Sunday, March 04, 2007

More on Baldridge

Continuing Stuart's great post , the more I learn about this man, the more I like him !

And it's probably worth the $10 to get a copy of his Autobiography for the Palette and Chisel library (if we can ever take that room seriously)

He and his wife, Caroline Singer, in addition to collaborating on children's books, traveled around the world -- especially through Africa and the Middle East. (the above is an illustration from "Time and Chance")

It's as if (like Malvina Hoffman at the Field Museum) he wanted to catalog the variety of the world's people.

But one genre he didn't neglect was his own: i.e. the footloose American.

He was something of a patriot, as he wrote in one of his many political screeds:

"One of the few groups that had tried early to awaken awareness in the public had been the Willard Staits Post, the only liberal post in the American Legion. I had been proud of my association with its members, and during five terms as Commander had spent a large proportion of my time on its projects. In 1922 we prepared a book explaining "the loss of our illusions about war as an institution, either as an end in itself or as a means of settling international misunderstanding." Our message was to the "young fellows reading war-scare headlines - say in 1945"(headlines came earlier than we anticipated!) In several important instances foreseeing international disaster,the membership publicized appeals for action by statesmen before it was too late -- such as an analysis of the problems of the Ruhr.
Constant pressure to liberalize the Legion itself brought some success:
my Americanism booklet,
its aim to revivify faith in democratic idealism,
was not without effect."

Here's one his (ever timely) anti-war cartoons:

And here's part of the text published by the Willard Straight post (named after the banker who founded the "New Republic", and whose wife founded "The New School of Social Research").

The following Baldridge text might serve as an introduction to his kind of "liberalism":

"As fuzzy-minded as any during the period between wars were most so-called "liberals". Failing to distinguish between left-of-center and Stalinism, becoming totalitarian liberals, they deadened the liberal movement. Few remained as staunch as Norman Thomas, remembering that human affairs can be controlled by enlightened reason; truth is born out of discussion; civil liberties are vital to democracy; there is no justice where there is no kindness; the great ends of human life cannot be achieved except by appropriate means.

A search through worldcat finds over 120 listings for his publications, most of them as illustrator -- and most of those in collaboration with his wife or Arthur I. Gates. He even illustrated an edition of "The Spy" by James Fennimore Cooper, and "The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway.

But he also wrote some of his own books, including:

*"The parables told to the people by Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Gospels"
*"Smallest Poilus of all"
*"Or what's a college for?"

Like so many other P&C artists over the years , Baldridge ended up in New Mexico, and I only wish he were still living in Santa Fe -- so we could get his stories of the early P&C.


Blogger Jay Mulberry said...

Are you aware that Cyrus Baldridge attended Frank Holme's Chicago School of Illustration when he was just 9 years old. Having no father himself, he took Holme as his father figure and revered him for the rest of his life. Unfortunately Holme died of TB after Baldridge had been studying with him for only about 2 years. That was the only formal art training Baldridge ever had.

Why is this of interest? Frank Holme was one of the founders of the P&C club and very active in planning early meetings, etc.

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