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3460Vagabond House

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  • John Roemer
    Oct 13, 2003
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      My Armine von Tempski research turned up this description of early
      days at Vagabond House. It's from a Nov. 22, 1937 letter von Tempski
      sent to a relative from the home in Manhattan Beach she shared with
      her husband, Al Ball:

      "Last Monday, a week ago, old Don Blanding arrived here and had us
      out to dinner. Don's one of our dearest and truest friends, when were
      were bust last summer he paid our gas to Taos and had us for seven
      weeks. Anyway he just bought a house in Carmel and begged us to go up
      with him and take possession of it. So we weakened and did it, taking
      our writing along. It's a heavenly old place, two storeys high with
      pine and oaks nestling about it. You know how lovely Carmel is. The
      house is perfect, old, and seems to put invisible arms around you. We
      arrived at mid-night, friends had had the utilities turned on, so we
      built up a roaring fire and a nice old actor friend of Don's arrived
      with four cans of beer and some cheese and crackers to hourse-warm it
      with us.

      "After being there a week Don begged us to come and stay with him for
      a month, including Xmas and New Year's. We were kanalua [hesitant]
      about it as we want to keep at work, but he said if ONLY we'd come --
      he's the world's loneliest man -- that he'd get a slavy to clean
      house and wash dishes for me and do the heavy cooking. I'm to run the
      Commissary, have carte blanch about food etc. The upstairs which is
      to be ours is heavenly! A great front room with three solid sides of
      glass, a tiny bathroom and hale [commode] and -- a guest room -- of
      our own! Don's having puunes put in for us, and we're taking up our
      Navajo rugs, brass candlesticks and a few juggers to give our own
      feeling. His room and workroom is down stairs, so we won't get in
      each other's hair while we're working. The kitchen is a great
      sprawling old room with dishes on the wall and slews of windows and a
      silly sort of ship-gangway staircase leading to our 'Penthouse'. Talk
      about writers under eaves!

      "We had a lovely week, wrote five hours, lunched then walked for
      miles, in the evening built up a roaring fire and Don read aloud to
      us. Saturday night Poli [Armine's brother Errol] joined us and we
      went to thge lovliest home of some oldish actor friends of Don's.
      Sunday, after a swell breakfast we four set off and tramped for miles
      and miles through the pine forests and along the dazzling beach where
      seals were sporting, and sandpipers with twinkling feet skittered
      along just out of reach of the waves. I cooked up a grand kanaka
      [hearty] stew for supper, cabbage etc and Don and Poli cleaned it all
      up. Don had a cold so I gave him a rub, fed him a thumping toddy and
      put him to bed. We sat up till midnight, then Poli had to go home. We
      left Monday (yesterday) about ten and talk of autumn. The Salinas
      River valley looked like a torrent of gold. All the cottonwoods,
      willows and sycamores were ablaze. ....we lost a day going and coming
      but I wouldn't have missed the fun of warming Vagabond's House!"
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