Thursday, February 07, 2008

"HPL & JFM to HW, 4 Aug 1934" Companion Letter Surfaces: "HPL & JFM to DW, 4 Aug 1934"

If you have Mysteries of Time and Spirit: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei, turn to p. 348. That post card is to Donald Wandrei describing a convention and stating "Yesterday we cleaned up at Maxfield's and Jake's {Diner}." "Blessings - Grandpa Melmoth III". Morton says, "Only a line left to express greetings, hearty good-will and best wishes"
Here is the extant post card reverse found on-line by Jimster for us to Howard Wandrei at the very same moment in time.
Alas, it's sold and back in a colelctor's hand not to be seen for who knows when. The austion house wrote the blurb below.


Truly a remarkable piece of history and ephemera. A magnificent hand-written postcard by H.P. Lovecraft to his good friend Howard Wandrei (1909-1956). Howard Wandrei is noted as a fantastic fiction author with numerous short stories appearing in the 1930s and 1940s. He is also the brother of Arkham House co-founder Donald Wandrei. The postcard also has a short note by James F. Morton, another good friend of Lovecraft's. The postcard was sent to Howard to share an experience at an Ice Cream parlor. Lovecraft opens with a brilliant, typical Lovecraftian flourish "Hail, Spawner of Daemons!" Lovecraft continues, "I am harboring a guest of honor with whom I believe you [know]". This is James F. Morton, and thus the note added by Morton at the end of Lovecraft's writing.

Lovecraft continues to write about how he has "produced an ice-cream famine at Maxfield's", which of course is Mrs. Julia A. Maxfield's Ice Cream Parlor in Warren, Rhode Island. Lovecraft asks Howard if "Donald has told you about this famous counter of orifaction?" This Ice Cream Parlor has sort of obtained a legendary place in Lovecraftian history. From the 1944 Arkham House book Marginalia by H.P. Lovecraft, there is a section titled "The Dweller in Darkness" by Donald Wandrei. In that piece he explains the history and story behind the first 1927 trip to Maxfields:

We took a bus for Warren, Rhode Island, where they promised a great treat. At Warren we walked to an establishment called Maxfield's in a rambling old Colonial house. Its specialty was ice-cream, and it developed that our pilgrimage was solely for the purpose of consuming ice-cream.

There were thirty-two varieties on the menu. "Are they all available?" asked Lovecraft.
"No," said the waiter, "only twenty-eight today, Sir."

"Ah, the decay of modern commercial institutions," said Lovecraft dolefully. "Thirty-two varieties are advertised but only twenty-eight are prepared for the famished pilgrims."
We each ordered a double portion of a different flavor, and by dividing each other's choice, we ejoyed three flavors with each serving. The trams came on and on--chocolate, vanilla, peach, black raspberry, pistachio, black walnut, coffee, huckleberry, strawberry, orange, plum, mint, burnt almond, and exotic types whose names I do not recall. The ice-cream was superior; there was no doubt of its being of the finest quality. But on the twenty-first variety I was beyond capacity. I watched with awe while the remaining flavors arrived in the same huge portions, and Lovecraft and morton ate on with undiminshed zest, interspersing the astonishing meal with a wealth of literary allusions on the origins of ice-cream, its preparation in Italy, its appeal to famous men, the distinctions between meringues, ice-creams, and ices. I managed to sip each flavor for the record of twenty-eight, but I was a weak runner-up to the champions. I would estimate that Lovecraft and Morton consumed between two and three quarts of ice-cream apiece on that gastronomic triumph

The occasion was so memorable that we wrote a short note of appreciation of the twenty-eight varieties and our enjoyment, signed it, and left it at the table. A year later when we visited Warren, we were surprised to find our tribute decorating a wall. Lovecraft was both amused and delighted but all he said was, "What a disapointment that the other four varieties were not available."

The postcard continues, "Now by the shores at Buttonwoods [a city in Rhode Island]. Hope you'll get over to these parts before you blastaway toward the sunset. Regards--HP" After Lovecraft's note, is a short note written in blue pen by Morton: "Greetings ouf of the dark from the unknown, but not malefic. James F. Morton." The postcard is hand addressed by Lovecraft and was mailed at Buttonwoods, Rhode Island on August 4, 1934 at 7am. The postcard showcases the New Providence County Court House in Lovecraft's beloved Providence, Rhode Island. The postcard is in nice shape with slight yellowing due to age. There is little to no toning, and only very minor soiling (mostly to the face). There is one small chip on the front in the lower left hand corner (about 1/8"). The postcard has provenance, as it was from the Howard Wandrei estate and was auctioned off by his family at The Southern California Book Fair Auction on April 28, 1989. (Copies of the auction page and catalog with the item will be provided to purchaser.)

No comments:


Blog Archive


Google Analytics