith told Lord Houghton about the truly picturesque Joaquin Miller — how he had studied law by correspondence and been a judge in Modoc County; he had been a Pony Express rider, was a famous scout, and lastly, a poet. He had, moreover, lived with the Indians and was an expert on Indian lore and customs, and so Houghton demanded to see him. Ina sent for Joaquin.
He arrived in London, if you please, in his picturesque outfit — a tall Mexican hat the hidalgo wears and a suit of white deerskin which the Sioux Indian women work on until it looks like velvet, a Sioux vest beaded in gorgeous colors and designs, with gobs of raw Klondike gold for buttons, and soft black leather boots up to the knees. He was six feet two and he had blue eyes and golden curls. That night they were to see the Queen who was appearing at a special performance in one of the theaters in London. Ina and Joaquin were to meet in the Green Room. On his arrival, Ina Coolbrith looked him over and said, “You know,” (she’d been doused in the Rossetti tradition
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and everything was Italian style) “Joaquin, I think you should have your hair trimmed just a little, Italian style”. He wouldn’t hear of it. He had blonde curls over his shoulders. So he became angry and left. Ina was terribly upset – what to do?, what to do? She had already briefed him on where to meet them at the Green Room, and when she arrived there, there was no Joaquin Miller. Houghton was much disappointed. However, during the first scene of the performance, into the Houghton box stepped a white figure. She looked up – the curls were gone! She was terribly upset. Right across from Houghton’s box was Queen Victoria’s box. When the lights went up Miller came to the front of the box, took his great hat off, bowed to the Queen and down fell this mass of beautiful curls over his shoulders. (Laughter) That winter to every woman in London it was the fashion to have curls over the shoulders. He was the sensation of the London season. Queen Victoria gave him a special audience thanks to her son, Edward VII, who made much of Joaquin.
In this effete Victorian period, the wild West was so refreshing to them. The “mauve decade” was very properly named. He met all the great men of the period. He met the empire builder Disraeli, and Disraeli’s staunch opponent Gladstone. He met great poets, writers and painters of England. He was given the velvet carpet treatment there and was the hit of the season. Queen Victoria gave him a large autographed portrait of herself. It was in the place of honor in the center of his wall surrounded by autographed photographs of all the great men of England with personal and many glowing tributes
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to him. Before his wife and daughter arrived when he was ill, all these photos disappeared without a clue as to their whereabouts.
He went from England to Italy and became a friend of the King of Italy. He was the figure in Europe in that period. The King of Italy told him about the trouble they were having with malaria in Rome from the Pontine Marshes outside of Rome. Miller said, “Well, I’ll tell you how to take care of that – I will send you 2,000 eucalyptus seedlings that will dry your marshes up.” He sent about 10,000 seedlings – they were planted and, as Miller promised, grew apace and dried up the marshes and helped bring down Rome’s malaria considerably.
Designed by a team headed by Oakland Park Superintendent William Mott Jr and built as a WPA project, Woodminster Amphitheater and Cascades were dedicated in 1940 as a memorial to California writers. The trees and other vegetation along the Cascades, planted by horticulturist and design team member Lionel Sprattling, are designated Writers Memorial Grove, and individual plantings are dedicated to California’s great authors, including Joaquin Miller as well as Bret Harte, Jack London, Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammet, Ina Coolbrith, and many others. This is a fitting tribute, since so many of them visited this spot when “Poet of the Sierras” Joaquin Miller owned this land which he called “The Hights,” spelling intentional.
Later, when George Sterling replaced Herman Whitaker as London s best
friend and Elsie married Xavier Martinez at the age of seventeen, she moved
to Piedmont, which had become something of a writers center. Through her
San Francisco and Oakland and Piedmont connections she came to know most of
the writers of the Bay Area. She also came to know the members of the Carmel
colony almost as soon as it was started by Sterling in 1906; after her mar
riage to Martinez she would go with him to visit the hospitable Sterlings
and still later, when he was teaching summer art courses at the Del Monte
Hotel in Monterey and in Carmel, she continued to come in contact with writers
like Mary Austin and Harry Leon Wilson. At a still later date she moved to
Carmel, where she now lives.
Still another contact with the writing world came through her friendship
with Harriet Dean, financial manager of the famous Little Review which under
Margaret Anderson s leadership in Chicago had been very influential in
furthering the renascence of American letters which followed the First World War.
For a while the Little Review was published in San Francisco; then
Margaret Anderson took it to Paris while Harriet Dean remained in the
West, living with Elsie in Piedmont and Carmel until her recent death.
The other string for Elsie s bow was, of course, her contact with
local artists. Through her marriage to Martinez, the flamboyant “Aztec”
who loved to capitalize on his Mexican -Indian origins and his experiences
in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux -Arts, she came to know most of the aspiring
artists of the region, from Maynard Dixon to Arnold Genthe. These not only
included the painters who once had had their studios in the old Montgomery
Block, but those who exhibited and taught at Del Monte and Carmel, as well
as those associated with the California College of Arts and Crafts, where
Xavier Martinez spent years as a teacher. The Martinez s daughter,
Micaela or “Kai”, is now a well-known painter of religious art; Elsie s
son-in-law, Ralph Du Casse, is today one of the leading Bay Area painters
and head of the Art Department at Mills College. Thus, Elsie Martinez,
perennially young, has kept in touch with writers and artists to the present
We lingered silently, overlooking the view father loved, a
soft breeze rippling the already tall grasses on the hillsides; and
from the wooded canyons below, came the pungent scent of sage and
wild mint; and memory followed the old road that wound up the Thorn-
hill Grade over which the early pioneers traveled and, in the past,
after the “round-up,” we watched the cattle drive, a weaving, mas
sive thrust into the valley below; beyond lay the Bay of burnished
silver and, across it, rose the towers of San Francisco and, en
circling the Bay, the expanding towns reaching up into the hills;
across the Bay the Golden Gate, outlet to the Orient, was tied to
Tamalpais, a beautiful mountain whose outlines, to father, had a
curious resemblance to the romantic picture he loved on our wall at
Martinez: home, the legendary and hapless Lady of Shalott, Elaine the Fair,
of whose sorrows the troubadours sang –of her last journey,
stretched out on a sumptuous barge her fabulous golden hair in
long waves clinging to the heavily embroidered blue mantle wrapped
about her, floating gently down the historic Thames to London Town.
With a last look at the softly rounded knoll that held his ashes,
they gallantly tried to hide their tears as they wended down the
curving road back home, absorbed in a loneliness they had never
experienced or felt before.
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