The Soul of a Traveler
During the late autumn days, following our return from Hawaii, we had as many film showings as we could handle. But, we discovered, Christmas is the season when auditoriums and club stages are “dark,” so far as illustrated lectures are concerned. During the December of 1940, Helen and I were eternally thankful that we had few engagements.
Shortly after her eighth birthday—November 28—our daughter Barbara began to feel poorly. On December 6, the diagnosis was acute leukemia. The condition resulted—we discovered much later—from x-ray radiation which the doctor had prescribed for her at birth to correct some ailment at that time.
For nearly six weeks, before and after the Christmas season, we were with Barbara almost constantly. Throwing all other cares aside we read together, played games, took pictures, and celebrated a Christmas, a New Years, and her daddy’s and grandpa’s birthdays.
Most of the time Barbara was very happy. But there were periods of extreme trial and suffering. We have never seen any one braver than she. Except for one or two occasions she went through the whole six weeks without a tear. When asked how she was feeling Barbara always answered, “I’m just fine.”
Barbara passed away in the wee early morning hours of January 19, 1941—a Sunday. Her last words were, “Where is Adrienne?”
That evening an engagement was scheduled for the showing of our Hawaiian film at the First Congregational Church, in our hometown of Ontario.
“Of course you will want to cancel,” the minister phoned us. Helen and I had discussed this prayerfully and thoroughly.
“No,” I replied. “That Hawaii film features Barbara and her sister Adrienne. It is a part of their lives. She wouldn’t want us to forego showing it now.”
As the film was projected that night, Helen and I, to narrate it, sat with a microphone in a room adjacent to the sanctuary, where we could still see the screen.
That showing was hard. But the beautiful memories it evoked, the love for Barbara that it generated with the congregation assembled in the sanctuary—these things mattered a great deal. A freewill offering was taken, the entire amount—we suggested—to be used for youth activities in the church. Instead, the collection, which was sizable, became the nucleus of a special fund. When the church was remodeled several years later a Children’s Chapel was built, in memory of Barbara.
Our own church was in neighboring Upland. At the memorial services, both the minister and I spoke. On its editorial page, The Upland News printed the tribute that I gave, prefacing it with this introduction by the editor, Vernon Paine.
The Upland News
Established In 1894
Enjoying Today What We Have Today—A Tribute to Barbara
“Too many great occasions are dulled in the belief that many more such joys are coming.”
Beauty, joy and thrills are about us daily—if we would only look for them and recognize them. Our daily lives may be clouded with worry, troubles and a yearning for something we might get sometime in the future. Thus, we often times fail to appreciate what we have today and fail to share fully in the joys and blessings of the present.
In recent weeks, several children have been taken away from their families by death. In at least three cases, the parents knew there was no hope fdr their little. ones; that it was only a matter of time until the end.
Francis Line, one of the bereaved fathers, delivered a brief tribute at the memorial service for his little Barbara. This was included in the tribute:
“Too many great occasions are dulled in the belief that many more such joys are coming. This last Christmas of ours was precious beyond anything which had ever been, because it would he the last of its kind.”
Other bereaved parents, no doubt, have the same feeling. And now we give the complete text of Mr. Line’s tribute :
Soul of a Traveler
By Francis R. Line
Barbara has the soul of a traveler, and her spirit lives today in the lives of hundreds of boys and girls and men and women whom she met in all parts of the world.
Barbara would hate a funeral service as much as do her mother and I. This is not a funeral in any sense of the word, but a happy “bon voyage” for a beautiful little traveler who has lived eight splendid years of adventure and joy and friendship.
We are profoundly thankful for these eight years. To bring a little girl up to her eighth birthday, to lead her into new paths of life, to see the development of her love for music and poetry and beauty—all of these represent the greatest privileges of living.
Barbara loved beauty. The principal profession of our whole family in recent years has been the making of travel motion pictures. Wherever we went we have been in search of fine scenes for filming. As we journeyed by auto along the highways of America, or traveled by train through the fields of foreign scenes, Barbara’s eyes were alert every second to the beauty which was unfolding. Each few moments she would cry excitedly: “There’s a picture, Daddy!” Her judgment of beauty was good, and when she exclaimed over the charm of a landscape or the vividness of a rural scene, we usually stopped to take it. Some of the finest shots in our pictures have been of Barbara’s choosing. Much of her life has been spent in searching out beauty and in exclaiming: “There’s a picture, Daddy.”
Barbara loved people. When she was two, and again when she was four, she journeyed with us to eastern America. One summer was spent in Boston. Barbara entered eagerly into the life about her. She became the inseparable pal of two little Boston boys who lived next door to our apartment. So eagerly and earnestly did she enter into their lives that for months after returning home she clung to a quaint Boston accent.
During the summer in New England we took her out to Walden Pond to visit the quiet woodland spot where Thoreau lived so closely in touch with nature. She went to the Old Manse—where Emerson lived near the rude bridge in Concord; she became acquainted with the “Orchards” —farm home of Louisa Alcott’s “Little Women.” She saw the Great Stone Face, and the Maine coast, and the Old Oaken Bucket. And she loved them all.
While Europe was yet peaceful—before the machines of war began to smirch the sky—Barbara traveled with us across the Atlantic. The tulip fields in Holland were like glorious carpets of life; Kew Gardens in London was filling the world with sunshine.
As she traveled across the channel on her first trip to Holland, Barbara became pals with a fine Dutch youth of 22. They became inseparable. He told her about his country; pointed out to her as we neared the coast the dikes and windmills Throughout Holland she met and played with the Dutch youngsters in the fields. Their play was an unconscious exchange; a seed of internationalism. As they touched her life with beauty, so did she touch theirs. And Barbara lives today in the hearts of these friends of hers across the sea.
There was a nursery school in London; then later, a glorious two months spent at Kittiwake—a children’s school on the English south coast near Bexhill Those two months were perhaps the climax of Barbara’s life. The whole glorious English countryside to romp over; excursions to the south coast beaches; most important of all, an individual garden plot which it was her duty to tend each day.
But as always it was the people that counted most. There were sweet little refugee children from Germany and Czechoslovakia. There was an upstanding young boy from India. There were fine little English youngsters. And among this group Barbara was the happy little girl from America. While we were gone, Barbara acted as a mother to her little sister, Adrienne.
Mrs. Silcock, owner of the school, was the loveliest woman whom Barbara ever met. At Kittiwake Barbara’s spirit soared high. Again there was beauty to give and to receive. And today Barbara is living in the hearts of these friends of hers across the sea.
Her last big trip was to Hawaii, and we can never forget the joy of our weeks at Waikiki. Swims three times a day in the soft semi-tropic Pacific; excursions to the pineapple fields and through the pineapple factory; grand trips around the island. Best of all, Manoa valley, with rainbows—arcs of promise—hanging constantly above it. This was her favorite spot. But as always, her greatest joy was with the friends she met—little Hawaiian youngsters, or Chinese, or Germans, or American boys and girls.
This past Christmas we spent with Barbara in a Hollywood apartment where she was taking treatments. It was the most transcendentally beautiful Christmas which any of us has ever spent. Too many great occasions are dulled in the belief that many more such joys are coming. This Christmas of ours was precious beyond anything which had ever been, because it would be the last of its kind.
A window of our Hollywood apartment looked out toward a high hill to the north. Barbara often looked up at that hill and would say: “Mommy, I wish I knew what was on the other side. Can we go up it some day?”
On the morning that we left to bring her home, the rain was falling hard from an overcast sky. Barbara was bundled into the car. “Mommy,” she said, “can’t we go to the top of the hill now?”
And we went. Following steep, crooked, slippery roads, we wound our way up and around, until we could look out and see what lay on the other side. That yearning of hers came from the soul of a traveler. No greater adventure can there be than to see what lies on the other side.
The fullness of life is not measured in terms of years. There are those who might say that Barbara experienced just eight short years of life. No. Barbara experienced an English spring, a soft Hawaiian summer, a June in the Michigan woods, and an August by blue New Hampshire lakes. Her calendar of time was marked off, not by days, but by experiences. She had gained an appreciation of poetry such as is given to few adults, she was peeping into the mysteries of music, she had learned to read, and was beginning to express her thoughts on paper. And she had friends—international friends—for every day in the year. Her calendar was not of years, but of poems and friends and beauty.
Barbara knew and repeated two prayers. One was a prayer of thanks which she learned during her recent illness. It was simple and beautiful:
“We thank you, dear God, for fun and for friends.
We thank you for music and pictures and stories.
We thank you for people who show us Your Love,
And for work which makes us happy and strong.”
The other prayer was one which she learned at Kittiwake in England—a prayer taught to her by Mrs. Silcock. Every night for two years she has repeated it. It has been our prayer, too. Each day during my recent trip in the Orient, I made this prayer a constant part of my thoughts. And this prayer shall forever be our certain assurance that our little daughter Barbara shall be with us always and that her shining spirit shall go on with God forever. This is it:
“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child.
Bless Auntie Silcock and all the little children.
Keep them safe and sound.
Bless Barbara and Adrienne.
Bless Mommy and Daddy, and everybody in the world. Amen. “
Each evening, after saying this prayer, we would kiss Barbara good night and she would always say. “Good night, Mommy. Good night, Daddy. I’ll be seeing you in the morning.” And we would reply: “Good night, Barbara. We’ll be seeing you in the morning, too.”
And so we shall.
Barbara had a feeling for good art. She had accompanied us as we visited art galleries in Chicago, New York, Boston, and London, and had thrilled at some of the great paintings we had shown her, just as my own father had pointed out those same paintings to my brother and me when I was a child, such as Millet’s Angeles and Gleaners, and Rosa Bonhur’s enormous Horse Fair. Helen and I started a Chaffey Community Art Association in her memory and donated a dozen paintings that would become the nucleus of an important permanent collection. There would be an annual purchase prize exhibit.
For several years Helen directed that exhibit and together we scoured the art studios and galleries of California for suitable entries. On my semi-annual lecture trips east I would select paintings from New York galleries to be exhibited in the annual show.
The summer of 1991 heralds the half century mark in which this association has been serving Southern California. Its outreach and activities are expanding constantly, as hundreds of dedicated individuals foster a love of fine art among students and adults. The permanent collection has grown into one of the important art treasures of its kind in the West. Exhibits, lectures, workshops, student art classes, and an annual hanging of the permanent collection, all take place throughout the community but especially in the beautiful Spanish-style Museum of History and Art, now home for the Association.
Helen and I have had our lives enriched by the scores of great artists who have become our lifelong friends—Millard Sheets, Phil Dike, Conrad Buff, Phil Paradise, the Rex Brandts, Emil Kosa, Jr. , Jean Goodwin Ames, Anders Aldrin, and many others. Through Anders we met his nephew, Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon.
Before it was moved to the new art gallery, the painting of Barbara, by Marion Olds, hung in the library of Chaffey College and High School. One girl student told us, “That painting of your daughter, looking down on us through the years, has inspired and permanently affected our lives.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES art critic spoke highly of Chaffey Community Art Association’s first
“Purchase Prize Exhibit.”
THE ART THRILL OF THE WEEK
By the Art Critic— Arthur Millier
PURCHASE prize art exhibits in public schools have made history in several Southland communities. They have aroused community enthusiasm but their edu-
cational value, for students or citizens, often has been low. They have too often swamped a few good paintings in a mass of mediocre ones.
Chaffey Community Art Association, which last Friday opened its first purchase prize exhibit of contemporary American painting in Chaffey Junior College, Ontario, has taken the needed next step. Its showing consists of 55 carefully selected oils and water colors by 10 eastern and 35 California artists. And with few exceptions every artist is represented at his best. In this show Ontarians can see what the better sorts of current painting are like.
Ontarians Francis R. Line and Mrs. Line saw the chance to do this fine thing and organized the Chaffey Community Arts Association, of which Line is president. It grew from 5 to 117 paying members in six months.
The Lines also have presented to the college seven good paintings by Southland artists in memory of their daughter Barbara. Purchase prizes, secured by members’ fees, will buy two more pictures from the current show.
The exhibition, hung in the spacious women’s gymnasium, is on view free to the public from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and Sundays through Nov. 2. It is well worth any art lover’s time. A. M.