Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Archival Item of the Day

My latest excavation doesn't come from the boxes of "archives," but from a shelf of special books. It's actually a red, cloth-bound journal. The outside reads, "Year Book - 1907 - Surety Savings: The United States Fidelity And Guaranty Company - Baltimore, MD. - We Will Bond You." It belonged to my maternal grandmother, Jean Rights. She was born in 1907, so the journal is presumably a gift from her bank of some sort.

Most of the pages are blank. But some contain handwriting practice. And a few have text that fluctuates between diary-entry and creative writing exercise. I don't know exactly when these entries were written. Because they are preoccupied with concerns -- romance, alienation -- that typically don't manifest themselves until someone is a teenager, I'm guessing that they date from the early 1920s.

This is the first substantive entry:
The lights were low.
A rosy glow over all,
A soothing beauty
Tiny wisps of smoke
Wafted upward.
A faint scene of the East
Where all is mystery.
Dusky skins and gleaming weapons.
Thus it speaks.

It lulls one.
The soft lights, the faint perfume, the quiet --
It soothes one.
This weird peace
Suddenly, within the sinuous smoke
Is entwined a face.
The face of my Beloved.
In a soft mist that but adds to his wonder.
He whispers one word, "Tomorrow!"
And so I wait for the dawn of a new day.
I don't know how many movies Jean might have seen prior to writing this, but it sure bears the stamp of the popular culture that made Rudolph Valentino the star of all stars, American Orientalism at its apex.

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