|Charlotte and Gus on their deck with an expansive view of ocean.|
Her husband Gus was equally memorable, but it is memories of Charlotte I keep going back to.
Besides being a Suffragette, she was part of the famous Algonquin Round Table, having lunch with the likes of Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley. She also wrote editorials for the New York Times.
It seems only natural then, that once she and Gus settled on St. John, she would write about the island. She wrote two books.
I've been on the hunt for them for a long time, but it was difficult as neither my sister, Erva, or I could remember the titles! Just a year or so ago Googling her name hadn't produced anything except what I had written about her in my blogs. But the internet is an amazing thing. While I was doing a little research for last Monday's blog on Reef Bay, I came across a quote from one of her books. OH JOY! I had a title. I Googled it. And there it was, staring me in face. Not just the one book, but BOTH of them!
From the Foreword: "Charlotte Dean Stark and her husband first visited the Virgin Islands as the result of reading Desmond Holdridge's Escape to the Tropics. The moment they set foot on St. John, they wanted to stay there forever, but business in New York and Connecticut took them back to the States.
"Mrs Stark worked for the New York Times, writing editorials and selecting the poem appearing daily on the editorial page."
In the Acknowledgments she wrote: that Harper editors said they "admire the observation and the writing." And Little Brown & Company said, "It's all warm and intimate." These were rejections. Charlotte went on to self-publish Souvenir of St. John in 1958!
Some True Tales and Legends, self-published in 1960, is more like a pamphlet or chapbook.
I often spent week-ends with Gus and Charlotte and many were the mornings when I'd be curled up on the couch reading a book like The Secret Garden or A Doorway in Fairyland while Charlotte clacked away on her typewriter.
I am absolutely delighted to have these little volumes in my collection of books about the Virgin Islands.
Back in December I got an email from Andrea Milam, editor of Five Quarters, the St. John Historical Society's newsletter. She asked if I'd be interested in contributing an article. It seems someone from the SJHS is/was/had been reading my blog, for she wanted me to work up an article based on THIS blog about our Mobile Gas Station. After a little reworking I sent it off. I'm thrilled to announce "The Little Pre-Fab that Could," is in the February issue. I'd love to be able to throw up a link, but one has to be a member of the St. John Historical to get the newsletter. Thanks Andrea.
Has anything from your past been returned to you? Have you gotten any writing requests through your blog?