Mason Public Library displays historical love notes and poems
Published: 02-12-2024 2:02 PM
Modified: 02-16-2024 10:30 AM
The entryway to the Mason Public Library is lined with 42 poems – each a sweet, sentimental declaration from prominent Mason illustrator and author Clarence W. Anderson to his wife, Madeleine, during her last few months of life in the fall of 1970.
The display is part of a larger one that winds through the library, including copies of love letters, poems, marriage announcements and registrations, along with some historical photos, pulled from the archives of the Mason Historical Society in honor of Valentine’s Day.
Anderson, best known for his series of children’s books, starting with “Billy and Blaze,” written under the name C.W. Anderson, is the starting point for the exhibit, with a bittersweet expression of his care for his wife in a time of her failing health after 45 years of knowing one another. The poems ruminate on the fall weather, aging and, often, the state of the day’s orange juice.
“The orange juice is in the refrigerator/The sun is again in the sky/And I still love you,” reads the poem written on Sept. 7. The next day, in a continued theme: “The orange juice is in the usual place/And so is the sun./My heart is still on my sleeve,/Which is rather worn and the nap is gone/But not from my heart.”
Library Director Judy Forty said the library has, on several occasions, hosted displays by the Historical Society, which is located in the upper floor of the Mann House in the same building as the library, but has no dedicated space for displays.
She said the collection is a way to touch the past, and that one of her favorite items of the exhibit isn’t Anderson’s poems or the Rev. Ebenezer Hills’s love letters, but an announcement of marriage between Sarah Tarbell and the Rev. Charles Frank Hill Crathern, the ancestor of another Charles Crathern, who became a longtime town clerk for Mason.
“This feels like history as far back as I can still touch,” Forty said.
According to Forty, the letters sent between Hill while courting his eventual second wife, Becky, are reflective of lovely romantic language.
“They’re full of old-fashioned wording,” Forty said. “With things like, ‘My dearest lady,’ or ‘My Becky, who I love in sincerity.’ ”
One of the letters entreats Becky, “Let us ever guard against any thing which has a tendency to excite any thing like jealousy in either of our bosoms – and may pure Love be the lasting bond of our union. May we ever live together here as being fellow travelers bound to another world, where all are made perfect in love.”
As a reminder that the days of love notes are not just in the past, the library has set up a Valentine’s mailbox and provided heart-shaped paper just outside the library’s entrance, inviting residents to write notes to their own loves to add to the display.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244 or email@example.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.