Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 98

William Godwin--Mary Shelley's father--advised us all to go see the graves of the notable ... a continuation of the (partial) list of such places Joyce and I have visited ...

—Flannery O’Connor (birthplace in Savannah, Georgia; home and farm, “Andalusia,” and grave in Milledgeville, Georgia); Thomas Paine (sites in New Rochelle, New York—there’s a statue there and a cottage and the site of his original grave; his body has disappeared; sites in Bordentown, New Jersey, where his former home is now a dentist’s office; not far away, near the Delaware River, is a statue; another statue is in Morristown, New Jersey); Edgar Poe (Richmond, Virginia, where he grew up and where his step-family, the Allans, are buried; Charlottesville, Virginia, where Poe briefly attended the University of Virginia—his room there is now a memorial, and there’s a statue of a raven sitting near a window; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the National Park Service maintains an apartment building where he lived; Fordham, New York, where preservationists moved into Poe Park his final home, a cottage, recently restored; Baltimore, Maryland, where he died, where he is buried, and where, earlier, he lived in rooms with relatives in an area that fans of HBO’s The Wire would recognize; John Crowe Ransom (Gambier, Ohio, where he taught at Kenyon College; his grave is on the grounds of Kenyon’s Chalmers Library); Edwin Arlington Robinson (Head Tide, Maine, his birthplace; Gardiner, Maine, his hometown—the “Tilbury Town” of his poems—the town where he is buried)—
            —25 April 2003, Western Reserve Academy. I spoke to the entire school about Robinson’s career, wondering how it was that this wonderful poet—a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize—could have so thoroughly disappeared from America’s literary landscape. My guess is that most people have never heard of him. I showed lots of slides from Robinson’s world—including Head Tide, the tiny rural Maine town which boasts only a few houses and a small bridge. Afterwards, a freshman girl approached me, smiled, announced: “I’m from Head Tide.”—
—Henry David Thoreau (sites around Concord, Massachusetts, including Walden Pond); Mark Twain (sites around Florida, Missouri, his birthplace; Hannibal, Missouri, his boyhood home—including a ride on the tourist riverboat the Mark Twain, including a tour of the Mark Twain Cave, immortalized in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Buffalo and Elmira, New York; he’s buried in Elmira with his wife’s family; he wrote some of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn there; Hartford and Redding, Connecticut, where his final home, “Stormfield,” burned to the ground in 1923, thirteen years after his death there)—

            —On our honeymoon in late December 1969, Joyce and I went to New Orleans, a city where neither of us had ever been—that was the idea: to begin our new life in a new place. While we were there, we took a riverboat up into the bayou country described so artfully by Kate Chopin, whom Joyce was already considering as a subject for a Ph.D. dissertation. On our way back to Ohio, we decided, instead, to head up the Mississippi River and then west to Des Moines, where we would surprise my folks, who were trying to recover from our wedding on 20 December. On our way up the banks of the Big Muddy, we stopped in Hannibal, Missouri, and saw the Twain sites for the first time. I think now of a possible film: Nerds on Honeymoon!

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