With an insight into the human psyche and careful attention to detail, K. D Mason carries you to different worlds, and through the minds and motives of madmen and lovers. In his novel, Black Schooner , K.
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Page by page, past events resurface with startling revelations, and as the deeper human elements of these characters rises to the surface, readers will be screaming for the next volume in this enticing series. The opening chapters present a harrowing start off the NH coast in , and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily K.
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Mason shifted his tale to present-day New Hampshire. This book, like the rest of K.
Andrea Vomacka. He is back! Romance, friendship and a killer is on the loose. The Atlantic Ocean plays a starring role in this life-and-death adventure for Jack and his friends, who live, run, and work along its dynamic coastline. Humor sparkles through the sinister and frightening events in Unexpected Catch , entangling Jack in a net of ever-deeper intrigue.
Fans will be pleased that Cat, the charming kitty, continues to play a soothing role amongst the growing chaos. Thank you, K. Vicki Miller, Durham, NH. As you traveled away from the cities into the countryside, one of the things that would have puzzled you, if you had been able to look about you with the eyes of the mid-century, would have been the comparative shortage of city people's summer cottages.
If the overwhelming majority of the places in this list seem to be in the northeast part of the country, the reason is obvious; most Southerners went north if they could, and most Westerners went east, for a prosperous holiday. And many places whose warm winter climate subsequently made them popular pleasure resorts were then chiefly known as health resorts.
Said Baedeker's guide, edition:. In most of the leading resorts there were fine country houses; in some of them, opulent ones. There were also many prosperous families whose special taste for the wilds would lead them to buy large tracts of Adirondack woodland and build luxurious "camps"; or whose liking for the simplicities of Cape Cod, or the White Mountains, or the Lake Michigan shoreline, or the rugged Monterey coast, would lead them to build more modest cottages for a two or three months' stay.
But their choice of places was limited by two things--accessibility to a railroad, and the limited holiday time available to all but a few. The boom in summer-cottage building was only just beginning; probably there were only something like a tenth as many cottages as in It was still the heyday of the big summer-resort hotel, to which well-to-do vacationists would come for a short stay, ranging usually from a week to a month: the shingled hotel with towers and turrets and whipping flags, with wide piazzas and interminable carpeted corridors, and with a vast dining room in which were served huge meals on the American plan, with a menu which took one from celery and olives through soup and fish and a roast to ice cream, cake, and nuts and almonds, with sherbet as a cooling encouragement in mid-meal.
For those who could not afford such grandeur, there were boardinghouses innumerable, with schoolteachers rocking on the porch and a group of croquet players on the lawn; and, here and there along the seashore or the lakeside, crowded colonies of tiny shingled shacks, each labeled clearly with its sentimental or jocose name--"Bide-a-Wee Cottage," "Doocum Inn," or the like.
But the overwhelming majority of Americans outside the upper income brackets stayed at home, through the full heat of summer. And being carriageless, they had to satisfy their holiday dreams by taking a special reduced-rate railroad tour by day-coach to Niagara Falls or Atlantic City; or, more likely, an occasional trip out of town in an open trolley car to the Trolley Park, an amusement park at the end of the line. So there was still lots of room to play in America--thousands of miles of shoreline, hundreds of lakes and rivers, hundreds of mountains, which you could explore to your heart's content, camping and bathing and hunting and fishing without asking anybody's permission, if you could only somehow reach them.
Already there were far-sighted conservationists pointing out that for generations Americans had been despoiling the land while subduing it; that forests were being hacked to pieces, farm land misused and overused, natural resources plundered right and left; and that national parks would be needed, both to conserve these resources and to give the people room to play.
But to most people such warnings just didn't make sense. If lumbermen destroyed one forest, there were others to enjoy; if cottagers bought up one beach, there were others open to any bathers. The bounties of nature seemed inexhaustible. As Stuart Chase was to remark long years later, the prevailing attitude was that of the Mad Hatter, who if he soiled one teacup simply moved on to the next one. For the small minority who were lucky enough to have a summer cottage to go to, the ritual of departure was complex. First, the city house would be put through a thorough cleaning and dismantling, a process that lasted for days.
On Departure-Day-Minus-One the expressman called for the trunks, which were many; it would have astonished a family of the era to be told that in later years vacationists would manage for weeks with nothing but suitcases. On the fateful morning the family would grasp bags, overcoats, umbrellas, and such other possible incumbrances as fishing tackle, golf clubs, dog, cat, and caged canary, and proceed to the station in one or more horse-drawn cabs.
Then came the long journey--either by Pullman car, incredibly grand with its elaborate paneling of the Chester A. Arthur vintage, or by open-platform daycoach, very cindery. Arrived in the neighborhood of Elysium, the family would dismount on a sunbaked board platform, assemble its belongings, and proceed in a big three-seater wagon for the family and personal equipment followed by an even larger wagon for the trunks. A six-mile drive would take an hour, for there was that sandy stretch by the cemetery where the horses moved at a straining walk, and there were a couple of long hills now taken by all automobiles in high.
It was a dirty and sticky family that finally watched the trunk wagon being backed up to the side porch of the cottage; whether they were more exhausted than their grandchildren, who now make the mile journey packed tightly into the family Buick, is less certain. To the city-bred children of that time, the farmers they met in the country seemed a race apart, foreign in everything but language.
And why shouldn't they have been? With no automobiles, no radio, no rural free delivery, no big mass-circulation magazines; with, in many places, no access to any schooling but the most elementary; and with rare chances, if any, to travel to a city, they were imprisoned in rural isolation. If, as we have already noted, the world they saw about them was moved by more understandable and therefore less terrifying forces than those which impinged upon their descendants, it was also unbelievably more limited.
As you continued your investigation of the United States of you would find yourself, again and again, struck by the lack, or the shortage, of things which today you regard as commonplace necessities. Electrical services and devices, for instance. Most of the city houses of the really prosperous were now electrified; but the man who was building a new house was only just beginning to install electric lights without adding gas, too, lest the current fail suddenly.
And the houses of the great majority were still lighted by gas in the cities and towns or oil lamps in the country. Millions of Americans of the older generation still remember what it was like to go upstairs of an evening and then be consumed with worry as to whether they had really turned off completely the downstairs gas jets. A regular chore for the rural housewife was filling the lamps; and a frequent source of family pride was the possession of a Welsbach burner that would furnish adequate light for a whole family to read by as they gathered about the living-room table.
Of course there were no electric refrigerators--to say nothing of washing machines and deep-freeze units. Farmers--and summer cottagers--had icehouses in which big cubes of ice, cut during the winter at a neighboring pond or river, or imported by ship from north to south, lay buried deep in sawdust. When you needed ice, you climbed into the icehouse, scraped the sawdust away from a fine hunk of ice, and carried it in your ice tongs to the kitchen icebox. If you lived in the city, the ice company's wagon showed up at the door and the iceman stowed a huge cube in your icebox.
For a good many years there had been refrigerator cars on the railroads, but the great national long-distance traffic in fresh fruits and vegetables was still in its infancy; and accordingly the prevailing American diet would have shocked deeply a visitor from In most parts of the United States people were virtually without fresh fruit and green vegetables from late autumn to late spring. During this time they consumed quantities of starches, in the form of pies, doughnuts, potatoes, and hot bread, which few would venture to absorb today.
The result was that innumerable Americans were in sluggish health during the months of late winter and early spring, when their diet was short of vitamins. If as a visitor from you found yourself staying in an average American house in the winter season at the turn of the century, you would soon find yourself yearning for orange juice, tomato juice, fresh lettuce, or grapefruit--every one of them unobtainable then. By the turn of the century running water, bathtubs, and water closets were to be found in virtually all the town houses of the prosperous, though many a fine house on a fashionable street still held only one bathroom.
But not only did factory workers and farmers except perhaps a few owners of big farms still not dream of enjoying such luxuries, but even in the gracious houses of well-to-do people beyond the reach of city water lines and sewer lines, there was likely to be no bathroom at all. They washed with pitcher and basin in their bedrooms, each of them pouring his dirty water from the basin into a slop jar, to be emptied later in the day; and after breakfast they visited the privy behind the house. In his lively book, The Age of Indiscretion, Clyde Brion Davis tells how, if you lived in Chillicothe, Missouri, you might on occasion extend your political education by beholding the Governor of Missouri, a resident of Chillicothe, "without his silk hat or frock coat and with his fawn-colored vest unbuttoned and the tab of his stiff-bosomed shirt unbuttoned and hanging outside his trousers.
At a luxurious hotel you might, if you paid extra, get a room with private bath, but not until did Ellsworth M. Statler build in Buffalo the first hotel which offered every guest a room and private bath at a moderate price. And not until did the double-shell enameled bathtub go into mass production, replacing the painted cast-iron bathtub, with roll rim and claw feet, which was the standard article of the period. As a visitor from the nineteen-fifties to the era of that cast-iron bathtub it might or might not occur to you that personal cleanliness was not so readily achieved then as in your own time, and that if the Saturday-night bath offered to millions of Americans their only weekly immersion in warm water, this was chiefly because bathrooms were few and far between.
But pretty certainly there was one custom of those days which would strike you as filthy. In the Eastern cities well-bred people disapproved of spitting in mixed company, though the cuspidor was likely to be a standard office fixture beside the executive's desk; but in the West and South, and in the small cities and towns especially, spitting was a standard prerogative of the sturdy male; there were cuspidors everywhere, not only in offices, hotels, and public buildings, but in the leading citizen's parlor; and when it took too much of an effort to reach a cuspidor--which many men prided themselves on being able to hit with a stream of spittle at a considerable distance--many otherwise cleanly people considered it their privilege to spit in the fireplace or on the floor.
Seacoast author K.D. Mason to read and sign
Perhaps the dwindling of this ancient American custom during the years since has been affected by the changing use of tobacco. In , when the population of the United States was half what it was in , Americans smoked a slightly larger number of cigars, consumed a much larger amount of pipe tobacco and a very much larger amount of chewing tobacco--and smoked only about one-hundredth of the number of cigarettes that they did fifty years later.
In about four billion cigarettes were manufactured in the United States; in , billions. Telephones, in , were clumsy things and comparatively scarce; they were to be found chiefly in business offices and in the houses of such well-to-do people as enjoyed experimenting with new mechanical devices. In the whole country there were only 1,, of them--as compared with over 43,, at the end of In Muncie, Indiana, the local press warned people that, when using the telephone, they "should not ask for a name but refer to the number list.
As for the instruments of mass communication which, in the years to come, were to do so much to provide Americans of all classes and conditions with similar information, ideas, and interests, these too were almost wholly lacking.
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There would be no radio for another twenty years; no television, except for a very limited audience, for over forty-five years. Crude motion pictures were occasionally to be seen at vaudeville theaters, or in peep-show parlors, but the first movie which told a story, The Great Train Robbery, was still three years in the future. There was as yet no magazine with a circulation of over a million. Already the days were ending when a group of splendid and sedate periodicals designed for polite readers with intellectual tastes--such as The Century, Harper's, and Scribner's --had dominated the magazine field.
Munsey and Curtis and McClure had begun to show that many readers could be attracted by magazines which offered less literary but more human and popular fare, and that such magazines could as a result attract lucrative advertising. But although Cyrus Curtis had pushed the circulation of his Ladies' Home Journal to ,, he had only just begun his extraordinary demonstration of the way in which popular magazines could serve as a medium for national advertising on a huge scale. Accordingly there were sharp limits to the fund of information and ideas which people of all regions and all walks of life held in common.
To some extent a Maine fisherman, an Ohio farmer, and a Chicago businessman would be able to discuss politics with one another, but in the absence of syndicated newspaper columns appearing from coast to coast their information would be based mostly upon what they had read in very divergent local newspapers, and in the absence both of the radio and of newsreels it is doubtful if any of them--except perhaps the Chicago businessman--had ever heard with his own ears the silver voice of William Jennings Bryan.
There was no such common denominator of acquaintance as there would be in between people who could instantly recognize not only Harry Truman, but Bob Hope, Van Johnson, and Betty Hutton, who had laughed simultaneously at Jack Benny's colloquies with Rochester, and who knew Bing Crosby's voice the moment they heard it on the air.
And if the instruments of mass communication were lacking, so also were many social institutions which today Americans take for granted. A nation of individualists, accustomed to the idea that each person must fend for himself as an independent unit, was moving into an age of interdependence but was still slow to recognize the fact and slow to organize the institutions which such an age required. Consider, for example, what a small Midwestern town had to offer a boy by way of recreation and educational opportunity.
Tradition said that boys must find their own chances for recreation--swimming at the old swimming hole of hallowed legend, playing baseball in the open fields, hunting and fishing in the neighboring woods and streams. But already industrialism was contaminating the rivers, the open country was being built up and cultivated, the natural playgrounds were being despoiled--and few substitute diversions had been provided.
I know of no better demonstration of the plight of a boy in such a town than is given in Clyde Brion Davis's The Age of Indiscretion. In Chillicothe, Missouri, says Mr. Davis, there was no place "where a youngster could enter the water except the really filthy ponds and the equally dirty and dangerous river where drownings occurred every season.
We, in our district, had no place to play baseball except a wholly inadequate and rutty lot down by the Milwaukee tracks.