Volume XXI · Fall 1965 · Number 1
"Key" To the Eastman Scrapbook
--MRS. GEORGE HOYT WHIPPLE
On looking over this scrapbook of our friendship with Mr. George Eastman—from the autumn of 1921 until his death in March, 1932—it seems that a brief account of his social programmes and our impressions of him, and our trips with him, will make the contents clearer and more interesting.
The Kilbourn Quartet was created in memory of his mother whose maiden name was Kilbourn—as was Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music. The members of this Quartet were also members of the faculty at the Eastman School of Music.
Every Sunday evening, beginning at 5:30, the Kilbourn Quartet performed at Mr. Eastman's house at 700 East Ave. These were large, informal affairs. After he founded the Eastman School of Music and contributed so largely to the establishment of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester, they became even larger as members of these two faculties were added to his list of guests.
There were a number of his friends who were invited every Sunday:
Mr. and Mrs. Walter S. Hubbell, Dr. and Mrs. Edward W. Mulligan, Mr. and Mrs. Albert B. Eastwood, Mr. and Mrs. George D. B. Bonbright, and, from the University of Rochester, President and Mrs. Rush Rhees, Dr. Howard Hanson and his parents, Dr. Whipple and myself and several others. Mr. Eastman told me he depended on us to help him look after his guests, many of whom, especially among the University group, he did not know at all! Often he had distinguished house guests and he would ask some of this regular group to see that such guests met people, etc.
On Sunday nights he received his guests by the door leading into the West drawing room. The first part of the programme was given in the East drawing room—the green drawing room—where the fine Frans Hals painting hung over the mantel piece.
At the conclusion of the first part of the programme, the guests visited a while before seating themselves at the many tables, bare of linen, laid for six or eight or more. A light supper was served, often corned-beef hash. Coffee and beer were the drinks. Supper finished, the tables were removed and folding chairs set up in the great open court in the center of the house, facing the flower-banked organ. The Kilbourn Quartet sat on the landing of the stairs above the organ. The musicale was over by 10 p.m.
Not infrequently Mr. Eastman would invite a few of his friends to remain afterward and we would sit around the fire in the West drawing room and have a good visit. Mr. Eastman loved an open fire and his fires were rather special. A small depression was made in the bed of ashes that had been leveled and smoothed. Here a small fire of eighteen inch wood burned continuously. The ashes were not sifted and the completely consumed wood produced an almost white ash.
After the Eastman Theater was opened he often took these few friends to the viewing room, way up under the roof of the Eastman Theater, to see the films that were being considered for the screen programmes for the coming weeks. In those early days the daily programmes were similar to those at Radio City Music Hall, with full orchestra, movie, ballet, and skit.
The first Sunday I attended one of his musicales Mr. Eastman invited George and me to remain. After all the guests had departed he took us up to the room where he kept all his marvelous camping equipment. He was so pleased that we enjoyed camping as much as he did. He and George compared notes on hunting and fishing, and at that instant began our mutual understanding and friendship.
Harold Gleason was Mr. Eastman's organist, arriving at the house at 7 a.m. in summer and at 7:30 a.m. in Winter, so that Mr. Eastman could wake up to music, and eat breakfast to soft musical accompaniment! He conducted much of his personal business over breakfast and it was a rare breakfast that was eaten alone.
Breakfast and lunch were always served at the interesting painted table that was placed in the central court under a hanging light, softened by a fringe of living greenery that grew about the edge of a great disk of ground glass. The last time I saw that table it stood in the East drawing room of Eastman House. The organ console was always completely hidden by a bank of flowers. The windows on the north and the great glass doors overlooked the gardens. The flower bed immediately outside was always planted in his mother's favorite flowers, heliotrope and fuchsia.
Mr. Gleason also played during the Saturday luncheon hour. This Saturday party was devoted to the entertainment of Mr. Eastman's women friends.
It was during the spring of 1922 that I received my first invitation to lunch with him. Not knowing his custom and being somewhat surprised to have an elderly bachelor invite me to lunch at his home, I hesitated to accept, until he said: "It's quite all right. Mrs. Mulligan will be there too."
Some one said: "Mr. Eastman pigeon-holes his friends and takes them out when he wants them." Perhaps that was true, because he grouped his guests carefully. Soon the Saturday group that included me consisted of Mrs. Stanhope Bayne-Jones, wife of the professor of bacteriology; Mrs. Harold Gleason, wife of the organist; and Mrs. Marion Folsom, wife of the treasurer of Eastman Kodak. We were always invited together. Later, after Nan Bayne-Jones left Rochester and Mrs. Folsom's health failed, Marion Gleason and I continued lunching with him until there were no more Saturday luncheons.
I am sure the other groups and guests enjoyed these luncheons as much as we did. Often a beautiful orchid corsage would mark each place. As Mr. Gleason at the organ could hear everything that was said, our conversation often suggested compositions for him to play. For instance, Mary Folsom, Nan Bayne-Jones and I were Southerners, and we still talked very Southern. I remember Mary Folsom asking Mr. Eastman how we should greet people in Rochester. When we greeted any one as we would at home: "How glad I am to see you!" we were met with a reserved: "Nice to see you," which was like a slap in the face. He replied: "Oh, please don't change! Just be yourselves." During this, Harold Gleason might have played "Dixie" and "Old Kentucky Home!" It was all such fun!
We talked about everything under the sun, from plumbing to bringing up children. Marion and I had young children at that time. The Gleasons were building a new house in Highland Heights. We discussed women's fashions. Mr. Eastman had subscribed to Vogue for a year so he could know what the well-dressed woman should wear. One wonderful thing about the man was that he was never too proud to admit he did not know and was always eager to learn. He disliked black and wished his women guests would never wear black when they came to his house. He also disliked bluish green. He liked a soft, mossy green, a green that looked well with the masses of rather stiffly arranged flowers that filled his house. Among the other things he disliked was whistling! And, he simply loathed anyone to help him put on his overcoat!
Food was another favorite topic. He not only liked and knew good food; he was an excellent cook himself. His coffee was extra special. As all of us liked lobster, it became the regular Saturday dish. One Saturday he remarked: "I believe you girls come just to eat lobsters, not to see me. Next time you come you get cornmeal mush and skimmed milk."
We assured him he was entirely mistaken. To prove it, we said that the next time he invited us we would bring our own sandwiches, and one for him as well. We kept our word and arrived the next time with our lunch wrapped in wax paper, then clumsily done up in newspaper. We handed him his package done up in similar style. He insisted it did not look sanitary and that he was afraid to eat it. Then, sure enough, Young, the big butler, put a large soup plate before each of us and served us cornmeal mush and skimmed milk. All of us started eating with good will when Mr. Eastman said: "Well, you are good sports! Young, bring on the lobster!" I am not sure, but I think that at this point Harold Gleason, with full organ, burst forth with "Hail, Hail, the Gang's all here!"
Marion Gleason and I were enthusiastic English folk dancers and one summer, late in the 1920's, attended Folk Dance School at Amherst. While there Mr. Eastman sent us a telegram saying that he and Nan Bayne-Jones did not miss us at all and to consider ourselves dismissed from the luncheon club. We wired back that he had spoiled our holiday and that we were broken in heart and pocketbook and please to pay for the telegram. He never let us forget it! Always reminded us we owed him seventy-five cents for it.
One Sunday evening, as the guests took their seats for the second part of the programme, they were surprised to see a company of men and women in gorgeous Russian costumes arrange themselves on the wide landing above the organ, up the stairs and along the upper railing. They were a troupe of Russian singers who were stranded in Rochester. Mr. Eastman engaged them to sing at his house, thus tiding them over until their next engagement. He did things like that. He was so delighted with the magnificent color effect that he said he wished all his guests would come in bright colored costumes! So the next Saturday Marion and I dressed up in the most vivid colors we dared use and put on stage make-up. Marion trimmed her hat with real yellow and red tulips! My husband said I did not look respectable! I assured him that was beside the point—we were trying to amuse a rather lonely old gentleman, for now Mr. Eastman was aging rapidly. He was 70 in 1924.
In the early twenties when our "luncheon club" was first assembled, all of us were in our early thirties. I was the eldest of the group. As President Rhees observed, we were young enough to have been Mr. Eastman's nieces and he treated us as if we were! He had no relatives in Rochester. He seemed to relax when he was with us, to enjoy our chitchat and our jokes. As he grew older he often dropped off to sleep while we were seated at the table or after lunch while we sat before the fire in the living room.
About a year before his death he remarked that people had forgotten him. Several of his close friends had died and some were invalids. He did not enjoy going to other people's homes as he said they always went to so much trouble, and, furthermore, their houses were too hot. Contrariwise, most of his guests found his house too chilly. So, to amuse him, we decided to give him a party in his own house. The idea was not too well received by his housekeeper, but we paid no attention to her and went ahead with our plans.
It was spring, so we had the luncheon out of doors in the pergola overlooking the gold fish pool. Harold Gleason cooperated by bringing a little Celesta to play on while we entertained our host-guest. George Whipple came over and took pictures of us. G. E. really seemed to enjoy all the attention and the silly little details we had introduced.
When Harold Gleason resigned the position of organist to Mr. Eastman, Mrs. William Vaughn, from Tennessee, replaced him. Elizabeth Vaughn was a beautiful and charming young woman as well as an accomplished musician. She fitted into the lunch club perfectly and was an added element of pleasure and grace in Mr. Eastman's last years.
Every Wednesday evening there was a formal dinner, and dinners on many other evenings as well. These were served in the beautiful paneled dining room with the exquisite embossed Italian ceiling. While these were sometimes large affairs, there were often only eight or ten people. Usually, at every woman's place, was a gorgeous orchid corsage! G. E. was as proud of his orchids as he was of his home-grown vegetables. He must have had excellent gardeners, as gardening was not one of his activities. When he was out of town, enormous boxes of cut flowers and orchid corsages were sent to his women friends. It was a heavenly compliment!
The dinner party before he went to Africa to hunt big game with Carl Akeley and Daniel E. Pomeroy was a large and elaborate affair. Mr. Eastman had invested in special guns with which to kill rhinos and elephants and we had become familiar with names like Manlicher! When Mrs. Ranlet arrived, she brought with her an old musket she had found in her attic and as a joke asked Mr. Eastman if he did not want to add that to his collection of fire arms. This old gun was placed up against the wall in the dining room. Some unknown impulse prompted Frank Macomber to reach back for the old thing, aim it at a candle flame, and pull the trigger. A gasp! Then silence, as the bullet went through the flame, across the table, between the heads of the Rev. George Norton and myself, and hit the wall behind us. It was a tired old bullet and no harm was done.
The head of the elephant that Mr. Eastman killed on his trip was mounted and placed over the big glass doors opening from the central court into the garden. He used the thick hide of the rhino he shot to cover the top of the table in his little library. However, the skin cracked and it had to be removed.
Nearly every year, the day after Christmas he would go down to New York for a week to see the new plays and to attend grand opera. Jules Brulatour, Hope Hampton's husband and the representative of Eastman Kodak in New York City, would make all reservations and make his limousine available to Mr. Eastman. Twice we were so fortunate as to be his guests for this marvelous lark! On one of these, George and I had the opportunity to attend a dress rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera House! Attending an evening performance of La Tosca, our seats were about seventh or eighth row orchestra. I was twisting around and looking up at the top galleries, when Mr. Eastman asked me what I was looking at. I replied:
"When I was a singing student at the Institute of Musical Art and came to hear Caruso, Farrar, Homer, Gadski and other famous singers of that era, I sat or stood up there. People down here, where we are now sitting, were so far away they might have been painted on the floor!"
On the second trip, the artist, di Lazlo, was painting Mr. Eastman's portrait, and I went along with him for the sittings. Driving to one of these, I remarked: "G. E., I wonder if you realize how much pleasure you give other people?" His answer was: "That's not the point. I invite my friends to add to my own enjoyment."
Mr. Eastman was recovering from a bad cold at this time and was neither feeling nor looking very well. The di Lazlo portrait is a fine piece of work, but not the best likeness of him. The artist later sent me a colored photograph, on porcelain, of the portrait.
Mr. Eastman liked di Lazlo and invited the artist and his wife to come up to Rochester for a weekend. One day I received a note from Mrs. di Lazlo saying she knew Mr. Eastman was a bachelor and that he lived alone, and she wondered if he would have room for them in his house! I answered, assuring her that there was plenty of room for them!
Oak Lodge, near Enfield, N. C., was his precious retreat. He always had his niece and her husband, Ellen and George Dryden, and two other couples as his guests at Thanksgiving and again in the spring for a two-week stay. The first time we were included was in the spring of 1923. The Drydens, the Frank Macombers and the widow of the man who had represented Kodak in England, were the other guests. We left Rochester at night in Mr. Eastman's flower-filled private train car. He hired this car since he never owned a private car. The butler, Young, always served the meals, and in the long wait in Washington, Young took aboard such delicacies as lobster and oysters for the table at the lodge. George and I would exercise G.H.W.'s dog, "Mike," whom he had brought along for quail hunting.
Oak Lodge was a very simple place. From a recessed porch one entered a large square room, with a large open fireplace opposite the door. This was the living-dining room. From this, two bedrooms, with bath between, opened on each side. The women lived on the left side, the men on the right.
These rooms were heated by drum stoves. It was most luxurious to be roused by slow-moving, fat, pretty Julia, making up the fires, and a little later when the rooms warmed up, to have her bring each of us a small cup of hot coffee. Then she adjusted the draft of the stoves and we hopped out of bed and dressed at once. Mr. Eastman suffered no tardiness at meals, and if anyone was late he would knock on the door to hurry us up!
Breakfast was a leisurely and delightful meal. The coffee was kept hot by the big fire, and Young brought in endless hot cakes and sausages prepared by Katharine Lovely, a cook from Rochester who always accompanied these house parties.
The kitchen and the quarters for the servants were divided from the main rooms of the lodge by a cross hall, on the walls of which hung all sorts of tools. Each had its own particular nail or hook. To make sure that each article was returned to its exact position, Mr. Eastman had drawn the outline in blue pencil. He was most orderly.
Although I did not shoot, I always went along for the quail hunting. Shooting skeets was fun. The Drydens and Mr. Eastman rode horseback and on my first visit Mr. Eastman drove me all over the estate in the little Irish gig, right over the fields! It was on these drives, and on the walks through the sweet-smelling pines—his "Cathedral Woods"—that he told me of his childhood, his boyhood, and how, after his father's death, his mother had opened a boarding house on Washington St. How he hated to have his mother work so hard; cooking and making other people's beds! How young he was when he realized he MUST MAKE MONEY! How, when he became interested in photography, his mother made it possible for him to work in the kitchen from Saturday noon, all through Saturday night and most of Sunday, experimenting! He would go to bed immediately after Sunday supper to catch up on sleep so as to be ready for his job in the bank on Monday morning.
Mrs. Eastman died some time before we came to live in Rochester. How I wish we might have known her. G. E. loved her so! He loved to talk about her and about his joy in being able to give her a beautiful home. The first one was a little farther east on East Avenue from Eastman House, 700 East Ave., where she neither had to cook nor make beds, and where there were always lots of beautiful flowers and music to wake up to. These two things—flowers and to wake up to music—he dreamed of and longed for, because they symbolized for him luxury and wealth. Although he was a little boy when his father died he never seemed to have recovered from the shock of discovering that his father had left the family all but penniless. Often he said sadly:
"It's awful to have had enough, then find you have nothing." Somehow that explains to me—I don't know just how—why his gifts were never directly to an individual, but given in such a way as to afford individuals the opportunity to help themselves.
Back to Oak Lodge. After supper, if the evening was warm, the house party would stroll in the moonlight through the pines. On one of these walks he told me about the time that something went wrong with the emulsion and his whole output of film had to be recalled. He was desperate and would have been ruined, but for a boarder in the house who was interested in this earnest young man and believed in the future of his business. The boarder's name was Henry Strong. This all but dire experience convinced George Eastman that a perfect emulsion and other exacting details of the undertaking required the services of highly trained scientists. Thus began his interest in M.I.T. and his anonymous gift to that institution from the "Mysterious Mr. Smith."
To wake up to music was indeed a luxury few could afford. Yet, it meant more than that to Mr. Eastman. Very curious! There is no question but that he was tone deaf! But he wanted music. As a young man, I have been told, he tried to learn to play the flute but gave it up. When the new electrically run phonographs that could play a dozen records were put on the market, Mr. Eastman bought one. After lunch one Saturday, he took Marion Gleason and me up to the projection room at the top of the house, to see and hear his wonderful new toy. The first record was "Finlandia." That composition needs to be heard only once to be forever recognized. Well, something was wrong with the mechanism and "Finlandia" was played twelve times! Mr. Eastman did not know it! Mr. Eastman preferred Wagnerian music and very often the second half of the program on Sunday night included an aria or overture from "The Ring." Wagner, rendered by a string quartette and the organ, was definitely distasteful to some of his guests, but altogether satisfactory to him! He needed music—it did something for him!
He felt everyone should be "exposed" to good music. His purpose in establishing the orchestra that not only gave special concerts but played at the regular daily programmes of movie, ballet and playlets, in the early days of the Eastman Theater, was to give people the opportunity to hear good music so they would learn to like it and demand it. Thus, he supported the Rochester Philharmonic for a certain number of years, with the understanding that if at the end of that time the city still wanted it, the citizens of Rochester could support it.
Mr. Eastman was forty-five years old before he felt he could take a holiday. He had been to Europe on business several times. He fancied seeing something of his own country—the Wild West, with some hunting perhaps. He engaged a private car and planned the tour. Suddenly he became aware that he wanted company, but whom did he know well enough to invite on such a trip? Puzzled, he called on the Walter Hubbells for advice and suggestions. Mrs. Hubbell reminded him that at their house he had met Mr. and Mrs. Albert Eastwood and Dr. and Mrs. Edward Mulligan. Why not invite them? He did. These proved to be lasting and valuable friendships.
Dr. Mulligan became his personal physician as well as an understanding friend. Mrs. Mulligan became a most helpful friend in many, many ways. Mr. Eastman had never learned to dance or had time to play golf. In fact, he knew nothing about recreation as such. Mrs. Mulligan saw to it that he joined the country club and had golf lessons. She also hired a dancing teacher and established a dancing class at 700 East Ave. One of his "triumphs" that he loved to tell about, was the marvelous ball he gave when the dancing floor was built out over the lawn and an artificial moon gleamed through the trees and a grand time was had by all! That was before we came to Rochester, but by then he could dance well, for he danced with me just before his seventieth birthday in 1924 at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C.
Mrs. Mulligan helped him in his entertaining and advised him in his reading selections. Often the Mulligans were his guests on journeys in many directions. Her death, by pneumonia, was a great grief and loss to him.
Once these hunting-fishing-camping expeditions became established, they proved to be a regular element in the pattern of his life. We were fortunate to be his guests the summer of 1924 when we went with him, in his private car, to Kamloops, Canada, to camp and fish. This was an experience! His camping equipment was superb: pneumatic mattresses; sheep-skin covers for the folding chairs; a bath tent; heavy canvas cases, leather corded, to hold the nested cooking utensils (the handles were removable) ; flat folding cases to carry food stuffs on overnight trips, carefully balanced for loading on the pack horses. Mr. Eastman used pre-mixed bread, biscuit, and cake long before they came on the market. He mixed them himself! His plates fitted on top of deep plates, filled with hot water, to keep the food warm while eating out of doors. Porridge was eaten out of a deep white enameled mug. When the porridge was finished a rubber washer was fitted to the edge of the mug and a smaller mug was placed in it and this was the coffee cup, easily handled, but the coffee kept warm, and all was easily packed.
How he did enjoy working out all these details and improving them from time to time! He adored picnics and always did all the cooking. He'd mix his muffins, or biscuits, then spoon the batter into the greased aluminum rings placed in the frying pan and brown one side. Then with a spatula he would turn them and brown the other side. After that they were placed in the reflector oven and baked until done, while he broiled chicken or lobster on the coals. Even rain did not cancel his picnics! In North Carolina, the overseer, William, and one of his many offspring would drive out and put up a tarpaulin over the place Mr. Eastman had selected for his picnic. They would set up the chairs and table and build and light the fire, so by the time the party arrived the stage was set, and there was a fine bed of coals for cooking! Some of his nicest picnics were in the rain!
Our trip that summer of 1924 stands out in our memory. After camping at Knouf Lake, where we fished for bass and Mr. Eastman built a smoke house, Indian style, to smoke his catch, and where we were introduced to all the wonderful camping equipment described a little earlier, we went on to the city of Vancouver. From there we went on to Seattle to see the good ship "Westward" about to be launched and on which we would live during our cruise along the coast of British Columbia. From Seattle we visited Mrs. Henry Strong at the home of her friend, Mrs. Jones, on American Lake. Mr. Eastman persuaded Mrs. Strong and Mrs. Jones to join his party and we all went up to Paradise Inn on Mt. Tacoma, or as it is more generally known—Mt. Ranier. Our next stop was Victoria on Vancouver Island. A leisurely motor trip through the forests of this big island ; a visit to the famous Burchard Gardens and lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Burchard in their beautiful home ; then back to the city of Vancouver where we provisioned the little ship for her virgin voyage.
George Whipple, Mr. Eastman and I were in a hardware store buying can openers, nails, etc. I found a pair of button-hole scissors and exclaimed: "Oh! I've always wanted a pair of these!" Solemnly, Mr. Eastman said: "Allow me to present you with a pair." Not to be outdone, my George found a pair of embroidery scissors made like a little stork, which he presented to me. I am still using both.
All provisioned, the crew at their stations, we boarded the "Westward." Before getting under way, Mr. Eastman explained that everyone on board had to work, and he would assign the duties. He handed Mrs. Gurney T. Curtis (Alice) a broom. She was to clean up! He handed me a waitress's frilly head band. I was to see to the dining room service. He and G.H.W. were going to fish!
The coast of British Columbia is not unlike Norway. Steep cliffs, waterfalls and narrow bights. The water is very deep, and the tides strong enough to make dangerous eddies and whirlpools. The rise and fall of the tides is a matter of several feet and is fascinating to watch.
Mr. Eastman celebrated his seventieth birthday on the "Westward" and we drank his health in champagne on the afterdeck in the moonlight. The fishing was fine. About 9 p.m. the cohos came in; the salmon a little later. This was July so it was never dark until after 10 p.m. Interesting visits were paid to salmon factories where the fish were caught in gill-nets and came out of the factories in cans, and to cedar shingle factories and the marvelous paper mills at Powell River.
We tied up at Maurin's Bight for several days. As the water is too deep and the tides too strong to anchor, a huge tree trunk had been chained to the rocks in such a manner that it could float with the level of the tides. In this tree trunk iron rods had been driven, and to these the boats were moored and passengers used them to hold to as they walked along to shore.
Mr. Maurin was of French ancestry, but his wife was an English Cockney. In the next bight lived a retired circus acrobat, his wife, sister and mother. In summer these neighbors could visit each other by boat—the side of the ridge dividing their holdings was too rocky and steep to be climbed. In Winter they were frozen in.
One evening Mrs. Maurin went fishing and while landing a big salmon the line tangled around her hand and cut it badly. Her husband asked G.H.W. to have a look at it. He advised keeping the torn hand in a bowl of warm water in which was dissolved a bi-chioride of mercury tablet. This seemed to Mrs. Maurin a rather silly thing to do, and G. asked if I would go up and talk with her and impress on her the danger of infection. We had quite a visit. She told me of their life and the Indians thereabouts. Then, she gave me a piercing look and remarked: "If I didn't like ye, ye know, I wouldn't be bothered with ye!" She was devoted to her 'Enery and looked after him like a mother. Then she asked about G.H.W. and finished her inquiry with, " 'Hi would not call your 'usband a 'andsome man but 'is features are well balanced." She asked where Mrs. Eastman was and when told that Mr. Eastman was a bachelor, she remarked: "That's the way with 'em when they don't marry. Always take fat on the belly."
Not far from this bight was a small rocky island where the Indians buried their dead. In early times they placed the bodies in crevices of the rocks, but when the white man came with his wonderful packing boxes, the Indians would fold the bodies to fit the boxes and these were placed upon the rocks. One day we rowed over and as we neared the island white forms silently emerged from the trees and rocks! They were white goats, hoping for salt. There was no beach so the boat had to be held with a boat hook while we scrambled up the rocks. George found an Indian skull and this with other gruesome treasures came back to Rochester in my trunk.
Several other boats tied up at Maurin's boom while we were there and we had quite a social time. Among the travelers were Stuart Edward White and his delightful wife. The Maurins lent us the copy of the Saturday Evening Post with White's story, "Skookum Chuck," which is a tale of this part of the world and gives an excellent account of the fishing, the rapids and whirlpools. Mr. Maurin is "Tom" in the story.
The "Westward" anchored in the Empress Louise Inlet. This was quite a contrast to Maurin's Bight. The mountains fell away like a wide bowl, and the waterfall spread like lace over the gently shelving rock into a wide shallow bay. The ranger—one came aboard at every stop—informed us that crabbing was excellent at low tide and golden eagles had nests in trees hereabouts. G.H.W. went ashore to shoot a golden eagle and its skull joined the Indians in my trunk!
G. E. and I, with Campbell Church sitting astride the bow of the row boat, went crabbing. As Campbell poled the little boat through the shallow, ebbing tide, I chased the big crabs into the big landing net that G. E. held resting on the bottom like a trap. We developed quite a system, and had about enough for supper when a great big old crab came along. We just had to catch him! The wise old rascal avoided my goad and went under the boat. I lost my balance, put out my hand to regain it and succeeded in punching G. E. in the chest and pushing him overboard! "Well," he said, "this is a fine thing. I invite a woman to go cruising with me and she pushes me overboard." George W., up on the ridge, said we made the craziest picture with Campbell on the bow of the boat; Mr. Eastman with one foot in the boat and the other in the water with the water over his boot top, and all of us shaking with laughter. The primeval silence was rent with our glee! But we did catch the big crab and had a wonderful meal.
We were about to return to Vancouver when a ranger suggested we visit an island owned by an Englishman whose caretaker had tamed the deer to come to his call. We arrived about midday and the kindly caretaker said he would call his pets, but they were fed in the early morning and late afternoon, and might not respond. He took a loaf of bread which he crumbled as he softly entoned: "Here's the boy," in a sing song manner. After several repetitions of the phrase, slowly about the shoulder-high bracken, appeared, one after another, the antlers of the bucks—all in velvet at this season. Then the does raised their heads, and silently and slowly came to nibble the bread from the hand of their loving tamer. Then, gradually, they silently returned to their midday siesta.
The overseer wanted to show us some pictures he had taken of the deer. He asked us to be as quiet as possible as we followed him on the path through the bracken to his cottage, as he did not want to disturb or frighten his pets. Only the "lookout" stood and watched us as we passed, then sank down on his ferny couch to rest.
The pictures were not too good. Mr. Eastman asked to see the camera. The man kept repeating: "It's just one of those old Eastman things." Finally, he produced the camera—a big square box—like affair. Mr. Eastman looked it over carefully, never saying a word, and finally handed it back to its owner, and we made our departure. The overseer would accept nothing but our verbal thanks. Not until after lunch did Mr. Eastman chuckle and quote: "'Just one of those old Eastman things!' That fellow had one of the earliest cameras we ever made! And it's still good!"
Alice Curtis was called away on some business and so the "Westward" tied up at a small village from which she could make a train back East. The ranger who came aboard here suggested we visit a beautiful waterfall not too far away. George W. and the guide preferred to fish, so I put up sandwiches for them and they left early. G. E. and I, with the ranger, started out in the ranger's car and got to the falls at exactly the right moment—when the rays of the setting sun struck the clouds of spray at the top of the falls. The garden of rainbows was indeed exquisite! We watched until the sunlight faded, then retraced our steps through the silent forest to the roadway to find the battery dead! G. E. and I sat on a log while the ranger went for help. The night darkened. The forests whispered. Way up, like looking through a telescope, the stars twinkled above the tree tops! We ran out of talk and sat in silence.
Finally a car arrived. And such a car! The driver reeked of whiskey and was cross. The back seat where we sat had the springs sticking through the upholstery; muddy, rusty tire chains covered the floor; a very smelly and affectionate dog, a pointer, divided his caresses equally between the front seat and the back, and the potpourri was completed by the odor of fish! The car had no muffler, or a very open-work one, and as we tore through the night the silence was torn to shreds. It was long after midnight when we reached the "Westward" and we feared G. H. W. and the crew had worried about our absence. We need not have been concerned, for they had all gone to bed and were sound asleep! By this time the moon had risen, and while I got the glasses, G. E. got a bottle of champagne and we sat on the afterdeck, in the beauty of the night, and drank to our own safe return!
Back in Vancouver the newspaper photographers took our pictures, and Mr. and Mrs. Eastwood arrived to join Mr. Eastman for the remainder of the summer in Alaska. At dinner that evening Bert Eastwood said: "That was a strange wire you sent us." Instantly G. E. got out his little black book and read: "My wire was: 'Wonderful trip finished. Whipples and I await you.' " Mr. Eastwood replied, "Well, here's the wire we received: 'Wonderful trip. Finished Whipples. Await you!'
Only one unpleasant thing happened on this marvelous cruise. Toward the end of the holiday, after Mrs. Curtis had left the party, the "Westward" tied up at a small dock to refuel and take on fresh water. There was a scattered village there, and the crew got all cleaned up and went ashore. G. H. W. and the guide, Mr. Williams, decided they would go fishing and asked me to put up some sandwiches for them. They had taken off in the dinghy, and I was cleaning up the serving bench on the afterdeck when the chef returned. He was glassy-eyed drunk! He seized a meat cleaver, and slicing it down on the cutting board, growled: "I like you and the Dr.! I like Mr. Eastman! But I HATE the Captain!" Still brandishing the cleaver, he reeled away! I was terrified and rushed down to Mr. Eastman's cabin where he was taking a nap. Before I finished telling him what had happened the Captain appeared. He reported: " I greatly regret that the chef is under the influence of liquor and is now in the brig. Would Mrs. Whipple be so kind as to get the crew's supper tonight?" Mrs. Whipple did.
As time went on, Mr. Eastman grieved over the failing health of his friend and advisor, Walter Hubbell. He himself was not too well. The Wednesday dinners were fewer, then ceased. The Sunday musicales and luncheons were no more.
We were with him on his last Thanksgiving visit to Oak Lodge. As Dr. Rhees said, it would have been so fitting if he could have died there, in the place he so dearly loved; the one place where he could relax and be just a country gentleman, in khaki shirt and in heavy boots with wool socks pulled up over the trouser legs, and with a few congenial friends gathered round his fireside. He was really ill on our return to Rochester, but recovered enough to spend Christmas with his niece, Ellen Dryden, in Evansville. While there he may have had a slight stroke. He had a horror of being dependent on others.
After this visit to Ellen he spent much of his time in his huge bedroom in the southeast corner of the second floor. He was so carefully looked after that his friends had great difficulty in seeing him and he began to believe his friends had all deserted him. It was pathetic.
There had been a heavy snow storm and a school bus full of children had become stuck in a drift. While the driver went for help, the older children amused and took care of the little ones. It was many hours before help came, but no one was hurt and all finally got home safely. This experience impressed Mr. Eastman deeply. On the Thursday before he shot himself he invited me to go for a drive with him. His trained nurse went along and did not fail to intrude at every opportunity. The first thing Mr. Eastman wanted to see was the school bus, still imbedded in the snow drift! Then by a roundabout way we passed Kodak Park; into town by the Kodak offices; out by the Medical School; back into town to glimpse the Eastman School of Music and the Prince St. Campus and dormitories of the Arts College of the U. of R. I know now he was saying farewell—I am glad I did not know it then.
Sunday about noon, G. H. W. and I went over to see him for a brief visit. It was quite complicated to make an appointment to see him, but we managed to be allowed some fifteen or twenty minutes! We were shown up to his bedroom where he was seated near his open fire, dressed in robe and bedroom slippers and reading a "Who-dunnit." For the last weeks of his life he read only detective stories.
That was the last time we saw him. He shot himself on Monday.