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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Roughing It, Returning Alive, and Writing – part 2


Along with camping and boating, the Hollings became adept at recognizing edible wild foods and cooking under primitive conditions.  Not to be outdone when Holling was away from camp, Lucille became motivated to study wild foods, including mushrooms, and create her own recipes.  At times, the Hollings did live off the land, killing animals for food—never for sport.  This is why they also lived for a while in 1922 with Native Americans to learn how they interacted with the environment. 

In 1922, they lived with the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and wrote:

 “Recently we ate with a pueblo family.  We sat on the black adobe floor worn almost to a glaze by moccasin-soles.  Among us, in the center, a shallow basket of delightful design cradled a cascade of breads.  Flat round breads of corn meal baked on hot rocks.  Tortilla, these were.  Then there were the huge puffballish loaves of a whiteness which had been baked in the Eskimo-igloo affairs out front.  And we had goat’s milk in painted mugs.  And bowls of chili.  And green peppers and thin plates of venison haunch, squash and beans.  And now I ask you.  If you had gone most of a sun-scorched day over desert with no water – would you elevate your nose at this menu?  Yet some speak of “Poor, Starving Lo.”

 In similar auto-didactic fashion, Holling learned to paddle a canoe like a Native American, portage, craft bow and arrows, chip arrowheads, twist fish lines from the inner bark of basswood saplings, make bone fish hooks, tan leather sew it with sinew, and make makaks from birch bark in which to cook and store food.  Lucille learned the art of porcupine quill embroidery and making r4obes from rabbit skins and turkey feathers.  A good deal of this information can be found in the Hollings’ Book of Indians.

 It also proved their generosity when they taught these skills to Native Americans who had forgotten their own heritages.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Roughing It, Returning Alive, and Writing – part 1

  Now, a trip back to the distant past.  Holling’s art and writing was closely locked into his naturalism.  He — and in fairness, his wife, Lucille — were people of the outdoors beginning with his early jaunts camping in New Mexico and exploring places like the Mississippi River. 

We’re lucky to have the Master’s thesis written by Hazel Gibb Hinman in 1958 at the University of Redlands, California, to chronicle some of the Hollings’ activities.  Through her interviews we learn that in August 1927, Holling and Lucille took a three-week canoe trip into the Canadian wilderness north of Missinabie, Ontario.  They were joined by Tom Brown, a reporter for the New York Sun, whom they had met on their world cruise.  [It may be difficult to find a copy of Hinman’s thesis; I’m working from photocopied pages.]

Camping and canoeing over the next decade contributed to the Hollings’ graphic work for Cunard lines, the Saturday Evening Post, advertising, newspaper features and illustration for Bookhouse and Book Trails.

 Holling became an “expert,” Gibb said, joining a boat club, racing canoes and shells, and learning survival techniques if the worst happened.  Holling insisted Lucille become a good swimmer, and they kept a canoe at Chicago’s Lincoln Park on Lake Michigan.  Perversely, Holling liked to go out on the lake during a “blow” when bad weather hit.  Gibb surmises that Holling felt he needed to battle the elements in order to portray them vividly and accurately in his writing and art.  Lucille said she could look at the whitecaps on the lake from their window in the Palmolive Building, and one wonders how she felt at those times. 

 Holling recalled one such instance when he paddled about two miles out on the lake in rotten weather.  Returning, he noticed a crowd on shore.  Getting closer he saw an angry police officer.  Gibb says of Holling, “Still panting from exertion, the [Irish] policeman gestured wildly and commanded him to come in immediately.  ‘Don’t you know that you might have been drowned!’” 

 Holling said he didn’t know quite what to do, so to gain time to think, he yelled back, “Let me rest a minute.  I’m fagged!” 

Shortly thereafter, the policeman had cooled off and Holling could explain the situation.  He told Gibb he still thought long afterwards that the cop might have arrested him if he had gone ashore immediately.

 What might have proven embarrassing in the 1920s would today would become the source of publicity, promotion, and Twitter bragging rights.

 Hazel Gibb Hinman’s [1910-2004] thesis dissertation became a book, published by the University of Redlands in 1958 and titled The Lives and Works of Holling Clancy Holling.”



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Paddle Is Still Floating! (Or His Namesakes Are)


Unfortunately, the newspaper's photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced here. This is Paddle's route as Holling envisioned it.

 I received a wonderful e-mail from Dr. Lowell Wyse this week that Paddle is still floating!  He attached a story from Michigan’s MLive.  Its headline reads “Wooden boat inscribed with message washes up on Lake Superior beach 27 years after launch.” 

 Reporter Brandon Champion writes about the hand-carved canoe launched from Duluth and found at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore near Ashland, WI, Oct. 7, 2020.


“Twenty-seven years, two states and one Great Lake,” Champion states.  That was the journey taken by one little red, white, and blue boat launched from Duluth, Minnesota’s Brighton Beach in 1993 and discovered nearly three decades later near Ashland, Wisconsin on Oct. 7.

Lynn BeBeau and her husband discovered the boat while hiking on Lake Superior.

 The boat was inscribed, “I am traveling to the ocean. Please put me back in the water. Will you send information on your whereabouts to Lakewood School, Room 116 & 118 5207 N. Tischer Duluth, MN.”

Ms. BeBeau did as instructed and put the boat back in the water. Then she contacted the Lakewood Elementary School in Duluth.  At the school, she found a class had been reading Paddle-to-0the-Sea in the 1990s.  Two women, Bonnie Fritch and Brenda Schell, then launched two replica boats in 1993 during a field trip. A friend of Schell’s had made the boats and their classes painted them and added the message to the bottom.

 “I am not sure what happened to Brenda’s boat, but mine was spotted a year later up near the North Shore,” Fritch wrote to the newspaper.  “The people put a second coat of varnish on the boat and relaunched it.  I thought we wouldn’t hear any more about it. Amazing it is still out there.”

Now back to Dr. Wyse.  He is writing an “ecocritical analysis of Paddle” titled Ecospatiality: A Place-Based Approach to American Literature.  The book will be published  by the University of Iowa Press in the summer of 2022.

 He wrote us, “I thought you might enjoy this news story about a 27-year-old Paddle boat.  I see that you featured a similar story on the Holling blog recently.

 “Unfortunately, I never received permission from Houghton Mifflin to reprint Holling's map image in my forthcoming book. But I'm happy that my ecocritical analysis of Paddle will reach a (slightly) wider audience.  The book's title is Ecospatiality: A Place-Based Approach to American Literature.  It will be published by University of Iowa Press in summer 2021.”

 Thank you, Lyle, and thanks to the many people who are keeping Paddle’s memory bright and shining! 


Friday, September 25, 2020

A Modern Romance of the North


                                                    Young Treydon Turner-Brian

Nipigon, Ontario, celebrated its centennial in July 2009, and about that time 3-year-old Treydon Turner-Brian carved (with his grandfather Joe Turner’s help) his own Paddle-to-the-Sea.  Treydon’s family would be moving to Alberta shortly, and the boy wanted to be part of Nipigon’s history.  He has become a part, and Paddle’s travels have become a latter-day romantic adventure.


On a stormy day in Pukaskwa National Park in November 2010, a kayaker saw Traydon’s Paddle-to-the-Sea bobbing by the mouth of the Willow River.  Earlier this month, a kayaker in Pukaskwa National Park (located near Marathon, Ontario. Canada)  found himself stranded at the mouth of the Willow River in a storm. He saw Treydon’s Paddler bobbing by the shore and picked it up for a look.  Somehow, Paddle had managed to travel more than 180 km (112 miles) from Nipigon Bay to Pukaskwa.


After reading the message on the boat, and showing Treydon’s Paddle to Parks Canada staff working at the Pukaskwa Tourism Information Centre, the kayaker decided to carry Paddle on to Wawa.  At the outfitter where the kayaker rented his gear, a fellow adventurer, named Ed Hayworth, from New Zealand, noticed Paddle and took a liking to the little canoe.  Ed decided to carry the Paddler with him back to New Zealand, where he is now planning to release Paddle into the Pacific Ocean.


When Treydon helped to carve his Paddle-to-the-Sea canoe as part of Nipigon’s Centennial Celebrations, he must have hoped that it might someday reach the Atlantic Ocean.  The Paddle-to-the-Sea Park was opened in downtown Nipigon to keep the famous story alive.  After an amazing journey, Treydon’s Paddler has gone much further than the original Paddle-to-the-Sea. The little canoe was to be released into the salt waters of the South Pacific Ocean off of the coast of New Zealand.


Friday, March 13, 2020

What’s a Book Worth? Wow!

A dozen years ago I posted a note here that Holling’s Sun and Smoke, A Book of New Mexico sold on 
the secondary market for $235.  Fifty copies of the handmade book were printed and published in 
1923.  Today, four copies are in university libraries and a fifth was sold to a rare book dealer a dozen 
years ago.   And a sixth has been found.
Sun & Smoke was a printing arts project while Holling was at the Art Institute of Chicago.  He drew on 
the months when he was traveling through New Mexico, witnessing the burgeoning Taos art 
environment and working on a ranch where he and his wife Lucille were staying.  He wrote the verses, 
and carved wood blocks to illustrate the poems.  Then personally printed and bound the work in a 6-1/2
 by 10-1.4 inch book.
A news item I posted on Facebook in 2012 caught my eye and I decided to check the value of this 
book in today’s market.  To my surprise, I discovered an art dealer in San Francisco  was offering Sun 
And Smoke for $1,750!  
My questions went to Joan Hoffman at the Holling museum.   She
immediately sent the museum’s newsletter from April 2012 describing the discovery of the sixth (seventh?) copy:

“Recently a copy of Sun and Smoke was found in a Livingston, Montana, thrift shop by an alert employee.  Heather Heath ‘doesn’t know how the book came to the Community Closet, or when.’  Had Holling not included on the last page that only 50 copies of this book had been printed, Heather might not have given the book much thought.  Also, had Holling used his real name at the time, Holling Allison Clancy,  (It was not legally changed until two years later.) it probably would have been harder to track this author’s past.

“Fortunately, Heather was curious and persistent.  She found a website (perhaps the Holling blog) with information that Holling had graduated from Leslie High School in Michigan.  A call was made to the Leslie Chamber of Commerce president and she was referred to Steve Hainstock, past president of the Leslie Historical Society and founder of the Leslie Historical Museum. The connection was made.

“Heather felt the book should go to the Leslie Historical Museum.  The Community Closet’s Board of Directors also thought the Leslie Historical Museum would be a good home for Holling’s book and they generously decided to give it to the museum as a gift. What a precious gift it is!  We did not expect to ever have a copy of Holling’s first and rarest book.

“How rare is Sun and Smoke?   I know of only six other existing copies.  According to WorldCat, a national database, there are four copies in libraries scattered around the U.S. – Univ. of Arizona; Univ. of California, Los Angeles; Northwestern Univ., IL and Miami Univ. OH. One was sold from a private collection in 2007 and another is, as far as I know, still in a private collection in Oregon.”

This little story has redeemed my faith in fortunate discoveries.  And in the monetary value of his books.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

More About Holling, the Man

  Holling and Lucille

Okay, no one talked me into it, but here's the rest of Holling's interview with this publisher's representative....  Ms. Montgomery’s pre-publication queries subsequently delved deeply into Holling’s biography and character, almost to the point of embarrassment.
Dear Mrs. Montgomery:
Just returned from the east, hence the delay in answering you[r] last letter.

The story on "PADDLE" reads very well, and your title "RETURNED WITH INTEREST" is excellent.

It has been fun working with you. Be sure to have your publishers ship me a copy of the book when it comes out.

Good luck, and happy sale-ing!

Yours sincerely,

P.S.Am enclosing a few shots on signatures to used at will.
My preferences might be No. 1 or 4.                          

Published by: Houghton  Mifflin Co.  Year: 1941
Real Name:  Born Holling Alison Clancy. Father died in 1918. Because the Clancy line was extended by innumerable cousins, while the Holling line ended with my mother, I added
another "Holling" to my name for books. To save confusion, the name was legalized and I am now known as Holling Clancy Holling, but old friends still recognize me as being the original Holling Clancy.
What do your family and friends call you?: Holling

Date of birth: Aug 2-1900  Place of birth: Grandfather Holling's Farm, Henrietta Township, Jackson Co.
Father's occupation: School Supt. Number of Brothers: 1 and sisters: 1
Father's nationality: Canadian Irish-French in Canada for 2 centuries
Mother's nationality: American--English stock, mother's grandfather direct
from England
Kind of home during childhood (farm, small town, city apt. etc):
Childhood, North Mich. S. Peninsula. Small towns with fairly large high schools
Adolescence on the Holling Farm
Where: Westbranch, and AuSable, Mich. 2 yrs. after leaving AuSable
it was destroyed by forest fire.
Amount of schooling (high school, college, etc.): Graduate Leslie High Sch., Leslie Mich.
Grad. Art Institute, Chicago. Special tutoring Anthropology
Economic status during childhood (poor, middle class, wealthy): Middle
Special interests as a child (sports, books, games, etc.): Father was good horseman.
Learned to ride young - I had a pony.
Father inducted me into mysteries of natural sciences - hence love of woods, books.
Mother was pianist, wrote verse, plays etc. locally. Hence love of art, music etc.
Childhood ambitions: To own and control a circus
To write and illustrate books
When did you begin to write?: First- drawing, pig with litter at 3
First verse (local paper) at 5 - ever anon!
Why?: Natural expression. Each new experience I documented in drawn pictures.
Who encouraged you?: Mother, Father, assorted relatives. Father's brothers and sisters were missionaries in India, Africa. Visits home gave me much food for imagination.
What and when was your first success or recognition: Difficult to determine as I grew into it. Mother wrote and produced plays and musicals for Father's schools and I was in them. First actual publications were in boy's magazines as youngster. Verse in adult mag. etc. First books - See Oct. Supplement: Who's Who in Am.; 1942
How did you happen to write  for children?: Grew into this phase also. An intense interest in hows and whys of life gave me an interpreter complex: suppose you could say that I wanted to know how a thing was done so that I could pass it on to others. Regard myself as an interpreter.
Anything else about your background which has a bearing on your writing.:
From small-town-farm environment graduated to big city env. (Chicago) but I was still the "Wilderness-lover." A year in the deserts of New Mexico helped.
Also, working on scientific staff (Taxidermist Asst) of Field Museum of
Nat. Hist., Chicago gave me great impetus. Field trips, Montana and British Columbia for specimens. One real turning point was meeting of Dr. Ralph Linton, Head of American Ethnology Dept. at the museum. We struck up a bargain and after a day's work in Zoology, Dr. Linton (in his office) gave me from one to 3 hours lecture in Anthropology. He tried out his courses on me. (He was later at Columbia Un,, now at Yale). A couple of years of this gave me a foundation in the study of Man - past, present and possible future Which acted  as a key or an entire filing system in my brain for the correlation of scattered information. Hence, any information now gleaned has its pigeon-hole in my mind and becomes part of a  subconscious fund available for future books. (I plan to Produce Bushels!)                  
P.S. Look at designs on title contents page, map etc. of "Paddle" and you will see patterns in birch bark as related below - (though of course  not in old Chippewa design).


Where did you get the idea for the book?: Touring the Gulf States, Lowell Thompson of H.M.Co. [Houghton Mifflin] wrote me about illustrating a book for them. At Boston I gave Lowell various ideas for books. He liked the idea of a story about a river. So Mrs. Holling and I started west again in our studio-trailer for the headwaters of the Missouri. En route, Wisconsin and Minn., idea shifted to a river in the Great Lakes.
When (Season as well as year): Autumn 1938
On a fishing boat in Lake Superior I said "that's it - a chip floats along the river in the Lakes, clear to the sea." Later that month, Lucille (Mrs. H.) and I met a Chippewa woman selling birch bark baskets near Fort William Ont. She used hideous designs from magazines- flower pots, sunbonnet babies, roses etc. We said "why not use the original Chippewa designs but tho her mother  had remembered then, she had forgotten. So Lucille and I at Fort William Camp, from memory, cut out many birch patterns of Chippewa and Cree designs. These I did on the orange-colored tree-side of the bark, traced with a point and all inside the outline scraped neatly. This gives a darker silhouette on the dark bark. The woman was astonished at the authentic designs and because we even cut them in bark patterns, like the old-time Chippeway. To show her gratitude and pleasure she gave us, among other things, a carving  made by a 12-year old Chippewa friend. We still have it - a kneeling Indian with drawn bow. If a 12 yr. old could do this, I reasoned, then an Indian in a canoe would be easy. So there was my `chip' to float thru the `river' in the Lakes' to the sea. My high school summer  vacations had been spent (2 years) working on Great Lakes freighters. Lucille and I had camped all around the Lakes on long canoe trips, including Nipiquo country. So the story virtually developed on its own, as naturally as a chip going downstream. The title came while we camped in Bryce Canyon, Utah. I thought of having the boy carve "I am Paddle-to- the-Sea" ____ verbal thing - as an Indian would say "I am Paddling to the sea! But the words seemed simple and direct, and the title was born as is.

When did you begin to write the book?: 1939

Where?: Sequoia Park, Calf. extending to Olympic Pen. (Neah Bay region) finished Altadena Calf.

My desert books are often written in canoes, canoeing books in deserts. Perspective, you see.

How much had you had published when you began it? (Give names of books) See "Who's Who, Oct sup., 1942" page 208 - also "Story and Verse for Children" - page 813 by Miriam Blanton Huber

What was your purpose in writing this book?: To give youngsters a taste of the North Country I knew -  to have fun making a book - and for cash!

How do you write? (typewriter, long-hand, dictate):

Where? (study, office, etc.):

Do you keep regular office hours?: Yes. If so, what are they?: No

Do you revise much?: Yes  Write easily or laboriously?: It all depends

Do you let your family or friends read your work, or try it out on children?: Read it to my wife. Never to children.                         
Who makes your final copies? (yourself, private secretary, public typist, etc.): or sometimes to save time typist.

Did you make an outline before writing the book?: No

Did you decide on the title first or last?: First

How long did it take you to write the book?: Problematical. Some paragraphs rewritten 60 times for simplicity and rhythm [sic].

Did you work on it steadily?: At times.

Did it go fairly smoothly or did you hit rough spots? (Details of any particular difficulty and its solution would be appreciated.):  No rough spots in  story proper. Sometimes difficult to choose which writing told story best. In PADDLE, TREE and new book SEABIRD, each page of some 300 words is a complete chapter. This  necessitates work in framing all ideas for that page simply and yet without losing the plot, excitement, etc. (As against such writing, sonnets are a cinch!)

Was your book accepted immediately by a publisher?: Yes

Was it immediately popular on publication?: Thank Heaven!

Anything else about your writing that might be of interest, especially anything that concerns this book.: The rests between spurts were swell!


How much did you have to do with the illustrations of your book?: Practically everything except making the plates.

If you did them yourself, which came first, the pictures or the text?: Text

What medium did you work in?: Water-color, pencil, pen

How much experience had you had in illustrating?: years.         


What did you look like when you wrote this book? Dark or Fair?: Dark

Tall or short?: 5' 10-1/2" 

Thin or plump?: Slender

Color of eyes?: Dark blue  Wore glasses?: No

Color of hair?: Dark Brown  Kind of hair--long or short?: Medium

Curly or straight?: Straight  How did you wear it?: See picture

Any special features of your appearance (square jaw, dimples, stoop,etc.): Would dearly love a square jaw but haven't one. No dimples. No s

Are you quiet or talkative?: It all depends.  Friendly or reserved?: Ditto

Do you laugh a great deal or are you usually grave?: Not manic-depressive. However, can howl with glee or be sober as hell.

Are you quick-tempered or calm and placid?: Every alternate leap-year.

What sort of clothes do you wear  most when writing? (sports, suits slacks, etc.): Sometimes trunks only. Sometimes overcoats. Altitude and weather dictate.

Favorite occupations and hobbies?: Too many

What is your normal speech like? (Meticulously correct, colloquial, slangy, abrupt, rambling, etc.): Yes. And the shadings can be subtle.

What are some of your pet expressions and exclamations?: I blush.

Profanity not habitual.

If strongly religious, give denomination.: Brought up a Methodist - but am very broad in view. Could still be called Christian.

Any other details about yourself, no matter how trivial, which  might help me to picture you in my own mind. Latin Americans call me "simpatico." I become with no effort the age to which I am talking. Even some dogs seem to wonder why I have no tail. Cats regard me with favor. Also old people. Also my wife (this statement - should be qualified at length.

Can you direct me to any articles or books which have been written about you?: See Who's Who Supplement for  Oct. 1942. It contains most complete list of my books.

If you have a photograph  or snapshot of yourself of about the vintage of your book, I would appreciate it. Of course I would return it promptly. Please keep the thing!