Saturday, September 27, 2014

Who was Areal? Ima's mysterious suitor surfaces

        On January 1, 1908 Ima Hogg wrote in her Berlin diary, "who should appear but Areal?" Areal and others unnamed, she wrote, "stayed until late in the afternoon and we all drank eggnog together."

Hmmm.

What we know so far:
1. Ima had met Areal sometime during her travels the previous summer.
2. He came to see her again on January 4, when they had what may have been a lover's quarrel.
3. Areal was a probably a student at the University of Heidelberg. "He is off to Heidelberg in the morning," Ima wrote.
4. "Areal" is a Jewish name.
5. Ima was living with a German family at 22 Mommsenstrasse, a house in Charlottenberg, a suburb of Berlin that was a center of Jewish intellectual/artistic life in the early 1900s.

What do we think? More clues forthcoming!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ima was very good at keeping secrets.

       When Ima Hogg did not want something known, she was very good at cover-ups. She idolized her father, James Stephen Hogg, and she wanted nothing to tarnish his reputation. She watched his biographer like a hawk, to be sure nothing got into it that she thought harmful to the legacy of J. S. Hogg. She didn't want anything about why she was named "Ima, " so the official biography omits that. Needless to say, she didn't want any stories about a sister named "Ura," either.
     
       In the bound volumes of J.S. Hogg's letters, there are missing pages.
     
       In the family letters, there are passages deleted.

       In Ima's diaries in 1907, 1908, 1910, and 1914 there are mysterious omissions.

       In the little notebook she kept on her summer vacation in 1918, pages have been removed.

       But in the voluminous files of the Hogg Collections in the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin,  there must be clues.

       Ima couldn't censor everything.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What was Ima's "secret"?

     When Ima Hogg wanted something hidden, she was very good at concealment. In the archives in Austin, the 1908 diary she began while she was studying music in Berlin starts with “January 1.”  She wrote in it nearly every day--until the end of February. 
     
     She wrote about her music studies, the piano pieces she was working on--and about a young man named “Areal” whom she had met the summer before. He came to see her January 4, but, she wrote, “He is off to Heidelberg in the morning.” That was the end of him--as far as we know. The diary ends abruptly on February 28. The rest of the little leather-bound book (with a lock) is blank. There was no more need to lock it. 

     If the “secret” that Ima mentioned in a letter to her brother Tom in April 1908 was something she wanted to keep to herself, she did: From February to October 1908 I have yet to find any record of her.  We have Tom's letter to her mentioning the "secret," but we don't have her letter to him. Did she destroy it? From Ima we have no letters, no diary, no nothing. We know that she was still in Germany, maybe still living in Berlin. 
        

         What was she doing?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Did Ima have a secret romance in Germany?

       Off to search archives for clues to Ima’s mysterious love life.  Rumors persist that the love of her life was someone she met in her 20s in Germany, and when he was killed in World War I she destroyed all his letters. Some say that is just romantic hearsay. But maybe, just maybe, there is something she forgot to hide, preserved in these files at the Briscoe Center for American History:

Ima Hogg Papers

Box
4Zg86 IH Travel diaries 1908, 1914

3B153 Diaries 1898, 1908, 1912, scrapbook of postcards from          European tour 1907

3B170 Notebooks and notes, 1908, 1912, 1926

4Zg78 Correspondence, “the girls,” 1902-1909, 1903-1936

4Zg81 Correspondence, Letters from old friends, 1906-1933

3B154 Social life, correspondence 1899-1918, dance cards, etc.

2.325 D5c another scrapbook? “oversize materials”

2.325/V26 “Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung” 1936, “Adolf Hitler: Ein Mann und Sein Volk” ??
Why did she save this newspaper and this book?

         When Ima went to Europe, she always visited Germany. Other rumors say that she kept up with her beloved’s family over the years. Or maybe it was just the family she stayed with when she studied music in Berlin. I’d like to think it was both.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

“Miss Ima Would Roll Over in Her Grave.”

         Leaving Ima in Germany for the moment, as she was 107 years ago, to survey one of her favorites in the more recent past:

         One of Ima Hogg’s favorite restoration projects is aging and frail: the Winedale [Texas] Historical Complex is woefully short of funding. The nineteenth-century houses and barns she lovingly restored, hand-hewn nail by hand-hewn nail, in the 1960s, are falling into disrepair.
         Miss Ima gave the Winedale buildings to the University of Texas as a center for the study of Texas culture and the arts. But decades later, time and money are scarce, and the funding to maintain Winedale as it was in her day has dwindled. What was once a festive and historic Hill Country place is now a shadow of its former self.
         Those who care about this project, according to a Houston Chronicle article on July 7, 2014, say that “Miss Ima would roll over in her grave.”
        

         What a pity.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ima's Mysterious Young Man

        Ima’s brother Mike’s war wound was not serious, but in the summer of 1918 she may have lost someone very dear to her in World War I. The evidence thus far is merely circumstantial, but it is tantalizing, and if it is true, tragic. An old photo, undated, shows Ima and a young man on an outing in Germany’s scenic Harz Mountains. (We know that because “Harz Mts” is scrawled in Ima’s hand across the back of the snapshot.) The couple are smiling. The sun is shining. They are both wearing broad-brimmed hats (hers topped with flowers) and both carry walking-sticks, as if they are out on a ramble.
         Who was this young man to Ima? Was he the same young man whose likeness she sketched in her notebook on another occasion? A pencil drawing in Ima’s skilled hand shows a handsome face in profile. He could well be the one in the photograph. In this sketch he wears a cap, not a hat. Another half-finished sketch shows Ima’s attempt to capture him in full face. She apparently gave up and handed the pencil to another, less talented hand--no doubt, her companion’s. We can almost hear her saying, “Now you draw me.” The result is a rough picture of Ima, seated, holding a walking-stick. Beside her is a picnic basket. The drawings are on the pages of a small bound journal that Ima kept in Germany in 1907-1908.
        

         Why, oh why, didn’t she write down this young man’s name?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Deadly weapons of [mass] destruction

         As Europe went to war in August 1914, Ima Hogg and many other American tourists were stranded abroad. The earliest passage home that she could book was on the American Line’s St. Paul--on October 3.
         Before Ima sailed for home, a huge German army had plunged through Belgium into northern France. From September 5 through September 12 the armies fought near the Marne River in what would be called the first battle of the Marne, involving over 2,000,000 men and 500,000 total dead and wounded. That was just the beginning. Oddly enough, Ima wrote only two letters home that fall.  What did she do, all that dreadful autumn?

         World War I was the first modern war: the first war to use tanks, airplanes, and heavy artillery that could fire a shell sixty miles. Such destructive power produced devastating losses of life and limb. No one planned it that way. At the turn of the century, international conferences had banned new and deadly weapons of destruction: bombs dropped from the air, chemical warfare, and certain kinds of bullets.
         From 1914 to 1918 World War I killed 8,528,831 (including 53,513 Americans) and wounded 21,159,154 (204,002 of them Americans). 
            
         One of the wounded would be Mike Hogg.