Re: DB letter to "Ma"
- Hi tj
I've got a hunch this letter was written in the early 1940s. Don didn't start using the
Goofus Bird, as he called it, until then. Just before he joined the Army again in the Fall of
1942 he spent most of his time on the lecture route (mainly to get away from Dorothy). He
may have gone up into Canada for lectures and booksignings. He also did alot of touring
after he got out of the Army in early 1943.
As for the "Ma" mystery...Don had a friend named Julia Robertson who he knew from
Lawton as a child. She was the person that bought his first drawing when he was around
12. A few years back I obtained a cache of letters from the Robertson family which was
correspondence with Don. In them, I think he referred to her as Ma. It wasn't so much that
he considered her a mother figure...I think lots of folks called her that because she did so
much volunteer work with young army soldiers from the nearby base. She had them over
for meals and let them spend the night on their leaves if they couldn't get home to their
own folks. So she became a Mom to all those young men...and I think Don started calling
her Ma around then. This supports the early to mid-1940s timeline, as she did this work
If you want to send me a scan or photocopy of the letter (and especially the signature) I
might be able to find more clues. I've gotten pretty good with dating letters by the
signatures. It changed over the years, as you can imagine.
- OK, I'm home now and will send off my check to you
tomorrow. I'll copy the letter also. I agree with
you on the Goofus Bird being a later addition to his
signature. Thats why I questioned the signature of
this letter to his Ma as I'd never seen one that
early. This one has a hat on it and I believe his
early goofus signatures were hatless....tj
--- keith2draw <keith2draw@...> wrote:
> Hi tj
> I've got a hunch this letter was written in the
> early 1940s. Don didn't start using the
> Goofus Bird, as he called it, until then. Just
> before he joined the Army again in the Fall of
> 1942 he spent most of his time on the lecture route
> (mainly to get away from Dorothy). He
> may have gone up into Canada for lectures and
> booksignings. He also did alot of touring
> after he got out of the Army in early 1943.
> As for the "Ma" mystery...Don had a friend named
> Julia Robertson who he knew from
> Lawton as a child. She was the person that bought
> his first drawing when he was around
> 12. A few years back I obtained a cache of letters
> from the Robertson family which was
> correspondence with Don. In them, I think he
> referred to her as Ma. It wasn't so much that
> he considered her a mother figure...I think lots of
> folks called her that because she did so
> much volunteer work with young army soldiers from
> the nearby base. She had them over
> for meals and let them spend the night on their
> leaves if they couldn't get home to their
> own folks. So she became a Mom to all those young
> men...and I think Don started calling
> her Ma around then. This supports the early to
> mid-1940s timeline, as she did this work
> during WW-II.
> If you want to send me a scan or photocopy of the
> letter (and especially the signature) I
> might be able to find more clues. I've gotten pretty
> good with dating letters by the
> signatures. It changed over the years, as you can
- Just a note from a BRIT, but bear in mind that
in London (and across Europe), Mother's
Day is always in March, which can be a
snowy month. There are not many places
I can call to mind where it snows in May.
----- Original Message -----
From: THOMAS MARKLE
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 5:06 AM
Subject: Re: [aloha-donblanding] Re: DB letter to "Ma"
Thanks Cadia....I've not seen any bird signatures in
the 20's and so was perplexed at the possible date.
I'll keep digging also...tj
--- Cadia Los <duchess@...> wrote:
> TJ, I doubt the letter was written from Canada in
> May 1924. DB left
> Honolulu about May 23, long after Mother's Day, and
> would have been
> traveling by train across Canada in early June.
> In the article he wrote about his trip to London, he
> mentions spring and the flowers, not snow.
> We can also rule out May 1921, 1922 and 1923 because
> DB was in
> Honolulu all three years. In 1926 he was in
> Hollywood and in 1927
> and 1928 in Honolulu.
> Possibly 1925? I am not sure exactly when DB
> returned from his London-
> Paris-New York sojourn or whether he traveled via
> Canada after
> wintering in New York. I'll have to review the 1925
> material in my
> I have a June 1927 S-B article in which DB is quoted
> as having left
> Hawaii five times. So far, I can account for three
> times (October
> 1918, May 1924 and early 1926).
> Your letter might date from as early as 1916 or from
> sometime in 1919-
> 1920. We know DB was in Honolulu in May 1917 and
> 1918. After leaving
> Camp Grant after November 1918, DB remained in the
> Chicago area until
> at least early 1920. He may well have traveled to
> Canada during this
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Keith is probably right. Among all my examples of DB's signature, I
find no "bird with a straw hat" prior to 1944.
I also do not think DB traveled to Canada during his 1942 lecture
tour. Reading his almost daily newspaper columns, it's pretty easy
to figure out his route and schedule.
DB began in Florida at the end of December 1941 and generally
covered the Midwest and Far West. He was in Seattle in early April,
where he wrote "Bataan Falls," then moved on to Portland. He was in
California (Los Angeles, I think) when he registered for the draft
in late April 1942. His return trip to Florida took him through
Oklahoma and Texas. He arrived home in Fort Pierce barely in time
for his 2nd wedding anniversary in mid June.
However, the mention of Mother's Day and snow and the shivering bird
tells me this note may have been written in Calgary about May 8,
I have a jumbo postcard sent on that day to Lillian Meade in Houston:
Snowing here today, May 8, so I can't go out and find local post
cards. Will be on move until July second.
Happy years to you.
May 8, 1957
The bird appears next to Aloha and again before Lillian's name on
the address side of the card. The subject of the card is the Trail
Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. In 1957,
Mother's Day was on May 12.
This postcard is one of my special treasures -- as we know, DB died
in Los Angeles a month and a day later.
It makes perfect sense that DB would use hotel stationery if he was
snowed in and needed an envelope for the enclosure.
By the way, one of DB's Star-Bulletin columns (Sept. 1953 - July
1957) mentions the genesis of the little bird. I'm not sure if it's
among the columns I've transcribed, but you might have a look.
Cadia may be right about the date of your letter. As she said, he was in Calgary in May of
1957 (just a month before he died) and the signature on the letter you sent me looks like his
1950's autograph. His signatures were very sloppy near the end of his life.
Cadia...neat postcard you got. Don also mentions the timeline for the Goofus bird in the back
of one of his books...TODAY IS HERE, I believe.