Saturday, November 21, 2015

More Notebook Clues: Midsummer 1918

         Ima’s little notebook of “Summer 1918” has clues yet to be uncovered. From several pages of notes detailing her questions about symphony orchestras in various cities, there is a sudden change: an excerpt from Robert Browning’s 1841 verse drama, Pippa Passes. Ima copied out (or recalled from memory?) a passage about a golden sunrise.
         On the next few pages, detailed lists of furniture, art, and antiques, with prices---all with large X marks across each page, as if that project had been cancelled.

         A following page, with the entry upside down, is an excerpt from Mary Fisher’s 1909 book, The Journal of a Recluse......        

         What had happened to the pleasant summer vacation?


Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Fateful Summer of 1918: Clues from a Notebook

         It all began so hopefully, with a little stenographer’s notebook. On the first page, Ima wrote, “Summer 1918.” She had many things on her mind: Long before she became a noted collector of early American art and antiques and gave her home, Bayou Bend, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Ima Hogg was searching out antiques. On the first page of her notebook, under “Summer 1918” is a list of 14 names and addresses of dealers in New York. In Mechanicsville, NY, she made a note about an “oxen wagon double chair.” 
         Antiques were not her only interest that summer. The Houston Symphony, which she had helped to found in 1913, was never far from her thoughts. She had been elected president of that organization in 1917, and she planned to do some research on her travels. A sample page of her notebook:
         Chamber of Commerce--relationship various cities--
         Organization of orchestra--
         How many men?
         Day or night?
         How financed?
         Average pay by rehearsal?
         Average pay by salary per week?

And so on. It promised to be a pleasant and useful summer vacation.
         But as the notebook shows, something happened to darken that summer forever.         


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Summer 1918: Clues from Mike Hogg’s Letters

       While Ima Hogg was traveling in July, her brother Mike was preparing to fight in the trenches in France. He had been writing to her faithfully and regularly since May 1917 about his adventures in the military. He was now Captain Mike Hogg, U.S. Army, 90th Division, 360th Regiment, 180th Infantry Brigade, 1st Battalion, Company D.

       On July 14, 1918 Mike wrote to his brother Will:           
       “Most everyone got mail. I got your letter and two from Sister. One of her’s [sic] was written to Camp and the other over here.”
       “Over here” was, as Mike put it in his censored letters, “Somewhere or Anywhere in France.”

         A letter from Mike to Ima on  August 7, 1918 complains that he has written to her every week, but he has not heard from her lately.
         Another letter from him to her on September 3 wonders if she is receiving his weekly letters.

         Mike did not know that his sister had been taken ill in July. She would not be really well again for a long time.



Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ima Hogg, Summer 1918: The End of a Dream?

         On July 10, 1918 Ima Hogg celebrated her 36th birthday. Escaping the hot Houston summer, she was vacationing in Pennsylvania with a group of friends, but she was not well. On July 11 Dr. Gavin Hamilton, a Houston physician and Hogg family friend, sent a telegram to Ima’s brother Will, saying that Ima was exhausted and suffering from anemia, but the main problem was her nerves.
         Ima may have been having what used to be called a “nervous breakdown.”
         Did she lose someone she loved in that fateful summer of 1918?
         I World War I troops were still fighting each other in trenches across Europe, but Germany was losing. From June 1 to 26 the battle of Belleau Wood was a turning point, with terrible losses of German lives. On June 12 the New York Times carried the headlines: “...Marines Hurl Back Foe in Fierce Hand Fighting,” “French Regain Ground in Brilliant Counter-Attack: 1000 Germans Captured.” The end of June 1918 was the beginning of the end for Germany.

         Was it also the end of Ima Hogg’s hopes and dreams?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Another mystery: what happened to Ima in the summer of 1918?

A mysterious document from the archives: a small "steno" notebook "Summer 1918" appears on one page. The handwriting is Ima's. In July that summer she was traveling in the eastern US with a group of Houston friends. A year earlier, she had been elected president of the Houston Symphony (which she had helped to found in 1913), and she was making lists of questions to ask about symphonies in other cities. She was also shopping for furniture and antiques--but those pages in the diary are crossed out with a large X across each one.

There are some blank pages. What happened to Ima in early July?  A physician and family friend in the travel party telegraphed Ima's brother Will on July 11 that she had become quite ill, and the problems seemed to be "her nervous system."

There are clues in the little notabook's ending pages.
This is a research work in progress.
Watch this space.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ima Mysteres: More to Come

Waiting for documents from 1918. What happened in that long-ago summer? Watch this space.

Saturday, August 22, 2015