Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ima's Mysterious Illness

         A telegram to Will Hogg on July 11 about his sister’s condition led Will to consult physicians in New York in July and August, and talk of a “rest cure.” 
         At first, Ima evidently resisted this suggestion. Is this when she crossed out the pages in her notebook? Something was happening, but the notebook offers no clues.

         Finally she yielded to advice from her brother and the medical experts in New York, and agreed to seek help.

         From October 1 to December 4, 1918, Ima Hogg was “resting” at an upscale sanitarium in Kerhonkson, New York.

        On October 31 her brother Mike, still soldiering in France, sent her a telegram at her Houston address on Rossmoyne Street, reassuring her that he was “WELL AND HAPPY.”

        Mike did not know his sister was far from being well. He did not know that she was ill and in a sanitarium. 
       After a stay at her brother Will’s Park Avenue apartment, Ima came home to Houston on Christmas Eve. 
       She was home, but she was not happy.


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.