Legend of the Springs

FountaineAt the base of Pike’s Peak is a little valley carrying a stream the old French voyageurs… named Fontaine Qui Bouille, or Boiling Fountain…[At] its source were springs which boiled forth charged with carbolic acid gas and pleasantly saturated with soda and other minerals.

These springs were held sacred by all the Indians both of the mountains and the plains because of their supposed medicinal qualities. Around [these springs] they wove traditions, as they did about most natural phenomena which they could not understand. This was supposed to be the spot where Manitou, the great spirit of all the Indians, came forth upon the earth from the happy hunting grounds. The gas bubbles in the water were thought to be his breathing.

Major Ruxton, an eccentric English Army officer…sought health by traveling in the Rocky Mountains all alone as far back as 1834…[He] found the springs filled with bead work and trinkets, left by the Indians as …offerings to Manitou. In his memoirs is found the legend that accounted for the springs.

A Comanche and a Ute…met at the springs…The Ute had killed a deer and this had aroused the jealousy of the Comanche. As the Ute stopped to drink, the Comanche leaped upon him and held his head in the stream until dead. At once the form of Manitou, an aged man with white beard, appeared out of the stream…and, with a war cry, brained the murderer. Immediately the water of that spring turned bitter.

So that his children might not have to drink of this, the great spirit smote the rocks some distance away and sweet and healing waters came forth.

All of this happened a long time ago “when the cotton woods along the big river (the Arkansas) were no larger than an arrow” and was the beginning of that feud between the Indians of the mountains and those of the plains, which lasted for centuries.

From “Shan Kive Marks Race Friendships” The Salt Lake Telegram, September 2, 1913, by Frederic J. Haskin

Published in: on February 8, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bernstein House

Bernstein home in Pueblo, Colorado

While searching my bookshelves for something to read, I came across The Search for Bridey Murphey. The book had belonged to my husband’s grandfather – a man who wrote his name and the date he acquired a book on the first page. He bought this copy sixty years ago, the year Doubleday first published this work by Morey Bernstein (1919-1999).

The book’s initial printing in January, 1956 was 10,000 copies. It quickly hit the New York Times best-seller list, where it remained for 26 weeks. By mid March, 200,000 copies were in print. The story was promptly made into a movie staring Louis Haywood and Teresa Wright. The book was reissued in 1965 and eventually published in 30 languages.

What was the great appeal of this story? Evidence of a woman’s previous life in another time. The fly page described it like this:  “His subject, a young woman named Ruth Simmons [real name Ginni Tighe] had been put into a deep hypnotic trance in the presence of witnesses. A home tape recorder was turned on to record every step in the experiment, beginning with the age regression process… Bernstein…took his subject back to the age of seven, to five, to three, to one–and finally through the barrier of time itself. ‘I want you to keep going back,’ he told her, ‘back through space and time, and you will find there are other scenes in your memory – in some other place, in some other time’.”

Ruth recalled a past life in Ireland when she was known as Bridey Murphy. The book’s fly page reports she was “…born in Cork, in 1798, she grew into a spirited miss with a saucy tongue who married a young barrister and moved to Belfast. She died at the age of sixty-six.”

Of course, the book was controversial! There were stories that investigators in Ireland found no record of Bridey or her family. Newspapers reported parallels between incidents in Ruth Simmons’ life and the stories she told as Bridey. Regardless, the story was intriguing and remains so today. The book reports Mr. Bernstein’s prior experiments in hypnotism, information about Edgar Cayce who did “life readings” that identified individuals’ medical problems, and then contemporary research in the field of extrasensory perception.

After 20 years of reflection, Mrs. Morrow told The Times in 1976 she remembered nothing of what she said of Bridey Murphy under hypnosis but considered the recollections valid. She expressed personal ambivalence about reincarnation.

Published in: on February 1, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bestselling Books 1916

Old BooksWhat were people reading one hundred years ago? Here are the Publishers Weekly bestselling novels of 1916:

Seventeen by Booth Tarkington (two time Pulitzer Prize winner: 1919 for The Magnificent Ambersons and 1922 for Alice Adams)

When A Man’s A Man by Howard Bell Wright

Just David by Eleanor H. Porter

Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H.G. Wells (prolific British writer in many genres but best remembered for science fiction novels)

Life and Gabriella by Elen Glasgow (won the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for In This Our Life but died before the selection was announced)

The Real Adventure by Henry Kitchell Webster

Bars of Iron by Ethel M. Dell (British author)

Nan of Music Mountain by Frank H. Spearman

Dear Enemy by Jean Webster

The Heart of Rachael by Kathleen Norris (a prolific author who sold over 10 million copies of her 80 books and became the highest paid female author of her day)

One interesting note in the article accompanying the list reports: “…just because a book is purchased doesn’t mean it will be read. The rising length of bestsellers may mean that more of them are simply becoming bookshelf decor. In 1985 members of the staff of The New Republic laced coupons redeemable for $5 cash inside 70 books that were selling well, and none of them were sent in.”

The term “best seller” was first used in print in 1889 by The Kansas Times & Star newspaper in Kansas City. For more information about determination of a best seller, there is an interesting Wikipedia article online titled “Bestseller.”



crazy-patchwork-quiltOver the holidays I enjoyed reading The Runaway Quilt, one in the long series of quilt themed books by Jennifer Chiaverini. It is a story that takes place in two eras – one just before the Civil War and the other in modern time.

One character mentions that “Families often set aside a special quilt to be used only infrequently by guests, but those quilts were typically the finest in the household.”

We had just such a quilt when I was growing up. It lay carefully folded in Mother’s cedar chest. I remember being very sick with chicken pox at about age 10. When I was past throwing up and beginning to feel better, mother laid that beautiful special quilt over me. I knew that I would be well soon! That quilt continued its “getting well” appearances until I left home. Later it came to stay in my own cedar chest.

The quilt had no fancy pattern. It was made of solid color satin squares laid out in rows. The squares were cut from the ribbons that trimmed flower bouquets at my grandfather’s 1927 funeral.


Published in: on January 11, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Memories of Christmases Past

HPIM1024In the last weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal for 2015, Peggy Noonan offered a nostalgic look at Christmases past. She recalls the 1950s “when families had less, when America had less, [and] a single gift could make a lasting impression.” Noonan offers stories of the gifts children who are now grown up remembered most – a wooden Daniel Boone musket; an old doll recovered from a basement and hastily cleaned up and dressed to become a treasured gift for a little girl who would not tell anyone what she wanted until Christmas Eve; a Pink Lady bicycle; a desk fashioned of scrap plywood.

My own memory brings back the bride doll I wanted at age 7 or 8. I remember waking up before sunrise on Christmas morning and tiptoeing into the living room. There beneath the tree was my doll. I believe I squealed, “He came! He really came!” Then,  hugging my doll tightly, I padded into my parents room, crawled in bed with them, and happily went back to sleep.

What is you special memory of Christmas past?

Published in: on December 28, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Holiday Reading

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini (Dutton 2015) offers parallel narratives of two people struggling with life’s challenges as the Christmas season approaches. Their stories are told in alternating chapters.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow suffers family tragedy and fear of more to come in 1863. But he manages to write a poem titled “Christmas Bells”.

The modern day character, Sophia, learns she will lose her teaching position. She worries not only for herself but for the underprivileged children in the church choir she directs. Longfellow’s poem, set to music, becomes the connecting link between two lives lived in different centuries.

Chiaverini’s previous works – Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, The Spymistress, and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker – also bring to life real and fictional characters in interesting circumstances.


Thanksgiving Dinner circa 1903

thanksgiving-turkeyFor the table I prefer a white cloth with fancy border and napkins to match. A dash of color livens up the table in the bleak November when flowers cannot be had in profusion. Casters in the center, of course, flanked by tall celery glasses. At each end, glass fruit dishes filled with apples and nuts. A bottle of pepper sauce near the casters, a mold of jelly by the platter of turkey, and small side dishes of chopped cabbage garnished with rings of cold boiled eggs. The purple cabbage makes the handsomest-looking dishes.

Serve the soup from tureens into soup dishes, handing around to the guests. After this comes the piece-de-resistance, “Thanksgiving turkey.” A piece of dark meat with a spoonful of gravy, and one of white with a bit of jelly and a baked potato (I should prefer a spoonful of mashed) should be served on each plate, leaving the other vegetables to be passed afterward with the roast pig. After this the salad, and then the plates should be taken away and the dessert served. Then come the apples and nuts, the tea and coffee, well seasoned with grandpa’s old-time stories, grandma’s quaint sayings, and kind words and merry repartees from all.

from Dr. Chase’s Third Last and Complete Receipt Book and Household Physician, 1903


Published in: on November 23, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Visiting Maps

Cache CrkIn an April 2010 article for Colorado Country Life, Gayle Gresham wrote: “My love for maps began the first day of 4th grade at Cherry Valley Elementary School in Douglas County. Mr. O’Quinn, teacher in the “Big Room” (4th – 6th grades), walked to the front of the classroom, pulled a shiny new Colorado map down from its roller and announced a map drill. Before I knew it, I was hearing the names of towns I’d never heard before–Wild Horse, Rifle and Grover–and finding them on the…map.

“Years later, I renewed my love affair with Colorado maps when I started researching my family history. Maps became more personal as I searched for the mining camp of “Cash Creek” [later spelled Cache Creek] where my great-great grandparents first settled in Colorado in 1861…I visited Cash Creek and walked the land where my ancestors had walked; I even panned for gold in Cash Creek!” Gayle says one of the favorite map tools is Google Earth because she can “sit at home and soar over the mountains…zoom in on Cache Creek.”

Have you tried traveling to far away places with computer tools? As Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the places you will go!”

When Did I Stop Being 20

ViorstThis collection of poems by Judith Viorst was published in 1987. The full title is When Did I Stop Being 20 and Other Injustices. While Viorst’s work is often laugh-out-loud funny, it is perceptive. Lovely and entertaining illustrations were contributed by John Alcorn.

Here is one short selection, titled “The Break.”

So I told my parents:

No I do not believe in free love.

And yes I will be home for Sunday dinners.

And no I do not approve of marijuana.

And yes I will take showers daily.

And no I will not turn out like my cousin Ethel.

(I think she is living with a married man in Tulsa.)

And yes I will get a police lock.

And eat a good breakfast every morning.

And only talk to men I am introduced to.

So they said:

If I must be independent

And make it hard for them to sleep at nights,

I might as well do it in Greenwich Village,

Which at least isn’t far from Irvington, New Jersey.


Judith Viorst, in addition to numerous books of poetry, is the author of eight children’s books.

Published in: on October 26, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Particularly Cats

LessingParticularly Cats…and Rufus by Doris Lessing was first published in 1967. It was republished in 1991 by Alfred A, Knoff, Inc. with illustrations by James McMullan. The jacket flap invites cat lovers.

“In a series of captivating, interconnected vignettes, we meet the cats that have slinked and bullied and charmed their way into Doris Lessing’s life: the farm and feral cats of her South African childhood, the London house cats, the city strays (such as Rufus, the new addition to the gallery), the prowling toms, and the ‘kittens, kittens, showers of kittens’.” Lessing “tells the way cats affect her and she them, and the communication that grows between them, a language of gesture and mood and desire as eloquent, finally, as the spoken word.”

James McMullan’s lovely watercolor illustrations (including the cover) offer appealing cats within a home.

Doris Lessing was born in Persia, grew up in Southern Rhodesia, and moved to London in 1949. Her first book was published in 1950 and was followed by numerous works.

James McMullan was born in China, educated in England and settled in New York City. He created posters for the Lincoln Center Theater and many magazine illustrations. He taught at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.


Published in: on October 19, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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