Friday, February 14, 2014

Deliriously Yours

Happy Valentine's Day!  Here is the date you do NOT want. This is Ann (Washington: U.S. War Department, 1943) was authored by Capt. Munro Leaf and illustrated by Capt. Theodor Seuss Geisel, both serving in the armed forces. Leaf was already gaining fame for his classic children's book Ferdinand, the story of a sweet and peaceful, flower loving bull forced into the bullfighting ring. Geisel, you know. By that time he had published Mulberry Street, but was probably still better known for his Flit insect repellent advertisements.

In a letter to Dartmouth's Harold Rugg from 1943, Geisel writes that "as an old Flit salesman, I find that I am of occasional use in doing semi-educational propaganda against the mosquito." He did the illustrations "between sessions on the rifle range and sessions in the Army motion picture studios" in Hollywood. Told as a mock venereal disease cautionary tale, the story portrays the exploits of the malaria spreading Ann, a loose mosquito who "really gets around."

We have a collection of Geisel's original art (or "alleged art" as he says in the letter to Rugg). You can see the book and the letter by asking for Alumni G277thi. The original art is in MS-1100, Box 9.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fishing with Hemingway?

Ellis O. Briggs '21 was an American statesman who rose to the highest diplomatic rank possible, that of Career Ambassador. He acted as ambassador to seven countries under the tenure of three US presidents. He began his career in 1925 as vice consul at Lima, Peru, and concluded it as ambassador to Greece in 1962, where his car's license plate reportedly read "EOB 1921." Briggs literally traveled the globe in service to his country, representing the United States in the Dominican Republic, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, and South Korea, among others. He was known as an efficient and capable administrator who had little patience for "diplomatic bungling and red tape," as one acquaintance put it.

Still, Briggs wasn't just all work and no leisure. He was an avid outdoorsman and former president of the Dartmouth Outing Club who enjoyed hunting excursions in Maine with his honorary classmate, Corey Ford, a pastime that Briggs called "a lunatic diversion not for the uninitiated." However, woodcock were not the only game that Briggs pursued. In 1955, he was appointed ambassador to Peru and soon after met up with Ernest Hemingway, who was staying at the renowned Cabo Blanco Fishing Club during the filming of the motion picture adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway's postcard, complete with a photo on the front of Papa himself alongside a marlin, supplied Briggs with instructions for how to join him out on the water.

It's unknown whether Briggs actually went on a fishing expedition during the visit or if he was simply visiting the movie set. Regardless, the close relationship between him and Hemingway is clear. In a presentation copy of The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway writes of his "old affection" for Briggs (and his wife Lucy), suggesting that the two may have met much earlier, perhaps in Cuba when Briggs was counselor of the embassy there in the 1930s.

To see our inscribed copy of The Old Man and the Sea, and the enclosed photos of Briggs, Hemingway, and marlin, come in and ask for Rare PS3515 .E37 O52 1952 copy 4.
To learn more about the life of Ellis O. Briggs, Class of 1921, ask for his alumni file.