Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A War to End All Wars: "Not the Gay Life You Would Have Imagined"

Both at Dartmouth and during his military career, George Dock 1916 chased adventure. During his four years at Dartmouth, Dock was a member of Psi Kappa Psi Fraternity, the rifle team, the ski team, and the outing club.[1] Before America even entered the war arena and before Dock’s own graduation, he joined the Dartmouth Section of the American Ambulance Corp in 1916. Urged by humanitarian concerns, Dartmouth College alumni and students raised the funds for the purchase of ambulances to be manned by Dartmouth students and alumni at the American Hospital in Paris. Dock did not anguish over the morality of the war but instead signed up out of an adventurous interest in “going over to see war.”[2]

At first, Dock eagerly anticipated his work in the ambulance corp. On the ship to France, Dock wrote his family entertaining tales of his perplexed discussion of the unfathomable French menus and unfamiliar dishes. One evening the American men attempted to identify the mysterious meat on their plates. Dock guessed roast horse, but another American claimed it was “wild and gamey like camel.”[3] While onboard, Dock tried to croon in elementary French to the handsome girls on board, but was disappointed that there was “no romance in sight, as they are all married or nuns.”[4] Dock ended his first letter home enthusiastically: “I hope I can write next time about life in the trenches.”[5]

However, Dock had barely begun his work as an ambulance driver when he became frustrated about his noncombat role. Dock’s unit was dispatched to Bar le Duc in the Verdun in June 1916. He served as an ambulance driver at Verdun and Argonne from June 1916 until May 1917. To him, the weather was more disheartening than the battle and was itself the cause of most of the hospitalizations: “Only 15% of our men are wounded, the 85% being sick from colds, frozen feet, mumps, rheumatism and similar maladies.” [6] The longer Dock spent driving ambulances, the more frustrated he became. In October 1916 he complained,
No one can stay in this ambulance work four months without wanting to do something less passive and without wishing to get a crack at them with something better than a hand grenade. This work-in-behalf-of-humanity bunk sounds very altruistic and pretty, but towing the pieds geles [men with frozen feet] back and forth from the lines is not a great step toward cleaning up on the hostiles, and the only reason any Americans applaud this stuff is that they are humiliated at what little the States have done, and try to magnify that little. Then they re-elect Wilson.[7]
Though Dock was heartily disappointed by his time in the American Field Service, he served the front trench in Verdun and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for rescuing an injured man while under fire. Rather than celebrating his accomplishments as an ambulance driver, Dock contemplated what occupation in the war would suit him better. He planned to change divisions, if and when the United States entered the war.

In April 1917 when the United States declared war on Germany, Dock decided on aviation, “the most thrilling and adventurous thing American lads are doing in The Great War.”[8] Dock first considered joining the American Escadrille, but he was aware that his own country had been unprepared for war. He decided early on to “go in with the French [rather than] into a green American outfit officered by self-important bumpkins from Plattsburg.”[9]

While training as a pilot, Dock discovered what would become a lifetime interest in bird watching: “One gets so obsessed by this aviation that he falls into the habit of watching flying birds to see how they make a good landing in rough terrain.”[10] He also tried his hand at poetry. When he sent one of his poems to his brother, he prefaced it: “I expect you, my press-agent, publisher, and incarnate Muse, to give these vigorous lines what they deserve; in brief a merciful death in the apartment incinerator. It is, I need not say, quite original.”[11]

When Dock was first stationed at the Chemin de Dames he was exhilarated by aviation work.12 Dock and his unit patrolled the front and completed dangerous reconnaissance missions behind German lines. After landing from his first patrol where he faced German fire without damage, Dock wrote to his parents exuberantly, “This is the life! Good machines. Exciting work. Excellent men.”[13] His optimism was dampened however, when he first experienced personal tragedies. In late April, he mournfully admitted to his brother, “This is not the gay life you may have imagined from my previous mouthings.”[14] The day before one of his dear friends in the French Escadrille died in a skirmish with German airplanes. Dock comforted himself in the outdoors and was happy to adopt a fox cub as his pet, who “is very savage, but comical withal. . . only 2-months old, but untimely crafty. We feed him milk, but he prefers shoe leather and wool blankets as a war ration.”[15]

After the Armistice was signed in November, Dock celebrated with the French and British “who went thru 51 months of it instead of 6 to 12 months.”[16] During the debates surrounding the Treaty of Versailles, Dock was irritated by Wilson’s “high horse” speeches about the ideals of republican government, and by the end of the war he considered Wilson “a spineless shrimp”[17] and “the worst of misfortunes and the armistice profoundly deplorable.”[18] Dock remained committed to beating the “Boches” (Germans) until the end and could not see “the idea of even subconsciously sympathizing with them.”[19] His adventure ended in hospitalization for Spanish Influenza in Paris, but Dock returned to the United States healthy in February 1919. Dock was not immune to the horrors of war, but throughout his military career he sought out larger roles in the conflict despite the danger.

Posted for Ellen Nye '14

This Series: During World War I, 3,407 Dartmouth men were uprooted from campus, graduate school, or their early careers to serve in a modern war unlike any previous American military engagement.[20] Four of them, Harold Pinkham ’15, George Dock ’16, Edward Kirkland ’16, and Wainwright Merrill ’19, left records of their war experience in the Rauner Special Collections Library. All four matched the demographics of the College at the time and were united by their experiences at progressive prewar Dartmouth, but despite their somewhat similar backgrounds, their personalities were quite different. Their stories speak to the diverse beliefs, experiences, and sources of comfort of Dartmouth men involved in World War I.

George Dock ‘16
St. Louis, Missouri
American Field Service (May 1916-May 1917)
Sgt. Pilot, Lafayette Flying Corps. Escadrille Spad 12. Groupe de Combat 11 (May 1917- January 1919)

Ask for MS-1057 to see the George Dock Papers. A guide to the collection is available.

1Dartmouth Scrapbook, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
2Letter from George Dock Jr. to his aunts, June 13, 1916 , George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
3Letter from George Dock Jr. to his aunt and uncle, May 20, 1916, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
4Letter from George Dock Jr. to his brother, Will, May 21, 1916, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
5Letter from George Dock Jr. to his aunt and uncle, May 20, 1916, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
6Letter from George Dock Jr. to his aunt, November 2, 1916, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
7Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, October 10, 1916, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
8Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, November 19, 1916, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
9Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, March 1, 1917, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
10Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, June 30, 1917, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
11Letter from George Dock Jr. to his brother, July 3, 1918, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
12Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, March 15, 1918, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
13Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, March 24, 1918, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
14Letter from George Dock Jr. to his brother, April 22, 1918, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
15Letter from George Dock Jr. to his brother, May 24, 1918, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
16Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, November 12, 1918, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
17Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, August 14, 1916, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
18Letters from George Dock Jr. to his parents, November 3, 1918 and February 22, 1919, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
19Letter from George Dock Jr. to his parents, October 14, 1917, George Dock Papers, Rauner Special Collections Library.
20Charles Wood, The Hill Winds Know Their Name: A Guide to Dartmouth’s War Memorials. Hanover N.H.: Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs, 2001, 6.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dalí, Psychoanalysis & Dante’s Divine Comedy

During the 1950s, Salvador Dalí began working on a series of watercolor illustrations to accompany Dante's Divine Comedy. These illustrations, which follow the trajectory of Dante's journey through hell, purgatory and heaven, were commissioned by the Italian government to mark the 700th anniversary of Dante's birth in 1965. But when word got out that a Spaniard instead of an Italian had been recruited to create the artistic tribute to one of Italy's greatest literary legacies, a general public outcry broke out, pressuring the government to revoke the commission. Undeterred, Dalí pushed forward on his own to complete the series, and found enthusiastic support from the French publisher Joseph Forét. The project was eventually taken up and completed by the French publishing firm Les Heures Claires, which released Dalí’s work in 1965 as a suite of limited edition prints to accompany an exquisitely letter-pressed, six-volume set of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The prints consist of one hundred color woodcuts, which carefully recreate Dalí’s watercolors, capturing their subtle washes of color and delicate linear drawing. It took the woodcut artists over five years to hand-carve 3,500 wooden blocks. Throughout the printing process, anywhere from twenty to as many as thirty-seven separate blocks were needed to reproduce each individual watercolor.

Dalí’s illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy are far from a literal engagement with the medieval Italian text. Implementing a psychoanalytic lens, Dalí extracts the metaphoric potential of Dante’s poetry. Dalí’s aesthetic idiom to represent dreams versus reality derives from explorations of the unconscious and subconscious.

Most of the Inferno and Purgatorio prints contain motifs referencing the elementary nature of human drives. Dali’s surrealist practice translates man's sins and frailties into unconscious drives. Crutches, bones perforating skin, soft or crystallized bodies, scatological and cannibalistic metamorphoses abound in his interpretation of the medieval text. For instance, Dalí’s interpretation of the twenty-eighth canto in Inferno, "The Hypocrites," plays with the crutch motif, with the naked Caiaphas nailed to the ground. In this print, the crutches indicate social weakness, flaccidity and vulnerability, but most importantly, the evil speeches of hypocrisy. One of the deceitful tongues, which a hypocrite is known to have several of, has been overused and hangs limply over a crutch. Caiaphas grasps desperately at another tongue as he simultaneously clutches his innards spilling from his body. The remaining two tongues are nailed to the floor.

Another illustration that draws heavily from psychoanalysis and surrealism is the print accompanying the first canto in Purgatorio. In this print, "The Fallen Angel" examines the drawers of his body. This iconography recalls the famous 1936 Venus de Milo with Drawers. Dalí used this sculpture, as well as the fallen angel illustration, to symbolize the ways in which Freud's analytical tools could be used to scrutinize the human soul.

Our copy is currently uncatalogued. So, to take a look at Dalí's surrealist illustrations of Dante's Divine Comedy, come to Rauner and ask for it by name.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Natural History of the Hankey Bird

Soon after the publication of And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street in 1937, Ted Geisel '25 (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) produced a new creation for a very different audience: the Hankey Bird.  This grotesque, drunken bird was designed to hang on the neck of a bottle of Hankey Bannister Scotch whiskey inviting you to have a drink.

If it seems odd to you, it did to Geisel as well. "There's no sense to it," he said in Sales Magazine (January 1, 1939):
"The bird on the bottle is a replica of an actual bird, developed after years of painstaking cross-breeding in the Seuss Laboratories for a lofty purpose, namely, to produce a carrier pigeon for the Scottish army... a bird so distinctive that it would not be mistaken for a grouse and shot down by near-sighted American millionaires. After fifteen generations of wearing kilts, the Hankey Bird has developed sideburns. But most unfortunately his mating call is characterized by a distinct burr. Our only purpose in leasing him to Hankey Bannister is to finance further scientific effort to de-burr that mating call... not, I assure you, to aid in the crass business of selling whiskey."
We really should have a bottle to go along with our bird. We wrote to Hankey Bannister asking if they had an old bottle (preferably still full) that they could give us, but they did not have any samples.

To see it yourself, ask for MS-1100, Box 3.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Comic Tour of Japan

Legend has it that Japanese author Jippensha Ikku (1765-1831) spent so much money drinking that he could not afford to furnish his home. Instead, he simply hung pictures of furniture he would have bought. One New Year's, when he found himself without proper holiday attire, he offered a visitor a bath and took off with the man's nice clothes to pay some visits of his own. And on his deathbed, he had firecrackers secretly stowed in his funeral pyre, to go out with a bang, if you will.

Sadly, these tales are probably untrue, a result of Jippensha being conflated with his clownish characters. Yaji and Kita, the traveling duo in his novel Footing It along the Tōkaidō Road, are always trying to trick their way into free meals and free rides, and into the beds of attractive young witches. Usually their schemes backfire. For instance, in a meta-referential moment, Yaji boasts to a local that he is in fact the famous writer Jippensha Ikku, researching for an upcoming book called (you guessed it) Footing It along the Tōkaidō Road. The local is impressed and treats Yaji at his home, but when a letter arrives from the real Jippensha, Yaji is forced admit his deception and flee.

At the time, the book functioned both as an entertaining story and as an informational travelogue, sketching out the varying customs and scenery along the eastern coast. Rauner's edition features 60 full-page illustrations by print maker Tamenobu Fujikawa. The landscapes, which often dwarf the characters, provide moments of pause to accompany the fast-paced narrative. The prints' detailed use of patterns is impressive, especially considering that each color had to be carved from a separate block of wood and perfectly aligned. Such work was done not by the artist alone but by a team who specialized in each stage of the printmaking process. As the book goes on, you can see the level of detail on the faces change, reflecting differing interpretations of the artist’s original drafts.

If you can’t read Japanese, you're not alone. Illiterate Japanese in the nineteenth century would commonly buy books just for the printed illustrations, too. But unlike them, you can view this one online from our Digital Library Program, or ask for Rare Book PL797 D62 1800z.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Head Full of Steam

If you've ever traveled across the Connecticut River between Orford, New Hampshire, and Fairlee, Vermont, then you did so on the Morey Memorial Bridge. The steel span, finished in 1938 and now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was named for Samuel Morey, a resident of both Orford and Fairlee who was instrumental in the construction of the river locks between Connecticut's Windsor Locks and Olcott Falls in New Hampshire (now the site of the Wilder Dam).

However, Samuel Morey is perhaps better known today, at least around these parts, as the man who should rightfully be called the inventor of the steamboat as we now know it. Although Robert Fulton is generally regarded as the proper holder of that title, he instead should be credited with making the steamboat a commercially viable concept. Morey had built and successfully operated a steam-powered paddleboat in the early 1790s, more than a decade before Fulton's Clermont sailed up and down the Hudson between Albany and New York City in 1807. In fact, some historians speculate that if Morey had been a better businessman, his name would be synonymous with the steamboat, and not Fulton's. The financier for Fulton's "invention," Chancellor Robert Livingston, had originally approached Morey with an offer of $7,000 to use his invention. When Morey refused, Livingston turned to Fulton instead, and the rest is history.

The Samuel Morey papers at Dartmouth bear testimony to Morey's early inventive endeavors. They contain numerous United States patents for various inventions related to the use of wind and steam power and provide a veritable who's who of Founding Father signatures, from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson all the way up to Andrew Jackson. One of Morey's first patents, filed in 1793, involves a wind-powered cooking spit. One of his last is concerned with an improvement of the "decomposing and recomposing of water in combustion with spirits of Turpentine," filed in 1833.

To see Morey's patents and other papers, ask for Rauner MS-150.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dartmouth and the Canal

The Panama Canal was officially opened 100 years ago on August 15, 1914, ten years after the United States assumed control of the project. Construction had been started by France in 1881 but ultimately faltered due to cost overruns and the high mortality rate experienced by the construction workers. Once the United States took over there was a need for highly skilled engineers. Several alumni from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering were involved in the project.

Robert Fletcher went to visit the canal in May 1913, during the latter part of construction. While there he saw a number of Dartmouth and Thayer alumni. Among them was Herbert Hinman (Dartmouth 1907, Thayer n1908) - in charge of the Balboa terminal work and earlier superintendent of work on the Pedro Miquel locks. Fletcher also mentions Otis Hovey (Dartmouth 1885) who designed and constructed the canal's emergency dams, and Fred Stanton (Dartmouth 1902, Thayer 1903).

Pictured here are several lithographs from Joseph Pennell's Pictures of the Panama Canal (Philadelphia, London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1912) that depict places mentioned in Fletcher's diary or in letters from alums to Fletcher.

Culebra Cut
The Culebra Cut is mentioned in a letter from Stanton to Fletcher from July 25, 1913. "It was a great pleasure to have you here when the Canal work was in its most interesting stage. The Culebra Cut will be flooded about October tenth, so you weren't here any too soon."

The Gatun locks appear in one of Fletcher's diary entries. "Langley met me and went over the Gatun Locks end to end and into some operating chambers in the middle wall. In the lower approach excavation 42 ft. below sea level." A postcard in Clarence Langley's (Dartmouth 1907, Thayer n1908) alumni file bears the inscription: "At Fort Lorenzo. Occupation - Transitman I.C.C. Address - Gatun, C.Z. Dear Prof. F. I answered your letter promptly...I do not intend to return to Hanover this Sept." I.C.C. stands for Isthmian Canal Commission, C.Z. for Canal Zone, and Prof. F. is Robert Fletcher.

Gatun Locks
More letters indicate the scope of the project and the cost. Fred Stanton wrote to Fletcher on September 10, 1907: "The work which I will be engaged in consists of removing some eight millions cubic yards of rock and about five millions of sand. I expect to find the work very interesting and instructive…." Another alum, Clarence Pearson (Dartmouth 1907, Thayer 1908), worked at the Gatun Locks and left the Canal Zone in 1910 due to poor health. He died in 1911 and is mentioned by Hinman in a letter to Fletcher, ca. 1911: " We are still fighting it out on the same old lines down here but we lost poor Pearson. I think his death was a direct result from this work."

Ask for Robert Fletcher's diary from 1913 (DA-4, Box 2234, folder 2) and the alumni files for the Thayer School (DA-4, filed by class year). The Pennell illustrations can be seen by asking for Illus P382pe.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where Tigers Roar in Silence

“Where tigers roar in silence
where moose and monkeys hide,
a cage as light as cardboard
holds elephants inside.
And grizzly bears are gentle
where lions are so sweet,
you never need to worry about
whom they’d like to eat.“

Can you solve this riddle? (If you're stumped, the answer is at the very end of this post!)

Where Tigers Roar in Silence is a lovely miniature book by Lynn Hess. From jump ropes to bubble gum, the answers to the 15 riddles in this tiny book are inspired by the “everyday world of the elementary school age child.” After trying to solve the riddle, there’s nothing more satisfying than checking your answer by opening the double-folded pages to reveal the illustration concealed inside. But make sure not to peek before guessing!

Here's another riddle:
"I have a yellow body
and a beak.
I can make notes,
but I will never sing.
Sometimes I scratch,
although I have no claws.
Born full grown,
I'm smaller everyday.
A superhero -
I too wipe out wrong.
But I need you
to be my helping hand."

Come to Rauner and ask for Presses L565he to see the answer!
Answer to the first riddle