Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Black Swamp of Chepachet : Part 4

This insight from 1966's memoir by CM Eddy describes the trip to Chepachet.

One other jaunt with Lovecraft is retained rather vividly in memory, for all that it was in a way a frustrating one. It was a trip made into the country in August 1923, in search of a blighted area called, "The Dark Swamp", - a place of such stygian darkness that the sun reputedly never shone there, never penetrated its fastnesses, even at high noon. Lovecraft had no very clear idea of its setting, but had been told that it was located off the Putnam Pike, about halfway between Chepachet, Rhode Island and Putnam, Connecticutt.

The day we set out was blistering hot; though we took the first trolley in the morning to the end of the line in Chepachet, it was already very warm at that hour. In Chepachet, we started out on foot on the road to Putnam. The heat increased as the day wore on. We had brought sandwiches with us, and from time to time we stopped at farmhouses along the way fro water and to inquire about the Dark Swamp. But no one seemed to have heard of it, and after four miles, Lovecraft, considerably wilted by the heat, decided reluctantly that we would have to give up the quest. So we found some reasonably comfortable stones at the side of the road and sat there until one of the Putnam - Providence cars stopped for us and put an end to our search. We never afterward took it up again, though, despite the discomfort of the summer day, it was as rewarding as any walk with Lovecraft, in that he found many of the old farm buildings fascinating and conveyed that fascination to me.

This is a fascinating tale, but a bit questionable.

Muriel relates (2), "HPL seemed unaware of the great heat as he approached the porch ... he wore a Panama hat, and when he removed it that roasting hot Sunday in August we noticed that his hair was as dark as a raven's wing ... although it was insufferably hot, his hands were cold, almsot clammy; and I recall wondering how anyone's hands could be so frigid in an atmosphere of almost a hundred degrees. He told us he walked ... a distance of three miles, and he had enjoyed it."

So, gentle blog reader, eh, go figure ! How could one hot day he be cold, the other he fainted from the heat?

1. p. 49, Walks with HP Lovecraft, In The Gentleman From Angell Street: Memories of HP Lovecraft, Fenham, 2001
2. p. 6, The Gentleman From Angell Street, In The Gentleman From Angell Street: Memories of HP Lovecraft, Fenham, 2001

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