400 Friends Pay Homage to ‘Good Gray Poet’

Camden Courier-Post – June 1, 1933

Men and Women From Many Sections Visit Walt Whitman’s Tomb and Old Mickle Street Home on His 114th Anniversary.

By Frank Sheridan

“It’s just a little street where old friends meet.”

That’s Mickle Street where Walt Whitman, the “Good Gray Poet,” once lived, and old friends came back here from near and far yesterday to mingle under the portals of the house in which he wrote his famous works, on the 114th anniversary of his birth.

Among them was Mrs. Augusta K. Dole, 71, of Metuchen, whose hus­band has been a sports writer on New York newspapers for 45 years.

“They call it a dingy street and some are ashamed to return and say they lived there,” Mrs. Dole said. And with a gesture of the hand she pointed out the homes of some of neighbors, who became famous.

Among, them was Button; famous artist [Actually, architect -ed.]. Another was the grandmother of J. B. Van Sciver.

“I lived at 319 Mickle Street when I was a young lady,” she said. “I was one year old when we moved into the house right across the street from Whitman. I remember when he lived on Stevens Street before he moved to Mickle Street.

Knew Whitman Well

“We lived at the Mickle Street address about 15 or 16 or 20 years; I knew Whitman well. He always stopped and exchanged greetings with me. I frequently, saw him on the ferryboats crossing the rivers.

“I want to take, issue right here with those, who have questioned his chastity. He was more like Christ than anyone else. I saw him admiring me as a young woman one day on a ferryboat.”

“Years later I read a description of myself in one of his works. I did not begin to read his work until 30 years ago. He wrote of the true things in life. He wrote of life as it is and as we see it. I am glad to come here today at the invitation of the committee,”

Mrs. Dole sat in the last chair in which the poet rested before his last illness. She was introduced to Dr. Alexander MacAlister, who was his personal physician in his last illness and who is a member of the Walt Whitman foundation.

Then she posed with an etching by Lewis Daniel, New York artist, at the Walt Whitman art gallery, 641 Market Street. It is one of 14 the young artist drew on “The Song of the Open Road,” Two lines taken from’ the book are sketched under the etching as follows:

“The earth is crude and incomprehensible at first- Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first.”

400 Visit Home

More than 400 guests visited the home of the poet during the day to be welcomed by members of the foundation, Mrs. Charles A. Wolverton, wife of Congressman Wolverton, was chairman of the reception committee.

Many of the guests visited the tomb of the poet in Harleigh Cemetery where the door is ajar at his request “that his spirit may come and go as I choose.'” But no flowers were placed there as he requested none.

Born on May 31, 1819, near Huntingdon, Long Island, he had a varied career as a writer, war correspondent and poet. During the Civil War he ministered the wounded of both the North and South at Washington. He spent the last 19 years of his life in Camden, where he died in 1892.

Under the bed in his second story front bed room today is a huge metal bathtub, which he designed for use in his invalid days. His library, horsehair furniture, his favorite rocking chair and a cane with which he knocked on the floor to call his housekeeper.

Some of his writings, manuscriptsand other works are the property of Miss Ann Harned and Madge Barton Feurer. They are now, at the New Jerseyanna Exhibition at the State House at Trenton.

New Painting Viewed

A new painting of Walt Whitman has been completed by Byron T. Connor, of 4320 Manor Avenue, Merchantville, and is now on display at the Hotel Walt Whitman. The painting was completed in three weeks, so as to be ready for the birthday ceremonies.

Later it will be moved from the hotel and placed either in the Whitman home or hung in the lobby of the Walt Whitman Theatre.

Miss Harned, daughter of the late Thomas B. Harned, one of Whitman’s literary executors; Joseph Praissman and Mrs. Martha Davis curator of the Whitman home, were members of the anniversary committee headed by Mrs. Wolverton.

With few exceptions, members of the Walt Whitman Foundation attended yesterday’s program, including Dr. Macalister, chairman; Dr. Cornelius Weygandt, vice chairman; Mrs. Juliet Lit Stern, Joseph M. Conover, Mrs. Helen Taft Manning, Mrs. Allen Drew Cook, Mrs. Nicholas Douty, Dr. Herbert Spencer Harned, J. Frederick Harned, Roy Helton, William T. Innes, Eldridge R. Johnson, William H. Ketler, Dr. Rufus M. Jones, former Mayor Victor King, Oscar Wolf, John Frederick Lewis, Jr., Dr. Bliss Perry, Harrison S. Morris, Agnes, Repplier, former Mayor Winfield S. Price, Vernon Whitman Rich, Dr. J. Duncan Spaeth, Dr. Felix E. Schelling, Dr. Robert E. Spiller, Mrs. David Abeel Storer, Frederick von Nieda and Ralph W. Wescott.

Among the visitors was former Assemblyman William H. Iszard, who is secretary of the committee, which acquired the home as a national shrine. Iszard sponsored legislation in the Assembly for its upkeep.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.