Monday, January 24, 2011

Addison P Munroe Worked With Ronald Upham !

If you have S T Joshi's Necronomicon Book H P Lovecraft: A Life, or any of its incarnations, you could turn to this passage, "Other friends were Ronald Upham, two years younger than Lovecraft, who lived at 21 Adelphi Avenue (about 3 blocks from 454 Angell Street) ..." Much more needs to be said than that.

We have seen in a previous blog entry that Upham actually lived at 51 Adelphi Avenue, and that 21 was some written error by Lovecraft all those years ago, or a misread of his youthful scribble. Researchers didn't have a chance, somehow, to double check this back in the day.

In any event, life did not suspend itself like an episode of the Twilight Zone for Ronald Upham. Howard went on to trials, triumphs, disease, and heartache. So, too, did Ronald Upham, but no one has grasped his ghost to tell his story.

Below is a tiny sliver of his life, including a sad moment in the history of Providence, R.I.

We can determine from Mormon Genealogical postings that Ronald Kingsley Upham was born on 4 August 1892. In 1912 he lived with his father Clark/Clarke D Upham (b. 6 November 1864, Mass.) and grandfather Edwin Upham (b. 27 January 1827, Mass.), Mother Ada E H Upham (or Ada E A; nee Reynolds; immigrated England 1888) and brother David K Upham.(b. 30 April 1897). Other members of the family were: Adeline/Ada E Upham (b. circa 1900), Barbara D Upham (b. circa 1910), and an Irish servant Margaret E Kelley (age 26 in 1910). As late as 1920 (see article below) Ronald still lived with his father. (Margaret was still with the family). And as late as 1935, Ronald still resided at 51 Adelphi Ave, though in that Providence census his birth date slipped to 4 August 1893.


For new readers, Lovecraft's best freinds were Chester and Harold Munroe, the children of democratic stalwart, legislator, and later State Senator Addison P. Munroe, a wealthy businessman, and civic minded man. In those early days, Providence was staunchly republican, and a democrat was hard to find. Yet, Munroe persevered and won many elections due to his strength of character. By the 1920's, everything had changed. The old guard had died off, or retired, and the minority old money democrats and immigrants combined to make Providence democratic - it still is now in the 2010's.


Lovecraft once notably declared, "I am Providence".

Perhaps he was, in his mind, in his heart, and in his own way. However, it was not the same Providence of the roaring 20's with which Addison P. Munroe and Ronald Upham grappled. While Lovecraft sat in a quiet corner of College Hill, Providence had become an open city of vice of all sorts, and nothing seemingly could quell it.

In the Providence News of 18 September 1920, tucked back on page 15, the headline flashed,

Failure of City and Federal Authorities to Co-Operate Lets Profiteering Go Unchecked.

Only through vigorous co-operation between the city and the federal fair price committee, with the machinery of the legal department placed at the disposal of the City Council and the committee for the purpose, can the rent profiteering problem in Providence be solved. This was the belief of several officials who were asked concerning the situation in this city yesterday.

Failure of the City Council to take action of any kind, the fact that few ejectment cases have turned over to the city legal department this summer, and that the worst offenders are not deterred by publicity, are inscribed as the principal reasons for the alarming increase in the kind of twentieth century brigandage.

The absolute failure of the city or private individuals to take hold of the housing problem in a businesslike and progressive way during the four months since a public housing corporation was first proposed by Mayor Gainer has resulted in no help whatsoever being offered up to the present time.

Even should the corporation begin to function today, it would not be possible for it to materially aid in relieving the home shortage before winter sets in.

Profiteering landlords, mostly owners of apartment houses and the cheaper class of tenements have been having their own way disregarding the interference of the federal committee almost entirely, and writs of ejectment have been piling up in the Superior Court at an alarming rate in the last few weeks.

Today it was learned that even the feeble aid which the Federal Fair Price Committee has given may be withdrawn and that the office may be ordered closed by the Attorney General. The investigator of the local office, Ronald Upham, has been asked to resign because of the lack of more funds to employ agents for this branch of the Department of Justice. Federal Fair Price Commissioner Addison P Munroe, who is back on the job, said he had no definite information as to what would become of his office.

It has been suggested in the Providence News that the City Council has one strong remedy at hand by which rent profiteering might be curbed. That is by ordering the Board of Tax Accessors to increase the valuation of all property where rents have been increased excessively. Months ago it was pointed out that there is in the files of a City Council committee a resolution calling for a committee to investigate the advisability of doing just that thing. There is no need of even presenting a resolution of this kind, but only to report it out. Why it was so effectively killed no one knows.

It is the re-purchasing of houses for speculative purposes and the pyramiding of rent prices to increase artificial valuation, according to Commissioner Munroe, that has caused the excessive rent increases. Many of the complaints are against foreigners who have recently acquired property for the purpose.

- end

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