'Boes in Facultate: the short, creative life of Franz Rickaby.
A month after Rickaby's death, Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, from which both Franz and his wife, the former Lillian Katar, had graduated, held a memorial service. In addition to numerous tributes, the congregants sang one of Rickaby's own compositions, the exuberant "Whoop 'Er Up Knox."
In a long written tribute, the poet Nicholas Vachel Lindsay described a group of young people who had gravitated toward Lindsay in Springfield, Illinois. Rickaby, then in his late boyhood, was among them. "Franz was the leader of my gang and the real shepherd," Lindsay wrote. "We read everything from Shaw to Pshaw, and shouted until midnight, being some of us still high school sophomores and very smart-alecky, all but the gigantic and magnificent Franz who dominated the scene ... [and] who might have been a statesman in United States art, had he lived." (1)
On June 27, 1925, the managing director of Walter H. Baker, the Boston-based publisher of dramatic works, wrote Lillian a condolence letter. He did not think Franz's one-act play The Haven would produce much income for her, as "it is much too good for the ordinary run of short play performances," but he believed The Christmas Spirit: A Poetic Fantasy in Two Acts, which Franz and Lillian had written together, would be a consistent, albeit small, source of royalties. (2)
The Junior Haymakers of North Dakota established the Franz Rickaby Prize for the best student-written one-act play, honoring the former University of North Dakota professor's introduction of drama into public schools throughout the rural state.
Several months after his death, Harvard University Press released Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy, the first collection ever of the music and lyrics of the songs of the Midwest lumberjacks, which Franz had begun to collect during his long walk from Charlevoix, Michigan, to Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1919. (3) Carl Sandburg, one of several reviewers, wrote: "In a memorial record of Franz Rickaby there should be, perhaps, some statement that he had besides attainments in scholarship, the gifts of an artist. In his Shanty-Boy Ballads there is more than fact and chronicle--there is arrangement, vision, the handling of materials by a rare human spirit." (4)
In 1941, the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, comparing Rickaby to his pioneering folklorist father, John Avery Lomax, urged Archibald MacLeish, the head of the Library of Congress, to acquire Rickaby's papers: He "was the collector of the lumberjack songs in almost the same sense that Father was the collector of cowboy songs ... it would be a feather in our caps." (5)
And upon hearing that his beloved third and last surviving son had died, Franz's father, Thomas, wrote in his journal, "All that he could do was to moan from the depths of his broken heart, 'Oh, my son, Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God that I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son.'" (6)
Franz Rickaby was my grandfather, a man whom my father barely remembered. I grew up knowing only bits and pieces of his short life: his walk through the Midwest, his book of ballads, his friendship with Vachel Lindsay, his short tenure at Pomona. But Lillian, decidedly unsentimental but respectful of history, left a trunk full of papers and letters, and as I dipped into it after her death, Franz climbed out. (7) He lived during a period of dramatic change in our nation about which I have learned a great deal by looking closely at the particulars of his life. I fell in love with my grandfather during this process, happily saw him clearly in my own father, and sobbed as if I were present on the day he died.
WANDERING AND ADVENTURING
In 1923, when Franz and Lillian moved to Claremont from Grand Forks, North Dakota, they joined thousands of other Midwesterners who wanted--or needed--to escape the brutal winters of those rural states. But, perhaps unlike others, Franz was at heart a wanderer anyway.
He was born in Rogers, Arkansas, a town his musician father described as "a slow Southern village with a few sleepy stores ... and pigs and cows fighting pedestrians for the use of ... loose board walks." (8) Encouraging the child's curiosity and bolstering his confidence, Thomas Rickaby would urge young Franz to climb the apple trees that gave Rogers its fame and its intoxicating pungency in the spring. (9) Franz's climbs were probably as much about reaching the sky as they were about fighting the branches--expressions of an optimism that would last a lifetime.
In 1896, when Franz was seven, the family moved to Taylorville, Illinois, and then twenty-four miles southeast to Springfield around 1904. When fifteen and bored with high school, Franz dropped out after his sophomore year and in 19O6 returned to Rogers with his violin and cornet in hand. He wrote his father, "Which is worse? To do practically nothing or to do nothing practically? I need to learn to do for myself." (10)
And he did. For more than two years, he wandered. He found work in the robust apple industry and on small family farms. He hauled wood in winter, fixed fences in the spring, cut blackberry bushes in the summer, and played his fiddle at dances. Sometimes he slept in farmers' barns, sometimes in local boardinghouses, and often outdoors alone, content under the stars. And then one Christmas Eve, he surprised his parents in Springfield and returned to high school. In 1912, with $50 in his pocket, he talked himself into matriculating at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.
Situated on fertile plains between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, Galesburg had been founded as a college town in 1857 by a small group of religious abolitionists from upstate New York with egalitarian and intellectual goals. When Franz arrived, those educational and populist fibers still wove Galesburg together. Seven railroad lines crisscrossed the town, dairy farms and cornfields flourished, a central post office served as a hub for communications, and daily newspapers and monthly literary journals satisfied the intellectually curious. Galesburg had attracted many foreign-born residents and Knox had become a nationally known and respected college. It was a cosmopolitan center in the heartlands."
Maintaining a schedule that could exhaust a roadrunner, Franz carried a full load of classes, soaking up English literature, rhetoric, and composition; studying German, Greek, and Latin; and throwing himself into endless student activities, some of which he initiated. He played second violin in the Knox-Galesburg orchestra, sang second bass in the choir at the large Central Church, and directed the newly established Knox band, playing the cornet. He compiled and published a collection of all Knox songs, including five that he wrote. He was part of a small group that lobbied for the establishment of a campus literary magazine, and he occasionally appeared in college plays. He wrote poems and sonnets, having published his first poetry collection as a teenager in a tiny, self-published giveaway in Springfield. He organized evenings in the Beecher Chapel, including one in October 1913 with his old friend Vachel Lindsay, who thrilled the audience when he belted out in his high, shrill, emphatic voice, "Booth led boldly with his big brass drum, / Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?" (12)
To earn money, Franz played his fiddle at school dances and waited tables at Rowan's Horseshoe Cafe, writing, "Many lads have come to Knox, no silver or gold had they. / By mowing lawns and sawing wood, they slowly pined away / Until happy day! They copped a job 'mid hash, goulash and stew, / They worked for three square meals a day, / Slung hash at the old Horseshoe." (13)
He attended as many free events as time allowed, including a performance of Negro spirituals by the famous Fisk Jubilee chorus. It is possible that night planted a seed which blossomed into Franz's own song-preservation work. Lillian would later nickname him Frenzy.
Sometime during that first frantic year he got sick, worn down from too many activities and too little sleep. A raw sore throat stayed with him for several days, followed by a high fever that sent him reluctantly to bed. Several weeks later, his joints began to ache, a condition that would last the rest of his short life. Lillian noticed a limp the night of their first date in 1915, when they went to a dance at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house. Franz made light of it, citing too much walking and too much dancing.
In 1916, after his graduation, Franz received the Harvard Club of Chicago's scholarship and left for Cambridge to study English. Lonely at first, he was unable to find people at Harvard who responded to his easygoing, positive Midwestern style. In her letters to Franz, Lillian called his classmates the "la-ti-das." But Vachel Lindsay came to his rescue and introduced Franz to his old friend the poet Amy Lowell, who included
Franz among a small group of would-be poets that met with her regularly. They maintained a friendly correspondence for several years after Franz left Cambridge, swapping views on poetry, Middle English, and the American frontier. (14)
Franz and Lillian, then a senior, devoted "yards and yards of typewriter ribbon" to discussing what they would do to aid the inevitable war effort. Franz was intent on joining the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which carried wounded soldiers on the frontlines in trucks and jeeps back to base camps or hospitals. "It's an honorable way for us adventurers to serve as few adventurers are suited to the discipline of the military," he wrote. (15)
The corps was popular among college and university students. Harvard eventually sent 325 young men to join, but not Franz. The Volunteer Ambulance Corps rejected him; this was the first definitive acknowledgment that he suffered from rheumatic fever. "I am sorely disappointed," he wrote Lillian, "but we shall be happy, little partner. Wherever we are we will do the best we can and look for more to do." He added, "There's a persistent and energetic professor in North Dakota, who keeps writing me. What would you say to Grand Forks, Angel?" (16)
TEACHING AND PLAYMAKING
Franz and Lillian married in Galesburg on June 19, 1917, at 5:30 a.m. They caught the train to Chicago and then the overnight boat to Charlevoix, Michigan, where the literary Franz was the popular caddie master at the local golf course. He had begun this unlikely job in the summer of 1913 and would continue every summer for seven years, producing a series of articles in Golf Magazine about the wonders of boys and their mischievous habits and causing quite a stir when he integrated girl caddies into the large squad. (17)
In August, on a warm day with breezes so refreshing and invigorating it was as if the wind had blown over stretches of ocean, not miles of prairie, Franz and Lillian arrived in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on the western banks of the Red River. They saw craggy cooks in overalls feeding dozens of farmhands from the backs of horse-drawn wagons in wheat fields carved from six-foot-high prairie grasses, streaked with colorful wildflowers, under a huge cloudless sky. It was love at first sight. They rented a furnished house above the English coulee, looking west over miles of treeless prairie.
A political storm was then battering the state with the Red River Valley at its epicenter. The Nonpartisan League (NPL), a socialist/farmer's movement led by a charismatic farmer from Beach, North Dakota, fueled class warfare, exhorting farmers to rise up and defeat rapacious out-of-town bankers and railroad tycoons, who, allegedly, were exploiting the wheat farmers and driving down their prices. In short order, the NPL controlled the legislature and the governor's office.
The league soon turned its attention to the university, trying--with the support of some professors--to force the president and dean out of their jobs. NPL members wanted Franz to join their efforts. Somewhat sympathetic to their populist goals but appalled by their tactics, Franz responded, "Absolutely not," which became a campus cry, a verbal handshake among the outraged students. When Lillian, who always loved the "splendid indignation of students," attended some of their raucous meetings, the NPL accused her of inciting riots. "Perfectly ridiculous," she wrote her mother. "They have to pick on someone and it might as well be me." (18)
But it was not politics that inspired Franz. It was Frederick Henry Koch, the "persistent and energetic professor" at the University of North Dakota who had convinced Franz to come to Grand Forks. Leading theatre critics have credited Koch with starting the American folk drama movement, which culminated in such famous plays as Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome and Thornton Wilder's Our Town. (19)
Born in Illinois and schooled in Ohio, Koch took a job at the university as an instructor in English in 1905. (20) That June, he formed a company of university actors, which evolved into an active dramatic society named the Dakota Playmakers, "expressing a deep love for the land of Dakota, and the continuing efforts of the group toward translating the life of the North-West into fresh dramatic forms," he wrote. (21) The group started a brush fire that spread nationwide and when Koch resigned in 1918 to go to the University of North Carolina, he asked Franz to direct the Dakota Playmakers. He had sensed a kindred spirit.
For the next five years, Franz taught Chaucer, English composition, dramatic composition, and a general English survey course and led the Dakota Playmakers. Intent on introducing young people to theatre, he also established the Junior Playmakers group in nine high schools around the state, which he modeled on the university group, traveling to small towns and bringing plays to local teachers. He also plumbed his own love of the vernacular by writing one-act plays. Over time, the Walter H. Baker Company in Boston published four of them. (22)
BALLADRY AND HOBO-ING
Franz volunteered, as he had in Galesburg, to teach Sunday school. He wrote a reader on composition, played second violin in the Grand Forks Philharmonic, penned "It's for You, North Dakota U," the university's fight song (still sung), and often invited students over to "hear Lillian and me eat." (23) Franz was still Frenzy.
On February 4, 1919, he recorded in his diary his passion for balladry--"I have become enamored of the ballad!"--and received permission to teach a ballads course. (24) Although Franz had been thinking about collecting ballads for only a short time, the entertainer in him was well established and the wanderer bred in the bone, and in the late summer of 1919, he picked up a well-worn staff, strapped a violin case across his back, and began walking from Charlevoix, Michigan, back to Grand Forks, starting a journey that would engage him the rest of his life. He was seeking the songs of the quickly disappearing lumberjacks--the shanty-boys--of the north pine country.
These were the early years of American ballad collecting, and Franz's collection, Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy, was the first to memorialize the songs sung by the men who spent their winters in crude lumber camps throughout the forests of northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Franz was a member of a small and informal group of academics and amateurs who captured forever the lives of Americans in particular regions or in specific occupations through the songs they sang. (25)
Franz's route took him north from Charlevoix along Lake Michigan, across the Straits of Mackinac into Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and down the western side of the lake, entering the pineries of northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota. From August 30 to September 18, he traveled 917 miles, including almost 175 on foot, 420 in vehicles, and 322 on trains. After returning home, his wandering did not stop. Over the next three years, he booked himself into small towns and performed songs in order to find songs, running down leads of lumberjacks and their songs all around the Midwest. Local newspapers covered his walk, dubbing him the Wandering Minstrel and, in a further reference to the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado, the Nanki-Poo of the Midwest. (26)
But Franz would not finish his book in Grand Forks. His "infernal headaches" had returned and the exclusive milk diet administered at a Rochester, Minnesota, sanatorium had helped only temporarily. On the advice of his doctor to escape the brutal Grand Forks winters, Franz, Lillian, and their baby son, Franz Jr., affectionately known as Wunk, took the train west, stopping in Colorado Springs, where Lillian's mother and stepfather now lived, and then moving on to Claremont, California, where Franz had accepted a job at Pomona College. (27)
Named for the Roman goddess of fruit trees, Pomona College was founded in 1887 in a town that was a real estate dream gone bust but that proved an ideal location for a college--with tidy rows of orange trees stretching along the foothills of the snow-capped, rough-faced San Gabriel Mountains; small Victorian houses, Spanish haciendas, Arts and Crafts bungalows, and gabled cottages on neatly plotted streets; and elm and oak trees standing alongside exotic palm and bony eucalyptus trees. The Rickabys rented a small, one-story stucco house covered in leafy vines, with two messy eucalyptus trees in front, a backyard for Wunk, and a view of Mount Baldy.
Franz and Lillian knew immediately that they would like Pomona College. It had the intimacy and values of Galesburg and Knox, the intellectual rigor of Harvard, and James Blaisdell as its president. A kind man with a great imagination, Blaisdell, also a Midwesterner, believed that a broad liberal arts program produced mature and productive adults; consequently, he stressed arts and culture as key components of the Pomona experience. Blaisdell, who already had begun to conceive of the unique Claremont consortium of small colleges (of which Pomona College would become part) modeled after Oxford and Cambridge in England, sought professors with broad interests, deep passions, and high standards. Wanting to resuscitate the college's floundering drama program, he hired Franz to teach dramatic composition and the history of drama and to lead the school's drama program. He also encouraged Franz to finish his book.
His North Dakota drama experiences notwithstanding, Franz had his work cut out for him. For a while, no serious theatre had been produced on campus. The handsome outdoor amphitheater, built with Greek tragedy in mind, was used for unsophisticated productions, such as the annual "Plug Ugly," a revue by seniors poking fun at underclassmen. A fashion show was mired by shoddy staging and costumes.
By the end of November, Franz had directed his first play, with Lillian as his production assistant. Lillian had never studied drama, but she had worked alongside Franz in Grand Forks and had directed some young women's productions herself there. Franz then hit a home run with the Women's Vaudeville Show, featuring original settings and music and providing impersonal entertainment, not personal mockery.
He moved to resuscitate the Masquer Society, once a well-respected drama club that had become a generator of college silliness, taking its members to plays in Los Angeles to expose them to better drama. Soon the group was presenting well-known plays, sometimes directed by Lillian, and writing one-act plays based on their own experiences. Franz instituted annual cash prizes for the best ones, judged by the drama critic from the Los Angeles Times, a local playwright, and the high school drama coach.
Always the folklorist, Franz began a student writers' group that met weekly outside of class to read and critique each other's descriptions of everyday occurrences on campus. He planned to submit their collective memoir to the college. And ever the adventurer, he became the first faculty member--'boes infacultate--of the Hobo Club. The members of this "most exclusive organization on campus" had to have "bummed" at least one thousand miles to be eligible to join.
Periodically, they sat around a campfire in the center of campus, cooking beef, singing songs, and telling tall tales about their travels. Still Frenzy, one issue of the student newspaper featured three front-page articles about what Franz had accomplished that week alone.
By the middle of January 1924, Franz had almost completed the "great book," with only one short section left "to typewrite,'' (28) but the fierce headaches had returned, his knees, ankles, and elbows ached like never before, and he was often exhausted and short of breath. His doctor offered aspirin for the pain and rest for the fatigue, and then suggested that he go to the Seventh-day Adventists' Hospital in Loma Linda. (29)
TREATMENT AND DECLINE
Neither Franz nor Lillian had ever met a Seventhday Adventist, and what little they knew about the religion was strange to them: a full-body baptism, Sabbath on Saturday, the Second Coming, a belief in prophecy, the washing of feet. The idea of going to a hospital run by Adventists undoubtedly amused them at their best moments and worried them at their worst, but Loma Linda was the only medical school in southern California that had received a Class A rating from the American Medical Association, so they decided that if Franz had to go somewhere, best that he went there.
Only thirty miles due east from Claremont, an hour on the Southern Pacific Railroad, Loma Linda was a sloping hill, 35 acres big, 125 feet above the barren San Bernardino Valley, with a breathtaking view of the mountains beyond. Like Claremont, it was a failed dream along a railroad line. In 1887, speculators had built a three-story wooden hotel, complete with a two-story cupola and turrets and painted white. A grand staircase led directly from the tiny rail depot up the hill to a welcoming lobby. But guests rarely came, and after several attempts at redefining itself, the hotel went under.
It is said that Ellen White, one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventists, who was living in northern California, had a vision of a hotel for sale in southern California and urged the church leaders to find and buy it, along with all the surrounding buildings and fields. She envisioned an ideal place to train medical missionaries on real patients in the holistic approach that the Adventists espoused. In 1905, they bought the hotel on the hill and 40 acres below it, with a tiny town, hay fields, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, cows, and barns.
The day the Rickabys arrived at Loma Linda, a driver in a brand new seven-seat Studebaker would have met them at the depot and ferried them up the hill. The patients and the guests--the Rickabys soon learned there were both--lived simply and comfortably in single rooms overlooking the mountains. Friendly doctors, all general practitioners, and nurses, both men and women, were everywhere; hot and cold water therapies that went way beyond footbaths were routine; and vegetarian diets with fresh fruit and vegetables, all grown in the surrounding fields, were required. Franz had his meals delivered to his room, as strict bed rest was ordered initially for him.
There was some diversion for patients. An orchestra and a band--composed of doctors, nurses, blacksmiths, welders, cooks, and farmhands--played periodically outdoors; Franz could hear them from his room. Although the Adventists did not believe in reading novels or plays, they served up platters of poetry, trays of natural history, and morsels of music books that would have richly nourished him. The chaplain, a short and skinny man with a large barrel chest, would have visited him every once in a while. (30)
Lillian and Wunk visited regularly, walking to the Claremont station, taking the train to Loma Linda, and climbing the 119 stairs that led to the lobby. They invariably would have found Franz in his room, lying quietly, sometimes sleeping and sometimes reading. The weeks passed slowly and Lillian worried. The doctors ordered complete bed rest and gave Franz high doses of aspirin for his joint pain and digitalis for his shortness of breath.
In early May, believing that Franz was improving, the doctors removed his tonsils and sent him home, but within three days he was back at Loma Linda, where he died on May 18. (31) Lillian, a free thinker like her husband, had him cremated-one of only 16,000 people cremated that year in the United States.
LILLIAN AFTER FRANZ
Although she was a fourth-generation Galesburgian who loved her hometown and shared its values and history, Lillian chose to stay in California. Her beloved grandfather had died in Galesburg a decade before. Her father, a Russian Jew, had long since abandoned her and her mother, and her stepfather had never really embraced her. Sadly, Lillian had become accustomed to loss, mastering self-reliance along the way. Armed with a teaching certificate and previous experience in an East Galesburg school, she found a teaching job and began to build a life as a single mother with her four-year-old son, Wunk, my father.
Lillian enjoyed the loyal friendship of Walter Hartley, Pomona's organist and music director, and his wife, Edith Dykstra, a voice teacher. The Hartleys had befriended Franz and Lillian when the young couple first arrived in Claremont, and two years later, Walter played the organ at Franz's funeral in Pomona's elegant Bridges Hall.
In 1926, the Hartleys moved to Occidental College in northeastern Los Angeles, but they kept Lillian under their wings and introduced her to Edith's widowed brother, Clarence Dykstra, a professor of government at University of California at Los Angeles. On Christmas Eve, 1927, they married. Clarence adopted Wunk, changing his name from Rickaby to Dykstra, and Lillian began the next chapter of her full and productive life at the side of a genial and talented man.
The Dykstras moved to Cincinnati, where Clarence served as the nation's first city manager and Lillian became president of the Ohio League of Women Voters. Later they lived in Madison, Wisconsin, where Clarence was president of the University of Wisconsin. There they hosted monthly open houses for hundreds of professors and students, a variation on Franz's "come on over and hear us eat." In 1950, Clarence, now the provost of the University of California, Los Angeles campus, died watering their garden, leaving Lillian a widow again, less than sixty miles from where Franz had died. She was only fifty-six.
Peripatetic and independent, Lillian moved back to her beloved Midwest and to the dairy farm that she and Clarence had bought in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, in 1941. Following that purchase, she had enrolled in classes at the University of Wisconsin's agricultural school, telling a reporter, "I want to learn to be a practical farmer, a real Wisconsin farmer, not a gentleman farmer." (32)
After Clarence's death, she returned and raised dairy cows (trademarking her Holsteins as Dominie), pigs, and chickens for five years. She began to spend time on Cape Cod to be closer to Wunk, now living in Philadelphia, while maintaining her legal residence in Wisconsin for a time. "I want to lend a hand in relegating McCarthy to the limbo of forgotten things," she explained. (33)
In 1956, she moved permanently to Cape Cod and, known as Mrs. D., worked in a secondhand bookshop, befriending the curious, the intellectual, and the woebegone. She spent her final years at a Quaker retirement community outside Philadelphia, where she volunteered in the library, tracked down her long-lost Jewish cousins in Israel, and challenged her three granddaugh ters to question assumptions and take risks. In 1978, she suffered a stroke while watching PBS's Washington Week in Review and died at the age of eighty-four. She willed her body to science.
Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy
Franz's principal contribution to the field of ethnomusicology was the posthumously published Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy, which he began to compile during a 917-mile walk through the northern regions of Wisconsin and Minnesota, searching for lumber camp songs and singers.
In early September 1917, as folklorist James P. Leary describes, Rickaby checked into the Northern Hotel in Mercer, Wisconsin, "a rough logging town ... where hotels often served as taverns, gambling dens, and whorehouses.... September was a month of relative leisure for erstwhile sawmill and farm hands who, awaiting plunging temperatures that would summon them into the woods, thronged to places like the Northern Hotel. And so it was that Rickaby, as he set down in his journal, 'stalked in a side door to where ten or twelve loafers, in all states of intoxication, were holding forth, drinking, spitting, singing foul songs, telling fouler stories, and giving character to the place generally.'" (1)
Though Rickaby did not include the songs he heard at the Northern Hotel in his book, (2) he did break new ground by providing the music as well as the lyrics of fifty-one ballads sung by the lumberjacks of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in seventy-five versions. (3)
"To those who knew Professor Rickaby," a 1928 reviewer wrote in Modern Language Notes, "the book will bring a feeling of melancholy that he did not live to see it published. They know with what exuberant delight he would have turned the leaves and chanted the songs he knew so well, the quiet satisfaction he would have felt in long labors so brilliantly brought to an end. And they would have rejoiced to bring to an unpretentious scholar the praise he had so abundantly earned, and would hardly know how to receive." (4)
(1) James P. Leary, "Woodsmen, Shanty Boys, Bawdy Songs, and Folklorists in America's Upper Midwest," The Folklore Historian 24 (2007): 41.
(2) Ibid., 56.
(3) Martin B. Ruud, "Review: Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy," Modern Language Notes 43, no. 1 (Jan. 1928): 52.
(4) Ibid., 54.
Caption sources: Franz Lee Rickaby, A Set of Sonnets (Springfield, IL: privately printed, 1910); Lillian Katar Dykstra's papers, author's collection (hereafter cited as LKD papers).
(1) Unpublished tribute by Vachel Lindsay, LKD papers.
(2) LKD papers.
(3) Franz Lee Rickaby's journal of his walk from Charlevoix to Grand Forks is housed at Wisconsin's Historical Society Library, Microforms Room (Micro 877), Madison, WI (hereafter cited as FLR journal). He also wrote about his walk in his posthumously published book, Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926).
(4) Chicago Daily News, Sept. 15, 1926, quoted in Daniel W. Greene, "'Fiddle and I': The Story of Franz Rickaby," Journal of American Folklore 81, no. 322 (Oct.-Dec. 1968): 328-29.
(5) Courtesy of the American Folklife Center Archive, Library of Congress.
(6) Thomas Rickaby, Idle Hour Impressions, journal, collection of Carol Schindler Brand (Franz Rickaby's niece).
(7) LKD papers; much of the information about Galesburg and Knox is drawn from biweekly letters that Lillian wrote to the author from 1975 to 1977 describing her early years in Galesburg and elsewhere. From 1907 through 1923, Lillian wrote weekly letters to her mother, Rose, describing Franz, their relationship, and their life together. These letters were saved in a trunk--known as Granny's Trunk--along with other letters, snippets of journals, copies of Franz's poems, songs, plays, published articles, and diaries. The author also is indebted to archivists in the states of Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and at Knox College, the University of North Dakota, the Eau Claire Historical Society, the Virginia Area Historical Society in Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic, Loma Linda University, Pomona College, the Library of Congress, and the New York Public Library.
(8) Rickaby, Idle Hour Impressions.
(9) Marilyn Harris Collins, Rogers (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishers, 2006).
(10) LKD papers.
(11) Log City Days--Two Narratives on the Settlement of Galesburg (Galesburg, IL: Knox College, Centenary Publications, 1937); Earnest Elmo Calkins, They Broke the Prairies (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1937); Hermann R. Muelder, Missionaries and Muckrackers: The First 100 Years of Knox College (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984); Carl Sandburg, Always the Young Strangers (New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1952). The extensive collection of college newspapers, yearbooks, academic directories, alumni files, and other materials that Knox College keeps in its impressive archives were all helpful in understanding Knox, Galesburg, and Rickaby. Special thanks to Carley Robison.
(12) Vachel Lindsay's General William Booth Enters into Heaven was to be sung to the tune of the traditional song The Blood of the Lamb (Elisha A. Hoffman, 1878), accompanied by bass drum, banjos, tambourines, and other instruments; Vachel Lindsay, General William Booth Enters Into Heaven, and Other Poems (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1913).
(13) Song by Franz Rickaby, LKD papers.
(14) Correspondence between FLR and Amy Lowell, 1917-1920, MS Lowell 19, 19.1, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Boston.
(15) LKD papers.
(17) Rickaby wrote seven articles for Golf Magazine. For the story of the integration of girls in the summer of 1918, see Edith Gilbert, Summer Resort: Tango, Tea and All (Petoskey, MI: Crooked Tree Arts Council, 1976).
(18) LKD papers.
(19) See, for example, Kenneth MacGowan, Footlights across America (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1929); Arthur Hobson Quinn, A History of the American Drama from the Civil War to the Present Day (New York: F. S. Crofts and Co., 1937); Samuel Selden and Mary Tom Sphangos, Frederick Henry Koch, Pioneer Playmaker: A Brief Biography (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Library, 1954); Samuel Selden: Thirty Years of Trail-blazing in American Drama, 19o5-1935: Frederick Henry Koch (Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Playmakers and the Carolina Dramatic Association, 1935).
(20) Koch worried that he would flounder on the frontier as one of only two English professors, but he soon realized that he could bring theatre to the outer edge of the nation. He set out to prove that the best way to build audiences for theatre would be to take those living in isolated, rural towns and show them their own lives. His students, including Maxwell Anderson, wrote, produced, cast, directed, designed, acted, and then toured their own one-act plays that told of harsh North Dakota winters, the pioneers and their simple sod shanties, and the wilderness and glory of springtime.
(21) Frederick Henry Koch, "The Dakota Playmakers: An Historical Sketch," The Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota 9, no. 1 (Oct. 1918): 14. The author is grateful to Michael Swanson at the University of North Dakota for providing access to the university's extensive records about the Dakota Playmakers, academic directories, student newspapers, and clippings.
(22) Who Kissed Barbara? (1921), with Lillian Rickaby; The Christmas Spirit: A Fantasy in Two Acts (1922), with Lillian Rickaby; The Fever Ward (1923); and The Haven (1925). The Boston publishing company also published Rickaby's collection of student-written one-act plays, Dakota Playmakers Plays: First Series (Boston: Walter H. Baker, 1923)
(23) LKD papers.
(24) FLR journal.
(25) The early folklorists who collected in the field were few in number when Franz was busy, and even fewer collected the music as well as the lyrics. Roland Palmer Gray, for example, a collector of Maine lumberjack songs, published his collection in 1924 (much to Lillian's consternation), but it had no music attached to its 60 songs. Franz's collection had 75 songs and music for 55. See D. K. Wilgus, Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1959).
(26) Shortly after beginning his walk, in 1919, the Grand Forks Herald reported that "Like the immortal Nanki Poo, disguised as a wandering minstrel, Franz Rickaby, instructor in English at the state university, has begun his 800 mile walk."
(27) Franz to Dorothea Rickaby (his mother), Oct. 21, 1923, LKD papers; Frank P. Brackett, Granite and Sagebrush: Reminiscence of the First 50 Years of Pomona College (Los Angeles: Ward Ritchie Press, 1944), and E. Wilson Lyon, The History of Pomona College 1887-1969 (Claremont, CA: Pomona College, 1977). The student newspapers and the 1925 Metate Yearbook at the Claremont Colleges Library captured Franz's activities during this time.
(28) LKD papers.
(29) For information about Loma Linda, see Loma Linda Historical Commission, Loma Linda (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2005); Dennis E. Park, The Mound City Chronicles: A Pictorial History of Loma Linda University, A Health Sciences Institution, 1905-2005 (Loma Linda, CA: Loma Linda University, 2007); and Ken McFarland, The Impossible Dream: Railway to the Moon; Loma Linda University & Loma Linda University Medical Center (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing, 2005). Historian Richard Schaefer was generous with his time and knowledge.
(30) LKD papers.
(31) Peter C. English, Rheumatic Fever in America and Britain (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999). It was not until later in the century that the connection between strep throat and rheumatic fever was made, but at that time some doctors thought that removing a patient's tonsils would stave off recurrences. Dr. English provided essential information on rheumatic fever. He kindly answered many questions about its symptoms and care at that time. Interestingly and sadly, he describes how rheumatic fever mutated over time and how, around 1925, the year Rickaby died, it turned from an acute condition to a chronic one before being almost entirely eliminated in the United States by better diagnosis and antibiotics.
(32) Capital Times, Nov. 19, 1941.
(33) Ibid., ca. 1955.
GRETCHEN DYKSTRA lives in Brooklyn, New York. A consultant to not-for-profit institutions and a writer, she was founding president of the Times Square Alliance and the 9/11 National Memorial Foundation and Commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She is currently writing a memoir about her years in China.
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|Date:||Jun 22, 2011|
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