Friday, October 09, 2015

The Water Street Mission, Revisited

This little "Manual of the Water Street Mission" in New York City was published in 1880, and seems to have served both as an introduction for prospective clients and as the mission's annual report. The founder of the mission, a onetime "river rat" and reformed alcoholic named Jerry McAuley, was still alive at the time. Following his death in 1884 a number of subsequent publications would keep track of the mission's activities, including the Rev. R. M. Offord's Jerry McAuley: His Life and Work (1885), Samuel H. Hadley's Down in Water Street (1902), and Mrs. S. May Washburn's "But, Until Seventy Times Seven": The Story of the McAuley Water Street Mission (1936).

The image at the top of this post shows the pamphlet's very nice engraved frontispiece; the cover, which sports another engraving, is shown below. Neither image is credited.

Laid inside my copy, but definitely later in date, I found the gatefold photograph below, which bears the caption "This photograph was taken by Mr. Thomas Savage Clay, and shows the class of men from which we get our converts." A cropped version of the same image is reproduced in "But, Until Seventy Times Seven."

Previous Water Street Mission posts:

The Madonna of Cherry Hill
Death of a Salesman
A Manhattan Mission
Cassie Burns

Friday, October 02, 2015

Faithful objects

María Paz Otuño, writing of the late Spanish novelist Ana María Matute:
Her idea of order was her own; with her writings she was very meticulous: she knew where everything was, what it was, and whether or not it was of use; entirely the opposite of the disorder that presided over her life, her apartment, her table. Only what really mattered to her (books, pages, texts, pencils, papers, paint pots, brushes, figurines...) was ordered in the manner she thought fit, every object occupying its place in the world, in her world. They were her "faithful objects": "I refer to little things, ordinary and humble: a piece of red pencil, a key that no longer opens anything, a coin from before the war, who knows what, an infinity of things that stubbornly accompany us wherever we go, that resist abandoning us, stubborn in the face of, first, our indifference, then our curiosity, and finally our love." Objects that meant so much to her and that, when they disappeared, took away with them a little part of her life. "Perhaps to live is to lose things" – and in her case nothing could be more true: she left few material things behind, perhaps because she lived so much.
From a text appended to the end of Demonios familiares, Matute's final, unfinished novel. The passage is very simple, but allows almost endless possibilities for translation; in this case the translation is mine.

Earlier posts on Ana María Matute:

Last words (on Demonios familiares)
Bonfires (on Primera memoria)
Childhood (on Paraíso inhabitado)