JUNE 21, 1937
HYDE PARK, Sunday—An appeal came in my mail yesterday which almost made me weaken in my firm decision that under no circumstances would I say "yes" to the suggestion of going on any board, or joining any worthy group for any purpose whatsoever! This decision was made because it seemed to me that not only was I being asked every day to join a new group, but that I was actually belonging to so many things that I was justifying the statement which somebody made that: "Americans were the world's greatest joiners." I am refusing, but I can't help telling you that out in Missouri they are planning to erect a national Eugene Field Memorial on Lovers Lane, Saint Joseph, MO. The last two verses of his poem about this spot have always stuck in my memory:
Are forty pounds or more,
Which I'm like to spend, ere the month shall end
In an antiquarian store;
But I'd give it all and gladly,
If for an hour or so
I could feel the grace of a distant place -
Of Lover's Lane, Saint Jo.
And dream of the good old days -
Of the kindly shade which the maples made
Round the staunch but squeaky chaise;
With your head upon my shoulder,
And my arm about you so,
Though exiles, we shall seem to be
In Lover's Lane, Saint Jo.
How curious that even Eugene Field should find compensation for the loss of personal romance in the acquiring of some particular bit of antiquity around which a romance of the imagination could be woven! The real lure of the "antique" is the fact that you can dream about it. You know that probably the gentleman who is selling it to you in none too truthful, that perhaps that chair or bit of china or lace did not belong to the Emperor Napoleon or Mary, Queen of Scots, but that doesn't really matter. As long as you own that antique you will be thinking of Napoleon or of Mary, Queen of Scots, and their lives will become your romance. What most of us lose in life as we grow older is the power to enjoy romance. Lucky the man or women who keeps it throughout their days!
Of course, my favorite of all Eugene Field's poems, is "Little Boy Blue," even though I can not read it aloud even now without tears. No one who has ever read his poems can help but have a kindly feeling for this poet so I hope that his memorial is erected, and that many people join the committee.
Too cold and gray yesterday to swim, but several of my young friends came to see me. Today I have no visitors, but the sun shines and I hope we can swim this afternoon.