Great Spruce Head Island

June 26, 1968 527

Dear Hosty with the Mosty,

And a very happy Arthur Cohen’s 528 birthday to you too, dear.

Well here I be, and just as happy as an unsteamed clam.  The sky is a rather dense gray, of a shade that in Southampton would have me humming “Gloomy Sunday” but here seems just another of Maine’s little miracles.  Of course it helps to have it reflected on the bosom of the bay (which would place its cunt somewhere down around Vinalhaven) where for some reason it picks up a faint purplish flush.  Oh well, I won’t lay it on too thick …

We made it here, which is about as much as I can say for the trip.  I’m afraid FP is emotionally unable to think of a drive as anything but another Dunkirk.  In New London I did manage, by dint of taking Bruno for a quick trot, to peek into an antique shop window where I spotted two student lamps, one of them desirable at 70 simoleons—much nicer than the smaller one Ines [MacWhinnie] recently rid of herself of for a cool 65.  Bruno, contrary to my expectations, turned out to be the best traveler of all, and we did not arrive covered with hair and dog vomit.  He was, however, quite a sketch at the Camden Yacht Club.  It was an unusually mean low tide, and he took one look at the abyss that divided the almost vertical gangplank from the seawall and refused to budge.  F and I must have made quite a sight as he pulled in front and I attempted to push his hindquarters after—judging, at least, by the chuckles lavished on us by the local tars.  Then we went through it all again getting him off the float and onto the Kittiwake.  Fortunately I was by then in such a state that I more or less picked him up and hurled him abroad, rather like wee Geordie tossing the caber. The arrival was quite easy, since I had become a stone.

I hope Aline Porter (wife of Eliot, the painter who “shows” at Betty Parson’s) is still here when you come.  She’s very Nest.  She came up to help yesterday afternoon, and decided to make beds.  She vanished for a long time, her little velvet bow bobbing behind her, then reappeared murmuring in her couth Boston tones, “Anne, where is the linen closet?”  There, a good deal later, I found her sighing that there were no double sheets.  So I dug some out of last year’s clean laundry (it winters in a basket, don’t ask why).  Then she slowly made three beds and returned to the kitchen to announce, “Well, there doesn’t seem to be anything else I can do…” as she eyed with evident horror the chaos and filth, and faded from our sight.  She had a remarkable silly, though good natured, scottie, and at one point when I was out in the front inspecting the weeds with Mousie or whatever it’s called, Aline’s head popped out of an upstairs window long enough to coo, “Sweetheart didn’t know I was up here did she?” and popped back in again.  As a matter of fact, she makes a rather refreshing change from the nautical know-it-alls who usually clutter the float at mail call.  Yesterday she had been to Camden to do some “Shopping,” which appeared to consist of a dozen eggs, a large brown bag that went clink clink and a pair of scales with charming early Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Designs.  So you see…

Say, how would you like to do a girl a favor? I refer to Anna. I promised to pick up a paperback Italian cookbook for her at Bob Keene’s, but all he had was one that seemed to have been written by the chef at the Minetta Tavern. So, if you’re ankling by your local paperback outlet, and have a mind to…. and if you haven’t, no one will be the wiser.

If these pangs speak true, it’s lunch time. More later.

Two days later and a few hours earlier

What a lovely surprise the floating postman brought me yesterday—I can’t wait to follow Bonita529 on her adventures among the sinister spruces.  Do you think the author is really Nancy Straus?  Thanks oodles.

In case you’re sweltering—pace Wednesday’s Times—we’re enjoying a mighty cool 49 degrees and what appears to be the beginning of at least a three day blow.  Another of Maine’s little gifts that I won’t look into the mouth of.

Have you heard anything from Harper’s Bazaar? I ask, to be lucid, because I’m feeling decidedly broke, and not without reason. Heaven be praised for thrifty islands.

If this is to make today’s mail, I’d best interrupt myself.  I have some thoughts on the final chapter, but they’ll keep a few days. Besides, I ran a huge spruce splinter (beastly tree) into my thumb, which makes anything but eating, reading and sleeping rather hell.  (Last night I went in before dark and, despite a 10 minute period of wakefulness, managed to sleep until 7:30. Bliss.)

We’re presently (and hopefully) expecting the arrival of Laurence with a party of seven—there will be a lot of milling about the larder!  In fact, I’m thinking of stashing a box of prunes or two under my bed.


(Mrs) Birdsey Youngs

Mrs Birdsey Youngs recently gave

her tenth Book report on the book,

“Those Who Love” by Irving Stone. 

The book deals with the life and times

of John and Abigail Adams and Mrs

Youngs gave her report in a period cos-

tume complete with cap. She has giv-

en it to the Sound Avenue Grange, the

Sound Avenue Women’s Fellowship, the

Mattituck Historical Society and re-

cently at a Fellowship meeting at the

Riverhead Congregational Church

which honored Miss Eva Terry.  These

are among other places and word has

gone out how very well she does Abigail


527. On this day Schuyler wrote in his diary, “Delicately and thoroughly overcast, cool above and the water with a rosy cast, and the more distant island a blue with a low hum to it.”

528. Arthur Cohen, novelist and publisher who published A Nest of Ninnies.

529. Schuyler was reading Bonita Granville and the Mystery of Star Island.


From: Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-1991, Edited by William Corbett Turtle Point Press ISBN 9 781885 586308