Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mending Wall

Kim and I are busy preparing the house for the imminent arrival of baby Gustave Flaubert Claspy and so this past weekend I was boxing up some books to store temporarily while we are shuffling the rooms in the house. One book I lingered over is an anthology of English and American literature that was given to my mother by the English department of her high school, John Marshall High here in Cleveland, for being their outstanding student. Tucked inside this volume were two pieces of paper, one a church bulletin from 1976 from my older sister Jane's confirmation service. The other was a small piece of folded note paper, punctuated by quite a few thumb-tack holes, with the first line of "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost, and what is surely the poet's signature in slightly faded blue fountain pen ink.

Frost told the audience that if they could write down from memory a line from one of his poems, he would autograph the paper for them. My mother had a wealth of poetry memorized, so this was surely no problem for her, and she went away with the poet's name inscribed below her handwriting, and clearly had affixed this piece of paper to many cork boards during her life.

I contacted Denise Monbarren, head of Special Collections at the College of Wooster's beautiful Andrews Library and asked if she could confirm the poet's reading at the college, and not only did she confirm that he spoke there in November of 1955 (my mother's junior year at Wooster), but also sent me a copy of the Wooster Alumni Bulletin of December 1955 with a report of the event. Many thanks to Denise!


Chris said...

dang, very cool.

Jane said...

Good work doing the research! It's a great story.

Now did you also confirm that I got confirmed in 1976? :-)

Brenna said...

That's an excellent story!

Ken said...

Take it to an archival framer and frame the note and the poem side by side. A wonderful keepsake!