Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Velma's Journal--January 16, 1932

Unemployment at an all-time high in Germany, according to the papers. Apparently it's up to 6 million people. It seems the entire world is in a depression. No sign of relief anywhere.

Yesterday was an interesting day to say the least. As Mrs. Vanderford asked, I went to St. John the Divine Cathedral, which is a breathtaking structure. When I walked in I was awestruck by the size. Then immediately, I was hit with the sense that I had been there before, even though I know I never had. I couldn't seem to place the feeling.

As I traveled down the cavernous nave, I saw a small man standing off to the side of the choir. What a marvel of architecture, it's what I imagine the great cathedrals of Europe would look like. The man must have been about 5'4" inches, long gray beard, not much hair left on his head and he was smoking a pipe. There was a sweet-smelling smoke billowing out everywhere. He spotted me instantly. And looking at him, I felt like I had seen him before as well, but I couldn't remember where or when.

"Can I help you young lady?" He said through his teeth.

"I'm looking for a Mr. Irving Lincoln."

He smiled. "Why that's me. And you are?"

"Velma Graydon, sir." I took the the blue velvet pouch out of my satchel. "This pipe is from Caroline."

The color left his face for second. Then a puff of smoke came out of his pipe. His look was grave. He took the pouch and slowly removed the clay pipe. "So it is. And she sent you directly to me huh?"

"Yes she did sir."

Then he went on about something very queer. "Do you know that just today, it was announced that astronomers have seen as far out in the cosmos as they can. And what do you think they saw? Twin nebulae. What the laymen call island universes and they're moving away from the earth at 15,000 miles per second. They calculate the distance by their luminosity. And within the small portion of the cosmos we can see their are hundreds of constellations, with thousands of nebulae which inside them contain hundreds of star systems." He puffed on his pipe. "Imagine all that."

"Yes sir." I must have looked confused.

"You have no idea why I'm spouting on about this, do you?"

"No sir, I don't really."

"You work for the Light Keepers now."

I gave another confused look. "The Light Keepers?"

"Well don't ya?"

"I work for a Mr. Rapalje of--"

"He never told you did he?"

"Told me what sir?"

"That must be my job. Well, I'll tell you what. Today is not the best day for us to begin. So come back to me soon and we will start."

"Start what sir? I'm not sure I understand any of this."

"No of course, you don't. You're not supposed to." He puffed his pipe. But you will." He smiled then he turned and walked behind the choir a trail of pipe smoke following behind.

The frustration and mystery of this post is about all I can stand. I wish someone could deliver a straight answer to me about anything.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Velma's Journal--January 14, 1932

I was called today to go to Caroline Vanderford's. It was a note hand-delivered yesterday to my postbox, not by Loockersmans or Harold. It wasn't in either of their hands. 

I traveled to Park Avenue this morning and was greated by her Butler, Robert. He smiled when he saw me and showed me into Mrs. Vanderford's office. She was sitting at her empty desk twirling a pen, much the same way she had done months before. Two cups of tea were waiting on the desk.

"I took the liberty of having Robert fix us tea, Ms. Graydon. He never forgets a cup. No milk. One sugar."

"Yes. Thank you," I said. I sat down and took a sip.

"I've called you here on unofficial business." She turned and smiled at me. "I need you to deliver this to an old friend." She pulled out a blue velvet sack and revealed its contents to be an old clay smoking pipe. "His name is Irving Lincoln. You may find him at St. John the Divine Cathedral near your university. Go in and ask the first person you see for him. Tell him this pipe is from Caroline. Do not say Mrs. Vanderford. He'll be offended."

"I will." I took another sip of tea.

"He'll be expecting you the day after tomorrow."

"At what time?" I asked.

"At whatever time is conveniant for you. He is there all day and into the night most of the time." She carefully sipped her tea. "Also take note of the small envelope on the tray. That is meant for you." She smiled as I picked it up. "Do not feel the need to read it in my presense. I assure you it isn't from me." Her smile grew wider.

Later, after Robert showed me out with only a smile and a goodbye. I immediately tore open the envelope. It was a card simply saying: FEB 16, 9PM, SMALL'S PARADISE, HARLEM. BEST, ROBERT.

I felt my face radiate heat through the cold afternoon. My stomach, at the same time, fluttering.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Velma's Journal--January 3, 1932

Mahatma Ghandi has been arrested by the British Viceroy in Pompey today. This could be disastorous for the Indian movement. Now that I've been keeping up with current affairs, I've taken a special interest in the Independance movement there. I think Ghandi is a remarkable figure and I truly hope for the best in his situation.

Returned to New York this morning by rail and took the BMT to 77th Street and 4th Avenue which was around the corner from the Cento's home. Upon arrival, I was immediatly fed by Dottie's mother, Anna with grapes, crusty bread and cheese. Dottie's family is just as energetic and loud as she. They all live in a three-floor tenement on 5th Avenue above a tailor's shop. Dottie her mother, father, and two sisters live on the first floor. Her mother's sister and her family live on the second. Her grandmother lives on the third. Her cousin Constance (Connie) and Anthony (Little Tony) came down to meet me and introduce themselves. They brought pastry with them. I went up to meet her grandmother whom they all call Grandma Susie and she was making Sunday dinner for everyone, which was prompty at 2 PM.

When I sat down at the long table, which started in the kitchen and ended in the living room, with the other sixteen members of the family, I could hardly hear myself think. Aunts, uncles and cousins came from around the corner. They all started asking me questions at once. Where was I from? What was I studying? Was I married? Will I marry? At one point, Dottie just told all of them to "can it" and just let me eat in peace. Of course for dinner there was pasta with gravy (red sauce), eggplant parmagian, vegetables, a host of meats that were made in the sauce including sausages, meatballs, and a pork dish I can't remember the name of. Of course there was crusty bread at every end of the table. Then there was fruits brought out and less than an hour later it was dessert.

I have eaten a week's worth of food in less than 8 hours. It's amazing Dottie keeps her figure eating like this on a regular basis.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Velma's Journal--January 1, 1932

I am still in Saratoga and have enjoyed a lovely holiday here. Am anxious to return to New York which I will be doing on Sunday. One of my New Year's resolution for 1932 is to read the newspaper every morning so I can stay informed of the events in this world. Grannie Ellie came down from Maine and had many a discussion about current affairs. I realized I had no clue about half the stuff of which she spoke. I love to read about history and languages, but I rarely delve into newspapers. She told me she's read the morning papers since she was 16 years old. So that has inspired me to do the same. Another resolution, which Dottie and Sarah suggest, is to loosen up a bit.

I have read only a third of Dottie's book. It is more dense that I expected and my mind hasn't been in the material.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Velma's Journal--July 5, 2008

Dear Readership,

It seems that, once again, the Velma blog has fallen to the wayside. With Velma and Mr. Fish out of the country working on a mysterious project, and me trying to decipher this new list of entries that Velma gave me months ago when we lunched at the Peace Fountain, I've felt a bit overwhelmed. The list that was compiled by Mr. Fish to tightened up the material, which he felt was "too numerous in entries and the scope too overwhelming to sustain a readership," was ill conceived. It's too scant and lacked a narrative cohesion. That's my fancy way of saying it made for bad story telling. So I've taken the past month to look at all of Velma's journal entries from January 1932 (since that is where I left off) consider the ones on the list and add a few more in to make it a readable story arc. It has actually been a more gruelling task than I initially thought.

But today I think I've finally come up with a suitable list to work with. Out of the remaining 2,438 entries from January 2, 1932 to July 12, 1942, I was handed a list of 152 from Velma and Fish (those they felt where the most important) I have added an additional 145 in order to make the story more readable (i.e. including entries with Dottie, Sarah, Robert and some characters you are yet to meet). So in all we have 297 more entries to go before we start the events of the first installment of The Wonder City which begins in July of 1942.

Another thing worth noting: as the years go by and Velma becomes more involved in her academics and side career as courier, her entries becoming shorter and shorter. Nothing half as long and detailed as her beginning journal efforts which will make transposing them into blogger easier and faster.

Thanks for bearing me.