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Posted by on Jun 1, 2013 in Vignettes | 4 comments

Carrying on the Tradition

Dear Wonderful Readers,

I thought for my first entry I would go back to my very earliest writings as a sensitive young teenager trying to put together his first “book.” I laughed as I pulled this out of my treasure trunk of memories, for I truly have not changed much at all in the 40 years since. I named it “NICE… and “HEAVY.”

Herewith the preface and introduction.

Warm regards,

Bradford

2013

BB Nice N Heavy

From the Archives

nice n heavy intro

CARRYING ON THE TRADITION

HHB Picture

Hubert Howe Bancroft

What I particularly love about this innocent little first journal was it’s attempt to carry on a tradition of writing that was started by my great, great grandfather, the famous historian, Hubert Howe Bancroft. HHB loved books and writing and collected an enormous amount of first hand material about the history of California and the entire west coast and Mexico. Before his death in 1915, he had (with his wonderful staff) compiled a compilation of 36 volumes of that history plus an autobiography entitled Literary Industries (which my sister, Kim, is currently re-editing). When HHB died he left his entire collection of books and manuscripts to the University of California at Berkeley and thus began the Bancroft Library.

When Kimmy and I were very young, we were taken on a tour of the Library and shown our heritage. The old curator looked down at us and asked if we were writers. “Why, yes.” we both replied, not really understanding what that actually entailed. The only writing I had ever done was practicing my signature.

”That’s good,” the old curmudgeon said to us, “for everything you do will end up in this library!’

Well, my goodness, we looked at each other and suddenly realized how important our mission was. We had no idea that this old codger was simply having some fun by pulling the legs of a couple of gullible little kids, but I will always be grateful to him for instilling in us, that day, the importance of writing, of honoring our history, our heritage, and teaching us how important it  was to carry on the tradition. My sister became a teacher and writer, and I became an artist whose writing became integral to my work.

the wasp

Hubert Howe Bancroft on the cover of The Wasp

We have come full circle now with this new technology on the internet. My great great grandfather would be spinning in his grave if he could see what is at our disposal now for research and compilation. The Bancroft Library has a wonderful cartoon of HHB sitting at his desk, octopus arms trying to multi-task his many interests.

Some arms writing, his fingers blackened with ink stain. Other arms editing previous work. Still others might have been going through the dewey decimal card catalogs he and his staff helped compile on his various researched interests.

Now his great great grandson sits at his Mac with all of those capabilities at his fingertips  and filled with his passion for writing.

I am hopeful that this blog will carry on that tradition.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Bravo on using your writing to communicate the heavy and meaningful things you have to say, and helping others learn to do the same, dear brother. Here is one of my favorites quotes from HH Bancroft’s memoir about his own wrestling with the joys and agony of finding one’s purpose in life and expressing oneself in writing: “I longed to do something, I did not know what; I longed to do great things, I did not know how; I longed to say something, I had nothing to say. And yet I would write as if my life depended on it.”

    • Thank you Kimmy. It is so apropos that it is you who would be the first to write on this brand new blog. We have been on this train a long time, and I thank you for your encouragement and support and camaraderie as we continue to take this long journey together.

      Your loving oldest brother
      b

  2. I love your story telling and love the way you write… helps to remind me that I also need to write to live (some days I forget).

  3. I am enjoying your posts on your blog. Your great-grandfather leaves quite an interesting legacy. The quote your sister pulled out from his writings is a lesson to everyone…we all think we have nothing to say, but each one of us could probably write a book!

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