Sunday, January 07, 2007

Another Episode in the Strange Case of Arthur Griffith

I just received a parcel of old photographs my sister Diane had stored in the crawl space of her house. Alas, many of the old pictures, which include a number of tintypes, have no identification on them, and I have no idea who the subjects are. The most fascinating picture in the lot is the one shown above--a small picture pasted on cardboard which bears the holes of being tacked up somewhere at some time. The photo is undated, but on the back, in my grandfather Lee Cory's handwriting, is written, "Mrs. Harvey (Etta) Griffith." I know from my research of Arthur F. Griffith, the calculating prodigy discussed in earlier posts, that his parents were Harvey and Etta. Apparently, my grandfather knew the family well enough to have a picture of one of them in his possession. Oh, if only he would have written about them in his journals, instead of endless descriptions of cutting wood and how many times he chewed each mouthful of food (at least for a time he was a devotee of "Fletcherizing", a practice promoted by Horace Fletcher, who believed chewing each mouthful of food 45 times was the pathway to good health)! But he didn't, and so I can only regret that he is no longer around to ask.

I also find it a little spooky that this picture found its way to me, perhaps the one living human being with the greatest interest in and knowledge of Arthur Griffith.

This picture of Arthur appeared in the book by Lindley and Bryan. I assume it was a publicity still that was preautographed and handed out as he toured the country. Sort of reminds me of the often-reproduced photo of Blind Lemon Jefferson with the inscription "Cordially yours, Blind Lemon Jefferson" very neatly written across the bottom. If he was blind, how did Lemon Jefferson write so legibly?


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