Welcome to Agincourt, Iowa

The Carousel (1.1)

Agincourt’s carousel in The Commons (the original design by David Rock) was an Arts & Crafts affair, braced frame with mortice and tenon connections. It was quite lovely and also quite a bit different from all of these examples — I chose just nine from the 850+ currently on eBay. By far the plurality were polygonal-on-the-verge-of-circular, with conical roofs and cupolas. Mr Rock probably has too much on his plate to give this another try, so I’m trolling for designers who’d like to fill this niche in the project.

Grace

Grace

Grace Arbogast was more than a qualified success by any standard. Her story hasn’t been told completely yet, but its outline is simple enough: unassuming high school student, dismissed by her classmates, relocates to New York City where she enters the garment industry and rises to its upper ranks; returns to her hometown and extracts a modicum of revenge.

Her shop on East James became a training ground for other young women from our part of Iowa, taking them seriously, building confidence and skills for success, and raising the general level of women’s fashion hereabouts as a fringe benefit. A recent discovery in the local history files at the Fennimore county library brought two of Ms Arbogast’s fashion sketches to light

The shoulders of others…

We stand on the shoulders of others, sometimes pygmies, often giants. My feet are precariously planted, always have been, on the accomplishments of people well above average height, intelligence, and achievement.

Great teachers not only touched my life, they enabled, inspired, enriched it. Not because I was special; because they were. These names will mean nothing to you, but saying them aloud just one more time keeps their memory alive a little while longer — though my debt to them can never be repaid:

  • Mary Hletko¹
  • Edna Rapp
  • Veronica Piper
  • Virginia Lawton
  • Rose Spellman
  • James Francis Baker
  • Morton Newman (librarian)
  • Dean Bryant Vollendorf
  • William “Bill” Burgett
  • Fred D. Shellabarger
  • Agnes Miller (librarian)
  • Mendel Glickman
  • J. Palmer Boggs
  • James Marston Fitch
  • Adolf K. Placzek (librarian/archivist)
  • Blake Alexander (archivist)
  • M. Wayne Bell

¹ Grade School / High School / University of Oklahoma / Columbia University / University of Texas at Austin

What I know is my responsibility. How I came to know it and recognize its worth is attributable to them. You’ve never met these people, nor are you likely to encounter their names anywhere but here, though a few have been incorporated into this project. I will forever see a bit farther because they were teachers in the truest sense of the word.

Actually, it’s my fervent hope that what I owe them is paid forward each time I enter a classroom and follow their example to the best of my ability. Who can say?

Malcolm J. Hitchcock [1929-1998]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

HITCHCOCK, Malcolm J. (1929-1998)

“Portmadoc from Morva Harlech”

oil on board / 6.7 inches by 12.6 inches

mid-century

Morva Harlech (“morva” or “morfa” is Welsh for a marsh, hence Harlech Marsh) is on the Welsh coast facing Cardigan Bay, not far from Portmeirion, the synthetic village made famous by the BBC series “The Prisoner”. Portmadoc is the terminus of the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway, the picturesque sort of line which Hitchcock preferred to paint. This mid-century oil is in a late Impressionist style variation made famous by George Seurat. According to one on-line source:

Malcolm John Hitchcock was a painter in both tempera and oils. He was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and received his art education at Andover School of Art. World War II led to his early withdrawal from his courses and he was apprenticed to a dental technician before serving with the Royal Army Dental Corps as his National Service. This led him to Singapore, amongst other places, where he was never without sketch pad or paint box. There followed a period of experimentation in both technique and subject matter, with Hitchcock eventually settling on the railway theme executed largely in a pointillist style.

He traveled extensively throughout Europe and became well-known for his pictures of narrow gauge steam trains. He exhibited in Düsseldorf, Brussels, Paris Salon, the Royal Academy and the Royal West of England Academy and his solo shows have taken place the Bramante Gallery, Ashgate Gallery in Farnham and Hiscock Gallery in Southsea. He married the author Zaidee Lindsay in 1984. His work is in the collection of Reading Museum and the Royal West of England Academy.

In the summer of 2018 Howard Tabor and a friend traveled from Llandudno to Minffordd, part of which ran on the Ffestiniog line to Portmadoc.

Protected: “The Last Picture Show”

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Hazzard House

“A few figs from thistles…”

by Howard A. Tabor

“Hazzard”

It’s a point of contention whether the sign on the old Hazzard House hotel was an advertisement or a warning. The building caught fire so often that its reputation had spread to Omaha, Des Moines, and beyond: register there at your own risk. And prepare to be turned out in the wee hours in your long johns, when the corridors fill with smoke.

A. S. J. Tessimond

If Agincourt has a poet laureate, it may be A. S. J. Tessimond [1902-1962], who one writer describes as “perhaps not the most well-known British poets of the 20th Century and suffered for most of his life from bipolar disorder.” With credentials like that, how can we have gone wrong.

Tessimond’s collected works don’t constitute a thick volume. But his poems are liquid, luminous, and entirely appropriate for a sufferer with bipolar tendencies. I offer you just these three:

Polyphony in a Cathedral

Music curls
In the stone shells
Of the arches, and rings
Their stone bells.

Music lips
Each cold groove
Of parabolas’ laced
Warp and woof,
And lingers round nodes
Of the ribbed roof

Chords open
Their flowers among
The stone flowers; blossom;
Stalkless hang.

One Almost Might

Wouldn’t you say,
Wouldn’t you say: one day,
With a little more time or a little more patience, one might
Disentangle for separate, deliberate, slow delight
One of the moment’s hundred strands, unfray
Beginnings from endings, this from that, survey
Say a square inch of the ground one stands on, touch
Part of oneself or a leaf or a sound (not clutch
Or cuff or bruise but touch with finger-tip, ear-
Tip, eyetip, creeping near yet not too near);
Might take up life and lay it on one’s palm
And, encircling it in closeness, warmth and calm,
Let it lie still, then stir smooth-softly, and
Tendril by tendril unfold, there on one’s hand …

One might examine eternity’s cross-section
For a second, with slightly more patience, more time for reflection?

and, finally

Music

This shape without space,
This pattern without stuff,
This stream without dimension
Surrounds us, flows through us,
But leaves no mark.

This message without meaning,
These tears without eyes
This laughter without lips
Speaks to us but does not
Disclose its clue.

These waves without sea
Surge over us, smooth us.
These hands without fingers
Close-hold us, caress us.
These wings without birds
Strong-lift us, would carry us
If only the one thread broke.

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Phyllis Brodsky [20th century]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

BRODSKY, Phyllis (20th century)

Room with a View

oil on canvas / 26 7/8 inches by 21 3/4 inches

We have been unable to learn very much about 20th century artist-teacher Phyllis Brodsky. And so must let the work speak for itself.