Saturday, October 27, 2012

A foggy day; Let the band play Dixie (A. Lincoln); A Wis Guthrie memory recounted; Send more snail





In the vein of the Dixie rendition immediately above:

The Raccoon has now received the official obituary by the Arizona Daily Star, for our Friend For Life,
David James, as follows:

David Farragut James
·                      "DJ--a Sophisticat forever. Rest . . ."
- Bob Brooks

David Farragut James 78, of Tucson, Arizona. A native of Fox Point, (Milwaukee) WI. He loved the lakes country, fishing and the woods. He was an accomplished fly-tier and trout fisherman. First a student at Milwaukee Country Day School, he transferred to Asheville School for Boys, Asheville, NC, where he was captain of the tennis team in 1952. He then graduated from The University of Wisconsin, where he was a member of Chi Psi fraternity. His career began as sales manager of Pabst Motors, a Milwaukee foreign car dealer, where he also participated in sports car racing with Augie Pabst. He then held several positions in sales for Midwestern companies, finally as sales manager at Sterling National Industries, Chicago. His interest in Native American culture, art and artifacts was matched by his interest in John Deere memorabilia. An example of his modesty is that he often sold products to divisions of Deere & Co. but never mentioned the fact that he was the great-great-grandson of its founder, John Deere. He was a lifelong musician with an incredible ear, starting with the banjo, playing with his brothers at age 12, then the guitar, and settling on the piano, which he played for most of his life with Dixieland bands in clubs in the Midwest and for private gatherings. He was the son of Charles D. James, former president and chairman of Northwestern Natl. Ins. Group of Milwaukee. His mother was Grace Velie James of Minneapolis, a writer and recipient of an honorary doctorate in public service from Northland College, Ashland, WI. David died at home on October 18, 2012 after a courageous and dignified battle with esophageal cancer. He was valiant. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Barbara A. James; his two children, David John James and Gailyn James Wink; his stepchildren, Kenith Williams, Alan Williams, Joseph Williams and his beloved grandchildren, Joseph Williams, James Williams, Maxwell Wink and Caroline "Carly" Wink; his stepson, Paul Williams predeceased him. Survivors also include his three brothers, Alfred James III of Wichita, KS, Charles Velie James of Fox Point, WI, Douglas Craig James of Woodstock, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society . Memorial Service to be held at 11:00 a.m., Sunday, October 28, 2012, at EAST LAWN PALMS MORTUARY, 5801 E. Grant Rd.


(Photo from the famed movie, BABETTE'S FEAST, but seems to go with the poem below, especially when one remembers the lines the General spoke)

Sojourns in the Parallel World

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension—though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it 'Nature: only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be 'Nature' too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal—then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
—but we have changed, a little.

"Sojourns in the Parallel World" by Denise Levertov from Sands of the Well. © New Directions Books, 1994

Another one from the Writers Almanac, 10-24-12:

The Preacher

When times were hard, no work on the railroad, no work down on the farm, some
of my ancestors took to preaching. It was not so much of what was said as the way
in which it was said. "The horn shall sound and the dog will bark and though you
be on the highest mountain or down in the deepest valley when the darkness comes
then you will lie down, and as the day follows the night you will surely rise again.
The Lord our God hath made both heaven and earth. Oh, my dear brothers and
sisters we know so well the ways of this world, think then what heaven must be
like." It required a certain presence, a certain authority. The preacher was treated
with respect and kept at a bit of a distance, like a rattler. There wasn't much money
in it but it was good for maybe a dozen eggs or a chicken dinner now and then.
"The Preacher" by Louis Jenkins, from Before You Know It. © Will O' the Wisp Books, 2009                         


Pictured herewith, two exposures if Wis Guthrie
One at an exhibit of his art pre-Les Laul guitartown
a year or so ago; another in earlier days
when he chaired the art department at Carroll College.

As previously reported in this organ,
Wis Guthrie's dad, a Quaker preacher,
was working as a field hand
and had a hawk fortuitously drop 
a rabbit next to hungry 
him when times were tough.

From Nov. 28, 2008 Sewer Raccoon News, 'Gentle People':


A friend gave a talk to a women’s church circle yesterday

(see below date)
And I went to hear him;
His subject was his Quaker minister father
And being brought up in rural Iowa and Wisconsin

There were nine children born to this family
and my friend was the middle child
which gave him a perspective of up and down
from the ideal place, sandwiched by six other boys and two girls

When they would go riding in a wagon or a Model A
Sometimes people would stare and silently count
With their fingers, one, two, three, four………
And one of the brothers once leaned out and said,

“There’s NINE of us!”
The parents loved their children greatly;
Times were hard, and struggle to make ends meet
Was a fact of life for the well-knit family

Although the children thought it was just the way life was
Because making do was how everyone else
In their impoverished communities lived too
And their parents did not show much concern;

The father when someone broke a solemn tenet
Sent the child out to cut a switch
And he applied the discipline generously
Which seemed to break his heart

And after awhile it wore on him so hard
That he was doing all this switching
He said to them,
“You ALL go out and cut switches!”

When they came in, puzzled and worried,
The father said, “Now I want you all to
Switch ME! I must be doing something wrong.”
The children complied, though astounded at this turn;

It was uniquely educational for most of them
To apply the lash to their beloved father
Which may have been behind
The creative idea;

Time went along and he still was unable to
Bring about right behaviour from his tribe;
Naughtiness prevailed, it seemed to him,
Too much, so he called the children to formation;

Forlorn, the tender father, caught
In a parenting vortex,
Looked up after holding his head in his hands
For a long silence, searched his nine children’s faces

And asked them, beseechingly,
“Something is wrong here, I can’t seem
To get you to be good! What are we to do?” Whereupon
One little boy said, “We could try whipping you again?”

All those children somehow got college educations
Though the father, who had the gift or oratory,
Only went through eighth grade before having to quit
School and work to support his ailing father’s family

He worked hard at several jobs beside what he got
As a small stipend from his ministry work
And he never complained or let the children
Know how close to the edge he was

My friend in his talk to the church ladies and me yesterday guessed
His father frequently asked the Lord how he was going to make it;
Anecdotal evidence pointed to that: One time the father,
Sometimes given to depression, trudged home through the field

Where he’d been farm-handing - he told his son
Much later in life - and he was anguishing how he was to
Be able to keep going, praying for strength, when all of a sudden,

A rabbit fell from the sky at his feet.
The father looked at it incredulously; then gazed
Upward, and there, circling above him,
Was a hawk.

[David Zep Dix 10-9-2002]


To whom it may concern: