Report of the President to Members of the Charles Olson Literary Society

My interest in seeing 28 Fort Square preserved for future generations

From Minutes of the Charles Olson Society, Issue #1 (January 1993).



n 19 May 1991 I visited Paul Cardone at 28 Fort Square, Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was Sunday afternoon, and his children and grandchildren came and stayed and went in the customary Sunday extended get-together. In the midst of this happy bustle I was able to see the copy of Olson/Melville that Olson had inscribed “for all the Cardones and for my other neighbors of the Fort” at the time of its publication, 23 February 1969. I was also able to read Olson’s letter of 3 November 1964 to Mrs. Suzie Cardone. This was when, after Bet’s death, he was getting back to work for his second year at Buffalo, and he had forgotten his Gloucester rent: “very dumb.” He mentions that it has been reported to him that Charles Peter (his son stayed in Gloucester that year) “seems very much better in school.” He continues, referring to the university at Buffalo: “I on the contrary am not, in fact dont like school, and wish I was home with you all.”

I told Paul Cardone of my interest in seeing 28 Fort Square preserved for future generations as “Charles Olson’s House,” as a memorial, a museum, and an active research center. With this thought he fully concurred. And when I told him that, to this end, I had been collecting a replica of Olson’s library so that the flat could some day be restored and be full of books in the way Olson had it, Paul took me to the back porch where there were several boxes of books, and said, “Some of those were Olson’s.” He explained that often when Olson was not well Mrs. Cardone would take him up some soup and chat, and come back down with a book. Mrs. Cardone has passed away, and there was no way of knowing for sure which of the books might have come from Olson; but I went through them all, and with great pleasure picked out a few volumes that, because of the date and subject matter, might fall into that category. None of them have inscriptions or any other Olson markings, so the following list is entirely conjectural. However, the circumstantial evidence is positive, and when Paul Cardone looked at the dozen or so books I brought back into the living room he said, “Yes, those would be Olson’s.”

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art (New York: Dover Publications 1956)

T.S. Eliot The Complete Poems and Plays 1909-1950 (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company — 1960 printing)

Creighton Gabel ed. Man Before History (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, The Global History series paperback — 1967 printing)

Carl Gustav Jung Psychology and Religion (New Haven: Yale University Press — 1950 printing) — ex-library Grahm Junior College.

George F. Kennan and others Democracy and the Student Left (Boston: Little, Brown & Company 1968 — second printing)

Jean-Dominique Lajoux The Rock Paintings of Tassili (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company 1963)

V.I. Lenin Imperialism. the Highest Stage of Capitalism (Peking: Foreign Languages Press 1965)

Karl Marx The Civil War in France (Peking: Foreign Languages Press 1966)

Robert S. McNamara The Essence of Security (New York: Harper & Row 1968)

Mary Chalmers Rathbun & Bartlett H. Hayes, Jr. Layman’s Guide to Modern Art (New York: Oxford University Press 1949) — flyleaf signature “Fie — ?”

Nancy Wilson Ross ed. The World of Zen (New York: Vintage Books 1960)

Joseph R. Strayer Western Europe in the Middle Ages (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts 1955)

Frederick M. Watkins The Age of Ideology—Political Thought, 1750 to the Present (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall 1965 printing) ex-library Grahm Junior College.

To this list can be added two boys’ books, the first could have been Olson’s, the second Charles Peter’s:

James Otis The Minute Boys of the Wyoming Valley (Boston: Dana Estes 1906

Edward W. & Marguerite P. Dolch Stories from Alaska (Champaign, Illinois: Garrard 1961).

— Ralph Maud


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