OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895

4:00 P.M.

APRIL 1, 1971

or Vice Versa

by Lawrence E. Nelson Ph.D.

Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library


The preface has been defined as that part of a book nobody reads. This omission is a serious and time-consuming one; frequently reading a two-page preface will make clear the utter folly of floundering through the remaining 523 pages. I'm wondering whether reading both the preface and the paper this afternoon will give either you or me the foggiest notion of what it's about if anything,

At present I am in much the state of mind of two men mentioned in this month's Reader's Digest, which in accord with current cock-eyed calendarization arrived last month, just as half my next Sunday's Los Angeles Times, arrived in Redlands this morning and will thump on my sidewalk on Saturday. Perhaps we need calendar-saving time; it would simplify things if we simply called March April and put Christmas before Thanksgiving, thus pleasing both magazines and merchants.

In the current computerized confusion I hope Gabriel doesn't get confused and toot his come-just-as-you-are invitation at the wrong time and place. Last Sunday my wife attended a brunch at Desert Hot Springs or some neighboring place with a similarly sulphurous sound, along with 348 other woman. A good time was had by all except the management, which had confused its calendar and prepared 348 extra meals on the wrong day. At a $7 a plate dinner at the Mission Inn last Christmas the students and faculty of California Baptist College were all served milk under the impression they were Seventh Day Adventists with scruples against coffee. But back from digestion to the Digest.

"My grandfather," says the April issue "came home from his daily walk in a rather agitated state. 'I met Tom Jones,' he told me, 'and I said,

'How have you been, Jones?' And Jones replied, 'Fair to middling, thank you. How have you been, Smith?' 'Smith!' I said. ‘That's not my name:' 'Nor is my name Jones, said the other fellow. Then we looked each other over again, and true! It was neither of us"

If there was any mumbling and stumbling over the title of this paper as impeccably typed by Tom Sargent, you may have concluded that it would deal either with New Year's Day, January First traditionally, or April Fool's Day, April First, today. In order to do brief lip service to the latter guess, I again quote from the same page of the same issue of the same magazine, after which, lest I seem to get into a rut, I shall feel free to roam whithersoever I wish.

Poll Call.

One spring day a couple of years ago in San Francisco, the announcer on KTVU's Televote said

"One of the major issues in Washington is retransigence. Sen. Garred Zender says it should be part of our international dealings. Others, including most Republicans, say it shouldn't. So our question on televote today is: "Should the United States adopt retransigence in its foreign policy?" The phones immediately started ringing and when they had stopped' 62 votes had been recorded for retransigence, 38 against.

"Don't bother to look up retransigence' in your dictionary. There's no such word. It was the station's April Fool joke, but the response, completely serious, was a little frightening."


The paper this afternoon should be top quality in every respect except one--- the typing. The typing is my original contribution--and occasionally it becomes quite original.

Both the title and the content come, without permission, from two former and two present members of Fortnightly, plus one other recent Redlands resident who doubtless would have been a member of Fortnightly had not the parental answer to the perennial question, "What shall we name our baby?" turned out to be "Mary".

The first volume from which I have unblushingly cribbed is Julian B. Arnold's Through a Calendar's Windows, of which a copy is, I am sure, possessed by several of you. You will note that the copy I pass around is autographed to me by the author, but far more important, that it and all other copies are dedicated to S. Stillman Berry.

Accordingly I am doubly honored in being able to crib from it.

Those of us who knew Julian in the flesh remember well his manysidedness. One day before Arnold moved to Redlands Louis Mertins and I picked him up at Alhambra to take him to the Arroyo Vista Hotel in Pasadena to visit Alfred Noyes the poet. As Arnold entered the car he explained the slashes in his shoe. ''I have the gout. Gout is a much more aristocratic term than rheumatism; besides, who the devil can spell rheumatism."

While waiting for Noyes to appear, Arnold and I were looking through one of the hotel's great windows facing the Arroyo Seco; Arnold turned his gaze from the scene to the window: ''That's a noble piece of glass.''

In one word he revolutionized my thinking about windows. In like manner he makes a calendar more than just a piece of paper.

"Upon the wall of my writing-room," he says, "hangs the year's calendar. It is about a yard in height; its upper ten inches being devoted to a colored picture of a group of cows browsing in an excessively green meadow, starred with many flowers. So pastoral a scene is, we may assume, symbolic; displaying a lofty indifference to the changeful seasons, and an optimistic disregard of clouds and shadows.''

"Below this salutation to the arts is attached a sheaf of twelve separate pages, emblematic of the twelve months of the year. Only the sheet of the current month is visible, the succeeding pages being discreetly hidden by their fellows, each awaiting, with the passage of time, its call to duty.

"After the manner of such productions these twelve monthly pages are divided into their proper thirty or thirty-one chronological squares, or '"Windows", each division being duly impressed with the numeral of its allotted date, like the armorial crest on the shield of a knight of old going forth to the day's combat."

"Probably to most persons that is the full message of a calendar. But is that all it has to tell us? Do we not wrong, both ourselves and the calendar, by ignoring the aid thus proffered so patiently by this all-experienced, all-remembering guide, philosopher and friend?"

"Let us therefore imitate the example set by Alice, in her adventure of Through the Looking Glass, and, like her, press our trusting hands through some chosen date, or 'Window'--- and 'Go through' into the world of yesterday. 'Who knows what we may see, or hear, or learn; what tolerance of the past, what high hopes for tomorrow?"

"Therefore, I pray you, press, in thought, your gracious hand against my calendar, and we will go together Through a Calendar's Windows. Julian Arnold wrote that twenty years ago in the home of Stillman Berry. Like Stillman's his fund of knowledge was enormous, as witnesses his paragraph upon New Year's Day.

"New Year's Day: What makes it so; what gives it an accolade of rank above its sister days--- surely not yon dumb calendar hanging on the wall displaying a group of cows bucolicly content in an absurdly green meadow despite all changeful dispositions of the weather? Most sensibly the Chaldeans commenced the year at the time of the sowing of their fields, and the Egyptians accepted the subsidence of the Nile's inundation as the obvious start of the year; both of these methods being further honored as springtime festivals* The founders of Rome determined to be original and had a year of ten months, beginning with March, but their first king, Numa, added, as an invigorating start -the two coldest months of the year, making the first one sacred to Janus, a revered tribal god of the early Romans. Janus had the care of entrances, a fitting charge for a god heralding the advent of a New Year, and one who was responsible to a clan clinging perilously to a hillside overlooking a ford of the Tiber, dependent on the security of the gates to its stockade.

"So to Janus was erected a temple on the hilltop, the paths to whose portal were adorned with avenues of vervain bushes and, at "the entrance of the devotees visiting the shrine adopted a custom of plucking leaves from those vervain plants on which they wrote their names, sending them with salutations and gifts to their friends. Hence arose the obligation of expressing our New Year greeting with the myriad cardboard-offspring of those vervain leaves."

The next volume from which I quote is both name-plated and autographed, not by the compiler but by the original donor. The bookplate is that of Jeffrey J. and Caroline Prendergast, with the coat of arms bearing the Scottish Saint Andrews Cross and the motto "Vincit Veritas," Truth Conquers. The inscription reads, "For Francis Ensor Prendergast from his affectionate uncle Joseph Samuel Prendergast, 21 Bathwick Hill, Bath, England, 25 December, l873…

The title page fascinates me by its all-inclusiveness---

"The Book of Days a Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar including Anecdote, Biography, & History, Curiosities of Literature and Oddities of Human Life and Character, Edited by R. Chambers in Two Volumes---Volume One. Numerous Engravings. W & R Chambers; London, & Edinburgh."

Evidently the compiler felt keenly that this title was unduly skimpy, for he added a more extensive Preface, which began,

"The Book of Days was designed to consist of --- 1. Matters connected with the Church Calendar, including the Popular Festivals, Saints' Days, and other Holidays, with Illustrations of Christian Antiquities in general; 2. Phaenomena connected with the Seasonal Changes; 3. Folk-Lore of the United Kingdom--- namely, Popular Notions and Observances connected with times and Seasons; 4. Notable Events, Biographies, and Anecdotes connected with the Days of the Year; 5. Articles of Popular Archeology, of an entertaining character, tending to illustrate the progress of Civilization, Banners, Literature, and Ideas in these kingdoms; 6. Curious, Fugitive, and Unedited Pieces," and after considerable additional wordage ended, "It will also be his hope to produce a second volume' if possible to him, excelling the first; and in this he meanwhile rests, THE GENTLE READER'S HOBBLE SERVANT, 1869."

After pontificating that "Time is one of those things Which cannot be Defined," he verbosely outline. man's clumsy efforts to measure years until he records Protestant England's belated acceptance of Gregorian (Catholic) time in 1752, at which point he inserts a news item from the Times (London, not Los Angeles) of February 16, 1861, which reported (more than a century after adoption of the reformed calendar)

"The old style is still retained in the accounts of Her Majesty's Treasury. This is why the Christmas dividends are not considered due till Twelfth Day, nor the midsummer dividends till the 5th of July; and in the same way it is not until the 5th of April that Lady Day is supposed to arrive. There is another piece of antiquity visible in the public accounts. In old times, the year was held to begin on the 25th of March, and this usage is also still observed in the computations over which the Chancellor of the Exchequer presides. The consequence is, that the first day of the financial year is the 5th of April, being old Lady Day, and with that day the reckonings of our annual budgets begin and end. "

All of Which reminds one of Robert Southey's reminiscence of a countryman who had walked to the nearest large town, thirty miles distant, for the express purpose of seeing an almanac, the first that had been heard of in those parts. His inquiring neighbors crowded round the man on his return. "Well, well," said he, "I know not; it maffles and talks. But all I could make out is, that Collop Monday falls on a Tuesday next year."

I pointedly refrain from commenting on our own 1971 revised calendar of holidays and content myself with remarking that from Both Arnold and Chambers there seems abundant historical and from current legislative action reason to consider that today, April First, April Fool's Day, is the authentic, dyed in the nylon New Year's Day, which brings me (and none too soon) to the title of my paper. But first, in true television style, a slight detour. Among the eminent saints and sinners born on April Fool's is one which puzzled Mr. Chambers no end. He couldn't for the life of him decide whether to elevate Robert Surtees to a biographical Heaven or to dunk him into a biographical Hell. Mr. Chambers squirms thus:

"It was very appropriate that Mr. Surtees should be born of the 1st of April, as he was the perpetrator of one of the most dexterous literary impostures of modern times. Be it observed, in the first place, that he was a true and zealous historical antiquary, and the author of a book of high merit in its class, the History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham. Born to a fair landed estate, educated at Oxford, possessed of an active and capacious mind, marked by a cheerful, social temper, the external destiny of Surtees was such as to leave little to be desired.

"It was not till after the death of Surtees in 1835, that any discovery was made of the literary imposture above referred to. Sir Walter Scott, upon whom it was practiced, had died three years earlier, without becoming aware of the deception. Scott had published three editions of his Border Minstrelsy, when, in 1806, he received a letter from Mr. Surtees (a stranger to him) containing remarks upon some of the ballads composing that work. Scott sent a cordial answer, and by and by there came from Mr. Surtees, a professedly old ballad 'on a feud between the Medleys and the Featherstones,' which he professed to have taken down from the recitation of an old woman on Alston Moor . . . accompanied by historical notes calculated to authenticate it as a narrative of actual events, and Scott, who was then full of excitement about ballads in general, did not pause to criticize it rigorously. He at once accepted it as a genuine relic of antiquity--- introduced a passage of it into Harmion, and inserted it entire into the next edition of his Minstrelsy.

"Supposing a person generally truthful to have been for once tempted to practice a deception like this, one would have expected him, on finding it successful, to be filled with a concern he had never anticipated, wishful to repair the error, and, above all, determined to commit no more such mistakes. Contrary to all this, we find fir, Sorters in the very next year passing off another ballad of his own making upon the unsuspicious friend whose confidence he had gained. . .

"Thus, we see the deceptions of the learned historian of Durham were carefully planned, and very coolly carried out. There was always the simple crone to recite the ballad. Quotations from old wills and genealogies established the existence of the persons figuring in the recital. And, when necessary, an affectation was made of supplying missing links in modern language. A friendship was established with the greatest literary man of his age on the strength of these pretended services. ... the impostor looked coolly on, as, from day to day, his too trusting friend was allowed to introduce into his book fictitious representations, calculated, when detected, to take away its credit. It is difficult to understand how the person so acting should be, in the ordinal affairs of life, honorable arid upright. But it was so. We are left no room to doubt that Mr. Robert Surtees was faithful in his own historical narrations, and wholly above mendacity for a sordid or cowardly purpose."

So much for the man born on April Fool's Day; what of the man who died on that day', The Reverend Richard Napier, Astrologer and Physician, died April, 1, 1634. His story is so wildly improbable that Chambers calls in a special biographer using the initials W. H. K., who in turn leans heavily upon ant liberally quotes impeccable authorities. Shortened somewhat the tale runs thus:

"Says Aubrey, 'He was a person of great abstinence, innocence, and piety, and spent two hours every day in family prayer.' When a patient of 'querent' came to consult him, he immediately retired to his closet for prayer, and was heard as holding conversations with angels and spirits. He asked them questions respecting his patients, and by the answers, which he fancied they returned, he was guided more than by his professed skill in medicine or astrology. . . . 'He did,' says Aubrey, 'converse with the angel Raphael.''The angel told him if the patient were curable or incurable.' 'The angel Raphael 'did resolve him, that Mr. Booth of Cheshire should have a son that should inherit three years hence. This was in 1619, and we are informed that in 1622 his son George was born, who eventually became Lord Delamere.'. . . Lilly, in his Autobiography, says: 'I was with him (Napier) in 1632 or 1633, upon occasion; he had me up into his library, being excellently furnished with very choice books; there he prayed almost one hour. He invocated several angels in his prayer--- viz., Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, &c.'

One example may illuminate the nature of his practice. An eight year old boy was troubled with worms. His grandfather took him to Dr. Napier, who retired to his study. The boy peeked in and saw him on his knees in prayer. "The doctor, duly instructed by his angelic advisor, returned to Sir Francis, and ordered his grandson to take a draught of medicine every morning, end predicted he would be free from the disorder when fourteen years old!"

Among Napier's patients were several highly placed noblemen, who protected him and his proteges from the hands of the law, for he taught and lent books to many other practitioners, among them "one William Marsh of Dunstable, a recusant, who, 'by astrology, resolved thievish questions, and many times was in trouble, but by Dr. Napier's interest was still enabled to continue his practice, no justice of the peace being allowed to vex him.''

It is from this disreputable protege, skulking In the shadow of the Underworld, and nervously thumbing through the only book he owned in the world that I arrive at the phraseology of my title, for the record runs: "This man had only two books, Guido and Haly, bound together. He had so rumbled and thumbled the leaves of both, that half one side of every leaf was torn even to the middle." Many and grave were the faults this man had, but one great virtue of his; he rumbled and thumbled the few books he had until he well nigh wore them to shreds.But back to Dr. Napier; he foretold the hour and day of his own death, and he died upon his knees, praying, 337 years ago today, and the homely record runs, ''His knees were horny with frequent praying."

Mr. W.H.K.'s biography concludes

"His manuscripts, which contained a diary of his practice for fifty years, fell into the hands of Elias Ashmole who had them bound in several folio: volumes, and deposited with his own in the library at Oxford which bears his name, and where they still remain, together with a portrait of Dr. Napier. Many of the medical recipes in these manuscripts are marked by Dr. Napier, as having been given him by the angel Raphael."

But early April historically means far more than the clumsy playing of loutish tricks upon one's more gullible friends, as Julian Arnold lightly indicated in his deft introduction to April:

"Spring's fair daughterling, |April," he wrote, "is frequently ushered in with the Festival of Easter. It should always be so. April's lightsome step and laughing eyes assert her claim to inherit the ancient forms of rejoicing, and when March usurps the honours of the date it is as obvious a mistake in the arrangements of nature, as is the error of the glory of the Southern Cross which asks some passing angel to give its erring orb a celestial Jog and push it into the right place."

Chambers grew even more lyrically ecstatic over the spiritually .rejuvenating power of early April:

"All the land," he cried, "is now musical: the woods are like great cathedrals, pillared with oaks and roofed with the sky, from which the birds sing, like hidden nuns, in the green twilight of the leafy cloisters."

Centuries earlier Geoffrey Chaucer had noted the phenomenon: (I give a bastard semi-translation and mispronunciation of his Middle English, for the sake of clarity).

"When that April with his showers sweet
The drought of March hath pierced to the root
And bathed every vine in such liquor
Of which virtue engendered is the flour

"Then long folk to go on pilgrimages
(And palmers for to seek strange strands)
To foreign shrines, known in sondry lands,
And specially, from every shire's end
Of England, to Canterbury they wend,
The holy blissful martyr for to seek
That then hath helpened when they were sick.'

You perhaps noted that one of the lines from Chaucer's Prolog to the Canterbury Tales specifically mentioned palmers seeking strange strands; a palmer Is a man or woman who had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and came back bearing a treasured piece of palm branch as symbol thereof, in much the same way that we still observe Palm Sunday a few days from now.

These pilgrimages were not lonely isolated journeys, but became great mass movements like our current throngings to beaches and state and national parks. There are in the Redlands telephone directory twenty-two families named Palmer; linguists tell us that these are people whose surname came from some ancestor who got the name from having made that particular gruelling pilgrimage.

All over America there are various varieties of caterpillars which inch along, arching their backs, then reaching forward, inchworms; various varieties of theme are Palmerworms, since they, too seem to be pilgrims, busily going some place. They have no hips, or they might now be called hippies, because not all these wandering pilgrimages were excessively religious, as their debris left in our language reveals.

One of the most traveled of the Canterbury Pilgrims was the Wife of Bath, who was a confirmed shrine hound. She had been to Jerusalem three times, and to Rome, and to Bologne and to Cologne to see the skulls of the three Wise men, the Magi, enshrined in the Cologne Cathedral and in the Three Kings of Cologne Christmas song. She had also been to the shrine of St. James of Compostella in Main, and now, having at last succumbed to the siren song of the travel agents of See England First, she was enroute last to the shrine of Thomas a Becket. These somewhat less than saintly wanderers left two somewhat condemnatory words in our language from their lackadaisical meanderings toward Rome. The first was a new spelling -- to roam; the second was a new nickname for one going on pilgrimage to Rome --- a Romeo, as in Romeo and Juliet. The pilgrimage to Cologne gave us Cologne Water, and that to Canterbury gave us the gait of the pilgrims' horses, a canter, originally a Canterbury gallop, and name for a flower which loons like the bells on the horses bridles, Canterbury Bells. The many fragments upon our language indicate the tremendous numbers of people making there pilgrimages.

One of our members , Louis Mertins, for several years wrote Christmas and New Year's greetings based upon Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. In one of these exceedingly fine collections called Chaucer: His Further Sonnets, Mertins carried this April theme along:

''I walked with gentle Geoffrey down a lane
In England, white with hawthorns and fair may
. . .. . . . . . . . .
And thus I walked with Geoffrey down the lane,
And watched the white may bending in the rain
O. Wif of Bath,; O. Gentle Eglentine;
O. buxom dame; O. gracious prioresse ---. . . . . . . .
Witness the word of Geoffrey and me:
(I hear the cuckoo calling, calling, calling
I hear sweet spring rains falling, falling, falling!
I smell a wind that wanders through a tree!)
For that which was in that far time is now,
And will be when the world is over yet . . ,
Come walk with me upon the white may lane,
And laugh with Geoffrey in the Aprile rain"

When I read the five Chaucerian booklets which Louis has done I am always struck anew by his sensitiveness -- both to nature and to people, but as I re-read them this time I was struck by a peculiar coincidence.

"For that which was in that far time is now," wrote Mertins, as he stressed and re-stressed Chaucer' s first name, and called into the foreground of our thought the Wife of beside Bath,

"For that which was in that far time is now,"

Suddenly it dawned upon me: Louis has been talking to you about Geoffrey Chaucer and the Wife of Bath in April in the fourteenth century, and I have been reading to you about April from a book belonging to the library of another Jeffrey--the spelling is different, the pronunciation the same, and that this book was given to Jeffrey Prendergast's ancestor by an uncle who lived on Bathwick Hill, in Bath, England, Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Beside Bath and Jeffrey Prendergast's great-uncle of Bathwick Hill, Bath, England, trod the same streets and may perchance lie in peaceful proximity in the same cemetery beside Bath. May they both rest in peace.

However, there is yet another coincidence in this New Year's numblings and thumblings, which should be noted. One of the shrines the Wife of Bath had visited was that of Saint James of Compostella of Spain.

The long and intricate story of the supposed connection of Jesus' brother his James with Spain, and the supposed finding of his burial spot in the mountains thereof are outside the scope of this discussion; suffice it to say that pilgrimage thereto became the third most popular in Christendom, being surpassed only by journeyings to the Holy Land and to Rome, a fact which is graphically illustrated by the striking network of roads depicted on the end-papers to this hefty tome, entitled The Great Pilgrimage of the Middle Ages, which, incidentally, was published in German in 1964, translated then into English, and this edition is listed as published in New York, with the text printed in England and the illustrations printed in Germany.

Just as pilgrims to Jerusalem brought back palm leaves, and according to Chaucer had the privilege of telling whopping lies about their travels forever aft et so those returning from Compostela wore a scallop shell in token thereof; as to their privilege of lying history telleth not, though some of the stories stretch faith perilously thin.

When Linneaus was classifying seashells he took note of the popularity of this pilgrimage by naming the pilgrim's shell for the saint, Pecten Jacobaeous, only in this case, if I am correctly informed, not Homer but Linnaeus nodded, and he put the label on a scallop common to the Mediterranean coast of Spain instead of the Atlantic side.

The Shell Oil Company and affiliated organizations, eager to enhance their corporate images, have adopted the scallop as their symbol of adventurous search for the betterment of mankind and have advertised it assiduously, as these selected advertisements indicate.

I have been collecting these Shell ads because, as some of you know, I am doing a series of booklets upon some of the overlooked aspects of the influence of religion upon everyday life, and these religious pilgrimages impinge upon at least four of these future booklets Shrines Show Biblical Influence; Roads Show Biblical Influence; Fountains Show Biblical Influences; Shells Show Biblical Influences. I have also, as opportunity allowed, begun collecting a few of the more obvious shells -- some of the pilgrim scallops; a few of the Mitres, shaped like the bishop's headdress, the ones whose markings resemble the Hebrew alphabet, and the ones popularly called Angel Wings.

Of course any one with any gumption wishing to know anything about shells would ask Fortnightly member Stillman Berry, and Dr. Berry gave me some rare information. Among other things he said, "For its sixtieth anniversary the Shell Transport and Trading company issued in London a very fine history of the Scallop, beautifully bound and richly illustrated. I have a copy."

I was presumptuous enough to invite myself up to his home to see that volume, and spent a highly treasured afternoon not only browsing in that highly unusual volume, but also in seeing some of his superb collection of shells.

This occurred several years ago, and ever since that afternoon I have watched sales catalogs. The book is not listed as having been issued in America; it was listed for sale in England in 1957; I have not found it in any other list of new or used books, And now for a capstone to this record of numblings and thumblings and fortunate fumblings.

About three weeks ago I received a telephone call. A woman identified herself. A friend of hers was going on a pilgrimage of a sort; she was moving from Redlands to Idlewild, to be near members of her family. She had more books than could be comfortably accommodated In the new home. They were excellent volumes, though not always of the most recent vintage; she wished them to go where they would be used and useful. I gladly offered to take them to California Baptist College library, to let the librarians select those they did not have and needed, and to see that professors and students could strengthen their personal libraries with the rest.

About suppertime they arrived at my home. By friends insist that I did not sleep that night at all, They are not far wrong, for on top of one of the cardboard boxes of books, was one in a bright red cover, and decorated in gold with shells. The title -- a very simple one, The Scallop.

I did sleep that night, but not until I had read The Scallop from cover to cover, for it was that long-sought volume. Mrs. Mary Hoge has not the slightest knowledge of how it got into her library; the best guess, and it seems a reasonable one, is that Gilmore Brown, for so long the guiding spirit of the Pasadena Playhouse, who made annual trips to England in connection with his work,, brought it back as one of his frequent gifts to his friend, her husband.

Whether or not Gilmore Brown was the deus ex machina, it was certainly a dramatic denouement to a long search, and Mary Hoge of Redlands had a (if you will pardon the pun) moving part in it.


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