Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Grandma Budington was, in my opinion, the most beautiful old lady who ever lived. In her twinkling white hair there was not one strand that was not purest silver.
Grandma was probably as fine a cook as was to be found in the State of Michigan and on our cellar stairs were always to be found three crocks, one of sugar cookies, one of ginger cookies and one of doughnuts.
My mother, who was a strict Presbyterian, disapproved of her heartily, but nevertheless depended upon her to run our household, because mother was a business woman who ran very successfully the town's millinery store.
Pagan and Presbyterian had one thing in common, which was Pagan and Presbyterian had one thing in common, which was the love of beer, and they would send me down to the park casino with a large tin pail which I would have filled at the bar and bring back to them in their hiding place.
Grandma had the only set of quilting frames in the village. Thirefore, when a quilt was pieced and ready for quilting, all the old ladies in town would assemble at our house and make use of quilting frames while they drank tea and gossiped.
Grandma had come to Michigan from Albany, N.Y., in a covered wagon when she was a little girl. She had been a true pioneer.
She had three husbands, the last of which was her favorite. He was a very gentle, beautiful old gentleman with a lung white beard, and she revered him.
She was acquainted with farm families up and down the road and It was her custom, almost every week, to go and spend the day with one of them. In those days you did not make calls, you visited.
She had one book which she read over and over again. It was a paperbacked affair and the name of it was "Her Dark Marriage Morn."
In our house were two upstairs rooms, which were Grandma's. One was a bedroom and the other was a sitting room. Its decorations were two colored pictures called "Wide Awake" and "Fast Asleep." There was a whatnot on which were revered objects such as a bottle of water from the River Jordan, and daguerreotypes in conspicuous places of her friends and relatives.
She was acquainted with farm families up and down the road and it was her custom, almost every week, to go and spend the day with one of them. In those days you did not make calls, you visited.
Though of advanced age, she walked long distances to spend the day at the farms of her acquaintances. She was a sturdy old lady.
Down the street from our house was a boy whose name was Cappy Allen. It was his joy to make my life miserable. Every time I went to his end of the block, he would chase me home. Grandma did not like this and brought it to a conclusion.
The last time Cappy chased me home, Grandma stood at our front gate and when,I, a fugitive, sought shelter, she shut the gate against me and said, "Lick that boy!"
1 was more afraid of Grandma than I was of Cappy, so I turned on him and gave him a licking.
She brought me up because mother was so occupied with her business that she had little time for domestic affairs. So it was I learned more from her than from all the schools I ever attended. Her life's span extended from the days when the Indians were still important to the venturesome settlers to the 1890's when Port­land, Mich., had become a settled and prosperous community.
Grandma had tremendous self-respect and pride in her appearance and her antecedents. I was the apple of her eye and it would safe to say that she devoted herself entirely to me and my concerns as I was growing up.
Her most intimate friend was a spare and severe Scotch woman, a Mrs. Gay, whose Scotch accent was so pronounced that it was difficult     to understand. These two old ladies took me on their excursions, usually to Belle Isle Park in Detroit, where they would find a cozy spot in the woods and settle down for the afternoon.
There may exist today in the world old ladies like my grandmotlier and her friend Mrs. Gay, but I don't know where they can be found. If there do not exist isles of the blessed, to which people as my Grandma go when they pass away, then there is a defect in the hereafter.
As I have said, she was a complete pagan, but if the world were made up exclusively of such pagans as she, there would be an eternity of peace and comfort and kindly friendship.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

BACKGROUND OF A CITIZEN: An immigrant's famous son explains his patriotic debt

BACKGROUND OF A CITIZEN: An immigrant's famous son explains his patriotic debt

Distinguished U. S. Mystery Novelist and Arizona Political Leader
From the Rotarian Magazine Dec. 1954

ALL MY LIFE it has seemed to me that I have owed a sort of obligation to be as good a citizen as I can—and that I have owed it to a great many people who came
before me. It has also seemed to me that the best way to discharge this obligation is to take part in public affairs and politics. 
Maybe the fact that I am the son of an immigrant has something to do with this. My father was born of a family of weavers in Manchester, England. When he was 6 years old he went to work in a mill in Manchester, He started work at 6 o'clock each evening and worked through the night until 6 o'clock in the morning. For his labors he received 2 shillings a week. Though at 6 he may have been a pretty mature fellow, my father still was actually a frightened little lad in a vast loft lighted only by candles. He worked at a carding machine, a frame covered with teasels over which the worsted runs and prickers raise the nap on the cloth. He was so small that he had to stand on a box in order to reach this frame upon which he worked.
At the next machine worked an old, broken-down, drunken weaver who could perform only the same duties as this 6-year-old boy. But that old drunken weaver was to my father and to me probably the most important personage who ever lived. Fortunately for both of us this old souse had a photographic memory, and through the long nights he told my father stories. He not only told him stories, but he recited them word for word—all of Shakespeare's plays, the classics of Dickens and Scott. Night after night he whiled away the long hours reciting these tales to this poor, little boy at the machine next to him. That was my father's education.
It is difficult for me to imagine today the severe poverty in which the Kelland family lived in England a century ago. This family—my grandfather and grandmother, four sons, and two daughters—in common with millions of other unfortunate people in Europe looked across the ocean to the United States of America, and there they saw hope. They believed that if they could find some way, of crossing the ocean, passing Ellis Island, and entering the United States, then their lot might be far different. Somehow they got the money to cross the ocean in the steerage of a sailing ship that look 12 weeks from Liverpool.
Upon arriving in the U.S., the family met and held a council. Two of the sons were men of reasonable age, old enough to enter the military service. Since it was then the second year of the Civil War, they decided it was their duty to express their gratitude to their new homeland by sending two of their sons to fight in the Union armies. That was my father's introduction to the United States.
He never became distinguished nor wealthy, but he was a good citizen. And he, from the time was very young, taught me his ideals of citizenship and of gratitude to the country which gave him refuge. In him resided those virtues which we today may look upon with something of envy.
He and my mother worked hard. Every time a dollar was earned they saw to it that a portion of that dollar was put away. They asked favors of nobody. The largest sum that my father ever earned was after middle age when, he became a travelling salesman at. the magnificent salary of $1,300 a year.
Yet my family had a pleasant life. We lived in a little Michigan town named Portland. It had 1,200 inhabitants. Dad clerked in a general store and Mother ran the local millinery store. Most of the business that was done in that town was done by barter. I can still remember sitting with Dad and candling the eggs that farmers had brought to trade for the cloth and groceries and whatever else they needed. The only contact we had with the Government of the United States in Washington was our trip to the post office to buy a 2-cent stamp. That was a pretty ideal age in a pretty ideal town.
We had another thing that was good to havethe Sabbath Day, I can remember now on Saturday being put in the washtub in front of the stove and given my Saturday-night bath. And on Sunday morning I was rousted out of bed.
There was something special about those Sabbath mornings. You had time to sit on the church porch and look off across the countryside at the yellow wheat and the apple trees and the locust and the maples. You could sense a sort of hum in the air. Everything was still and serene and very lovely. Then at 10 o'clock the Baptist church bell would ring. It was the biggest and the deepest-toned bell in town. Then the Congregational church bell would ring, and then the Methodist church bell, and then the bell in the United Brethren church. And the sounds of these church bells mingled and joined with the sounds of the birds and the insects and the rustling of the wind in the wheat and the trees; and somehow you knew that you had perfect peace.
Now what do these childhood memories have to do with citizenship? They have a great deal to do with it.
Good parents pass their blessings on. Though my father never had opportunity to go to school, he, I think, was the most usefully educated man I have ever known. Thanks to that old drunken weaver in his boyhood, he was intimately acquainted with all English literature. Ile would sit evenings around the hanging lamp in the parlor and read to me those stories that he had been told. That was our amusement. From it my father instilled in me a love of the written word.
Though my parents never attained great wealth, they nevertheless passed on their material gifts. When my father died at the age of 88, I found I knew far less than I thought of his and my mother's financial affairs. For years I had done what I could to see that their life was happy, but I now learned that they used hardly a penny that I had been able to give them. I now discovered that my parents owned two apartment buildings in Detroit, Michigan, and had $15,500 in Liberty Bonds! I think all of us might draw some sort of lesson from lives like that.
I think, too, that the world needs more of the church bells like those I used to hear in Portland. We need bells that will ring baud and long to call us to Divine worship where we can sit in our several places of reverence and meditate a little about the people that have gone before us, their integrity and independence, and the debt we owe them and ourselves and our children to be good citizens.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Clarence Budington Kelland's novels of mystery and suspense were mid-century works, and therefore clean, cozy works and therefore suitable reading for the whole family, much like the venerable Saturday Evening Post in which most of them first appeared as six to eight part serials.
   But, as the more liberated post-war era and the 1960s loomed, the Post in keeping with the times, occasionally used illustrators who have become known as pioneers of "Good Girl Art," which while never explicit or salacious in any way, was a bit racier than the Post's usual fare.
   Principle among these artists was Robert Meyers, whose illustrrations for Kelland's Miss Drugget Takes the Train (The Artless Heiress) have become internationally famous.
   The three illustrations below, copyright the Curtis Publishing Co,, show why...
   The legs and and above the knee skirts in this full color illustration for the first installment of the story make it sexy while still remaining within the bounds of good taste.
   This scene of Miss Drugget discovering a mix up in suitcases, also from the first installment, is slightly risque, but faithful to the book, and by today's standards, very tame indeed.

    Probably the single most famous and sexy illustration from any Kelland serial, if only because it has been widely republished on many "bondage" themed websites:

   Finally, filled with eye-catching women is this scene from a fashion shop where Miss Drugget shops for less dowdy clothing...

   You can read Miss Drugget Takes the Train, one of Kelland's "Innocents at Large" mysteries, for only 99 cents at Amazon's Kindle store (CLICK HERE).

   Here is the hilarious, tantlizing first chapter of Kelland's novel:


COLUMBINE Pepper Drugget was the unofficial secretary to her aunt Miss Egeria Cordwainer, proprietor and headmistress of the Cordwainer School. The title of the institution was stark, severe and uninviting. Its prospectus announced that a certain number of young ladies from five to ten years of age were accepted each year into this grove of Academe to be instructed primarily in Polish, elegance, grace, good taste, refinement and delicacy, with what might be termed a postgraduate course in finesse.
To gain admission to Miss Cordwainer's institution was a matter of extreme difficulty. The standards of admission were high. Wealth could not buy its way in; influence could not force the doors; family eminence alone would not suffice, though it helped. In short, in the Cordwainer School snobbery attained its most perfect flowering.
Miss Cordwainer scorned business efficiency and debits and credits. The Government required her to keep books, which she did in a manner to bewilder income-tax inspectors. There was to her mind something parvenu about keeping track of money, though there was nothing stultifying about the possession of it. On a certain occasion she made a pronouncement which might be of high value to the business world. "My fees," she said, "are so high that I do not have to vex myself with such trivialities as costs or overhead or outlay." On that day she enunciated a business axiom that guaranteed financial success to any institution that could adopt it.
It was in this splendid social and economical atmosphere that Columbine Pepper Drugget had been reared—a world in which almost nobody was socially acceptable, and in which system, budgets and the ABC of good financial practice was infra dig.
Columbine's father had deserted her mother when the baby was three years old, and her mother had died and left her alone at the age of five.

Miss Cordwainer, her aunt and sole living relative, had rescued her and taken her into the school, where she had been reared in a curiously hap-hazard but not unkind fashion. She had been permitted rather than ordered to attend classes, and when, at the age of ten, she had completed what the school had to offer, there was an end to it. Miss Cordwainer was not interested in education beyond the point where her school left off.
But, haply, there was a very good library, acquired for the purpose of impressing parents. Columbine, having something that resembled an inquiring mind, and having little else to do, read much without direction or plan. She plowed through histories, biographies, philosophies and economics in a helter-skelter way, and she stored away what she read without subjecting it to any digestive process. So that, by the time she was of voting age, she had perused a vast number of books and was in possession of mountains of facts and theories; and was completely destitute of actual experience of life or acquaintance with human beings other than the teachers, children and servants in the school.
She had been taken to the Metropolitan Opera House to hear selected music, to the Metropolitan Museum to gaze at selected objets d'art, to Carnegie Hall to listen to virtuosos, and to the Town Hall to be bored by lecturers.
Inasmuch as the pupils wore a sort of uniform dating back to the days of Godey's Lady's Book, which she herself had worn until she was ten and then had approximated as she grew older, she was little concerned with the mode. Her hair was not bobbed, but gathered in a bun at the back of her head so tightly drawn that it pulled at her eyes and gave them a sort of slanting, Oriental look. The eyes so disfigured were liquid and intelligent. She was five feet and four inches tall and weighed a hundred and sixteen pounds. She wore steel-rimmed spectacles, not horn-rimmed, because Miss Cordwainer considered them an affectation. Such notions as she had of the facts of life had been drawn from prim and not definitely informative treatises or from tomes so scientific as to convey nothing human.
Columbine Pepper Drugget reached the age of twenty-one in August. It was in October that she received the first letter that ever had been addressed to her in the score and one years of her life.
She sat in her cubbyhole of an office and turned it over and over in her fingers, unable to grasp the fact that this strange thing had happened to her. Miss Cordwainer, who had delivered it into her hands, stood over her.
"Well, well!" she demanded. 'What is it? From whom is it? Why do you not open it?"
"I am startled," Columbine said. "I never have received a letter before." She had a way, now and then, of saying things that surprised people or made them stare or made them gasp. "A letter," she said slowly, "before you open it, is a thrilling mystery. After you open it, maybe it's a dud."
"What a word! Dud! Wherever did you learn it? What does it mean?"
"I learned it," Columbine said, "from Jessica Pangbourne. It means, I understand, something that does not come up to expectations. I believe it is of British derivation and originally referred to a bomb that did not detonate."
"Absurd," said Miss Cordwainer. "Read it at once."
Columbine postponed the moment. She regarded the return address. "It comes," she said, "from several men. Postlewhaite, Hoopenlooper, Postlewhaite and Dodd. Could it be from all of them?"
"Open it and find out," snapped Miss Cordwainer.
So at last Columbine tore open the envelope and withdrew a letter-sized sheet, which she unfolded.
"The four men," she said, looking up, "are attorneys-at-law. All four of them, probably." She glanced down the sheet to the signature and her face was disappointed. "Oh," she exclaimed, "it's signed by Mr. Hoopenlooper. I was hoping it would be signed by Mr. Dodd."
"Why by Mr. Dodd?" asked her aunt.
"Because," replied Columbine, "he sounds less pompous."
"Well," asked Miss Cordwainer with ill-restrained impatience, "what has the pompous Mr. Hoopenlooper to say?"
"It says," answered Columbine, "that if I will call at his office promptly I will be told something to my advantage." She looked up and smiled delightedly. "How nice!"
'Why nice?" her aunt asked.
"Because," said Columbine soberly, "it postpones eating the frosting until tomorrow."
"How intriguing!" said Miss Cordwainer. "What in the world can be to your advantage? I can conceive of nothing."
"That," answered Columbine, "is what provides it with the kick."
"Kick?" asked Miss Cordwainer.
"A word," said Columbine, "acquired from Rosemary Newton." "Such regrettable words," said Miss Cordwainer, "should not be used under this roof."
Her niece looked at her solemnly. "Aunt Egeria," she said, "you would blow your top if you heard all the words that are uttered in this house." "Blow my—"
"Exactly. What it expresses is not clear, but it pleasures one to say it." "You must immediately telephone this Mr. Hoopenlooper for an appointment."
"Why," asked Columbine, "should I telephone him?"
"Because," said Miss Cordwainer, "it is customary."
"Who made it customary?"
"Why—why, I don't know."
Miss Drugget, who had read Civil Government, frowned and then said, "This is a republic."
"It is," agreed Miss Cordwainer, not seeing any connection.
"In a republic," went on Columbine, "all citizens in person or by representative are supposed to be present and vote on any law that is passed." "Why, that is the procedure."
"Well," said Columbine, "I was not present in person nor by representative when such a custom was established. So I am not bound by it. I shall not, therefore, telephone Mr. Hoopenlooper for an appointment. It is he who wants to see me. I shall, therefore, crash the gate without preliminaries."
"Never, never," said Miss Cordwainer faintly, "have I heard anything so outrageous."
"The thought," said Columbine, "never occurred to me before, but it must be simply scrumptious to do something outrageous. If"—her eyes gleamed avidly—"if I could think of something outrageous I think I should do it. Just for the hell of it."
"Awk!" Miss Cordwainer exclaimed, and collapsed in a chair.
In the morning, promptly at nine o'clock, Columbine sallied forth to beard Mr. Hoopenlooper in his den. Her aunt insisted upon accompanying her, impelled, first, by curiosity, and, second, by solicitude lest something untoward befall her niece on such a foray into the great, mysterious world.

Only 99 cents at Amazon's Kindle store (CLICK HERE)

Sunday, February 5, 2017



WALKING on the lawn to make no noise, the man hurried toward the bungalow. Keeping close to the wall, he tried to look through the living room window. Cautiously he set down his package and raised himself for a better view.
"Don't move . . . and keep your hands up," said an icy voice from the shadows. The man swung round, his face a pale mask in the dusk. Slowly his hands rose above his head.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" asked the policeman, stepping into the light from the window. Something metallic shone in his hand.
"I just wanted," said the man, his voice shaking slightly, "to see some one in the house."
"Then why didn't you go up to the door and ring the bell?"
"That's a long story, I'm afraid."
"Talk fast, mister," said the officer.
"It goes back about a year," the man said. "I was driving through here on my way to Chicago. It was raining and getting dark. I was tired. I never saw the little girl crossing the street — until after I'd hit her."
He paused, thinking of sonic way of expressing his thoughts. "Imagine how I felt, knowing it was my fault. Of course, I did everything I could, but that wasn't much. I'd have gone crazy if it hadn't been for one thing. I knew the kid's hospital and doctor bills would be paid. I knew she'd get the best of care. And the insurance company had promised to keep me informed of her progress. Yesterday, thank God, they called up to tell me that she had com­pletely recovered at last."
The man's face was full of eagerness now. He was completely absorbed in his story. "I didn't have to do a thing. It had all been so easy for me. But I felt I had tosce her for myself, to see her well and happy. So here I am. She lives in this house. I brought her a little present."
"I still don't see," said the officer, "why you didn't ring the bell and ask to see the little girl."
"I didn't ring the bell because I didn't want to meet her father." He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead. "You see, he made a point of never meeting me. He said that if he ever did, he couldn't trust himself. He said — well he might kill me."
"I see, I see," said the officer thoughtfully.
Suddenly the front door opened and a little girl came running out. "Is that you, daddy?', she cried.
"Of course it is, darling," said the policeman, "and look, I've brought home one of our best friends. He'll be staying for dinner."

(The above appeared in an obscure magazine in the 1940s that ran super short mystery stories from time to time which purportedly took only that long to read. Reprinted by permission the Kelland Estate.)  

Click here to read a sample in Kindle of his best historical mystery, The Cardiff Giant Affair. Only 2.99 or free for Kindle Unlimited members.

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